Wednesday, May 30, 2012


This post is dedicated to things that are fabulous.
We. Are. Fabulous.

Hanging out under overpasses, we are fabulous.

Yes.  Still.

Seattle Mom's birthday dinner crashed by two strange men = Fabulous.
(photo by Christina, whom you can find here doing fabulously sexy things)

This next fabulous thing is controversial, judging by how many people told me they hated it last time I wrote about it.  Here goes anyway.

EUROVISION is fabulous --

I planned to throw a Eurovision party every year after our return to the United States.  Unfortunately, our current 900 sq-ft. rental did not suit my big plans.  Next year, hopefully, our living arrangements will be more agreeable.

Instead of throwing a fabulous party this year, I watched the Eurovision finale with two two-year olds --
 They're watching Engelbert Humperdinck sing for the U.K.
Yes, really.

The two-year-olds were enthusiastic fans for thirty seconds, at which point they wandered off to eat Play-Doh and left me dancing to the eurotrash ear bleed by myself.

The Russian entry was fabulous.  They came in second place--

Those grandmothers can really sing a dance tune.  Plus, they bake cookies.  Onstage.  HOW CAN ANYONE HATE EUROVISION WITH COOKIES ONSTAGE?


Sweden won this year.  I did not like the song but it's so horrifyingly catchy I'm still singing it.  Without the benefit of a head full of beautiful dark hair and a wind machine, it doesn't have the same effect in my shower.  I've really got the Karate Kid choreography down pat, though.

Man I miss Europe.  Europe is fabulous.

Banister Abbey is fabulous, too, but a potential problem with the sewer line emerged during our inspection.  We asked the seller to get the sewer cleaned and re-inspected.  He said "no." That was not fabulous.

We decided to pay for the cleaning and re-inspection ourselves.  Al and I were not yet willing to walk away from the house but needed to know what kind of problem we were facing before making our final decision. (Verdict -- not serious enough of a problem to sway us from our course.  Onwards, comrades!)

The rooter man was fabulous with twinkly eyes and a happy smile. He rooted the hell out of that sewer line and eventually cleared the blockage.  He warned me to stand back as he pulled his rooter line back out, saying the line would probably bring up "material."

It brought us some "material," all right.  Condoms.  Lots and lots of condoms.  Banister Abbey may look like a lady, but she's got a wild side.

Which brings me to the seller of Banister Abbey.  He's not our favorite person at present given his reluctance to negotiate anything, but there's no question he's fabulous.  He's a stylish man, oftentimes wearing hats perched at jaunty angles on his head.  He's a football coach -- I won't say where -- in the Seattle area.  Banister Abbey has been in his family for fifty years.  From the work he's already done on the house, we can see he has very good taste.  Thanks to rooter man, we also know he gets laid a lot.  And that is fabulous.

Last but not least, the job of a rooter guy is fabu -- well, I hope the pay is good at least.

Fabulous, ALL OF IT,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Plastic kids

Coco loves her dolls.  To be more specific, Coco loves two of her dolls.  The rest can go to hell.

Coco's two dolls are almost always naked.  They are almost always in their cradle.  If they're not in their cradle, they're in her arms.  If they're not in their cradle or in her arms, they're in my arms.  Coco insists.  Do you know how many times I've made dinner holding a naked doll?  It's downright awkward.

Coco's two dolls were recently in my arms when there was a knock at the door.  My two kids were in their room watching a movie on my laptop.  They were absolutely silent.  I was so happy.

I answered the door to a chipper youngish man, a neighbor, apparently, whom I'd never met before.  He said all the neighbors were getting together in a few minutes to work on the "beautification of the traffic circle," and would I like to join them?

"Oh, sorry, can't right now," I said, "I'm here with my two kids, just about to feed them."

The look that crossed his face was really something.  It was a mix of confusion and amazement with a touch of "ohhh sh*t."  I stared back at him with wrinkled brow.  Why was this jerk looking at me like I was crazy?  Did only insane people abstain from the traffic circle beautification process?

It was only after he scooted off the porch as fast as he could I realized I was holding Coco's two naked dolls in the crook of my arm.  I also realized I'd been doing the autopilot "mom sway" with the two dolls, rocking them back and forth AS IF THEY WERE REAL.  I was also, of course, holding a doll bottle because Coco insists on that, too.  "About to feed my two kids" indeed.

If I see that nice youngish man in the neighborhood again, I'm going to go outside with a rope tied around a bag of flour and tell him, "I'm just out walkin' the dog!"  I will also share my ideas for further beautification of the traffic circle -- fairy water with a pinch of snake dust.

