Monday, February 20, 2012

Valuable People

Here we are at the neighborhood taco bus.  Again.  We may scrap our "buy a house" plan and move into the taco bus instead.  We pretty much live there already, and are accustomed to living in small spaces, so it's actually a reasonable and delicious idea.

I went out for dinner Friday with my old friend, Cavanaugh.  If you read my Paris blog back in the day, you may remember him; he's the friend who visited me on his way to butler school in the Netherlands.   He's got mad butler skills if someone out there needs a butler.

Here he's demonstrating his two-utensil one-handed serving technique.

Cavanaugh and I went to the much-acclaimed Italian joint, Spinasse, on Capitol Hill.  Spinasse has one of those menus that is short but dense; it uses language that makes it impossible to decipher what, exactly, it wants to feed you.  Cavanaugh and I dissected each item and said, "OK, I understand each of these words by themselves, but I no longer understand anything once they're placed next to each other." 

Confusing, perhaps, but it did give me some ideas -- next time I have friends over for dinner, I'm going to serve pickled dandelion soap flan with wood sauce essence and Tibetan crumpleberry foam.

I didn't get a picture of the dinner menu.  Here's the dessert menu -- not as perplexing, perhaps, but some questions nonetheless.  "Carrie's torrone gelato terrine?"  Who the hell is Carrie and how do I know her hands are clean?

It was a leisurely hours-long meal full of the most incredible Italian foodstuffs -- things like cauliflower anchovy ravioli, Brussels sprouts, beet salad, and rabbit meatballs.   Now that I've just written those words, I realize all those things sound disgusting.  Believe me, they were not. 

(We also had chicory salad with rabbit, leek ravioli, tajarin pasta with butter sage sauce, and a lot of wine.  Those sound better?)

I managed to refrain from using my patented "shove food in mouth using both hands, no utensils" technique and remained borderline socially acceptable throughout the meal.  I loved catching up with my old friend Cavanaugh but I secretly hoped he would go to the bathroom and get stuck there so I could eat his food.

Cavanaugh reminded me that back when we first became friends, we used to go to a specific Capitol Hill bar where I would drink orange beer.  It was a mandarin orange hefeweizen and I loved it so much, the bar always kept a few in the fridge just in case I showed up.  It was served in a pint glass with an orange slice.  Cavanaugh was so horrified by the whole thing at the time, it made him question our burgeoning friendship.

I'd completely forgotten about my former obsession with orange beer.  Aren't old friends valuable, to remind you how disgusting you used to be?

I went to see another old friend over the weekend.  I mentioned her before, guess I should call her Stock Trader Mom because I really have to start naming all these people with something identifiable.  Stock Trader Mom has a son similar to Lucien.  When we get together, our visits are full of half-finished conversations and lots of moving from room to room to escape the deafening noise that renders us unable to think.

I mentioned to Stock Trader Mom I was meeting Seattle Mom the next day for a "happy hour" at noon.  Stock Trader Mom raised an eyebrow and was like, "Noon?  Isn't that starting a little early?" but I assured her Seattle Mom and I had our reasons (we did, to be discussed in a later post).  About fifteen minutes later, Lucien let loose with an impressive amount of sound, frenetic activity, and wild-eyed facial expressions.  It left Stock Trader Mom speechless for a second.  When she recovered, she said, "No wonder you drink at noon."  Then she laughed so hard she cried all over the place.

Aren't old friends valuable, to remind you how much you should drink because your life is unbearable?  

Speaking of old friends -- I haven't known her as long as these other two clowns but please, we all know Virginia Mom is an old friend.  Paris years are like dog years that way.

I haven't missed Paris nearly as much as I thought I would, but I sure have missed the people we left behind.  So when Virginia Mom sent me this picture last week of her wearing a bracelet we both own, and trying to buzz into our old apartment building, with the caption "YOU'RE NOT HERE!," I had my first ugly cry since coming home.

 Damn you, Virginia Mom!

Virginia Mom was on our street because Virginia Dad is in a band now and they were playing a club seconds from our front door.  Virginia Mom said all French people in the club were sitting at tables and clapping politely between songs.  Her Anglo posse, however, was in the back dancing, singing along, and yelling.  I should have been there.  I miss those people, and miss sticking out like a sore thumb.  There was a lot of beauty in that.

Right back at ya, Virginia Mom Bracelet Twin...


Lucien got off the school bus the other day and it was immediately obvious something was upsetting him.  He was looking at the ground, kicking at the dirt, wearing a bothered expression on his punky adorable little face.  I asked him what was wrong and he said, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, "A big boy on the school bus said I don't know anything about dinosaurs."

Way to kick my boy right where it hurts, mean older boy.  You are never going to be a valuable old friend to anybody if you keep it up.

This isn't what I was going to write about today.  Not at all.  In fact, I'm really confused how I ended up here.

