Saturday, May 31, 2008

Drunk. Tired. Happy.

Just got back from having dinner with Mutt, Nan, and Umulu. We made pizza, and IAMTHEBEST - BEST - pizza dough roller-outer in the world. Also, Ums and I told many stories of our hilarious childhood that I will have to tell some other time. Some other time when I'm not drunk. Like about the Drunk Crown. Maybe I'll tell about the Drunk Crown. Or maybe the time my mom made shark for dinner. That was funny. Or what about Crasey, the Fairy King, and salt in the milk. I love that story.

Bye bye for now, getting up early to swim with the fishies at Barton Springs, and must sober up in the interim.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You Might Be A Redneck

My friends, the situation worsens. I mentioned yesterday that I had just learned that my parents were shooting squirrels with an air rifle to keep them away from the birdfeeder. Bad enough, right? Oh, not nearly.

I did some mental calculations, see, and knowing the rough position of the birdfeeder vis-a-vis the house, I began to wonder where my parents were aiming from. If it was the birdfeeder I was thinking of, it doesn't face any major doors. So I asked.

"Hey Dad, where are you shooting these squirrels from?"

You're not going to believe what he said.

No, trust me, you won't.

They're shooting squirrels out their bathroom window.

It was bad enough when he started picking up fresh roadkill and bringing it home to skin the pelt. It was bad enough when he made a boyfriend of mine skin a roadkill fox with him. It was bad enough when he hung fox tails from each handlebar of his motorcycle and stuck eagle feathers in every nook and cranny on his bike. It was bad enough when I opened the chocolate box in the freezer and found the frozen remains of a dead owl. It was bad enough when he started hanging decomposing fox heads from trees scattered throughout the property so the bugs could pick the skulls clean. Skulls he would inevitably decorate with. It was bad enough when all that was happening, but honestly. Shooting squirrels out of your bathroom window? All I'm saying is if even one of those little suckers makes it into a stew pot, I am never coming home again.

Mom, Dad? If you're out there reading this? Just a friendly reminder that you're from New York City. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go change my name to Bobbie Sue Beth and cut my hair in a mullet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Travels, Packing, and A Question

Being done with all this work has made me realize a few things. One, when I'm not working, I hardly ever go near my computer. At least, I'm not going near my computer very much right now. I'm not sure whether this is because I don't go near my computer ever, or whether I'm not going near it right now because the very thought makes me want to break out in hives. Either way, I'm going to have to get over it, but first I need to give myself a few days to recover naturally. So my apologies if posting is a bit sporadic over the next week or two. I'll get back to it, but right now I need to feel untied.

Two, now that I'm done working, I need to pack. In a happy constellation of events, the following things conspired to afford me a month at home with my family this summer. One, I couldn't afford my rent, two, I had a frequent flyer ticket available. Three, I'm leaving for up to a year very very soon, and I wanted to go home and bond before I leave. So I subleased my apartment, got a ticket home, and am solid gold. Beach, garden, mom, dad, dogs, brothers, sister, I'm on my way. The only downside is that I need to pack all my shit away in storage bins for a long haul, condition my car for storage, get months of prescriptions filled (ouch! $$) for antihistamines and birth control pills, and the million other chores. AND I DON'T WANT TO!! I mean, hello world, didn't you get the memo? I'm done! And I resent being forcefully returned to reality.

Three, I'm leaving town NEXT WEEK! Gah, that's fast. First off to Bend, Oregon for a reunion with some of my best girlfriends from college, then to Minneapolis for a history conference I'm presenting at (anybody in Minneapolis have a great suggestion for things to do or places to see while I'm there?), and then home. How do I pack for this? Three different suitcases? One MASSIVE suitcase? Should I just surrender now and commit to wearing only overalls, galoshes, and a tanktop all summer?

In other news, I just learned that my parents have started shooting squirrels with an air rifle to keep them away from the bird feeder. Dad's managed to kill a few, but Mom has apparently turned the bird feeder into a colander. More thoughts on this later.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We Have A Winner

Thank you, thank you all for participating in the first ever (and maybe the last?) Amazing Cheastypants Popularity Contest. I laughed, I cried. It was better than Cats. At long last, we have a winner. While I'd like to congratulate H-SPO for her totally revolting Meatloaf yogurt entry, and myself (applause) for the vomitacious Black Olives and Peanut Butter yogurt, we each only got one vote each. The real winners, as I'm sure you already know, were:

1. Sauerkraut and Peach yogurt, entry by The Fairy King. The ingredients are rather self explanatory, and induce nausea every time I think of them.


2. Texas Potpourri yogurt, entry by the incredibly incredibly good-looking Dame Cookie. For those of poor memory (ahem, that would be me), the ingredients are: essence of homeless person sweat, chunks of I35 pavement, shavings of cedar fever, yellow numbers 5 and 7, dash of Matthew McConaughey's weed, bluebonnets. (gag, choke, barf)

And the winner is.... (i'm just going to pretend you all couldn't go and count yourselves)......

TEXAS POTPOURRI YOGURT, BY DAME COOKIE! yaay, cheers, hip, hip, hooraaaaayyyyyy!!! and the crowd goes wild!!

First prize, I've decided, is a yogurt from Wheatsville Market here in Austin. Cookie, you may redeem your prize at your earliest convenience or Friday night, whichever comes first.

Honorable mention, of course, goes to my wonderful brother The Fairy King, and is a big hug and kiss and maybe if he's dead lucky either my famous roasted chicken OR my famous lasagna dinner when I get home. Depends on how much he flatters me.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Unemployed In Greenland

Well, I did it. I've never been so nervous in my life, but I walked into that examination room on Friday afternoon, stumbled my way through two hours of questions and challenges, and now it's done. I passed my comprehensive qualifying examination, and I, the glamorous, sexy, and sophisticated Amazing Cheastypants, am a PhD candidate. Thank you, thank you, oh, you're too kind.

Actually, it all seems kind of ridiculous when I think of it like that. I just went through academic hell in order to be permitted to write a dissertation. As one of my older classmates told me on Friday night, I just got to Nepal; now I've got to climb Mt. Everest. But whatever. I refuse to get bogged down in the future. Today, I am DONE. Done, done, done donedonedonedone DONE! Hoooraaaaaayyyyy!! For now I'm just focusing on the simple joy of having no looming deadlines, no real work to do for the next week or two, and nothing on my immediate schedule but having fun. I am unemployed in Greenland, and it's just as wonderful as I always thought it might be.

The past few days have been wonderful. On Friday night my friends threw a potluck party for me. I wore my favorite beautiful dress, popped open the bottle of Veuve Clicquot I've had in my fridge since January (I'm big on incentive programs), and gulped champagne, ate fruit tarts, laughed and flitted about feeling free as a bird all night. I don't have photographic evidence of this, but I believe my fingers and toes were actually sparkling. Saturday I went to McKinney Falls State Park with my friend the Samurai Warrior and we roasted in the sun and floated about the swimming hole under the watchful gaze of enormous cyprus trees. Little fishies nibbling our toes, we listened to kids laughing and parents talking, and all the while a guy on the banks played the ukelele. On the way home we stopped at a friend's house and had a spontaneous lunch party; then I went home and napped in the afternoon sun like it was my job. Today I went out for breakfast with Umulu. God I love French Toast and bacon. This afternoon we went shopping, swam at Barton Springs, made a lovely dinner, and watched a movie. Tomorrow I'm going on a long bike ride with my riding buddy, and then to Barton Springs with Mutt and Nan. Later that night we're going to make pesto and watch The Princess Bride. Life could be better, I'm sure, but I can't imagine how.

In other news, I must scold you roundly for a poor showing with the popularity contest. Right now it's a dead heat between Sauerkraut and Peach (3 votes) and Texas Potpourri (3 votes), and while I suppose I COULD declare a tie, the very idea offends my competitive spirit. We need some tie breakers, folks, so if you didn't cast a vote earlier, now's your chance. I have it on good authority from my site meter that around 200 people a day log in to read this blog, so pony up, my friends! We need a clear victory!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Popularity Contest

Inspired by your creative energies, I would like to announce a red-letter day. On this, the 21st of May, I am launching the first ever Cheastypants Popularity Contest!! (wooo-hoooooo!!! yayayayaaaaayyyy!!!) From some of the amazing selections of disgusting yogurt combinations you all submitted the other day, we are now going to choose which one is the most execrable, the most repellent, repulsive, sickening, nauseating, off-putting, foul, nasty and gross yogurt flavor in the world. Are you ready? Please put your vote in the comments. The winner will be awarded.... something. I'm not sure what, yet, but something. Maybe a yogurt? hehe.