We have good friends.  Not a day goes by I don't thank the universe for bringing them to us.  I especially thank the universe for bringing us friends with boats.

We went out on our friend "Uncle Alex"s boat over the weekend.  We learned it's hard to keep two kids occupied on a boat.  My advice to you if you plan on taking little kids out on a sailboat -- don't count on "sailboat excitement" to get you through the day because that wears off about ten minutes into your outing.  Then begins the chorus of "I'm bored" or, in the case of Coco, the senseless kicking of feet and throwing of objects.  You will end up handing them a full bag of potato chips apiece to keep them quiet so you can attempt to enjoy the sailboat yourself.

No matter what they do or say, you must not throw them overboard.  That part is very important.

I'm prone to seasickness.  Quite.  But I still love boats.  It's a recurring theme in my life -- doing things that make me sick.  (See the "Cats with a hangover" post for further info.)

The Unabomber is making sinister plans but oh my gosh!  A seagull!

We're still in post-inspection negotiations with the sellers of Banister Abbey.  The sellers are real pieces of work.  Our realtor tells us we have a real knack for finding the worst sellers in the history of selling houses.  I don't think it was a compliment.

These people are going to give us heart attacks.  Or maybe nervous breakdowns.  At the very least a vicious case of hives.  We're not sure how it's all going to shake out but we're trying hard to keep our Banister Abbey dreams alive. 

OK, off to feed those weird plastic kids that don't move,

Monday, May 21, 2012

For the love of a money pit

I'm ready to proclaim my love for a house to the world.  Here it is.  This is the house we want, desperately and unhealthily --

 Banister?  We don't need no stinkin' banister. 
We're just going to fall off our stairs like normal people.

We're calling the house Banister Abbey because it's big and old and all we do is discuss how to refurbish the circa-1903 banister of the staircase properly.  I should have taken those wood turning classes and purchased that secondhand lathe all those years ago.  That's not even a joke, my interests are truly that bizarre.

The moment I walked into the Open House at Banister Abbey, I began salivating like a dog with a t-bone and my heart started beating twice its normal speed.  I knew I was either in love with the house or in need of serious medical attention. 

Alex and I kept saying two things as we toured the house -- "My God, this house is incredible" and "My God, this house is a mess."  For all the work needed, the list price wasn't cheap.  Alex and I always said we could do anything from an expensive house that didn't need any work to a cheap house that needed a ton of work.  But you'd really have to be an idiot to buy an expensive house that needed a ton of work.  HA HA,  I MEAN WHAT KIND OF ASSHOLE WOULD DO THAT?

But as we loaded the kids back into the car after the Open House, I turned to Alex and said, "I'm not done. I have to go back inside" and Al said "Me too" and then we ran back to the house in slow motion holding hands with sappy music playing in the background.  At that point, we both knew it was a done deal.  We were the assholes.

The inspection Friday morning was as depressing as we thought it would be.  A 110-year-old house, even with the large amounts of work already completed by the current owner, is bound to need some help.  Here's how the inspection went:

MJ:  How's the roof?
Inspector:  Pretty good except it's slowly sliding off the house.  It's really more of a sunroof.
MJ:  Lovely. That will really brighten the place.

MJ:  I'm impressed with the work the seller has already done on the house.
Inspector:  Me too.  And even better -- he did it all incorrectly.
Me:  God bless him.

MJ:  How about that top-of-the-line washer and dryer?  Pretty great, right?
Inspector:  The very impressive washer is leaking into the wall.  The dryer is a gas dryer and is being vented into the house.  It is going to kill the entire family because there are no carbon monoxide detectors. 
MJ:  Mmmm.... fumey. 
Inspector:  The good news is the carbon monoxide can only kill you if the improperly terminated wiring doesn't get you first.
MJ:  It'll be like a fun little race. 

MJ:  I really love all that additional storage space in the basement.
Inspector:  Do you love all the raccoons and possums playing cards down there right now, too?
MJ:  Fine with me as long as they brought the beer. 

MJ:  How's the garage?  My husband is looking forward to turning the garage into a home gym.
Inspector:  What a great idea!  It will be awesome until it collapses on him because the whole thing is rotten.
MJ:  Well until then, it's really going to be something. 

MJ:  So how much do I owe you for the inspection?
Inspector:  How much you got?  Then double it and write the check for that amount.
MJ:  OK, great, a win-win!

And this is the conversation I had with Al later that day:

MJ:  Al, you and I may be the only two people in the city batshit crazy enough to take on this house.
Al:   Agreed.
MJ:  Let's do it.
Al:   Obvious.

