Tuesday, January 30, 2007


A few things:

-Switzerland went well. I remember more French than I thought, which was completely useless in Zurich, where everyone spoke German. J promised that we can learn German together. He's got some tapes. But I actually spent most of the trip in Geneva, where French is the norm. I ate truffles for the first time, and also some cheese that completely reinforced the origins of the question "who cut the cheese?!" I brought back Toblerone, and Swiss Army Knives made of chocolate. And a windchime (it had a nice sound; I prefer unusual souvenirs).

-I am a pushover. Got a call from a recruiter today and he probably could have gotten me to tell him my weight if he'd asked. Nevermind that I am not at all interested in looking for another job right now. He was dangling offers of a position with more responsibility; I was frank and said that was something I wasn't necessarily looking for more of at the moment.

-Our mortgage was approved. So was the mortgage of the folks who are buying our house. 2 weeks to wooded bliss! Free pizza and beer if you help us unload the trucks :)

Friday, January 19, 2007

it's a go!

I'm happy to announce that we are on track to move to the woods next month! The sale of our current house is all lined up, and our offer has been accepted on the new house. We are trying to finalize the closing date--we are hoping to get 4 weeks but we may have to be out of here as early as 2 weeks from now. Here are some pictures of the new place.

The front:

The back:

Living/Dining room:

Room adjacent to kitchen, overlooking our 13 acres of woods:

Obviously, that's not our stuff in the house (it's actually vacant now but those pics were from the listing). I can't wait to be there in spring when all the flowering trees bloom, and of course in fall, when we will have an awesome view of our very own New England foliage.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

chocolate and cheese and giant knives with lots of blades and things

One of the perks of my job is that I sometimes get to travel to neat cities and stay in very nice hotels. For the first time in the 3 years that I've been in this profession, I am finally being sent overseas for a work trip! Destination: Switzerland.

Although I love to travel, I'm a little nervous because I have to fly into one city, and then take the train to another city and then a cab to my hotel...all by myself. Here's the problem--how do you know what language any given person in Switzerland speaks? German and French are 2 of the official languages, Italian is another. English is not. Luckily, at one point in my life, I was nearly fluent in French. Here's why I hesitate to rely on my French: when faced with the fact that I will have to navigate the Swiss train system on my own, I tried to think of the French word for "train". For the life of me, I could not remember it. I looked it up online. It is "train".

I know I should not be nervous...in fact, I already know I will have 100 times more confidence than that day almost exactly 12 years ago, when I arrived in Paris--alone--to spend a semester living there. It was a crisp early morning in January, and I was still recovering from New Year's Eve. I had 6 months worth of clothes (mostly black and grey so I could fit in with the Parisians). I got into a cab and tried to pronounce the address of my apartment...knowing I would butcher it I simultaneously handed the cabbie a scrap of paper where I had written it down. I was tired, and nervous, and so excited. I'd never lived in an apartment before, and here I was, about to do it, in PARIS! We finally pulled up at the building. It was so "French". I was delighted. Then I met the concierge, who gave me the nastiest look as I tried desperately to explain to her who I was. Of course she spoke absolutely no English (or maybe she was just pretending)...I remember distinctly trying to carefully pronounce "Je suis une etudiante Americaine..." (as if she would not immediately realize I was an American...the French can *smell* us, I am convinced). After much deliberation, she finally handed me a key and showed me to the apartment--through 2 courtyards and up 5 or 6 flights of stairs. Did I mention I had 6 months worth of things with me? I spent that first day wandering the neighborhood. I think I even went into a store that sold phones because I couldn't figure out how to use the payphone to call home with my calling card. My roommate (and now best girlfriend) SV showed up the next day, so we tackled the rest of the basic necessities together, but I will never forget the nervous, exhausted, exhilaration I felt that first day alone in Paris.

Well, that was an unexpected stream of conciousness. I honestly didn't sit down intending to write about that. But you know what, I feel much better about showing up alone in Switzerland now! J, I wish you could be there with me. I swear I will get your ass to Europe before I turn too much more of your hair gray.

So anyway, have any of you been to Switzerland? In what language do I need to ask for my 4-foot Toblerone and Giant Swiss Army Knife? Should I ask people, in French, if they speak English? I hate to be the ignoramous who just starts rambling in English in a foreign country as if everyone is supposed to understand it. And on a serious note, if you have any recommendations for Must-See things in Zurich or Geneva (keeping in mind I'll only have 1 day in each city), I'm all ears!

Friday, January 12, 2007

an update

for those who may be wondering:

We are hoping to really start buttoning things up with the house deal sometime this weekend. Basically, if you haven't done it before, the sale of a house involves several steps--and until the "closing" is complete, your house isn't really sold. We made it through the first step, which was the home inspection. The buyers looked over the report and decided not to ask us to fix anything (which is good, because we pretty much told them, "look, we're giving you a great price, but you're getting the place as-is". The next step is the appraisal. In our case, our buyers are getting a government loan, so there are some contingencies in place that you may not have to deal with in the case of a conventional loan. Because the government is granting the loan, they want to make sure there are no major problems with the property before they approve the loan. We had to sign a statement agreeing that our buyers had the right to walk away from the deal if the house does not appraise for at or above the sale price. In addition, the government may require certain repairs to be made before they'll approve the loan. So right now, we are simply waiting to hear the results of the appraisal that was done last weekend. We were hoping to have heard earlier this week, but the process is taking longer than we expected.

Once we get the news on the appraisal (assuming all is good), we will move forward at blazing speed in terms of getting a contract together on the house we want to buy. (Lever, it's not in Maine! It's still here in CT, about 45 minutes from where we live now).

So keep your fingers crossed for us (or, if you're Catholic, pray to that wacky St. Joseph guy). Here's hoping I have another--more exciting--update within a few days...