Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Saturday Night Swing Dancing in Zurich

So you ask....What are they like? Much more similar than I expected.

How I get there? A 20 minute tram and a 10 minute walk. How I get back? I pray that someone will drive me back to my flat or luck out and get a cab home. Tram service stops promptly at midnight and the dances continue until 4am in the morning. I was only able to dance until 2pm before pooping out.

The dance hall: It's a little bigger than the the PBDA kitchen. You have to go through a dark alley before you hear the swing music. It looks like it's in a warehouse. You walk up these very dark and red-lighted stairs; It's on the 1st floor. What I found out when I walked out of the building was that there is a techno dance in the basement. So you can imagine Swing people miggling with trance. It's... different.

It was special this past Saturday because they had a band. The band looked more like a 3 string quartet... but they were good! I was amazed at the sets, it really was fantastic. After midnight though, it becomes a DJ set which is fine.

The big difference is the full-bar. I was good though, only had a coke. There were bistro type tables and chairs lining the room and a little power-room/closet for the girls and boys to slip into their swing shoes or change their shirts. The women have no qualms of taking off their blouse and changing to another while people draw the curtain back for all to see. Fun stuff. LOL...

The swing style - almost all Lindy Hop. You rarely see Shag or Balboa. Absolutely NO 6-step smooth or Hollywood style lindy. I have been told that my style is Savoy because I tend to keep my arm up waist level. The crowd here keeps their hands very low... and maybe it's the culture, but they are all VERY light leads! The men don't believe in pushing around the women. I admit it's very hard to follow because I really don't know what they want me to do... but I am watching a lot and learning.

They have birthday dances, they do the Shim-Sham and the Jitterbug Stroll... I got major brownie points for know them... they were surprised at a newcomer, out of nowhere doing these dances with them. They do it twice as fast as PBDA, so my suzie Q's don't look as lame. ;)


it just isn't the same. They are not YOU guys...and it makes me miss each and every one of you all the more.


Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Answers to all your Questions!

Hi everyone -

Just to let you know, I went to my first swing dance!! I happened on it accidentally... it was under this gazebo.. and they had these beautiful red candleligths.. it was so awesome!! I just barged in and asked the first guy I came across to dance... it was SO MUCH fun!! I missed it so much...I could have cried!! People were cool, some spoke english.

Yesterday I started my first Swing lesson - Lindy Level 3. After seeing me the first night, the teacher promoted me from Level 1 to 3. Everything is in German, but the moves are all in English... so this is what I hear:

"blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah texas tommy with a doube turn blah blah blah blah blah blah eins zwei drei vier vier funf sechs sieben acht"

Then I start my swing out! LOL.. miss you guys.. hope you enjoy the email I sent out below to people...


WOW!! What a response... it's so funny, a lot of you have very good,
sometimes hilarious questions about life here and other crazy stuff... so I
thought I would share it all So here goes... enjoy! (BTW, The questions
are real, the identity or the person has been withheld to protect the
guilty and will not be disclosed...unless the person pisses me of in some
really bad way... ;)

Q: Regarding any nude Swiss photos...
A: To all my male friends: Sorry, I don't have any, by the time I
got over the shock of naked people on parade, they had already passed me
by. No, I won't get any, not even if you pay for the film.. because I have
a digital camera!!"

Q: "Do you have someone explaining what all this stuff is to you when you
see it?"
A: Sometimes, other times I have a book or brochure in hand to help
me along.

Q: "And where'd you learn to take such awesome pictures! Man, they look
like they should be in a travel brochure or something!!"
A: I have two incredible photographers to thank who have given
brutally honest critiques and positive feedback: Dave Echols of Long Beach
and Victor Goodpasture of Carlsbad... I wouldn't be a decent, campy
photographer without the likes of you two! Thanks guys for making me a
decent photographer and good storyteller."

Q: "Did you say Spain and Portugal? Hey, do they always kill the bull after
the fight? Why? What do they do with it afterwards - give it to the poor
for beef?"
A: LOL.. I will have to verify what the process is when I get there.
All I was told, when I sheepishly asked one of my French co-workers if she
knew.. is that the matador who makes the kill (or the MVP of a bullfighting
team) gets to cut the...ba... er... 'testicular glands' off the poor
animal. (Folks, I'll have to kindly ask you to refrain from any more
questions such as this one - you hear me, Leo! ;)

Q: "Is it getting cold there already?"
A: Oh, man, if it's not raining, it's picture perfect 78 F degree
weather - complete with blue, blue skies and puffy, puffy white clouds and
beautiful, beautiful sunsets and pink, pink flamingos and I'm drunk.

