Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Full Moon

I'm hoping that by now, you have all seen the infamous YouTube video of the Virginia Beach guy mooning the camera during Hurricane Irene.

As a Virginia Beach native, I have nothing but (heh) respect for this glimpse of my hometown brethren.

Or for the nonchalance the rest of my family showed in the eye of danger.

Read about it in this week's Oakton Patch Column: Crisis Mismanagement.  (Includes a link to the video of the guy mooning the camera. You're welcome.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Old School

I don't talk about college much, because it happened a zillion years ago other than the semester I spent in London, it was not the happiest, most positive time of my life. I'm mortified by the things I do remember and therefore, am thankful that there are so many things I don't (e.g. sophomore year, most of my classes, and every Friday after about 5:00pm).

One bright spot, even though I was large-and-in-charge, continually inebriated and had a GPA hovering around the 1.4 mark (fat, drunk and stupid obviously was a way to go through life), was getting a bid to a pretty fun sorority. I know, I know...people have their opinions about this and trust me, my roommate and I got a lot of mileage out of doing things like mentioning our secret song in public whenever the sorority president was within earshot and threatening to sell our secret handshake to the Zetas. We figured that the silly secrets and rituals were a small price to pay for all of the parties, living in the sorority house (with the constant pillow fights and make out sessions, it was just much more convenient) and making a statement by ordering our sorority sweatshirts in black (rather than the official purple color) to demonstrate what non-conformists we were.

It was also nice to share experiences and responsibilities, like co-editing the sorority newsletter.

One especially humiliating thing required of all sororities (and fraternities) at my school was participation in an annual event called "Greek Sing." Each organization was required to sing a medley of themed songs as their entry into this contest, and would be fined if they did not. Many of the sororities (including mine) really got into it -- we even made matching glitter shirts and choreographed hand motions to go along with our song medley. We rehearsed and got stressed out and really put a lot of effort into it. Unlike the stoner fraternity, who basically gave a middle finger to the Panhellenic council for requiring this by dubbing the theme of their performance, "Songs with Os in them" and then standing there and singing "Good Love" and "Moondance" in their mismatched shirts along with a CD.

My heroes.

Anyway, now that I'm older and can reflect on my past with experience and perspective, I realize that a lot of the angst I had at the time had to do with my lack of confidence, self-esteem and the tremendous amount of self-loathing that defined who I was. In retrospect, I think that perhaps my college experience was actually kind of enjoyable. A photo from one of my sorority formals that I found recently confirmed this:

Me, seemingly happy, with my pledge class at the Sigma Sigma Sigma Violet Formal.  (Click to enlarge.)

And then I flipped the page in my scrapbook:

Me about 43 seconds later. (Click to think long and hard about writing that tuition check...)

Monday, August 22, 2011

CSI: Barcelona with Detectives Membrillo & Manchego

Let me just start out by saying that it pays to enunciate when you tell your husband that you are going to a "tapas" class with your attractive neighbor and that while you are gone, he should watch the episode of  "Pawn Stars" that you saved for him.

I hate to see a grown man cry.

This class was my first solo outing with our new-ish next door neighbor -- all of our other outings have included drinking our faces off at each other's summer barbecues. It was also my first time going to our local cooking school, which is only about ten minutes from home. A couple of months ago, we signed up for the tapas class, which promised three hours of cooking instruction, dinner and wine.

What was not promised, but what we did receive, was being partnered up with Dave (aka "Senor Crankypants"). Dave was humorless, pushy, and took over cooking all of the dishes that we were most interested in making. At first it was totally annoying, then it just got funny. Even our very assertive and straightforward requests to get involved with the more interesting dishes were summarily dismissed by Dave, who would just shove ahead of us and do what he wanted. Making up for Dave was Stephanie, the hilarious instructor and Doug, the 20-something assistant who was adorable and flirted with us good-naturedly tolerated our flirting with him. Liz (my neighbor) mentioned that he would be the perfect kind of guy for her stepdaughter...(she is a planner, as her stepdaughter is eight.) She then asked me, "Do you think I should ask him how he feels about eight year olds?" (Meaning, would he wait several years for the right woman.) Although, that is a pretty good litmus test for any guy you'd want to introduce to your daughter.

Or any guy in your life, really.

My favorite dish we made, Membrillo & Manchego, sounds like the name of a Spanish crime drama, but is really a delicious cheese and quince paste concoction that I will be making the next time I need to bring an appetizer to a gathering. It is gorgeous and delicious and requires two ingredients and about ten minutes to construct, which pretty much meets all the necessary criteria to be included in my repertoire.
Other dishes we made were Tortilla a la Espanola, Meatballs in Almond Sauce, Roasted Red & Yellow Bell Peppers with Capers & Anchovies and Flan.

At the end of the three-hour class, we did get to sit down and have a glass of wine while we enjoyed the meal we (and by "we" I mean "Dave") made. We learned at that point that we could take all leftovers but the meatballs and that we could only have one glass of wine. All because of potential liability.

Damn lawyers. (Except you, of course, Liz...)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I've Never Known Greater Comfort

Check out my other blog, Dilettante Club - We'll Try Anything Once. This month, our activity was a 12-mile run.

