2003-04-17 - 6:09 a.m.

Things that make me realize that I have made myself at home here...

1. Turning the light on in the bathroom is easy for me now; I no longer falter with the various switches until I get the right one.

2. I no longer give a shit what my hair looks like when I go out. *

3. I no longer have fits of panic every five seconds when I think someone is going to speak to me.

4. The tights at the grocery store no longer excite me nor does it phase me to read labels in French.

5. I no longer move out of anyone’s way if I was looking at something first and they come barging in.

6. I have memorized the grocery store and the placement of every item on the shelves.

7. I no longer knock the wind out of myself when trying to get out of the gate in front of the apartment building. In the first weeks I was here I would walk into it and push at the same time...I finally learned it was a pull motion I would need...

8. I no longer wait at crosswalks for the light to turn green; I now cross the street and dodge traffic like everyone else.

9. My consumption of chocolate has decreased drastically. **

10. I know the inner workings of this apartment now. The other day during a get together Eric had for his colleagues I tuned in to, over the sound of six male voices, the sound of the toilet running and instantly thought to myself, “I need to go fix the toilet.”

11. I have learned how to flush the toilet so the flusher doesn’t stick and make the toilet run.

12. I am starting to like the way they dress here. ***

13. The group of old women that walk at about the same time I do in the park now say, “Bonjour Mademoiselle!” when I pass them.

14. I have gotten used to living in an apartment. I no longer get irritated by the noise of the people walking on hardwood floors WITH CLICKY SHOES upstairs and the sound of the elevator door slamming in the hallway no longer makes me jump a mile.

15. The sirens no longer make me think of Princess Diana. ****

* When I first arrived here I couldn’t imagine going out in public without making my hair look half way decent or putting on mascara and lipstick. I have this strange thing with vanity, if I am uncomfortable somewhere I feel doubly so if I am disheveled in any way.

** I have found that when I am uncomfortable I eat mass quantities of chocolate for some reason. I crave it actually and feel a calming wave go over me when I eat it. In my first few weeks here I was going through at least a chocolate bar a day. One day at about 5 o’clock I realized that I only had one square of chocolate left and I fought with myself for a long time as to whether or not I should eat it then because if I did there would be no more chocolate until the next day when I went to the store. I ended up eating it and half an hour later I needed more. It was one of those things like when people quit smoking and start tearing through drawers, garbage, under the seats of their cars looking for stray cigarettes or even a butt. I was tearing through everything looking for some bit of stray chocolate. It became my habit then to buy two bars of chocolate every time I went to the store so I would always have a backup. I realize now that I haven’t consumed hardly any chocolate because there are six bars in the fridge and I haven’t bought any in over a week.

***When I first arrived here I thought people dressed strangely here. You know, like in magazines when some model is wearing warm-up pants, a sequenced silk shirt and stilettos. People seriously dress like runway models here. Not everyone of course, but way more people than in the US.

****When I was a child I was in love with the idea of royalty. I was quite the princess back then, my mother often referred to me as Wills (in reference to little Prince William). I would demand something for myself and my mother would roll her eyes at me and say, “Yes, Wills,” When Diana and Charles got married I got to watch their wedding on TV. It was treated with just as much hoo-hah as watching the Wizard of Oz. I got to have brownies and Rice Krispies Treats, my sleeping bag stretched out on front of the TV. It was a very momentous occasion for me. My mother bought me a Princess Diana bridal doll from the Franklin Mint and I spent hours just gazing at it. I loved royalty. By the time Princess Diana was killed I had gotten over my obsession with Princesses, but that day was still startling to me. I was bartending that day, the TV over the bar was something I didn’t ever pay any attention to but I heard the words Princess Diana and accident and I snapped to attention. I tried not to watch the coverage because I get agitated with the human race when some tragedy happens and people sit in front of their TV’s watching it over and over again. In fact, it was the OJ Simpson thing that made me quit watching TV for three years. I was bartending that night as well and I was so pissed at everyone for standing or sitting there with full drinks in hand, not moving, their eyes glued to the TV watching that stupid white Bronco. I hated that. I hated the fact that people thrive on drama. ANYWAY...I tried not to watch the Princess Diana coverage but I just had to. There was something very poignant in her death for me. (and GOD how I hate to admit that!) I guess because for most of my life (at that point it was most of my life) she had been my ideal, she had been the idol of my life. She had been my childhood. So from watching all the footage the sound of these Parisian sirens echoed over the TV. When I came here the first time and heard these sirens the first time I was totally caught off guard because I instantly got a knot in my stomach and thought abut Princess Diana. It happened every single time a siren blared by (which is often seeing as how this apartment is right across from the police station). But now, now they don’t even phase me, in fact, I don’t even think I hear them any longer.

Things that make me realize I am NOT at home here.....

1. When I turn on the oven here a few minutes later I will open the bottom of the oven to check the pilot light. *

2. My back has hurt every single day since I arrived because the only bed I can sleep on comfortably is my own Big White Squishy Bed.

3. I have nightmares about my cats running away every single night.

4. I am not reading near as much as I read at home because I can’t find a spot in which to read. At home I get into my Big White Squishy Bed.

5. I haven’t bought a pair of shoes or an article of clothing in over a month. Not for lack of wanting to do so, but because I am scared to go into a shop where I will have to speak to someone. Plus, I am poor because I am not working.

6. Hearing someone on the streets speaking English startles me.

7. I am annoyed by the way Americans sound.

8. I have only broken one glass the whole time I have been here. **

9. I no longer wake before sunrise.

*At my house the pilot light to the stove ALWAYS get blown out somehow. I have gotten in the habit of turning the oven on and then a few minutes later remembering that I should check the pilot light. I do the same thing here, only, E.’s oven is electric so when I open the bottom of the stove I get confused for a millisecond before remembering that I am not home and do not need to check the pilot light.

**At home I break something almost daily. I have been known to go through a whole set of glasses within a week.


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