Q: "Do you pay for yahoo server storage to share your pictures? How do you
post the pictures?"
A: Nope, all free. Just sign up on photos.yahoo.com. The website will
give you instructions, once you've signed up you have access to a File
Manager where you can upload photos. Very easy and simple. Try it!

Q: "Could you set of an album "Men of Switzerland"? You can do it!!!"
A: I did and it's here and they're all mine. Mine, you hear me!

Q: Thanks for all the info on Switzerland, but you forgot to answer the
most important question of all. Is the chocolate as good as its
A: BETTER!! and it's here and they're all mine. Mine, you hear me!

Q: We know how good it feels to get packages in the mail, so is there
anything you'd like from Japan?

A: Yen, preferrably in large denominations. Ooops sorry, I meant to
say 'men.'"

Q: Out of curiosity, how do you do this whole yahoo photos thing. Is this
something I can do as well? Or, do I need a degree in rocket science?
A: Yes, it IS rocket science.. and only I hold the formula!! Nah,
Check out photos.yahoo.com It gives you good instructions, just sign in
with your already existing Yahoo ID. It gives lings to create photo
albums, mark them as private (for those naughty pictures) or public, upload
or add photos, rearrange... etc. The links to your albums are simply:

Q: Chamonix trois: Why do those sausages look like they're decorated in
thong underwear???
A: Believe me, I WISH I knew the answer...

Q: Street Parade: At first, the chicken man scared me, but that was
nothing compared to the other outfits that didn't have material in a lot of
places! Was that Hallowe'en or Gay Pride? Yikes! What were YOU wearing,
though, girl? No, never mind. I'm scared enough as it is. ;)
A: Be afraid, be very afraid. It was halloween, mardi gras, gay
pride, hetro pride, swiss pride, you-name-it pride parade! Techno music
was plasting from every shop, hotel, restaurant, bar, bathroom, car, boat,
etc. in all of Zurich, you name it, I saw it. What did A:IA: wear? Notice
there are NO pictures of me...

Any more questions? Anyone??

Thursday, August 15, 2002

My First Month in Zurich!

Hi everyone -

Today marks my one-month stay in Zurich, man, fun times when you're having flies!! LOL!

Anyway, below is a link to very simple website that I promised oh so long
ago! I wish it worked better, but am fight right now with the html coding for
Yahoo Photos...It gets you to the photos, there you will have to choose an album, then choose how you want to view it.. file by file or by slideshow, flip album, etc, etc,

Fun Switzerland facts:

- My co worker and I survived our first "Persistent Flasher" last night...the first time he flashed us, he didn't get a reaction, so he followed us to where we were waiting at a signal light and tried again. Poor guy, we just couldn't stop laughing.

- In my first month, the public urination witness count is at 14. (3 were
from Nicola, Imee and Denis' son... so maybe they don't count.) I saw a total of 5 in one day, all from a bridge from the infamous Zurich street parade where the float dancers are sometimes... naked.

- At work, you do not interrupt people, if you come into an office with a
quick question, you have to wait your turn, until they finish their conversation; oblivious to your presence, before you can politely ask your question. I've waited up to 20 minutes...*sigh*

- I am still butchering the language, so have resorted to being a mute most
of the time. I know, hard to believe! Besides, when I try to speak it, I will
inadvertently end up spitting at that person when I hit a really, really hard word like: struchkentunnelstrasse.

- I'm starting to develop a ho-hum attitude over the huge amount of nudity
on Swiss TV.

- I am slowly finding out that the average adult Swiss humor is equivalent
to that of an American 10 year old.

- Yes ladies, it's true... almost all Swiss men are good looking here. For
the men, the women are equally gorgeous but with a slight ego trips... so.. well... nothing new there. :)

- I finally got a cell phone here.. which, to my surprise no one
uses...everyone just types in these... ICQ-type messages instead of actually calling the person. Ah, the Swiss!

Upcoming stuff: I have kayaking next weekend, swing dancing on Saturday,
Yoga on Sundays, Swing dancing lessons start next monday, Thursday drinks tonight with the eBiz Nomads and Spain/Portugal vacation next month!! So, you can see, I'm sorta settling in. :)

Other than the occasional pangs of homesickness, I miss In and Out
Burgers, the sun, the ocean, laughing with my friends, mom and dad's cooking, PBDA swing dances and the like!

Take care, write back, send stuff ;), call, love,


Monday, August 05, 2002

Paris & Tour de France

Catching up on updates...this is what I did 2 weeks ago...

