Thursday, May 21, 2015

Strange Bedfellows

Earlier this evening, we had to put my cat, Seamus, to sleep. He was 14 and declined very rapidly in the past week. It was the right thing to do, but I will never get over it. And I will never stop being grateful to the vet that came to our house and made it as peaceful as possible. When I'm up to it, I will write about the awesomeness that was Seamus. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite photos...

He was a good and tolerant cat. 
...and a column I wrote for the Oakton Patch on July 20, 2011, where he makes an appearance:

Strange Bedfellows

After more than 10 years together, I can’t take it anymore. I toss and turn all night, I wake up cranky and unrested — I’m not sleeping at all and it is because of sharing a bed.

There’s the snoring, the space hogging, the need to be touching me the entire night. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the times he throws up on the duvet cover.

I’m talking, of course, about my cat, Seamus.

I realize this is my fault because I let him sleep in our bed. But to my credit, I assumed the arrangement was going to be temporary, something we allowed while he worked through his grief.

You see, Seamus used to sleep in the laundry room with our other cat, Brooke. They had a fairly elaborate set-up down there, with their food and water, litter boxes, kitty condo and assorted catnip toys. At the end of an arduous day of sleeping, eating and lazing around the house, they’d happily trot down there at bed time when we called them, we’d close the door, head upstairs, and everyone in the entire house would sleep peacefully.

But when Brooke died last year after they lived together for more than eight years, he sank into a depression. Before you roll your eyes and think I am one of those crazy cat people who thinks felines mourn and understand these things, let me just tell you that during my weekly kitty tea party (this week’s theme: Harry Potter!), my four-legged guests Hairy Potter, Purrmione Granger and Alpuss Dumbledore assured me they do.

While he was grieving, Seamus also had no appetite. He was listless (no list at all) and melancholy and he lost so much weight that for the first time since he came to live with us, I could actually pick him up without risking a hernia. It was obvious it was just too painful for Seamus to spend the night in the laundry room alone so I began allowing him to sleep in our bed.

When I realized just how much this was interrupting my sleep, we went so far as to adopt another cat to try and get them back in the laundry room sleeping routine. Alas, our new cat does not like being in a closed room and expresses that very vocally, so we now sometimes share our bed with two cats.

I’m exhausted and I have no idea what to do. Perhaps I’ll ask Paul McCatney at next week’s Beatles-themed tea party.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

For The Dogs

You know how you sometimes find yourself wearing Dalmatian shoes and announcing a dog fashion show in front of several thousand people? 

Don't worry, they're faux. As far as you knaux, anyway.
I had one of those moments on Saturday at the annual Reston Pet Fiesta

On Friday afternoon, a friend of mine e-mailed to say the radio station personality scheduled to announce the dog fashion show at the Fiesta had cancelled, so could I step in and do it? (Apparently, Left Shark was busy.) And if I know anything, it's that when you agree to help out at the last minute when people are desperate and expectations are very low, they are very grateful no matter what your performance. It is in this type of environment that I really thrive.

Of course I posted this opportunity on social media the nano-second it was finalized and that's when my neighbor, Lisa, and I began texting dog/fashion puns back and forth to use in my schtick. However, when I got to Reston, I learned that my script was already written and I would not be able to use any of this fantastic material. Because I hate for this brilliance to go to waste, please enjoy the following: Devil wears Paw-da, Dolce and Gabone-a, Vera Wag, Fur-sace, Cynthia Growley, Helmutt Lang, Flea St. Laurent, Lily Pul-leasher, Bark Jacobs, Kate Spayed, Ruff Lauren, Jimmy Chew, Cindy Pawford and "please remember to spay and neuter your models." 

Perhaps it is better the script was provided.

I was obviously a very integral part of this event. 
Although, I did ad-lib a little:
  • One of the dogs in the fashion show was named Gisele - so I told the audience that the whole big announcement about her quitting runway modeling was just a rumor
  • I know we've all heard that models can be difficult to work with and that they don't eat, that was not the case with these models - in fact, they were exceptionally friendly and they eat...a LOT
  • In one of the dog's bios it mentioned that he was still working on potty training. And I said, "you and me both, brother"
Representatives from BROOD Basset Rescue
Team Canedo came out to support me and enjoy the event, which boasts several thousand attendees and more than 40 rescue groups. It was a gorgeous day and we loved every minute of it and met a lot of great dogs that need forever homes. 
This is Bear. He is a Golden Retriever/Corgi mix. And I love him.
And an aside: I also have gold shoes, so if there is ever a last-minute need for me to substitute as Oscars host...I'm in. 

