Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kind of anti-climatic, huh

I'm back in the USA, and I've been home for nearly two months. And it's been wonderful and boring and happy and sad and every emotion in between. And I've let this blog sit. Lots of family and friends kept asking me to finish up, but I've been putting it off. It's been difficult to put these jumbled thoughts and vague feelings into words, but I'll give it a shot.

Coming home has been one of the weirder experiences of my life. While it was amazing to see family, catch up with some friends, and spend every second possible with Dan, it still feels... off. I think a lot of it has to do with the whole "not working/contributing to society in some way" thing. I keep thinking, "I'm sure everything will fall into place once I get a job", but a little voice keeps telling me that's only part of it.

When I arrived in Switzerland, I feel like I fit in so very well. There seemed to be a little Cam-shaped puzzle piece available in the picture of Swiss life, and I just slipped right in and started living. Coming home, it seems I've... outgrown, for lack of a better term, the little Cam-shaped space I left. I've changed, some edges have softened, and some have sharpened, and now I'm struggling trying to get the new Cam to fit in the old Cam space. The thing is, I don't want to compromise either. I don't want to forget who I was, before my life was changed by the intoxicating beauty of Switzerland, and I don't want to compromise what I've become. I suppose (that is to say, I know) this is just another part of life, learning to how to deal when you grow and change, something I'm constantly reminded will never stop happening. I suppose that might be one of the most important things I can learn.

I remember the end of the movie, The Return of the King, part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Frodo has returned to Bag End, everything should be right and well, but he feels unsettled. He writes in his book, "How do you pick up the pieces of an old life?" Frodo, that question has been plaguing me since I saw the Chicago skyline from my window seat right before the airplane landed.

I don't know. But I'm giving it a shot.

Again, I'll use someone else's idea and paraphrase from the poet Rilke; I will try to live into the answer. I guess all I can do is live the question, and I will someday live into the answer.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


It's been really frustrating keeping in touch with the American world since my laptop was stolen. The family has been so generous in lending me a computer, but it is old, and Skype doesn't really work, and it has problems staying connected to the internet. Sigh. I've been able to talk to my dad once since May, and haven't even been able to talk to my mom, so I'm kind of ready to be done with wonky internet and just go home.

I constantly remind myself that things will be different when I go home. It almost feels like I just hit a pause button; like time in the US hasn't moved, and it's all relative to time here. However, I know that's not true, and life has been speeding along like usual. A lot has happened in the States since I've been gone. Obama was elected President, the economy crashed and burned, my dad is looking for work, my brother became a Rev. (!), a friend was diagnosed with leukemia, treated, and now healthy, Dan's father had a second brain surgery, countless friends have been engaged, married (or both in a few short months), and many friends are expecting children, or have had children. Some of my friends have announced pregnancy, carried the baby, and had the baby since I've been here. Things are static nowhere. So much as changed, and I am so excited to go home and see it all for myself.

On the other hand, I have changed incredibly. From little, silly habitual changes, to deep, personal changes in my heart. For example, I am a total wine-drinker now, and every social function I attend (especially ones with my church friends!), I bring a bottle of wine. I have made my bed everyday but one since I've been here (somewhere in the Chicago suburbs my mom is having a heart attack). I also have learned to listen to myself better, and I know very well when I need quiet time and when I need social time. I have learned to accept parts of my personality that I always tried to disown. I have spent time with God, and fallen more deeply in love with Him than I ever have before. I also am pretty conversationally fluent in French, enough where I'm reading Harry Potter in French, and I've turned the English subtitles off my favorite French movies. I think that's pretty good for one year of study.

So, when a changing home and a changing Cam collide, what will happen? I have no idea. I know somedays it will be tough, and I'll be wistful for my view of Mount Blanc, Gruyére cheese, and chocolate. We'll deal with that when I get there. Right now, however, I'm longing for my parents, the little country road of Illinois 127, the beautiful skyline of Minneapolis, and a 32 oz. Coke from Portillo's.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I spent the last weekend in Paris, and it was wonderful.

I love this short from Paris, Je T'aime, and I have to share it with everyone.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thanks a lot, France

One month left.

Then I'm back in America, happily surrounded by friends and family, and yummy Chicago food. I'm really trying to enjoy my last moments here, like seeing Mount Blanc from my backyard, driving through vineyards, and enjoying the company of my amazing friends.

