Wow, it just occurred to me that I haven’t talked about our family vacation !!! How can I not share a 2,000 Miles road trip to the land where one of the most popular songs is: ‘Whiskey in my water’?
After last year’s post-vacation meltdown, I was adamant that this year was going to be 360 degrees different and I had a checklist to keep my eyes on the ball:
– No flying – CHECK. We were going to drive so if the kids loose it we will be able to stop and let them have a total freak out while I drink wine or eat chips (my number one food comfort)
– Go somewhere I cannot be judged on my parenting skills in high stress situations – CHECK. We were traveling to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, bystanders probably will have no fucking clue of what ‘tu vas arrêter de faire chier ou pas????’ means and DOUBLE CHECK since we were renting a beach house with our friend Rafa, dad of two, who as a good old Marseillais swears like a truck driver. And thus cannot possibly judge me by the number of times I say FUCCCKKK!!!!
– Travel with child free and zen master/helper/masochist/friend who can suffer 50 renditions of ‘Let it go’ belted out by a trashier/less talented Von Trapp family without wincing – CHECK. Our girlfriend Maro from Berlin agreed to carpool from NYC. The girl is a top finance executive and a rock band drummer. We are a lightweight challenge for her…Plus I have checked and there were no major international airports between DC and Miami thus a reduced likelihood to dump us at a local mama’s fried chicken dinner.
What I love about road trips besides the fact my 3 kids are restrained in their car seats 4 hours a day is that you really get to discover the country you visit and in this instance, the very country I do now live in. And I have indeed learnt many,many things:
– Americans have this reputation of never traveling overseas. Europeans are often gobsmacked by this fact and often use it to evidence ill placed superiority. I now understand better why they don’t travel overseas: each state is really like a freaking different country…In the space of 2 weeks, we traveled to Gritty Philly, Complex Virginia between North and South, Rugged North Carolina, Laid Back South Carolina, Proud Romantic Georgia and for some reasons though the time zone has not changed I felt I had to adjust.
– Indians had no horses – originally! They used to travel by foot until the Spanish conquistadores brought horses into the country. Can you believe this? This fact just floored me. I hate you John Wayne.
– People don’t ‘mix’ in some states. I keep bragging about how every single kid the age of my children is of mixed cultural heritage in my neighborhood Well…Down in the South, blonde people are really, really blonde and black people are really, really black. And they don’t sit at the same tables. I swear. And then, I remembered that interracial marriages was legalized in those states less than 50 years ago in this part of the States. Blimey. I got a whole new understanding/appreciation for the civil rights movement in this country and of why it is a fucking big deal that Obama was twice elected president. Anyway, people on the beach could not figure out our crowd like AT ALL. What are these people: the mix raced couple with 3 ‘Chinese’ children, the Aryan lookalike family and the single child free almost 40 year old woman. An why do they ‘speak Cajun’?
– Americans do the beach differently to Europeans. They are fucking pros: 3 coolers on wheels, a gigantic gazebo that protects 6 adults, 4 teenagers, 3 toddlers, 6 foldable chairs, beers, food for the whole day, music player, planned activities american football for mornings, volleyball with proper nets for afternoons, tanning with feet in the ocean during low tide, BBQ for sunset. Meanwhile our crew of 5 adults and 5 tots were fighting over 1 seat/cooler placed under the one and only umbrella when we were not busy pushing ‘going to fall apart’ strollers on the sand…All this plus the non stop ‘Tu vas arreter, oui????'(‘are you going stop??? in a very, very loud voice) did set us apart. LOSERS. The funniest thing is that – unbeknownst to us when we booked our vacation – staying in Hilton Head Island meant a certain etiquette, savoir-vivre and bank account …so our fellow beach goers were rather dismayed by the bunch of tramps we were.
– P thinks that her twerking in our home bathtub is actual swimming, which is a problem when you rent a house with a not child safe swimming pool. I will spare you the drama…but yeah…Parent of the year award
– DH does not know the difference between a dolphin and a thin shark and thought it was clever to flap the water to call out a ‘dolphin’ while swimming with G. Someone will have to/be made to rewatch Blue Planet.
On this note, I shall finish with a list of country songs titles from the Highway radio. Hope all of you are having a kick ass summer! Xoxo
Made in America
Whiskey in my water
I am in hurry
Like a cowboy
Kiss me when I am down
Keep them kisses coming
Small town throwdown
(I am getting) Drunk on a plane
Hungover [please do appreciate that this song often followed the one title above – gotta love country music radios]
That s how we do summertime
I don’t dance
Country girl (shake it for me)
Hope you get lonely tonight
This is an unusual post because it is trying to skim through what has been a helluva two weeks. It feels as if I had been fleshed down to the bones. And as I am slowly putting back my (protective) layers one after the other, I cannot help but feel slightly at loss. I realize that I sound as if I have smoked some crack or started moonlighting as a call girl. What I am trying to say I guess, is that I have been striping bare my emotions’ barricades and this uneases me. It seems totally paradoxical since I am writing a fairly voyeuristic blog (with its own load of family pictures and dirty secrets). But in real life, I like to keep my emotions in check or at least I try, when there are people watching. And I totally failed to do so last week.
Here was the context: a one week long celebration of 2 joint birthdays (your very own redlipstickmama and her ‘twin’, DH), 3 joint Catholic baptisms (G, P, L), a reunion with BFFs from Australia after almost 3 years apart and a reunion with FiLs (Folks in Law) from France after a somewhat intense last encounter this summer. Can you already see a meltdown in the making?
So many raw feelings…And now that all is done and has gone, I feel empty. I thus have a total writing BLOCK. I really started to freak out and thought:‘is that it? Is this all I got in me? Am I getting sick of ‘hearing’ myself talk/rant?’. I also wondered: ‘If Natasha lived here, would I need redlipstickmama?’.
I feel purposeless. Not unlike my basketball team actually, the New York Knicks, who have an atrocious start this season: they are uninspired, lazy, tedious, and I bet frustrated. I thought I would do a recap of my last 2 weeks a la NBA game recap. And maybe the Knicks and I can then both get out of this streak.
FINAL SCORE: 2 and a half baptized children, 2 (at least) birthday celebrations, 1 karaoke night, too much way too much food and booze, 60 candied almonds boxes handmade, 60 people lifting us during the kids’ christening, 7 handmade flower arrangements, 4 hours of sleep a night, 1 screaming fit, …and tears, enough of them to last until…the next round of sleepless nights I guess.
KEY FACTS :
The catholic church in Harlem where our kids were baptized is still standing and did not burn despite the fact that:
– 2 godparents are gay men,
– 1 godparent assured she was baptized somehow somewhere in Papua New Guinea,
– the children’s mother cursed something like 50 times in her first 5 minutes inside the church
– and the baptized children tried very hard to strangle each other during the pastoral sermon…over cheerios.
Also, L might not be completely baptized because I had to flee with him after 1h45 of religious service. The poor child could not take it anymore. Turns out that unbeknownst to
us me, he thus missed the lighted candle part i.e. the promise to renounce evil. This is slightly worrying since out of of our 3 children, L is the one who most displays the traits akin to an underworld kingpin: chubby, charismatic, remorseless, bully etc.
Finally, Natasha and I should still never be allowed to get dressed together. Both our DHs would agree to put a lifetime ban on this.
The friends. You think you have some and then you know you have scored great ones when they slave all day to cook a stellar birthday dinner from scratch, clean your house, set a beautiful table and treat you with a spa massage (childcare included). Yep I teared up a little a bit.
During a wild karaoke night at Thor’s and Archibald’s, the doorman, after probably some complaints from the old cranky neighbor below, called in and said:
‘Hi it’s Dominic from downstairs. There’s some loud music apparently on your floor. Is it you guys?
To which, Thor (genuinely) replied: ‘No, we did not order Domino’s pizza. Thanks.’ before hanging up…
No comment on the amount of Cosmopolitans and Lychee-tinis consumed that night.
I guess I was simmering deep down: the stress about the upcoming baptism as the list of attendees was growing and growing, the anxiety about our Aussie friends soon leaving to go back to their sunny skies, swimming pool and of course beautiful kiddos, and the energy required not to react to some of my in-laws’ comments about the kids. And then of course in the middle of the week, I snapped like a demented woman, as I do…occasionally.
