Monday, December 5, 2011


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.  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.


Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Welcome back MJ! Glad to see the flight over has not changed you ;-) Good for you for wearing your Paris coat at the local supermarket. You must stand out among all the fleece and North Face jackets around! ;-) Good luck while you wait in your temporary home. It sounds as if the view does not suck. I will be spending part of Christmas day at the restaurant on top of the Needle with Les Boys and my MIL. We will be waving at you all and holding Doritos bags so you recognize us. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Sara said...

Welcome home MJ and family! I was afraid you wouldn't be around for a while so this was a pleasant surprise.

debbie in toronto said...

welcome back...

Paris coat looks amazing in the big grocery store...

must be great to hear nothing but English and not have to stop and really think before you can just babble away now....

been to the new site but my **&&^^ computer won't let me select a profile so I can't comment...why is it different than this set up?

complaining already I realize.

Anonymous said...

I feel exactly as you have described each time I make my annual trip back to the States with my kids. They stare wide-eyed at the endless cereal aisle and I marvel at all the varieties one can buy of Oreo cookies nowadays. And all those smiling people? It makes me suspicious that they all want to sell me something.

And then I get all comfortable with it...the ease of the grocery shop, the friendly conversations with strangers, the streamlined processes to set up cable and other services (you don't need to show them your great-grandparents baptismal papers!). I start taking it all for granted, and start missing the challenges Paris offers one...just in time to return. And stand in the endless line at CDG's border police, waiting for the one dour agent to process the three thousand airplanes that have landed at the same time. Once through that, out to the curb to see all the taxis are on strike.

MJ said...

Hellooooo, people! You all look so great from this side of the ocean.

Debbie, try again. I hadn't messed with the settings yet, just did, should be the same as here. If it's not, complain more and I will do more.

See you soon, all.

StayingPositive said...

Hooray! So glad you arrived safe. And that is a sweet view.

Please send bacon.


debbie in toronto said...

it's the drop down won't drop down....the comment section is different than this seems anyway..same thing happened on Anne's site when she moved to DC...she must think I'm ignoring her..ha ha

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Super annoyed with Blogger right now... I just wrote a large comment and it seems like it got eaten.

I'll wait and see, though -- maybe it really was submitted and it's just awaiting approval now. I'll check back soon. :)

In the meantime, welcome home!!!

After Fifty said...

Welcome back MJ!
What's the deal with the bacon, there's no bacon in Paris???

julia said...

happy you made it back savely :)

i am looking forward all your new adventures!

After Fifty said...

That Coco girl is gorgeous! And can't help but laugh when I see Lucien up on the window sill...OMG..
And let me tell you, that grocery store looks hu·mon·gous compared to the ones we have down here, and I'm not in Paris.
You are back HOME.
You look happy.

zannelaw said...

You've gotta go in that bakery and tell them where they're going wrong!!!

Kiki said...

Ha ha, I feel the same way about Le Panier. Just terrible. Yay! Glad you're back on the blog!

Lisa, a.k.a. The Bold Soul said...

Please, God, keep that great coat, scarf and Parisian sense of style. Seattle IS cool but sure could use a personal stylist. All those dang Northface and LL Bean jackets get on my nerves. Oh, don't forget the ballet flats, too. ;)

Welcome home. And enjoy the micro-brew (I miss that, too!)

MJ said...

It makes me happy to see you all. But Karin, I'm with you -- Blogger is pissing me right the eff off. It just ate an entire post -- AN ENTIRE POST -- the one with the spaghetti ghost and the Staying Positives. I tried to edit a picture and poof! Gone.

Blogger assholes, do I have to up and take my biz to Wordpress? Ack. Livid.

Have a great day, posse, and screw Blogger!

Nicola said...

My kids would get on the next plane and head straight to the cereal aisle but I'm sticking around for a while in France for the decent croissants! Glad you're happy to be back!

Michael Strangeways said...

Welcome back to Seattle!

Will totally be looking for that coat, and the screaming kids in the car as you climb up Denny!

April said...

That supermarket looks huge to my NYC eyes. Honey not only are you not in Paris, I think you might be in the... Suburbs!!!!! Enjoy the Booty and the dryer sheets. Looking forward to the Moxie...

