Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Cooking Out with the Food Nazis

Before I had to head to the Post-Event Intervention workflow meeting (held in conjunction with the informative session on atrioventricular blocks...), I got to stop by the company cookout. This year we had a western theme. This means there were baked beans, country music blared, and the favors they handed out were bandannas. (I got a khaki one for Sean to use in tying back his new 'do!)

Really, they're pretty lame. If for no other reason, they're lame because they don't entail an entire day, or even an entire hour, of fun in the sun at The Company's Expense. Nope. We are sent out in 15-minute increments or so. So we all filed past the Big White Board to find out what time we would be allowed to go downstairs and collect our pulled pork. My time was 12:45.

I have to interrupt here and state that I am extremely fond of everyone on my team. Some I know better than others, but I really like them all. This must be established before I go on.

My three time slot buddies were the teams' three Registered Dieticians. Aka, the Food Nazis.

Now, I should state that not only am I extremely fond of everyone on my team, but I love, really love R.D.'s in general. Such a well-informed, holistic bunch! For some reason, M.D.'s sometimes feel they are qualified to churn out bullshit books with titles like Eat The Stuff I Tell You to Eat! Buy My Brand-name of Food! Otherwise You Will be FAT Your Entire Life!, but really, M.D.'s are poorly qualified when it comes to human nutrition. They have about as much of it as you did of philosophy in college. R.D.'s, on the other hand, have nothing but Human Nutrition. They're fucking amazing and I love them.

Not always the best people to eat with.

Hey! They know what to eat! I have actually changed quite a few of my eating habits based simply on what I have witnessed the R.D.'s I know eating. (For instance, my string cheese? Good! They all pack it! Fruit? Wondrous! They all bring tons! Salads? Have a giant one and slop on the lowfat cottage cheese! They're great for ya!) So in a way, they are great to eat with--on an everyday basis. But I despaired of actually getting to eat any pulled pork while in their company.

You see, I have that particular brand of eating disorder as well. I feel compelled to constantly compare what I am eating with what everyone else is eating. Therefore, if I hang out mostly with nibblers, I lose weight. If I hang out mostly with big giant 6'4" men, I tend to gain weight (sorry, honey!). It doesn't really matter how I feel, or what I want. I'm not really capable of determining those things. I just eat what I feel like I'm supposed to eat.

So, as I said, I figured it'd be a veggie burger and a pile of salad for me. I tried to keep my eyes on my own plate as much as possible.

When all had made their way through the lines, we decided to plop down in a sunny patch of lawn in front of the building (rather than in the company-provided tents in the parking lot). It was then that I began the Hardcore Plate Comparison.

My plate came up short. I sat crosslegged in the grass, surrounded by skinny girls with groaning paper plates. Plates laden with barbequed chicken, giant hot dogs, veggie burgers, baked beans, potato salad, pulled pork sandwiches, apple crisp, and multiple cookies. They ate me under the table, every one of them. And some went back for seconds.

What can we learn from this, boys and girls?

It's Ok to overeat. Sometimes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


A mistrial? A mistrial?!?!?

Were all of the jurors on crack?

How much more cut-and-dried could a rape case be? The gang rape of an unconscious minor was videotaped, and jurors stated that the case had "ambiguities"?

Were they asleep during the showing of the video?


...(the defendant's) father, Donald Haidl, the assistant sheriff of Orange County, also wept as he hugged his son....The 21-minute incident was recorded by Haidl on July 5, 2002, during a party at the home of his father, who was not there at the time...

I must have glossed over that before. Beg pardon.


A video shot previous to the trial-related video shows what upstanding citizens the accused really were.

The defense attempted to show the video had been tampered with. Oh, they also brought in a female ejaculation expert (a what?) to testify that the alleged victim hadn't urinated on herself, but ejaculated with excitement while being penetrated with a pool cue.

Follow the story.

We're back.

It's 70 degrees.

It's windy.

My cubicle is closing in on me like funhouse walls.

I need to eat some vegetables.

I'm bored.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


I brought in a veggie tray and dip to work today. I had to get rid of all the yummy veggies that were in the fridge before we leave for Maryland--no sense in just letting them rot.

The cucumbers have been the most popular item so far, followed by the carrots (which have been mysteriously replenished somehow) and the grape tomatoes. The broccoli remains mostly untouched, which I think is weird because I love the stuff. The scallions also are kind of hanging out, although one of my coworkers ate one thinking it was a celery stick. The honey dijon dressing I brought as a dip has been quite popular.

Everyone has thanked me profusely and has been enjoying it immensely. Hey, how heart-healthy! How apropos! Wonderful! Yum, fresh veggies!!! Redpanda, you are so good with all your veggie eating!

So what did I do?

I just ate a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that someone had put in their candy dish. And agreed to split a pizza with some coworkers.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Me: So...I was just wondering if there's anything you need from Boston we can pick up before we come out?

