Monday, December 12, 2011

Flu hugs, spilled wine, uppity butterflies

I am sick.  The American flu was so excited to see me again it wrapped its disgusting arms around me and won't let go.  It's always awkward when one person in a hug doesn't want to be in the hug.  I am desperately trying to extricate myself but I don't want to hurt flu's feelings; it apparently likes me very much and has been anxiously awaiting my return.

I'm feeling distressed about a few other things besides my flu hug --

1.  Gallon milk jugs are stupid and unwieldy.  It's difficult to keep the milk under control so there is more milk on my countertops than on my Fruity Pebbles.

2.  It is dumb that all U.S. cash is the same color.  I used to glance at my cash and know exactly what I had in colorful euros.  Now it's like, "ARGH, green stuff, I give up on life."


But in good news, I've seen a man wearing a skirt and a man with bright pink hair wearing a dog collar.  I'm not sure why that's good news, but it is.

 suck it, Printemps; Macys has a choo-choo

I've been stopped several times about the coat.  The coat is a real Seattle crowd-pleaser.  The problem is, if someone asks where I bought the coat, it's impossible to say "I bought it in Paris" without sounding like an insufferable snot.  I have since switched to the more vague, "Gosh.... I don't remember...boop boop boop... hey, where am I?" Better.

I was at Seattle Mom's house for dinner last week.  She lives across the street from Seattle Mom (this is going to get confusing, may need a new naming system)  I told First Seattle Mom, "Ima go see if Second Seattle Mom is home so I can say hello!"  I hadn't seen Second Seattle Mom yet so I was very excited about this.

I wanted to make our three-year reunion extra special.  I stood to the side of the front door and when the door opened I jumped out and yelled, "I'm back, bitches!"

A cute little white-haired man stared back at me.  I didn't notice him for a second because when I jumped at the door, I spilled the glass of red wine I was holding all over my white mittens.  I hopped around, shook wine off my mittens, and used the "s" word liberally.  When I looked up and saw the nice white-haired man looking at me with wide eyes, I got flustered and said the first thing that came to mind -- "I just lived in France for three years!"

Man, I really made that guy nervous.  He spoke softly but I managed to piece together he was babysitting while Second Seattle Mom was out with her husband (named Second Seattle Dad?  Jesus, how am I going to name these people, it doesn't make any sense at all).  I asked him to tell Second Seattle Mom and Dad I stopped by, then apologized a few times for "being weird or whatever" and ran back across the street with my wine glass and my stained mittens.   

I checked in with Second Seattle Mom the next day and she said, "Dad said you stopped by!"  He apparently didn't give her any details or voice any concerns so maybe he's willing to give me another chance.  He probably understands France can really mess with a person's brain.

Here are some fun things I did with the kids last week before it all went to hell on the health front:

Observed public art --

stunning use of popsicle proportion

Went to the Pacific Science Center --

because I can't get enough animatronic dinos

this photo was taken seconds before a sea anemone was aggressively mauled

she had her eye on that damn uppity butterfly in the butterfly pavilion, too

Walked the waterfront --

that there's a "modern city," my son...

Lucien calls Puget Sound "the ocean."  Kids are so dumb ha ha!

the running of the piers

And had our route blocked by a very long train for twenty minutes --

I forgot about this part

Except for the flu, I'm still riding the high of being home.  Virginia Mom has moved many times in her life.  She told me going home was going to be a bit like having a newborn baby.  At first it's exciting and new and crazy and everyone is fawning all over you but after a month or two everything quiets down and you're left thinking, "Oh great, now what the hell am I gonna do with this newborn baby?" 

I think what she's telling me is crushing depression, loneliness and disappointment is going to set in any time now.  I will prepare myself, and comfort myself with the fact I don't have a real newborn baby. 

Giant flu hugs all around,


  1. Sorry about your getting the flu, hope it goes away soon. As for going home, I totally understand the feeling similar to that of having a newborn, but then, in time one does get better at taking care of a baby, and it is very lovable after all... It's tough though to deal with the fact that many people have no idea what France is about, they don't care that they don't know, and they will never understand what it feels like to have lived in Paris and how that could be a life-changing experience. Please keep in mind that posse members understand, care, and are perenially excited! Cheers!

    Patricia H

  2. Thanks, Patricia. Indeed, the transition home will not be an easy one, but still love Seattle and love the people so ultimately it's going to be great.

    Posse members get it. You were with me for the ride, after all!

  3. Glad to follow you on the new blog, MJ. Sorry about the flu. The first few years we went back to Paris for Christmas, after living here all year, one of us would always get sick. I think bugs may be a bit different on both sides of the ocean, and it will take your system a few months to get used to "American-style bugs"--- but what do i know? I was an English major after all. I see you have already gotten reacquainted with Seattle "classics." I am personally sorry I never get to meet the man with the bright pink hair and the dog collar in suburbia. Maybe I should cross Lake Washington more often. Wishing you the best over the next few months. I believe the technical term for what Virginia Mom is referring to is "Re-entry." It may be more brutal than culture shock while adjusting to a foreign land, but with your upbeat attitude (and all of your posse's support,) I am sure you will be just fine. Feel better. From the other [wrong?] side of the Lake, Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  4. Hey MJ, I hope you feel better soon. It sucks trying to take care of little ones when you are sick yourself. BTW, I was on the beautiful campus of Miami University today, saw some interestingly clad students walking around up there.