MJ said...

Hello, all! April had to jump in here because YOU WATCH YOUR MOUTH, SISTER. I will never be in the suburbs, not an option. That humongous ('s insanity) grocery store is smack in the middle of the city. I guess we grow 'em big in the Northwest.

g said...

FUNNY AS EVER.....welcome back-looking forward to all the new adventures....

Jeff said...

Without naming any names, my guess is the "authentic french bakery" is the one right on 4th & wall, across from uptown espresso??

My wife and I lived right near there last year (we live in Queen Anne now), and we had the same "authentic" disappointment!

Welcome back to Seattle! Glad it's been a beautiful few days for your arrival

MJ said...

Thanks, g! Good to see you around.

Jeff -- you are correct, sir. Cutest place, nicest people, crappiest almond croissants.

So did you find anything in the city remotely close to the good stuff?

And it HAS been beautiful since we arrived. Not a drop of rain, and sunshine in December? What the hell's going on around here?

moememories said...

The picture of the grocery store made me laugh out loud at the memory of it as I contemplate a Monoprix run after putting it off too many days out of dread.

But the thought of not being able to get a mouth watering croissant any time I want gave me the chills as I know I'll be moving home to your/our fair city at some point, too.

Which is more painful? Monoprix or croissant withdrawal? That is the question.

Duchesse said...

Welcome back!

Glad you made it in one piece, albeit a bit worse for wear due to the scratching;)

I can already tell the Paris blog will have nothing on the Seattle one! I've already bookmarked the new URL:)

And I like your space needle view:) Sure, nothing beats the Eiffel tower, but Eiffel tower and nacho cheese Doritos don't go well together:)

Anonymous said...

Hey moxie- strap the kids in the stroller and walk over to Pike Place. I have been told that the French Bakery there (actual name frenchie and mysterious...Le Someerotherfuck) has decent things. If not, hit the Chinese pastries 2 storefronts down. Barbque humbows FTW! Oh, and welcome home! xox from the pioneer squares

JLT said...

Welcome home Mindy - but don't be maligning our Space Needle...I live close to it and LOVE to look at it every day! And it's especially pretty/cool/wonderful this time of year with the Christmas tree at the top, which you brilliantly captured in your photo. You should go to the Space Needle for New Year's to watch the fireworks shoot out of the top. My friend designs the pyrotechnics show every year and this one is going to be awesome (I've already seen a mockup of it on his computer). :)

Here's where to go for the best croissants (plain, chocolate, almond) in Seattle - CAFE BESALU in Ballard (5909 24th Ave NW), but expect long lines on the weekend. I think they only make almond croissants on Sundays; however, the Ballard Farmers Market is also on Sundays so definitely worth a visit that day. And you can also check out the Chittenden Locks when you're in that area. See - I've just planned your next family outing! :)

When I repatriated back to the U.S. from Paris, a few things I remember surprising me were grocery stores (so many choices), how loud Americans are, and how small and thin dimes are. Have fun getting back in the groove and enjoying all the great beer we have!


P.S. Is that the QFC at 5th & Mercer?! If not, check it out - it's humungous and has a great wine aisle, as does the Metropolitan Market at 1st & Mercer. Happy shopping!

It's Just Me! said...

Since - to date - you've yet to reveal the wonders of your new blog (I check Seattle Moxie at LEAST once a day) I've taken this opportunity to dip back into the MJ archives. I still wet my pants with laughter. So...would you be OK if I both enjoy having my dear friends back in town AND pretend that you're in Paris enjoying some bizarre twist of the time/space continuum reliving the last 3 years? Hmmmm. If you ask me, best of both worlds until Moxie gets up and running. Non?

Anne said...

What mom hasn't put a knee into a kid's chest to get that damn seat belt fastened? Welcome back. Looking forward to the new blog. I love the name already.

lapommeduverger said...

Croissants! I wish you to find the best in Seattle. About the croissants, I was long ago in the States and ordered croissants somewhere along the road. And they served it Fried!!!!!! Argh. I went back to the counter and asked to have my croissants PLAIN. Fried OMG. I had to look for the word moxie in Wikipedia. Good luck to all the family, dear english teacher.

