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very bad trip.



winter blues.
We don't get out much. Well, at least not at night. Once the sun sets, it's as if we have to rush back in before the cast of the Thriller video come out for a flesh-eating dance-off. With the exception of dinners hosted by other parents who have small beings, or hosting for said parents, our social life since 2015 is not as fluid as it once was. 


I used to think new parents only wanted to spend time with other new parents just so they can sit around and talk about being parents. But no, that's not it. We gravitate towards new parents so we can actually socialize while tricking our kids into thinking the evening is about them. "Do you want to play with Marcus tonight?" is code for "Mommy and Daddy want to get drunk with Marcus' parents tonight." And the only way the deception is effective is with another child, an out-of-the-way playroom and a Netflix account on standby once the kids start fighting over a toy your child hasn't touched since he was 9 months old. 


Case in point: We had one of Aurélien's colleagues over for dinner the other night and Georges treated him like a science project. With eyebrows pinched with suspicion, I could see Georges wondering two things. One: why was this guest not accompanied by a child? Because according to Georges' experience, all adults come with tiny counterparts. And two: what could he get away with since this lone wolf clearly did not know what a child was? The evening was more action-packed than usual with the playroom neglected since Aurélien's colleague proved to be much more interesting. Poor guy. I don't think he will be accepting any future invitations chez nous. 

When we received an invitation to celebrate the PACS (a civil union)of our two good friends, we decided to switch it up from playdate dinner parties and party like it was 2014. Back in Paris. With our friends who either don't have kids, don't want/like kids or left their kids at home. Fitting into the third profile, I grew giddy at the prospect of actually engaging in an unabridged conversation complete with follow-up questions and genuine interest! "What are we bringing to the party again?" Aurélien asked me the day before. "I told you," I shouted from the other room, "A bottle of Champagne and genuine interest." 

The plan was set. At exactly 16:30 Central European Time we dropped Georges off at Mémé's (much to the light objection from Aurélien's mother, this is the name Georges has chosen for her, which is the seldom-used sobriquet meaning Granny), our car had gas, and I had sequin jogging pants on. Before Mémé could even get an au revoir out, the car was screeching like Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell II out of her driveway. 

To tailor the words of the late Biggie to set the scene: we were going going, back back, to Par-ee Par-ee. I then put my damn hands up.

In the car we talked with great passion about where we'd grab a bite to eat before going to the party. Did we want to go up to Belleville for Chinese? Get a pulled pork burger near Bastille? Mexican in the Marais? As we fancied ourselves with the diverse culinary delights of Paris, we saw a car ahead of us swerving in and out of his lane and into ours. "I don't like the way this car is driving," I pointed the obvious out to Aurélien. "He's probably texting. Let's get away from him." Aurélien agreed and we moved a lane over to steer clear of the car's path in order to pass him. As we glided passed, I looked over to see if I was right about the texting. Instead of finding someone's head hovering over a phone, I saw a young guy, early 20s with a hooded sweatshirt over his ears looking around with twitchy eyes. Our eyes met and I motioned for him to pay attention to the road. He nodded in acknowledgment, we left him safely behind us feeling satisfied that he had learned his lesson from my little hand gesture. Hand over heart, I guess parenting never ends, I thought as I glanced back at the rearview mirror with pious introspection.   

So here's when I jump in and note that setups like these, whether in writing or in film make it obvious to the observer that these two characters are going to interact again (otherwise why would the twitchy driver be cast in the first place). But in real life, these random interactions are common and fleeting and don't usually develop into a life-altering event. Real life, regrettably, doesn't flag these foreshadows. 

Fifteen minutes later, "twitchy eyes" was already forgotten and we were still talking about food (He's French, I'm Italian. We just can't help ourselves. It's always going to be about the food.) As we entered the densely populated section of the A6, the highway stretched out to seven lanes with cars pouring in from several mergers, fusing the journey from the countryside of Seine-et-Marne to the southern banlieues (outer city neighborhoods) of Paris. Despite the increase in traffic, we noted how well it was moving, and considered and stopping at the Leroy- Merlin hardware store to pick up picture frames before dinner. We were just that unstoppable that night. 

Just as we were deciding if we were getting ahead of ourselves— I mean, hardware store, dinner, and a party? Who were we?— Aurélien looked in his rearview mirror and said, "Look at this guy—" and before he could complete the sentence, we were launched forward in full force from our car being plowed into from the back. Because we were already driving at 70 miles per hour and the car behind us was clearly moving much faster (the police report estimated he was going about 90), we lost complete control on the busy highway. Our car made several 360-degree turns while smashing into objects, with each impact being louder and longer than the one before. With each collision that felt like the metal was crunching in closer, I remember waiting for the impact that was going kill us. 