1. Sardines and blueberry yogurt (fish on the bottom?)

2. Bouvier Des Flandres and Lhasapoo yogurt? You get the best of all flavored yogurt that sounds sophisticated and incorporates poo!

3. Strawberry escargot yogurt.

4. Sauerkraut and peach yogurt.

5. Blue cheese and vanilla chai yogurt.

6. Meatloaf yogurt.

7. "Texas Popourri"
essence of homeless person sweat, chunks of I35 pavement, shavings of cedar fever, yellow numbers 5 and 7, dash of Matthew McConaughey's weed, bluebonnets.

8. Creamed spinach and peach with chunky goodness!

9. Black olives and peanut butter yogurt.

10. Maple syrup and pickle yogurt.

All right, have at it, Internet. May the grossest yogurt win!

P.S. Wish me luck. This will be my last post until after my oral defense, which is Friday afternoon. And for those of you who think I might post afterwards to let you know how it went, let me tell you that if it goes well, I'm not going anywhere near a computer until at least Sunday. Well, maybe I'll log on briefly to give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down. But only if the computer gets to me before the champagne does. It'll be a fight to the death, though, and my money is on the champagne.

OK now, vote, my poppets. Vote!

A Very Cute Yogurt

Now this, my friends, is a very happy greyhound/border collie mutt. I couldn't ever get her to sit still long enough to get a picture of her super cute face (I ended up with a lot of pictures of grass, or the very tip of a tail in the upper right corner of the frame) but here's Dame Coco the WonderMutt, my constant companion in the Casa de Studyville for the past five days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Staving Off the Grumpies

I wish I had something clever, amusing, interesting, and enlightening to share today, but I don't. I'm staving off the grumpies. My oral defense is on Friday and I've been doing nothing but cramming books in my face at a dizzying and potentially dangerous rate of speed. In order to minimize distraction, I've been staying at my professor's house while I dogsit her pooch for a few days, and I have cut all ties with the outside world. Except for a few walks around the block with the doggie, and one run to the grocery store, I haven't left Casa de Studyville since Saturday. I am unbelievably boring.

Actually, though, here's a thought for the day. Back in college I was on the rowing team and on long road trips my teammates and I would go to stupid lengths to entertain ourselves. One game was a perennial favorite: Name That Disgusting Yogurt Flavor Combination. We'd cackle and gag with glee, throwing out vomitacious ideas like "maple syrup and pickle," or "black olive and peanut butter." Each game would get progressively more disgusting until finally somebody would just shout "poop!" and it'd be over. Cause really, what's more disgusting than poop-flavored yogurt.

Well the marvelous dog I'm babysitting this week is sort of like that game. You know mutts fall in generally predictable categories: shitszu/maltese mix, poodle/lab mix, etc. This dog, however, is a mix between a greyhound and a border collie. I don't know how many of you are dog people, but those of you who are, pick yourself up from that dead faint on the floor. No, I don't know how it happened, but wow. This combination is amazing. Border collies are working dogs, one of the most active, intelligent, active, and did I mention ACTIVE dogs in the world, never content unless they're herding or working or DOING something, while greyhounds are... well. Highstrung and very very fast? I don't know how else to describe them, except perhaps "deadly to furry rabbits." Poor puppy. Her life as a suburban housedog must be profoundly unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong; she's cute and affectionate, and all that is good about dogs, especially when she remembers to take her anti-anxiety medication, but man. All I want to do is take her out to a huge field of sheep (hold the rabbits) and let her run and run and work and work.

So here's your task of the day. Either A) give me a yogurt flavor combination that will make everybody who reads it spontaneously throw up in their mouths, or B) tell me another fantastic mutt combo. I'm suddenly intrigued.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It Happens All the Time

Today I saw something I never thought to see ever in my whole life. Why Cheasty, you say. That sounds awfully dramatic -- what on earth could it be? Did you watch a meteor crash into your front yard? No. Did you see a dinosaur? No. Did you see Brad Pitt in his underwear... in your bed?! Sadly, no. But speaking of "in bed," that's sort of on the right track, because what I saw was A THREESOME IN THE FRONT YARD. Sadly (or not?), it was not a threesome of people, but of stinkbugs. You ever seen a stinkbug? Or stinkbugs mating? This is what it normally looks like.

