Living with gusto

April 30th, 2009

I could learn a lot about life from this kid.

Springtime in the city

April 29th, 2009

Bern is a green city, a blooming and blossoming city. There are chestnut trees and lillac bushes, apple trees and blossoming trees and shrubs of all description. It is one of the reasons I love living here; in the middle of my busy urban neighborhood with the butcher and the grocery store and the coffee shops and the whole foods shop on the corner there are crows and magpies and all manner of green things.

There is also pollen.

Evening outside my window

April 28th, 2009

Well how about that

April 28th, 2009

I found a little notebook today. Actually Boychen found it, pulling it out of a desk drawer along with a roll of clear tape, a black binder clip, a sheet of labels, some correction tape, and a 2008 agenda. I don’t remember when I used this notebook – I didn’t date it – but it was inspired by this post, so it would have been some time after that. So May or June of last year, maybe. I spent about a month listing each day a small handful of things that I really, really wanted. The very first line in the notebook?

“I want to publish my poetry.”

And here I am, one year later, with two poems in an on-line journal, four more coming out later in the year, and six currently under consideration.

Tonight, when the boys are asleep, I’m going to flip through the book and see what else I asked for. See what else I got.

Being here

April 27th, 2009

I am fairly sure that even after all these years, I do not take living here for granted. On every clear day I still stop and stare at the Alps
as though I’d just arrived yesterday.

But sometimes I’m reminded that maybe, maybe I do. Just a bit. Maybe I have stopped seeing this city I am privileged to call home. I recently posted a picture to my on-line writing group and got virtual gasps in reply. It’s not every day you see statues like this.

Except, for me, it is every day. These Bernese statues on these Bernese streets. I must walk past them four days out of seven. And I know they’re stunning – I continue to take pictures of them, after all – but I forget, I guess, how otherly they are, how utterly special. Sometimes, it takes another person’s intake of breath to remind me to sigh. It takes another person’s eyes going wide to remind me to close my own in gratitude. That happened to me last week, so I’m going to take some time to look closely at the streets of my city. Because my home, it makes people stop and stare. I should be one of those people.


April 26th, 2009

New writers are often called “emerging writers.” I like the term; it makes me think of a butterfly breaking out of its chrysalis. But that image is too dramatic, the transformation too complete, to apply to what’s happening to my writing, to my writing self. I like to think of myself as a budding poet. I have had four poems accepted this year (two of them were published here, the other four are coming out later in the year). It’s not enough to call myself a professional poet, it’s not enough to turn into a book. It is not the sudden transformation of pupa to butterfly overnight. It is more like a budding, the slow greening of spring when suddenly you wake up and there are blossoms everywhere and you’re not quite sure when it happened. It is like that. Slow. Gradual. Subtle. But irrevocable. Once spring starts, you can’t close the door on it. That’s what this feels like. There is no closing the door on this writing life, this budding writing life.

The heart on the bus goes melt, melt, melt.

April 24th, 2009

Every time I ride the bus with Small Boy, I fall in love with him all over again.

* * *

He always wants to sit up front, where he can see the driver; when I have Boychen in the stroller I cannot join him up there, I have to stand near the doors in the stroller area. Small Boy makes his way up to the front calling out “Entschuldigung! Entschuldigung!” in his high sweet musical voice as he slips through the forest of grown-up legs. He climbs up onto the seat and lifts his hands to his imaginary steering wheel. I can usually see the top of his head from where I stand with the stroller, sometimes not; but I know he is there because inevitably he starts chatting with the grown-up next to him. When we approach our stop I call out “This is us, darling” and he slips off the seat and makes his way back to me saying “Entschuldigung. I muss üsstiege. Entschuldigung.” He takes my hand, we step off the bus, and then Small Boy stops and turns. He presses the button on the doors to hold them open and waits for everybody else to get off the bus, then keeps holding the doors for everybody waiting to get on. Sometimes he motions with his little hand everybody on, everybody on. Only after all the people have boarded the bus can we go on our way.

* * *

There is an organization assisting the visually impaired in our neighborhood; as a result there are often people with guide dogs or walking sticks on our bus. Small Boy always gets up to offer them his seat. I no longer have to gently encourage him to do this.

* * *

If I do not have the stroller with me, we can exit the bus through the front door up by the driver. Small Boy always says “Tschuss. Merci.” to the driver and waves as he (it is almost always a he) drives away.

* * *

If we are running to catch a bus or tram, Small Boy turns on his sirens and flashing lights. We run down the street with him calling out “DooDah! DooDah! DooDah!” and opening and closing his fists to blink his lights. He is convinced this makes the bus driver wait, since clearly he is a Fireman running to an Emergency.

* * *

Once we boarded a bus at the first stop. We had to wait about five minutes before the scheduled run; the driver let Small Boy sit in the driver’s  seat and “drive.” This must have been over two years ago; I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even pregnant with the Boychen yet. He still turns to me sometimes and says, “Remember when I got to sit in the seat and drive? That was really nice of the driver, wasn’t it?”

* * *

He knows the names of the stops, the numbers of the bus routes we need to take to get to our favorite places. I almost think that if he ever got lost he could negotiate the buses and find his way home. He is confident and mature on the buses and trams, polite and friendly.

* * *

Small Boy sits next to an older woman on the bus and starts talking to her. He tells her he wants to be a Fireman when he grows up. He does not want to be in the Army* because in the Army sometimes you have to hurt people. We reach our stop. “I muss üsstiege. Adieu.” He waves goodbye, we get off the bus, then he waves at her again through the window as the bus drives off. I bend over to kiss his cheek. He looks up at me. “Thanks!” he says. “Thank you for being so kind,” I reply. “I do have good bus manners, don’t I,” he says with pride. “Yes, dear, you have the best bus manners.”

* * *

Every time. My heart swells every time.

* * *

* As things stand now, both boys will be required to serve in the Swiss military although there is a Civil Protection option for conscientious objectors.



My family, see also Apocolypse, four horsemen of

April 15th, 2009

We are sick. Oh, yes, we are sick. Small Boy, Husband and I all have bronchitis and are all taking antibiotics. (Hey, we hit the trifecta!) Boychen, miraculously, was proclaimed bronchially fit but with a red inflamed – “not an infection, yet” – inner ear. The left ear, for the curious. He’s got ear-drops and nose-drops and cough syrup. A part of me is wondering if we shouldn’t just throw him on antibiotics anyway because, really, like he’s going to get out of this without deveoping bronchitis, too? Seriously, you think? Most of me, however, is cautious about using antibiotics, as is our pediatrician Dr. Norwegian (which is one of the many things I really like about him). But really. Seems to me like the poor boy is doomed.


April 12th, 2009

I’m still cranky and grumpy and now sick on top of it all. The whole family is sick, we’re a veritable germ factory. I’ve taken to stealing using some of the boys’ ear-drops, it’s that bad. To remind myself that life does not completely suck, I’m copying out something I wrote in my journal yesterday:

I sit here eating an Italian sandwich with the Swiss Alps in front of me while to my back a street performer plays Scottish bagpipes; in my lap is a book of English poetry and in my bag a German novel. This is the life I have chosen. This is the life I have made.

No, it doesn’t all suck.


Suddenly, spring

April 10th, 2009

Suddenly everything is greening, budding, sprouting. The lillac tree has leaves, the cherry tree next to the Thai restaurant has blossoms, the forest floor is a riot of blooms and buds. There is a haze of green on the hedges, spots of yellow across the street. Is it warm and sunny and blue of sky. I turned my chair yesterday, while sitting out back during Boychen’s nap, because my legs in their jeans were too warm in the full sun. Suddenly it is spring.