Sunday, 27 April 2014

Like mother, like daughter...

My mother, the worrier. Ever since I can remember she's mollycoddled me to within an inch of my life, and no solo outing could ever commence until she'd listed all of the possible dangers that I had to watch out for. Now this didn't apply just for holidays or nights out. She's always had words of warning for even a simple trip into town, and don't get me started on any time I would step foot into a car... (those bloody death traps!)
I'll give you a sample of a conversation we've had a million times as I'm trying to leave the house:
'Bye sweetie. Remember, hold onto your things.'
'Yes mum.'
'Look after each other.'
'We will.'
'Be careful.'
'Watch your drinks. They do all kinds of things these days...'
'We always do.'
'Make sure you're careful on those heels!'
'I will.'
By this point I'll be halfway out the door, but she will have only just got started...
'Yes mum?'
'Have you got a coat?!' (Said at any time of year, and always presented as a dire emergency.)
'Okay, be good!'
'Bye mum.'
'Wait a minute, have you got a key?!'
'Yes. As always...' (I will inevitably be losing my patience at this point.)
'Sweetie!' (As I'm turning away for the eighteenth time...)
'Will you send me a text when you arrive?'
'Who's driving?'(Also of utmost importance, even though she's yet to have a different reaction to any name that I ever offer up.)
'Tell her to drive slow, won't you?'
'Yep.' (I will have optimistically made my way to the end of the drive by now.)
'Darling, be safe!'
'Can you leave me Sophie's number just in case?'
'MUM!!!!!' (And regretfully, this marks the regression to my pathetic teenage self.) 'God! I'm not going to let anyone rob me or spike my drink, I'll make sure all my friends have both eyes on me at all times, I won't talk to any strangers and I won't eat any berries without checking if they're poisonous first. HONESTLY!'
Her face will then fall, and I'll feel like a monster. But it does get tiresome. I mean, her go-to phrase is, 'Have fun! Within reason!' Really.
When I was younger it used to really piss me off, and I ended up lying about pointless stuff just to keep her quiet.
I'd be going to see my little high school boyfriend and tell her I was going to the gym. I would even go as far as regularly leaving the house in gym clothes and getting changed in the alley next to my house. Yep.
Nights out with my friends would be a 'sleepover at Rach's.' It got to the point where between us girls all of our rowdier outings would be nicknamed 'pizza and DVD nights.'

And now that I'm 23 years of age? Now that I live in a different country to her? Now that I've lived on my own for five years, and have been financially independent for almost as long? 
Not all that much has changed, mes amis. I tell her more, but she worries just as much.
Ever since I moved out she still calls me at least twice a day (yep, twice a day), and for her peace of mind she still wants me to email her when I get home after a night out. (I soon learned that the best thing to do with that was to just send her an email around 1am saying, 'home! great night!' or similar...) I know what you might be thinking. 'Leave her to worry! Stop indulging her! She'll be fine!' Well. That's where you're gravely mistaken, guyz. There's no chance of leaving her to worry, as I learned one fateful morning at university when I didn't answer my phone (I was sleeping off a hangover and was blissfully unaware of any contact being made.) I woke up to twenty missed calls and frantic knocking on my door. My panicked mum had driven all the way to Nottingham, and had worked herself up into such a state that as soon as she saw that I was alive and safe, she burst into tears, hugged me, turned right back round and drove all the way home again.

Other things that my tiny mum really, really, really worries about:
-Me eating sushi
-Me getting the metro late at night alone (kinda understandable)
-Me not carrying thief-proof enough bags
-My fridge exploding
-Me using chemical products to clean my bathroom
-Me dying my hair
-Me driving her car (or any car come to mention it...)

My mum, the worrier.
I wouldn't have her any other way. 

Anyway, you need to know something else...
It's not actually her fault.
She comes from a family of worrying women.
Her sisters worry, her mum worries, her aunties worry... the whole gang work themselves into wild frenzies of their own making.
My cousin had a secret boyfriend for ten years because her mum was so worried about him not being right for her.
And my nonna is the original and best Queen Worrier.
She still calls all five of her (adult) children daily.
She still requests that when any member of her extended family flies anywhere they call her when they land. She makes her own little calculations about when she expects us to have arrived and won't sit still until she knows that the plane is safely at its destination in one piece.
When we're driving anywhere and Nonna's in the back she develops a nervous sniff, and if we're driving anywhere and she's not in the car she'll watch us drive off from the balcony, shouting advice as we back out (even more infuriating being as she's never once driven a car herself...)
Tonight my mum and my nonna were talking about an upcoming visit my mum's making to Paris to see me:
Nonna: So we won't talk that whole week then?
Ma: No mamma! I'll be with Silvia.
Nonna: No phone calls at all? 
Ma: No... I'll message the others and they can tell you what I've said.
Nonna: Why don't you message me?
Ma: Because you don't know how to read them!!
Nonna: Well, as long as you're safe...
And so on, ad nauseam...

And as I find myself asking my loved ones things like, 'no, tell me exactly what time you land!', it's slowly beginning to dawn on me that maybe, just maybe, I'll end up being exactly the same...
A little worrier like my mum, and her mum, and her mum before her.     