Sometimes blogging is a surprising journey,


  1. ... and what an entertaining journey it always is for your readers, MJ. ;-) I just wanted you to know I sent the prestigious Liebster Blog award to you this week, so félicitations! Details are on my blog. Stop by when you get a minute. I am sure you received tons of awards back when you had the [big] blog in Paris, but since you started a new one here, in Seattle, I figured "what the heck..." -- A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. Veronique! Thank you for the prestigious award! I actually saw it on your blog before you left your comment -- I'm a follower now and you're fantastic. Have to get a blog roll going on this blog because there are some great Seattle blogs out there.

      And true, I'm small potatoes now. Small, small potatoes... but it's all good. Small and mighty, small and mighty.

      Do you want to get together and speak French with me sometime? I'm already getting rusty. Do you do much with the Alliance Francaise?

      Bye, Veronique, take good care.

  2. Greetings MJ....yum mm...taco truck

    And let's face it we all could use a butler

    That picture of your old door code box .....I can understand the tears

    Noon happy hour makes sense to me.......cheers!

    1. I am replying to these comments in reverse, so I already kind of commented on this comment down below. Sorry I published your redundant comments. I hope you were drunk.

  3. I solemny declare that Lucien is the biggest, smartest, scientific connaisseur of dinosaurs. And anyone pretending otherwise is to be eaten at once by a plectosaurus!

    1. Anonymous! Step out of the shadows and accept your prize for greatest blog posse defender of the century!

      And Lucien is more afraid of being eaten by a Diplodocus, which is weird because they were herbivores.

      Thanks, Anonymous... I will pass the message along to the boy.

  4. wekk first of all I have always wanted a butler..please have him forward his resume...

    that dinner sounds amazing and weird at the same time

    the digicode picture is touching in all kinds of ways...

    and yummmy....taco should move in there.

    1. Wekk, OK, I will tell Cavanaugh. Can you afford him? He's top notch.

      The dinner was amazing. Just amazing. We didn't always know what we were eating but damn, they made it work.

      Come visit me at the taco truck. Even if I don't "live" there, I kind of live there.

  5. wekk??? of course I meant WELL...damn letters.

    1. And here I thought you'd invented a new expression.

    2. Hey, Lee joined the party! Nice.

  6. at the risk of clogging up the comment section...I didn't think my first one worked....sorry for the repetion....ahem.

    1. Love Debbie. It's like seeing a bunch of old friends when all these comments show up in my inbox. Really. Hugs.

  7. Lucien being ignorant about dinosaurs?! Peeee-leaaaaaaaaaase! What a punk, that mean older boy!

    That pic from Virginia mom made me nostalgic for your time in Paris too... *sigh* I loved living in Paris vicariously through you... *big sigh* Oh well. Ottawa and Seattle aren't that bad, are they?;)

    Orange beer... Sounds like something I would love!:) I miss white beer served with a slice of orange in Ottawa!:)

    Great idea about the taco truck!:) How to kill a couple of birds with one stone:)

    It's really amazing and ironic to me that someone could be trained as a butler in a country totally alien to restaurant service... Just saying.

    1. Thank you, Duchesse. I KNOW you got my boy's back.

      Even though I don't miss the difficulty of my day-to-day back in Paris, I, too, am nostalgic. It was a special time for sure. I've never been to Ottawa but can certainly say Seattle is not bad at all. The secret is to return to a place you love as much as the place you left, which is what I did! Hope you do the same, Duchesse.

      Oh, and the service we received at Spinasse was top notch. Very impressive.

      Bye, Duchesse! Are you headed to Paris one more time before you leave?

    2. I love Ottawa, so it'll be a happy homecoming:) I just found out, after talking to my boss there, that I have to return as soon as my second sabbatical is over on the 16th of May... I was planning on coming back on the 1st of June, but what the hell!:) I'll take a few days off in Ottawa to get settled in before I plunge right back into work and grad school:) The Duke is counting the days:)

      Yes, we're spending Easter in Paris:) We're also planning a last weekend in Brussels, and I'm spending the last two weeks of April in San Sebastian (Spain) for language training. Good times:) I feel I really made the most of my two-year stay this time around:)

  8. Hmmmm rambling on and making all sorts of funky spelling mistakes... I wonder what time is happy hour in "Trenna";)))

    Your secret's out, Debs!;)))

  9. I need a butler. Though since we already have 4 people living in a 900 square foot house that may come across as though we were “living beyond our means”.
    Kudos to Butler-Dude for hanging with you through the orange beer phase, many a friendship has been destroyed by less.
    Glad you haven’t been too homesick for Paris. After seeing those pictures I am now heartsick for one of those bracelets!
    Yay for #OccupyTacoBus! It probably would be more practical than the yurt, at least it feeds you.