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Two Redheads, a Brunette and a Blonde Walk Into a Bar...

I'm back from a great weekend in Richmond with three college friends I met during a semester abroad my junior year. It was not an immediate friendship as we experienced an initial drama kids/sorority girls divide that could have rivaled the Jets and Sharks in its intensity. But then we realized they would totally kick our asses in a choreographed musical rumble and figured it was easier to just be friends.        

And even though we planned this weekend about eight months ago before I knew I would be done with drinking altogether (what? who are you?), I had a fantastic time on our wine weekend touring vineyards and hanging out with these ladies.
Look at me. Pretending to sample wine. Like a big girl.
And of course, as with any new experience, I also learned a few things. So here is....

My Wineless Wine weekend with JMU friends in Richmond/Charlottesville...what I learned:

  • The "Sh-Sh....Shhhhh" move (depicted above) is so unbelievably condescending and stupid, yet it is also never not funny when used during conversation. This became our signature move of the weekend...and subsequently during my annual review at work, at parent/teacher meetings and while receiving communion. 
  • Carrie has never dated a man who uses a nickname. In her long, storied dating and marital history there have been two Jameses, a David, a Patrick, a Rodney and a Michael. Which frankly, is a terrific screening tool when assessing future mates. "Bobby? It's not gonna work. Chuck? Forget about it. Benjamin? How you doin'?"
  • Our hostess, Stacy, and her husband have six large rescue dogs (shout outs to Riley, Carson, Baxter, Harley, Angus and Parker). (Um...and also props to the awesome and tolerant Donnie.) Yet her house is gorgeous and immaculate and does not smell like dog. We have no idea how this is so. She may be a wizard. She welcomed us into her home with this: 
Gold and purple gift bags! With JMU wine glasses!
She's the wizard of hospitality, for sure.
  • When you are the only person not partaking of wine samples during your winery stops, you logically get elected as designated driver. Of a Hummer. When you have never driven anything larger than a Passat. Once I maneuvered out of the small winery parking lot onto the highway and was gently reminded by Joyce I could "loosen my grip on the steering wheel" I actually did okay. (Although in retrospect, I probably should have provided some context when bursting through the door after coming home from the weekend and exclaiming proudly to my husband, "I am the Hummer MASTER!")
  • Of the three wineries visited ( CooperBlenheim, and Trump), Cooper has the most delicious wines and the most pleasant tasting experience overall. (Please click on those links in I am totally proud of what I did there....)
  • Joyce can perfectly sum up her long friendship with Stacy as simply, "I am the yin to fancy-pants's yang" (Although, I think Joyce is pretty fancy, too...or at least her new bra is. The one she showed us. While wearing it. At the dinner table.) 
  • When Joyce informs the group that her husband sent her "kiddie porn" and then wants to show you the photo on her iPhone, you recoil in horror until you realize she is showing you a photo of her cat sprawled out on its back and that she said, "kitty porn." (Unrelated: Joyce can do a spot on imitation of the dog voice in this video.) 
  • During a rousing game of "Boff/Marry/Kill" over breakfast, you all unanimously conclude that of Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man, Hulk should die. (For varying reasons, including 'roid rage, the huge clothing budget and the bulging muscles overcompensating for other areas  - but still...killing Hulk is the great uniter!) 
Still marveling at the fun,

Friday, March 27, 2015

Law & Order: #2

Please read this article then continue on to the discussion below.

When I first heard about this on the radio, I processed it as "Poo Prince," which immediately made me think of my favorite singer (and Poo Prince, indeed), GG Allin. Bless his heart.

Alas, the service is in fact Poo PRINTS, which effectively tests the DNA of any lawn leavins' so you can trace them back to the poopetrator. 

(That tagline is available for sale, BTW.)

And all I can say is how appropriate the one-attorney-per-every-centimeter demographic that comprises the DMV area has devised yet another way to bring the law into what was once simply handled by flinging the offending matter back into the yard of the originator.

What bothers me most is the infringement on our rights. First, the doggie DNA...then what? Upper deckers become a felonious act? There are no more mad poopers to break up the tedium of  daily life in the cube farm because they're scared of repercussions? Flaming bags of poop, while once an emphatic expression of unhappiness, become mere memories as younger generations fear the possible consequences of keeping this art form alive?