Mom: I don't think so, hon. Unless you have any of that Stadium Mustard. Or Labatt's Blue Light

: No, that was Cleveland. No mustard of that variety here. And we don't have the Labatt's here, either. Must be a midwestern thing.

Mom: *sighs* We can't find it anywhere here. We even asked the distributor if he could get it, and he can't. *sighs again*

Me: That's weird.

Mom: Yeah. Did I tell you we're probably all going to go out for margaritas Thursday night? We'll probably need it after that family meeting.

Me: Yeah, you told me. That's fine.

Mom: Ok. You might want to think about what you can bring to the family reunion on Sunday. I think I'm going to take an apricot pie.

Me: Well, I think Sean might make his chocolate chip cream cheese bars. And I'm not sure what else yet.

Mom: I'm just going to mix some ham up with macaroni and cheese and tomatoes and onions. Kids love that.

Me: No, Mom, kids most certainly do not love that. That is absolutely revolting. I hate ham.

: No one hates ham.

: I hate ham.

Mom: It's unnatural to hate ham.

Me: I hate ham. It's slimy.

: It is not slimy! Everyone likes ham. Ham is delicious.

Me: Ham is gross. Meat shouldn't be that color.

Mom: You're being silly. Ham is wonderful. If you can't think of anything else to bring, you can always just make a nice jello mold. Everyone loves jello molds.

Me: A jello mold?!?

Mom: Yes, a jello mold. You can mix in fruit if you like. It's a great side dish.

Me: A jello mold is not a valid side dish.

Mom: Sure it is. You can mix orange jello with grated carrots. That's a vegetable.

: That is NOT a vegetable. Jello is in no way, shape, or form a vegetable.

Mom: Sure it is. It's made from seaweed.

Me: No, it's not. It's made from ground up animal hooves and connective tissue.

Mom: Well, I'm sure there's some seaweed in there somewhere.

Me: I hate jello molds.

: No one hates jello molds.


I saw a commercial on TV the other day that I liked, which is strange because I never like commercials. It was for some new extra-small-applicatored tampon, playtex or kotex or tampex or whatever. In it, girls presumably in a high school class are passing a tampon to someone who needs one. The teacher catches them and has one young girl turn in the offending article. He looks at it, assuming it's candy, and says to her: "Well, I hope you brought enough for the rest of the class." At this point, all the girls in the class are laughing out loud.

"I brought enough for the girls.", she replies, eyes sparkling with mischief.

I love that commercial. If for no other reason, I love it because I hope that, through seeing it, high school girls will learn that menstruating and carrying the necessary trappings of doing so are no big deal. To me, it was always a big deal.

You women remember those days, right? You dreaded taking your purse with you to the Girls' Room because then everyone would know. You almost died of humiliation if some boy took your purse at recess and dug through it in jest because he might find out. When you had to buy more tampons or pantiliners or pads you cringed inwardly and sought out the only female cashier in the place, even though her line was much longer than the others. Please don't need a price check, please don't need a price check....They will all know!

Heaven forbid.

Really, it's silly. How is it still a "taboo" topic? For crying out loud, I've known people who'll spout off poop jokes, raise one buttcheek and let loose with a trumpetous fart, but shy away from any mention of the unmentionable "period". Silly, silly, silly. Half the population has, does, or will menstruate. If you are a woman of "child-bearing" age, everyone assumes you do. Therefore, it should be Ok to buy tampons. Or say "I have cramps" when someone asks why you need an Advil.

But it's not.

I didn't really make peace with the whole monthly cycle thing until I read Inga Muscio's Cunt in college. Now, I don't see eye to eye with every little thing she proclaims, but I definitely felt empowered by her descriptions of menstruation and her belief that we should embrace the entire idea and make peace with our bodies instead of hating them. Now, I have my Vinnie's Tampon Case that Brandy gave me proudly contained in my purse, and I won't hesitate to put it on a table if I'm searching through the contents of said purse. I say "I have cramps". I go to whichever line is shortest when I'm buying whatever underpants defense I've chosen for that particular month.

I've pretty much stopped using tampons. I don't know that I entirely buy into the whole "asbestos in tampons" urban myth, but I have noticed that since I've stopped using them, I'm less crampy and there's less crap to deal with.

One little thing that irks me--that people say "bleed". Like it's bleeding, like a cut on your finger or a scraped knee. People, I'm not bleeding. I'm sloughing off parts of my uterus. If I had been more or less careful (depending on my family planning desires for that month), the stuff being sloughed off would instead be the beginnings of another human being. Powerful stuff.

Very powerful. Anyway.

I menstruate. I do. And it's childish to be grossed-out by any reference to that fact.

Monday, June 21, 2004


We're leaving on Thursday morning. The car has to be packed and ready to pull out by 5:30 am or so if we're to make our flight out of Manchester.

I can't wait. Or rather, I can't wait.

