Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Life in the U.S. after Switzerland. Sad.

Yodelers,

One thing has become clear: The Frau needs a mental break from her own country.

To think: she gave up a permanent Swiss residence permit for non-stop psychological abuse from her own government. What a horrible trade. Sad.

The good news is this: The Frau will get the mental break she needs in a few months. She is headed back to her beloved Switzerland for a little while.

The Zurich Writers Workshop, which will be held May 12-14, 2017, is The Frau’s main excuse for heading back to Switzerland. The workshop is going to feature two amazing New York Times bestselling authors, Susan Jane Gilman and Jill Alexander Essbaum (remember that Zurich-based novel, Hausfrau?). Registration just opened and The Frau would love to see some of her fellow Yodelers over the weekend. If you can’t commit to the full weekend, it’s possible to just attend the Sunday afternoon panel, Career Paths for Writers. On this panel, The Frau will be speaking about how to make a living as a writer. And she’ll be joined by New York Times travel journalist Adam H Graham as well as by featured workshop authors Susan and Jill.

It’s strange to think about this, but after she visits Switzerland, if the U.S. doesn’t let The Frau back in her own country because of some yet-unknown un-constitutional whim, she won’t mind. It will give her the excuse she needs to try to find another country to call home—she’s done this before, after all. 

It’s all so disappointing though. The Frau wanted to love her country again, but it’s not easy to be an American right now. In fact, it’s really, really horrible to be an American right now.

The only good news is that there are millions of Americans who agree with The Frau about the way things are going and are doing everything they can to act against what is happening. The Frau is part of several grassroots groups at the moment and is excited by the energy that is gathering against the horror. In the end, The Frau has to believe that the millions of well-meaning Americans will triumph. The ones who believe in immigration, in diversity, in equal rights, and in the constitution that promises to uphold them all.
  

Friday, January 20, 2017

We are All Foreigners in America Today

Yodelers: Happy New Year. Today’s your last chance to party with the elites in Davos. Luckily you can still party like one at any time of year—especially if Davos is practically in your backyard like it must be for many of you. To see Davos as world leaders do, Yours Truly put together some tips for CNN Business Traveller on this Switzerland travel opportunity that you can read here.

Speaking of world leaders, The Frau has never woken up the night before an American presidential inauguration feeling physically sick. She only has one word for that. Sad!

But in all seriousness, she is truly frightened for her country right now. The only thing that gives her hope is that the majority of Americans did not vote for this buffoon and that the majority seem to be stepping up to prove it tomorrow at the women’s marches across the nation. There is even a march in Geneva, Switzerland, Yodelers. All of this makes The Frau feel better.

This recent (and upcoming) American strangeness also makes The Frau feel less like a foreigner in her own country than she did after moving back two years ago from Switzerland. When over half your country also seems confounded by its bizarre direction it makes the last stages of repatriation a little easier somehow. 

Together, we are all foreigners in America these days. (This phenomenon is also making one of The Frau’s next book projects, American Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known, an even more interesting thing to write than she ever expected. Hopefully, that book will be ready in 2018.)

Well, here we go, America. Keep The Frau in your thoughts, Switzerland.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Caught Between American and Swiss Christmas Traditions

Happy Holidays, Yodelers.

Long time no see.

That is The Frau’s fault, and since she’s in the U.S., allow her to apologize with a big, fat American “sorry.”
No more bringing the Christmas tree
home on a public bus for The Frau. Sad.

Sorry, sorry, sorry, but it seems like every time The Frau sits down to write a blog post, she's either distracted by election woes or what she writes turns into an essay she wants to send to a publication. (Therefore, she cannot post it here as publications will rarely re-publish posts from personal blogs. Sigh.)

So instead, The Frau will share a holiday post turned essay, which was published yesterday by the Washington Post. It’s called Creating new Christmas traditions, one overly commercialized experience at a time and it’s about what to do when you no longer have your American childhood holiday tradition and you no longer have your Swiss holiday tradition (bring your Christmas tree home from Jumbo on a Swiss public bus) and you are caught in that strange place of non-tradition. Can anyone relate?

In other news, The Frau is hard at work on her next Swiss-related book, which will be out next May. Part travel guide, part cultural guide, it's a book that aims to make even the most foreign of us who gave up our Swiss C-permits for a little Trumpland maintain a little Swissness (and sanity). Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you might enjoy this ultimate Swiss Gift Guide, which The Frau previously created for any of you who aren’t quite Swiss enough to have all of your shopping done yet.

Frohe Weihnachten, mitenand.




Thursday, November 17, 2016

What does someone in Trumpland think of Switzerland?

What does an American, specifically you, think of Switzerland?

That was the assignment The Frau received from an editor at Die Zeit a few weeks ago.

Her answer, in essay format, was published today in the Swiss edition of the German-language weekly. This week's issue explores how various nationalities see Switzerland. A smart idea and The Frau looks forward to reading what others authors think too.

However. What would be even more interesting, at this point in time, is an American magazine that did an issue about what the rest of the world thinks of the United States. That we're gullible? That we're ignorant? That we're a bad reality show with too much reality to even digest anymore? That we're going to ruin their lives too?

What does The Frau think about America? Well, let's just say it's not good. But she is no longer speechless. Instead of just sitting there, sick to her stomach in her pajamas until 4 p.m. on a Wednesday, she is speaking up, both in written and verbal formats. Yodelers, she is determined to save her country and use her Swiss wisdom and international viewpoints to do so.