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Laundry day

The worst day of them all - worse than a Monday, worse than Wednesday (my longest working day), worse than Boxing Day - can only be one, and it can be one only: laundry day.
I fucking hate it.
This hatred that I feel may well be completely unreasonable and wholly irrational, and I'm relatively sure that it's both of those very similar adjectives, but the heart feels what the heart feels. And when laundry day comes around, mine sinks.
Now, what you need to bear in mind is that I put it off for as long as humanly possible (this is made easier by the fact that I have around 100 pairs of pants, and innumerable t-shirts - and everything else, honestly, can wait), but it unavoidably rears its ugly head now and then. I generally admit defeat when all I have left in my drawer is the real fancy pants (the ones you don't want to waste on everyday shit) and my 'grundies', as J.G. so eloquently calls underwear which is on its last legs.
What you also need to bear in mind is that the experience of washing clothes is only this stressful because I have no washing machine to speak of...
Back in the days when I still lived in Nottingham, I never fully appreciated how blissful it was to be able to leisurely put on a half empty wash, or fling in your whites and, after a joyful interlude of living your life, vaguely remember them a few hours later, when you'd find them exactly where you left them. Those were the days.
Now? Not so much. 
What I'm talking about here is the experience of doing your laundry at the l a u n d e r e t t e.
This is not a halfhearted activity to be taken lightly. Far from it. This is half a day shit. I set my alarm for laundry day. On a good day (which is rare) it takes 2 hours. One hour and a half for washing, half an hour for drying. But there are few good laundry days.
Lets take yesterday for example. I set my alarm, packed all my clothes in a suitcase (yeah, what?), grabbed my colour catchers and washing detergent, and headed for the launderette, head held high. I manoeuvred my case around all the carefree Parisians breakfasting al fresco, and was relieved to find my launderette of choice half empty. This is generally my first issue: I don't like the idea of quite literally airing your dirty laundry in public. I think this stems back to one horrifying day when I was loading a machine in the South of France. I was fully concentrated on what I was doing, when I turned around to grab another handful of clothes, only to find that there was a very suspect elderly man touching one of my garments (an intimate one, lets say.) When he caught me looking at him, far from apologising or running away, pants in hand, he simply said, 'this is nice.'
Against my better judgement, I merely retaliated with an uncomfortable smile, and carried on with the task in hand. Since then, I've made sure to always pick the most isolated machine. When someone chooses the one next to mine, I'm thinking, 'fuck off, this is my turf!! Don't look at my Snoopy underwear!!' And other such thoughts.
So there's that.
But then something always goes fucking wrong anyway. I ruin at least two items of clothing per wash.
Yesterday was the turn of my black jeans. For whatever reason, they came out more grey than black, and I know for a fact that they'll never be the same again. Their glory days are over. I'm heartbroken.
The time before that my duvet cover ripped unrecognisably. Now my duvet hangs out the end, unprotected, and every time I see it it's a cruel reminder of my failure.
T-shirts shrink (lets just thank god that I'm partial to a crop top or two), socks disappear, and white items invariably come out with a distinct tinge of another colour.
I can't do laundry.
Amongst other problems, yesterday I opened the machine before it had completely finished wringing the water out, and I had to spend about €10 on the dryer. After I'd grumpily loaded the sopping wet clothes and towels into said thieving dryer, I turned to see that a homeless man had taken my seat and was using it as his lunch spot, where he was devouring an incredibly pungent hot dog. What's more, the man in question had no teeth. His jaw was mechanically working away at his meal, and I hadn't the stomach to linger around him for long. So I waited for half an hour on the step outside.
Don't even get me started on having to have the right fucking change... (Which I never do.) I've found a new age launderette these days, so I can go with whatever currency I fancy, and simply deal with a machine. But before I discovered this twenty-first century washing establishment I was tied to one where you had to pile coins into the actual washing machines. This was no mean feat. How often do you have €15 in change? (Yep, that's how much a regular laundry day sets me back. Now can you see why I put it off?) Jamais. I'm only paid in 50s (not very many.)
So I used to have to venture out to try and get change before the whole charade could even begin.
On one such day, I tried to get change by buying a takeaway coffee.
'Great idea, Silv!' I hear you thinking.
'Not so fast!' I think back.
I ordered my drink, took my drink off the side, and handed the man behind the till a 50, almost apologetically. He looked incredulous. He called his colleague over, and they both began gesticulating wildly. In an agitated state, they seemed to be complaining to one another about my thoughtless actions in a language I didn't understand. Which was rude in itself. But then the colleague took it upon himself to tell me exactly what he thought of me in a language I did understand.
He said, in no uncertain terms, that I should have told them beforehand that I was going to pay with a 50, and through tuts and sighs, told me that it wasn't right.
He 'tu'ed me, which is fucking rude anyway, and then threw his arms up in the air in complete disdain.
I ended up paying on card, after telling him to watch how he spoke to me, and I emerged onto the street with no change and a coffee I didn't even want.
I eventually got change by going into a supermarket, but once I got to the launderette, pockets jangling with coins, a man inside told me off for leaving the door open behind me. It all seemed too much at that point.
I fled from the scene and burst into hot, bitter tears on the street. Admittedly, not only did I overreact, but I was also a bit homesick that day, (and possibly slightly premenstrual - sorry to bend to the usually unfair stereotype) but either way, I took my dirty laundry back home and decided to tackle the mountainous challenge another day.

And that's all I have to say about laundry day.