Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th of July! An ode to my homeland …

It’s the 4th of July (well, almost), and for the first time in my life, I’m not celebrating the birth of my country with other Americans, in America. Last year, I spent the day on the lake sailing with some of my closest friends and the night around a bonfire. It was perfect. I miss my friends and family this year, I miss the fireworks, and of course I miss the BBQs that no one does as well as Americans (sorry rest of the world!). I also miss having the day off work. What? I had to say it. I’d like to propose that Independence Day becomes an international holiday. Every country should celebrate the birthplace of Friends, college football tailgates (the real football ;), electricity and yours truly(random list, I know).

Right? Everyone who’s with me, say “I”! Anyone?



Ok, never mind that. Today is about being proud to be an American. And while I’m not about to get all misty-eyed and quote Lee Greenwood (although I couldn’t resist adding him to my patriotic playlist. And don’t you DARE mute it, or Uncle Sam will hunt. You. DOWN.), I AM going to pay homage to my great country by doing a blog about the good ole U. S. of A. They say life is about the simple pleasures. If you’ve known me five minutes, you know I agree with that. So, here are a few of the simple pleasures I miss about America.

Ice, Ice Baby …

NOT Vanilla Ice, sillies—but actual ice. The kind you fill your glass with and pour tea over or add to a blender to mix up the perfect margarita.

Mmmm, ice. So smooth. So refreshing. Literally melts in your mouth. It’s like the zero-calorie dessert! Hey, maybe I could start a business over here selling ice! I’ll call it “a chip off the old block” (that literally just came to me and may or may not need a little work.) I really just have a hard time wrapping my mind around how, in a country with literally NO air conditioning, there is also no (okay, very little—some restaurants have it) ice. I thought Western Europe was supposed to be all progressive and stuff … well you show me ice, and I’ll show you progressive. I miss ice.

Sweet southern comfort
Not the whiskey. Gross. Sweet tea! I miss it so very, very much. I know that’s bad, and Sweet Tea and I really needed some time apart. We agreed to use the distance as a time to reevaluate whether or not our relationship was a healthy one (it is not). And this break has been good for us—really, it has. After the withdrawals were over, I hardly even thought about Sweet Tea anymore.

Until this week.

It’s been 94 degrees, and I’m only human! I would really, really love a glass of cold sweet tea with two lemon slices right about now. I’m going to stay strong, though. It won’t be easy, but I will NOT go home and make my own sweet tea tonight. (But only because there is no ice with which to enjoy it.)

Since Independence Day is all about celebrating freedom, I’d be remiss not to mention my own version of freedom: a set of wheels. In case you haven’t met her yet, allow me to introduce you to Kaia.

She may not be flashy, fast or anyone’s dream car, but she gets me where I want to go, when I want to go there. And that’s why I love her.

I also love the freedom to sing my heart out at the top of my lungs whenever I’m driving around town to whatever music catches my fancy that day—usually it’s T-Swift or the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, but I like to mix it up sometimes … Unfortunately, I don’t think the Swiss are big on public displays of interpretive singing/dancing on their trams and buses. So until I get home, I’m singing and dancing on the inside.

My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding
No, I’m not getting married. I’m not even Greek. But I always said my Italian(ish) family reminds me of the family in that movie, and the meals we make and eat together could rival any Greek celebration.

So, I miss that. Not just the home cooking, but what it means to spend a day in the kitchen cooking together, eating together, laughing, joking—all of it. I cook for myself here, but my very miniature college-dorm-room sized refrigerator makes it impossible to keep a lot of variety on hand. And, what fun is it to cook for one?

English speaking television
Now you know I’m not big on spending hours and hours in front of the TV. However, I’d at least like to have the option! Here, I get two channels in English: The Bloomberg network (snoozefest) and MTV (16 and Pregnant? Really, America? We’re watching that crap? Oh sorry, I’m supposed to be saying nice things about my homeland). When forced to choose between the two, I pick watching cartoons in German. But I digress. I think it’s time to move onto my next point …

Affordable food and entertainment
Everything is SO expensive here!!! How much do you think it costs to go see a movie? About $35 dollars. PER. PERSON! How much do you think it costs to go out to dinner at a middle-of-the-road restaurant? At least $35 per person, and that wouldn’t include a glass of wine at most places. It’s unreal. What do people do on dates here?? I mean, I’ve never been a big fan of the typical, completely cliché “dinner and a movie” first date. But you wouldn’t even have that option here. And I’m all about options. Hmmm maybe I’ll go on a date while I’m here and I can report back on what we did. Hopefully something imaginative like strolling along the banks of the Rhine followed by a wine and cheese picnic. How fun would that be??

::extracting myself from fantasy land and returning to the bright light of harsh reality now::

Deodorant and American hygiene
Ok, I’m not going to be gross and go into detail here, but let’s just say that most Americans appreciate a good shower. A good, DAILY shower. Some of us even shower twice a day if we go to the gym. Not so for our European cousins. I’m not saying everyone here is like that, because they’re not. But a lot of amazing inventions, brilliant people and phenomenal artwork have come from this part of the world. So again, for such a progressive, intelligent society, you’d think less people would smell bad. I’m just sayin …

I will literally kiss the screens in the windows of my bedroom when I get home. It’s bad enough that this country loves the ozone layer too much to equip their buildings with air conditioning (I think it’s just a cover up—there has to be some other, more sinister reason to subject people to such harsh conditions. Maybe it’s a form of mind control? “If the people are too hot to think; they’ll do whatever we want them to do!” Hmmm, something to at least consider.). What’s worse is that there are no screens anywhere, including my apartment. And bugs love me, so basically there’s a big arrow pointing to my windows inviting the bugs to come in and harass me, which they happily do (until they meet an unhappy end on the bottom of my flip flop. I like to show them who’s boss.). Can’t a girl get a screen?!??

My Belle
I just can’t write a blog about what I miss without including pictures of my sweet Belle. I think this is a fitting way to close the ode to my homeland. Enjoy the photos, and it’s okay if you want to comment and tell me that I have the cutest dog in the WORLD. Because I do. :)

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