Once the thrashing finally stopped, we sat in a thick of smoke unable to see in front of us. Although I couldn't see him, the sound of Aurélien's coughing gave me great relief that he was still alive. I waved the smoke away to find him and together we sat hand-in-hand absorbing the aftermath; blood dripping down his face; the four deployed airbags drooping listlessly with exhaustion from doing their job and the highway still bustling around us. With the car beeping in panic, it began to fill with more smoke, the thought then occurred to me that it was on fire. 

Terrified we would burn to death, I hurriedly unfastened our seat belts. I then reached for the door handle to my right, only to realize it was above me, which was how I learned that our car was on its side. Once I kicked the heavy car door open above us with my leg, I crawled out to our next unpleasant discovery: we were hovering on the concrete highway divider with the traffic whipping past us in both directions. 

What no one tells you is that car doors are really heavy to operate when they are not in their upright position. Getting this thing open was what I imagine pushing open a sewer grate would be like. The door resisted my foot's attempt at keeping it open by pounding against my ankle and once I was able to turn around, just for good measure, it got me again against my back. I hopped down from the car, with just a second to allow my fingers to escape the door's path of fury before it slammed shut in Aurélien's face. 

Helplessly I stood outside the car, tears streaming down my face from having to leave Aurélien to free himself when who comes walking up along the highway? To the surprise of absolutely no one was "twitchy eyes". 

I knew it. 

"Are you okay?" he asked us in what I will grant him was sincere concern and fear. 

Are we okay? Well, let's recap here: I warned you earlier of your irresponsible driving and you almost killed us, so no, we're not really okay. "et toi?" I asked. Yeah, that's right. I was pissed so I was not going to speak formally and vousvoyer him. It was tutoyer from here on, buddy. I wasn't playing around here. 

Aurélien who is like Thomas Jay and can't see without his glasses made it out of the car and was wandering dangerously close to the moving traffic. Aurélien ordered the boy to go in the car and look for the glasses as we called for help. 

The traffic began to back up with all lanes congested, some cars kindly offering to help, and some cars distastefully filming us with their phones. As we waited together, the driver confessed to having not slept in five days and fell asleep at the wheel. When rehashing the events the next day to my brother on the phone he didn't buy the story the kid gave us of not sleeping from studying all week. 

"Studying all week?" He echoed skeptically. "I call Crystal Meth." Maybe. But I didn't want to believe it. "You don't get to call Crystal Meth," I said, feeling like I always do when I talk to my brother, an 11-year-old with braces. "Plus, they don't even do that here." My brother, now the expert of French drug statistics and habits sealed his theory with, "There are labs."  

As the night grew darker and colder, Aurélien and I huddled to protect against the cold January air and car exhaust we were breathing in, while the other driver sat awkwardly next to us on the concrete divider, cuddling no one. 

Once the disbelief wore off, the physical pain began to set in. My neck and entire left side of my back grew stiff and throbbed with pain, which after an MRI and two X-Rays were results of whiplash. And Aurélien's chest became immobile from his diagnosis of a cracked sternum. On the highway that night, we cried in relief that Georges was not with us, which was an anomaly because he is always with us. The what-ifs and could-haves continue to haunt us and have kept me pale ever since. 


When the pompiers and police arrived, we were taken away on stretchers. Aurélien in his wool coat destroyed from airbag burn and me still in my sequin joggers, which were now just ridiculous since our evening was going to be spent in the Emergency Room. Before we parted ways on our stretchers, I reached my hand over to Aurlién and said, "So I guess this means we're not getting that dinner, huh?" Because, like I said, it always goes back to the damn food. 

Thank you all for the kind notes many of you have sent via e-mail, text and Instagram regarding this accident. We are still in recovery with Aurélien having had to take the month off from work and my whiplash unleashing residual problems that will take time and sessions with our fantastic ostéopathe to heal. We are told by all of the doctors and specialists that we've seen that we are lucky to be here. We truly do feel lucky, loved and looked after by some higher power. 

bonjour again.

Je t'aime! I've never met a striped shirt I didn't like.

Well, bonjour there! It's me. Hi. 

Long time, long time. I know. A lot of has happened since we last caught up. A lot. If you follow me on Instagram (if not, you can catch me here or here) or have followed my posts with the The Expat Mom Experience on HiP, you'd know that we left the bright lights, big city of Paris and moved the Michaud crew out to the Seine-et-Marne region. Located only an hour by train from Paris, which doesn't seem so far, kind of like Long Island (Long Island, France, anyone? No? Okay.) but an hour away culturally-speaking, we might as well be in the deep countrysides of France. And I couldn't be more thrilled. So our neighbors have chickens, the cobblestones have a vendetta against my stroller, there are two restaurants (although, rumor has it, but you didn't hear it from me, that another one is opening), our supermarket takes an afternoon sieste and I pretty much see the same people every day, but it works. So much in fact that we moved out of our rental townhouse and purchased a home. So now with a 20-year mortgage, this better effing work. 

