Happy New Year! Aside from spending Christmas in snowy Grindelwald, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.
In my ongoing search for zero waste stores in Geneva, I discovered a bio (French for organic) supermarket in my neighborhood that’s large, bright, well-stocked, and not insanely expensive. It’s called Bio c’ Bon, and it’s a French chain that has stores across Europe and in a couple of other countries as well. It’s not entirely free of plastic packaging, but they offer the option to buy food like rice, grains and cereals in bulk with your own container, and there are also refill stations for laundry detergent. The only drawback is that its produce selection is pretty weak.
I also started a bread subscription! Every apartment mailbox in Geneva comes with a larger compartment for packages that’s called a boîte à lait — referring to the olden days where people could get bottles of milk delivered straight to their mailbox. Earlier in 2020, as a response to the pandemic, the Swiss Post rekindled this tradition, except with bread. It partners with local boulangeries to deliver freshly baked goods in the mail, usually by 9 in the morning.
There aren’t a ton of choices, so I usually just get some croissants or pain au chocolat. The first time I ordered, they also threw in a complimentary little cake, as seen above. (While this is nice and convenient, my favorite bread of all time is still something called pain soleil, or sun bread, that is offered at the bakeries in Coop supermarkets. If you’re in Switzerland, I highly recommend grabbing a piece. It tastes like how a summer day in Italy feels.)
In December, Geneva began demarcating mask-mandatory zones, such as in the crowded shopping center of Old Town Geneva (above), as well as the open-air flea market in Plainpalais (below).
On New Year’s Eve, I reorganized some corners of the apartment that had become a bit messy. For instance, the power cord and HDMI cable behind my computer monitor had gotten all tangled up, even when they were not in use. I wrapped up the cables to keep them out of sight.
I also re-organized the left side of my wardrobe in the living room. Before: it was hard to keep track of how many bags I had; my scarves were all over the place; there were too many boxes at the bottom. After: all bags are now visible; coats and scarves are hung properly; and some of the boxes got moved to an empty cabinet in my bedroom.
The right side of the wardrobe was already in fine shape. These are just about the only shoes I own, except for two pairs of summer sandals that are in storage somewhere. I think that’s pretty good from a minimalist / utilitarian perspective! I also have a ton of house slippers, because I’m Asian and I might need those for guests one day.
And here’s my kitchen cabinet, where I also keep most of my cleaning supplies. Before: not cluttered but organized randomly, without much thought to frequency of use. After: I moved everything that I don’t need on a day-to-day basis to the higher shelves.
I don’t have the storage situation in my bedroom fully sorted out yet, so will be saving that for another day.
What I read / watched / consumed lately
The Flight Attendant. NPR called it “fizzy, dark and funny”, which sounds about right. It’s a mini-series about a flight attendant who wakes up next to a dead man in a Bangkok hotel room, which leads her down the rabbit hole to all kinds of secret conspiracies. There are some intense flashbacks to child abuse, so be warned.
The Undoing. A posh psychologist in New York tries to figure out if her posh doctor husband murdered another parent in their child’s school. It wasn’t bad, but it’s also not a must-see. The writing when it comes to police work is pretty shoddy and unrealistic. At least it’s short.
Luster by Raven Leilani. This book has been on a ton of end-of-year recommendation lists, including President Obama’s. It wasn’t my cup of tea — I felt it was mostly stream-of-consciousness and not much plot actually happened — but that just means I wasn’t the right audience. The writing was good.
Miracles of the Namiya General Store by Keigo Higashino. It’s about a magical store where people can send letters back and forth in time. Higashino is usually known for writing brutal murder mysteries, so this was a surprisingly heartwarming piece.
I also re-read Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld. She’s one of my favorite authors, and everything she writes just lands with me. This one particularly so. It’s a re-imagining of what direction Hillary Clinton’s life would have taken if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton.
Lastly, I tried to start reading The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, but couldn’t really get into it.
I’m trying to read more this year. A couple of titles I’ve added to my list include:
- Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone
- The Vanishing Half
- Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
- Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir