Friday, January 30, 2015

Why all Americans should hate the Superbowl

One of the things The Frau loved about being in Switzerland was forgetting all about huge American sporting obsessions like the Superbowl. Unless of course, she checked Facebook, where American friends were posting obsessively about it.

Now that she’s back in the U.S., she can’t avoid certain American sporting pastimes, but she is doing her hardest to try—at least when it comes to the NFL. This has less to do with not caring about sports and more to do with the overall inequality in the country these days.

Is The Frau crazy? What does American football have to do with American inequality? Well, actually a lot. See, the National Football League is classified as a non-profit organization.

Yes. You heard The Frau right. The NFL…which pays players millions and charges a devoted fan thousands of dollars for one Superbowl ticket…they are tax exempt in the eyes of the American government.

Which brings us to Americans abroad. Who are not tax exempt in the eyes of the American government, even though they must also pay tax to the country they are living in and have no representation in the U.S. despite their tax liabilities.

Does any of this make any sense?

No. The United States not a lot of sense these days makes. And the Superbowl pretty much represents everything that’s wrong about the U.S. these days: rich getting a tax break while the rest of us pay.

Anyone else refusing to watch on Sunday?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Learning to Embrace the Awkwardness

The Frau is still acclimating to America. It’s hard for her not to feel like a foreigner in her own country when she takes Toddler M to school and the school is closed. Remember that American holiday called Martin Luther King Day? Neither did The Frau.

In other news, Toddler M’s preschool had both spirit day (wear your favorite sport team’s jersey) and pajama day last week. Mr. Frau was pretty excited about spirit day and told Toddler M that she could finally wear that beautiful Blackhawks sweatshirt he got her last year. And The Frau was hopeful about pajama day (despite its previous rejection by Toddler M) since it would mean less work getting Toddler M dressed.

But Toddler M had neither spirit nor desire to wear pajamas to school. So once again, for the second and third time respectively, she was the strange little re-pat kid wearing size 104 H&M skinny jeans and polka dotted blouses in a world of 3T and 4T Bears jerseys and snowman foot pajamas. In that little preschool, she alone represented the awkwardness of the entire re-pat universe.

Unfortunately, The Frau has decided that her little family pretty much won’t fit in anywhere, in any country, for the rest of their lives. Expat author Robin Pascoe’s book, Homeward Bound, a great read about repatriation, pretty much confirmed The Frau’s conclusion, so there it is, yodelers. Expats will always be foreigners both at home and abroad.

And there’s nothing we can do about it except embrace our awkwardness and wear our ties and dress pants on “wear your pajamas to work day.” (Which by the way, Mr. Frau’s company had for the second time and which, by the way, Mr. Frau purposely wore a tie and dress pants for in order to defy.) See, yodelers? There is no hope at all in The Frau Family of ever being normal.

C’est la vie. Oder?

Monday, January 12, 2015

An Apology to Zurich Weather

Lieber/Liebe(?) Zurich Wetter, 

(please excuse The Frau's gender confusion but "Wetter" is a "das" so how do you address it in a letter?)

The Frau is sorry. She never thought she'd miss your grayness. But of course, Facebook jealousy did its thing and last week The Frau was treated to a friend’s picture of her family biking under blue skies to the Zurich Zoo (caption: 17 C°) while The Frau was freezing her B-O trying to walk seven blocks on un-shoveled sidewalks to spin class (caption: -15 C° + windy).

It is bitterly cold in Chicago. The Frau doesn’t know why people choose to live here. Oh wait, she chose to live here. But it’s so cold she can’t even justify walking Toddler M, who refuses to wear mittens, home from preschool (nor would the stroller function on the un-shoveled and un-even sidewalks).

So instead, Mother-in-Law picks Toddler M up from preschool in her car since The Frau is strange and Swiss and still can’t bring herself to buy a car. Yet. But the whole -15 C °+ wind chill is changing her outlook. (Oh, and The Frau would also like to say that Mother-in-Law is really nice to put up with her strange and un-American daughter-in-law. Especially since The Frau can't function at all in Fahrenheit.)

Note to Chicago People:
Often there is barely any snow in balmy
Switzerland, even in the mountains.
Oh temperate gray Zurich! The Frau is sorry for previously writing about how much your weather sucks. Because a place that is so cold she is stuck indoors despite a sunny, snowy day is worse.

Suck it up, you say? That’s what The Frau thought too. Stop complaining and go outside in the snow. So she did just that. She went to the snowy woods for a walk. How cold could it be? Well, according to her Swiss watch, she lasted seven whole minutes before she couldn’t feel her face and had to run back to the car. And that was the other sad thing. The only way to get to the woods is to drive. Another reason she'll have to get that car soon.
  
Everyone in Chicago thinks Switzerland is the same in terms of weather. But you’re used to this, right? they say. They see Switzerland as freezing and snowy when in fact it is neither, except maybe snowy in the mountains. Sometimes. But definitely not last year.

In any case, there is a happy ending to all of this. Because yesterday it was a balmy -2 C° so The Frau went cross-country skiing in the snowy woods. The only thing that finally brought her back to the car was a pair of blisters. And that was reason to celebrate.

Liebe Gr├╝sse
The Frau

Thursday, January 01, 2015

5 Things The Frau Loves About the US

Happy New Year, mitenand. As The Frau looks forward to her first full year in the US since 2005, here are some things she is loving thus far about “home.”
 
Chicago, USA
The people. Americans are so pleasant, yodelers. They smile. They chat. They always seem to have something nice to say. The Frau has to hand it to Americans. They make you feel happy. The Frau’s neighbor hangs bread on her front door at least once a week. Just because.

The programs for kids. The Frau’s new town has so much for Toddler M to enjoy. Library story hours. Indoor playgrounds. Outdoor playgrounds. Breakfasts with Santa. Learning programs at zoos and arboretums. The number of things to do is amazing. And most are free or very reasonably priced.

The family. Having family nearby is great. Yesterday The Frau’s mother-in-law called to say she would pick up Toddler M from school and make dinner. Really? The Frau is still getting used to having a family support network in her backyard.

The house. While The Frau misses her castle view apartment, she has to admit: It is really nice to not be tripping over Toddler M’s toys. It is really nice to have four bedrooms. And it is amazing to be able to live in a house built by one of America’s most famous architects for the same monthly payment as a two-bedroom Swiss apartment.

The food. Within four blocks from The Frau’s house is a street that has all of these options: South American food, Mexican food, Vietnamese food, Thai food, Indian food, BBQ, American bar food, frozen yogurt, ice cream, movie theater popcorn, and more. The amount of food options in this country is amazing. The best part? There is free water at all of them.

What do you love (or miss) about the United States?

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