Monday, February 11, 2013

Chalet Shenanigans - Chapter 26

First World Problems, a.k.a White Whine

I really should be doing my French homework and/or sewing the curtains for the bathroom, but Mr. Big is away in London, probably hanging out with Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver, so, I am playing hookie and writing in my blog.

Which brings me to the topic for this post:  i.e. First World Problems.  Let’s see.  Hmmmm.  My husband is in London eating at some famous chef’s restaurant while I try to decide, while sitting in my chalet in the French Alps, what would be the most fulfilling use of my time.  Hmm.  Dilemma, dilemma.  See?  First World Problem.

This blog post is probably going to receive hate mail, but I don’t care.  Over here in Europe, we are not as politically correct as they are in America.  And, as far as First World Problems go, Switzerland takes the cake, hands down.  This country, I’m sure, logs the most First World Problems of any other, bar none.  The 99% can bitch and moan all they want, but, in Switzerland, no one cares.  They have real problems, here, by God, and these problems need to be taken seriously.

Truthfully, I would never write a whole article about this, but really, it is just too funny and I cannot help myself.  BECAUSE IT HAPPENS EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Usually, I chuckle and say, (under my breath), eh, First World Problem.  But, sometimes, it’s MY problem and then I’m not chuckling so much.  Fair warning, most of these problems are going to involve picture taking, skiing and sight-seeing.  YOU SEE?  Even our First World Problems involve First World Problems!

Take today, for example.  My homework (that I’m not doing but that I’m supposed to be doing) involves writing an essay on my opinion on The Minder Proposition.  The Minder Proposition is a bill that’s up for vote here next month which limits executive pay, because these bastards just make way too friggin’ much money, i.e. FWP.

Ergo, if you make so much money that your entire country thinks you need a pay cut AND FEELS THE NECESSITY TO BRING IT TO A VOTE, you have a First World Problem.

Some more examples:

You join Twitter because you think you are achingly funny but then you realize that you don’t really understand how to do it.  This embarrasses you and you tell no one that you are just not hip.

If, during a raging thunderstorm LOCATED IN SOUTH  CAROLINA, your  SWISS television skips a beat and you lose about 20 seconds of the show you are watching, this is a FWP.  This is what you say, “stupid Slingbox.  Who invented this thing?  Is it back on yet?  Jeez, I missed it.  Rewind!  Rewind!”

If, while trying to take an artistic photo of the Matterhorn, some other person walks in front of you, you say, “Dude, you are blocking my mountain. “  Then you have to wait, like, 5 seconds for them to move.  Some people are just rude.

Yes, First World Problems.  Otherwise known as White Whines.  No one takes them seriously.  No one cares.  No one is dying, right?  No one is starving.  First World Problems are the hangnails on the cuticles of life.

But, I must confess, I have them, and, yes they are funny, but they are real.  Here are some more:

In the Nespresso store, “I need 45 boxes of Ristretto”.  The lady behind the counter clarifies, “45, really?”  Yes, lady, I have Nespresso machines in three countries.  Just give me my 45 boxes.  Please.  I don’t need your raised eyebrows.  It’s 15 per country, which is not outrageous.  Spare me the eyebrow lift.  Please.

There’s a beautiful, raging blizzard going on outside, but you are all tucked up cozy inside your chalet with your fire going, sipping one of the aforementioned Nespressos, aaaand the internet goes out.  You check the computer, you check the tv, you check the iPhone.  No internet.  Waaaah!  How will I watch The Bachelor?  How will I download a new book onto my Kindle?  Wah, wah, wah.  There’s only one solution.  You get in your car and drive TO YOUR OTHER HOUSE where the internet is surely working.  (I think this one, so far, has been my ultimate First World Problem.  I’m almost embarrassed to talk about it.  Almost.)

You find yourself calculating exactly how far is too far for a 6-month old baby to fly comfortably, because you are trying to plan next summer’s family vacation.  You really want to do the South African safari thing, but that may be pushing it.  You may have to “settle” for Ibiza, or, God forbid, go slumming  in the Caribbean.

Here’s a whole subset of skiing problems.  By definition, ANY problem while skiing is a First World Problem, right?  They just don’t have these issues in Zimbabwe.

If, while sitting on a deck at a mountain restaurant, after having stopped for lunch during your day of skiing, the sun goes behind a cloud, you say, “OMG, where’s the sun?  I only like to ski in full sun or I will get chilly”.

You decide that you need a new ski jacket because your current, (although perfectly good), model does not have a dedicated pocket for your sun glasses.  It really bothers you that, on sunny days, (which are the only days that you ski, remember), when you stop to have lunch on the slopes, you do not have your sun glasses handy when you take off your helmet and goggles.  You always have to ask your husband for your glasses because his ski jacket has multiple pockets.  What a pain.

Sometimes, if you don’t time it just right, you have to wait the whole 17 minutes for the ski bus to make its’ loop.  So annoying.  You could, of course, walk to the ski lift in that time, but who does that?

