Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary To My Sweet Brother, and Happy Birthday to My Sweet Lavanya

Today is a wonderful day. Why is it wonderful, you ask? Is it because my hair looks fabulous? Well, yes, but that's not the reason. Is it because the sun is shining and the wind is crazy and I just got a cute new pair of jeans? Well, yes, but that's not the reason. Maybe, you think, it's because I talked to my departmental advisor and he said, "Cheasty, you're just so brilliant that we've decided taking comprehensive qualifying examinations for your PhD would really be a waste of time. We're prepared to give you a free pass, as well as guarantee you $50,000 a year in fellowship for the remainder of your time here." God, how I wish.

What really makes today wonderful is that it is January 31, which marks 8 years of bliss, joy, and happiness for my amazing brother, the Fairy King, and his partner, Sweet Baby Face. Eight years since that fateful day in 2000 when a decked-out Goth kid skipped high school and met a preppy college boy at the mall. Throughout the many many years of my life in which I've been single, and the many many times I've been in the second or third month of a star-crossed relationship, I've always looked to the Fairy King and Sweet Baby Face to guide me down the paths of healthy love. Happy anniversary, you two. I love yas.

And the other thing that makes it wonderful? My friend Lavanya is celebrating a birthday today. Happy birthday, my darling friend. You are one of the most gentle, open, lovely, and loving women that I know. You bless my life on a daily basis, make me feel grounded and at peace when I start to spin myself into insanity, and enrich my approach toward the world with your wonderful smile and joyful laugh. Here's to many many more years of trading massages, solving our problems, and making each other laugh.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How To Make Friends and Influence People

In a word?  Food.  I don't know if you remember the Mutt-and-Cheasty Insultathon that took place a couple of weeks ago, but in the end I did get Nan's email from Mutt and we planned a delicious dinner party with an Italian theme.  It was a huge hit.  HUGE.  And by "huge," I mean I cooked three full-sized lasagnas for nine people.  Overkill, but I blame my mother, whose motto in life is "if you want it done right, overdo it."  It was yummy.  How yummy? Just look at these faces. Happy, right? Very yummy.

I would give you the recipe here, but i think i'll save that for another day. Instead I'll tell you about the process. First, Nan wrote me an email:

> Cheasty!
> Yes, let's do Italian dinner on Sunday.
> I will bring home made Focaccia and garden Salad and
> we will cook
> together at your house??
> Sounds good?
> Sorry that I have to bring my husband... I am
> responsible to feed him
> as a submissive oriental wife.
>See you soon!

Then we invited friends. Here we are.

The hosts:

My sweet wonderful utterly gorgeous sister Umulu (Ooh-moo-loo. Don't ask.) She loves me.

The hair club for men:

People watched me pretend the sauce spoon was a microphone. We all have talents, and that happens to be one of mine.

We ate retarded amounts of food, we talked and laughed, and made merry noises. we drank ridiculous amounts of wine. I love dinner parties.

Here is a recipe for the greatest, simplest, deliciousest italian appetizer of all time.

oops, look at the time. i've got to run! i'll post it tomorrow. ai, what a tease...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In Which A Gorgeous Man Flirts With Me On Accident

This morning I went to a coffee shop to do some reading for the class I'm TAing this spring.  I hadn't brushed my hair, which sometimes, but not always, makes it look like this:

Normally it's not this bad. I find this picture almost inexplicable.  That doesn't even look like my face.  When I look like this, my friends call me Roberta. I don't know why, but there you have it. Anyway, I digress. Yesterday's mascara was smudged underneath my eyes, giving me a delightful look I've started calling "Last Night's Party," or sometimes, "Heroine Junky." I was wearing a purple shirt, red and brown shoes that I only noticed later do not match my shirt, and jeans that are so faded and worn out even I am embarrassed to be seen wearing them, and that's saying something. I looked pretty bad.  Not as bad as the picture above, but not great. I'm only filling you in on my wardrobe and physical appearance because I feel the visual image will assist you in seeing the gross self-deception involved in the story I am about to tell you.  