    1. Occupy Taco Bus! This reminds me of another movement Seattle Mom and I just started -- Occupy Goddamn House. Now I'm conflicted. One is the house I really want to live in but the other one serves tacos. Either one may be better than a yurt, though that, too, remains a viable option, because we are insane.

      Here's to orange beer and friendship, Melanie!

  10. Ouch. Poor Loosh. Big kids can be so mean. I hope he remembers when he is a big kid to be nice to smaller kids! Maybe a nice opportunity to remind him to be nice to kids smaller than him, too, huh. Having kids is such a bittersweet thing, isn't it. It's hard to watch them suffer! I just read another post about this today, too, here:

    God that stuff is so hard. :(

    "I'm going to serve pickled dandelion soap flan with wood sauce essence and Tibetan crumpleberry foam." LMAO! Can I come over when you do? Oh yeah, I'd probably be allergic to all of it, lol. The dessert menu reads like a Dr Seuss book, IMO. "Grappa soaked baba" and "cardoon flower honey"??? WTH. Seussian, I tell you!

    The bracelet thing kills me, chica. I met Virginia Mom, right? I mean, yeah, she's HER, you know, her, the one I met. Starts with an "M"? Who looks like you... Right? I never could keep people on the blog straight with who they were in real life, hahaha! Except for Hot Thing 1 and Hot Thing 2, but that is because (apparently) my mind relates only to things that are like Dr Seuss books (lol).

    "Paris years are like dog years that way." TOTALLY.

    I just read Amy Thomas' book "Paris My Sweet" (she is the blogger at God, I Love Paris) and she writes about this, too. So, that makes me an honorary Auntie or something to the kids, huh. :) I like that.

    As far as blogging goes, remember: wherever you go, there you are. And so it goes.

    Keep on havin' a whack time up there in Seattle! The moxie is terrific. :D I have not commented on all the recent posts, but I have indeed read and been enjoying reading mucho. As in "beaucoup."

    You all be careful out there. :)

    1. You know what, Karin... every time you leave a comment on here, I get emotional. You are one of the people we left behind! And you're always so upbeat and so positive. And I just can't even deal with you right now because I'M VERY FRAGILE.

      (Thanks a lot, V. Mom (and yep, she's the other "M" who bears somewhat of a resemblance to this "M."))

      We love you, Nanny Karin. We were lucky to know such quality people over there, eh?

    2. "And you're always so upbeat and so positive."

      I have an online, long-time blogger friend who has written to me something to the effect that I could even make a sh*t sandwich sound good. Ha!! :D What's sort of hilarious (kinda) is that deep inside lurks a very cynical, dark, and kind of super-negative chick. You should hear the stuff in my head sometime! (lol, or... not) Anyway, I try to keep it positive because lord knows we'd all go out and kill ourselves if we did not stay positive and joke and laugh. You theeeenk I keeeeed. I keeeeeed not. Heh!! (*I cackled when I wrote that*)

      Sorry. Should not say such things to fragile lady there in Seattle. ;-)

      SOOOOOOO, Nanny Karin it is. And yes, if you ever bring the chillens over with you to Paris on your numerous future visits (trying to be positive here) then I'm your Nanny Lady. And hey, I really should hit up that Virginia Mom (I almost typed "vagina." SO SORRY, lol. <---- hint of the darkness within) -- not THAT way. I mean to see if she needs some babysitting. Maybe she will see this...

      Love back to you all. At least we have the Internet which allows us to pretend there is proximity, eh? :D (<----- positive me is back in this comment)


  11. If that bracelet has a funky button thing on the other side..I am the lost triplet...

    1. It DOES have a button thing on the other side. But guess what? We're quads because I bought Seattle Mom one, too.

      Let's unite and take over the world, bracelet sisters.

  12. Wow, that was so sweet. Your post made me cry today, for a lot of reasons. Long stories, all of them.

    Okay. It was the taco truck.

    1. Hi Bec. You doing OK, woman? I know we're meant to be friends because taco trucks make me weep, too. Too bad you live so far away because the carne asada tacos are really things of beauty. Cilantro...

  13. In SF, there's the Creme Brulee truck. *whimpers* I miss SF.

    That's some serious wrist-bling you and Virginia Mom have there.

    1. A creme brulee truck? Are you eff'g kidding me? Now I feel totally robbed I'm only getting tacos.

      V.M. and I like the flashy stuff.

      Bye, Mrs. Howard, hope all's well.

  14. Blogging IS a surprising journey. Loving that bracelet btw. Is it possible that we could all become triplets? One day I'll take a picture of all the food trucks that line up in front of where I work. We have a "Frying Dutchman". I've avoided for as long as I can. It's touch and go.

  15. Oh and cauliflower anchovy ravioli, Brussels sprouts, beet salad, and rabbit meatballs, all sound A-MAZ-ing. (I'm a good food ho.)