Thursday, December 8, 2016

Adios, Amigos

Look at us, trying so hard to move to Mexico.

If anyone peeks through the windows these days, they'll witness extensive list making. I'm the Hunchback of the Central District, curved over my notepad and computer addressing the myriad of details necessary to get this thing off the ground. You never realize how many details are involved in the daily function of a family home until you have to change them all.

The window peepers would also witness much document scanning. The immigration attorneys need this document, the relocation people need that document, and the school to which we're hoping to gain admittance needs five hundred documents in the next five minutes -- or else adios, amigos.

The only computer in the house that has the proper driver installed for our ancient scanner is my old laptop with the cracked screen.  I tried installing the driver elsewhere and ended up with malware so I gave up and am instead squinting at an old screwed up blinky screen that is doing fascinating things to my eyes.  Now I see blinky blinky everywhere.

In scanning Lucien's file from his current school to send to the school in Mexico, I realize how many head injuries he's sustained so far in his schooling career, most of them incurred on the blacktop of the playground.  It's mind boggling (ha) to see all those head injury reports stacked in one place, all the medical advice over the years such as "keep an eye on him" and "don't let him fall asleep for four days." It's a miracle that kid still knows his own name.

The kids are not thrilled with the Mexico move, though they remain at least partially cheerful and optimistic because that is their natures. I can't blame their reluctance. They are both happy where they are now, each in class with their favorite teachers and surrounded by solid, funny groups of friends they've known since they were all babes. Lucien is especially sad because it means his time at his school ends in less than two weeks; he's a fifth grader now and will be moved on to middle school upon our return.

In truth, for many reasons, this move is a gamble -- and not just because we may get walled into Mexico thanks to Señor Trump --

I'm apprehensive about all the unknowns but am hoping to model an appropriate balance for the kids in their own apprehension; they should know I am also nervous and sad about leaving our familiar, tight-knit community but they will also hopefully learn from me it's OK to take risks and make changes, even when comfort is so damn comforting.

(They can't know exactly how nervous I am, though, because then they'd probably mutiny. I shouldn't have given them those swords for their Halloween costumes.)

I wonder if I sound off balance as I try to address my own conflicted feelings yet remain a strong, reassuring role model: "I'm scared but I'm not scared! Full lives involve risk-taking but agreed, this could be a gigantic mistake! We're gonna make so many new friends from all over the world but I'm definitely gonna cry every day!"

There's also the issue of Natani.  We have a couple responsible and well-liked house/pet sitters willing to take it all on but still, it's not going to be easy to kiss that crazy animal goodbye...

...or maybe it will?  

The desert dog attacking Dad with a viciously wagging tail
during my family's relaxing Thanksgiving holiday in our home.
She just loves so much, she can't hold herself back.

My family was indeed here for Thanksgiving.  My dad is a photographer so set up his nice camera in our front hall to take some long overdue family pictures. 

It's a kiss train with The Loosh wearing his favorite cat t-shirt.
The cat is shooting lightning out of its paws.
The Loosh knows how to Thanksgiving.

Mom said people always have their hands on each other in professionally posed photos so we decided to do that in our post-Thanksgiving photo shoot -- 

I love us.
(Is it just me or does Alex look a little "over" my family?)

Now it's Christmas and what a hectic one it will be.  I hope I remember to buy the kids some presents but honestly, won't they be happier I remembered to cancel The Seattle Times subscription, stocked up on the infrared lightbulbs Bobo needs to stay alive, and managed to get all our prescriptions filled for six plus months after many, many discussions with our insurance company?  Priorities, kids.

We had our Christmas tree delivered by a couple dads and one of their daughters from our school's Christmas tree sale.  They went above and beyond, set it up in my tree stand since Alex is once again down in Mexico, even delivered it alongside a plate of cookies and a quart of eggnog.

These days everything is double edged, every happy thing is also a little sad, so their commitment to us and to our school made me teary, which probably confused them terribly. Transitions blow.  Leaving what you love blows. But it's also exciting and awesome!  Help me.

The near future holds much change; we're hoping to be in Mexico City by the new year, which feels like only a handful of hours away. I'm not sure how long we'll be gone, at least six months, likely a little longer, and we'll be in touch after that.

Oh yes I'll be in touch, blog, in fact may be more present than ever.  If the Paris years taught me anything, it's that I won't know many people down there and will make an ass of myself on the regular.  Much processing, and for me that means writing, will ensue.