I pulled up in my car and as I'm sitting there unbuckling, a very cute hunky dude comes walking up the sidewalk and looks right at me.  I look back.  "Hello, hunky dude," I say to myself in a sultry whisper.  Clearly he read my mind, or at least my lascivious intentions, because he smiles at me.  A wonderful, private, intimate smile.  Goose bumps.  I smile back.  "Hey, hey, hey, Cheastypants," I think to myself.  "You're lookin' hot today!  Look who's checking you out!"

I didn't take a picture of hunky dude, but this is my attempt at communicating just exactly how hunky this dude was.

Ha ha! Just kidding. Perhaps just imagine Patrick Dempsey with a better chin. He was pretty hunky. Anyway, I get out of my car and sashay over to the door, blissfully unaware of how horrific I look because, in typical Amazing Cheastypants form, I had neglected to look in a mirror before leaving the house.  He gazes soulfully into my eyes and holds the door for me.  "Thanks," I whisper coyly, and smile demurely up at him as I walk by.  I remember the lessons I learned while observing a particularly sexy friend of mine in an experiment I conducted many months ago (a story for another time) and think, "OK, swing your hips when you walk. Don't be too obvious, but give him open body language. F%^K! Why am I so bad at this game? I can't remember all the rules. Do I play hard to get? Should I look at him again? How about now? Now?" God, sometimes I long for the days of arranged marriages.

I get my cup of tea and sit down in a comfy chair. I notice that while initially Hunky Dude had set up on a table at the opposite end of the shop, he now picks up his book and coffee and moves to a table right near me. He looks at me meaningfully as he passes. I blush and hyperventilate, and stare fixedly at the book I have on my lap. I look up again. He is looking at me, holding up a book, showing me a title page that reads Love in the Time of Cholera. "A bold move," I muse. "What on earth is he trying to communicate?"  I try speaking his language. I hold up my book, which is called Sexual Revolution in Early America. (Dont' ask.) This seems awfully forward to me. We haven't even had our first date, and already we're talking about sex and love. Then I notice the look on his face. He looks confused. He looks at me, and then at the book again. Back at me. Then he blushes, and then stares fixedly into his coffee cup.

"Oh, no!" I cry (in my head).  "I've blown it!  He thinks I'm a weirdo, a sexual deviant!  I should go explain.  No I shouldn't.  Yes, I should.  No.  Yes.  No.  Maybe in a minute?"  I sit for a moment, gathering my courage, thinking, "Come on, Cheastypants!  This is the 21st Century! Women are allowed to make the first move these days. Lead by example."  So I get up.  I casually stretch, look around to make sure nobody's watching, and then I start walking toward him.  He looks up, and looks at me with intense concentration.  "Yes," I think.  "He's willing me to come to him!"  He begins to smile, and stands up.  He's walking towards me.  Oh, be still my beating heart!  

Wait a minute.

He walks past me.  I turn around, and see him walk right up to a petite brunette, holding a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera prominently in front of her.  They smile.  He starts to shake her hand, while she leans in for a hug.  They stop, confused.  They laugh.  They speak quiet words, and then he hugs her.  They return to his table, and as they pass he shoots me a sheepish, and yet somewhat relieved, smile.

I go to the bathroom to pretend that I was up and walking around for some other reason than going to hit on him.  I look in the mirror.  I faint.  Three hours later, I wake up in a hospital. Again, just kidding.  Really, I started to laugh, but that's not quite as dramatic an ending, now, is it?  I fixed up my hair and remnants of yesterday's makeup as best as I could, then I went back to my chair and listened to them having charmingly awkward blind date conversation for the next hour or so.  For those who are interested, it went fairly well.  He's an architect, she's a social worker, they both love dogs and prefer the beach to the mountains. I'm pretty sure they'll be seeing each other again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Warm Up Your Cockles

This is in no way a plug for the company that made this little commercial, but it is seriously one of the sweetest and funniest things I've seen in a while. 

"We're doin' business here."  

Character Lines

The other day a friend mentioned how young i looked for 30. Young, except for a few little "character lines" about the eyes.

"Character lines?" I asked. "You've got it all wrong, babe. Those are vents. Vents through which my scorching hot sexiness can escape to dazzle those around me. Other vents might appear around the nose, mouth, and forehead, but the eye vents are particularly powerful. This is apparent when you study bonified sex bombs like myself, who have prematurely deep eye vents." (see image above)

I could see how dubious this certain somebody was. "How can you prove this?" her demeanor seemed to ask.

