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2004-01-21 - 7:51 a.m.

Signs that you are in a foreign country

Even though I spend the entire night dreaming about Europeans, I wake up at 6:30am and just about know where I am.

I see the signs that I am in America. I come into the kitchen and prepare my first coffee - I pour it diligently into my brand new sleek black and chrome coffee thermos cup - it will remain attached to my hand for the rest of the day.

I feed the cats Triumph magnesium-controlled "salmon formula" cat food.

I feed myself a low-carbohydrate 100% high-fiber Thomas's English Bagels..covered with Philadelphia chives and onion cream cheese with 25% less saturated fat than butter. The cream cheese package even offers me free therapy:

"There's always room to express yourself."

"Find something that helps you slip into relaxation."

"Share treats with your neighbor."

"Find a comfortable place you can rest for the price of a cup of coffee."

It was surprising at first to discover that my cream cheese talks to me. I'm becoming used to it, however.

Yesterday was my first day trying to set everything up at Queens College. It was a typical first day - nothing worked.. today I will go back and try to redo everything, but this time with the wisdom to bring food with me for when I miss lunch.

The roads and sidewalks are treacherous - ice and snow everywhere -which makes walking to and from the center a bit of a pain. Can't circumvent that problem, but I guess just plan for it. I'm thinking good health coverage might be the appropriate plan - oops, I'm in America now, forget that.

Yesterday I tried to find a bank where I can set up an account, and discovered that the procedure will take a few more days. One of the banks was particularly unsettling - after ignoring me and then offering the worst checking/savings package of the bunch, I smiled and got up to leave. Posted at the exit was a brightly colored tape measure, measuring my height for the security cameras. ?? Not very subtle. And certainly not something to inspire a sense of warmth and safety in customers.

Yesterday I wrote my first email in German - already received a barrage of replies saying how "cute" it was. Apparently I said that my uncle "knifed" the apartment, and explained how happy I was to have a "garden butt." Subtleties of language....

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