(Our very pregnant third Dilettante was excused...)

Also...don't hate me because I'm beautiful red, sweaty and psychotic-looking...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Will Not Be Censored*

A "hard eight" in Oakton is a lot more fun.

There. I said it.

If you want to know what I'm talking about -- read this.

*unless the publication that is paying me asks me to remove something potentially offensive from a column. Then I'm okay with it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We're Number One! (+ 35)...

Lovely Oakton, Virginia was just listed as Number 36 in Money Magazine's Top 100 places to live in the United States.

This is in spite of our poor past showing in terms of use of porn in this oak-filled burg, and in spite of my psychotic neighbors.

Though Oakton did earn some points by having a local Patch site that hired me to write a weekly column and actually pays me to come up with 27 penis euphemisms.

It was nice of Money magazine to acknowledge a city that I have come to love in the past ten years that I've lived here. And we are definitely prepared to take over the duties of "Best Place to Live" if the other 35 are unable to fulfill their duties for any reason.


Friday, August 05, 2011


This week's Oakton Patch column discusses Dolly Parton, the Kentucky Junior Miss pageant and a Magic 8-Ball -- and not one of those things is used euphemistically.

It has been the longest week of my life. A week that has included me napping at lunch time not once but twice. (And I'm only Spanish by association, so the siesta is not ingrained...)

This weekend includes a little local getaway...and a nine mile run. FML.

*Thank Flying Spaghetti Monster It's Friday

Monday, August 01, 2011

...and I, I, I....will always love booze...

This weekend, my mom and her husband, Jack, were in town to celebrate my mom's birthday. (It was two weeks ago, but we invited them this weekend because we wanted to take them to see Dolly Parton in concert as her gift.) During the weekend, we also threw a party for her and hosted a brunch.

Mom and Jack with another birthday gift we gave my mom.
She and Jack call their beach house the Love Shack.
And you wonder why I drink.
Here are the events as they unfolded last night at the concert. If you ever get a chance to see Dolly Parton live (especially if you have a chance to see her with my mom and Jack) I highly recommend it:

Canetto and Jack leave for sold-out concert an hour early, supplied with chips and salsa and a six pack of beer, so they can claim a territory on the lawn for us to picnic and watch the show.

Drive to Wolf Trap with Mom and Avery in tow, park car, struggle with 30-pound cooler in which I have packed dinner for five people. Mom offers no help in lugging heavy cooler or wrangling small child, nor does she express any appreciation for my efforts.

Find Canetto and Jack on the lawn, sit down, mom and Jack dive thirstily into first bottle of wine.

Canetto tries to get comfortable on blanket, which he finds difficult due to the two bee stings he got on his butt the evening before.

Note that our lawn seats are fairly close to the stage, though partially obstructed. Fortunately, Canetto has staked claim on another seating option for us in case anyone wants to move (in a smaller group) to an area of the lawn with a better view. We decide to stick together, so Canetto offers secondary seating option with better view of stage to couple in front of us, one half of which is noticeably pregnant. (The girl half.)

Me (in head): He is so sweet. (And possibly trying to avoid another Boobapalooza.)

Notice that Dolly Parton has a lot of gay male fans. Wonder why I have never known this.

Enjoy the energy, talent and self-deprecation that is Dolly Parton.

Take a tired Avery to get a $6.50 ice cream at the concession stand. Calculate how many more years I must work to keep child supplied with Wolf Trap ice cream.

Watch as mom and Jack crack open second bottle of wine. Realize that I will not be having wine as I am now the only one who can safely drive home. Patiently listen as mom turns around at least 63 times to ask me, "Isn't she amazing? She's amazing. Isn't she amazing?"

Agree that she is amazing.

Me (in head): WTF?

Canetto takes tired kid and bee-stung butt home around 9:30. After a short intermission in which I am asked again how amazing Dolly is, mom and husband finish second bottle of wine, which leads to Jack lying on back on the picnic blanket belting out "9 to 5" and "Here you come again" along with Dolly.

During encore, mom and Jack stand up, put arms around each other and sway while singing loudly along to "I will always love you" and staring at each other.

Pack up to leave and Jack carries empty cooler to car. Mom repeatedly asks, "Isn't he wonderful for carrying that? He is wonderful for carrying that. Can I help carry that?"

Me (in head): WTF?

See couple walk by, one half of which is dressed like Dolly Parton (the boy half) -- (well, one of the boy halves).

Me (out loud): That is fantastic.

Get home at about 11:40pm, which is when mom and Jack crack open a third bottle of wine. I head upstairs and read up on Dolly Parton on the Internet and note that she has come out publicly in support of gay rights. Immediately understand why she has so many gay fans and also forgive her all the God stuff she tossed into her concert commentary.

Note that Dolly herself once lost a Dolly Parton lookalike contest.

Me (in e-mail to mother): "Dolly Parton lost a Dolly Parton lookalike contest. Therefore, you are more awesome than Dolly Parton." (My mother once came in third in a Dolly Parton lookalike contest.)

After a fun and exhausting evening taking care of the kids, head to bed.

This morning, while getting coffee before work, notice empty wine bottle on counter.

Me (in head): My mother makes me feel old.