I am sorry for not writing back, it was very hectic last week. Most of
Europe is going or will be going on vacation, so there has been a lot of
push of work prior to their departure. Next week is a short week. Anyway,
I have been working until 8 or 9pm each night, the walk is ok since it is
light outside until 10pm or so.

I've resorted to using one of those home delivery food services because
after a 12 hour day, I don't feel like eating by myself and having to
struggle with surly waitresses or cryptic menus or cooking and washing
dishes. I will try better when I am not as stressed.

To add to this, I did an impulsive thing. It's the last weekend for the Tour de France, so I thought, why not? Yup, I got special permission to get out of work early and hop on a train to Paris. It took six long hours, but I booked first class which meant my computer was up for about 4 hours. I have a lot of work to do before Monday. In fact, I am writing this from the train going back to Zurich.

I have stayed up past 1am each night/morning visiting the streets of Paris, the Le Villette or just strolling the quiet streets of Vincennes. As always, Imee & Denis were my gracious hosts. Unfortunately, Nicola, their son, is going through his terrible twos. Everything is his. I can't touch anything of his or look at him funny or else he gets himself into a hissy-fit! My, what fits a toddler can throw, but I love him dearly when he is in good spirits and offers little bits of affection.

They took their bikes out and we rented one for me and spent the morning biking in one of the biggest public parks. One of the "off-road" trails, I ran into some poison oak. My knees and lower legs felt like it was burning for most of day. In the afternoon, we took a row boat out, and save for the time I was rowing us around in circles, it was fun. Paris was hot, hot, hot this weekend!! I lucked out with the fantastic weather.

Tour de France finally got to Paris... and guess what, I watched from the balcony of the US Embassy in Paris!! Imee works for them. It was great, beautiful rooms that had gold leafing, similar to what you find in Versailles. All Louis the 15th stuff! Pretty fancy! Along with front seat views to the race below, we had a view of the eiffel tower to our right and Louvre to the left. The racers whizzed by so fast that if you blinked, they were gone! Wow, what a day! The only bad thiLe Villetteok so many pictures yesterday that my camera battery was dead that morning.. so I will have to rely on pictures taken by my friend Imee.

Tell Erin & Tami hello for me! Miss you all very much, beste grĂ¼sse!

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Jenn in Geneva

Another Jenn Update - Blast from the past: My first trip to Geneva, Switzerland.

I got through my first 4-day weekend here. Thursday, August 1st is the Swiss National Holiday - which also means that everyone also takes Friday off. Wednesday evening, Sabina (my co-worker at Swiss Re) and I took a train to Geneva. She was my host for the weekend. Thursday, we visited the quaint little lakeside village of Annecy in France. (prounonced "ansy"- I had to explain what that meant in English).

The village was picturesque. Our lunch consisted of a crepe du jamon et fromage -
very, very filling. She also had her favorite, a thick hot chocolate. The rest
of the afternoon, we bonded over shopping the jewelry, antique and home decor shops. I am now a proud owner of a decantur de carnard, a duck decanter which I've been wanting for some time now. Along with my magnet du jour and the usual touristy postcards, I've resolved to buying little bits of jewelry to remind me of the city. I received some french cooking lessons from Sabine and made dinner that night. Can't wait to try the recipe for my family & friends.

Friday was spent in another French little city, Chamonix (prounonced "sha-mo-nie".. sounds like how I say "Germany" when drunk... I think...). This was was at the foot of the highest mountain in France, the Monte Blanc. We took a train up to Mer de Glace (translated as "sea of ice") one of the two glaciers that are there. After the train ride, you take a gondola down to the glacier and walk in! It was tres cool!! Afterwards, there was a little village below chock full of cute little shops,
pattiseries, you name it! The valley is full of quartz crystals and I got a little one as a souvenier.

Friday night was the start of Geneva-Fest - a food - music - wine - men - everything festival! Techno music ruled the air, there was people from all ages and fantastic fireworks show. There tens of thousands of very drunk europeans there! We danced until 2am and staggered back to her place. Saturday, we finally got to tour Geneva's old city, good museums, fantastic photo ops, tea shops... but somehow we ended back up in the festival.

The thunderstorm started and that was that, we were fully drenched by the time we got back to the flat - it was about a1/2 mile away. Today, Sabine was sick, so I took an early 3-hour train ride back to Zurich by myself. I am tired and am looking forward to a weekend of laundry and journal catch-up. It's going to be a tough week. Lots of work.