The husband-and-wife inspection duo wished us luck as they left.  The woman half of the pair told me despite its issues, the house was one of her favorites in twenty years in the business.  She said when she first walked into the front hall, she thought,  "Wow. This is like the War of the Roses house."  Then I said, "Don't they both die at the end when they fall off the chandelier during a messy divorce?" and she said, "Well not that part."

The good news is our chandelier isn't big enough to hold both me and Al, no matter how mad we are at each other, and if we fell we would at worst break a limb, not die.  And besides, this house doesn't remind me of War of the Roses -- it much more closely resembles The Money Pit.

Wish us luck.  Again.  We are still in negotiations with the sellers as we continue our inspections and discover more problems.  Overpaying for the house is not an option given the amount of work needed, which will keep us busy until we're eighty years old and possibly bankrupt us to the point of eating beans out of tin cans three meals a day.

But mark my words -- this house is going to be incredible.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Underwear Head

We got the house.  We got it, we got it.  A million times, we got it.

This is how I feel 

This is how Alex feels

(Aaahhh,those photos....blasts from the past from the ole Paris blog.)

So which house was it?  I'm not going to tell just yet, mainly because I'm still scared to speak its name aloud and tempt the universe.  Also, because I have more house search photos I want to use --

Is it this one?

This one?

This one?

This one?

The suspense is killing me!  Just tell me already!

I've started writing a book.  It is indeed about Paris.  It started off great but I think I've been distracted by recent events because this is what I have so far:

"So this one time I moved to Paris.  It was really something.  But never mind all that because then we came home and bought this house.  Hey, can I borrow your circular saw?"

We have the inspection Friday.  That's when the inspector will tell us everything that's wrong with the house, everything that isn't up to code, and put visions in our heads of us frying in our beds at night thanks to that frayed electrical wire in the attic.  We never sleep well the night after an inspection.  We stay up late making lists of "how not to die in our new home."  The first item is oftentimes "live outside."

Coco and her favorite friend, we'll call him Jojo.

Lucien nearly missed his school bus this morning.  Coco has a new bike she insists on riding to and from the bus stop every day.  It has a handle thing sticking out the back so I can push her if necessary, but it makes her angry when I do.  If I have the audacity to grab the handle, she immediately turns the wheel and drives herself straight into a neighbor's retaining wall.  That girl would rather crash than be told what to do or how fast to do it.  It sometimes makes for a slow trip to the bus stop.

Today the bus arrived when we were still five or six houses away.  I yelled, "Lucien, go!  Run!  Catch it!" so he ran, yelling at the top of his lungs -- which is even louder coming from Lucien than most people -- "Sh*t! Hey, wait! Sh*t!

It was a beautiful morning so lots of people were out walking dogs or sitting on their front porches drinking coffee.  I waved at them weakly then slunk back home wearing a scarlet "P" on my back (for "pottymouth") and trying to convince my daughter not to wreck her tricycle just because I wanted to get home by lunchtime.

I swear on the blog regularly but honestly don't swear much in my daily life.  It's possible I slipped up once or twice and Lucien heard me -- but nah, let's blame it on someone else.  The most likely culprit is the old hippie lady next door who seems sweet as pie and often has Lucien over to help pull vegetables in her garden.  I bet she's a real swear-hound at heart.  Probably hates puppies, too.

I picked Lucien up from school this afternoon and a little girl told me Lucien brings underwear on the bus in the morning.  When I asked The Loosh what she was talking about,  he opened his backpack and showed me the the pair of underwear inside.  He said he brings a pair every morning and wears them on his head all the way to school.  He likes to make the kids laugh, even asks them to call him "underwear head."

Al and I are having a conference with his teacher next week to discuss Underwear Head's behavior. We've been expecting the call.

Happy Late Mother's Day to me,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Parade of Homes

I haven't written much about our search for a home because it's been a fruitless journey filled with dead ends, lost opportunities, and feelings of desperation and failure.  Several offers have been written, all of which have been laughed at and perhaps jumped upon by the seller.  Housing is crazy in Seattle right now;  inventory is low so competition is fierce and so far, we're losing.

Painful as the journey can be, I sure do love looking at houses.  I enjoy seeing how other people live and imagining how I could make their space mine once they get all their ugly sh*t out of it. 

 Sometimes it's hard to see past that aforementioned ugly sh*t, though.

When a house is great, you can tell immediately by the tingly sensation you get -- though this can get confusing if you also have to pee and/or are horny.  But if those two other things aren't factors, you'll know you love a house by the giddiness that starts in your toes and shoots straight up to your brain. 

Sometimes a house is so great it overwhelms you and you end up falling on the floor, humping it and yelling, "I WANT TO MAKE AN OFFER" in the middle of an Open House. (Alex swears he's not taking me to another Open House until I perfect something he calls a "poker face."  Sounds dumb, I don't even like cards.)

I felt giddy about this next one.  This was the big Victorian with mountain views for which we enthusiastically threw our hat into the ring.  Unfortunately, so did 29 other people.  And I hate them all, especially the guy who "won" the house by offering less than we did, but in cash.

You have to love old fixers the way we do to see the perfection of this house.  If you don't love fixers, you're probably thinking I've inhaled a lot of dangerous fumes in my lifetime, which is the only explanation for loving that sad old thing. 

Whatever you think about the house, losing it hurt me badly, so badly I wasn't sure I could love again.

Take good care of that grand old staircase, Cash Guy.
I'm watching you.

This one is an old Victorian, too, but it's already been renovated.  It's too bad they renovated it stupid, though, by consolidating the three bedrooms into two large bedrooms with a huge bathroom.  A two-bedroom house at that price?  Good luck, jerk.


This next house had a pit bull locked in a kennel in the basement.  He stared at me through the chain link of his pen without moving a muscle.  He had dead eyes.  I no longer cared about checking the condition of the foundation;  I cared only about running away.

Beautiful wood floors.  French doors into living room.  Devil dog in the basement.

I'm a sucker for a grand staircase.  This next house had one but was missing the banister.  Pretty convenient, I thought, because we were able to just take a flying leap at the stairs from the side and skip a large chunk of the "walking" nonsense.

The banister-less house also had a large dog locked in a pen in the backyard, a German Shepherd, who was also quite intent on killing us.  Have you ever prayed for strength -- as in, the strength of a chainlink fence?  I sure have, twice now.

Some houses were modern --

Some were total gut-jobs --

Some showcased the amazing abilities of the wide-angle lens.  When I walked into this next home, I realized this apparently spacious room shown on the website could actually be crossed in about four steps.  Photographic exaggerators!  --

What a whirlwind it's been.  I've seen old houses, modern houses, big houses, small houses, expensive houses, cheap houses, beautifully restored houses, houses that need to be taken down to the studs.  I've seen it all. 

It's been a long road.  But now, I'm thrilled to say, we may be at the end of it.  We stopped by an Open House over the weekend on a whim, not really believing the house was what we were looking for.  On paper, it didn't check all our boxes -- and the boxes it left empty were very big boxes.

But screw the stupid boxes.  From the second we walked inside, we were tingly from the toes all the way up to the brain.  A quick check revealed neither one of us had to pee nor was horny.  We were shocked -- we both wanted that house.  And badly. 

We made an offer.  The sellers countered.  We counter-countered last night at midnight and then didn't sleep worth a damn.  Now we're waiting.  Anyone else need a stiff drink and a Valium right about now?  If not, send yours over to me.

I don't want to get my hopes as high as they've been in the past only to have them dashed to smithereens again.  So I'm going to keep this one to myself for a minute, won't say too much about it.  I will say there are a couple photos of it in this post.  And I will also say that sometimes life is surprising.

Just when you're absolutely sure you know what you want, you can be totally wrong,

Monday, May 7, 2012

What color is this?

Lucien found a tiny spider, barely larger than a speck, on our front porch and asked if he could keep him for a pet.  I said sure, for a couple days, but then we'd have to set him free again.  Lucien put him in a small jar.  He gave him a drop of water and some tortilla chips and named him Cha-Cha. 

Cha-Cha did not show any interest in the tortilla chips so Lucien grew worried about what to feed him.  He asked me if spiders ate ants.  I said "sure" because I hate ants and was hopeful it was true.  Lucien gathered a bunch of ants from outside (there are finally more ants outside than inside our Tiny Cottage, huzzah) and put them in the jar with Cha-Cha. 

A few moments later, Lucien screamed.

By the time I reached him, the ants, who apparently liked tortilla chips very much, were swarming and Lucien was screaming, "They ate Cha-Cha! They ate Cha-Cha!"  I couldn't quite believe it but he appeared to be right -- Cha-Cha was nowhere to be seen after an apparent ant attack witnessed by Lucien. 

I've never heard of ants banding together to eat a small spider, even a spider barely larger than a speck. We dumped out the jar trying to locate him but he wasn't there.  Maybe he was clinging to the underside of an ant in a brazen escape attempt?  If so, well played ninja spider.

