Secret Subject Swap - Summer of 69


Welcome to June's Secret Subject Swap

Again 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  

Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out:

Baking In A Tornado
Wandering Web Designer
What TF Sarah 
Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

My subject is

What is your best summer memory?

It was submitted by: 
What TF Sarah - thank you, Sarah!

You may have noticed I chose to title this post with "Summer of 69" even though I have absolutely nothing to remember of this period in time as I wasn't even born yet. Bryan Adams was ten years old, so his memories must be pretty limited at best. I don't really believe the lyrics are autobiographical. Who meets their mate this young? Also, according to Wikipedia, he joined his first rock band when he was 15 years old. 

Back to my own summer memories.

This sounds like a topic that makes you go: So many great summer memories, how do I even narrow them down to just one, the best?

If you're a blogger who has recently celebrated their 1,000th post, chances are this topic's already been covered. Multiple times.

Contrary to popular opinion, summer is not my favorite season. I don't do well with hot and humid climate. Most residential and small commercial buildings in Switzerland don't have air conditioning. Mosquitos are a royal PIA. I could go on and on.

But wait! There's this one summer I actually didn't spend in Switzerland! In 2001, I found myself in my second home in San Diego, CA, and even though I have written several posts about it as well, as recently as two months ago, I think I can still give it another go and sort of celebrate the 20th anniversary of my summer of 01.

 What looks like a regular, average house, was my home in the University City neighborhood.

I shared this home with three roommates:

Carolina from Spain. She won the Green Card Lottery and promptly landed herself a job at the Spanish Embassy - in Los Angeles. She didn't have a car, so she got up at 4am every morning to catch the express bus. I don't know why she did this to herself. Surely there must be apartments in L.A.? 

Rob, the proverbial bronzed Californian surfer dude. Loading his board on his gigantic SUV by day and working at a casino by night, he was gone most of the time.  I think the only time he spoke to me was when he needed to use the phone. I'll tell you about it in a minute.

Jason from Maryland. He came to San Diego to study intensive care nursing. He had a part-time job to support himself, but he hated it and became unreliable, first being late, and later not bothering to show up at all. I couldn't believe his attitude, I would have loved to have a job - all I needed was a work permit!

So, about the two guys in the house: they claimed they had cell phones and didn't need the landline. In other words, they didn't want to contribute to the costs. Fine with Caro and I, we dragged the two phones that came with long cords in our respective rooms, and that's where they stayed.

As I was saying, one day Rob knocked on my door and asked to use the phone. I raised my eyebrows. 

Why don't you use your fancy cell phone? 

They were not even fancy back then, they were basic flip phones.

Turned out Rob's phone got disconnected because he didn't pay the bill. 

"Actually I need to call my cell phone provider to sort out my payments" he said.

I see. Fair enough. 

The mobile phone was just the tip of the iceberg, though.

Next his car was pounded, and a buddy needed to pick him up for work from now on. 

I wondered whether he was able to pay his share of the rent. Fortunately this was not my problem to worry about. 

It became my turn to worry when the internet provider, as well as the utility company, sent a last notice and threatened to turn off their services. 


I had never met the landlords. They didn't live there, they rented the house to a bunch of students from Cyprus, one of which subleased their room to me. I had to pay three months in advance, and I was told it was rent plus extras, and I didn't have to worry about anything else. 

Guess who had to worry about it now. I was the only one without a job, so when I wasn't at school or out exploring, I was home a lot, meaning I needed internet at the very least. 

So I paid. 

But wait, it wasn't as easy as it sounds.

In order to pay the bills, I needed a check book. In order to get checks for an American bank account, I needed an American bank account. In order to open an American bank account, I needed a social security number. In order to to get a social security number, I needed a job, and in order to get a job, I needed a work visa.


I called these companies and asked if I could just give them my credit card info. Normally that'd be OK, they said. Only my credit card was "foreign", and it wasn't accepted. This often happens at the gas stations' pumps, too. Even today, Usually when I go in, the sales person can override the system.

In my class there was a girl who worked for Washington Mutual. I asked for her advice. She had no idea, but she referred me to a person who referred me to a person, and I managed to convince them to let me have a bank account even if I wasn't in possession of the necessary documents. 

