Happy New Year, or Jet-lagged in Algiers

Happy 2020 Is Over! Or, Happy New Year! Whatever you call it. I need to admit something: I woke up today at 4pm. I am still sitting here, sun starting to set, in total shock. Mostly that my husband let me sleep until 4pm – something I’ve never in my life done. Hadn’t he the slightest worry I’d stopped breathing? Although I suppose no one dies from jet-lag, and that is my affliction. We arrived back from a one-month visit to America about a week ago, and I can’t seem to shift back to Algeria time. Also, I stayed up until 6am finishing The Undoing, reading A Gentleman in Moscow, watching Bridgerton, and finally, old episodes of New Girl. So I’m starting off the New Year as I always do: Feeling out of it, eating lots of cheese, and watching too much TV. (Sidenote: Is anyone else kind of surprised at how there’s still really good content to consume despite nearly a year shutdown in production? TV shows and movies must be filmed years in advance).

We were fortunate enough to see our families this holiday season, despite coronavirus ravaging America. Making this trip involved getting our noses/brain cavities very uncomfortably swabbed four times each — that’s four COVID tests — to ensure we weren’t exposing anyone, and to follow airline rules. We stayed with Adam’s parents in Washington DC for more than two weeks, reading by the fire, learning chess like every other basic b who has watched The Queen’s Gambit and wants to test the lingering question “What if I – a person with no aptitude for math or logic puzzles – is secretly a chess marvel whose contest winnings will fund trips to Paris and jewel-toned miniskirted ensembles?” We gorged ourselves on shrimp cocktail, scallops, and other fishy delights (I’m a pescatarian now!) and celebrated the birthdays of Adam’s mom and stepdad. We drank lots of California and Oregon red wine, made salmon with dill while watching an Alison Roman live cooking class, celebrated Adam’s dad’s birthday, and I took great pleasure in using his Peloton stationary bike whilst scheming up how I can get one to Algeria. (I can’t.) We visited with some of our very best friends, met a few new babies of friends, mostly outdoors around bonfires or hiking on some of the area’s abundant nature trails. Or waiting in lines for cupcakes, walking along 14th Street, or eating outside under heat lamps at Le Diplomat and Lauriol Plaza. We also visited the one museum out of all of DC’s wonderful museums that stayed open: the Philips Collection. (The Phillips collection houses the incredible “Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Aguste Renoir which is on the banner of this very blog, and also “Plumes” by Walt Kuhn, which is the painting that I used to illustrate this specific blog post, because the woman in it looks like she’s trying to celebrate but she’s just super tired. Or over it). It wasn’t the same DC as before, but it was still very good to see our friends and family, as it had been over a year since we’d last seen them.

In mid-December, we drove from DC to my family in Plymouth, Michigan, a drive through Pennsylvania and Ohio where the highways and fields were pockmarked by Trump signs and billboards advertising Jesus. Oh, we tried Burger King’s new Impossible Whopper on the way. I remember BK always having a decent veggie Whopper, so it didn’t knock my socks off. Don’t really understand the distinction between an Impossible burger and a Boca burger, but whatevs, it hit the spot and was probably my first fast food in a couple years. We stayed at my parents’ excessively cozy home for about 10 days, which was filled with lots of nieces and nephew time, catch-ups with a few aunts and a good number of cousins, spiked egg nog, more shrimp cocktail, and dishes like maple-glazed Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries, both of which I crave constantly, but can’t find in Algiers. Also: a doctor’s appointment, a dentist appointment, and shopping at my favorite local boutique as well as old standbys Target and TJ Maxx.

The trip back involved a layover in Paris that was my absolute worst-ever visit to Paris. The very high winds buffeting our plane upon landing like a ship at sea. I barfed and I continued to feel quite sick while we collected our substantial luggage, and re-checked it for our Algiers flight, which was to leave the following day. After, our cab dropped us at our hotel in the pouring rain and cold wind, only for us to realize the hotel I’d booked online was in fact, totally shuttered. We stood there, freezing and bereft, without any Internet or cell service on our phones, unsure of what to do. Turns out Paris’ grandest hotel, The Ritz, was around the corner. There was a minute where we were so tired and cold that we were like “Let’s just check what it costs to stay here for the night.” Super lol here, because rates start at 1,700 Euro for the night and go up to 46,000 euro and who in the world are these people?! The very nice lady at the Ritz did however call our hotel and was informed that oh yeah, it’s closed and they’re sending all bookings to a nearby hotel. Would have been nice to have gotten a notice to that effect…. So we walked to the other hotel, I took the nap of my lifetime (thus starting my maladjustment to this time zone), woke up, bought cheese at the grocery store, witnessed a mugging on the deserted streets, ordered Thai food to our hotel. By the next afternoon, we were back at our Algiers home, turning on all the radiators, surveying a little wind damage, and picking up Gus and Boj from our friends’ house who generously watched our Diplocats for a whole month. (Their one-year-old son learned both to walk and to say “les chats” while we were away). A few days later, we rang in the New Year with a small group of friends at home, eating cheese fondue (from the cheese I bought on the ill-fated Paris layover) mostly outside around our bonfire. We are glad to be back home and I’m looking forward to a 2021 significantly less defined by this virus.

I was going to do a little look back at 2020, whether I accomplished my 2020 resolutions (ha, I did not) and give a sneak peak at my “resolutions” for 2021. But I’ll leave it here for now and pick it up next time.The sun has now set, Adam has ordered paneer tikka and dal makhani from our beloved Taj Mahal, and here I am, drinking the last of my coffee and about to get a workout in, pretending it’s the start of the day and not the end of it. Oof. Help me.

Okay, more soon!

To eradicating jet-lag,

Emily

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