You tend to avoid the slopes that have button lifts because you have white ski pants and they make your crotch look SO GRUNGY by the end of the day.  I mean, really.  Couldn’t they CLEAN those things occasionally?

And what about those restaurants that don’t give you a saucer or at least a napkin under your vin chaud?  Don’t they know how difficult it is to walk from the bar to your lounge chair in ski boots without sloshing a little?  C’mon, I’ve got white pants on here!  So thoughtless.

And for those of you out there who are thinking, “wow, I really can’t relate.  That Trailing Spouse is a horrible person, etc.”, well, if you are one of those who cleans your house BEFORE your cleaning lady gets there, you, my dear, have a First World Problem.

You get the picture.  Next time you find yourself complaining about something that 8 billion other people WISH they could complain about, just stop.  Take a deep breath and say, OK, that’s a First World Problem.

Then submit it to White Whines so all of the rest of us can enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chalet Shenanigans - Chapter 25

 Two New Babies:  One Real Kind and One Master Bath

Grand Three made her arrival in December and we attended the joyous occasion in Atlanta.  You will recall that Grands One and Two came as a package deal with Mrs. Domestic Son at the ripe old ages of 9 and 4 so we missed out on their babyhoods.   Mr. Big and I haven’t been around a newborn in over 20 years and Mr. Big has never been exposed to a lactating mother.

Well, Mr. Big was just hilarious as he always is when placed outside his comfort zone.  Nowadays, the whole family is invited into the Labor Room to hang out with the expectant parents while the mom-to-be, well, labors.  Needless to say, Mr. Big feels that he is quite well-acquainted with his daughter-in-law now.  The poor man just didn’t know where to look.  He finally settled on an imaginary point in space located somewhere in the vicinity of the doorway from which he did not move his gaze for about six hours.  You have never seen a man so relieved as he was when he found out that , when things really started getting serious, he was expected to leave.

Mr. Big:  Is it time to go?  I think it’s time to go, don’t you?  She looks like she’s ready.

Me, studying Mrs. Domestic Son:  No.  She’s not even in pain, yet.  She’s got hours left.

Mr. Big:  Perhaps, but look at MY face.  Have I reached a sufficient level of discomfort?

Bless his heart.  Little did he know, his troubles were just beginning.  I forgot that Mr. Big’s only experience with babies and childbirth is what he personally experienced with our own children.  Me, on the other hand, I worked for seven years as an administrator on a High Risk Pregnancy floor in a huge teaching hospital and I have seen everything you can imagine.

I have seen a baby born in a toilet to a mother who thought she had eaten a bad enchilada.  I have seen a 44 year old first time hippy-dippy mother who brought her baby back to our office a month after his birth complaining that he wasn’t growing.  WELL, MAYBE BECAUSE, TWIGGY, YOU ARE FEEDING HIM A MACROBIOTIC DIET OF VINEGAR, WILD RICE AND NON-PASTEURIZED COW’S MILK.  (Here’s a hint, new moms, if it is curdled in the bottle, it might not be the ideal nourishment for junior).  I have seen moms with cancer, moms with kidney disease, crack head moms and moms with a history of consanguineous twins all give birth.  I have seen a mom give birth, successfully, to a baby who was growing OUTSIDE of her uterus which she had previously injured in a car crash.  There ain’t nothin’ I ain’t seen when it comes to birthin’ no babies.

Which brings me to the period immediately after the birth of our own precious Grand Three.    Breast fed babies eat constantly.  Ergo, there will be an exposed breast somewhere around at all times.  It’s pretty much a given.  After the third time that Mr. Big waltzed in the room only to confront a breast that did not belong to his wife, he learned to knock.  Helllooooow!  I’m coming in!  A man who should not be seeing a boob is coming in!  Fair warning!  I’m counting to three!

Awkward.  Just awkward.  At this point, we decided that we would just kidnap the other two Grands and become their caretakers for the next two days.  We would  pop in OCCASIONALLY to the hospital to check in on things.  Meanwhile, we were enjoying the fact that Grands One and Two were old enough to just tell us what they wanted and we could revert to what grandparents are really supposed to do, i.e. spoil the grandkids.

For example, do you remember when you were hanging out with your grandparents and your parents were not there and your grandparents would INDULGE YOUR EVERY WHIM?  Yeah, good times, huh?  Grand Two is 6 and he wanted to go for Mexican.  (For all of you Europeans, when Americans say that they want to go for Mexican, they are not saying that they want to go to Cancun.  They are saying that they want to go EAT some Mexican food).  So, while noshing on some scrumptious chimichangas, Grand Two asks, slyly, if I have a quarter.

GRAND TWO:  GoGo, do you have a quarter?

ME:  An American quarter?  No, son, I don’t think I do, sorry.  I have other kinds of money, though.

GRAND TWO:  Do you have ANY American money? (thinking to himself, I’m sure, you worthless grandma, you).

