Monday, December 5, 2011

Home

I am once again an American Mom in America.

The flight home went surprisingly well for the first eight hours.  The remaining two hours were substantially less successful with the last hour being one of the longest of my life.  Coco no longer wanted to be on an airplane.  She yelled in my ear but that's not the worst of it -- she also refused to return to her seat, close her tray table, or stow her electronic devices.

As I wrestled her into her seat and buckled her in,  I thought, man, where's a goddamn air marshall when you need one?  I could have used some help with an unruly passenger.

Even with Coco clawing at my face, my spirits lifted when we crossed the Canadian Rockies --



We were getting close and I knew what I was about to see.  And sure enough, there it was on the horizon, right where I left it three years ago -- 


Hell yes, Mount Rainier

When I saw Mount Rainier, tears streamed down my face, though whether they were for love of that damn volcano or the debilitating pain of Coco's scratchy fingernails on my sensitive face skin, I really can't say.

We're temporarily living in an apartment in downtown Seattle.  It's not as charming as our Paris apartment but it's bigger and warmer and has a full-on view of the Space Needle.  The Space Needle is not as pleasing to the eye as the Eiffel Tower, and in fact looks to be something left behind by aliens after a halfhearted space mission, but I've still been staring at it a lot and grinning like a fool.


my ugly-ass beloved symbol of home

The kids have been awake every morning at a really stupid hour because jetlag is a bitch.  The first morning found all four of us piled in our bed, looking at the Space Needle and eating Nacho Cheese Doritos at 3:00 a.m.  The early hour sucked but I really love Nacho Cheese Doritos, so all in all a pretty good morning.

Life back home so far is strange, surreal, bizarre.  It's like someone walked into my home and moved everything twelve inches to the left.  When I come back in, I recognize it all, I can find it all, yet somehow something's off and I'm standing unsure in the middle of the room thinking "OK...who's f*ckin' with me?"

I've found the overbearing friendliness of people a huge relief, but jarring nonetheless.  Their smiles are so big in front of my face, I have to fight the urge to give them a karate chop to the throat.  Stop trying to help me, goddammit!  I am an island!

I've gotten lost several times in a city I used to know like the back of my hand.  I'm now terrified of driving and am hunched over the steering wheel like a little old lady with sweaty palms and a racing heart whispering "ohmygodohmygodohmygod."  Related, I've discovered my two kids are afraid of riding in cars, especially when going up and down steep hills, of which there are many in Seattle.  They both scream at the top of their lungs and Lucien yells, "IS THIS HILL ALMOST DONE, MOMMY?"  It makes errand-running super exciting but is not helping my driving nerves any.

 Oh.  My.  God.  What.  The.  Hell.

Our first grocery shopping trip Stateside took hours as we walked every single aisle, delighting in items we'd completely forgotten about.  Pirate's Booty!  Craisins!  Dryer sheets!  I became hypnotized in the cereal aisle and wasted a good twenty minutes deciding between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Bunches of Oats.  We bought a lot of bacon, too, because my God we missed bacon.

Worlds colliding -- Paris coat meets case of Northwest microbrew 


I kicked our washing machine today when it stopped after fifteen minutes.  We thought it was broken until we remembered that's how long it takes to do a load of laundry here, as opposed to our two-hour machine in Paris.  My God, I can do more than two loads a day?  Oh, the wondrous laundry possibilities!

In other news, I went to an "authentic French bakery" near our apartment where I promptly spit my almond croissant onto the sidewalk outside.  So, so bad.  That one's gonna hurt.

I've returned to Seattle a different person, as it should be, but thankfully my heart still sings in these streets.  Paris is beautiful, but Seattle is cool.  Paris looks perfect, Seattle rough around the edges.  Paris is fantastic and exciting and I love her forever but Seattle is home. 

There's so much to say about these first few days but the Paris blog is not the place -- so come see me at my new Seattle blog or suffer the dire consequences!  I'm calling it "Seattle Moxie" because I've realized the greatest gift Paris gave me was a whole lot of moxie and a whole lot of fearlessness.  I don't ever want to lose it.  If I do, someone kick me in the teeth.

Come on over, posse -- Seattle's waiting for YOU.  www.seattlemoxie.blogspot.com.  I haven't actually posted there yet but have great confidence I'm going to get around to it any day now.
  


We're home, Seattleites, so keep an eye out for us.  Shouldn't be too hard to spot -- we're the car full of screaming people on the hills of downtown.
MJ

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Paris was never forever

This one's gonna hurt, posse.  It is time.


People keep asking us if we're happy to leave Paris.  The answer is no, we're not happy to leave Paris -- in fact, we're quite devastated about it -- but at the same time we're ready to leave Paris.  Paris could never be forever for us; it takes too much energy, mental and physical, to live here, and we are quite sloth-like by nature.


