Our New Crew Member

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Location:  Zug, Switzerland
Author:  Pete

 

Leonora Jean Gorkiewicz

Born April 21, 2017 

12:48pm – 47cm – 2.645kg

We have a new crew member!  Leonora Jean Gorkiewicz has been added to the manifest!  We knew she was breech, so we tried to make the best of it and play up the benefits of scheduling your own child’s birthday.  We went out to dinner the night before, took a nice walk by the lake the morning of, and then headed to Kantonsspital in Zug and had a baby by one o’clock.  It’s Switzerland!  Would you expect any different?

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The hospital facilities and staff were fantastic.  Miranda’s c-section went very smoothly.  I got to be in the operating theater with Miranda, cut the umbilical cord, and announce the gender.  The latter being surprisingly difficult with all the chaos of the OR and wild emotion going on!

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We were set up on the top floor with a corner room overlooking the snow-capped Alps.  Too bad they took a backseat to Leonie!  My girls are doing great.  Eating, sleeping, and expelling waste, which is as important for post-surgery mothers as it is for babies!  Leonie is pretty little, 5.8 pounds, but started gaining weight the second day and quickly exceeded her birth weight.

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All are well and happy!  The hospital keeps Miranda and Leonora for one week.  I’ll take some paternity leave once they’re sent home.  The real question is, “what then?”

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Re-Entry to the Midwest

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Author:  Pete
Location: Midwest, USA

Somehow I again find myself writing in the dark hours of the night, mid-ocean, aboard a turbulent vessel. It’s come sooner than expected, too. This time the command of the craft is not mine, but with two hundred airline passengers aboard, I’m happy that someone else is at the helm. We’re flying to Switzerland. The summer has come and gone fleetingly as usual, and now here I am, ruminating through the silence of a night watch once more, looking out across black seas.

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Our dizzying return to civilization felt like an astronaut’s re-entry to the atmosphere.  After rocketing back towards the gravity of the Midwest and debriefing with mission control, we wobbled about a bit on unsteady legs, adjusting to the world’s forgotten fundamental laws.  Like any good produce-impaired cosmonaut, we gorged ourselves on fresh fruits and veggies upon returning to Earth, but retained a strange inclination towards freeze-dried foods.

It was revitalizing to be home, to see family and friends, and to not worry so much about the boat.  I tried to keep a cool demeanor about the whole nautical escapade.  It felt like gloating to hint at our feeling of accomplishment about the Tayrona years and our excitement about moving to Switzerland.  I’d sometimes brush off the upcoming move as a tiresome necessity of our occupation or omit entire portions of my life in casual conversation to avoid sounding like a madman.

Summer was like a good kielbasa though: hot, zesty, and fully packed.  Miranda and I had a whirlwind tour of California to see my gramma and uncle Chuck, my cousin’s wedding, and Miranda’s buddies.  Looking west across the Pacific I swear I could see myself standing on Australia’s shores looking back over the water.  I felt like waving to myself.  

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After So-Cal we zipped back to the midwest for another wedding in Wisconsin and well deserved R&R with friends and family on the lakes.  What we didn’t do much of this summer was document anything.  Throughout the boat trip I had an insatiable urge to chronicle everything new that went on.  At home it was refreshing to fall back into the well-known summertime rhythm of sunshine-filled days, friend-filled evenings, and over-filled stomachs.  We’ve eaten pretty much constantly since we’ve been home.  In acquiescence to my palate’s protests though, I’ve been shunning fish, rice, and coconut like a Mennonite cold-shouldering rumspringant youth.

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Sleeping in a motionless bed and ignoring little noises has been an adjustment. More than once I’ve found myself on my feet in the middle of the night perplexed about how to get on deck to check the anchor.  However, I’m enjoying water that comes cold and hot from the tap any time you want it, and weeks on end free of mechanical troubleshooting!

There are still some lingering boat-related compulsions of which I’m trying to wean myself off.  Sometimes I’ll break down and revert to old weather-monitoring habits, looking for prime kite and windsurfing conditions in Lake Michigan.  Kitesurfing is my methadone and there were several blowout days this summer to wind-binge.  I even got out for a sailboat regatta with some family friends who needed extra crew.  I’m sure they heard about our nautical exploits and were anticipating their new deckhand to be some kind of sailing savant. Jokes on them!  I tacked and gybed more in those three hours of Wednesday night beer-can racing than in an entire month cruising to the Marquesas.  It was palliative to be on deck again though, working the sheets and halyards even if the lines wasted my now un-calloused palms.  It certainly helped my withdrawls.  Who knew that one could be a sailing junkie?  Pirates are often described as having a monkey on their back, but I just thought that was a figure of speech.

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So that’s the ball game!  Back to reality, as much so as moving to Switzerland provides. Too bad our good Tayrona hasn’t sold yet.  Australia’s elections slowed the buying market down in the past two months so things have cooled off there a touch.  Aside from that, I can’t fathom any better outcome of our odyssey.  Now, on to other adventures in Europe!  We’ll keep posting from the other side of the pond.  Tschüss!

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Okay, fine!  So I made up rumspringant!  Big deal!  Rumspringa is a period of time in an adolescent Mennonite’s life where recalcitrant behavior is accepted.  I chose to throw caution to the wind on my own literary rumspringa and adjective-ize the ever-loving snot outta that noun!  Take that!  Grammatical correctness be-damned and long live italics!