Seattle friends, this one's for you -- come playoffs, I may be a very lonely 12th Woman but promise to sport my blue and green every game just like this --

I am going to fit right in as usual

You all still have permission to come into my house, as we've always done in playoffs past, and Rusty, you better sit in your special seat so we win.  Seahawks 4-ever.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

The guy on the other side of the door

So that really happened.  Hillary was defeated by a bigoted, rapey can of Fanta.

We watched the election results with a big group of friends.  It began as a supremely festive evening. There were hugs, high fives, some shadow boxing in corners as we got pumped to watch history happen, and to show our children that love wins and civil rights, inclusion, and being qualified for a job matter.

There was a photo booth area
with goofy USA props.
Look at my friend's daughter in her pantsuit.
We were so excited.  

My dad designed and made this sign.
My family is awesome.

Blame it on our Seattle liberal bubble but wow, did we ever believe the wrong thing about our country.  We believed people had seen through him by then, seen him as a con man with an obvious personality disorder, as a shitty businessman who didn't pay his bills and somehow managed to bankrupt casinos. Casinos! Now there's something that's truly rigged, and in favor of the owners.  How do you even screw that up.

We believed people had seen him as a thin-skinned explosive poorly tempered man prone to Twitter fights at 2 a.m. when someone dared criticize him, as someone who openly disparaged women, multiple minority groups, people with disabilities, the families of fallen hero soldiers.... I could go on and on and on, that's the worst part, and so depressing.

We would never elect such an obviously selfish, hateful person with zero knowledge of government to the highest office in the land.  Right?

As results started coming in, it appeared we had done exactly that.  The enthusiasm drained out of the room and a stunned silence settled.  There were several laptops busted out at the dining room table as we tried to find additional information and make sense of what was happening. Every once in awhile, someone who'd done the math piped up to announce which states Hillary still needed to win. The numbers weren't promising.

Then there were heads in hands, a lot of tears, some toasts made to uncertain futures, and heavy heavy drinking.

As we packed up to head home in a state of numb denial and despair, I went to our friends' fridge, scooped a bunch of their beers into my purse and muttered to no one in particular, "I'm gonna need these later."  My friend walked into his kitchen and asked flatly, "MJ, why are you stealing all our beer" to which I replied, "It's a Trump America now, I do what I want, b*tch."  Polite society had devolved just that quickly.  Scary stuff.

Reading the news these days raises my blood pressure to dangerous new highs. To deal with this, I've decided we're in pressing need of a new area rug for our dining room. Instead of constantly refreshing news websites every thirty seconds and trying hard not to hit things, I'm spending those hours perusing area rugs online. We don't really need a new area rug but please, don't tell myself that, I need a break from the rage and the fear.

Ooh, that's a pretty one

Last night I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by Natani barking downstairs.  Lucien soon appeared in my doorway to tell me he heard the recycling bins being moved outside.  This has happened several times before; it's always a posse of raccoons raiding our garbage and compost cans and being general nuisances.

Natani continued to bark downstairs. I sighed and threw back the covers, told Lucien to go back to bed. I had to get downstairs and quiet Natani before she woke Alex and Coco, too.

As I entered the kitchen, I noticed Natani had added a new sound -- an angry, seething, guttural growl in between her barks.  Something was really, really, really pissing her off.  I gave her a soothing pat, told her to calm down, and pulled aside the curtains that cover the back patio doors to see what had worked her into such a lather.

My heart stopped as I stood face to face with a man on the other side of the glass who was pushing on the door as hard as he could.  He stopped for a second, looked at me, then continued to push on the door.

Adrenaline is an incredible thing.  My fight-or-flight activated and my body said, "fight right now, RIGHT NOW." I lunged towards him, began punching the door frame as hard as I could (fascinating choice, body) and screaming at him to stop, to go away, that there was no way I was letting him break into my house.

As I punched the door, I assumed he would turn and flee but he didn't move.  He stood there, stared at me, then said sadly in a slurred voice from the other side of the door, "Calm down. Why are you so mad at me?" He then resumed pushing on the door, only this time I noticed he was having a hard time keeping his footing.

I calmed down a little, stopped punching the door and realized with some relief he was really not an imminent threat. This was not an armed robber nor serial killer.  This was an eff'd up guy with bleary sad unfocused eyes, obviously under the influence of something powerful and confused as hell as to where he was.

It was about that time I heard a crashing sound come from the staircase.  Alex had taken a sleeping pill much earlier that evening because he had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a flight.  He had slept deeply through Natani barking and Lucien and I conversing in our room but had been awakened by me screaming at someone to go away downstairs.