I think what I'm trying to say is that first they came for the dog poop and I did not speak out, because I was not a dog owner...then they came for the Mad Poopers, and I did not speak out because I was not a fecal prankster...

Let's not take this squatting down!

Information for this post came from Urban Dictionary, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum web site and the McLean Patch. Just like all of my papers in grad school. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tough Love

Last night, in preparation for helping my daughter review for a test, I requested that she bring the following upstairs to the office: her social studies notebook...and something to throw at her.

Lest you think this is cruel and unusual, let me just say that it absolutely is.

It is also very effective.

I first learned how effective when we were on vacation in Disney World a couple of years ago. The timing of this trip caused our daughter to miss some important tests, so we had to interrupt the 24-hour entertainment cycle with a few minutes of study time here and there. With so much distraction, I discovered that the best way to get her to focus was to throw candy corn at her head while she studied.

Not only did this work, but when I posted it to Facebook, I got a lot of responses. (Mostly from women. With children. And mostly in support of my actions.)

It takes a village, people.
She did great on her tests when we returned, so I've implemented the tactic at home, too. Once when quizzing her with math flash cards, I rated her efforts with letter grades. At one point, I shrieked, "F!" while tossing a flash card at her head when I did not feel she was putting her all into the study session.

By the way, her response to my request last night? She came upstairs, straight faced, and placed her notebook and two clementines on my desk.

Which was such a perfect response to my nonsense.

Particularly because they don't leave bruises.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Write Stuff

If in 2005 you told me I would be spending Valentine's Day 2015 away from my husband getting my "tweet" "favorited" by Morgan Spurlock, I would probably have slapped you and insisted I was not that kind of girl. 

Fast forward to Valentine's Day turns out I am exactly that kind of girl:

I was fortunate enough to again be invited to the Writer's Guild Awards East as guests of my friends, Meredith and John, as John once again was Executive Producer of the show. (See recap from last year's event here.)

And even though the trip this year was a whirlwind that left no time for hair and eyelash beautification... this year was fun because I knew some of the writers from meeting them last year (and riding the Cyclone on Coney Island with one of them over the summer - but that's a story for another day...) Also, I got to meet and talk to some of the presenters:
Me with presenter, Lizz Winstead. I told her I had participated in her Lady Parts Justice
V to Shining V initiative and she hugged me and took a picture. While I was putting
my arm around her, I inadvertently stuck my hand in her armpit. This is why
I am either great or terrible at meeting celebrities.

The one and only outfit selfie I have ever taken and for which I am
totally unapologetic. It is the only full-length photo of me from the evening.
(These are my red "favorite my tweet" pumps. And my weird
Carol Brady-esque flippy hair.)
My friend (and Executive Producer Extraordinaire) John Marshall with presenter
(and Comedian Extraordinaire) Sarah Silverman. (Fun fact: I once made my then 
7-year-old daughter watch The Sarah Silverman Program "Banana Cop" episode 
because it is so genius. This is why I am either great or terrible at being a Mom.)

Larry Wilmore and John...just hangin' out backstage. 

The gorgeous Meredith Forbes with her husband. 
Also in attendance this year? Clive Owen, Norman Lear, Robert Klein, Judith Light and many others. The place was lousy with celebrities and great writers.

And the cherry on top? Bananagrams was an event sponsor and the swag bags had Bananagrams in them. I have never been happier. 

That's all she wrote,

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Some Killer High School Years

Actual conversation between me and a high school friend yesterday:

Me: "So, Facebook recommended that I friend [name of kid we went to high school with who served time in jail for murdering two people]. Isn't that weird?"

Her: "Oh. I remember him. He's the one who dated our friend, Michelle, right?"

Me: "No that was [kid with same first name/similar last name]."

Her: "Oh, right. He's the one that went to jail for beating someone with a baseball bat."

And that is why I will be skipping my reunion this year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Should Start A Movement

During lunch, I met my husband for a walk on the W&OD Trail. While I was driving him back to his office, we passed this abomination:

Yes, I understand that doggie salons require cutesy names, just like cupcake store owners are required to wear tutus and government workers are required to take the entire month of December as vacation. And I can appreciate that. What I cannot abide is when a PERFECTLY GOOD play on words is RIGHT UNDERFOOT (so to speak) and the business owner falls just short of a spectacular naming opportunity. It is just such a waste (snicker). I mean, don't these salon owners have a duty (heh) to brainstorm until the perfect name emerges from the pile?