But we're going to miss it.  My God, we're going to miss it.





 This is where we lived.  42 rue Dauphine. 

 photo by Chloe Lodge

Someday there will be a plaque next to this front door telling awestruck tourists I lived there.  
Or maybe not.

 
This was Lucien's school



This was "my" cafe on rue de Buci.  Cafe de Paris.



This was the supermarket from hell on rue de Seine

If you come to Paris and happen by these places, blow them a kiss for me.  Even the grocery store.  I've come to peace with that place -- it helped my skin thicken like no other and that is truly a gift.

 photo by Chloe Lodge

 photo by Chloe Lodge


 Photo by Chloe Lodge

 
goddamn tiny elevator
photo by Chloe Lodge


photo by Chloe Lodge

Thank you, posse.  Thank you for sticking with me through three years of making a jerk of myself and being sick and getting yelled at and learning French and traveling and seeing penises and having unanticipated babies named Coco and struggling through the French system with a loud kid named Lucien.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support; there were many days it made all the difference between laughing and crying.

 photo by Chloe Lodge

 photo by Chloe Lodge

photo by Chloe Lodge

photo by Chloe Lodge

 photo by Chloe Lodge

I'm going to post here again when we get back to Seattle, just to let you know I am once again an American mom in America.  I'm also going to start a new blog in Seattle but I imagine since many of you were here for stories of Paris, I'm going to lose most of you.  To those who are moving on to the other bazillion Paris bloggers, thank you for sharing the ride.  You made it so much more fun.  To those who are coming with me, prepare yourselves.  I am going to make fun of Americans and spy on my supermodel neighbor.  If we ever get the goddamn house, that is.

I'll start the Seattle blog as soon as I find my way out of Costco.  I hear it's big and scary!

 photo by Chloe Lodge

So there it is.  Three years gone.  Holy motherf*ckin' balls (one final swear, for old time's sake).




Merci, Paris.  And thank you, thank you, thank you, posse.   

 how perfect is it she's screaming her head off for the heart-wrenching goodbye bow?


I was An American Mom in Paris and it changed everything.
Au revoir, mes choux...
Mindy

My feelings in pictures








Friday, November 18, 2011

The inevitable list

The first picture I took, taken the day we arrived.  January 1, 2009

I'm going to miss the little things about Paris:
  • Hearing French all around me all the time.
  • Being able to understand a slightly higher percentage of that French than when I first arrived.
  • Elderly men in old suits riding bikes with baguettes in the front basket.
  • Tourists dragging their flat-tired Velibs to Velib stations with mangled baguettes in the front baskets. 

    Look how little he is.  Look how Seattle I am.  January 2009

      • Adults who ride scooters to work -- the foot-powered kind.
      • The adult man who rides a Segway through Saint Germain and doesn't give a sh*t everyone thinks he's an idiot.
      • The early morning smell of baking bread in our apartment, compliments of the boulangerie below.
      • The early, early morning sound of the garbage trucks -- every morning -- that always let me know it will be an acceptable time to wake up in two more hours.

      June 2009

      • The beauty of French men -- thin, perfectly tailored suit, floppy hair, scarf.
      • The way those beautiful French men act as my mirror.  French men will flirt with anything.  So if they look at me like they want to devour me, I know I look semi-OK.  If they pay me no attention at all, I know I look like a hideous beast and should return home and hide in the closet for the remainder of the day.  It's a good thing I've never looked really, really good or else they would probably rip off their clothes and chase me down the street howling like wolves.

          October 2009

          • Feeling safe, even when walking home alone late at night.
          • Never having to choose between drinking or driving because duh, no car, let's drink like motherf*ckers.
          • The "Europe smell," that smell that's in the air as soon as you walk outside. Tough to describe but kind of smells like history.  (Seattle smells like teen spirit HA HA totally awesome Nirvana joke) 
          • S.O.S. Medecins.  I don't know what people do when their kids get sick late at night back in the U.S. but I bet I'm not gonna like it.

              January 2010

              • The maitre d' who wears black pointy-toed shoes with hot pink laces.  
              • That same maitre d' who suggested I take off my shirt when I spilled wine on it and then I almost did it because FRENCH MEN, PEOPLE, FRENCH MEN. 


                  June 2010 God help us all

                  • Narrow streets full of strolling people holding hands.
                  • The freedom to push those stupid strolling people to the ground if they're in my way and I'm in a hurry.
                   
                  September 2010

                  • Jazz bands playing on the street for no darn good reason.
                  • Beautiful French men peeing on buildings in broad daylight for no darn good reason because hello, there's a cafe right there stupid.