ME:  Yes, I have a five dollar bill.

GRAND TWO:  Is there any way to make that into a quarter?

ME (still completely in the dark about his ulterior motive):  Yes, but you have to ask that girl up there at the cash register for change.

GRAND TWO:  OK!  See ya!  (as he snatches my five dollar bill out of my hand).

In the blink of an eye, Grand Two is at the counter conversing  with the cashier.  Meanwhile, I ask Grand One, my wise little spy, what her brother is up to.  “Oh, GoGo”, she says.  “He is getting candy out of the machine up there at the front of the restaurant”.

Twelve minutes later Grand Two comes back to the table with his hands in his little Wrangler jeans pockets.  He proceeds to pull out pounds and pounds and pounds of Skittles out of every compartment and orifice on his body.  Wow, Grand Two!  That is quite a haul!  Where is my change?

Change?  What change?  You should have seen, GoGo, how many quarters I got for your money!  It was amazing!  What did you think was taking me so long?  It took foooreeeeever to spend all of those quarters!  You rock, GoGo.

Yes, Little Man, I know.  But, let’s not tell your Mom or Dad about this, shall we?  This is just a Grand Two and GoGo secret, right?  That you consumed 5 dollars worth of stale candy?  Our little secret, dude.

Well, enough about the grandkids, because I could just go on and on all day.  I will leave you there in Atlanta with this:  Domestic Son, bless his heart, is really, really trying, but this is his first rodeo, you know?  So, I asked him the other day for an update.

ME:  Well, how is she?  Is she everything you thought she would be and more?  Is she growing?  Is she sleeping?  Is she doing any tricks that I need to know about?

Domestic Son:  I think she’s growing.  She looks bigger.  Actually, I can tell you this.  She hasn’t grown out of her newborn-sized diapers which say on the package “7-14 lbs.”  So, she is somewhere between 7 and 14 pounds.  Does that help?

This is the difference between being the parent of the father and the parent of the mother.  #SheIsSomewhereBetween7and14pounds.  Perfect.

We arrived back home and immediately began working on our other “baby”, the master bath at the chalet, our latest project.  I’m including this topic in the blog because everybody needs to see how the sinks from Marrakesh came out.  I’ll also post a picture of the tassels that I bought in Morocco that I twined around the guest towels in the powder room so y’all can copy.  Plus, my girlfriends here want to see how the chandelier came out that I bought while I was with them.

I bought a semi-disgusting chandelier at an auction here in Lausanne for very little money.  And rightly so, because it was, frankly, pretty ugly.  But, it had potential, you know?  After my friends saw me raise my hand and buy this thing, they were all like “oh!  It’s so pretty!  What are you going to do with it?”  But, I know they were really thinking, “oh!  That’s revolting!  What the hell is she going to do with that eyesore?”

After cleaning it and applying a coat of spray paint, I restrung the crystals in a different configuration and added some black crystals that I bought on the internet.  Voila!  Designer chandelier!

I designed the pattern of the subway tiles to mimic the shape of the alpine peaks, which Mr. Big executed beautifully.  I drew the pattern that I wanted, then, I laid the tiles out on the floor in the middle of the dining room.  He then took a picture of the tiles and referred to the picture while he was laying the tiles in the bathroom.  This is how we roll.

The vanity is actually two matching dining room sideboard pieces that Mr. Big screwed together and then screwed to the wall.  (I left the cutlery trays in them just because I think it is hilarious that we can now store silverware in the bathroom.)  We still have to order a shower door and I need to sew a curtain for the window so that no hikers inadvertently see me naked and scar themselves for life, but, other than that, the master bath is fini.

Onto the second floor!  Small Son, your bedroom is about to get a little bigger.  Once again, we have that weird configuration up there of a single toilet in a skinny little room all by itself, completely separate from the shower/sink/bidet room.  So weird and so unsanitary.  Every time I see these toilets all by themselves, all I think about is somebody peeing AND THEN NOT BEING ABLE TO WASH THEIR HANDS, touching the doorknob to get out of the toilet room, touching the doorknob on the OTHER bathroom that has the sink in it and, basically, contaminating everything with their pee germs within a 5 meter radius.  It just grosses me out.

To rectify this, we are doing away with the separate toilet room altogether.  The bidet in the other room will magically turn into a toilet.  The skinny toilet room, once Mr. Big gets out his chain saw, will be incorporated into Small Son’s bedroom and create like a groovy little niche-slash-headboard type of housing for the bed.  It will all work out, you’ll see.  I’ll post pictures.

I’m going to try to get this post up and running and maybe one other before we are scheduled to go back for a quick trip to America to check on Grand Three.  Just wait until all y’all are grandparents.  They tug at your heartstrings in a completely different way than your own children did.  I think it has something to do with the fact that you are not personally losing any sleep.  They represent 100% joy and 0% angst.  The first thing I am going to do is weigh her.  I’m just not comfortable with this whole “diaper package” system.