Now add one. That's right, ladies and gentlemen. Menáge á stinkbug. Sadly, despite what all those pornos I spend all day reading say (ahem, cough cough), it didn't look all that fun. All three stinkbugs were stuck together at the business end, but instead of cooing and moaning and having a good time, it looked more like the Three Stooges, each one pulling in a different direction, trying to get unstuck. First they'd skitter off a little bit one way, then one would pull a little harder, and off they'd go in another direction, until the third one finally stepped up and hauled off towards a third corner. Skitter skatter here, skitter skatter over there. It all looked sort of unpleasant and painful.

It reminded me of a time about 12 years ago when my family had these two puppies from the same litter, Theodore and Sophie. They were so wee and cute and fluffy that we didn't realize until it was too late that they'd, you know, come of age. Then one summer evening my father came home to find our two sweet wee cute and fluffy puppies enthusiastically engaged in the act of love. Did I mention they're from the same litter? My dad was naturally a leeeetle appalled, so he ran out on the porch and grabbed the two and tried pulling them apart, shouting, "No no no no no no no no!" the whole time. But dogs, it turns out, due to some weird little evolutionary miracle, have this thing where the gentleman's, um, equipment, swells up a little so that it can't really come out of the girl's, um, you know. Hoo-ha. At least until the rootin' and tootin' is done. So Dad's pulling Theo and Sophie apart by the scruffs of their necks, and the two puppies are squealing and shrieking. Finally he puts them down to go get the hose. Sophie took off running as soon as her feet hit the ground, but Theo was still stuck to her, only sort of sideways, so he's hopping and skattering after her, yelping and shrieking the whole way. Then Dad turned the garden hose on them full blast, thinking that this would dampen their, er, ardor. Well, it didn't.

Nine weeks later, Sophie gave birth to a lovely litter of puppies with no visible signs of inbreeding.

Good luck, little stinkbugs.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Princess Bride Trivia Quiz

Given the enthusiastic reaction to my allusion to The Best Movie Of All Time the other day, I thought I'd share with you this little gem I found on YouTube. Let me know how you do!

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Love This Joke, Six.

Today on the on-going series of "I Love This Joke," I'd like to share with you a joke I first learned when I was 10 or 11 from my family's hairdresser Jerry. He cut all our hair for years (at least until I was 22), and while I'd like to blame him for my Jordan Knight haircut (ah, middle school, how I miss thee), it really wasn't his fault at all. I asked for it.

Ok, here's the joke. Warning: the build-up is interminable, but the punchline is totally worth it.

This hairdresser was going to a hairdressers' convention one day. He packed up a suitcase with his tools and some snazzy new products he wanted to show off, tossed his stuff in the trunk of his car, and took off for the day. An hour or two into his trip, the hairdresser is getting a little bored, when on the side of the road, he sees a hitchhiker. Brilliant! Company! So he pulls over and gives the guy a lift. They chat about inconsequential things, what do you do for a living, where are you going, etc, when all of the sudden, WHAM! A rabbit runs out in front of the car and gets creamed.

"Oh, boy," says the hitchhiker. "That's unfortunate."
"Never fear!" replies the hairdresser. "I know just how to fix this."

The hitchhiker is a little confused, considering the rabbit is pretty much VERY VERY dead, but he stays quiet and waits to see what the hairdresser does. The hairdresser pulls over on the side of the road, gets out of the car, opens the trunk, and gets a spray bottle out of his suitcase.

Oh, dear, thinks the hitchhiker. I'm with the crazy guy. "Hey, dude? What are you doing? That rabbit is dead, man, let's just keep going!"
The hairdresser smiles at him and says, "Just hold on, I know exactly what I'm doing."

He walks over to the dead rabbit and sprays it a couple of times with the spray bottle. Nothing happens. He walks around it, sprays once over here, once more over there. Just as the hitchhiker is starting to back away slowly, the dead rabbit starts to twitch.