He ran from the bedroom in a groggy Ambien daze and soon crashed down the stairs, losing his footing entirely the last several few.  Poor Al was also under the influence of something powerful, and also quite confused, but he tried hard to be of assistance in my time of need.

I ran back upstairs to grab my phone as Alex tried to reason with the guy, who was refusing to leave our back porch, through the door. I called 911 and two officers arrived within minutes. They were gentle with the man, led him off our porch then sat with him on the front curb for almost two hours as he sobered up.  They gave him water and covered him with a jacket when it began to rain. Then, after making many phone calls and giving him a few sobriety tests, they put him in a taxi bound for, we hope, better things for him.

Alex left to catch his Uber to the airport while the man and police were still sitting out front. He walked up to the man and said, "You really scared us. That was not OK," and the man covered his face and said, "I'm so so sorry."

My hand is pretty screwed up from punching that door but at least it's not broken. With my swollen hand and bruised and abraded knuckles, it looks like I recently started a street fight or, more likely for me, a bar brawl.  I'm gonna wear my purple hand like a badge of badassery for a few days and see if anybody gives me a wider berth.  Nobody needs to know my fight was with a door.

I hope Donald Trump is like that guy on the other side of the door.  At first scary, unpredictable, worst case scenarios swarming your brain in a sweaty hysterical fit of terror, but once you realize what he's truly got going on, which turns out ain't a whole lot, he turns into something manageable.

I hope, anyway.  I've got to keep some sort of optimism going through these next handful of years. That and a steady supply of alcohol.  And an area rug.  The area rug is probably the most important thing.

I read recently that Donald Trump's presidency is likely to be a golden age of activism in America. From what I've witnessed in Seattle so far, that could be true.  People are organizing, talking to neighbors, forming groups. The previously apathetic have turned mobile and active, at least so far. Here's hoping we can keep it up for the long run, not settle back into complacency and a feeling of powerlessness, and can effectively hold off the guy on the other side of the door.

Why are we so mad at you?
Should be obvious.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Brushes with greatness

What a strange time to be American.

There are lots of tense, anxious people milling about my life.  My favorite timesuck, Facebook, no longer serves as the pleasant brain numbing diversion it used to be.  It is instead a swirling outraged cesspool of fighting people. I'll admit I dove into fights more often than I wanted to, unable to keep my fingers off the keys as the steam blew out my ears. I blame it on my Aries nature. Damn fire signs can't resist a good blood boiling fight even though we regret it nearly immediately afterwards.

For the record, I'm with her.  And not in a "lesser of two evils" kind of way.  I firmly, adamantly, 100% believe in Hillary Clinton and her suitability for and commitment to the role of President.  She is awesome with a near lifetime of experience and has dealt with a ton of shit, as most women have.

Bonus -- she is made of steel, as a President, male or female, should be and is not prone to Twitter fights at 2:00a.m if she gets her feelings hurt.

I can say those words, that I support Hillary Clinton, but some things speak volumes more than words ever could.  For instance, I am such a fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton, I donned an ugly pantsuit to go hear her speak at Seattle's Paramount Theatre.

Many friends and family members have politely mentioned my pantsuit, purchased off Ebay from a woman named Laverne in Missouri, may not be my size nor style.  The pickins were slim on Ebay, people, and I know pantsuits aren't my thing, but you definitely can't question that I'M SUPER WITH HER.

The ladies and I were popular at the Hillary event.  We assumed there would be many pantsuits yet we were the only ones.  Many approached and asked if they could take our picture, including the people running Patty Murray's senate re-election campaign, which was very exciting indeed because we love Senator Murray, too.

It could have been the pantsuits that made us stand out, sure, but it also could have been the fact we were the only ones pounding beers in the Paramount lobby before noon. We nasty women were PUMPED and wearing PANTSUITS.

Hillary walked onto that stage like a rock star to a theatre full of lifelong fans.  It must have been nice for her to stop in Seattle, to know that she was not going to have to sway us in any way, that we've been with her from the beginning in our happy liberal enclave.

This will all be over tomorrow, though we live with the dreadful thought nothing is truly "over" and that this is merely a sign of angry and scary things to come.  Like I said, weird time to be an American.

It was one of our finest moments, Seattle Mom.
In our pantsuits, storm bearing down upon the city, 
holding our "Yes we can" signs in front of two very lonely Trump supporters, 
and "I'M WITH HER" emblazoned upon the marquee. 

If you thought Hillary was the only greatness I've brushed up against lately, in the words of Donald Trump -- "WROOONG."

A couple of the ladies and I signed up for Kam Chancellor's bootcamp.  Kam Chancellor is one of our favorite Seattle Seahawks, a member of our Superbowl winning Legion of Boom. You've probably already assumed (correctly) we signed up more to meet Kam Chancellor than exercise.  Exercise is hard.

Kam is a great player and reputedly an all around nice person.  Kam wants to start his own gym in Seattle so he and his trainer have been holding bootcamps all over the city to drum up a following. I'm not sure what made us think we could keep up with a professional football player and his trainer in a workout kind of way but it made sense at the time.

I texted Supermodel Neighbor, who is the biggest Seahawks fan I know, the news, thinking he'd be excited for me.  "I'm going to work out with Kam Chancellor!" I wrote with many exclamation points.  He texted back, "Ha ha ha ha what were you thinking?  You're gonna die."

My friends are not always the most supportive but they are quite honest and don't seem to believe in me too much.

Long story short, I didn't die.  Even better than not dying -- Kam Chancellor hugged me when I introduced myself at the beginning of the session.  It made me swoon a little bit because he is a very tall and handsome man with an incredible smile.  While the ladies and I listened to his intro speech, Seattle Mom leaned over and whispered, "Oooh, no wedding ring!" as if we actually had a shot at dating the guy.

Yet suddenly in that moment, we all believed we did.

Kam came around and gave pointers while we worked out.  He hollered at me to grab my ankles during an abdominal exercise (no way, buddy) and told me to keep my butt up during my planking circuit.  He's such a flirt.

You had to pay extra money to get a picture with Kam afterwards and we are cheap so the best I could do was stage this Kam photobomb with two of the ladies as he walked through the gym --

It's enough.  We were there and he's our favorite strong safety

There was one more brush with greatness that week though it wasn't mine, it was Alex's.  Alex traveled up to Toronto for his work where he met Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.  I'm not allowed to talk about Alex's work on the blog but we made an exception for this one as long as I "keep it vague."  No problem, I'm vague all the time -- for just one example, my myriad of friends all named "Seattle Mom."

Alex couldn't wait to tell me Justin Trudeau is super charming, as if it was going to be a surprise.  We have several pictures of Alex with Trudeau and there's video of Trudeau saying, "Merci, Alex" after Alex's introduction, which made Alex swoon a little bit because Justin Trudeau is also a very tall and handsome man with an incredible smile.

Alex works too hard.  But his job does come with occasional perks.

I had to do what I had to do to be able to post this pic.
It's a spooky little thing now but it proves it happened.

I held my annual Halloween party a.k.a "the parents with babysitters gone wild party."  It was the biggest one I've thrown so far, and was also the most fun because I finally got the playlist right so people danced until their costumes fell apart.

There were many celebrities to be found at the party.  There was Hillary, of course, getting grabbed by the pussy, of course, by Donald Trump --

(actually two Trumps, though one Trump was losing his hair.  It was quite late by this time so people were becoming a little unkempt) 

John Travolta and Uma Thurman were there reprising their Vince and Mia roles from Pulp Fiction --

that's me and Al in our debut "couples" costume.  It's usually not our thing
but how do you turn down a Pulp Fiction idea.
PS.  That syringe in my heart hurt like a bitch.

And my personal favorite, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne.  
No surprise, these two Halloween superstar friends bring it every year.

This next one is not a VIP in the world but he was a VIP in our hearts, at least for a brief time. A storm hit Seattle not too long ago and right as it began, as the wind began whipping stuff around the neighborhood, the kids and I found an injured bird in our front yard.  We debated what to do and ended up shuffling the bird to a protected corner of the house shielded from the wind.  We gave him a little of Stella's parakeet seed and hoped for the best.  We also named him Bob.

Bob survived the night then hung around for a few days in the front yard in that corner.  We kept Natani on a leash so she wouldn't eat him, which upset her greatly because she wanted to eat him very badly.  A couple days later, he was gone.

We hoped he had recovered from his injury and flown off instead of being eaten by a raccoon but we weren't sure until he showed up on the front porch the next day and sat there for hours staring at our front door.  Bob was alive!  And Bob wanted more seed. Bob liked Stella's seed very much.  We gave him a little bit more seed and he flew off.  He was back again the next morning for breakfast.


This went on for a couple more days until Bob was suddenly wracked with gastrointestinal distress.  He had explosive diarrhea all over our front porch several times then flew off, never to return.  Parakeet seed may not agree with pigeon systems, or whatever kind of bird Bob was.  We're not sure if we killed him with our parakeet seed or just gave him a bad enough stomachache he thought, "F*ck those people" and bailed.

Hope you're well, Bob.  Our intentions were good, I swear.

OK, I'm off to be American, which at this point means quivering and counting the seconds until tomorrow is over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Everything but the kitchen sink

This is a kitchen sink post and a long one at that. I'm throwing everything in this one, none of it connected and none of it relevant to the news of the day.  Thank God for that; nobody wants to further discuss the news of the day because wow, what a shitshow.  

So school's back in session. My kids are older and wiser, their fresh little smiley faces heading out the door for a great new school year.  A friend on Facebook circulated the following article to help us "prepare healthy lunches!" for the new school year.  Brimming with back-to-school energy and enthusiasm, I clicked on the link.  I found the article immensely helpful.  (It's hard to tell in writing but that last sentence was sarcasm at its most exaggerated.)

As I stand late at night in the kitchen packing the following day's lunches, I conjure the following phrases: "Hudson has always loved Asian flavors" and "Maca is a Peruvian superfood; look for it in powdered form at health food stores" and my personal favorite, "The slightly sweet addition of mirin, a small amount of sugar, and (optional) dashi broth, transforms eggs in the most comforting of ways."

I then send a couple quick faux apologies up to my kids asleep in their beds and toss a couple stale bagels, devoid of cream cheese because we're out again, into their lunchboxes.

Maybe I should try packing lunches like Goop suggests just one time. It wouldn't be for health reasons; it would be more for entertainment. I like to picture Lucien's face should he crack open his lunch to find a Japanese sweet omelet and some lemon tamari dipping sauce for his pickled vegetables.  I can hear the incredulous "WHAT THE HELL, MOM......what is this pretentious crap......well, at least the eggs are comforting with that sweet addition of mirin."

I'm not entirely immune. I will admit to getting sucked into a tiny bit of parental overkill.  Coco recently had a birthday and requested a circus party.  I booked a party at SANCA, our local School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (we got it all in Seattle, trust it) and vowed to "keep it simple."  I was not going to bake anything, cook anything.  I was going to buy a tray of cupcakes, a few bags of pretzels, maybe some juice boxes if I was feeling generous.  Have some fun, throw a few bags of popcorn at them, get it done, that was the plan.

Then Coco said quietly, "Oh. I was hoping for a real birthday cake" and something immediately switched inside me.  Of course she needed a real birthday cake!  Yes!  Baking and lots of it!  Now!

I'm weird like that, can be very all-or-nothing.  I'm either in front leading the parade or I'm hiding in the corner hissing at people.  Hanging out in the middle doesn't last long for me so I went from "I'm not baking a damn thing and they can deal with it" to "I'm gonna bake the best birthday cake that girl has ever seen, it's gonna blow her dang mind" in a matter of seconds.

The next events were as follows, in chronological order --

*Log on to Pinterest*
*Search for a circus cake*
*Regret logging on to Pinterest*
*Feel bad about myself*

Well way to go, Lucas, lucky you.
PS. The number on top tells me Lucas is turning 1.
He is never going to remember this cake
which tells me you are not baking this cake for Lucas at all.

What is a Hezry?
Do you think they just mis-spelled Henry, accidentally flipped the "N" on its side?
 I like to think they did -- less perfect.
(Hez(n)ry, by the way, is also turning 1, though this cake seems more reasonable)

what fresh hell is this.

Pinterest is full of overachievers. I quickly abandoned Pinterest and instead Googled "easy birthday cake recipes" where I stumbled across the rainbow cake idea.  Perfect.  I threw myself into its creation.  A rainbow cake is a six layer cake, each layer a different color of the rainbow.  It took a long time. There was fondant and sprinkles involved. I was sweating profusely by the end.

It ended up being the tallest cake in existence because I didn't shave down my layers sufficiently.  It tipped over halfway through the cutting and serving, no longer able to stand on its own.  It was a top heavy rainbow sonofabitch.

But Coco was happy.  And I do love to see my Coco girl happy.

Speaking of Coco, we're a little concerned.  Alex took Coco to a video arcade recently that had one of those claw machines -- the machines that are rigged to rarely, if ever, let you win anything.  Still, she tried.  And tried.

