Time stopped. Or at least, it slowed down long enough for me to enjoy the naked terror of watching my high school nightmare unfold before my eyes. In the span of two short seconds I flailed my arms upward, not high enough to cover my face (or do anything useful for that matter) and held my breath – a pointless defense tactic. My scream reflex conquered during years of miserable summer volleyball picnics, it was in silence that my nose made intimate acquaintance with a hard leather, good ole’ American football.
Anthropologists have a phrase for when someone lives among a new people group for so long that they become a part of that community – adopting its customs, mannerisms, mindsets… It’s called “Going Native.”
I would hardly say I’ve gone that far, but I will admit that I have become increasingly disgusted by tourists who hog both sides of the escalator and have begun to find the American accent irrationally irritating. I don’t get upset when I hear loud Americans (or Italians… My goodness, Italians) on the buses and metros, but I do roll my eyes with the rest of the nationals. I feel like to survive here I have been trying to fit in with as little friction as possible and in doing so I have laid aside some of my Americanisms.
So what happened this weekend was essential in rebalancing my inner identity.
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College instilled in me all kinds of habits (which include falling asleep in public and eating when I’m bored). Most ingrained in me is the obsession with creating rituals as aids to make it through the week. I know to the outsider chips and an over-sized chocolate bar do not look like particularly ceremonious but they are definitely rituals. Friday night would not be the same without them.
Anyone following my fairly pathetic facebook updates may have the misguided impression that my life revolves around my poor nutritional choices (I say this as I sit between an empty box of short-bread cookies and a recently demolished bag of knock-off M&Ms).
(Mom and other concerned adults – I do eat at least two squarely healthy meals a day and get as many fruits and vegetables as other people in this country).
The fact is that many of my “rituals” involve food. The yogurt cup I eat in my office at school every day because I don’t have time to eat it before I run to the bus. The cheap pizza slice I buy before Czech lessons on Wednesday for dinner. Lunch. Every day, same time.
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I’ve heard that March is the official Passive Aggressive Month. I’m not really passive or aggressive (this already sounds like I have identity issues…) but I thought I’d take a moment to be passive aggressively grateful.
I’m not super good at saying ‘thank you’ in person. Maybe because I talk so much I feel like no one can ever tell when I’m being genuine and when I’m just on auto-pilot. Me and my motor-mouth.
So instead, here is my passive aggressive ‘thank you’ note to my ‘Housemates’ (who shall remain nameless because, how else could this be passive aggressive?).
- Thank you for you killing all the spiders. This needs to be mentioned first because it’s the most important.
- Thank you for reminding me when I need to do laundry (and for doing it nicely instead of just being like, “Gosh, is that you or the compost pile that smells so bad?”). Not because I actually end up doing it when you remind me but because it makes me feel like you might also remind that parachute pants aren’t in style anymore if I tried to leave the house looking like Kevin Bacon. I appreciate that.
- Thank you for not complaining when I eat the tops off all the pies, crumbles and crusty casseroles that come through our house. I know that must take some self-restraint.
- Thank you for saving me part of the eggs every time you make them in the mornings. I like eggs. Yours are especially good.
- Thank you for instilling in me an intense obsession with Tim Tebow. He WILL write to us one day, won’t he? WON’T YOU, TIM TEBOW?
- Thank you for laughing at my jokes. I know they’re not funny, too.
- Thank you for not going all Liberal Left on the nuclear waste in my bedroom. Eventually I’ll get a team in there to take care of that. Promise.
- Thank you for letting me sing all the time. I don’t know when I picked up that habit or when it will stop. Probably not until the stairwell stops making my B flats sound like auto-tuned Taylor Swift. Gotta love a good echo.
- Thank you for letting me practice my accordion. I don’t need to expound.
- Thank you for putting up with my mini-meltdowns. Like when I’m hungry and just keep opening and closing the fridge door, moaning like a wounded bear. Or when I stamp my feet and flail around like a toddler because I can’t handle how cold it gets here. Or when I stare dejectedly out the window, ignoring all life around me, and mutter things like, “I miss tacos.”
- Thank you for letting me bake. People of lesser faith would not leave me alone in the kitchen for such long periods.
- Thank you very, very much for everything else. I see it, feel it and appreciate it.