I thought to head her off at the pass.

"The power of the sexy eye vent is clear," I extemporized, "as evidenced by the masterful way hot sexy women like myself can use the sexy eye vents to send out seductive vibes to hot and virile men. Or women. It works both ways, I suppose. Generally speaking, the more you use the vents, the more sexiness escapes through these microfissures. Over time, naturally, the sexiest women develop the deepest vent lines due to repetitive use."

In the end, I could see I'd convinced her by my masterful deployment of this proven true scientific fact. As she walked away, I could see her squinting at the really cute coffee shop barista. Way to go, girl. Exercise those sexy eye vents. Grrrr.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On Days Like This I Love Texas

When my brothers and sisters and I were young, our mother always said that we'll never get what we want by whining.  I believe that today, I can prove that she was wrong all those years ago.  To be quite honest, I'm a little disappointed to have come to this realization so late in life, considering that I've spent the past 20-odd years trying to live by the no-whining maxim. Turns out, whining is extremely effective. Witness Friday's post about the crappy Texas weather. After I posted it, I was a little ashamed at myself for having given in to the urge to whine in a public forum.  Turns out, it was a canny move.
I whined with great prolixity, and even, I believe, threatened the weather gods with some Amazing Cheastypants action if they did not heed my demands for either sunshine or warmth. Well, Mom, check it out.  I would have settled for one or the other, but look.  We got both.  I am amazed at my own powers.

Two days ago (pre-whining):


Yesterday (post-whining):

Yay!  It's still winter, but what a winter day!

It was epically wonderful. Some of my friends and I went on a walk around Town Lake to soak up the rays and join the milling throngs all out to enjoy the beautiful day. Meet Penata and Lola, two of the greatest women in the world. Hi Penata, hi Lola. (They say "hi," too.)

People ran, they biked, they walked, they fished.

Best of all, there was a sunset. On days like this I love Texas.

Friday, January 25, 2008

On Days Like This I Hate Texas

If you ask most people who were born in the South, they'll tell you they hate cold weather.  This isn't, as most northern folk believe, because they've never experienced cold weather.  In fact, the South is quite good at packing a whammy of a frigid sucker punch a few times every winter. The reason they hate cold, is because cold in our world, isn't beautiful.  In the north and much of the West, cold can be downright gorgeous.  If you're from New Mexico, for example, cold looks like this:

Beautiful, right?

But here in central Texas (and vast other parts of the South), cold looks like this:

Rainy, barren, brown, and 35 degrees F.  Blech.  You can't see the rain in this picture, but I promise, it's there.  I took this on my bike ride yesterday, just a few minutes after it started to rain on me, 10 miles from home.
If it were not for the happy circumstance of living the first 8 years of my life in New York, where I frolicked in snow frequently as a child, I, too, would unilaterally believe that I hated cold weather.  If you ask me (and didn't you just?), the most repugnant kind of weather on earth is 35 degrees and rainy.  It's awful.  Howlingly awful. Inappropriate, inconsiderate, and nasty.  I don't mind either of those weather items in isolation. 

Rain?  Fine.  The earth needs it.  It gives me an excuse to make tea, splash in puddles, and avoid washing my car.  

Cold?  Fine.  The earth needs it.  It gives me an excuse to cuddle up under cozy blankets, make fires, and start planning ski trips.  

But 35 degrees and rain in combination are primordially insulting to me.  I mean, come on.  Just a measly 3 degrees colder, and we could have SNOW!  (oh, glorious snow, how I miss the days when you were a part of my life...)  Or if it were 10 degrees warmer I wouldn't wish so fervently for death (that's probably a lie, but I'm trying to make a point, here) as I bike to school in the cold cold cold rain.  If it's going to be 35 degrees, at least make it a clear day, so that the air is crisp and clear, the sun shines brightly upon my red-tipped ears and nose, and at night the stars seem close and brilliant.  

