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...)

For what we learned, Indonesia and Hong Kong, click here
For what we learned, Costa Rica, click here
For what we learned, Italy, click here
For what we learned, London, click here
For what we learned, Bahamas, click here
For what we learned, France and Morocco, click here
For what we learned, Southern Spain, click here
For what we learned, Peru, click here

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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Drama Queen and a Half

Eight-year-old Avery, begrudgingly having to use our regular mint toothpaste because her strawberry-flavored toothpaste had run out:

(Dramatically, while placing toothbrush in mouth): "If I don't make it through, tell Madilyn she was my best friend."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Getting Schooled

The following came home on one of my daughter's 2nd grade papers recently:

And I cannot tell you how happy I am that she is learning what we've been drilling into her head at home...and that is to always forgo your principles for the right amount of money.

We also teach her that it is important to do well in school but it is more important to always have a boyfriend.

UPDATE: Thanks to DC Blogs for linking to my post today. I'd gladly forgo my principles for DC Blogs.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Austin City Limits

As Stefon would say about the four days I spent in this Texas capital city with some girlfriends: "This weekend had everything: half-buried ceramic babies, swingers, eating truck food sold by a George Clinton lookalike, poisoned margaritas, window shopping for taxidermy, and a personal introduction to Austin by a former sex therapist who convinced us to pose for topless photos."

The first night we were there, we ended up at a venue listening to some great music and talking to a couple of guys at the bar who suggested we see Austin City Limits while in town. And because we do everything random guys in bars tell us to do we headed to Austin City Limits the next morning after breakfast at a cafe that was recommended by a drunk-seeming cowboy in full regalia that we ran into on the street. (We also do everything drunk-seeming cowboys on the street tell us to do.)  And because breakfast and the tour were both spectacular...our bad judgement was both reinforced and rewarded.

The bar at Hotel San Jose where we stayed.

After the tour of Austin City Limits, we stopped by a bar for a margarita, which proved to be our first bad choice of the trip. (And by that, I mean the first bad choice with negative consequences...)

It was here that Kira drank half a margarita while commenting on how weird it tasted. She returned it for another drink, but by then, she had already set the wheels in motion for the "Austin Cleanse" that kept her holed up in the hotel room for the next two days. While she missed the shenanigans of the next 48 hours, she did return from vacation five pounds lighter, so I suggested partnering with this bar that sold her this for the next great quickie weight-loss program. (She'll laugh about this some day.)
Kira and Carrie at Austin City Limits. Before we lost Kira to the Austin Cleanse.
With one man down, Donna, Carrie and I took a break from all the pillow and tickle fighting* and headed out. And this is where the very After Hours portion of the trip began...

*Okay, fine. This is really more what it is like in the hotel
room during our girls' weekends. 
On our way out, we passed by the hotel bar where we saw a vision in a floor-length goat coat floating in...a tall woman with long blond hair and an aura of fabulousness. She glanced our way then ran over screaming, "Donna" and embracing our friend. (Donna had met this woman a few times before and knew she had a home in Austin but did not know she'd be in town.)

She told us to give her a few minutes to get her friends settled at the bar so she could take us on a tour of South Congress Street. And that she did...popping into every restaurant, shop and hidden music venue she deemed worthy of seeing, she breezed past patrons and management and had everyone's eyes on her everywhere we went. And we all followed along, enthralled.

One of the shops on our tour -- a place called
"Uncommon Objects" that featured skulls, home
decor, many doll parts and some very bad
During this tour, we saw her Austin home which was across the street from an artist who had planted ceramic babies in her yard. Our whirlwind tour ended at a live music place that was fairly crowded, so our tour guide went up to a woman sitting alone in a large booth to see if we could sit with her and the next thing we knew, they were hugging (foreshadowing) and we were being introduced to booth woman -- who invited all of us to sit in the booth with her and her boyfriend.

As the evening progressed, there was lots of good music, lots of margaritas, and some food from the truck out back where Carrie ordered a catfish sandwich, even though she does not like catfish because the George Clinton clone working there recommended it.

We are a suggestible bunch.

Also during the evening, we spoke to booth woman and her boyfriend, both of whom were very, very friendly. This did not strike us as weird, because everyone in Austin is very, very friendly. Although, I suppose there was more than the usual lifting of shirts to show us their body art, and perhaps less personal space than normal as they moved in closely to talk and share photos. And sure, they bought us lots of rounds of drinks and yes, at one point in the evening after dancing with the woman, our hostess simply disappeared.

 Disappointingly, I did not pack a travel fishbowl.
When we woke up the next morning, I was half convinced that the entire evening was a dream. That is, until Donna realized that she had our hostess's credit card in her purse. When we met up to return it, we discovered that she had simply fled the previous night because the booth woman told her they were swingers and started getting handsy and she did not know how to handle it, so she left...conveniently, without warning any of us. Oh, well, it's not like I told the swingers my name or blog name or showed them photos of my husband and daughter. (Clarification: I did all of this.)

During breakfast, we had a visit from my old roommate, Chuck. We lived together for a year in Northern Virginia, and during that time there was a shotgun and a mounted deer head in my apartment.

Me and Chuck. His mom is an NYT best-selling romance novelist.
For the  purpose of preserving his sanity, he does not read her stuff.
Later that day, we met up again with Michelle and boarded her party bus to a famous barbecue place. (Note: She simultaneously drove, DJed, refreshed people's drinks, held conversations and exercised with her resistance band while driving the party bus.)

The group at Salt Lick Barbecue. 

The party bus. 

 When we got back to her house, this happened:
My waist has never looked tinier. That's the first
thing you noticed, right?
Later that evening, we caught up with some more friends...
Dori (second from right) lives in NJ  and was also visiting Austin
at the same time. She did a college semester in London with
Carrie and me.
...then ended our evening checking out all the bars on Rainey street and coming home in a pedicab after we could not find a regular cab...

Another sweet Austinite (Austinian?) -- Everyone in this
city is so damn nice.
Kira rallied for breakfast at Guero's the next morning, just in time to head to the airport.

And some of my other favorite pics from the trip: