Life lately: goodbyes, the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva, and the first days of summer


In mid-June I left my job after a considerably lengthy notice period (two months). I was so stressed about wrapping up my work and preparing a handover that my sleep imploded. I woke up at 5:30 every morning and had trouble falling asleep at night. During my final week, I finalized a handover note for my successor that spanned more than 30 pages, with detailed guidance on the go-to contacts at my organization, the state of every single project I was working on, and suggestions for how they could take the work to the next level.

Did the leadership of the team deserve this high-quality piece of work that I poured my sweat and blood into? No. But I did it for me; I did it because it was the professional thing to do, and because I know whoever succeeds me will have an easier time learning the ropes because of the foundation that I have built for them. It’s terribly difficult and isolating starting a new job during a pandemic, as I have learned this week through my own experience. A little sprinkle of help goes a long way.

I spent my last few days at work going on a lot of walks and hangs with my lovely coworkers, many of whom have become friends. I had a private dinner with two teammates that I was particularly close to, and then on my final day, there was a team goodbye lunch with those who were in Geneva at the moment.

It was so nice to dine and laugh and talk on the terrace. I think we stayed for three or four hours, until the restaurant started closing up.

One of my colleagues was leaving the team around the same time, so I organized a team gift and card for her. And then a really lovely vendor sent me a virtual gift card for Sprüngli, a chain confectionery store in Switzerland that is known for its Luxemburgerlis: sweet treats similar to macarons. Per work rules I wasn’t allowed to spend the gift card on myself, so I used the card to buy a box of Luxemburgerlis, which I brought to the goodbye lunch to share. To be honest, I thought they looked nice but the taste was kind of meh, a bit bland. I much prefer the frozen macarons from Trader Joe’s.

I got my coworker a gift from a local stationery shop called Bookbinders. The lady working there was SO sweet.

My team gave me some thoughtfully chosen zero waste gifts from one of my favorite stores, Nature et Découvertes. They included an insulated mug, reusable utensils, and a shampoo bar.


After the goodbye lunch, I went to the office and turned in my computer. Leaving the office for the last time, I was reminded of the unrivaled view that we had of the lake, and I felt grateful that I had never taken it for granted.


And then I immediately went on vacation, to the aforementioned Chur and Le Prese. I had to get out of town not only to relax, but because the Biden-Putin summit was coming to the large park in my neighborhood. In the days before, major disruptions were already ramping up. The park closed to the public 10 days before the summit itself. Bus routes near my apartment stopped running. There were rumors that we wouldn’t even be allowed to come in or out of our neighborhood without an ID or electricity bill proving that we lived there.

Parc la grange. The mansion is called Villa la grange, where the two leaders met.
All the trash can liners, which are normally yellow, were switched out for bright red ones to the tune of the Swiss flag.
Barbed wire and security all around the park.

While it was annoying and disruptive for a few days, I do feel proud that the two sides picked Geneva and my little neighborhood for this high-stakes summit. I got the sense that the government and city workers were really excited as well. (There was, of course, a lot of good-natured griping from Geneva residents themselves.) It was a harbinger of the many international events and meetings that will hopefully return to Geneva in the coming months.

Example: the WHO Assembly. The city likes to change up the flags on its major bridge, Pont du Mont-Blanc, to reflect whatever big event is happening at the moment. With the Biden-Putin summit, it was the American and Russian flags. Now it’s the pride flag.


As for other things: late last month, I discovered a small can of Heineken in my mailbox as part of an advertising campaign. Exhibit #3144776 of Things That Would Never Happen in the US.


I bought a fan to help ease the summer heat, since there’s no A/C in my apartment. It’s a bit pricey, but I liked that it has a timer that I can set to 1, 2 or 4 hours, right before going to sleep.


Another huge, huge, huge gamechanger I bought for the home — a robot vacuum mop two-in-one! I cannot stop gushing about how well this thing works, and how much housework it has saved me. Air pollution can be an issue in Geneva due to pollen and public transportation, and it’s easy for apartments to get very dirty and dusty, especially during the months when everyone has their window wide open. I also shed a lot of hair. Before I had this, I was literally vacuuming every single day to keep the apartment clean. I’m so fond of this robot, I’ve come to think of it as a very smart pet that cleans.

After a hearty cleaning.
A friend not only took care of my plant for a month, but also gave me a bottle of wine when I came back from the US.

This month I swapped out some of the fabrics at home for lighter summer materials. For instance, I changed up the dining area slightly, changing the cushion cover from red to white, and also adding some small table plants to the mix.


I also put away my big heavy comforter and replaced the bedding with seersucker linen. I swapped the sheer mustard yellow curtains for green curtains, which are excellent at blocking out light and casting a cool shade on the room.


The last interesting thing that happened this month was a giant hole that appeared in the middle of Geneva as I was coming back from my first day of work.

An apt metaphor for my mental state during these times
It was fixed by the following evening.

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