"Holy shit!" the hitchhiker cries out. "The rabbit's moving!"
The hairdresser sprays it a few more times, and the rabbit suddenly jumps up, hops away three times, turns around, and waves back at the two guys. Hops three times, turns around and waves. Hops three times, turns around and waves. He keeps doing this until he disappears in the woods.

The hitchhiker is completely stupefied, shocked, and a little scared. "Dude! What the heck were you spraying on that dead rabbit?!"

"Oh, nothing," replied the hairdresser. "Just a little hare reviver and a permanent wave."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

You Mocked Me Once, Never Do It Again!

You know that scene in The Princess Bride when Buttercup says to The Man in Black, "You mocked me once. Never do it again! I died that day." Remember? It's shortly before she pushed him down the hill into the Fire Swamp. When he reveals himself to be Wesley by screaming "Aaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssss yooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuu wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssshhhhhhhhhh!"

Well, on behalf of Umulu and myself, I would like to claim that line as our personal motto today. Yesterday Ums came home from whatever she was out doing and said, "Whoa, dudes, there's a tornado watch for tonight." I guess if you haven't ever lived in a place where tornados and hurricanes tear you up every few years, you can be excused for not reacting to this news in electrifying manner, and Austin is full of people like that. Umulu and I, however, grew up in North Carolina, where tornados and hurricanes swept through every year or two, and we remember well the screaming winds, the trees crashing down. The convenience store a couple of blocks from our house that was completely destroyed, except for that one random rack of Wonderbread that somehow remained standing as if everything was normal. That shit is scary. And dangerous.

Umulu pulled up the storm on radar, and we watched it for a while, just to be sure it was headed towards us. Then we called friends we'd planned to go out dancing with, or over to houka bars with, and cancelled. Oh, the mockery.

"What? Why are you canceling?"
"Cause there's a tornado watch coming."

Guffaws of laughter.

"A tornado?! Are you KIDDING?! It's perfectly still and calm out here! What's wrong with you? People don't cancel plans because of TORNADOS!!"

Well, sucker, in my neck of the woods they do.

"Oh, well then, also I'm in my pajamas already and I need to spend the evening studying."
"Oh, all right, that's a better excuse."

The stupid thing was, we KNEW it was still and quiet, but DON'T THEY KNOW THAT'S RIGHT BEFORE WHEN THE STORM HITS!? How many nights did our family spend huddled in walk-in closets with blankets and flashlights and bottles of water and granola bars and all 500 dogs, just in case. At least five I can remember, and I know there were more beyond that. Mom would hear the tornado watch and fill up the bathtubs with water, unplug all appliances, extinguish pilot lights, and as the winds began to pick up she'd herd us all into the closet and make us sing songs or read stories to each other. Storms, when they're right overhead, and you can hear trees being uprooted or knocked over, and the wind is screaming and howling, are freakin' scary.

All mockery behind us, the evening proceeded fairly peacefully, and I was beginning to think maybe everybody else was right and Umulu and I were just paranoid. Then around midnight, holy shitballs. That storm hit hard. The thunder and lightning were simultaneous and SO LOUD, and then I realized Umulu was in the shower, so I jumped up from bed and screamed at her to turn off the water and get out of the tub. Just as I said it, a huge lighting bolt exploded over our house, and the power went out. Umulu screamed, Penata came bouncing out of her room like holyshitholyshitholyshit! But Ums and I knew what to do. We cracked the windows open, unplugged appliances, lit some candles, closed the bedroom doors, and we all sat in the inner hallway with flashlights, and waited for it to pass. This morning I went down to campus, and the three miles of road between my house and the university was absolutely wrecked. Trees are down, ripped in half, power lines lay on the ground every which way.

The good news is, I don't think anybody was killed, but here's an account of the destruction from the newspaper.

To paraphrase, 70 mph winds, baseball-sized hail, 3-4 inches of rain, 20,000 without power. Not a hurricane, but front-page news for a town that never gets hit this hard.

I checked my email, and one of our friends, a Prime Mocker, if you will, had written us this morning, saying, "well, I guess that tornado thing was legit after all. oops!"

For the record, Umulu and I would like to say: "You mocked us once. Never do it again!"

(Now it's your turn: Aaaaaaaaaaaassssssss yooooouuuuuuuuuu wiiiiiiiiiiissssssshhhhhhhhhh!)