Having so clearly stated my preferences, I would appreciate it if the weather gods would obey, but no.  I just checked the forecast, and we've got at least another four days of royally grotesque weather ahead of us before the sun peeps through.  The fates taunt me with their cavalier indifference to my climactic preferences.  I shall have to do something about this, I think.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm Not the Only Badass Out There

Certain people have been mocking my considerable skills on a surfboard. (I'm not naming names, but you know who you are. And, more importantly, I know where you live.) To be fair, of course, they aren't necessarily mocking my skills on a surfboard, per se, but near a surfboard (see blog entry "In Which Amazing Cheastypants Learns to Surf"). But I won't split hairs.

In my own defense, I would like to take this opportunity to demonstrate to the blogosphere, (and those certain people) that I am not the only incompetent first time surfer out there.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I offer you Exhibit A:

(Look, Ma, no hands! and no foot!)

If this wasn't convincing, perhaps Exhibit B will persuade you?

(Look, Ma, I'm surfing on my face!)

And of course, my favorite sequence. I call this one "I'm surfing! I'm-surfing! Oh-shit-I'm-falling-down."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Scrabble Rules

A good friend and i have been assiduously playing an online version of Scrabble recently, and pretty much trading games. She kicked my ass in one, we actually TIED in another (what are the chances of that happening?), and it looks like I'm going to kick her hiney in this current game unless she whips out some obscure triple-word-score and defeats me with resounding soundness at the last minute. not at all an outside possibility, the way things are going. (i have no vowels. none. ridiculous.)

so here's my big problem with online Scrabble. i love playing. it's a swell way to dawdle away those very important daylight hours without actually getting a damn thing done. BUT. it's unpredictable, and computer-based, which means you can't argue, even when the computer is quite OBVIOUSLY in error. for example.

here's a list of words the computer has not allowed me (or an opponent) to play.

(there are a few more perfectly legitimate words I can't remember now, but I was outraged at the time)

and here's a list of words that the computer HAS allowed me (or an opponent) to play.


I submit to you, outside the profane, but commonly used, first two words, do ANY of the other ones count? what the hell is "za?" "jun?" "ae?" And while I admit that there is a dictionary definition for "sard," shouldn't it be nixed on the basis of ludicrosity?

And furthermore, are zion, id, and zoot not perfectly normal, highly utilized, common nouns of the English language?

I protest, computer. I protest. I know you're not listening (or if you are, you're pantomiming having wax in your ears and shouting "what?! i can't hear you!" like an old man) but. For the record? I protest.

Monday, January 21, 2008

In Which Amazing Cheastypants Learns to Surf

Have I ever told you that I'm a badass?

Cause I am. A real life, iron-bending, nails-for-breakfast, sleeps-out-in-the-snow-cause-it-makes-you-tougher badass. My young friends here agree with me. Bad. Ass.

Not too long ago, I learned how to surf. Like any natural born athlete and totally amazing badass, I quickly became very good. Exceptionally good. World class, even. Look at that form, the style, the fluidity of motion, the sheer exuberance of movement...

Watch me as I conquer this mighty wave. Notice how big and scary it is. As a natural-born badass, I taunt death on a daily basis, but even for me, this is extreme action. I hope I make it, cause that wave is ENORMOUS.

Oh, she's up! She's riding! She's conquering the blue, dominating the deep, hanging ten, and rockin' out!

Wait. Why are my feet nowhere near the surfboard?

Oops. Maybe I exaggerated that "badass" schtick just a little bit.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lions, Lions, Lions

I recently started a collection of lions. It started in Europe when I was in Brussels this spring. I found myself taking all these pictures of lions and then wondered, "why the hell am I taking all these pictures of lions?" But then I started noticing how different (and often quite funny) they are. I thought I'd share a few of the notable highlights.

For example, the noble lion of Bruges, Belgium:

How mighty his aspect, how proud his carriage. A fine specimen of feline manhood, of pride (er, he he...) in his species.

Contrast now with the beleaguered, yet well-fed mien of this Italian potentate, the Lion of Milano:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him when he was not this hen-pecked creature, beset by an ungodly host of pigeons.

In Rome the lions stretch and growl, yawning like sleepy housecats, vestiges of an empire that felt entirely too confident of its supper. In Florence, however, the proud dukes of that city-state commissioned lions that stood literally with one paw resting heavily upon the globe. It turns out you can learn a lot about history from the way they make their lions.