                    December 2010

                    • Men wearing brightly colored pants.  (Today I saw one in yellow and one in brick red.)
                    • Me wearing brightly colored pants with zero self-consciousness.  (Today I wore green.) 

                      March 2011

                      • The people in our neighborhood who say "bonjour"every day, like boutique man downstairs and the hairdresser up the street, who both think the sun rises and sets on Coco.
                      • The people who say "bonjour" when I walk into the grocery store -- and by "saying bonjour," I mean scowling and glaring at me with contempt.  They don't give a sh*t where the sun rises and sets.

                       
                      July 2011

                      • Sitting at "my" cafe early in the morning and watching all the cafe workers on the street setting up shop, calling out to each other and waving. 

                          August 2011


                          • Waking up and thinking, "Holy sh*t I live in Paris."
                          • Waking up the next day and thinking, "Holy sh*t I live in Paris."

                            October 2011

                            OK, looking at all those pictures just about did me in.  Jesus Christ, who else needs a motherf*ckin' drink around here?  Sorry about the language, Mom, but I'm VERY UNSTABLE RIGHT NOW.

                            Feelings are a real bitch,
                            MJ

                            Tuesday, November 15, 2011

                            I'm what would happen if Seattle and Paris had a baby

                            Friends bought us that Seattle magnet over to the left years ago.  When we came to Paris, I made sure the magnet came, too, and found a prominent place on our teeny-tiny refrigerator.  I wanted to make sure we stayed in touch with our Seattle grittiness.

                            I don't know if it worked.  Is it "gritty" to wear skinny jeans and tie a scarf around your neck that's so large it looks like you're being choked to death by a boa constrictor?

                            (And yes, the Pierre Herme macaron flavors card will be coming back to Seattle and will find a prominent place on our huge American refrigerator.  We won't want to lose touch with our Paris fanciness.)

                            Alex is in Seattle and enjoying himself when he's not being intimidated by his new super hard job.  He had dinner at our friends' house, the friends next to the goddamn house we're trying to buy, where he met some of the neighbors. They tried to Skype with me as a group but they were too inebriated and yelling too loudly for me to help them figure it out.

                            Horny Brit told Alex he needed to get the video thing working so he could see if I was attractive or not, which would determine whether or not he was willing to have an affair with me. Then I think they all wandered off and fell asleep which is probably a good thing.

                            It's great he's having a good time but in my opinion Alex being in Seattle really sucks.  When left by myself during a stressful and emotionally turbulent time, my brain don't work too good.  Stuff like this keeps happening --

                            they all look the same after awhile

                            You can hardly blame me for the vagueness.  It runs rampant in Paris.  Just look at "some kid's" birthday invitation, especially the directions on how to find their apartment once inside the building --


                            There are no apartment numbers in Paris for reasons I'll never understand, so you must give visitors turn-by-turn directions from the front door.  Sometimes the directions are so convoluted you know you're never going to make it so you just pick any door and make a new friend!

                            (For those who don't speak the Frenchie talk, the above roughly translates to "you're never gonna find the party so leave the present in the courtyard.")

                            Alex and I had a meeting over the phone to discuss all "action items" still needing to be addressed for the move.  There are a billion.  It's overwhelming so I took copious notes --



                            At one point, Alex said, "OK, read me that list, let's see where we are," and I replied, "OK...umm... Sh*t F*ck Balls."  There was a long silence on the other end of the line.  I think Alex was taking a quiet moment to appreciate my sense of humor.

                            We've been notified of our temporary address in Seattle.  For two months we'll be living in temporary executive housing downtown while we continue humping legs for the keys to the goddamn house.  It's pretty cool we get to live downtown but it also sucks we're not going to have a yard for yet another two months.  At least our temporary apartment complex has a pool and fitness room so the kids and I can get ripped while waiting to play outside.

                            Our cleaning lady cried today.  Next week will be the last week we need her and she's not handling it well.  She met us way back when, back when I was newly pregnant.  She met Coco a few days after she was born and has been her faithful companion ever since.  They're peas and carrots.  I told her I'd always send her pictures of the kids and keep her updated on what they were doing and she started crying.  It was awful.

                            I can't believe how much we're going to miss her, but there it is.  She's a wonderful woman and has helped me immeasurably -- cleaning-wise, language-wise, and mental health-wise.  If you live in Paris and are looking for some help, let me know.  We want her to go to a good family who will give her lots of love and attention and scratches behind the ears (sorry, brain crapped out on me again there).

                            Thank God I bought those gritty sequined ballet flats and that gritty red houndstooth coat with three-quarter sleeves OH MY GOD THEY'RE GONNA LAUGH ME RIGHT OUT OF SEATTLE,
                            MJ

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