It all started funny: Jacques my father in law (FiL) was having a childish argument with his 19 month old grandson, L. It became snarky when FiL made an off the cuff remark about how apparently ‘in ‘this’ house, children are allowed to touch EVERYTHING, anyway…’. It then became awkward: I started to bark ‘oh yeah, what does this mean???? You know what, you are right I am going to freaking put these kids in CAGES, all of them in freaking CAGES!!!’. It ended completely crazy like a scene of a Tarantino movie when bullets are fired super quickly and then explode in slow motion making a whole bunch of Yakuzas bleed to death. In other words, I lost it like a tot having a tantrum and I threw some kind of cubes on the floor except that it was not the floor I hit …but my freaking MiL (mother in law). That’s right, my MiL! And I used to be their favorite ‘brought into the family’ person. God knows what they’ll say behind my back now. Oh well…At least the air got cleared out. Everyone was whispering after my outburst – scared to death I might stab someone. Very quiet house.
‘You are sooooooo boring!!!’ dixit Natasha who refused to leave the dance floor of the Red Rooster downstairs club. We were all drunk and all tired but she was adamant:’You are so boring; just leave me here!!! I’ll find my way home.’ That’s when I looked at Anthony, her DH, and told him: ‘Do you think we can smack her so she loses consciousness and then carry her into a yellow cab?’ I got worried when he thought about it for 5 minutes before cooly stating:’Not sure we would get away with it.’
Can I set the record straight right here, right now? I am many, many things but no one has ever called me boring. EVER. Crazy woman that Natasha 🙂
The amount of love we felt when parading our children down the aisle in the church. I did not get married in church so I must admit I got overwhelmed about the waves of positive energy, the known and unknown friendly faces popping up here and there, the soft touches on our shoulders as we passed by. Our (or should I say DH’s and the kids’) local catholic community is actually awesome! So Harlem too: full of laughs, humor and energy!
6 (then sober) adults standing (2 parents and 4 god parents) supposedly minding both spiritually and practically 3 kids in the Church but somehow L managed to fall flat face on the marble steps, cut his eyebrow and bled a little right just before receiving the Holy water…Did I mention L also being the one half-baptized? In the eyes of some, this kid is probably screwed. Attaboy 🙂
THINGS TO WATCH:
I might have developed a crush on old Pastor Nolan. He is such a sweet and simple man and did not seem to mind that I am not a Christian and swear like a truck driver.
In the midst of all this drama, I had two notable encounters with the glitzy crowd of New York that you might find funny and/or obnoxious of me. But hey…I am in the middle of a writer’s block, so yep I am going to do some name dropping. So, at the Red Rooster, handsome and brilliant chef Markus Samuelsson went out of his way to congratulate Natasha and I on our style and to welcome us personally to his restaurant. He served as guest chef for the first state dinner of the Barack Obama presidency. His hand that touched my hand touched the hand of BO! Completely dork-ed out by this fact. That was my VIP moment of the month.
My second encounter was less glamorous and more VAP (Very Awkward Person). During a work meeting, I created a commotion by banging my forehead against the marble bar countertop (what is it about the marble and my family???) leading the barman to apply some ice on my head and all this witnessed by a very calm Meg Ryan casually eating a soup behind me…Meg Ryan=laid back, Redlipstickmama=prima donna
1- Devise a plan for Natasha and Anthony’s family to move over here. Maybe when their children get over their ‘we love the sun and the space’ phase and get New York brainwashed by all those shows and sitcoms claiming that a shoe box studio here is way better that a sunny villa with swimming pool…hum.
2- Find what religious materials my in laws left in our apartment to guide us guide the kids towards God. So far
we have: a nativity scene (very cute one by the way), a bible for children, a book on baptisms, an Advent calendar…I am so going to check under my bed for a statue of the Virgin Mary.
How was your week?
Below amazing pictures from talented Helene, our photographer for the day who captured so beautifully this special day. Check out her stunning work on her site.