I booked the flights several months back, deciding that for once I would make it to the family reunion in June. And I'd bring Sean along for good measure, overwhelm him with obscure relatives I'm connected to by blood if nothing else. I would see Maryland in the summer again, where the green is so green it makes all other greens self-consciously lower their eyes. I would hear the crunching of the gravel driveway under the car's tires, watch a rabbit bound out of the cornfields (or is it soybeans this year?) my grandfather rents to a local farmer, and be home.

And so I will.

I no longer have any desire to live in the place where I grew up. None at all. But going back to visit is like taking a trip back in time, back to when I was a child or perhaps back further still--there's a thriving Amish community there. The grocery store less than a mile from my parents' house has a hitching post out front for the horse-and-buggies; and if you take the back roads to get from here to there, you just might come around a bend to find a dark horse (I've never seen Amish with a light colored one) plodding along with a buggy behind, the familiar bright orange triangle marking the back. The buggy's inhabitants may give a solemn wave, they may not. If you talk to them, you'll find their speech to be a garbled, heavily-accented mixture of English and German. Some of them build picnic tables and sheds, or sell eggs and milk, or run plant nurseries to bring in income. My mother used to buy our eggs and milk from one, sending me to school with a Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox and thermos and a reminder: Shake Milk.

The Amish accent and speech pattern isn't the only odd one about--people in that area have very distinct and peculiar ways of speaking. My family tends more towards the southern side--I'm usually accused of having a "drawl" here in New England. My grandmother is Canadian, though; so even my accent is sprinkled with oddities. But the areas closer to the water, where inhabitants are descendants of the first settlers there hundreds of years ago, have the most interesting accents. Barely understandable at times, these accents are reminiscent of Shakespearean English--if it were combined with a poor southern farmer's way of speaking. They're like nothing else I've ever heard elsewhere, and they never fail to make me smile.

My favorite place to get seafood is Captain Leonard's. It's in a decidedly un-crabhouse-like location, right off the highway and across from a gas station. The service inside is awful at best, and the tables are seated with horrific metal-and-vinyl chairs. But the seafood, oh God, the seafood. I can never decide between a crabcake sandwich or a softshell crab sandwich. (The best solution is to come back later and get the other...) The crabcake is immense, larger than most 1/2 lb burgers you'd get in Boston. It's spicy and sweet, and I slather it with mayo and cocktail sauce and relish every bite. The softshell crab is just as sweet but much crunchier, the crispy-fried crab legs jutting out of the bun like a spider. Both are served on Wonder Bread-style hamburger buns, with a few broken chips and maybe a limp pickle. But they're 5 or 6 bucks, and by the time the sandwich comes you've already had a pound or two of the hot, spicy steamed shrimp, so you lick the Old Bay out from under your fingernails and ignore the chips without complaint. Beer is crappy--Miller Lite or Bud Lite are the best things on tap--but the cost for a draft beer is about $1. I recommend a pitcher --$5.

After dinner, it's always fun to go across the bridge to Solomon's Island. It's not really an island at all, more of a peninsula--but Solomon's Peninsula just doesn't have the same ring to it. When I was younger and singler, that was the place to play in the summer. We'd dress in shorts and miniscule tops, hang out on the deck of Catamaran's (a restaurant by day) or the dance floors of the Rhumb Line (a restaurant by day) and Solomon's Pier (a restaurant by day). The Tiki Bar was always the place to be--opening night of the Tiki brings thousands and thousands of people to Solomon's. I fondly recall waiting in line an hour to get a Mai Tai, then buying 4 and "scalping" three of them for 12 bucks (they cost 5).

It's eerily quiet at night back at my parents' house. Once the dogs are inside, there's little to hear aside from the chirping of crickets and singing of frogs. Going back to visit after having lived in various cities, the quiet is almost deafening, enough to drive one mad. But at the same time, it's oddly peaceful. And when you look up at the sky, you can actually see the stars--not like here where they're merely a suggestion. There, they are many and bright and sprinkled liberally across the sky like rain.

I speak about it as if it's dreadfully pastoral, because that's how I remember it. I remember running across the playground as a plaid-clad parochial school student to sneak into the old abandoned school next door (it's now a college). I remember walking around the town square with Brandy, paying for groceries on her mom's credit account (that store is long gone). I remember the snaking back roads, driving under the lush green cathedrals of tree branches and breaking suddenly into meadows where the sun beat down mercilessly (everyone takes the main roads these days)I remember walking home from school past the rows and rows of daylilies and azaleas my mother planted along the driveway (she has long since given up on such pursuits). But it's not like that any more, not really. Every other week seems to bring a new hotel, a new strip mall, a new ugly square metal building utterly bereft of character swimming in a sea of asphalt. They pop up like chicken pox, bringing pre-packaged crap where before there was a field, a patch of woods, a family-owned business.

In the woods behind my grandparents' house, back where I would crouch as a child in the Civil War trenches, back where you can still see the remains of the 17th-century "grog shop", back where I used to ride a very large and very patient collie; you can hear people building tract mansions--faceless developments springing up in the woods.