London and the Great Job Search

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Author:  Pete
Location:  London, UK

Miranda and I left our pretty girl on a safe mooring in Auckland and flew literally to the other side of the earth to the Search Associates job fair in London.  No kidding, New Zealand and the UK are pretty much antipodes, diametrically opposed through the center of the globe.  Two years of anticipation boiling down to one weekend of interview mayhem made it pretty much impossible to sleep on the airplane.  Instead we watched a lot of junky movies in the thirty-six hours on the move through Melbourne and Dubai.

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Had a couple pre-fair interviews with schools in Dubai, London, and Beijing.  It was a good warm-up, getting our brains back on track after the decay and rot that comes with watching Mission Impossible III through VII back to back on the plane.  Ugh… That evening we had dinner with my siblings along with friends Sinziana and Robert who live in London. 

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Got back to the hotel in time to get some sleep, but our fancy built-in body clocks hadn’t synced to other-side-of-the-world-time yet, and woke Miranda and I up promptly at 3am.  We didn’t fight it, and jumped into planning our educational attack.  After a great English breakfast (what’s up with the tomato and beans?!) alongside other jittery teachers, we marched onto the conference center battleground, armor-clad in suits and shining shoes.  It was novel to be wearing a suit not made of neoprene and any shoes at all!  The horde of a few hundred teachers besieged the school administrators hunkered behind conference hall tables like well-tailored barbarians.  Miranda and I signed up to interview with several schools, being declined by only one, and ourselves declining several schools’ invitations, like from the Intertribal School of Mogadishu, and the Very Excellent Democratically Elected Peoples’ Republican Academy of Pyongyang.  Pass!

We interviewed with schools in Germany, Mongolia, and Switzerland, along with second interviews from Dubai, London, and Beijing.  At the end of the day we had job offers from many of them, but not our top pick!  We still had a second interview with Switzerland that we were holding out for.  Job offers stand for about twenty-four hours, so one can’t wait too long to accept, but it gives you a chance to juggle some of the options in your head.  Actually, juggling helps with focus and eases stress.  Plus it fills out your resume!

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My body clock realized it blew the previous night’s wake-up call, helpfully tried a different hour, and woke me up at 1am.  Fabulous.  I read in bed for an hour, savoring the comfort of a real mattress, then eventually got restless and took to the darkened streets of London to walk off my jittery insomnia.  In three hours of ambling, I found the river Thames and watched the current rip under the bridge, soaking up the calm before the storm.  Water seems to have a certain magnetism for me.  I always feel drawn to it.  Not sure if I’d spearfish in the Thames though.

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With a handful of good job offers already in our pockets we cleared our schedule for the following day to focus on the second interview with the International School of Zug and Luzern.  We met with the administration team and spoke with them for over an hour about pedagogy, educational philosophy, and work history, before they offered us the two math positions we were coveting.  It’s customary for schools to give you time to think over an offer, so we thanked them and walked cooly out, turned the corner, and did a good deal of silent fist-pumping and jumping around excitedly.  We signed contracts with them an hour later.

That evening we went out with the crew to celebrate.  Our friends Robin and Erwin (and their beautiful girlfriends) were in from Belgium and joined in the evening’s reveling.  Sunday, we all spent the day wandering through the British Museum and traipsing about London.  As is commonly known, no other method of perambulation is as British as traipsing.

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The variety of transportation to get us back to Tayrona was laughable.  We dragged our bags through the London streets to the ‘tube’ which took us to an overground train bound for Heathrow, before catching airplanes to Dubai, Melbourne, then Auckland, where we hopped a bus to the main city docks and caught a ferry boat out to the bay where Tayrona was moored.  Then after forty hours of travel I swam out to the boat and got the dinghy to pick up Miranda!  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles?  That’s all you got, John Candy?  Phooey and pshaw! 

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The International School of Zug and Luzern is an excellent school in Lucerne, Switzerland, just south of Zurich.  The middle school and high school where Miranda and I will be teaching respectively are on separate campuses, a few kilometers apart.  After two years of never being more than thirty-eight feet from each other, the distance might be a good thing for our marriage.  This isn’t our shot, but it gives you the idea of what Lucerne looks like.

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We are so excited about teaching in Switzerland!  At the moment, I think we’re too tired for it to really sink in.  For now, we’ll sink into our berths to recover from this ridiculous horse race.

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“And there’s the gun! The schools come charging out the gates, London and Dubai making a early break; Ulaanbaatar puts on the speed but then falters as Beijing surges past on the straightaway.  Beijing overtaking Germany, now fighting for position on the inside, neck and neck; WHAT’S THIS!?  Round the final bend, Switzerland comes out of nowhere!  Germany and Beijing trying to keep pace as Switzerland takes the lead!  Switzerland breaking from the pack!  Pulling away from Beijing and Germany!  Switzerland!  Opening the gap on the final straightaway!  It’s Switzerland!  Over the finish line!  SWITZERLAND!  IT’S SWITZERLAND!!  There you are, folks!  Switzerland takes the gold at the 2016 Pashouwer/Gorkiewicz London Fair Derby!

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