DOG 'DO, for CHRISSAKES! DOG 'DO is the perfect name! It was right there! Dog-a-Do isn't even an acceptable #2 choice (cough, cough).

They better not come crying to me when it all hits the fan.

Available for all of your corporate naming needs,

P.S. Many thanks to The Poop Thesaurus -- what a fantastic research tool.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Raining on My Charade

Scene: Me, during a game of family charades, attempting to act out "two front teeth" by pointing at my two front teeth

Daughter: "Big teeth?"

Husband: "Buck teeth?"

Daughter: "Gigantic teeth?"

Husband: "Cartoonishly large teeth?"

Me: >Looks up number for cosmetic dentistry practice<

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sole Searching

During the cocktail hour at a bat mitzvah celebration I recently attended, I noticed some cross dressers across the cheese display.

I assumed these were not guests at the bat mitzvah because I was certain the hosts would have given a heads-up if they were. You know, so the guests would be able to prepare.

And by prepare, I mean bring our A games in terms of personal styling, as there is nothing quite so shameful as being worse than a man at dressing like a female.

I mean sure, I looked nice-ish. I'd done my hair and put on lipstick and even attempted to wear the highest heels I own. I say "attempted" because about an hour into the party, the discomfort factor was so high that I kicked off the shoes and went barefoot the rest of the night. Including when I used the facilities and my friend kindly accompanied me to the restroom and placed paper towels on the floor so I could scoot my way to the stall in paper "shoes" to avoid being barefoot on the tiles.

(Did I mention I only had one drink the entire night?  There is nothing on which I can blame this churlish behavior.)

On the way back from the restroom, we walked through the gathering of cross dressers and as we got closer, I realized something truly appalling, something that made me gasp audibly: among the fashionably dressed were those in sensible shoes, with pocketbooks, and *shudder* CARDIGANS. That's right...RuPaul's Drag Racers were mingling with Glamour "Don'ts" and the Frumptastics (and yes...Glamour Don'ts and the Frumptastics is an excellent name for a band).

Now, in my extensive research on cross dressing, I've learned that a lot of the appeal in doing it is that one can be uber-feminine and creative with glamorous ensembles, makeup and shoes. And really, what is the point of making the effort to look like a woman if you look like a woman who has just given up? Wouldn't you want to explore all that it means to be a girly-girl and almost go to the opposite extreme to experiment with all of the different ways to feel delicate, sexy and alluring?

...says the woman in the paper-towel shoes....

When I commented how gigantic my melon looks compared to my friend's,
she kindly noted that "dark hair is very slimming." 
(And a bonus: the Drag Queen Name Generator. I input "Brutalism Blog" and came up with "Bounty Footwear." I kid, It was "Madame Ovary.")

UPDATE: DC Blogs linked to this post today, DC Blogs always seems to link to the posts  of which I'm proudest: those that discuss autoerotic asphyxiation, smoking, my horrible parenting, bunions, expletive-using children's soccer coachesdoctors having their way with me, my husband's mistress, and bungholes, do they find this stuff?

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Bear With Me

Recently, the Brutalism family hiked Old Rag Mountain. In preparation for this excursion, I visited the National Park Service web site to research the hike and learned that the Shenandoah Valley has the densest population of black bears anywhere in the country.

Those are some really dumb bears.

Actually, I mean the Shenandoah is densely populated with black bears. And that is all I had to learn to become completely neurotic about hiking with our perfectly delicious nine-year-old.

Yes, I know that black bears do not generally attack people, particularly on a well-traveled trail like Old Rag. However, I also know that one can never be too careful.

Particularly one who is totally ridiculous.

While packing for the trip, I included a cowbell, jingle bells and claves that I unearthed from my daughter's preschool musical instrument cache because making noise while you hike minimizes the chance of surprising a bear. I also purchased a canister of bear repellent spray, which the young REI employee good-humoredly assured me was really unnecessary in non-grizzly country. Finally, I briefed the family on what to do if we came across a bear: 1) stand still and do not run 2) try to look large to intimidate the bear and 3) poop pants.

And not necessarily in that order.

The day before the hike, we drove to the Shenandoah Valley and spent the night in a yurt:

Mr. Brutalism sent me the reservation confirmation for the yurt when
we were planning this getaway, along with a list of rules, such as
"Don't be curt in the yurt. Don't bring dirt into the yurt. Must use Pert in the yurt." 