Dan and Laura were here, and it was wonderful to have them. The day after they left, my friend Ashley stopped in for a week. While I'm so thankful they visited (I feel so loved!), I think I'm still getting over my exhaustion. Hosting is exhausting, especially when you play translator.

Anyway, Ashley and I decided to take a road trip to the south of France. The family recently bought me a car (I know, I am so spoiled) so we were enjoying the freedom of a spontaneous trip. It was Pentacost weekend, so I had three days and was excited to spend them on the Mediterranean.

Well, we decided to stay in Marseille, and that was our first mistake. We had pulled into the city, thought "hmm, looks like we arrived in the not-so-nice area of town", but quickly forgot when we realized how beautifully warm it was outside. We unrolled the front windows and sat in traffic.

Now, I can't say that what happened next is the worst thing that ever happened to me, but I'm pretty sure it's up there on my list.

Some skinny kid jumped off the back of his friends scooter, and his friend waited two cars ahead of us. He snuck up behind my car, reached in through my open window, and unlocked the back door. He opened the back door, I heard, looked back, Ashley said, "hey!" and reached back, and he was gone, running and jumping on the back of the scooter, clutching MY Mozart bag. The Mozart bag I bought at Mozart's house in Vienna, Austria. The Mozart bag that contained my Macbook, and my camera. The bag that contained my life, and approximately $2000 worth of stuff.

All of this happened in about 20 seconds.

I screamed louder than I previously thought possible, something not printable, and could not get my stupid seat belt off for the life of me. Ashley was trying to put her shoes back on and get out to chase the guys. We're still stuck in traffic, and I watch, helpless as they turn down a little alley. When I finally got my seatbelt off I had to get out to shut my car door, and as soon as traffic moved I shot down that alley searching for them, muttering things like, "I wish I had a gun. I'd shoot him." and other pleasantries such as "I'm going to find him and peel his skin off while he's still alive. Then we'll see if he wants my laptop." Then it all hit me and I broke down in tears.

Ashley was an angel through all of this. She let me decide the rest of our weekend and patiently listened to my complaints. After I calmed down we found our hotel, they took great care of us, and the next morning we went to the police. I'm very proud of myself, because I was able to file a whole police report in French and only needed a little help! We had met three girls at the hostel, and one spoke French, so she was a doll and came with me to the station to help me translate. The rest of Sunday we spent in Cassis, which is far lovlier than Marseille, and got to sit at the sea for a while. Then we headed home, not entirely defeated but with lower spirits than when we started.

I still cringe when I think of everything I lost. I used my laptop like a notebook and journal and took it everywhere. I lost about 1200 photos that weren't stored anywhere else. All my photos from Ireland, England, Czech Republic, and Austria are gone. The book I was writing is gone. Well, most of it. Luckily, I have spent a lot of time handwriting this year, so I still have notes and decent parts of the story.

My host family has been so generous, and I'm currently using their old laptop. Skype doesn't really work, but at least I have emails! It's a French keyboard so typing is a little tricky cause some letters and switched, and most punctuation marks are in different spots.

I'll try to keep posting before I go - so much is happening! I'm probably going to Paris next weekend (finally!), and then soon the new au pair comes and then I'm gone! I can't believe it.

Until next time!

P.S. If you happen to be in the black market in Marseille and see a beat-up Macbook, steal it back for me, ok? And a black and silver Canon Digital Rebel Xt. Ok, that's all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Dan and Laura are here! Dan arrived Tuesday, and Laura arrived Wednesday, all safe and sound. We are going to Bern in a few minutes, and then tomorrow... who knows. :) Saturday we might go to France, Sunday, Dan's playing guitar and I'm singing at my church. They leave next Wednesday, and while I already don't want them to leave, I can't be too sad, because my time is flying by, and sooner than later I'll be back in the good ole U S of A.

Dan is being really mean to me right now, I'm going to go and teach him a lesson. Like spit in his tea or something. That will teach him, right?

Ok maybe not, but maybe I'll leave him in Bern and make him find his own way home.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


My flight has been booked, I will be home July 14, just in time for my Momma's birthday. I'm very excited, but a little sad. I obviously want to be by my family and friends again, but I can't help but feel I'm leaving a piece of my heart here, somewhere in between the Alps, Lake Geneva, and the Jura mountains.