In the fall, I came down with the chicken pox. And it was pretty much fresh hell. I was out of commission for a good two months with aches, soul-crushing exhaustion and nasty blisters. Scarf season came in handy because I needed it to protect the population from my face. No one assumes in your mid-30s that you have the chicken pox, they will assume, however, you are faces of meth who probably shouldn't be pushing that stroller. I was often asked, and still am when the subject comes up, the same question: "Didn't you get it when you were little?" Apparently not. I even got vaxxed for them in 2012 when I was working with kids, so how I got them is truly my mystery of 2017. No, I take that back, for me the mystery, or perhaps the scandal of 2017 was how Omarosa was working in the White House, frighteningly involved in making policy and no one, including The View seemed to notice until recently. Omarosa, people. 

Moving on....I receive emails and messages on why I haven't been writing as much and if it's because I've lost interest. Or is it because I'm a mom now and have moved on. No and no. I actually do write when I squeeze a moment in, but nothing I've been confident in sharing. After taking some time off, I'm a little shy but I'm taking small steps back in.  

Going back to early 2015, when I found out I was pregnant, I felt like I had to rush and get "everything done" before life as I knew it would be over. I breathlessly sent unpolished manuscripts to agents thinking I could publish —what I now recognize in retrospect—a pretty awful book in 9 months. Some of this communiqué included spelling the agents name wrong, sending attachments like an embarrassing to-do list and meditation mantras, along other mistakes that illustrated a lack of focus. 

Excuse me while I slap my forehead in disgrace. 

I used to stare at the computer screen hoping to produce compositions of gold, or even a coherent grocery shopping list, but an hour of trying to will with Jedi might for my blank word document to manifest into Buy Buy Baby would go by with no words, just more distractions. After months of trying to force myself to be more interesting, I decided to concede to my current reality and buy the damn onesie. 

Some, perhaps most, women can do it all. Or maybe these are just famous and poreless Instagram people giving me a false sense of ambition? These enviable women who can really "lean in" and push forward, start or manage companies, host TED talks, have always fluffed throw pillows, make money without child care and be present at home while pregnant or nursing. I am not one of those people. After an honest conversation with myself, I've come to the scientific conclusion that I am shit at multitasking. And I think I'm just going to own it. To put it into context, in high school, you see, I could never get across the board good grades. It was always just one, maybe two subjects that would stand out as jewels on my report card, as my thumb strategically covered the other grades settled lower on the alphabet. Every semester I'd pick which subjects to be "good at" and math usually got snubbed because, well, math. 

What I learned when my son arrived was that life as I knew it was and is not over. It's just different. For the first time since Facebook I'm present, as I observe and participate in these first years of Georges. The transition to real time means never knowing where the hell my phone is, my computer battery always on low, the few moments I have to myself is spent sleeping or reading a paragraph in my book before sleeping, or preparing things like chicken stock from scratch because you can't buy it here pre-made in a carton. For some reason, this last one makes my mom laugh. Imagining her daughter who thought putting onions in her scrambled eggs was a culinary effort is now making freaking chicken stock, which prompts her to say every time, "My daughta the chefette!" 

But here I am. Hi. With Georges at la crèche a few extra hours a week (!!!), I get to do things like Yoga with Adriene, go to the bathroom with the door closed, look for work, and step a baby toe back into the pool of writing with purpose. So here I am now. I hope to entertain you.

One more thing before I go: A few weeks ago, Aurélien and I got into a near-fatal car accident on the autoroute A6 heading into Paris. We thank the higher powers that Georgie wasn't with us and that he is not an orphan right now. As I wrote on Instagram, charging through the French ER on a stretcher was certainly not one of the experiences I ever imagined having almost ten years ago when daydreaming about living in Paris some day. But it happened and I plan to elaborate more on that next week. Thank you all for your messages and strength! It was really touching to hear from people from all walks of my life from old readers to fellow bloggers to high school friends to Evergreen friends to L.A friends to Paris folks and beyond. Thank you. Just thank you.    

Until next week's post, here are some tidbits I've had published since having a baby:

AirBnB Paris Local Content Curator (link soon)
HiP The Expat Mom Experience
Global Living Magazine All Roads Lead to Paris
Narratively Surviving Postpartum Anxiety in the Age of Terror
Shut Up and Go Feature Locals of Paris
Bonjour Paris (online) and France Today (print - this was exciting to buy at my mom's local Barnes and Nobles! At the register, after letting the page just magically fall to my feature, the clerk asked, "Wait, how are you, like, in the magazine??" Now I know how Tavi Gevinson feels.) Paris Favorites