Mittwoch, 25. April 2012

Unattended things may be robbed.

I remember once entering a train with my mother- and brother-in-law. We wanted to join a guy in a four seat section, but his bag was on the seat. My brother-in-law offered to help him stow it in the luggage rack and the guy was shocked. There in the rack were massive unattended bags. The guy looked at me and said, "people just leave them here?" I shrugged and grinned. It was true and I loved it. People just left there stuff and it was there when they got back.
Moving from Philadelphia to Zürich was like moving to the 1950s. Children ran free with out an idea about "stranger danger," Sundays were all about family, women got time off for having babies in a meaningful way (well, maybe that's not so 50's.) I loved that people would leave there bags on the train and be sure that they'd remain safe.
Ah, but all good things must end and the newspaper this morning brought the news that we must be more careful with our belongings in the train. The funny thing is, it wasn't even the big bags on the train that they were worrying about. The warning was that things of worth (laptops and wallets) should be kept on your person where you can feel it. This is insane and still super encouraging. Apparently, I still live in a partially idyllic land, I guess.

Freitag, 20. April 2012

Tips for people approaching dogs, learned from people approaching my dog.
Tip one: Don't stop at telling your child to approach a dog slowly, go ahead and warn them against waving their hand in front of the dog's face. Apparently, they'll want to do that.
Tip two, go ahead and touch a dog's muzzle if they seem amenable, but don't be surprised by the slobber. (Jowls should warn you of slobber in advance.)
Tip three: If you are curious about whether or not a dog will bite you, don't stick a finger in front of it's mouth saying, "Are you going to bite me? Do you bite? Should I be afraid that you'll bite me?"(If the answer is yes, you'll be sorely disappointed.

Freitag, 13. April 2012

Still an Ausländerin

So, It's 6 years since I moved here and I'm still harping on about my foreignness. There are multiple reasons for this. My days are spent teaching English to other immigrants who are struggling to learn yet another language (sometimes simultaneously learning their German.) I teach engineers, lawyers and pharmacists who now live here and need multiple new languages to continue their careers in their new homes.
I moved here in 2006 and now friends ask if I'm going to get my citizenship. This decision has been postponed because of our little 13 month jaunt in North America. The question sounds different depending on who's asking. It's tax time and the annual freak-out about the American government claiming it's tax money abroad has been refreshed (just in time for labor day).

The third reason I'm thinking about my foreignness is that people continue to stereotype about foreigners right to my face, either ignoring my transplatation or forgetting it. For example, when describing my pup's intestinal infection resulting from eating something gross from the bushes when I wasn't watching, the listener said "damn foreigners chuck their compost out their kitchen windows." I was telling this to a German friend and she said, "It's ridiculous that the Swiss still say 'Auslaänder'."  I was embarassingly unaware that there was any German alternative. I'd come her an outsider and imagined that I'd die here an outsider. Apparently, in German, ousiders are more affectionately called "Immigranten." It's so damn semantic, but for some reason it feels better. I'd prefer that.
In the meantime, I'm mistaken for a Belgian or Dutch lady and encourage my students to see more similarities than differences when they can. What else can we do, we band of immigrants?

Montag, 9. April 2012

then and now

3 years ago, I celebrated Easter by walking through Pére Lachaise cemetary in Paris. I was there for a month but spent the morning looking at old and new graves, watching Japanese girls pretend to kiss Oscar Wilde's tombstone.
I would never have anticipated that Easter back in 1994 when I was 13 and wolfing down easter chocolate and getting car sick on my way to my aunt's house for ham and cheesy potatoes.
Back in 2009 I'd never have anticipated that I would spend some future Easter healing from a misscarriage.
This afternoon, after returning to Zürich, our neighbors were having an Easter-egg hunt. A few children were toddling around searching for the eggs. A woman was taking photos, a few little ones were being dandled around. Ivo said "That'll be us in 5 years." But let noone say that I'm a woman who can't learn. I can not even begin to imagine what will be happening on Easter in 5 years.