Coco had been given a set amount of money to use at the arcade and it was dwindling quickly.  Alex tried to reason with her, explained the claws are intentionally weak-springed so they don't hold onto toys very well and suggested maybe it was time to try another game. She stopped speaking to Alex after that, stopped making eye contact, just kept pumping quarters into the claw game.  I soon thereafter received a text that said, "Help. Coco is like a degenerate gambler."

She came home with a stuffed animal she won from the claw game and a smug smile on her face. Coco has an iron will -- which should bode well for her, except that sometimes she can also be unreasonable.    

Speaking of gambling, Alex and I went to Snoqualmie Casino awhile ago with a couple friends.  We are not casino people but thought it would be fun to try something different. Even better, we decided to take the casino bus from Seattle instead of driving.  We pictured the casino bus as being a fun time -- champagne flowing and upbeat music playing for festive bus riders and whatnot. The casino bus was a total party in our minds.

The casino bus is not a total party.  It is the opposite.  The casino bus is a silent, kind of depressing thing full of mostly elderly people, half of whom are asleep.

The casino itself was also not fun.  After our initial shocked gasps at all the smoking happening inside the casino (it's on a Native American reservation so they make their own smoking rules) we promptly bought a pack of cigarettes, giggling like teenagers giddy with rule breaking.  None of us have smoked a cigarette in years so we all immediately coughed up a lung and took turns saying, "Oh my god, this is so gross."  We tossed the pack but still -- rebels!

Alex very quickly lost a lot of money at the blackjack table so he retreated to the corner with us where we played nickle slots and drank alcohol until it was time to grab the bus back to Seattle.  If you think the casino bus is depressing on the way to the casino, just wait until the trip back home. That is one silent bummer of a loser bus.

Here are more happenings in the past few months I never wrote about.  It's a lengthy list, forgive me, but I feel compelled to document these things, even if just in a crappy iPhone photo way.

The kids and I met this guy walking his pet lizard on a leash in South Lake Union --

it was not a fast walk for man and lizard, more an aimless mosey

We went on our annual camping trip with our friends, no wind storm this time --

Then we went camping with our friends again --

North Cascades National Park, by the way, is stunning

We played euchre at night by a lantern covered in a beanie hat --

One evening, Bobo fell asleep like this as I was putting Lucien to bed. We laughed at him pretty hard; he was barely hanging onto that log, just look at his little legs --

By morning, he had fallen off but was still asleep.
Bearded dragons are the chillest of animals

I learned how to play mahjong with the ladies--

and now I am hooked

We still have a sweet and funny though frustrating dog --

Natani the Navajo dog is not allowed on the couch
but she likes being on the couch very much
and sneaks up onto it at every opportunity.

We had a back-to-school party at our house involving a ukulele band --

We ate tacos, sang along, later had a water balloon fight in the yard  
We called it the back to school taco-lele party
and it was glorious.

Our friend Seattle Dad wore this amazing hat that one time --

Yep, I'm still going.  I still have more.

I went up to the top of Smith Tower for the third time, for the last Tower Sessions concert. The Tower Sessions are private concerts, held once a month in the apartment at the top of historical Smith Tower --

I will miss this concert series.  
I will miss the music but will miss most of all climbing all those ladders
and spiral staircases and catwalks 
to get to the very top.  

Below is a picture of the gorgeous Smith Tower, completed in 1914.  It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until the 1930's when something taller was built in Kansas, I think  --

The stunning private "lighthouse"apartment at Smith Tower is the pyramid shape at the top.  It's owned by a tiny dynamo of a woman named Petra and her children, and is where the concert series was held.  The glowing glass ball at the very very tippy top is where we were for these next couple pictures. It's a long way to climb and a small hole to squeeze through to get up into the glass globe but if you can make it, it's worth the effort --

My inlaws were recently here for a visit.  My mother-in-law had a birthday during their stay and we celebrated by inviting some friends for dinner, including a messy though delicious guest named Dungeness Crab, which we ripped apart like the disgusting animals we are.  I love the taste of crab but the process of eating it can be unsettling.

Alex and I took off for a few days while my in-laws took care of the kid wrangling.  We took the RV over to Port Townsend, a picturesque Victorian town on the Olympic Peninsula.

We stayed in a mini castle at nearby Fort Worden.  The "castle" was an odd place.  It was once a single family home with a single bedroom so we were the only ones in it for the night.  As soon as we entered, I said, "This place feels weird." Later, as we walked around the grounds outside the castle, I said, "It feels like someone's watching us, do you see anybody?"  Alex concurred, said he felt a little twitchy and tense himself.