I've made a few new friends; some girls who have just arrived to Switzerland, full of excitement and wonder. Spending some time with them and all their newness has made me a little bit thoughtful and reflective on my time here. I have been blessed beyond comprehension in my relationships. I have so many friends that I love dearly and trust fully. The beauty of Switzerland is only intensified with every new landscape I see. Right now, the fields are carpeted with yellow flowers, the trees are full of leaves, and cows are grazing in the valleys - I still love hearing the sound of cowbells in the distance. I love driving home at twilight, and seeing the sky tinged pink above the mountains, listening to the mix cds Dan has sent me, with the windows down, breathing in the fresh, clean Swiss air. I will miss the beauty of this place, and the remarkable people I have encountered.

But I'm slowly and surely getting ready for the next stage of my adventure. What it is exactly, I can't plainly say, but I'm sure it will be just as remarkable as this stage of my life, but probably with less dramatic scenery.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Settle down, everyone.

Dear Family, friends, and other random people,

I've been a little busy. I'm sorry I've neglected my blog, but I'm in Switzerland, and (most of) you are not, so what are you going to do about it? I'm teaching you a lesson in patience.


Anyway, I'm in Anzére right now, and I'm so happy. This is my third time at Chalet Wildhorn, and it just feels like a home away from home in Switzerland. Super chill, super relaxed. The weather is a bit cool, but absolutely beautiful. I never get sick of staring at the mountains. It's gonna be a rough move (scenery-wise) back to the Midwest.

Stay tuned, I'm going to be posting about my trips to Munich, Prague, Vienna, and Salzburg.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I'm feeling a little stressed right now because I just found out I'm going to Prague tomorrow! And Vienna Thursday! And Salzburg Saturday!

So I'm packing like a crazy woman, cursing myself for deciding to wait on laundry, and searching for money I might have hidden around my room (yes, I'm a money packrat). If anyone has any money they would like to donate, send it my way. Kthnx.

I know, I know, internet, I still have to tell you about my trip to Munich, and the random trip to Zurich (sorry blogger friends in Zurich, it was a crazy whirlwind of a trip), and how beautiful Switzerland is in the springtime.

I am currently writing a list of stuff to pack and trying to book hostels and train tickets and the like. I don't think a lot of sleep is going to be on my agenda tonight......

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I suck at blogging.

Seriously, I do. I'm really sorry I don't update that often. There are some blogs I check every day, and I get a little miffed when they skip a day or two… And then sometimes I go TWO WEEKS in between posts.

I had all these grand ideas for my blog, but I've just never really gotten around to doing them. It's just the story of my life.

Maybe the next time there is crappy weather I'll do some renovating… lately it's been sunny and around 60º F. Don't exactly want to be inside. Malko and I have had a blast in the afternoons, riding scooters and looking at flowers. There is a swing in the tree next to the house, and I've introduced Malko to the delight that is the underdog. But, being the sneaky teacher I am, I make him choose a number, and then I make him count the pushes I give before the big push. Sometimes I even make him count in English. I know, I'm so tough.

Speaking of Malko, I should have a blog just entitled "Conversations with Malko" because this kid cracks me up. This is what happened last night: Malko goes running into the kitchen with an urgent question for Ivana. "Mama! If someone is on vacation, do they come back?" Ivana, thinking maybe one of his friends from school is on vacation, says "Yes, they do." Malko, horrified, screams, "NOOOOOO!" Ivana, confused, says, "What's wrong?" Malko replies, completely distressed, "Papa said the spider in the bathroom was on vacation!" He then broke down in tears, completely inconsolable, and Ivana was laughing too hard to empathize with him. Oh man. I know most kids are hilarious, but name another four-year-old who's current favorite song is the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute (totally not my influence, I swear).

Anyway, this weekend I'm going to Munich, Zurich next weekend, and maybe Paris the weekend after that… and then hopefully Sweden in May. We'll see how it all pans out.

Well, Happy St. Patrick's everyone! I very much wish I was in Ireland with the lads right now, but I'm in the Alps. I think I'll celebrate with a bit of Bailey's.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Conversations with Malko

Malko: Cami, is Bagherra a girl cat or boy cat?
Me: Bagherra is a girl cat.
Malko: And Chanel?
Me: Chanel is a girl cat too.
Malko: And Ronie?
Me: Ronie is a girl cat too, and guess what? Kendi is a girl dog! All of our animals are girl animals.
Malko: Well that's good, because otherwise they'd fall in love, and we'd have to have a wedding, and they would dance paw to paw, and sing 'meow'! Can you imagine? It would be so silly!