  5. Flu = YUCK!
    Go ahead, be rude, break loose of that death grip!

    Agree about the gallon milk jugs. We started buying local organic milk simply because it comes in adorable little glass bottles. I love looking at the milk in the cute bottles, sometimes I even let the kids drink it.

    I was wondering if you have had to wait in line somewhere since you've been home? If so, were you able to wait patiently or did you automatically start pushing forward, creating your own Seattle wedge?

    Hope you feel better soon!

  6. Hi Veronique -- Thanks much for your support and yep, I think people are definitely more colorful on this side of the lake! Re-entry is going to be a strange thing, indeed. Funny how familiar yet foreign it all seems.

    Thanks, Sara. Miami U? Really? What were they wearing?

    Hi Melanie. No line waiting so far. You know what's crazy? When there are a lot of people milling around the grocery check-out, they OPEN MORE CHECK-OUT LANES. I forgot about that part. It's like a dream.

    Have good days, ladies. I'm feeling better, going to attempt to have a life.

  7. oh man. as a person who is currently deciding whether to move back to the states next summer, the thought of re-entry is terrifying. WHY DON'T THE MILK JUGS FIT ON THE DOOR? that might be more than i can cope with.

  8. They do not fit on the door. They take up the entire first shelf. That is why American refrigerators are so big, I guess.

    re-entry is weird but there's much, much, much to love about life in the U.S. Holy crap it's easier -- except for the milk of course.

  9. Virginia mom is a wise woman and Patricia is so very right. My struggle is when people ask me what it was like living in Paris. At first I answered them. I've come to realize that what they're really looking for is the 10-second version of my three years. Anything more and the eyes glaze over and I start to wonder if I sound like an "insufferable snot".
    NC Buckeye
    After six months back, I don't try to push in line anymore, but I still feel weird about people bagging my groceries and am a little suspicious of good customer service. Not exactly the ways I thought France would change my life;)

  10. Hi you...have to comment from home..the stupid problem is back..won't let me use the drop down box..curses

    Anyway sorry you are sick..bound to happen when the kids were sick and you were get run down

    It's no wonder people love that coat! It's fabulous...and if they can't handle it's from Paris...bah humbug...sorry watching Scrooge on TCM

    Get better...Seattle looks cool....the Luce must think school is over !

    Take care all

  11. You do have a new baby! A bouncing 7 pound blog. Imagine the fun you'll have when it projectile poops on you at 3am.

    When people ask where you got the coat from, say "I made it" and then launch into a long conversation about your non-existent Etsy store. You'll sound like a *crafty* pretentious snot (which for some reason is more acceptable).

    I have an overwhelming urge to break that popsicle art in two. That's why I can't have nice things.

  12. You can always say that you found the coat in a garbage bag on the curb.
    Isn't it some kind of French style faux pas to ask a total stranger where she got her purse/coat/boyfriend/newborn baby?

  13. I've been in France for 5 years now (woot!) and since I married a French guy I'll be in France pretty much for the rest of my life. That being said, each time I go back to the States for a visit, I find more and more that I feel like a stranger on my old home turf, and THAT is seriously weird. Yet I don't feel 100% at home in Paris, either -- although that's getting better with each passing year. It makes me wonder if I will always now feel like a displaced person, a woman without a country no matter how many passports I may actually have. I've heard about the re-entry blues that can come from repatriating after a long time away... guess it's all part and parcel of being someone who is willing to explore the world for longer than a 2-week Eurail pass.

    The upside is -- dude, you've got that freakin' great COAT. Go ahead and tell people you bought it in Paris! Let them be jealous... that's one of the perks!

  14. Hi Anonymous -- I can relate. Tough to sum up the last three life-changing years of our lives in a way that won't bore the crap out of others. Probably best to leave it at "Wow, Paris was great!" since that's what everyone expects to hear anyway.

    Of course, many of my closest friends were members of the posse all along, so they get it a little better.

    Debbie, for real? Problem back? Sorry about that -- settings are the same as the other blog so I'm stumped. Lucien totally misses going to school. He's going to be in class with his good friend here, which probably spells trouble for the teacher when he starts after the holidays.

    Bec -- you got me with the line about making the coat. Laughing, laughing, laughing. I'm going to try it.

    Mrs. Howard, totally going to ask the next person who asks about the coat where they got their boyfriend. Love it. Seattle Moxie, indeed.

    Lisa! You're a lifer, eh? There's much to love about life on both sides of the ocean (and much to dislike). Sounds like you're more Parisian than American now, which is the way it should be since you landed yourself a hot Frenchman and all. I miss Frenchmen, so nice work on that.