I had to call my bank back in Switzerland and talk to a person whom I knew personally and tell them, the person at WaMu (I understand it's J.P. Morgan Chase today) was going to fax them a document signed by me, requesting the transfer of funds.

Then I paid the bills.

Carolina and Jason contributed their part, but Rob was broke.

Didn't they teach life skills in America? Parents? Teachers? Anyone?

Many times when I used the washer and dryer, I found a few of items that belonged to Rob: A T-shirt, a pair of boxers and a pair of socks. That's what he ran an entire load for???

I can't believe I'm writing about my favorite summer memories, and it's about paying bills.

Just outside my bedroom window there was a lemon tree.

I wonder if it's still there. One out of three palm trees in the front yard has disappeared. 
I have been back three times since then. Every time I notice some changes. 

Can you believe they painted "my" pink Starbucks store lime? 

La Jolla Cove, so charming and peaceful! There used to be a "Forever Fondue" where Jason and I celebrated August 1, the Swiss national holiday. The cheese fondue was nothing like the real Swiss thing, but I got my patriotic fix all the same. In the meantime this restaurant has been closed permanently. Looking at Google Street View it was demolished and rebuilt. Today it houses "Better Buzz".

Theoretically the seals I observed back then are still alive, as they - especially females - may reach the age of 35 or even 40 years, and I wonder if I am having a reunion with some without knowing? 

At the very least I probably met some of their babies. Did you know a seal mama's gestational period is eleven months? 

I'm getting nowhere with this post. It's kind of hard to describe. Even though I "ran off" to California to get over a bad breakup, it was in some ways the best of times.
  1. Yes, I was there all alone, and for a short while I felt miserable.
  2. Yes, I didn't have a job and a slimmer than slim chance at getting one.
  3. Yes, living with roommates who had as big of challenges as I had was a far cry from the glamorous life that Brenda, Kelly and Donna were leading.

  1. It was up to me to get out there and make local friends, and at the end of the day, I quite liked to be alone as in I could up and leave without asking or waiting for someone or compromising.
  2. I kept trying, while completing my classes, and if 9/11 hadn't happened, I would have gotten that job with IKEA.
  3. I had signed a 12 month lease for my own apartment.

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. I don't regret leaving everything behind in Switzerland to follow my dream, and I don't resent the 9/11 circumstances that sent me back home just as things started to work out in my favor. 

I had a great time, and I have a couple of sensory memories I'd like to share with you.

The olfactory kind: This is the fragrance I discovered while there, and smelling it will always take me back:

The fashion kind: My Tweety Bird T-Shirt from the Looney Tunes Store at the Fashion Valley Mall. I also purchased some business-like clothes that I still keep in my closet. I gained, lost and re-gained weight and will probably never fit in again, but I can't bring myself to give them away.

Finally the musical kind, a selection of my 2001 playlist, mostly inspired by listening to KYXY 96.5

Atlantic Star, Always 
Lone Star, Amazed 
Michelle Branch, Everywhere
Lee Ann Womack, I hope you dance
Faith Hill, There you'll be
Dido, Thank you
Amanda Ghost, Silver Lining
Matchbox Twenty, if you're gone
Lee Greenwood, God bless America 

I hope you enjoyed time-travelling with me. Do you have a best summer memory? Care to share?

Happy Friday, don't forget to check out my fellow bloggers' posts!


  1. Sounds like despite the stressful parts, it was a really great summer in California.

  2. Is it sad that I'm incredibly jealous of this story? I've never been to California and, in 2001, I was married. I don't regret my life in the least, but sometimes, I wish I'd gotten to experience my 20's a little bit differently.

  3. I can't thhink of a damn memory of summer times I spent as a child

  4. I went to California a couple of times, but I prefer the east coast definitely! In 2001, was actually now that I think about it was the first time I went there! I had been married 10 years and my husband and I took off for 2 weeks alone! We drove to San Francisco and back. It was the best vacation we've ever taken!

  5. The summer of 2001 was my first real relationship. we moved in together soon after, but we were way too young. I still think back on that time fondly though even with the stress and the heartache that came later. sometimes it be like that.


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