Friday, January 13, 2012

It's a New Year - a New Routine perhaps?

I hope everyone is enjoying the start of 2012! I will enjoy it better once I have a computer that likes me. One that stays connected to the Internet or simply doesn't die on me for no apparent reason. I'm not ignoring the Blog on purpose - it's just hard to write when ones tools are mis-firing.

Remember the routine I was trying to find? I just realized I forgot to pack it! It’s still in Switzerland. I’m afraid it’s there to stay and thus I need to develop a new one.

Consider this: in Switzerland there are specific parameters that organize your life for you – both legislated and culturally enfored. I offer the following as examples:
• Mowing the lawn is allowed between the hours of 8am to 8pm Monday through Saturday but NOT during the lunch hour (12pm to 1:30pm). NOT allowed on Sundays.
• Most grocery stores are open 8am – 7pm, M – Sat. (a few open until 8pm) and Saturday opening hours are 8am – 12pm or 8am – 5pm depending on where you live. Grocery stores are NOT open on Sundays except for those attached to gas stations or at the train stations.
• Retail store are open 9am – 6pm M – Fri. and 9am – 1/4/5pm on Saturdays. NOT opened on Sundays.
• If you live in shared housing, which we did, you do NOT run the vacuum cleaner during the lunch hour (pretty much follows the lawn mower rules).
• We were admittedly spoiled by their school – all of their music lessons were held on campus – about 5 minutes from our house.
• Driving was logical – passing is allowed only on the left and it was not considered offensive to flash your lights at someone to get them to move to the right lane in order to pass.

Now we are back in the US and there is no imposed order to life – other than the HOA (Homeowner Association). I’ve most likely violated the HOA landscaping rules already by ripping out ugly plants and replacing them with new, attractive plants. We’re in the back corner of a cul-de-sac so I don’t think anyone but the one neighbor has even noticed. 
I can go to a grocery store virtually any hour of any day depending on my choice. We can mow the lawn any day of the week – 8am on a Sunday morning would not be illegal although it may make our neighbors cranky. I’m back in a single family house so I can run any appliance at any time of day I wish. I have to run up and down the freeway a couple times a week for music lessons and they’re far enough away that I have to sit and wait during the lesson (I know I was very spoiled before) if I don’t have a short errand to run. Driving in the Bay Area: as I stated before, the school parking lot is worse than in Zurich. Drivers from 35 – 40 different countries handle school drop-off better than the homogenous crowd that exists in our little pocket of suburbia.

All of that “freedom of choice” makes things a bit untidy. It’s a bit disorderly at times. I am a tidy and orderly person who appreciated the structure of Switzerland – to a point. I don’t want to make this post too long so we’ll have to save the “stifling” points for a later date. We came to really appreciate the “no stores/retail open on Sundays as it truly became a family day with church, lunches, naps, long walks, movies, etc… So I’m working on a new routine and feeling settled in the community.

That all said, do I find I appreciate a quick run to Safeway on a Sunday night for a forgotten lunch item? Absolutely!!!


Katherine said...

We miss you here, Susan. I hear you on the difficulty of re-entry. It was really hard for me when I moved back to the U.S. at age 17, too, after a long time in Europe. It took me about a year to adjust, so give yourself grace. We love you!

Patricia said...

My daughter, Katherine, shared your post with me. I concur with your findings completely. After living for 16 years in Geneva, 1974-1990, my re-entry to the US was very difficult. Just going down the cereal aisle of a grocery store gave me a headache. Too many choices! I really enjoyed the somewhat imposed order of the Swiss life, especially the lunch hour calmness, & special Sunday quiet family times. Now I am in Virginia, with Blue Ridge mountain views, no lake, no snow-laden Alps, but a wonderful husband & family near enough to have lunch with, so I am content, and still better organized! Happy Day!

Susan said...

Hi Susan, I love having an excuse not to vacuum or wash clothes on Sunday! And since I share the washing room with the other tenants, it means I only do laundry once a week. Which I like! Sorry to read the carpooling folks are crazy drivers. Be on your guard.

Someday, only the Lord knows when, it'll be my turn to repatriate - you'll be my go-to gal for good advice. Take care - sending you a hug.

Shelly @ Life on the Wild Side said...

Just reading your description of the orderly and organized life in Switzerland makes my blood pressure go down about 25 points. I would LOVE that. As it is now, I think, "Oh, I can go to the store tomorrow . . . or the next day . . . or the next day" which ends up meaning that I put off going to the grocery store until we have absolutely NO food in the house at all. If I knew the store wasn't going to be open on Saturday afternoon or Sunday I think I'd be much more organized and actually PLAN something for my family to eat (what a concept!).

Good luck. And as others have said, give yourself some grace. It's going to take time.