When I go home, I can shop at Target if I want. I can eat at Ruby Tuesdays'. I can get gas at numerous locations. I just hope I'll still be able to hear the cicadas. I'll be inconsolable if I can't.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Begging for Kickball

I nervously fingered the official "Company Form for the Requestation of Time Off", trying to decide whether or not I could beg, borrow, and steal the 3.5 hours of vacation time I needed. Finally, I scrawled my name on the "employee name" line, and filled in "6/16/04 (Wednesday)" in the date line and "3.5 hours V-time" in the 'time requested' space. What the hell, right? It's my vacation time to take as I see fit. And the 3 other people in my position will be around, so the ship won't exactly be unmanned.

Unfortunately, my boss wasn't around to sign off on this delicate request. I approached her co-pilot (God--sorry, I couldn't resist...), J.,the "other boss" to see if and when she was expected in. "She said she'd be here by eleven!" J. exclaimed exhuberently, "And you know how she gets. I don't want to go kind of over her head and give you an Ok without her Ok...she's just going to be in late. You know how those 12-hour days are..."

I nodded with far less exhuberence. Yes, I thought to myself, I know how she is. That is why I was asking you before she came in.

She finally did, when the office clock's hands had long since swept past noon. I deposited the request on her desk with an apologetic "I know you just got here, but I have a request for you..."

A snotty "O....k...." was her response. I rolled my eyes as far into the back of my head as is humanly possible from the safety of my cubicle.

The hours ticked away, with me waiting none too patiently. Finally, the request came back with her signature. Yay! But now I just had to make a copy for her and one for the department administrative assistant, and keep one for my own records. So off to the copy machine I went!

When I got there, the copy machine was attempting to devour Tray 4. In fact, I think that was the error message. Warning: Tray 4 is in danger of being devoured. I performed gentle forplay on the copier until it finally relented and let me have my way with it. Oh, thank you, sweet copier. Bring forth thy nectar.

A brief time later, I got to leave! Yay! Except that I had decided that it would be better not to drive the BeetleBugCar back through the narrow Boston cowpaths, searching endlessly for a parking space. Instead, I opted to take a shuttle that runs from my location to The Mothership, aka our Boston office. I'd just leave my car in the lot overnight and then take the T in in the morning. Sounds simple, right?

Nope. First I had to move it out of the illegal parking spot I had pulled it into that morning. Then I had to get special permission from security to leave it there overnight. I had to listen to them say: "Now, we are not responsible...not that anything is going to happen, but if it does...we are not responsible...". Ok. I get it. You = not responsible. Me = leaving my damn car here anyway. Finally, we reached an agreement. But security requested that I pull my car around to the front of the building so they would have a better view of any untoward activity. I had to agree, that was a stellar idea. So I went to move the car after the security guy agreed that he would hold the shuttle if it came while I was in the car.

It did.

So we both ran like mad crazy people to catch it. I boarded it safely, panting and puffing, only to remember that I had left my purse inside while I moved my car. Off the shuttle I came, darting in to grab it as fast as my legs would carry me.

I sat in the shuttle, sweating most unattractively, and waited for the A/C to kick in. The shuttle driver was having a vehement argument with the radio show that was coming in sporadically. Something about a policy of shooting Canada Geese near an airport that had raised cries of "hell no" from animal activists. The host was as bilous as Rush Limbaugh about the grossness and uselessness of Canada Geese. I'm not really sure which side the shuttle driver fell on, as his speech mostly tended to be reminiscent of Brad Pitt's in Snatch.

The destination couldn't come soon enough, and I had judged fairly well which direction to head after jumping off the bus. I just had to remind myself to be careful when I stood up--the bus has these low-hanging luggage compartments that are clearly meant only for the decapitation of 5'11" people. I ducked carefully as I clambered down the aisle, banging my calf on a hard metal chair with a flourish.

Getting to the Kickball Game really is half the fun.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

It's National Men's Health Week!

Men need a health week. Yes, it's true that the vast majority of health-related research has been done on them rather than women, and that they still make more money than we do, but did you know that men die an average of 6 years younger than women do? Furthermore, women are 100% (that's a one with two zeros) more likely to visit their doctor for annual exams and health screenings.

If you are a man, go see your doctor! If you are not a man but know a man, make him go see his doctor!

For more info on men's health week, go here.

The Definition of Irony

We went to see Super-Size Me last night. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, make plans to remedy that. It was a very well-done and hilarious documentary, with hard science backing it up. Besides, everything you learn during the movie was covered in my grad school program, so it's almost like you're a mini-me.

But, I digress. The film was a bit late getting started, but no biggee. However, the theater was obviously bothered by this oversight, because on the way out they passed us each a coupon. A coupon good for one free small (sugar-laden and awful for you!) soda.


Thursday, June 10, 2004

I Almost Forgot to Wear Underwear Today

I almost forgot to wear underwear today.

It was cooler this morning. All of the stifling quality that highlighted last night was gone, replaced by a damp chill that made me rush to switch off the box fan sitting in the bedroom window.

And almost forget to wear underwear.

