Thursday, January 31, 2013

Working for a living

At some point, when my daughter comes to me for business advice (shut up -- it could happen), I will tell my grasshopper the following two things: 1) Surround yourself with the smartest people you can find and 2) Make friends with your IT Department. In my experience, those two things carry equal weight in determining your workplace success.

Which is why it is important to let your IT Department know that you are reading their communications and appreciate the hard word they do. Like I did when I received the following distribution e-mail from our company's help desk technician this week:

I did not reply to that e-mail, but sent him a new e-mail a few minutes later:

And this is why I love our IT Department:

Queen of the ID10T errors,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Well, shoot

So, this happened recently. Please take a moment to read, then continue on to the discussion questions below:

1. Can you imagine how weird this would have been if drugs were involved?
2. If a naked stranger poops and masturbates in your home while trying to steal your television set, approximately how long will it take you to burn the house in a massive inferno because, as my friend put it, "you cannot steam clean your eyes"?
3. How does the conversation the next morning with your friends go? " were really wasted last night. And let's just say that getting tasered by the cops was tamest part of it."
4. If you are one to say, break into someone's house while naked, try to steal their television set, then poop and masturbate while they hold you at gun point (read: several of my closest friends), would you not populate your Facebook page with more sane looking photos?

Now that's a gun lover,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Age of Aquarius

Today is my birthday. I began celebrating this birthday a week ago -- with my mom and her husband in Williamsburg and Richmond, where we did this:

and saw this:

and was also what I dubbed the "weekend of disillusionment" as it was the weekend my daughter learned that I am a big, fat liar. (In my defense, I know that she talks about everything with everybody, so when she asked me last year how old I was, I knew this number would be broadcast everywhere.) Therefore, I felt justified in shaving 10 years off the actual  number -- a lie I perpetuated for an entire year until my mom pulled out number candles to put on a cake and my daughter learned the difficult truth. And that is she will be disappointed often with me as a mother. (On the bright side, she has to put up with me for 10 fewer years than she initially thought, so it all works out.)

And this weekend, I'm celebrating by doing a lot of fun things with friends.

Last night, went with the Dilettantes and the Dilettante spouses to see Todd Glass at the DC Improv.

Todd Glass has been a favorite comedian of mine for a while. Last time we saw him at the DC Improv, my friend, Amy, dared me to get him to sign my chest. Not one to turn down a dare, I accepted:

Klassy. And dear God...could I look more exhausted?
I had a very young child at the time and did not sleep.  I have no
explanation for the exceedingly high forehead.
Shortly after that, Todd came out publicly. I'm confident the two things are unrelated.

This year I kept my jacket on. I didn't want to risk
also turning Daniel Kinno off to the entire gender.
After the Improv, we went to the Dirty Martini, where the bartender gave me a complimentary glass of wine. While a nice gesture, I honestly didn't even need the first fishbowl-sized beverage. Two would have made me crazy.
Although not that crazy. 
This morning, we're hosting a brunch at the house for friends we don't get to see often. I get to play hostess and enjoy some day drinking -- two of my favorite things.

Another year celebrating what I value most: family, friends, disappointing those I love, comedy and drinks. 

Happy Birthday to me,

P.S. One of my birthday gifts was a yodeling pickle. (Note to self: add this list of things I value most.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's No Context

My friend, Dan, writes to me often after my Patch column publishes. In these brief e-mails he will rhetorically ask (and then answer), “Best line of this week’s column?” He boils down the entire narrative into the one line or phrase that he thinks anchors the column. And of course, he is always right. 

I’m now wondering if I should streamline things and write my column in tweet format going forward, as the other 375 words in each column appear to be superfluous.

