~ kusala
[ ku-sa-la: Pali term meaning wholesome, skillful, good, meritorious. ]
[ Action characterized by this quality (kusala-kamma) is bound to result (eventually) in happiness and a favorable outcome. ]


2004-10-04 - 11:14 a.m.

yes, this entry most surely is a copout in every sense... not an "entry" at all, but rather a pasted current correspondence to a friend. however, since i've proved to be such a lazy journalista, i'll post what i can... and this does sum up a lot of what's been on my mind and what i've been doing lately... maybe i'll get around to a more creative posting soon enough...

Hey Beck,
It was great to get your email (all I get is spam and travelocity updates these days), and I've been meaning to write since getting your last two bulk newsletters. Sigh--I don't know why correspondence always seems like such a chore. I guess it's because I feel guilty taking this kind of time at work (even though god knows I fritter away enough time here), and once I get home I'm barely on line, and then just doing mindless surfing.

Sorry that it's so boring and lonely for you over there, though I can imagine it would be hard. Sounds like you're finding the people cold too, or maybe you're referring to something else when you say the local AND expat community are all one-dimensional. Did you feel like you were meeting loads of interesting people in the neighborhood when you lived in Concord? Or do you think it's just the fact that you were working at least part-time that made life more interesting? Or maybe that you were in your own culture and could appreciate even the tract-home "Goletian" qualities of the suburbs? I'm just curious here, that's all. When you say you both miss California with every fiber of your beings, are you mainly talking about SB, or would you be just as content to live again in a place like Concord or somewhere similar?

I'm sure being a stay-at-home mom has its high points, but I'm sure there are plenty of moments feeling like "ok, there's only so much Swiss TV I can watch and cheesy poofs I can eat" (not that you "eat bonbons all day" as they used to say). I was just reminded of a somewhat harsh "bitch slap" letter I got from a friend when I was in Ghana -- I had sent a couple of down-in-the-dumps letters about being depressed and lonely, working through culture shock, etc., and Bill shot something back that can be summed up as "Oh stop the whining already, you are just depressed no matter WHERE you go, aren't you? Get over it...." I felt bad, but I also realized that he just didn't "get" the whole culture shock thing, and I don't think anyone ever can if they're not in it (plus, yes, my personality has always tended to drift just to the "E" side of midway on the depression gauge). Anyway, the reason I remembered this is because I was thinking the obvious thought of "funny how so many people we know would give aaaaanything for the chance to live overseas, in Europe, but you're finding that it's really not all it's cracked up to be." I'm saying that facetiously of course; the point is that life can be marvelous or boring just about anywhere. I'll be that someday when you're settled down in [fill in the blank], you'll find yourself having incredibly fond, sweet memories of the [fill in #] years spent "in der Schweiz." Or maybe that's just me; I end up nostalgic for just about everything that's ever happened to me...

Cool that you're so in touch with Billster, Joan, Joann, etc. Tell Bill & Joan I said hello next time you write. I went to Danya's baby shower in August, which was really cool (hmm, still reminds me I wasn't invited to yours). I need to call her now that Kailani has arrived (I'm not sure about that name, but hey, that's they're decision -- sounds a little too Hawaiian/granola to me, but better than another Brittany, Emily, or Ashley any day). I'm SO happy for her, since I can't imagine anyone who's wanted a baby more than Danya. It reminds me though, that shower was a total baby fest -- mostly of the adopted-third-world variety. It's funny that all these ESL people had babies around the same time.

Back to the expat topic, your comments on the election remind me that I'll be seriously wishing I could find some foreign guy and just become a stay-at-home mom in any country other than this one if Bush wins. Know any Swiss dudes who wouldn't mind supporting someone who can cook decently and doesn't mind housework? Seriously, I may start trying to figure out an exit plan, because the idea of Bush winning again (or even the fact that the race is SO damn close) says something about this country that is just totally out of step with my personal philosophy. No, my day-to-day life isn't really hampered by any of it, but the fact that the Prez & people like Ashcroft & Cheney are turning this into a sort of fundamentalist Christian police state indicates something seriously screwed up about national values and attitudes. We're debating a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to preserve the "sanctity of marriage" from "the gays", and meanwhile Spain is a hair away from becoming the third or fourth country to offer full marriage rights (not to mention all the places where the equiv. of civil unions have been allowed for almost 15 years). It's just has the effect of making one feel that, on the whole, most of the nation "doesn't want you here", even if there are urban oases where you're allowed to feel "somewhat normal." I just think it's sad that teenagers or whatever still have to grow up internalizing those kinds of moral attitudes. And it's not just "gay issues" that get me, things like hatred of taxes for "the common good", health insurance policy, and so forth, just make me feel like a weirdo in my own country. Kiss the Clinton era goodbye. Oh well, whatcha gonna do....? I guess just vote and hope for the best. I'm keeping grad school in Canada or finding a Dutch husband at the back of my mind though...

On other fronts: I got back from a 9-day trip to NJ last Monday. It was nice to see family, relax at the beach house a little, and enjoy the lush green late summer landscape. I actually think I may make it a priority over the next year to really explore the option of going back to the Northeast. Santa Barbara, though still beautiful, has started to feel like a very cold, empty, unaffordable place, despite the couple of friends, including Jodi, who help keep me somewhat sane. Work keeps me busy, but is frankly fairly boring -- it's certainly no IP lovefest (though we know it had lots of hatefest moments, there was always more kinship and fun amongst many of us than I feel in my current situation). I guess I'd describe this as "lock step bureaucratic purgatory" (not exactly hell, but it sure ain't heaven). I get "in trouble" for being 10 minutes late for work in the morning even though I'm more than willing (as always) to stay much longer than 10 minutes late in the evening. Sadly, the whole attitude (including some micromanagement and subtly patronizing actions) just makes me more likely to feel divested from any interest in or enthusiasm for the job. I know that the corporate world isn't likely to be any more forgiving, but I guess I'd say I'd at least be happier if I were doing something bureaucratic that were remotely related to one of my personal interests, as IP was. But, I need to pay my ever-mounting bills, so all I can do for now is "keep my eyes open". I'm telling you, I was meant to be a house-husband.

OK, I think it's probably time to get back to some real work. Thanks for writing; it's always great to read your updates, even the "mass-mail" ones. Rest assured that it'll be time for another lengthy update in a couple months' time.

Love, and best to D. & S.,

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