    Thanks for saying hello as always, old friends...

  15. I'm not surprised you have the flu. An international move is so damn stressful! At least you're getting it out of your system before the Holidays, so I guess there's a silver lining? Are you guys flying to Colorado for Xmas or is Colorado flying to Seattle?

    It is weird going back home after a number of years abroad. When I came back to Canada in 2002 after a five-year stint in Europe and Asia, I felt completely lost and depressed... but then again, I was not coming back to a good job like I will now. But I got my bearings, made a new life for myself and tried to find people who could relate to my experience. And I didn't move back overseas again for another 8 years!

    It'll be so weird to have a huge fridge in which to put HUGE THINGS after living with a teeny tiny beer fridge for two years! I won't miss that worthless little bugger, that's for sure! Can't even put a pitcher of water in the damn thing! Never mind a huge gallon of milk! Pfft! I'll probably hug my big Ottawa fridge when I get back... but that's just me;)

    How's the Loosh enjoying Seattle after spending half of his life in Paris?

  16. The running of the piers looks damn good. Very inspiring. Thanks for the tip.

    Miles (Myles?)

  17. Bonjello! Hope you're all feeling better today, Seattle sickos.

    I've got some suggestions for your new naming conventions (because I am just that helpful)...

    1. Hot Seattle Thing 1 and Hot Seattle Thing 2
    2. Hot Seattle Thing 1 and The Other One
    3. Phil
    4. Them Guys Who Shall Remain Nameless
    5. Seattle Mom 1 and Seattle Mom 2: Electric Boogaloo
    6. Seattle Mom With The Hat and Seattle Mom Who Did That Thing That Time

    Hmm. Yeah, you're screwed.

  18. Duchesse, hi! hi! I'm thinking the same thing -- get this crap out of all our systems before Christmas. I'm flying solo with the kids to Colorado in a couple days. Alex will join us a little later. I'm not looking forward to that flight, which is why I have Xanax.

    I am feeling a little lost, I admit. Happy, but a little confused, a little out of it. Gonna take some time here, people!

    Lucien is loving Seattle. Our friends have been great about throwing him together with their kids and he already has a great group of friends -- one of whom he has "a raging crush" on. He's fine, but talks of his Paris friends often. A process for all of us!

    Paris Inspired. Paul? That you? Funny guy.

    Bec, you're a genius. A really, really not-at-all helpful genius. I think I just have to wait for all my friends to do something stupid and then name them after that. Prepare yourself for "Threw Up Off The Balcony Mom!"

    Sure is fun to laugh at (with?) you people, thanks for stopping by.

  19. Tell people your coat is from Paris, and when you see their eyes glaze over, add "Texas." That will put you back to rights.

  20. Quick, I have twenty minutes of free time left before the kids break for the summer. What I should do with my dwindling freedom? Tell me! Tell meeeeeeeeee!!

  21. welcome home!!

    i will be reading your new blog dont you worry!

    all lower cases as i am trying to type while feeding the new baby ;-) multitasking ha!

    mmmm...i miss bacon too...i hate how the butcher here suggests potrine de porc and then cuts it so thick its's just fat then!@

    its raining everyday here you arent missing much! i am feeling the lack from the christmas season as well. took me weeks of searching for a baby's first christmas ornament then just decided to order online through the US. I hate french websites!!

    miss u much


  22. hope you're feeling better and the new old is settling in- as ususal a totaly feel good experience stopping by...

  23. Thanks MJ! Yep it was me. Long story. "Don't ask, don't tell" still works with some things, right?

  24. Hi MJ, so glad you've started a new blog. Of course it'll take a little time before you feel totally settled in. I've always felt weird when I've moved locations, but life has a way of just taking over. When people ask about your gorgeous coat just wave it like Dracula's cloak and spit "Paris, Dahling" at them with a Frenchy-style curled lip...

  25. Just as an FYI: Trader Joe's on the top of Queen Anne carries Speculoos spread.

  26. It was the jello wasn't it? Goodbye good jello. Try "Good-Hot-Toddy" or "Good-Buttered-Rum" instead. Better yet, go from inebriated greetings to actual tipping back and you'll feel fine in no time at all.

  27. I totally read this one, and then forgot to comment!! Ooops.

    Mostly, I remember thinking, "I hope MJ is feeling better." But then I read the newest post about defending your apartment with a toilet brush and realized it sounds like you are well. And you didn't even need the Xanax, sounds like! Orrrrrrr, that's why the trip went so well. ;-)

    As for figuring out how to encapsulate your life-changing experiences into a sound bite that won't cause people to weird out on you, or glaze over, I don't think you can. It's one reason blogs are a good thing: some of us really DO want to listen, we understand how your life has been changed, and we don't glaze over, we come back for more. Of course, sometimes we forget to comment about it. :) But then we remember. I think the main thing is to just keep writing about it all as long as there is a need and a desire.

    And just go ahead and tell 'em you got the coat in Paris, lol.