Anyway, here they are. The best lines from each At Home with Brutalism column of 2012, according to Dan:
  • Voir dire is a legal term meaning “everything we French people say sounds pretentious and condescending.”
  • This was the only time in my life I was actually encouraged to judge someone (my sorority years aside), and somehow that made it much less fun.
  • Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to warm up with a tall drink of something dark and strong. And I may brew myself a cup of coffee, too.
  • In a perfect world, this list would be totally effective and there would be nothing left in the world to annoy me. That’s not true. I’m sure Seth Rogen will continue to make movies.
  • I’m embarrassed just writing about that kind of over sharing — says the woman with a weekly column, two blogs, and Facebook and Twitter accounts. 
  • I prefer to think this speaks more to my boundless energy and zest for life than to my maturity level. >LOL, smiley emoticon, giggle<
  • Frankly, I’d like to see more meaningful lists that really help people make a decision on whether they'd like to live in a particular county. What about a list that shows the counties with the highest concentration of people with body odor? Or counties with the most people who insist on using air quotes? Or counties with the fewest number of hipsters? These are the statistics that mean something.
  • This friend is somewhat of an expert in the religion arena, as he is in the process of converting to Catholicism — a plunge he decided to take because his current love is a member of the Catholic Church. (A former love of his was Mormon, so he also converted to Mormonism at one point.) While I admire his passion and commitment, I have let him know that simply attending mass is also an option.
  • And if experience has taught me anything, it’s that this kid would be better off entering a witness protection program than trying to reassimilate into his classroom with a bunch of other kids who have not dropped delicious baked meat products in front of their peers.
  • In my own brown, expressionless way, I actually appreciated being overlooked occasionally. 
  • It could probably best be described as "Betsey Johnson" meets "Alexander McQueen" meets "LSD flashback." 
  • Both sides believe its way is the right way and no amount of discourse seems to sway the other. I cannot go anywhere these days without the talk turning to this two-party system: the party who lives their lives on social media … and the party that I simply cannot relate to at all.
  • The one occasion years ago that I did try gambling, I made a $5 bet at the roulette table which disappeared faster than my college roommate’s pants at a fraternity party. (Ed. IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S TRUE). 
  • And let's face it, in the NYC metro area you consider it a win when someone sitting across the aisle from you isn't rambling incoherently to an invisible companion or urinating on themselves. (Revision: I actually consider that a win pretty much everywhere.) 
  • But mostly I’m upset because as a parent who has worked both in and outside the home, I'm confused as to which group I’m supposed to feel superior to.
  • Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to get to know people over time ... and always where there is some means of egress.
  • After considering and rejecting several names such as Purple Seahorses, Purple People Eaters, Purple Piranhas and Purple Poisonous Snakes at the first team meeting, they settled on … wait for it … the Big Purple Balls
  • Reading my columns in public is a definite stretch out of the comfort zone for this formerly shy person. (Aside: I first wrote that as “formally” shy. Apparently, I’m shy only when wearing ball gowns and tiaras. Casually? I’m the life of the party. Formally? A totally introverted, albeit well-dressed wallflower.)
  • Although here's a spoiler alert: You go through the entire Colosseum tour and do not even see one Christian being fed to a lion. 
  • As my husband and I are of like mind that hard-earned money should be thrown at ridiculousness, we ordered ourselves a Yeti.
  • Perhaps I should not be so judgmental. Particularly because the people wearing "Bi(nary) Curious" t-shirts likely made it to the starting line without falling on their faces.
  • Never once did I dream of becoming a doyenne, and not just because I had no idea what one was.
  • Nothing says, "We love and appreciate you" more than making dad set up a tent surrounded by a dozen hyperactive children. And making him sleep on a leaky air mattress. I say that like there is any other kind of air mattress. 
  • We wouldn't even consider leaving our current house until our daughter graduates from high school. Besides, after taking the plunge of co-owning a Yeti with our neighbors, this is not a decision we could make without entering into some sort of (likely contentious) custodial arrangement, anyway.  
  • When I was a child, my parents thought the best way for me to overcome this phobia was immersion therapy and always tasked me with making phone calls. It was astonishing how many busy signals I claimed to get during these fruitless exercises. I was never one of those teenagers who spent hours on the phone with their friends; and I'm probably the only person in the history of dating who hoped a good date would end with no promise of a call the next day. Honestly, even the Blondie song "Call Me" makes me break out in a cold sweat.
  • And because it is my job to serve, I'm offering a list of Dos and Don'ts when it comes to closings, listed in order from most to least offensive according to much (read: no) Internet research and a significant sample size of me. 
  • I only wish we had been asked to select a theme song for the bris we attended a few years ago, because I had a couple of great ideas: Anything by Cutting Crew or "I Fall to Pieces" by Patsy Cline
  • This was nonsense at its finest — premeditated nonsense, which at its essence is truly an art form.
  • Do: Make lots of new friends. Some of these people will be friends for life. And not only because they still have possession of the negatives from your weekend in Amsterdam. Don't: Make out with lots of new friends. Save that for your 20s — which you will later come to know as your "decade of regret."
  • So it is a testament to their persistence that my husband and some friends actually convinced me to join a Fantasy Football league this fall. (Although, in my defense, it was presented as a "fantasy league" which I incorrectly assumed was something entirely different. And which may explain my choice of Benjamin Bratt as a first-round draft pick. And the white rocks around my mailbox.)
  • Yeti is now somewhat of a celebrity, and with that fame comes a fair share a wackadoos. (Trust me. I know. Just last week, someone clicked "recommend" on my column. I may have to get a restraining order.)
  • Lately, I've been seeing colored skinny jeans everywhere I look — in every catalog, on Facebook ads, and all over Pinterest. And as I rely on these sources to dictate what I should like and purchase, thus began my quest. A woman on a mission, I went to Nordstrom Rack and grabbed every pair of skinny colored jeans I could find with the grace of the Tasmanian devil and the discernment of Charlie Sheen at a pharmaceutical 'n' hooker buffet.
  • To recap: My preparation for what was predicted to be the worst storm in more than a hundred years was limited to reviving my blondness and acquiring pirate pants. I apologize for the redundancy.
  • Note: This is even more surprising for everyone involved when you are not wearing pants. (Which, apparently, our uptight elementary school frowns upon. Another lesson learned the hard way ...)
  • My brother-in-law chimed in via Facebook about the Hostess bankruptcy and resulting loss of beloved treats by writing, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." While I can appreciate his strong feelings about the situation, it figures someone who quotes Tennyson on social media is the type of elitist who grew up regularly enjoying SnoBalls in his lunchbox. (Not a euphemism). 
  • I can also not be indignant when anyone cuts me off, takes my parking spot or is otherwise rude to me in traffic. Car costumes correlate directly to a lack of gravitas, no matter how righteous the cause.
All a-Twitter,