After my shower, my damp hair piled on top of my head, I rifled through the racks of Work Clothes in my closet. The muggy-too-warm day was perfect for wearing a long-sleeved linen peasant shirt, I decided.

And for almost forgetting to wear one's underwear.

I have a few shirts of that descrip, so after a bit of deliberation I decided on a particular one; white with slits up the belled sleeves. It's a more fitted peasant shirt than some, and goes best with a minimizer bra that keeps the girls in check.

And no underwear.

I slid my arms through my favorite magic minimizer bra, the one that makes Sean gape and say "Where ARE they?!?", and slid the top over my head. But not a bottom.

And not underwear.

Now, I had a decision to make. What would I wear on the bottom? Pants? Capris? A short skirt? A long skirt? My first attempt was a pair of faded green pants from the Gap, old enough that they made me look more like a hippie and less like someone at work. I discarded that idea. Had I worn those pants, I would have chosen the cotton string bikini panties.

But I didn't. So I didn't put on underwear.

The next attempt was a pair of navy pinstriped pants with just a bit of stretch. They are very cute, but A) didn't really go with the top, and B) really won't look great till I lose about 5 pounds. If I had worn these pants, I would have chosen the lavendar thong with the dangling silver star.

But I hung those pants back up. And didn't put on any underwear.

I decided to switch to skirts. I slid the black pencil skirt over my hips and zipped up the back. The stretch was just enough to outline my curves, but not enough to be too snug for work. With this skirt, I went so far as to roll the lint remover over it to take off the Matilda hair. Then I remembered that I had somehow managed to cut my leg shaving for the first time since high school, and decided I would rather not walk around displaying my band-aid for all to see. If I had worn that skirt, I think I would have chosen the black lace tanga panty.

But I didn't. So the tanga panty got to relax in the drawer.

Getting annoyed now, I kicked off my flip-flops and stepped into my long, black, diamond-patterned A-line skirt. Hmm. It worked. No knee showing, no hippieness. It would do. I pulled on a pair of black ballet flats and went to see about my hair and makeup.

I almost forgot to put on underwear today.

After I was sprayed and coiffed and made up, it was time to make my salad for lunch/dinner. I filled a tupperware with salad mix from Stop & Shop (theirs is the best, remember?) and sliced cucumbers and grape tomatoes on top. I added a sprinkling of cheese and some hot banana peppers. Almost as an afterthought, I threw a few olives on top. Then, in a seperate bowl, I cut up a chicken breast to warm and add to the salad later.

I almost forgot my underwear.

I packed the tupperwares in a bag and stuffed them into my work tote. The DVD I had borrowed from a co-worker and the book I was reading went on top. Now, what I was I forgetting?

My underwear.

Oh yes, I had forgotten to put on a necklace and my rings! I ran back to the bedroom and fastened the silver garnet necklace Sean had given me for Christmas around my neck, then pushed my fingers into my spoon ring, curlicue ring, and peridot ring Sean got me in Baltimore.

Again, I forgot the underwear.

On my way out the door, bags slung over my shoulders, I stopped at the hallway mirror to apply some shimmery pink lip gloss. Finally, I realized that something felt not quite right.

I almost forgot my underwear today.

Not bothering to take off the bags, I half-slid back into the bedroom and dug through my underwear drawer. Thus, I am wearing the sheer red-black-and-silver boy short panties.


I almost forgot to wear underwear today.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Pieces of My Life

I am unspeakably thrilled that it is over 80 degrees AND sunny today. I've found reasons to go outside twice so far, and I've only been at work for 2 hours.

There is this park I pass often--on my way to drop Sean at the train, or to pick something up at Target. It's very green, and people are always running or rollerblading or walking their dogs. I always think to myself "I should really stop by that park...", but I have yet to do so.

The Stop & Shop not far from where I work has FAR superior produce to the Shaw's where I generally pick up groceries. I really prefer Trader Joe's or Wild Oats, but they're a bit further out. Still, I'm almost out of frozen berries, so Sean is going to have to make a TJ's run soon.

I'm going to see the Indigo Girls this Friday. I've never seen them live before.

My apartment is a shambles right now. A freaking shambles. Combining being away the past two weekends with my general laziness, I'm certain that scum is growing somewhere.

I haven't been to the gym in ages. I really need to go. I'm starting to feel like a slug.

I love the top I have on today. It's a vintage sleeveless top--bright yellow with an apple tree, a giant apple, and birds on both sides. It also zips up the back. It always attracts quite a bit of attention when I wear it. People love vintage, even though they rarely have the cahones to wear it themselves.

I'm sick to death of working till 8 pm.

I love Sean's haircut. I can't get over how great he looks. And the sideburns are almost all grown in, woo!!!

My grad school is having this alumni event this weekend. I'm not going, since I am going to see the Indigo Girls on Friday, and I'm working Saturday. I'm not sure if I would go even if I didn't have prior engagements. It would be nice to network and see fellow "classmates", but there's not exactly any love lost between me and the program director. I'm especially irked that he surveyed all graduates of the program and is now attempting to publish the results in a professional journal, without our knowledge or consent. Grrr.