On a whim, I looked up the castle on my phone --

You betcha it's haunted!  
Or so say some people. 
It was not a great night of sleep.

We spent one night in the castle then switched to the nearby Fort Worden campground on the beach where we promptly locked our keys inside the RV.  The tow truck driver our insurance company sent as part of our roadside assistance package couldn't jimmy the window enough to get the wedge thing and the metal thing in to pop the lock.

The tow truck driver scratched his head and mentioned he knew a guy who was "good with locks" in town.  It's not as shady as it sounded at first -- the lock guy is a retired police detective who now works part time as a locksmith.  He was also one of the most cheerful guys I've ever had the pleasure of coming across; he looked a bit like John Denver with that round shiny face and big smile.

Smiley John Denver Lock Guy got into our RV in less than ten seconds using a pair of tweezers and a tiny pick.  We did not give him our home address.  He seemed very nice but still, not taking any chances there.

Fort Worden as a whole is kind of an eerie place.  It's an old fort abandoned after WWII and turned into a state park, and is mostly empty now that we're headed into the off season. Although eerie, it's a cool place. You can stay in the old barracks and officers' homes at Fort Worden, and have a nice meal and a drink in the old jail.

If it looks vaguely familiar, Fort Worden is also where An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed -- and now we're all thinking about a beautiful shirtless young Richard Gere.  At least I know I am.

OK, I think I'm done now.  That was a lot of catching up.  As for our Mexico City news, it's more complicated than not complicated.  As of right now, there are no openings in the international schools but there "may" be openings in the near future.  This makes it very difficult to plan.

Applications are filed with a handful of schools and now we wait.  If the schools come through, we're gone in the new year, perhaps with very little advance notice.  If they don't come through, sorry, Seattle suckers, you're stuck with us.  Or at least you're stuck with me and the kids and you'll see Alex every other weekend.  Ouch.

All righty, off to tackle those homemade sushi roll lunches,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mexico City Part Three: Julio learns to love

It's a trilogy.  Part One of Mexico City is here, Part Two here.

Did I get lost in Mexico City again?  Yes, I did.  Did I text our driver, Julio, with a panicked, "I'm not sure where you are or where I am, help me" message?  Yes, it's true.  Did Coco throw up in the car again?  Thank the Aztec Gods, no.

Coco throwing up in the car, horrifying as it was, was a real turning point in my relationship with Julio.  Once you've dealt with that together, the ice is most definitely broken.  Once you've made horrified faces at each other, flapped your arms like panicked birds together, and tripped over flustered words in your respective languages together, you're bonded for life.  

The next morning, when we once again braved the car, I brought plastic bags. I put my hand up, did not let Julio move the car an inch until the kids had bags held up to their mouths.  I yelled, "Bag!" Julio laughed so hard at that, I at first thought he was crying because we were in his car again.

Julio and I began yelling in unison, "Bag! Bag! Bag!" every day after that, especially when traffic got hairy and Julio got swervy.  I stockpiled plastic grocery bags, always had at least a dozen in my purse.

I promised Coco cotton candy one day if she didn't get sick in the car
I realize that doesn't make much sense
It also wasn't very helpful
because cotton candy just makes a different kind of mess

The kids and I visited the Anthropology Museum, a museum that boasts being the best anthropology museum in the world.  What we learned from our visit is humans are fascinating, and also pretty creepy and quite mean.

The kids enjoyed the dioramas of ancient people getting gored by animals

My favorite part of the museum was the Stone of the Sun.  It was huge, impressive, terrifying with its center ancient god and his tongue shaped like a dagger.  From what I understood, gladiators fought on the Stone of the Sun and the loser was then sacrificed upon it.

And the laughs keep coming at the Museum of Anthropology!

I hoped to find a replica of the Stone of the Sun in the gift shop.  I found one, all right, but it was a large-ish solid slab of stone and weighed about 20 pounds.  I debated for quite some time; we still had a couple sights to see that day before Julio picked us up and how was I going to get to them, let alone enjoy them, carrying a large rock?

I had put the heavy Stone of the Sun back down and resigned myself to the smaller six-inch version made of lightweight plaster when Lucien piped up: "Mom, YOLO. Get the one you want, get the big one, we can do it." I love that kid; he often provides clarity when I'm getting bogged down in stupid, worthless worry.  He was absolutely right.  I bought the big one.

