Monday, May 12, 2014

Four-way purgatory and hobos under the porch

When the weather improves in Seattle, life for those of us in cars happens at 10 mph.  The drive to and from the kids' schools takes twice as long because everyone in the city has decided to make their way to work entirely outdoors.  No car nor bus shall block the sun from touching their pasty pale skin.

Pedestrians and bikes and skateboards and dogs on long leashes jump out from every corner.  People in cars inch forward at four-way stops waiting for the crush of pedestrians to cross, then wait for more straggling pedestrians to cross, then wait for the bike to get out of the way, the one with the rider who ignored the four-way stop and careened through the intersection with a serious case of bicycle privilege.

It makes four-way stops nearly impossible to get through.  All the cars have been waiting for so long nobody remembers whose turn it is anymore.  Then begins the courtesy waving -- "You go.  No, you go.  No, really, please, you go.  No you, I insist, please."  After many rounds of waving all the cars lurch forward at the same time only to stop with a screech of brakes when everybody notices everybody else is moving too.  Then there's another round of crossing pedestrians followed by another round of waving.

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, where everybody refuses to go first when there's the possibility to let somebody else go first.  It's a miracle any of us ever get anywhere.

We had a good Mother's Day.  Alex and the kids made me breakfast then Alex went upstairs to catch up on some work, leaving me alone with two kids and a necessary grocery store run.  I couldn't help but think something had gone wrong with my Mother's Day as I pushed the cart through the grocery store -- filled almost exclusively with men and their young children -- and listened to my two kids fight over dumb things such as the best Tic-Tac flavor.  (ORANGE!  STRAWBERRY!  ORANGE!  STRAWBERRY!)  One man chuckled as he passed me and said, "Oh no, what are YOU doing here today?" and I replied, "I'm wondering the same thing."

Al's workload is intense, no doubt about it, but sometimes I think he makes up "work" so he can get out of taking the kids to the grocery store.  He's a really smart man, wouldn't surprise me.

We had friends over for Mother's Day dinner.  Our friends sunned themselves on the back deck while Alex and I prepared the food.  All our kids played together in the yard.  It was a glorious evening.

Suddenly, Lucien ran up onto the deck and yelled, "You guys, there's a hobo under the porch!"

Now, I've mentioned before our family's issue with the hobo spider, which is the poisonous spider we have to deal with here in Seattle, the very spider we found in our house last year.  Our family is therefore more aware of and paranoid about the hobo spider than most Seattle residents. Our confused visitors, who were not familiar with the spider, instead understood Lucien to be telling them there was a homeless person under the porch.

They jumped up in concern, "Wait... WHO'S under your porch?" Lucien didn't answer, only babbled on with flustered excitement, "You know what? Mom and I discovered a hobo can live for two weeks without food when we captured one last year."

My friends love me, this I know, but for just one brief second, before I came outside and explained, they likely wondered if they really knew me at all.  They also probably made plans to get themselves and their children out of my house as quickly as possible.  Because I was obviously a psychopath who starves homeless people for sport.

The blog may suffer in the coming months because I am working on the Paris book and am having a hard time making time for both.  I want to thank those of you who stuck with me for the duration of the Paris blog because as I read it all over again, I realize how crappy a lot of that writing was.  I was definitely too attached to the exclamation point.  I promise I'll make it up to you! and make it! better! this time around.

You better believe I crush hobos,


  1. Can't! wait! for ! the! book!!!

    I have no issues with exclamation's all CAPS THAT DRIVES ME NUTS.

  2. Your Paris blog was wonderful and I can't wait for the book! It kept me sane to read your blog and know that I wasn't the only one experiencing all the lovely craziness of expat life!


    Hmm. That came off as creepy but I was going for encouraging.

  4. OK so now I not only have to worry about scorpions invading my son's house in Abq. now I am going to worry about hobos in Seattle! I promise to be very patient waiting for new posts as long as I know that book is the reason why. I loved living thru all the Paris blogs so never ever apologize for one word or drawing or exclamation point!!!! Kathy in Iowa (or should I use Iowa Kathy?)

  5. I thought the entire blog was great, had me laughing out loud at times, which probably wasn't so good since most of the time I read it at work. Can't wait for the book!!!!!. Nothing wrong with an exclamation point or 5

  6. Paris boooooooooook!!!!!!:)))))

  7. Cannot wait for the book!!

  8. CANNOT WAIT FOR THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!-I love both the caps and the exclamation point-HA- I thought the paris blog was great-happy for you!!

  9. Although you can do your best to improve the Paris blog, it can never be improved on from the first reading of each and every post as they happened! They were and are marvelous and always will be! (and yes, with exclamation points, baby!!)
    Christine (the one who also lived in Paris at some point, has emailed you about hanging clothes with clothespins from the bottom, who never misses a post, but almost never ever comments)

  10. Like everyone else, I can't wait for the book, but I guess I'm going to have to.

  11. Your writing was not crappy!!! It was fun and very entertaining. When I first discovered your blog, I went right back to the beginning and I read every word and of course I got nothing else done until I was all the way through.