I've been thinking of buying a bike, but I'm not sure where I'd put it. If it were in the basement, I would probably never bother to walk ALL the way upstairs and then ALL the way down there just to retrieve it. I don't think there's room for it upstairs. I need to be a homeowner so I can get important things--like a bike. And a doggy!!!!

I recognize that this is an inane excuse for content, but this is what you're getting. So eat it up like a good little readership, Ok?

Monday, June 07, 2004

And Now, Alas, it's Monday

Where to begin?

For those of you who don't know, my friends Forrest and Angel got married this past Saturday. Although I had assumed a good time would be had by all, I was completely unprepared for the level of fun the weekend provided me. Various muscles throughout my body still ache from laughing for almost 24 hours straight.

The weekend kicked off with a trip to the Kirkland Cafe, a place I have been more times than I care to count, to see our friends from Groove of the Day play an amazing all-instrumental set. (Although my personal favorite song, He Screamed "Wallet", did have a single line, "Wallet".) We had to cut the night short, though; in preparation for an early departure for Connecticut for The Wedding the next day.

Saturday dawned with a meek threat of rain, clouds rolling overhead in slightly ominous fashion. I noted that we should pack an umbrella "just in case", then promptly forgot the idea. Sean, Aredubya, Alayna and I piled into Gunther the Passat for the ride down (Hey, we love our earth! We carpool!), thinking we would check into the hotel early and finish getting ready there. No ride is boring with both Sean and R-dubs in residence; and my abs got a nice warmup on the way down. I don't even remember what was said, but rest assured that it was funny.

Afternoon burned off most of the clouds, and the sun came out in a brilliant gleam. The location for the ceremony was Wickham Park, a gorgeous oasis of grass and water and trees deceptively close to the highway. I straightened out my pink-and-black dress and decided to brave the grassy park in my spindly-heeled sandals instead of changing to the chunkier ones. As we arrived, Angel was just getting there as well, a beaming beauty in a corseted white satin dress. Her almost-black hair was swept back into an updo with exotic purple orchids peeping out the sides. Forrest hovered behind with one of his trademark gentle grins, clad in a very UN-penguiny silvery grey tuxedo. (His hair actually was black, a change from the vibrant pinks and greens and yellows we've all become so accustomed to...) After a brief greeting, they guided us "through the woods, past the red pagoda, follow the Chinese lanterns".

We set off like explorers, waving at a few shorts-clad park-goers on our way ("you are WAAAY underdressed for this park!" I exclaimed jokingly). Eventually, we found The Spot, a brightly verdant area set off from the rest of the park by a sparkling pond. Other guests were beginning to trickle in, each one bringing a new wave of celebratory "Hey! You made it! Woohoo!"'s. The sun beat down on us, turning one of my shoulders a deep dark pink (I need to remember that I am a very very very WHITE girl and need to apply sunblock, even for short jaunts into the sun!). We milled about, the women occasionally yanking our heels free of the soft earth.

The ceremony, when it came, was brief and heartfelt. Neither party involved showed the least sign of nervousness (I suspect that marrying someone you have been in love with for years and years will do that to you), just a kind of uber-contentment when the vows had been spoken. I'm still kicking myself for not getting a shot of The Kiss (see Forrest's site for a great one that has popped up since I started writing this) or one of the newlywed couple, grinning broadly in a sea of rainbow bubbles. What a gorgeous day.

The legal portion of the day complete, we jumped back into our sunbaked cars to head for Hot Tomato's, the site of the reception. Upon entering the doors, we were immediately accosted by the waitstaff, who demanded that we have a beer at once. Not wanting to offend, we of course obliged them by having beer after beer after beer. Then we had a beer. Also, a beer.

Everything we were served was scrumptious, Sean and I both having opted for the Salmon Osso Bucco (served with scallop "marrow" and a lobster reduction...). Even more scrumptious was the dinner conversation, swinging from one extreme to the other as I practically writhed in laugher. (Apparently I was at the "wrong table", though; being the only one at ours to take notice of the countless dirty box clit licking nipple sucking quality of the favors. Love them!) The best part of the event was the crowd who assembled there--my GOD but it's hard to get all these people together at the same time!

As things began to wind down, we headed across the street to our hotel room to change into more appropriate pool-playin' duds. There, again a crowd gathered (this time in our hotel room) and laughter was heard. I don't even remember the direction of the conversation--a joke or two at moglia's expense, a few comments about rat-ass-kicking hawks on neighboring buildings, who knows? The point is that we were just getting fired up for the night.

City Steam was a few blocks away, which gave us a chance to see all Hartford, CT had to offer. It reminded me of Richmond, VA in that dead-yet-alive kind of way. There was nothing to do but eat or drink, the streets eerily quiet for a Saturday.