Lucien cried himself to sleep that night over Cha-Cha.  He blamed himself for the spider's untimely end because he put the ants in the jar.  I didn't know how to comfort him because he kind of had a point.

Since Cats didn't kill my marriage, I decided to try again.  I got a babysitter and told Alex we had plans Saturday night -- I'd bought tickets to a one-woman performance art show.  Alex looked at me squarely but agreed to be my date after I promised the woman would be topless.  I didn't know this for a fact, but come on, it's performance art so chances were good.

Al and I started our evening with some Thai food on Queen Anne.  I took pictures of plates only after the food was eaten.  It's less appetizing that way but more artistic, a commentary on the futility of life.  I was in an artsy mood.

 This was delicious.  And futile. 

After dinner we walked to On the Boards, a great little theater on lower Queen Anne.  There are quite a few hipsters walking around there plus you can buy beer and lollipops in the lobby, both of which you can then take into the theater with you.  It was worth the money for that alone.

The show was by a performance artist named Julie Andree T.   It's entitled Rouge and involves Andree T. exploring the color red in all its multi-faceted glory onstage for an hour.  Sounds fascinating, non?   Hey, where are you going?

Julie Andree T. is from Quebec, as is Alex.  I had a hunch Alex was going to hate the performance so I already had my response ready.  When he complained, I was going to say, "Hey, don't look at me, she's your people, man." 

This is what the stage looked like before the performance --

This is what it looked like after --

In between those two photos, some crazy sh*t happened.  It started off innocently enough, with her walking onstage and eating a red pepper.  Actually, when I say "eat," I mean "chow."  She devoured that pepper much like how the ants allegedly devoured Cha-Cha.

There were only six words spoken throughout the performance: "What color is this?" and "It's red."  As the show went on, Julie Andree T. seemed to suffer a mental breakdown.  She continued to ask her question, but more in a psychotic break continuous loop kind of way.  "What color is this, it's red, what color is this, it's red, what color is this...." meh, you get the idea.

There was anger and violence.  The music got loud and throbby and she threw things.  There was passionate red stuff, too -- in fact, we're pretty sure she had relations with something onstage, something that starts with a "d" and ends with an "ildo," while wearing high heeled stripper boots.  Is that even legal?

As bizarre as it sounds, both Alex and I "got" most of it.  We enjoyed our psychotic red journey much more than we enjoyed Cats.  That probably says more about Cats than it does Rouge.  I would have enjoyed Julie's performance even more if I hadn't needed to pee so badly throughout most of it.  That's the downside to being allowed to bring a beer into a theater.

Unfortunately, Julie lost us at the end.  She spray-painted her foot and the side of her head blue, stood on one leg and glared.  She was indeed topless by that time.  It's great I was able to keep my promise to Al, but we had no goddamn idea what was going on by then and were holding hands -- not out of love, more out of solidarity and fear.

Whatever the hell that was, it left a lasting impression.  Never have I been so keenly aware of the color red.  I went to the bathroom after the show wearing my red houndstooth coat and no fewer than a dozen women pointed at me and demanded to know, "WHAT COLOR IS THIS?"  I'm reluctant to wear red in public now, for fear of being pounced upon by someone else who's seen the show.

At breakfast today, Coco smeared some yogurt on the wall.  She stared at it for awhile then licked it off.  Instead of our usual, "ugh, Coco, don't do that," reaction, Alex and I looked at each other and said at the same time, "Oh no, she's going to be a performance artist."

It's red,

Friday, May 4, 2012

Now what do I do?

Hi.  I've decided to write a book.  I'm not sure what's going to become of my blog now that I've decided to write a book.  In a related thought, can someone please tell me how to write a book? 

Advice is appreciated because I don't know what I'm doing, and I don't know how to find the time or energy with which to do it.  All I know is if I don't start now, time will continue to fly by, and then I'll be 101 years old and my moment will be gone.

I don't have many stories to tell today so I'm going to post some pictures.  9 out of 10 people love random cell phone pictures.  If you're the 1 out of 10 that doesn't, you can voice your discontent in the comments, but please know I'm doing my best and it will hurt my feelings.

Seattle people. We all really look like this.

walking bike home with friends after dinner

proof Seattle loves the green stuff

butts on an escalator

Loosh on a beach

people dancing in an empty room

barbeque in an alley

 hanging out in a library
 I have no idea
Perfect.  All of life's goings-on with none of the time-consuming context.  This should work just fine.
Now where's my damn pen...