03 July 2006

Top 10 things I miss about the US -- Take Two

Back in November, I wrote a top ten list of things that I missed about living in the US. I haven't read through that list since I wrote it (though I remember my #1 from that list, considering that I recently referred to it). So, before I read through it again, I thought I'd write up a new list, based on things that I am looking forward to once I get back.

Strangely enough, I've been working on this entry for about a week now. I'm having a hard time coming up with 10 things that I truly miss! (Bear in mind that the original "rule" was that I couldn't include friends and family.) Anyway, here's what I've come up with after a lot of brainstorming.

#10 - Working with *one* currency

I hate wasting money on processing fees. In particular, I'm tired of paying a fee for converting dollars to euros -- come on, Mr. Banker, isn't the poor exchange rate punishment enough? It will be nice to have just one bank account again, without worring about how much I'll have to pay to get and use my money!

#9 - Peace and quiet

One of the drawbacks of living in any big city is that it's just plain noisy! Between the constant stream of emergency vehicles and the nightly drunken singing/yelling from the bar down the street (never mind what happens when France wins a World Cup game), I'm starting to look forward to the relative peace and quiet of Ann Arbor/Ypsi.

#8 - Giant stores that you could live in (you know, if you had to)

After visiting three different stores the other day just to find a package of dental floss, I am more than ready to return to the land of super grocery stores. OK, I suppose I will probably walk about the same distance when you compare the size of my neighborhood to the size of one of those mega stores, but at least I know right where to find everything. Plus, things don't seem to sell out in the US like they do in Paris. (If you don't get to Champion by about 2 pm, you can't cook with chicken breasts that night ... they are long gone!)

#7 - Yellow mustard, Dr. Pepper, and root beer

It's not that I'm a die-hard fan of any of these products. But, when you suddenly realize that you can't have something as common as regular old French's mustard, guess what you want to buy more than anything else in the world?

#6 - The Dog-O-Mat (a.k.a. the self-service dog wash in Ann Arbor)

Have you ever tried to give your dog a bath in a 2-foot by 2-foot shower stall? 'Nuf said.

#5 - A regular income

It's not that I really want to go back to work, but I'm tired of coming up with creative ways to stretch a euro. (You know you're becoming a scrooge when you're trying to decide whether or not to splurge on brand name conditioner...)

#4 - No more bratty tourists

Overall, I don't really mind the tourists. It's the spoiled, bratty ones that I'm tired of. For example, we were in line at Ste. Chapelle behind a man who pitched a fit because the ticket seller asked for ID to prove that his son was 16 years old (thus getting in free). He kept saying, "I'm not a liar!" to her, and when he walked away, he muttered "bitch" under his breath! Colin and I were appalled. Plus, you know that this guy is going to go home and tell everyone that the French are rude ... hey buddy, look in a mirror! At least she has the "excuse" that she was doing her job!

#3 - Being able to read product instructions without a dictionary

This is particularly a nuisance when I'm looking for cosmetics. I love to read the backs of the beauty products to see what every little cream and potion can do to make me a better person. Much to Colin's dismay, I can easily spend 30 minutes in the hair care aisle of the grocery store back home, mulling over whether I want softer, shinier, or lighter hair (or some combination of the three). Here, I'm lucky if I can tell what body part I should use something on, much less what it's going to do for me.

#2 - Being able to read product instructions without an attack pharmacist's help

This, clearly, relates to #3. Most of the beauty products that I want to look at are sold at pharmacies. (Yes, I can get them at department stores, too, but pharmacies are closer to my apartment.) However, you aren't allowed to browse in a pharmacy. OK, it's not like there is a no-browsing policy -- but as soon as you set foot in the store, a clerk wants to help you find whatever it is that you're looking for. And, they really aren't content when you tell them that you're just looking around. If only they knew that leaving me alone could potentially boost their sales by at least 50 percent ... who knows what things I need there? I just need time to find them and realize that I need them.

#1 - A luscious, juicy, thick, greasy cheeseburger

Speaking of things that you want because you can't have them ... I cannot wait for a real American burger. Colin and I are already planning to eat at Steak 'N Shake for dinner on July 20. (OK, they don't have thick burgers, but they are still yummy.) Oh man, that means I can also get a nice, thick milkshake, too. Mmmmmmm!!


Of course, the counterpart to this list is yet to come: things I miss about France, once I'm back in the US. (Why do I have the feeling that I could make a top 20 list based on food alone?)

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Postscript -- I just re-read my November list. Here are the things that I don't really miss anymore: unlimited computer access (I'm used to going in shifts now); The Weather Channel (I can get the forecast online, even though it's always wrong); leash-free dog parks (there are plenty of places for Didge to play here - it's actually better than the US); my electric blanket (this might have something to do with the fact that it is nearly 90 degrees outside and I don't have AC); a bathtub (got my fix when I was traveling with the 'rentals ... besides that, they take longer to clean than teeny little showers); businesses that are always open (I've learned to adapt, and it's no big deal now); and smiling (like an idiot) all the time for no reason.

What a difference 8 months can make!

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