Friday, January 04, 2013

Brutalism's 2012 Highlights

What's the saying about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb? Well, for me, 2012 was like March. If March came in like a drunken pro football player and went out like a hideous lawn ornament that the neighborhood adopted and adorned on various occasions.

I'm surprised that adage has not caught on.

For years now, I have provided a bulleted list of the things I and my family have done during the year with a picture of our big, fat faces that serves as a holiday greeting for our friends and family. More importantly, it prevents me from having to write anything emotional or sentimental to people I care about. This year, I did not get my act together in time and the greeting never went out. So now I can share that with you, loyal readers, so I don't forget the year that was.

Brutalism's 2012 year in review:

My daughter's vision of Venice. That is the reflection 
of a pigeon in the water, not a dead body as I originally thought.
If we were in Sicily, it would be a diferent story.

My mom and my Stepbrother dancing
at the wedding. No alcohol was served.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    • Las Vegas, NV (where better to spend a 7-year-old's birthday than Sin City?)
  • Took my daughter to the White House Easter Egg Roll. It was awesome. Just ask Tim Tebow: 


  • Started a second career as a humorist with two speaking engagements that raised money for local charities. One was a charity group that formed after a woman died of breast cancer at age 36. All of her friends rallied and formed a charity -- which is amazing. However, my introduction for that speaking engagement was done by a woman who launched into a heart wrenching, emotional narrative about the charity namesake's last days and what a great person she was. Then she and many audience members teared up, as most of them were close, personal friends.
   And of course, my opening piece immediately following this introduction was a poop story: 


Happy 'Nooga Year

I just spent three days in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

No, it was not community service. I actually wanted to go there -- a decision made after watching an HGTV House Hunters episode - you know, the way I make all of my travel destination choices.

And after driving 1500 miles over 5 days (we stopped in Charlotte to visit relatives along the way), I have to say -- I love the 'Nooga!

Which is kinda weird. Because I hate nougat. And noogies.

What a great city. And not only because I happened upon a marriage-proposal-in-process while I was walking across a pedestrian bridge (awwww):

Right after proposal was accepted, I screamed,
"You know 50% of marriages end in divorce, right?"
or because I fell in love with a 10-week-old Wheaten Terrier I met on that bridge. It was not even because of some great restaurants with great beer or the fact that this is what a Chattanooga police station looks like:
Well put me in cuffs and send me to your Art Deco hoosegow.

or that they teach you how to do the Waltz while walking (now dancing) down the street:

Look how drunk Avery is.
Chattanooga has a dedication to public art and refurbishing old buildings and growing the city in a really smart way. It's hip without the 'tude. Great real estate without the great price tags. Nougat without the "T."

Besides, my next house is there:

Right in the center of town and ridiculously cheap.
Perhaps because there are no doors.
And, yes -- I did make my child both a) eat nougat and b) get a noogie while we were there:


Happy 'Nooga Year, Everyone!