Archive for the ‘sightings’ Category

St Jean, samdei soir

April 30, 2012

Flânuer, flânuerie…a word in French, a flow, a stop and go. I see you there, smiling, your bright teeth, your face in the glass. Visions from the St Jean neighborhood on a Saturday evening, the first warm one in a while: Go, stop, go.

1.Warmth. At the first sun I’ve seen in a month this scene plays in my mind. Often, this godforsaken saccharine song bursts out at inopportune moments. But as I am walking alone now down Rue de St Jean, it hardly matters. I’m sorry to say that, despite how awful it truly is, this song makes me almost disgustingly happy. Until the sky again explodes in rain, of course. And as this is Geneva, it’s only a matter of time.

2. At the thai restaurant at the end of the block. Dancers are visible through the window on the dinner stage; their gold adorned heads rise and fall with a beat I cannot hear. I imagine it must the beat of a slow tambourine, a metronomic procession of many small bells; a deep red, lethargic color. Watching the dancers from outside has that aquarium quality: the arranged display of some other world behind a few millimeters of glass. I am transfixed by how rigid their postures seem, how their arms are suspended like marionettes. It must be only their legs that are moving.

3. An older man sits at the café near the library. He rocks back in his chair, the slanting sun shines through his beer.

4. At the Portuguese butcher a stuffed badger is perched in the window display, frozen in soundless, perpetual attack. I look into its glass eyes and sympathize with the strange mixture of terror and defeat that they seem to project before thinking: Surely, if I were Portuguese, I wouldn’t advertise the fact that I butcher and eat badgers.

5. Flute sounds from the plaza: the music here is fast, lively. A group of people is grilling, drinking, and at the center there is line of dancing women. One hand raised, shuffling across the expanse, hips swaying, counting time: “Uno, dos, tres, quatro…” Ah, they are speaking Spanish. Maybe they are Colombians, I think, as if I could tell.

6. Next morning, Sunday, the bells ring for a near quarter of an hour. A long, doleful resonance. Listening I feel pulled, stomach first, back in time several centuries. I can see the church from my balcony, a pastor stands on the steps. No one goes in.

As a Young Dog

June 17, 2011

I swear I’m not trying to copy Alia. I’ve just been riding public transportation a lot lately (two hours a day) and these sorts of things tend to become the fabric of your daily myth. As you know the theme of this blog is that it is an outlet for my irrational romanticizing of everything trivial. So here you have it: a public transit story. For *actually good* public transit stories, you know where to look.


Standing not inconspicuously in the center of the near empty tram car, like so many of the manchildren I’ve seen roaming the bus system of Geneva over the last few weeks, he is some sort of a seamless and bizarre crossbreeding of the jersey shore and eurotrash style scenes. He’s got gold chains, a buzz cut, and low (but not too low) hanging pants. He’s also at least 6’3″ and looks like he’s about to speak, or at least shout something incomprehensible and French.

With one hand he’s fiddling with a pack of cigarettes, as if he’s deciding whether or not it’s alright to smoke on the train. the other hand is clutching the black foam handlebar of a razor scooter, which, because he’s at least 6’3″, is dangling with only the back wheel in contact with the floor, flinging itself erratically with each lurch or wind of the train.

Completely unnecessary, on this swollen summer night, is the puffy black jacket he’s wearing. Unnecessary, I think, until he turns toward me and I find myself eye to eye with a doberman puppy, relaxing kangaroo style within the half unzipped fold of the jacket. Doe eyed and silent, this dog is a picture of tranquility, a multitude of calm . The dog looks me in the eye when the man does not, and soon we’re locked irrevocably into some sort of happenstance stare off. After several minutes I begin to think, with some conscious affection of insanity, that this unfaltering, adorable little dog is looking into my soul. I narrow my eyes…

Our contest is abruptly broken when the man turns away, and I try in disbelief to blink away what I for a moment thought was, but couldn’t have been, a fleeting ironic gleam in the eyes of the dog.

Oh, only to be so completely senseless to the utter absurdity of the human experience.

The man with the dog steps off the train at the next stop and a minute later I’ve dissolved into audible laughter. But it’s alright because it’s past midnight, and hell if there’s anyone actually sane on the tram to CERN at such an hour.

The best picture of a cow I have ever taken

August 12, 2010

And trust me, I’ve taken a lot of pictures of cows.

It happened yesterday, at Ales Stenar in österlen. I am uncommonly proud of this cow picture.

I just thought I would share that with you.


In other news, I am leaving Sweden in a day and a half. It feels, in a word, strange.

And I thought the cow would be a nice break from the nearing-novel-length posts about traveling.

See you soon!


June 8, 2010

Spyken, a local high school (called gymnasiet) had its graduation today. But Swedish high school graduation is nothing like American High school gradation. Apparently, when you graduate from high school in Sweden, not only do you get a white captian-esque hat (called a studentmössa) to sport, but you get to run around your town of residence for the rest of the day blowing whistles and airhorns. After that, you get to take several laps around town while dancing to loud music, hoisting homemade congratulatory signs, and drinking champange, all from the open-air bed of a semi-truck, as the citizens of the town smile and wave and even sometimes high-five you as you pass by. It’s like a parade with the theme of “hormones and joy.” It’s fantastic and hilarious and fantastically hilarious. And oh so Swedish.

I had been seeing the trucks all day, and had waved at and high-fived my fair share of giddy students. But the best moment came as our pack of cyclists rode out of town this afternoon. We passed one of the several of the teenager-filled trucks, and a girl in the back of it, amongst the revelers, popped a fresh bottle of bubbly and sprayed it out over us as we rolled by.

And in that moment, I realized that being sprayed with champange by a possibly inebriated 18-year old Swede from the bed of a Scania semi-truck is probably the closest I’d ever get to that victory-lap-tour-de-france-sprayed-by-French-alcohol-while-riding feeling.

God. What a feeling.

in these parts

April 18, 2010

The metallic emblem on the grill of 18-wheeler spells out SCANIA (Skåne in English) in thick, block letters. I just barely get a glimpse of the truck sitting parked and abandoned on the side of the onion field across from the gas station as our pack pedaled by. But the glimpse is long enough. Proudly displayed in a somewhat visibility-impairing location on the windshield is the one, the only, the Confederate Flag.

International redneck solidarity? I think maybe so.

Good Lawd, the marriage of two worlds ain’t never been so perfect.