Now Featuring More Swear Words
Well fuckin’ hell – it’s been a spell. The rhyme was unintentional as I’ve rewritten the opening to this post a dozen times trying to find that spark that gets me in the groove and writing. You know how this whole writing process works, right?
Anyway, enough jibber jabber. Let me regale you with the comings and goings of your favorite (former) English teacher who now masquerades as a family historian.
So, here we are in Zurich, kickin’ it in style at the local hostel with a cold beer (in whatever the hell 50cl is), a photo album of churches, graffiti, and flags emblazoned proudly with animal dicks, and a whole mess of paperwork. Seems like my quest to track down relevant information regarding the history of my belated grandparents is bound to only become far more interesting.
Trust me, that’s relevant to the family history. Grandpa was adamant that the Bernese flag was incomplete if the bear wasn’t rockin’ a boner. If you look at the cantonal flags of Switzerland, you’ll see that all the animals are sporting massive erections, proudly waving their colors as they tea bag their enemies. Fun fact: the Bernese and Fribourgers almost came to blows once upon a time because of animal boners (not that kind, you furry faggots). The Fribourgers left the cock off the flag and the Bernese were ready to fight a goddamned war over that. Grandpa loved that tidbit of history.
Now, enough about dicks. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes, eh?
It seems I have spent the bulk of my Swiss journey in the comfort of the reliable workhorse of Switzerland: the train. After landing in Zurich, I took a train to Sulgen, made camp, slept like a drunkard, then began my journey in earnest the following morn. Although my grandmother hailed from Leimbach, there wasn’t much to see or discern in that small town for it lacked a hotel, a restaurant, or much in the way of official records. That is all held now by the Thurgau State Archives. I did, however, engage in conversation with several wonderful townsfolk. My German is terrible, as evident, but their patience was reward enough. One older woman, Katja, was polite enough to listen to my terrible Swiss and briefly tell me about Schloss Aspen, my grandmother’s old manor, and explained how it was razed. She was too young to remember my grandmother, but she knew the family name well enough. Big potatoes in a small town and all.
The local historian wasn’t available for comment (mostly because his wife thought I was trying to sell them something like a stupid foreigner) but I am hopeful that my emails and written word are more convincing than my “communicat[ing] like a toddler” (Max, 2022). Everything bears fruit in time, dear reader, and patience is the name of the game. I’m an American first and foremost, and our guns-blazing approach isn’t exactly the best method for information gathering (outside of our formerly ubiquitous warzones). All in good time, comrades.
But, never one to be dissuaded from an autistic fool’s errand, I carried on about my task as best I could. Because no trains exist in Leimbach, I happily hiked my happy ass back to Sulgen, found myself a train, and revisited my resources. More than one way to
fuck skin a cat.
And lordy, there is something to be said about hiking one’s happy ass.
Because this strange country is fixated upon WiFi and WhatsApp, I sent out feelers and texts, ascertaining and networking with various folk throughout the country to see about potential meet-ups. At the time of this writing, I’ve a slew of lunches and drinks to be shared with family friends, distant relatives, and folks who knew my grandparents afore they absconded to the US and A. And, God bless it, I can get anywhere by train in this wonderful country. A shame, somewhat, as I would have loved to take my Jeep here and just putz around on the roads.
Ah, the Jeep. A story for another day.
Pursuing a thread, I headed to St. Gallen to investigate a potential etymological claim about Grandpa’s last name. Though he hailed from Bern (the bear cock place, you recall), it was rumored that perhaps our roots might extend to eastern Switzerland. Alas, according to the State Archives of St. Gallen, and a lovely chap who dealt with my stupid toddler Swiss, no connection could be established. It was a stretch, certainly, but who wouldn’t want to tour St. Gallen Alte Stadt whilst on official business? Even got myself a Jakobsweg stamp!
And, God bless it, my heathen bottom even made it to Mass. Didn’t understand much of what the padre was saying and I had to mumble my way through most of the prayers and the old lady next to me gave me the stink eye of “I don’t think you’re really Catholic,” but, eh, what shall one do?
Shut up and listen.
And, dear reader, that is what I have been attempting to do these past several days and I hope to accomplish o’er the next week. I am not here to play tourist or toot my horn: I am here to do the research that cannot be done from abroad. I suppose, the naysayers might naysay, I could have accomplished all this from afar, resorting to Zoom and phone calls and the like. But, in short: fuck that shit.
I would much rather be out and about, breathing the same air as my grandparents, seeing the same sights they saw, walking the very paths they did, rather than idle away my time in front of a computer screen. I used to do that for a living and damn near shot myself in the fucking head for how life-sucking it was. This, dear reader, is far more fulfilling than hitting SEARCH for a Boolean string. My Swiss might suck more than a Vietnamese prostitute, but at least I can succor myself in knowing that, out here, on the Way, I can do my utmost.
Fucking hell – the proof is in the pudding. This is the most substantial thing I’ve written in months.
And all it took was a little jaunt.
Mutti, Loppi: I will do my best. In my own autistically retarded manner. But we’re gonna get her done. That can be assured. Sometimes I just need to dust the cobwebs off by doing something crazy.
So choo choo, motherfuckers, the Swiss Crazy Train has a busy schedule to keep. Stay tuned for more updates.
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Sent by Miriam S. Gallet
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