Dear E. Jean: I recently lived through an attempted break-in. Two men put a ladder to my apartment window in the middle of the night. My boyfriend—who by chance was visiting—and I heard strange sounds and went to check it out, at which point the burglars ran off.
I’m now afraid to be alone in the dark. In addition, I’m more or less incapable of sleeping alone. Even if someone is here, I tend to wake up several times and am unable to sleep deeply anymore. When I’m home, I listen to the slightest sounds coming from outside. I understand that a break-in most likely won’t happen again, but I’m unable to get rid of the anxiety and fear. How do I regain my calm? —Anxious in Zurich (the safest city in the world)
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Miss Anxious, My Quivering Dewdrop: Is your domicile the famed 1896 home of Albert Einstein? Does it contain the Grand Unified Theory written under the toilet seat? No? Move. Your imagination is too Hitchcockian for a first- or second-floor flat. If you absolutely cannot move, get a dog. And it doesn’t have to be a huge Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, although that’s a magnificent breed! Any feisty bundle of hair with a bark will do.
The little genius will not only sleep with you, eat with you, and love you more than you love yourself, she’ll warn you of any intruders—and attach herself to their ankles if need be. Speaking of which, my rescued Tibetan Mastiff, the lovely Henrietta de Baskerville, recently scared off two prowlers up here at my mountain cabin. That the prowlers turned out to be the police on a friendly visit made Henrietta twice as delighted.
This letter is from the E. Jean archive.