Lucien volunteered to carry the stand, which was almost as heavy as the stone itself.  We dragged our bags down the street and through the park, stopping to rest every few minutes for a breather because sure, YOLO, but also, we can't feel our arms anymore.

The next stop was the castle high on the hill.  I was dreading the walk up to the castle with the Stone of the Sun in tow but -- merciful Mexico! -- there was a stand of storage lockers at the base of the hill.  The Stone of the Sun fit perfectly in the largest one.  We climbed up to the castle laughing and feeling light as feathers.

I enjoy these next two pictures because they're a real slice of life and a great illustration of how light-as-a-feather moods can turn on a dime.  My kids began fighting soon after we arrived at the castle for reasons that were never quite clear. Take a look at these two pictures (there are two because the kids refused to stand next to each other by that time) and take a guess -- who was bugging who just for giggles?  Who was pushing every button they could think of just to upset the other person? And who was being very, very effective in these efforts?

Don't feel too badly for her.  The expressions are just as often reversed with these two.

An hour outside Mexico City lies Teotihuacan, the ancient village and site of many pyramids. It was my favorite place we visited, too bad I'm cramming it in here at the end where it won't be given the time and energy it deserves because I'm getting sick of writing about this trip and would like to wrap it up.

Teotihuacan was definitely the kids' favorite. We climbed the biggest pyramid, the Pyramid of the Sun, early in the morning before the crowds arrived.  It was hard work on the legs, and a little tense (for the mom, anyway) given the steep and seemingly endless stairs.  I pretty much just yelled, "Be careful!" constantly.

Later in the day, after a lot of sun and heat, we may have gotten delirious at Teotihuacan.  This is us touring the ruins of a noble's house --

Coco is pretending to go to the bathroom on that rock because she thought it looked like a toilet. Lucien is doing God only knows what.

We also climbed to the top of the smaller pyramid, the Pyramid of the Moon, where Lucien once again began complaining about his old man aches and pains

Lucien declaring, "I'm going to sit on this old crap now, I'm sick of walking around."

just chillin' on a pyramid

The last noteworthy tourist attraction I'd like to mention is Frida Kahlo's house, La Casa Azul.  Frida grew up in the house and later lived there with her husband, artist Diego Rivera.

La Casa Azul is a very special place. It is both a museum showcasing Frida's art and her home, which introduces you to the more intimate parts of her life -- her physical ailments, her clothing, her complicated relationship with Diego, her various braces for what she called, "a body less than perfect."

Everything in Frida's studio is where she left it when she died, per Diego's orders.  Their personal artifacts are still scattered throughout the house. It feels like Frida and Diego are still living there, like they've just stepped out for a moment and we should make ourselves at home while waiting for their return.

Strolling around the charming neighborhood of Coyoacan

I just noticed there is another goddamn Sanborns behind them in this picture
Should I stand in front of it and text Julio in a panic for old time's sake?

After Frida's house, we loaded up on souvenirs at the stalls of the Coyoacan mercado.  I bought a couple handmade Dia de los Muertos figures from a very silent man.  It took him half an hour to wrap each one; they were so fragile, there was much concern they would not make it home in one piece.  

(Spoiler: they didn't.  They arrived home in many pieces.  I spent hours gluing their tiny slender fingers back on with a pair of tweezers and a q-tip full of super glue.  They next day the dude fell over and lost an entire arm in several places.  It could be a losing battle.)

keep your parts on, people

Julio drove us to the airport our final morning and hugged us all twice.  He even looked a little emotional as he ruffled the kids' hair a final time, winked at me and yelled, "Bag!"  I like to believe Julio came to love us but I didn't ask him outright.  

The Loosh was right.
I'm happy when I see it everyday. for this.  Our trip to Mexico City wasn't exactly a whim; Alex and I are in active talks with his employer about a temporary move to Mexico City, just for a little bit.  It wouldn't be a long bit, not like a Paris-three-year bit. It would be maybe six months, maybe a little more.

Our trip to Mexico City was a reconnaissance mission.  Could the kids and I live there happily while Alex hammers out what he must do for work?  I think we can.  The city is nutballs but we love Mexico.  How can you not love Mexico??  They put black sauce in their beers to make them spicy, you guys!

plus, delicious enchiladas verdes
(we miss you, Rosa)

There are many hurdles.  Houses, pets, schools, visas, etc. We are beginning the visa application process, beginning the Mexico City school application process.  We're going to give it a try.

Ex-pats 4-ever, or at least ex-pats once in awhile 4-ever,