And as lovely as this sounds (and as lovely as it was), the yurt was in the middle of nowhere. There was no phone or Internet connection, the nearest neighbor was half a mile away, and the only thing protecting us from ax-wielding maniacs, zombies or wayward Yetis was a thin pane of glass on the front door.

Which of course means that when it was time to go to bed, I tucked the canister of bear repellent into bed next to me so that I could protect my family in case of a yurt invasion. It also means that even after I took a Motrin PM, I woke up at 2:00am and never got back to sleep.

Thankfully, we survived the night and got to Old Rag Mountain early the next day. I carried the bear repellent the entire time, except during the rock scramble. At that point, I probably would have welcomed a bear attack as it would have surely been less painful.

Laugh if you will -- we did not see one bear during our six-hour hike. We also didn't make friends with the many normal hikers who were there who did not look like deranged, paranoid one-man bands. (A small price to pay, in my humble, non-bear-attacked opinion).
Pictured here with bear repellent.
And delicious nine-year-old.
When we returned home after our adventure, we unpacked the car and brought all of our gear into the house. And that is when we discovered that after all of our planning and safety preparation for the weekend, we had simply left the house with the back door completely unlocked. And that is how it remained for the two entire days we were out of town.

Speaking of dense populations...

Thursday, October 09, 2014

And The Winner Is...

Saturday was my daughter's birthday party celebration - she turned nine (Nein!). We celebrated with an Oscars theme:
My daughter is on the right. She is not at all used to posing for photos.
Her friend was obviously surprised to win her category. 
She had an awards ceremony, Hollywood walk of fame stars on which the guests could write their names, and cut-outs in which the girls could take their pictures. You know, just like you and I had when we were little...
So progressive. This was two days before this became legal in Virginia.
She also had a fabulous spread of hors d'oeuvres:
A Facebook friend of mine who saw this photo asked, "are those chocolate-dipped
strawberries?" to which I replied, "Please, that would be a ridiculous indulgence."
Each of her friends was awarded an Oscar statuette. And reminded that if this was the real Hollywood, they'd already be well past their prime.

We had also planned movie-themed charades for the girls, which we never got to in lieu of them running around the front yard playing "zombie" and repeatedly listening to Katy Perry songs on the iPad. They had a blast. At a very high decibel level.

However, when all the girls except my daughter's BFF went home, the two girls asked my husband and I if we'd play the charades game with them. We agreed, because we love that they still want to hang out with us all the time. Or at least they did.

The first movie I selected was "Home Alone." Not remembering exactly how the movie poster looked, I put my hand over my mouth, as if stifling a scream. The girls excitedly guessed, "throwing up?" and then screamed,"yawning?" Finally, I remembered that Macaulay Culkin did more of a "hands to the side of the face" gesture that I mimicked...and they finally guessed it.

My next turn was not much more successful. I selected "The Wizard of Oz" and if you think this is an easy movie to act out, you are very wrong, indeed. (Actually, now that I'm thinking about it...I could have pretended to be a witch melting into the ground...that would have been pretty simple...)

I figured the best way to approach this was to try and show four characters with their arms linked walking together. So, I stood in one spot, then hopped to the spot next to me, then did it twice more and then began strolling forward doing the little dance/jig/walk the characters do in the movie...feeling pretty certain I had nailed this one and redeemed myself.

Which is when my daughter blurted out, "really bad dancing"? and she and her friend dissolved into giggles.

Next year she's getting cookie puss,


Almost exactly like the real walk of fame. All that is missing
are cigarette butts and an overpowering aroma of urine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Is My Life

Mr. Brutalism this morning: "Can you shave my neck?"

Me (assessing height differential): "Sure. Can you get down?"

Mr. Brutalism: *dances*

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Euro Nation

The Brutalism family is back from a two-week trip to Iceland, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brugge and  Brussels. (We generally like to travel in alphabetical order...Iceland was an aberration...) It was a great adventure and because travel is such a learning experience, I find it helpful to capture knowledge gained in a handy list format.

European travels, what I learned:

1) It is advisable to not share with your 8-year-old how much money you are carrying so when a dishonest Amsterdam cabbie insists he does not take credit cards and you (dishonestly) claim to not have any cash, she does not helpfully and honestly blurt out, "But, Mommy! You have 200 Euros!"