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

Ohhhhhh Noooooooo! Not the Spaghetti Ghost Post! I liked that one!!!

Hmm, maybe Wordpress is a good thought. I have had good luck with them.

The one nice thing about Blogger (which Wordpress does too) is make it really easy to back up your blog. If you have not done it already, you should. I can't remember all the deets about how to do it, but, I do remember it was simple, once I figured out where to click to download an XML file of it. You can actually transfer an entire blog to another site like Wordpress with that XML file, just so you know.

I still don't remember what I wrote in the comment. Something about Craisins, hahaha!

Thinking of you (especially as I caught your guys' cold, hahaha! No hard feelings, I knew it was inevitable, and I'm fine with it...). That, and the new phone and vacuum work GREAT! I finally got the phone plugged in yesterday, and used the vacuum, too. Thank you so much. :)

Hope all is still going well & looking forward to a dose of Moxie soon. :)


katy said...

ooooo, I wish I would have found your blog waaaaay earlier! We just moved home from Europe too - Luxembourg. Yeah, not as sexy as Paris, but whacha gonna do. I think we stayed in the same apartment upon our return - right on Dexer? We were there for 2 months until our stuff arrived. Now we're back in our house. I'm really looking forward to reading your repatriation posts. I can relate to so much of what you've written here. I'm impressed you still wear your Paris coat here in Seattle. I think it took me 1 day to return to the usual Seattle scrub - jeans, down vest and my converse sneakers. Ha.
Good luck settling in! We're 4.5 months in. Luxembourg feels like a distant dream (strange but true.)

Susu Paris Chic said...

I'm a friend of Karin's, that's how I got to your blog... I giggled when I read about you amazing twenty mins in front of the cereal aisle. Had the same thing happen to me. I recently left Paris to relocate to Canada. I mean, cereal... my this side of the Pond friends don't really get all the excitement.

Or what about bagels or root beer? My french husband cannot stand the local mustard;)

Dee said...

Great blog and great travels. I love the pictures, too.

I miss Macau said...

I enjoy reading your blog

willowday said...

It's fun to find you! I'm am American abroad, living in Stockholm, with a French-Swedish husband. Our life is equal thirds of all three. I have a big soft spot for Seattle -- my best friend from college lived there... with her French husband. We loved visiting her there and ironically, learned to know the city with a French twist. What is the name of that fabulous French bakery near the Fish Market...? I've stumbled upon your blog today and look forward to returning. Beinvenue to you, too!

ParisBreakfasts said...

Watch PORTLANDIA for initiation/indoctrination purposes
it can't hurt
bon chance

RebeccaNYC said...

I have just finished reading of your wonderful blog. Excellent fodder for a memoir, I think. You have it all written down, Just need to put it into book form. You'll make millions. Now I'm off to read about you in Seattle. Thanks for a great read.

Madame Bouron said...

Wow. I just finished reading this post and am stunned by all the things we have in common! I am the author of the How to Marry a Frenchman blog, I too am the Mother of a toddler named Coco and hold on your hat... I too am from Seattle and often wish/wonder what it would be like to move back home from Paris. I'll be following your Seattle blog closely, glad to see you are testing the waters. If you are missing Paris hop over to me blog and come see me.

Amy Luechtefeld said...


My family will be vacationing in Paris in early July and I'm wondering if you can tell me how you found your Paris babysitter and, if possible, even his/her contact info. My husband and I will desperately need one night sans our 23 month old and we think she might be a bit young to fend for herself...

Thanks for any information you can provide.

Dealectable Mom said...

It was wonderful to read your description of coming home to Seattle. I am from the UK but have lived in the US for many years and travel a lot, so know of all the differences between the cultures! Seattle is a beautiful city and I have stayed there for months in the summers over the past couple of years. Love the city. My children don't love the hills so much!

Lorraine S. said...

Had the same situation w/ my 18month old boy visiting from Germany to home in NYC. Didn't fall asleep til 30 minutes from Kennedy. Next time, 3 years old returning from Germany alone, Dad on maneuvers, son was fine. Slept the whole way. Only problem, he had a perforated appendix, was hospitalized 3 days upon return for 10 days!


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