It was a long, wet winter here in Heidiland. And is has been a cold, soggy, hypothermia-inducing spring. Down in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, Lago Maggiore is brimming over. Around here the farmers can’t plant their potato crops, because the fields are too muddy for their tractors to till.
A while back I wrote a post on stereotypes. Okay, it was a long while back, when Harold Camping was predicting that the world was about to end. In that post I recapped some pretty standard Swiss stereotypes:
The Swiss go on eating Rostis and chocolate and dipping day-old bread into oozing pots of cheese fondue, occasionally heading down into their fallout shelters for another bottle of Chasselas or Pinot noir, which they deftly open with their ever-handy Swiss army knives, accordions playing cheerily in the background. When they’re not conducting secret bank deals involving covert Carribean cash transfers, that is. Or cleaning their ovens with toothbrushes. Or hiking up an Alp behind a herd of fat cows whose bells ding and dong sweetly into the picture-postcard valley far below.
Today, I came across something that made me laugh. It’s a story of a Swiss person who has taken the Swiss neatnik stereotype to such an incredible extreme that he completely defies another Swiss stereotype: the one that says the Swiss have no sense of humor. It seemed like an appropriate thing to share on April 1st. It’s no joke, though.
The other day Luc had to give a presentation to his English class about the novel “the Great Gatsby.” It had to be 12 minutes long, so I volunteered to listen and time it. He argued that the theme of the book was “The American Dream,” or, more accurately, the Illusion of the American Dream.
See, Gatsby was all about excess – the old idea that the more you have, and the more you can accumulate, the happier you’ll be. You’ll finally reach some point of maximum return, you’ll hit the top of the top. Then people like Tom, who are born rich, will let you into their fold. There’s this idea that everyone has an equal shot at being one of the chosen few. It’s just a matter of hard work. The movie is coming out this summer, in case you didn’t read the book in high school.
Hello everyone. I’m still here. It’s spring, and I’ve decided to come out of hibernation. Just the other day the temperature went up over 10C and I swear I felt a kind of sap surging in my veins. I’m alive! It’s warm! I feel the sun on my face!
I have decided, however, to adopt a new blogging style. Short. Sweet. To the point. No more ramblings from one topic to another. That’s a real challenge for me, because I find so many things interesting, and I want to share them all with everyone. I guess that means I’ll need to post more things, then, if I limit myself to one topic per post.
Today it’s poetry. I happened to visit Brainpickings, Maria Popov’s brilliant blog, and read a fascinating article about a woman named Nina Katchadourian, who photographs the spines of books arranged to make sentences and poems. It reminded me of Jane, a woman I met a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting my mom.
It happened today. Out running along the lake in a cold drizzle, I felt it. The low pit of winter is past. We’re on the upslope to spring. There was a huge gaggle of cormorants (is gaggle the right term for cormorants?) on the fake island in Preverenges. They must be on their way to Scandinavia. They must be feeling it, too. (I took this picture the day before.)
I know it officially happened on December 21, when the balance of dark versus light hit bottom and the slow climb back into the sun began once again. But January is usually still too dark and cold and, well, winter for it to register. Today, however, despite the clouds and the rain, I finally feel like I’m climbing out of the hole.
I’m not dead yet! This may very well be my favorite line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail - it’s a close tie with Silly English kuhniggits! and Run away! Run away! Spoken with the proper accent, each phrase has served me well in response to a variety of situations I’ve encountered across the years.
You might very well have wondered about my status, since my last post was about a month ago. I saw my trusty CTO Dave not long ago on a trip to the US, and the issue came up.
Dave: You haven’t posted much to Gydle lately.
Me: I don’t have anything to say.
He shrugged, and that was that. Yesterday he sent me a comic from the Oatmeal that explains it much better than I did. Make sure you scroll down to the part that says “I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have anything to say, you shouldn’t be talking. And if you don’t have anything to write about, DON’T WRITE.”
First, I have a great gift idea.
I got an e-mail the other day from “American Gut.” Imagine my excitement! The Human Food Project is live on IndieGoGo. For only $99 and a stool sample, you can get a list of the microbes colonizing your gut. Upscaling is a bargain – it’s $180 for two samples, $260 for three and a mere $320 for a family of four!
Happy Halloween! A whole month has gone by and I haven’t written a thing here on Gydle. It’s not the funk, thank goodness, that has passed. I’m back in the saddle, writing away. I had a very relaxing vacation and knitted a pair of mittens. I am now a mitten-knitter, something to which I have always aspired.
Today as I was driving, I caught a snippet of one of my favorite TED talks, the one in which Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame talks about the nature of genius and the dark side of success. I quoted her talk a while ago in a post on Inspiration.
I took it as a sign.
The important thing about the creative process, she says, is showing up day after day. You have to do your part, and trust that whatever inspiration or creative genius or whatever you want to call it will come and visit you at some point. You have to make the choice to put yourself out there and create something.
I was a little worried that after my last post, someone would stage an intervention. Take away all my running shoes, maybe, or set up a booby trap in front of the door so I would trip and sprain an ankle. Remember, way back this spring I asked you to remind me to be moderate when I started going off the deep end. Thanks for nothing, people!
As it happens, I intervened all by myself and took two consecutive days off. Then I went into a funk. And that has really slowed me down.