When we arrived and queued up to put in our drink orders (it should be mentioned at this point that nearly ALL of the beers this fine establishment offered were over 15% ABV--one topping the scales at a whopping 20%), we noticed the bar's TV's showing a disproportionately large number of Ronald Reagan clips. It was some time before they finally confirmed our assumptions by flashing a "1911-2004" across the screen. (Was it 1911? Crap, now I can't remember and just don't care enough to look it up...) We had a drink or two for Ronnie, good ol' Ronnie, the first president that most of us remember recognizing as such. Then we forgot about him and commenced drinking and raising hell, joined by 20 of our closest wedding guests as well as the bride and groom.

I am terrible at pool, really really terrible, as evidenced by the fact that I unknowingly scratched by sinking the 8-ball and then indignantly tried to keep playing ("You should really practice with all the balls left on the table", Alayna noted helpfully). So one game was all I really needed to enjoy. The rest of the night was a pool spectator sport for me, although I did sink quite a few of Sean's hard-earned quarters into the jukebox. (Playing such favorites as "Brick House" and "Wild Thing".)

God, what a night! I'm not certain I could squish all that transpired into mere words. Suffice to say that I drank more that night than I probably have in the YEAR that preceeded it. I had some fabulous conversations with most everyone who would listen, from my old favorites like Matt and the boys from JAV to people I had known before in name only, like Forrest's brother Ian da Punk, his wife West Beck, and Angel's sister Jamie (with whom we discussed the agony and ecstasy of world travel).

It was around midnight that my friend Lynn (gf to Keith, drummer extrordinaire from JAV) and I spied a very tall beer holding contraption with a spigot attached being taken to a nearby table. 0ur eyes lit up "What is that???" Answer: it was a "beer bong"--and it held three liters of beer. We immediately started ordering those instead of silly piddling pints, and I stopped throwing back margaritas and started throwing back White Rabbits--a 16% ABV Belgian wit-style beer. Yummmmmmy. (In retrospect, it was probably a blessing that we didn't realize that they existed until so late...)

The walk (stumble?) back to the hotel seemed much shorter, now that we could no longer feel our legs. We were on a quest for food--our waitress had tipped us off to the existence of one Papa's Pizza in the vicinity of the hotel. On a mission, Lynn and I ordered a large pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom for the two of us and Keith to share, Sean being deathly afraid of tomatoes even in their most delicious sauce form. Although Keith did start asking questions of the resident Cop Who Keeps Order Late at Night (never a wise idea when you are drunk and it's after 2 am...), we got away unscathed and went back to our hotel room to snack mercilessly on the unsuspecting pizza.

Things really got out of control when Sean paid a visit to the snack machine and came back with a selection of candy bars. Or was it when I suggested the burping contest? Never mind. The point is that it was fun.

The night wore on after we went to bed, my guardian angel Sean waking me periodically and forcing me to drink vast quantities of water. This was likely to make up for the fact that he was A) lying SMACK DAB in the middle of the king-sized bed and forcing my drunk ass right off the side, and B) snoring again like some kind of congested banshee. I also woke up every now and again and thought to myself "Fuck. I am going to be SOOO hung over tomorrow!"

Luckily, I wasn't.

The 11:00 check-out time looming, we gathered our things and headed down to the car. Luck being on our side, we managed to hook up with not just Keith and Lynn, but our illustrious bride and groom as well. All decided that a trip to a local Denny's for the world's best hangover remedy (waaay too much greasy breakfast food) was in order. Yay!

The laughing continued there, but this time with sleep-deprived punchiness leading its way. Let's just put it this way: the funniest moments at breakfast included:

1. Sean driving past Forrest, who was deep in concentration reading at a newspaper vending machine; and honking his horn REALLY LOUDLY, making Forrest jump.

2. Sean laughing uncontrollably as we drove away, and then deciding he should do it AGAIN.

3. Sean doing it again.

4. A discussion of Fudgie the Whale (or, if necessary, Cookie Puss) being used as the Holy Eucharist in a Catholic Mass. ("Lord, I am not worthy to receive Fudgie the Whale...")

5. A little girl in the neighboring restroom stall singing a song about what she was doing. ("I go pee! And then I wipe myself!")

Comedy, people, comedy.

When breakfast was finished, there was nothing left to do but get in our cars and go home. So we did, with that happy bittersweet post-wedding feeling.

And then, in the car, we discussed masturbation. And secret porn stashes.

It was a fucking great weekend.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Sad to Say

I'm not sure which is sadder, the fact that I heard Lit's Worst Enemy TWICE, on TWO seperate stations, this morning; or the fact that, seeing as it was the best thing on the radio, I listened to it both times.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Camping is Fun. In Retrospect.

I am not a new camper. I have camped my entire life. For ages. My parents mushed me down into their sleeping bags when I was a newborn, for Chrissakes (not to kill me, to keep me warm, you sickos!).

Camping this past weekend kind of sort of kicked my ass.

