People in N. America seem to think that everyone here is swathed in Italian silks, air-kissing each other at wrought-iron cafe tables. In reality, I spend most of my time just wishing that I could enjoy life instead of getting bogged down in all the day-to-day shit. I worry so much about money that it is gewoon niet normaal. I walk around town pining for all the gorgeous things in boutique windows while simultaneously wondering who the fuck shops there. I can barely get through the month with enough groceries (and we - theoretically - make "good money"). Too many taxes. All our money gets chewed up in BTW and VAT and never comes back (unlike when you return to the US and get a VAT-refund).
Who is buying all the shit this country has to sell? No one has any fucking money. Of course, we aren't up to our eyeballs in consumer debt, either. The government won't even let us spend our OWN money, let alone have a decent line of credit.
Someone once asked me if we didn't just LOVE that the canals are so lovely lit up at night? Yeah, great. The last time my partner and I got to enjoy them was the winter our oldest was born, when we made freezing, late-night/early-morning forced marches all over the city at his colicky command. Precious moments. We've been at the kids' beck and call ever since. If we ever did get some time alone, without the kids, and complete silence, we would just jump directly into bed together...and SLEEP. And sleeping feels pretty much the same in any country.
Oh, but the tiny, overpriced homes are just so CHARMING! I wish we could stay! Wouldn't you just LOVE to live here, darling? Don't do it, you stupid, stupid tourist. Go home and eat yourself senseless at a reasonably-priced restaurant with the change you find in the seats of your gigantic, gas-guzzling SUV.
That's why Europeans are so thin! Eating well here costs MONEY. We don't have it. In the US you can stuff yourself catatonic at steakhouses and TexMex restaurants at every major intersection. God, I'm hungry. But I'm thin.