2) When you happen upon a contest at a beer festival in Antwerp that appears to be a bunch of drunken men throwing a large hand and you take a picture of the posted sign near the event to translate later, you realize that what you witnessed was, in fact, a bunch of drunken men throwing a large hand...
Oh, like that's so ridiculous...our most popular drinking game is called cornhole...
3) You feel like a big dummy when every single person with whom you interact speaks at least three languages and often many more. (A young kid checking us into the apartment we rented in Antwerp mentioned that he spoke seven languages after mistakenly telling us the dryer was “upstairs” from the washer instead of “above” and then apologized profusely when we looked confused.) Yes, the kid who had taken the trouble to learn our language apologized to us

4) A benefit of visiting Amsterdam for the first time at age 21 is that when you visit again many years later, it is like seeing the city again for the first time, as you will have absolutely zero recollection of anything. Except that the man is always trying to keep you down:
Hotel rules, explicitly designed to harsh our collective mellow. 
5) When you buy your first-ever pair of aqua socks to wear in the Blue Lagoon and model them for your husband the night before you leave, you experience another first...a sex-free vacation.
Aqua socks hidden. As God intended.
6) Food trucks in Brussels are a little more upscale than what we're used to: 
Is it physically possible to be drunk enough that food truck escargots
sound like a solid option? And that's coming from someone who ate
airport sushi in Reykjavik.
7) Mannekin Pis was much smaller than expected:
8) It is fun to use military time as the Europeans do and to find a reason to insert it into every conversation (e.g., "I was thinking we should go to the museum at 1400...or perhaps 1430.") (See also: "Could you please STFU with the military time at now hundred hours?")

9) When you are touring an historic Icelandic town that housed the original Icelandic parliament and take a moment to appreciate the majestic beauty of a nearby waterfall, you may wish to avoid the historical marker explaining this is where they used to stuff women into sacks and drown them, as it makes the setting slightly less enchanting.

     10) Iceland becomes enchanting again when you get an electronic sad face on the highway when going too fast through a speed checkpoint.

Canetto is a lead foot.
    and because of road names like this: 

Canetto is also a Snorrabraut.
11) When in Belgium, it is worthwhile to sample frites with mayonnaise, waffles, beer and chocolates, especially those made by Belgium's "renegade artisan" and "shock-la-tier" that include chocolates with bacon, cola (containing carbon dioxide gas so they bubble in your mouth) and fried onions. It is also worthwhile to stage stupid photos in the chocolate shop...

12) The assessment of Brugge by Colin Farrell's character in "In Bruges" (that being, "I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn't, so it doesn't.") while hilarious, is not something with which we agreed.
Belfry Selfie = Belfie
13) You realize that your husband was meant to be the father of a little girl when he returns the rental bikes after a two-hour ride in Brugge and asks (after hearing about it for two hours), "Did everyone have a good time? Even though everyone's vaginas hurt?"
Smiling through the pain.
14) When you are somehow given a room on the Executive level of your hotel which provides you with access to a happy hour in the Executive lounge every night, you quickly go from grateful and excited to blase and entitled when the same hot hors d'oeuvres are served two nights in a row (derisive snort).

15) You feel at home in Belgium when you notice your family name is represented in the straat- and plaat-a-palooza that is the Antwerp city street grid:   
My family name is C6.  
16) You quickly become very used to ridiculously gorgeous sights from your hotel room window, such as this:

and this:
This was the view we enjoyed one morning as "Ode to Joy" (the EU anthem)
 played in a nearby bell tower.
Eruption of Bardarbunga aside...well played, Europe,

UPDATE: Thanks to DC Blogs for linking to this post. (They felt it was a worthwhile read even though I left out the part about seeing all the bungholes at the Cantillon Brewery...)

And a couple of my other favorite pics from the trip:
Tim almost misses train. Avery laughs. Team Canedo FTW.
Getting a briefing from HQ.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I'm pretty much anti-fast-food-restaurant. And not just because of the lack of nutritional value, the trying-to-hook-future-customers-by-marketing-to-kids or even that "burgers" are really a euphemism for "extruded pink slime."

No. My aversion stems primarily from this:
No. Just no.
When I posted this abomination on Facebook, my outrage was shared by many like-minded friends, one of whom provided this link to a Jezebel article, which perfectly captured the reasons for my hostility toward the Flatizza.