Since we were driving to Western Mass. on Friday, the weather obliged us by pouring buckets of rain. As in, torrential freaking stuff. The kind of rain that appears only when I am driving a great distance, and finishes soon after I arrive at my destination. It was still misting a bit when we began setting up camp, but with no guarantee that it would stop, we figured we'd better get that tent pitched. (I love a pitched tent almost as much as I love a third grade boner reference! Woohoo!)

Once camp was made, we decided to set out for a survey of our surroundings. We brought along the GPS, hoping we might just happen upon a nearby cache. No luck there. Although the scenery was gorgeous, we just couldn't seem to drive close enough to the coordinates of a cache to actually seek it out. Instead, we went back to the campground to go for some hikes around the pond.

Deep in the woods, negotiating twists and turns, we came upon an area so boggy that someone had rigged up a series of bridge-like lumber and logs to use in crossing it. This would be great, if it weren't for the fact that the logs were so old and decrepit and covered in algae that just to put a hiking boot on them could send you skittering to the ground. So there I am, balancing helplessly on a soggy rotted piece of wood, trying to gauge the distance to the next soggy rotted piece of wood, when my foot slips and sends me into the ankle-deep mud. "Shit!", I exclaimed, unceremoniously hauling my soaked boot out of the muck and climbing back onto a nearby log. Sean was way ahead by this point, and didn't hear the ruckus. I looked ahead, wondering if I could make it without falling again and twisting my knee more seriously. Then I looked back and realized it was farther that way.

With a labored sigh, I resumed sliding and jumping across the bog, all the while clutching at the flimsy branches that hung off surrounding trees. Far ahead, Sean had emerged into some kind of break in the trees. "Hmmm" I heard him utter, "It's, ahh, clearer up here, honey!"

I made painfully slow progress across the bog, relying far too much on the branches that whipped in front of me to keep some sort of balance. When I emerged triumphant, to join Sean at the break in the trees, I saw why he had "Hmm'ed".

We had reached the parking lot.

This episode pretty much set the stage for the rest of the weekend, during which we repeated the exercise several times. The big difference would be to substitute "rocky steep-ass side of a mountain scramble" for "bog", in most cases.

But still, fun times were had! Pork chops were cooked over the fire! Marshmallows were roasted! Scenery was seen! We learned that distance on a GPS is "as the crow flies", meaning that .3 miles over a trail down the rocky side of a mountain is really more like 1.5 miles and that we really, really should have packed water! (Note to self: ALWAYS take the damn water!)

Fun times were not always had after dark, when the air mattress utterly refused to stay inflated for the entire night. One of us had it worse than the other, being that one of us out-talls and out-weighs the other by a good amount. So one of us mooshed down the air in the air mattress and slept on the hard ground, and the other was thrust into the air and kept rolling down on top of the ground-sleeping one. This would have been a situation for the lighter and shorter of us to feel some guilt over, if it weren't for the fact that the heavier and taller was snoring at decibels loud enough to wake hibernating bears. And this was snoring despite repeated slappings, shovings, and "SEAN! YOU ARE SNORRRRRRRRRRRRING!!!"'s.

One of us was rather grumpy every morning.

North Adams is a gritty and pretty town, though. There are churches scattered all about, tall steeples jutting into the sky, taller than the mountains around when you are just coming down the hill. It is a city simultaneously of rebirth and death, the new Mass MoCA bringing tourism and a thriving arts community; but lovely victorian homes still sit boarded-up and forgotten. The cemetaries seem vast and expansive, the places of employ more scattered and harder to find. The grass and the leaves on the trees were a vibrant green, something for once coming close to rivaling the greens I remember from Maryland.

Mt. Greylock was a fascinating ascent up a looping, rambling, narrow mountain road where the trees grew thick and lush on either side, and we were barely protected from the drop straight down by a few small concrete pillars. We took several trails at the summit, almost straight down and straight up on the way back, trails where I wished I had exchanged my pants for shorts so I could better see where I was placing my feet, trails where you needed both hands to help you get down the scrambles. (Trails where a road would suddenly appear after you had just negotiated a steep sharp rocky stretch and were panting with the effort...)

Natural Bridge Park was fascinating, if not as breathtaking as one would expect. It's a cavernous gorge carved through soft, smooth marble by a dammed river. (Damned river!) Stairs all around make different viewpoints easily accessible, but the drop is still enough to make you feel slightly weak in the backs of your knees.

We spent the warmest of the days (at least, it seemed that way) at Mass MoCA. I loved it, absolutely loved it. I'm kind of an art fiend as is, but I didn't expect to enjoy it anywhere near as much as I did. Sean even liked most of the exhibits, which is saying something about the accessibility of the art itself. Sometimes, contemporary art exhibitions tend to be so obscure as to intimidate mainstream viewers, but it wasn't so here. If only I hadn't left my camera in the car.

The ride home was long and quiet, me dozing on and off in the passenger seat and Sean pulling off for an orange drink when he needed a pick-me-up. Coming home after a vacation, however brief, is always hard. But the cats were eagerly awaiting us at the door, meowing happily and rubbing against us.

And Sean didn't snore that night. Thank GOD.