The Palace of Versailles Revisited: A Letter to Future Jen

Paris, July 1988

Dear Future Jen,

Thirty years from now, almost to the day, you’ll be here. At the Palace of Versailles. Standing in front of Apollo’s fountain, having your picture taken.

In 1988, you’re fresh off of a month of studying in the South of France, where you not only earned a university credit, but met a boy and fell in love. You’ve been away from him for three days. It feels like longer. You’ll spend three days in Paris. It will feel like fewer. He’ll tell you he’s the one. He’s not.

In 2018, it will be your husband of 21 years taking your picture, while your two children (who are practically-13 and almost-15) look on (which is remarkable because for years you’ll insist you don’t want kids–or a husband for that matter). They’ll be hot and tired and cranky (both hubby and the kids) because France is experiencing record high temperatures, you just spent an hour and a half on the metro, then the train, to the outskirts of Paris, and the line-up to enter the palace proper is so long by the time you get there (snaking up and down and filling the massive Cour d’Honneur) that you’ll decide (yes, at the hottest point of the hottest day) to wander the gardens first and see if maybe the line-up to get in will be shorter later in the day.

It will be.

You always swore you’d go back to France. You didn’t think it would take 30 years though. In fact, the path you’ll take to get here doesn’t even remotely resemble what you thought it would.

  • In 1989, instead of going to university in Belgium (which you’ll figure is close enough to France to count), you’ll stay in London and go to Western instead. (Part of it is the money. Part of it is not being ready to be so far away from home for so long. All of it is the universe looking out for you.)
  • The boy you meet in 1990? You’ll think he’s the one. He’s not.
  • The boy you meet in 1991? You’ll think he’s the one. He’s not.
  • The boy you meet in 1992? You’ll think he’s the one. He’s not.
  • You’ll move to Ottawa in 1993 and meet your best friend there. You won’t realize it the day you meet her, but thank your lucky stars you go for a drink after a particularly taxing translation class one day and bond over Wildberry coolers and stories of asshole boyfriends who weren’t the one. (She’ll have a few too.) 
  • The boy you meet in 1994? The one you meet the same night you announce to your best friend (who you never would have met had you gone to Brussels ) that you don’t care if you never go on another date as long as you live? He’s the one. Be thankful for the assholes of ’90, ’91 and ’92. You won’t recognize him otherwise.
  • In 1994, Mom will be diagnosed with cancer. You’ll think it’s the end of the world. It’s not. She’ll live to see you marry the love of your life in 1996.
  • And then she’ll die. On May 15, 1999. You’ll think it’s the end of the world. It’s not.
  • In 2000, you’ll change your mind about not wanting kids. For all the wrong reasons. Thank the universe that the love of your life knew better and said no.
  • In 2001, you’ll convince yourself you don’t want kids again.
  • In 2002, you’ll change your mind again. For all the right reasons. Thank the love of your life for being there when the universe doesn’t agree and says no. 
  • In 2003 you’ll have the son you never knew you wanted.
  • In 2005 you’ll have the daughter you never knew you needed.
  • From 2006 to 2018 you’ll live through a blur of days that take forever and years that fly by. You’ll work and play and eat and sleep and read and write and drink and shop and laugh and cry. You’ll love your family and build a home and travel to places you always wanted to go.
  • And yes, in 30 years, you’ll make it back to France.

But today you are 18 years old. It’s the summer of 1988. You’re in France. Having your picture taken in front of Apollo’s fountain at the Palace of Versailles by a girl you were sure you’d be friends with forever, who you’ll lose touch with within a year.

Not everything will turn out the way you planned.

And really, it’s not supposed to.

So look at the camera. Tilt your head. Smile.

And trust me. Don’t change a thing.

Check out what Luc has to say about the Palace of Versailles.

 

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Hang tight…we’re almost back!

There seemed to be something missing in our lives…and we finally realized THIS was it.

Stay tuned! Me Woman/You Man and Me Man/You Woman is making a comeback!

P.S. Luc is downloading the app in the airport. He says that “something missing in our lives” might be a bit of a stretch, but for hype purposes, he will go with it.