Another of my brilliant friends noted that this was "in the wake of the complete failure of the PizzOrb(TM)." Which totally summed up what is the dumbest part of this Frankenstein word -- it doesn't even make sense - by design, pizzas are flat. It is a redundant, stupid product name. (Worse yet? You know that a summer intern didn't just roll in hungover and come up with that. It was decided over the course of many months, focus groups and overpaid marketing executives' business lunches. "Flatizza" was decided by well-compensated committee.) (Note to self: immediately look for job on well-compensated marketing committee.)

As you may imagine, it took a while for my blood pressure to finally re-enter the normal range after learning that Flatizza was part of my new reality. And it stayed there until I recently ended up at a large chain restaurant with my boss on our way back to the office after a meeting. As this restaurant specializes in massive servings of high-calorie desserts, I was at first happy to see that they offered some healthy options for lunch....

...until I realized that the healthy items were included in a pull-out menu of their own and that each healthy item was referred to as "Skinnylicious." Meaning that even though I really wanted a salad, I was not about to order the "Skinnylicious California salad."

I ordered an omelet,

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's the Tin Anniversary, you know

Happy anniversary to us. Me and Brutalism that is.

Today, June 15, 2014, marks our ten year anniversary. Ten years of one my least complicated and most joyful relationships. A relationship into which I entered with no expectations and therefore, just appreciated anything that has come from it. (Note to self: apply same philosophy to human relationships in next phase of personal growth.)

Many surprisingly great things arose from this blog over the past decade, particularly since I didn't even think of making the blog very public or promoting it for the first five years of its life. It was not until I submitted Brutalism to be anonymously reviewed on Ask and Ye Shall Receive in May 2009 that I decided to begin actively sharing my posts. (And as I like to say, I need validation just badly enough that an above-average review on an anonymous rating web site gave me the confidence to begin telling people about Brutalism.)

Brutalism has provided me with some cool opportunities that led to some other cool experiences, such as:
  • An editor finding my blog and offering me a paid weekly humor column at the Oakton Patch and then the Vienna Patch for two years
  • which led to two speaking engagements for local charities where I got to read my columns to an audience full of people. Here's a clip from one of those 
I've also received a few awesome freebies over the years thanks to companies taking a chance that my readership might drive some business to them. Things like tickets to the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and Madonna's MDNA tour.

Also in the past ten years, I had a daughter, realized a tremendous amount of success as a Peeps dioramist (which is well documented on the blog), and started the Dilettante Club (and associated blog).

During my time as a blogger, I've attended one DC Bloggers meet up, one BlogHer conference and one Erma Bombeck Humor Writer's Workshop. I probably should have leveraged those and been a better networker in the blog world. Alas, I have not.

I've also received several mentions and links on DC Blogs and in the Washington Post Express. These two sources have been great supporters of my blog through the years and I love them for it. Seeing my blog quoted never stops being exciting.

What's next? We'll see. I've already had more opportunities than I'd ever anticipated from this fun hobby/experiment. I'll just keep writing and chronicling things that make me laugh.

And if you have ever read, commented upon, laughed at or enjoyed anything I've written...thank you so much.

AND AN UPDATE: Thanks to DC Blogs for linking to this post. DC Blogs is also one of my least complicated and most joyful relationships...

Friday, May 16, 2014

It Was The BoM

I spent last weekend in the 401...the ocean state..."Little Rhodie..." My best friend from seventh grade (and Rhode Island resident) arranged to have 25 of her closest friends see "The Book of Mormon" on stage at the Providence Performing Arts Center -- something she planned about nine months ago.

Name tags for me and all of my sister wives.
After she picked me up from the airport and we got back to her house, the contractors who had renovated her kitchen were there doing some touch-up work. One of these was a carpenter named Christian who very clearly resembled Jesus Christ. (Do with that what you will...)

With that as a lead-in, the weekend did not disappoint.
The group headed to the theater. En masse. 

Kath even had her name up in lights.
(So did I...I was part of "and friends.")
After the hilarious and well-done show, I reminisced with Kath about when I was Mormon. All I really remember was my sister's "PTL" ring (praise the Lord, for those not in the LDS know), saying lines in a couple of church plays, hiding behind the couch from elders when they came over to visit and being terrified of the full-immersion baptism. (I saw the baptism room at the Mormon church at some point and the thought of going in there and being dunked was horrifying.) Fortunately, we switched religions again before it came to that. I right?