Her strategies include:

1.     Writing essays and articles that push progressive ideas (you know, those oh-so “radical” Swiss ideas, like universal healthcare, paid parental leave, etc.) ideally for publication in high circulation places.
2.     Continuing to write the sequel to Swiss Life, which is titled, American Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. The book suddenly became an even more interesting project on November 9.
3.     Participating on her local citizen’s council, which slates candidates who seek office in her suburban town.
4.     Giving back creatively to any potential progressive candidate who may need some advertising or copywriting assistance.
5.     Continuing to consider moving back to Switzerland, especially if the SVP goes away.

What do you think of Switzerland? Of the United States? Can the United States be saved? How?



Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Speechless in Trumpland

First disbelief. Then trembling. Then sweating. The second-guessing. Then a Swiss reporter called, resulting in this

That is all the mostly speechless Frau has to say for now.




















Monday, November 07, 2016

Leave the U.S. again or not? Tomorrow is decision day.

Tomorrow may be the biggest day in the United States in a long time.

The Frau is glad to be able experience such a day on U.S. soil, but she is also completely scared of the possible result, as it may mean she will need to leave U.S. soil once again. Having given up her Swiss C-permit over a month ago, this is not the best timing for such a possibility.

She’s trying to have faith. This is a harder thing to have these days in America than it should be.

Any American who moves back to the U.S. after being abroad experiences reverse culture shock. But the Frau’s timing, having moved back here at the end of 2014, was to experience it in the extreme. This isn’t the country she left it in 2006, and she finds the attitudes of some of people extremely alarming.

Will The Frau leave the U.S. again?
The American electorate may help her decide.
No one discusses issues calmly and deeply, people just yell at each other. It’s horrible. The Frau even took her Bernie Sanders bumper sticker off her car after the primaries—she didn’t want to risk someone shooting her—can you believe she would have to consider such a thing?

Which begs the question: What kind of country has this become? The Frau had a friend who voted early precisely because she was scared of what would happen on election day—would there be riots and shootings at the polls? Can you imagine? This country is morally disintegrating—anyone who thinks Trump should represent our country on the world stage is somehow morally confused or uneducated.

Part of the problem is that so few Americans have passports. About 36% of Americans have passports, so there are a lot of people who have no idea about the world beyond U.S. borders—some haven’t left their state—or their hometown. They are scared of anyone who is different than them and don’t realize that many of policies they call progressive (or heaven forbid, socialist), like legalized vacation time, paid family and medical leave, and universal healthcare are not radical ideas. And the very Americans many of these policies would benefit are the ones who are against them—it makes no intellectual sense.

But nothing makes sense in the U.S. these days.

If there is one redeeming factor to the Trump phenomenon, it is that he alone has revealed, in the clearest way possible, the very wealth inequality that exists in our nation. That loopholes allow a billionaire to escape paying taxes, while a poor man must pay his, show just how unethical and immoral this country has become.

The entire American system is broken. And Trump has brought this out into the open, which in a way, is a good thing. Whether it will bring about change, well, that’s another story. But at least the inequality that people like Bernie Sanders have talked about relentlessly is no longer just talk. American wealth inequality is blatantly and grossly in the spotlight. Whether people will vote for more great policies for billionaires at their own demise will be answered tomorrow. As will the question of The Frau's future moving plans.




Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Switzerland (and almost any land) is Better for Working Parents

Do working parents have it better abroad than in the United States?

Most experiences of working parents abroad appear to say yes.

About a month ago, The Frau wrote this piece for the Wall Street Journal Expat section: Working in Switzerland—What’s an Expat Woman to Expect?

Now back in the U.S. and witnessing the realities of
working American parents, The Frau is ever grateful that her
daughter was born abroad.
In case you want the short answer—an American woman can expect better work-life balance and extremely more supportive policies when working in Switzerland, despite a sometimes backwards mindset that a woman’s place is still in the home.

Stories of working parental woes are all over the American press lately.

Last week, a powerful New York Times opinion piece from writer Pamela Druckerman, The Perpetual Panic of American Parenthood, agrees that American parents have it best working elsewhere. The subhead: “Make our country great, by making it a bit more like the rest of the world,” pretty much sums up The Frau's feelings exactly.

Says Ms. Druckerman on leaving the U.S. for Paris, “I gradually understood why European mothers aren’t in perpetual panic about their work-life balance, and don’t write books about how executive moms should just try harder: Their governments are helping them, and doing it competently."

Another great quote from her piece was from writer Ms. Partanen, who, in her book, The Nordic Theory of Everything, says, “While Nordic citizens often don’t realize how good they have it, Americans seem not to realize how terribly they are being treated.”

That’s what really confounds The Frau. The great majority of Americans she talks to have no idea how bad they have it. No idea. They think the stress of trying to work and parent with no legalized parental leave, no legalized vacation time, and no legalized sick time is their fault.

Blaming the individual for what’s wrong instead of looking beyond to greater causes is sadly an American thing. We're very individual and we like to blame the individual too. We need to stop.

Even when moms have access to parental leave in the U.S., they face hassles to get it. On the cover of the Chicago Tribune’s Life+Style section last Sunday was an article about how insurance paperwork issues interfere when new mothers just want to nurture their babies.

Yes, the American system is broken. And The Frau plans to keep writing about it (global outlook included) until it is fixed.

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