Weighing In

Anyone have 5 pounds to lose? How about 25? I weigh in on weight in my latest on Stressed But Nice…

Stressed But Nice

In a few weeks, we’re heading down south and taking the kids on their very first trip to an all-inclusive Carribean resort.

Here are just a few of the things on my to-do list:

  • Force the kids to try on all of their summer clothes that I optimistically packed away in September, in complete denial of the fact that in the six months that have elapsed since then, they’re bound to have outgrown everything.
  • Go shopping for completely new summer wardrobes for both kids once I see that not one stitch of clothing I lovingly washed and folded and packed away still fits them.
  • Inventory and set aside each and every item we’ll be packing.
  • Defy the laws of physics by packing said items into two suitcases and four carry-ons.
  • Pray that the Canadian dollar rallies the day before I go to the Currency Exchange and not the day after.
  • Make all of the arrangements regarding…

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The Bobbsey Twins vs. The Ranger’s Apprentice: My How Times Have (Not) Changed!

Read any good kids’ books lately? I have! Check out my latest post on my new blog Stressed But Nice.

Stressed But Nice

A couple of months ago at a school book sale, I picked up a copy of “The Bobbsey Twins on Blueberry Island” for a whopping 50 cents. The familiar purple spine with the drawing of 6-year-old Bobbsey twins, Freddie and Flossie, along with their trusty companion, the shaggy white pup Snap, brought back a wave of nostalgia so strong that I would have been willing to pay at least double that!

When I was a kid, I adored the Bobbsey Twins. I wanted to be the spunky Nan Bobbsey, one half of the 12-year-old twins Nan and Bert, older brother and sister to Freddie and Flossie. (I was perfect for the part, I reasoned, with my dark hair and dark eyes.)

Every chance I got, I picked up another Bobbsey Twins adventure, sometimes, if I was lucky, at the bookstore (keep in mind this was decades before the Chapters mega stores and Amazon.ca), more often than…

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Control Freak, Yes…But a Puppet Master?

Luc didn’t know this about me, so I bet you didn’t either! Check out my latest on my new blog “Stressed But Nice.”

Stressed But Nice

If you asked me who knows me best in the world, I’d have to say Luc.

This year, we’ll be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. That same month (October) will mark 22 years that we’ve been together.

Luc knows my routines, my moods and my quirks. He understands my hopes, my dreams and my fears. He loves me. He accepts me for who I am.

He’d also be the first to tell you that I’m a total control freak.

Cases in point:

  • I keep lists of everything: grocery lists, to-do lists, rainy day project lists.
  • I keep an overall budget spreadsheet, I save all of our receipts until the Visa bill comes in, and I enter every last little cash purchase, right down to a pack of gum, into an app.
  • I meticulously keep track of every dentist, doctor and specialist appointment for the four of us, including results and follow-ups.
  • Everything (and…

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Koala Bears and Biopsies

While Me Woman You Man/Me Man You Woman are on temporary hiatus, check out my latest on Stressed But Nice…

Stressed But Nice

Two summers ago at the San Diego Zoo, as we left the Elephant Odyssey and headed for the Outback, my cell phone rang.

It was my doctor’s office, and a chipper Nurse Erin asked, “Hi Jennifer, I was just wondering if you’ve had a chance to book your biopsy yet?”

Um, excuse me? What biopsy?

A concerned Luc dragged the puzzled kids off to see the koalas while I spent a frantic half hour making long distance phone calls back to Ottawa (never mind the data to look up phone numbers online, never mind the time difference, never mind the roaming charges) to find out what the hell was going on.

It’s amazing how an entire zoo can disappear in a second as your entire being tries to focus on what a succession of people on the other end of the line thousands of miles away are telling you. Suspicious spot…

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Time for a New Start…

To everyone who has enjoyed Me Woman You Man and Me Man You Woman over the past few years…no we haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. Luc and I are doing well. Life has just gotten in the way of us maintaining our parallel blogs with any sort of consistency.

In the meantime, I’ve begun my own new blog. You’ll find it at stressedbutnice.WordPress.com. I hope you’ll come have a read.

Take care,

Jen