But not just history -- also current events! In Venice, where the entire city center has given itself over to a Disney-esque Carnival of tourism, the lions are often confused for mechanical bulls. It turns out you don't have to work hard to find Texans the world over:

My favorite example of this "Lion as Commentary on Modern Times" is from Brussels, Belgium, current capital of the European Union. This fine specimen sits at the gates of a park that faces the great halls of government. I call him the Scardey Cat:

I know, I know. I've inspired you all to go out and start snapping photos of large carnivorous cats. But your enthusiasm is suddenly dampened by the realization that you can't afford a trip to Europe just now. Oh, no! you cry out. Now I'll never be able to start a nifty lion collection like Cheasty! What am I to do? (This outburst can be nicely complemented by placing the hand dramatically across the brow, palm facing outward, fingers curving delicately inward to indicate the absolute vulnerability of the emoting supplicant.)

Never fear, dear readers. We (shockingly enough) have lions in the USA, too. One only has to keep an open eye. Why, just this summer I've located two fine cats in unusual places. Providence, Rhode Island, it turns out, has scary lions:

I know it's small (they have to be to fit inside the state), but trust me. Those Rhodies are fierce.

And right here in Austin, Texas, as close to home as right next door, a squat little lion made of cement sits sentinel, dreaming of the day when his likeness will be rendered permanent in marble or granite and positioned atop the state capitol building. He might not have been real handy back in the land-grabbing, Indian-killing, pioneering good-old-days, but he sure is good at PR.

"That's right, you pansy sons'a bitches," he roars and snarls. "Don't mess with Texas."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's Your Handle, Good Buddy?

I'm intrigued, even entranced, by a character study currently in process. Since I'm doing this blog, I need to come up with secret names for all my family members and good friends, so that whatever potentially incriminating information I post about them up here can in no way be traced back to the source without some serious detective work. What is funny about this is how some people know in a heartbeat what their handle ought to be, while others do some serious dithering, seeming incapacitated by the sheer enormity of choosing a new online identity. Case in point, my friend The Great Nameless One. Despite intensive wrangling over dinner tonight, he remains nameless. Here is my nameless friend.

Don't be fooled by this grim expression. The Great Nameless One is probably the sweetest guy in creation, and this is one of the rare instances when I've seen him without a smile. Tonight as he tried to wrangle with the overwhelming possibility of having a new name, however, he looked about this grim. The Great Nameless One, you see, is a dreamer. A man who sees possibility in every circumstance, adventure around every corner. He just could not decide. So I threw a few at him. "Hey, Great Nameless One, how about Santana? How about Traveler? How about Apollo? How about The Dawn Treader? How about Cockroach?

He thought that one was funny.

Anyway, the point is, some people knew in an instant, without even having to think. Like Octavia, for instance. I said, "Hey, what do you want your handle to be on my blog?" Instantly, and I do mean INSTANTLY, she shot back, "Octavia." Wow. I mean, what the heck? How did you know that? Who's Octavia, anyway? Is this a name you've secretly desired to command as your own for more than the past 10 nanoseconds? The answers to these questions are unimportant. The point is, Octavia knew. But then, Octavia, for all her wild adventures and curious mind, is a practical woman. The Great Nameless One wouldn't know practical if it bit him on the ass. It takes all kinds. Love you, GNO, even if you never pick a name.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This Is Why I Love My Friends

These are my friends Mutt and Nan. I love them. Nan is wearing a hat that says "will work for sex." I can't vouch for the veracity of that statement.

So this is why I love my friends. The following is a transcription of a recent email exchange between me and my friend Mutt. Mutt's wife Nan (all names are changed to protect the identity of police investigations) is really cool, and while having drinks a week ago, we started talking about having an Italian food dinner party with some great recipes we wanted to try out. This is what happened when I tried to get Mutt to give me Nan's email. (P.S. The 'cat piss' he refers to is not random. His cat peed in my car. I hate his cat.)