Oh...and there's one last memory of my days as a Sister: Postum:

This is to coffee what carob is to chocolate. And that is a 'Why bother?'
alternative. I remember always having this beverage around the house during
the Mormon phase. I'm a little sad there was no mention of this during the show. 
Anyway, we also spent some time in New Bedford, MA, going to some vintage stores and walking on the beach.

And then, because I love her so much, I made my friend, Kath, drive me to the airport at 5:10am on Sunday to catch my flight back home.

There's not enough Postum in the world...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Good Girls Don't...But "I Do"

Today is the 15th anniversary of the day I married my husband.(If you do the math you'll learn that we did, in fact, party like it was 1999 the day we took our vows.) And it has been a great 15 years. (Actually, we both agreed over coffee this morning that it has been a great 13 1/2 years -- the rest of the time, we fluctuated between mild annoyance and kind of wanting to throttle each other.)

To celebrate this marriage milestone, I spent the entire day getting poked and prodded.

Before you high-five me, let me assure you that I mean that in a truly literal sense. I took the day off work to go to a variety of medical and dental appointments, since I figured it is an extremely efficient way to get things done. (Besides, taking my clothes off so many times for so many different people in the span of five hours makes me feel young again.)

Another bonus to my all-appointment day was that I got to meet my husband for coffee in between proddings. Which is when I reminded him that a technician and a doctor had already gotten further with me than he had today.

And although we are not celebrating tonight (studying for a spelling test and rehearsing for a Helen Keller project are taking precedence), we have big plans tomorrow night. Our awesome neighbor is taking our kid for the night so we can see Brian Regan and dine at a restaurant that does not offer crayons with its menus.

Happy Anniversary to my partner in every sense of the word. I'm glad I only want to throttle you 10% of the time.


UPDATE: Thanks to DC Blogs for linking to this post today. And for being so complimentary. I would never throttle you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coming out of the Closet

Avery: "Mom -- do you want me to do my impression of Larry?"

Me (confusedly): "Who's Larry?"

Avery (matter-of-factly): "That guy in my closet."

Me (slightly panicked): "WHAT GUY IN YOUR CLOSET?"

Avery: "You know, the puppet."

Me: "You mean LESTER!"
Is it me or does that bunny look terrified?

Avery: "Yeah, Lester!" Here's my impression of him." (Makes creepy, vacant face that is eerily similar to Lester's.)

Me: "And here's my impression of a terrified bunny."

The Rhythm Totally Got Us

Our spring break trip to Miami started out a little rough: they go with my husband's middle initial, but decide to
take full advantage of the 20 character limit with my name...
...but then we landed and began what would be our laziest (and therefore, best) week, ever.

South Beach: land of awesome art deco architecture and the $20 cocktail.
  • We arrived in Miami during Gay pride weekend, which featured a high-heel race and parade grand marshal, Gloria Estefan. There were parties everywhere:
It's D-I-L-I-D-O Beach Club. Get your mind out of the gutter.
  • The morning after we arrived, there was a photo shoot at our hotel pool featuring a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. It was for the French "Elle" magazine. (Which, I guess in France, they call, "Her" magazine.)
Decor at our hotel. There was a whole bovine/ovine theme going on.
Seems apropos for South Beach Miami.
  • Also while we were there, we met up with our good friend, Amanda, who I have not seen in far too long even though we both live in the DC metro area. She's all "Oooh, I'm so cool, I'm working on a project in Kenya and flying all over the world" lately so we have not been able to connect. Thanks to the well-timed good fortune of her having a business trip in Miami (for "Sustainotopia" -- not making that up) at the same time as our vacation, we met up for a few insanely-priced cocktails... 
...and did our best impression of a Picasso painting.
  • One morning, the straight-from-a-Ralph-Lauren-ad Director of Daylife from our hotel offered an art deco walking tour of south beach. He claimed the focus was more on pop culture, so we figured it would be worth us stepping away from the pool and putting on actual clothes for part of a day. And it did not disappoint.
Versace's mansion, which was part of the tour. We also saw a place where Justin Bieber
was arrested. And where to shop if you are really, really, really, really, really rich.
  • Our hotel also had a wine hour every night. Because it occurred during our late afternoon nap, we only made it to wine hour once during the week. And while we enjoyed it, our daughter was kind of bored sitting around with a bunch of adults and occupied herself by talking to Siri:
  •  It was an excellent family vacation...
...for us and our little baller.