November in a parallel universe

November 12, 2016

Good grief. Trump is president. Comedian Samantha Bee said, ‘Our democracy just hoiked up a marmalade hairball with the whole world watching’.  I must have slipped into a parallel universe. I’m so exhausted by the vitriol and hysteria of this election and I don’t even live in America!

In a country of endless choices and variety where there are over a hundred options on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory (my favourite restaurant in America!), there are only two in politics where it matters most. The US system is so binary.

I can’t identify with the values of either Republicans or Democrats. I think both parties are extreme, immoral, two faced, self-interested, inconsistent and downright bloody awful.

statue-of-libertyPerhaps Hillary was the wrong candidate. She was an insider when people wanted an outsider. She was a bureaucrat who offered to fine-tune and tweak the system when the country (both working class Democrats and Republicans, I think) wanted to take a sledgehammer to it. Bernie Sanders would have probably been better as the Democrat nominee. Things are always clearer with hindsight hey?

I like what a Los Angeles Times journalist called Vincent Bevins wrote. He said that ‘Brexit and Trumpism are the wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to consider for 30 years. Questions such as – Who are the losers of globalization, and how can we spread the benefits to them and ease the transition? Is it fair that the rich can capture almost all the gains of open borders and trade, or should the process be more equitable? Do we actually have democracy, or do banks just decide? Immigration is good for the vast majority, but for the very small minority who see pressure on their wages, should we help them, or do they just get ignored?’

He wrote this: ‘Since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt. It seems in both cases (Trumpism and Brexit), many voters are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say F*** YOU to people like me (and probably you). These people have some legitimate concerns, and the only outlet to vent they were offered was a terrible one.’ SPOT ON.

Ok, changing the subject …

Cruella

Now that it’s winter, Cruella my whackjob neighbour is using her veranda as a giant fridge. It’s 4 degrees outside and she’s piling drinks and other random groceries on her deckchairs. Oh so trailer trash.

Now that the nights are longer, she’s put her electric tree out in the garden. It’s got a metal trunk and white glass leaves that light up and flash. It’s so bright; it’s like the Star of Bethlehem. Actually, it doesn’t bother me. Every time I look out the window and see her tree blazing forth, I think, ‘Hey let’s disco!’

Living like a well-off peasant

There’s something strange and contradictory about Switzerland. I’ve been ruminating over this for a while. It’s such a rich country yet some aspects of it are backward and rundown, with a sort of impoverished feel about them.

In October my mom visited and she pointed out some of the old, battered buildings and homes in my area and said that if they were transplanted to South Africa, it would be considered a poor and dodgy neighbourhood. But in a little Swiss village, the ramshackle old buildings add to the sweetness and charm.

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Run down but somehow charming village vibe

Run down but somehow charming village vibe

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As you know I love libraries. When I was in America in August, I was blown away by the one in my brother’s area. It had a huge children’s section with comfortable little reading coves. There was a table of Lego, a table of puzzles and another with a few iPads loaded with educational apps. It was magical. There were so many books that children could take out 50 each go. My local library here in Switzerland is the size of a big cupboard. The Swiss don’t seem to like books. It saddens me that they aren’t bothered about fostering a love of reading and of learning, especially in kids.

Most of the playgrounds could do with a revamp and some TLC and I wonder, where does Switzerland’s money go? They don’t invest much of it in public services for children.

Megan’s little nursery school in the village is in one big room. All the age groups from 2 to 4 years old mingle together. The toys seem worn and clapped out, like they were donated many years ago. The teachers are delightful and ever so loving but the facilities don’t correspond to that of a first world, ubher rich nation. Someone said it’s good, that children should be creative and use their imaginations to do a lot with a little. The jungle gym is worn and sad. I wondered if I should donate some toys but then I thought, ‘Hang on. I pay an arm and a leg for this place’. The atmosphere is very much paysan, which is French for country, peasantish. I love the small town, family values of my area but, for what we pay in fees, I’m surprised the facilities aren’t more upscale and modern.

Even the people here look run down. They are a lot less refined and attractive than in South Africa. South Africans get far more dollied up to leave the house than Europeans do. My mom raised her eyebrows and wondered why I don’t spend more time on my appearance before I go out in public. In South Africa I wouldn’t be caught dead out at the shops looking like I do here in Switzerland.

I asked my mom to observe people around us and point out anyone who made more than a 5 minute effort on their physical appearance. It’s not only me. Most women look like the back of a bus, especially moms. I have no desire to coiffe myself before exiting the house. The only thing I have time to brush is my teeth. I spend 10 seconds getting myself ready because it takes a good 30 minutes to rally the little troops and steer them out the door. Now that it’s winter, it takes even longer to gather the gloves, beanies, jackets, socks and other paraphernalia. I don’t have time to look attractive.

Jessica's idea of being ready to leave the house on a cold winter's day

Jessica’s idea of being ready to leave the house on a cold winter’s day

Summing things up in one image

I found this picture the other day, hahaha I can so relate:

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I have story that sums up my own life with toddlers. We went to a crowded pizzeria and found a table that people had just vacated.  It was still covered with dirty plates and scrunched up serviettes. We sat down and suddenly noticed Jessica glugging down the contents of some random stranger’s glass. Al and I both launched towards her as if she had grabbed a grenade. Gross! Noooooo …

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