> > hi mutt,
> > you are such a loser. you were, like, totally
> > supposed to give Nan my email, but what a lame-o
> > you turned out to be. completely unreliable.
> > so would you give me her schmemail so i can write
> > to her and plan all sorts of ways to have fun without
> > you?
> >
> > cheasty
> >
> > ps. i just got the moosewood cookbook and am inspired
> > a million ways from yesterday for new ethnic meals i
> > want to plan. want to have a dinner party? or twelve?
> >


> Cheasty,
> The tone of your email is completely uncalled for.
> I have plenty more
> cat piss to spray around if you are not more
> respectful of my
> feelings. The reason why I have not emailed you
> Nan's email is
> simple: she's my wife, I own her, and must monitor
> all communications.
> If I told you her email was XXXX@XXX.COM then
> I would have less
> control over her and wives can't make decisions
> (good ones anyway)
> without an all-knowing strong husband (like
> myself... have you seen my
> biceps?)
> Mutt
> PS: What the hell are "ethnic meals?" Do we eat
> ethnicities?
> yes, a dinner party or 12 sounds absolutely
> fabulous!
> P.P.S: I don't think you should call people
> "lame-os" that is
> derogatory toward disabled people. Your so
> retarded!



I don't know who died and left you in charge, bucko,
but you'd better get a grip on your overblown ego, and
i mean pronto. I don't know how to say this without
sounding like i could kick your ass, but I could kick
your ass. if i want to talk to your wife, i will. if
i want to eat a lot of ethnics, i will. if i want to
look at pictures of you on my laptop and squeeze your
head like kids in the hall, i will. and you and your
bulging biceps can't stop me.

best regards to you and yours in this holiday season,


In Which My Father Explains Men To Me

I was talking to my dad today, telling him about this past week -- a week in which different men have, at various times and in various ways, confounded me. So i asked him. What's up with men, Dad? Why do i find them so difficult to understand? Why do they do things that to me mean one thing, but to them mean something entirely different?
His answer struck me as eminently sensible, though i confess i only listened to the first sentence. He said, and this is a direct quote, "See, men are kind of like insects." He talked a little bit more, but my brain had fixated on that one bit, so i don't remember the rest of it.
His simile seemed so ludicrous, so post-modern, so lacking in any basis in reality that it somehow put me at ease. "oh," i thought. "i get it. i'm not supposed to understand."

here is my dad, with the next generation of insects, my baby brother, Bug.

Massage Mechanics

You know that old expression, "never look a gift horse in the mouth?" Well, whoever said that was a liar. A big, stinky, untruth-telling liar. You want to know how I know? I'll tell you. I got a massage gift certificate. Granted, it wasn't free, but it was a $35 massage at this place, which is a steep discount, so I signed up. You're not going to believe the name. OK, I'll tell you, but you're still not going to believe me. It was called Relaxation Station. Right next store to the school supply store called Conjunction Junction. And across the street from the lighting fixture store called Luciform Platform. And down the road from... wait. I'll stop here, before I begin to regret it.

Point is, this place was ridiculous. Notwithstanding the super-retardo name, I walked in and the place smelled like a Glade air freshener was plugged in to every outlet. Every one. If I had to describe my thoughts about that smell in one word, that word would probably be vomit. And there was a water fountain in the corner that sounded like an enormous waterfall. Niagara, even. Not kidding. I walked inside and was instantly overwhelmed with the need to pee. And there was one CD player playing Sounds of the Forest, and another playing some new-agey cd that was probably called Ayurvedic Tantra or some such thing. Fans blew gentle breezes (i.e., gusts of wind) across the room, and a humidifier blew occasional puffs of misty air. None of these things, by themselves, was a hanging crime, but taken all together, the effect was ludicrous, to say the least. If the SNL guys ever put together a skit about over-the-top holistic therapy, this is what the set would look like.

The massage therapist seemed nice enough, but she was into machines. Not kidding. She had one that looked like a floor sander, and another that was called The Thumper. It looked like an electric hand mixer, but with 8 or 10 sticky-outie parts that pound into your body. Call me old-fashioned, but when I get a massage, I like to think I'm paying for the expertise and training the massage therapist acquired while in professional school. Any idiot could stand there with a floor sander and vibrate my back into the next millenium, but I want somebody's hands to find the muscle knots and GET RID OF THEM. Lucky for me, she didn't just confine her vibrations to my back. Her favorite thing to vibrate was my head, followed closely by my feet. The latter tickled like hell, and the former just scared me, as the stupid thing was so strong that it seemed not unlikely that my brains might start falling out of my ears.

At several points during the massage I started laughing, thinking, "oh, i can't wait to tell people about this!" Luckily, between the vibration of the floor sander, the thumping of the Thumper, and the noise from the music, the fans, and the waterfall, the massage therapist had no idea why my body was shaking, or what those choking noises were, coming from my face. For the record, massage therapist? I was laughing. At you. And at myself, for sitting through this just so i'd have a good story to tell.

How I Met My Best Friend

This is me, and my best friend Octavia. That's not her real name, of course, but for various reasons involving famous people, it works for her. We've been friends since we were 5. This, in spite of living in separate states since we were 8. You want to know how this is possible? Well, it has a lot to do with long-distance telephone calls, the invention of email, summer visits, common interests, and traveling together. I love Octavia. You want to know how we met, back when we were 5?

My mother, in raising each of her children, has always believed wholeheartedly in the genius of each one of her offspring, and any other young pups she adopts along the way. But that's another story for another time. For now, we're talking about her unswerving faith in our great mental prowess. Sometimes she believes this in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but for the most part, Mom's faith in our abilities has spurred us on to great achievements. And that is why, at the tender age of 4, I could read the Berenstain Bears books. She taught me how. This was great, but in kindergarten, while the rest of the class was learning about Mr. M and Ms. P, I was rapidly becoming a discipline problem. Boredom will do that to you. So a month or two into school, they skipped me ahead to the first grade.

Oh, my God, was I terrified. I was a terminally shy little girl (TERMINALLY), despite my behavioral outbursts in kindergarten, and moving me up with the older kids in first grade scared the ever-lovin' you-know-what out of me. I'll never forget that first day, walking into a classroom where everybody already knew each other and I was the new kid and didn't know anybody. And I was sure they were all so much smarter than me, after all, I bet you a million dollars they already knew how to do MATH... I'm lucky I didn't wet my pants.

Despite my acute terror, it all went relatively well until Mrs. Drew sat us down to do some work. (A side note about Mrs. Drew. Her first name was Ann. Ann Drew. Ha!!) She told us to get out our pencils. Uh-oh. I didn't have a pencil. My face flushed with humiliation, I raised my hand to tell Mrs. Drew, sure she was bound to yell at me. Mrs. Drew? Wherever you are now, thank you. I love you. She just smiled, said, "Oh, these things happen. Class, does anybody have a pencil they can lend our new student?"

Oh yes, they did. Whoom, whish, whap, shwoop! I blinked, and the next thing I knew there were roughly 4 million pencils in front of my face, each being offered by another classmate. Bewildered, I grabbed one, murmured "thank you," and on we went.

So how did I meet my best friend? You might think, based on the story I just told, that it was her pencil I borrowed. Well, you'd be wrong. At recess that day, I stood by myself, watching all my classmates playing, evaluating who appeared to be a safe bet to approach. Then this tall skinny kid with braids in her hair came swaggering up to me, looked me up and down, and said, with no small amount of belligerence, "Hey, why didn't you take MY pencil?!" I blushed and stammered, and said, "I don't know," and she smiled her enormous smile and said, "Ok. You wanna go play?"

That was 25 years ago, and we never looked back. Here's us at a karaoke bar a year or two ago. We closed the place down. I did Dolly Parton, she crooned to White Snake. She's the funniest person I know, as well as the smartest. I love Octavia. It is my life's ambition for us one day to live within a three hour drive of each other.


I've been keeping a blog for years now with a group of friends from college and it's been a fine and wonderful experience. I used to invite all sorts of friends and family to read our blog and see what's going on, but due to privacy issues, we eventually had to make that site members-only, thus DEPRIVING ME OF THE AUDIENCE I NEED! Ok, I'm kidding. Well, only partly kidding. The truth is, I've got a lot to say. I love to write, to tell stories, to show pictures. And I love this blogosphere. So here I am. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this site yet, or how often I'll post, or what the "theme" (if there is one, besides my rambling mind) will be, but I'll be chronicling the continued adventures of my life. If you like it, I hope you keep reading.