Saturday, 30 June 2012

Thursday Monsters

And finally these are my Thursday monsters.

Here they are working hard. Aren't they adorable? They always made working Thursday evening fun. Sometimes I would be so tired ( even cranky) and I would get to class and they would be so full of energy and laughter I couldn't help but feel better. It was the only class I ever cried in front of and I remember them suddenly breaking out into Que Sera Sera (Whatever will be will be) in their cute Swiss-German accents.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Wednesday Monsters

I am on holidays now....or perhaps I should say unemployed...nooo holidays sounds better!
I have to say though that my last week at school was one of the most  enriching of my life. Totally affirming, full of love and quite overwhelming in the end. In fact by the close of the experience I  found myself wracked with guilt ( typical Joanna J.) Did I really deserve this amount of love. Had I  really made such an impression on so many people? Were all those beautiful kind words said to me and about me really true? I will never forget this week as long as I live and nor the monsters that made it so.

Here are my Wednesday at 4pm monsters. I adore them.I have nothing but love for these guys. Every single person had something special to bring to the group and I feel humbled and yet proud of the wonderful community we managed to create. I was also grateful for our communal understanding of the importance of prosecco in the classroom. I will miss them feverishly.

   Then there were my 6pm monsters who surprised an already somewhat prosecco-sloshed Joanna J with a party of their own. We always had such a great time together in class - talking and agonising over the horrible future perfect. I mean come on as if there is such thing as the perfect future anyway. Grammar lies people - it lies. I would be quite happy with the future ok.
 I remember when I first took on this class. Nervous, uncertain, they seemed to ask a lot of questions but I remember one of my students saying at the time ' but can't you see how they love you?'  I couldn't. I really couldn't. But perhaps now finally I can.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday monsters

Today I had my last class with my Monday monsters.

Morning ( Mukki) Monsters
Such a lovely class for a Monday morning. We always had a such a good laugh.
Afternoon Monsters
A little conversation and a lot of cake.

It feels sad saying goodbye. Some of these students I have had for my whole time in Basel. I have been quite overwhelmed by the love I am getting from them. And not just for the gifts but really the genuine expressions of emotions and affection. It makes me sadder somehow.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

International Faerie Day

Today is International Faerie Day so I thought I would share a couple of pictures of faeries who live in my plant pots. They have weathered some storms over the past 11 years we have been together and I shall miss them when I go. I know faeries are very resilient and clever but I think it would be cruel to wrench them from their undergrowth world with no idea of where they are going. Besides one of them has developed quite a liking for fondue. 
Let's hope England plays like  a bunch of faeries tonight in Euro 2012. And by faeries I mean with winged heels and a little magic .... actually make that a lot.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

sad face / happy face

 Sad Face

No more Slaven Bilic to enjoy at the Euros.
Saying goodbye to elderly students from my conversation class.

Happy Face

England are still in the Euros...truly unbelievable.
Finally discovering a place that gives pigeons their due.

 I know everyone thinks they are filthy and disgusting but so are humans most of the time.

Monday, 11 June 2012


Everyone loves Mr Bilic

 even pitch-invaders.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Euro 2012 - part 2

Now I remember my EURO 2012 raison d`etre!!!


ooo la la,

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Euro 2012

EURO 2012 started yesterday and I'm still not feeling it. I remember when I lived in Florence I was so excited that I could barely sleep in the week leading up to the Word Cup 2006. I used to go jogging down along the Arno and I would grin like a friendly lunatic just at the very thought of kick off. Fortunately grinning like a friendly lunatic is quite common in Italy so I used to get  a lot of smiles in return. Even in Euro 2008, which was actually hosted in part in Basel, I felt some joyousness about it even though England hadn't qualified. And then  the World Cup 2010 - such happy times then too. I remember I had a student who had no clue that the Cup was coming even though he was indeed a man and had even mentioned his enjoyment of football in passing on a number of occasions. I used to give him clues: it's lots of fun: it makes your heart race; it last for days: there's lots of different nationalities. I think he was hoping for a festival of strippers.

Now though I feel nothing.  Maybe it is the depressing state of the world right now, the state of Europe, the reports of human and animal rights violations by the Ukraine. Maybe it is my imminent joblessness, homelessness and planlessness taking my eye off the ball.Maybe it simply belonged to the old me and the new me has new passions ( yet to be revealed.)

 I won't give up though - I shall watch Germany v Portugal tonight and  hope to feel that spark in my belly when Cristiano Ronaldo cries like a baby for the hundredth time.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

I quat

So I quat my teaching job. (I use the word quat because I truly believe quat should be the past form of quit. Same with fit and the past form of fat. eg. 'Oh I wish I fat my jeans still!') Actually I didn't fully quit  my job as my  boss offered to keep me on as an employee just in case I change my mind in a year or so. I am grateful for this since I don't actually have a new destination as yet. All I know is come the end of June I will be jobless, homeless and plan-less.I did apply for a job in Afghanistan a while back but it didn't work out which I suppose in hindsight is probably a good thing. 
But where shall I go now? What shall I do? What will become of me?
Will I find peace in the smells and sounds of another town? Will I be able to breathe without breathing in your air.

I am not ashamed to admit I am nervous ( nervous of course being a major understatement.) I don't want to start again...alone... without friends..without familiarity.. in a financially non-lucrative profession. Yuk. Without even a friendly Brazilian wax artist to show me her taut tummy and breasts that have been realigned to shoot for the moon no matter the position.  O the fear!

Fortunately a Frau of Wisdom here in Basel made a suggestion to me the other day which I quite like. She said that I should  see myself as a giant matryoshka doll. You know those Russian dolls that get smaller and smaller or bigger and bigger depending on your point of view. She said  I should imagine there is a matryoshka doll for every year of my life starting with the tiny little one when I was born.
She said each of these dolls are part of me now:
- the matryoshka doll when I was five (desperate to play the Virgin Mary in the preschool nativity play):
- the matryoshka doll  at 13 ( terrified of  gym-class showers at Broadclyst Community College, Devon,  who much preferred running through the cider orchards behind her thatched-roof home);
the matryoshka doll in her early twenties (having carport picnics at BP service stations at 3 in the morning with little yellow):
- the matryoshka doll who lived in London and danced in Trafalgar Square; who thrived in Florence and spent summers in Damascus; who nearly perished in Timbuctou;
- the matryoshka doll who has experienced big love and deep sorrow too.

All of these dolls, every single one, is  in me and with me.  She said I  should imagine each of these dolls standing in a row, half on either side of me, holding hands one-by-one all the way up to my own hands. She said if I could imagine this - this long line of dolls marching towards the future with me  - if  I could imagine all this energy - there would be nothing too frightening, I would never feel alone.

I love this image. I just have to believe in it.

Friday, 1 June 2012

that sting on your skin

I have had a number of story rejections over the past month or so which I suppose was to be expected after enjoying a brief rain of approval and publication earlier in the year. I used to take it very personally -the No. I don't anymore. Of course there is still that sting on your skin when you read the word 'I'm afraid your story doesn't match  our blah blah blah' but it doesn't hurt so much anymore. Other things hurt a lot more than this.
And to be honest if I read over stories that have been rejected I can often see areas where they could be tightened up, edited better and heaven forbid the very occasional typo or punctuation disaster. I abhor typos but sometimes they sneak in (when you're distracted by you tube I suspect.)

I won't give up on these stories though. You should never give up on the things you believe in - no matter the darkness.

Here's a little solemn reminder of the dangers of bad punctuation.