Thursday, May 29, 2008

Euro 2008

Because the countdown is everywhere in Switzerland, I can tell you almost without thinking that the UEFA Football Championship will begin in a mere nine days. Switzerland and Austria are the enthusiastic hosts of this much anticipated event. Like most good US Americans, I know next to nothing about football, except what I glean from conversations and from Chi Vuol Essere Milionario? (And who really gleans anything about sports that way?) But all the same, I am caught up in the excitement.

During the World Cup, Chicago became a different place – festive, happy, united. There were parties in the bars, shouting in the streets, banging on apartment floors, flags on cars. Swiss Mr. and I once shared a special moment with some crusty old Greek men and some young Mexican guys in a diner on Broadway. I couldn't tell you who was playing or what actually happened, but for a moment, we were part of the same world.

It is for this reason alone that I want to love soccer. I want to be part of the football club. So, like a big expatriate nerd, I am doing some research. You know, finding out what UEFA stands for, which teams are good, looking at the brackets (which are apparently called "seeding pots"). Here is a memory game which I may use to learn some important historical champions of the sport (be careful, all the Italians somehow look the same). That way I can be like, "Remember that Michel Platini? He sure had big hair," and "He's good, but he's no Sepp Maier." 

I do have my doubts that I'll get into the club permanently. But for one month I'll try really hard and enjoy it. That's what Roger Lemerre would do. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Airport report

In reviewing recent photos, it's obvious we've spent a lot of time in the airport. In fact, I estimate that at least 15% of our photos were taken in or near one (an astounding statistic given our presence at a wedding, an anniversary party, and a baptism (with babies) during our visit). In the past three weeks, we've visited the following ports:

-London Heathrow (3 times)
-JFK New York (2 times)
-Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
-Will Roger's World Airport, OK City (2 times)
-Chicago O'Hare (2 times)
-Zurich Airport (2 times)
-Lugano Airport (2 times)
-Brussels Airport
-Milan Malpensa
-Milan Linate

Every airport has its own special character, so I would find it difficult to pick a favorite. OKC definitely had style, but its physical charm was rather neutralized by the blatant racial profiling occurring at security. Zurich felt the most high tech and secure; airport officials debuted the intimidating reverse-questioning technique: Who asked you to take something in your bag today? (Don't answer too quickly.) Bonus points also for the mooing and the cow bells playing on the tram.

Our luggage got left behind at the infamous Terminal 5 at Heathrow but it really wasn't the airport's fault, as we ourselves had to run to make our connection. But they do need some help with signage. At one point we got off the tram and, along with about 300 other people, stood dumbly for many minutes with no clue where to go from there. Apparently we were all supposed to pile in the elevator ("lift"). Are elevators seriously the best technology for people-lifting they could think of? Heathrow also wins the prize for the most workers. I think (I hope) at least 75% of them were undercover bobbies just pretending to polish the same handrail all day.

STL, Malpensa, Brussels, and Linate were pretty unremarkable, though STL gets points for having phone books, pay phones, and cinnamon pretzels just when we needed them. Most unpleasant of all was our stop at JFK, which had the unbearable stench of feet throughout. The people at security ineffectually sprayed disinfectant in the air after each person passed through.

I have more to say about these airports but I feel myself becoming less interesting by the paragraph. Being a good blogger means knowing when to say when.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Our lives are trickling back into order, after our being away from home for a few weeks. Our kitty arrived at the house even before our briefly lost luggage, but now everyone and everything is now home and accounted for. I have opened the suitcases and am now gazing at all the dirty laundry and arbitrary purchases. More accurately, it's vacant, unmotivated, glazed-over staring. My synapses are firing slowly, jet-laggedly.

What, you may be curious to know, are the items that warranted smuggle back into the country from the motherland? The results of several zombie-like shopping trips: macaroni and cheese, kitty litter deodorant, people deodorant, knives, peanut butter cups, cinnamon, brownie mix, ibuprofen, vitamins, allergy pills, and shampoo. How boring and American.

I can't believe we actually carried kitty litter deodorizer on four flights, across three states and then the ocean. Target casts a spell, I tell you.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm not sure what good blogging etiquette for taking vacations is, but I'm pretty sure that I did not practice it by just up and leaving last week. Lately we have been in OK City, USA, celebrating the wedding of some dear friends. (OK City in a nutshell: big skies and red meat.) We will be spending some time with family and friends in Chicago and Michigan next week before returning to "real life."

Bis dann!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nature was busy this weekend while we were away, giving out steroids and sweet-talking the shrubs. Lugano has been transformed! Everything is so full and intensely green that when we turned down our street around midnight last night, we both thought we were on the wrong street.

Even my porch of pathetic plants is looking lively. Well, to be honest, the pine tree has still seen better days, but the daffodils are in bloom, the lemon tree has some lemons, and the herb seedlings have sprung up out of their dry, barky soil (making a good case, by the way, for nature in the nature/nurture debate). 

Atticat is enjoying spring here as well, taking the opportunity to bird watch, bug hunt, and sit very close to the herbs on the porch. Boo-kitty would have been going crazy with all the birds around here. 

Hmm... it sounds like I almost like nature. Been reading too much about naturalists lately.

Thursday, May 1, 2008