Turkey Gobble

Several people, including the ever-amusing Princess Pi, mentioned that my post title yesterday got that old Ace of Base song "I Saw the Sign" stuck in their head. In honor of ear bugs, then, today I want to share with you a song that, while seasonally inappropriate, is nonetheless quite charming. This charming song, however, ought to come with a warning label. You might never ever get it out of your head. I discovered this song randomly on YouTube last year around Thanksgiving. I played it for Bug, thinking he might like it. Like it? HA! He LOVED it. Now all you have to do is sing, "Gobble, gobble, gobble, that turkey gobbles," to anybody in my family and they will punch you in the neck. Then they will sing it all day long, too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Saw The Sign

In keeping with the embarrassing levels of self-disclosure I've maintained up to this point, today I'd like to confess an absolutely bizarre hobby. I collect pictures of signs. Yes, that's right, signs, which I know sounds boring as hell, but, see, my signs are funny signs. Signs that make me laugh, giggle, snort, and shoot milk out of my nose. Now you see the genius, right?  Right?  


Ahem.  Anyway, this charming little collector's habit of mine is in keeping with my other bizarre collecting hobby that I've told you about before: stone lions. Grrrrrrrr.

Anyway, signs. These signs come in a variety of styles. I'm a big fan of church signs, for example, and their various approaches toward getting people to come to church.

First, you've got your basic inspirational pun, this one from my hometown of Durham, NC:

B 1.  Get it?  Be one?  hehehehe.

Ooh, look! Another pun, this one from Tennessee.  As well as being sort of clever, this one is scary, too. It's all, hey, look, we're super punny, happy folk, but p.s., if you don't join us, you might burn in hell. 

And now, more danger-puns, this one from Austin, TX. Satan, it turns out, does not use the metric system.  Who knew?

To be fair, of course, not all funny signs are church signs, and I'm an equal-opportunity collector.  For example, you've got your "honesty in advertising" signs. These, I love. Like check out this recent billboard from the strip club near my house:

Sad, but true.  Either gas companies or exotic dancers ought to be chagrined.

I also love a category I call SIGNS OF THE ABSURD. This picture is from Mexico City, and for those of you who don't speak Spanish, that craptastic shop sign says "PRESTIGIOUS GIFTS." Or rather, P_STIGI_uS G_FTS.  He-he. snort.

Lastly, I love bad grammar signs.  Love them to the point of unhealthy obsession.  Like, for example, check out this cardboard sign on an old classic car that the Fairy King and I found in a small mountain town in Tennessee:

I love the sentiment, but this is too funny.

And lastly, proving that bad grammar is a transnational phenomenon:

I'm not sure how to translate that for the non-Spanish speaker, except for maybe just to let you know that a) THERE IS NO APOSTROPHE IN SPANISH. And b) even if there was, each one of the three trazillion apostrophes in this sign would have been misplaced.

So there you have it, folks. A small sampling of my favorite signs. Hope they made you smile!

We Now Return To Your Regularly Scheduled Cheastypants

Today, on the First Annual Day of Amazing Sloth and Indolence, I would like to say a few words of thanks. Also, a confession.

Thanks first. To all the friends who have not given up on me even though I haven't called or written in months, thanks for understanding. Thanks to all the friends and readers who have followed my little dramas via this blog, and either commented or emailed with support and laughter. Your support has meant the world to me. And thanks also to the friends who heeded my call for blogalicious back-up and sent in jokes, stories, and inspirational stories of dancing with the stars for me to post, thus saving me the occasional headache of thinking about what to post when all I wanted to do was bitch about having to write this stupid portfolio. I appreciate it all, and in the great karmic cycle of life I hope I can repay you the favors some day.

Second, a confession. After a couple of months of hardly imbibing a drop of weer, bine, or likker, I am now a total lightweight. Not that I was ever the sort of girl that could down a six-pack of beer, burp, and keep on going, but last night I had two beers. TWO BEERS. Two beers, and I was cooked. You don't believe me, ask Penata. She had to drive my car home from the bar because I couldn't really even walk straight. The question, of course, is why I should be a little embarrassed. Is it A) because I've drunk so little recently that two beers make me drunk now? Or is it B) because formerly I was able to drink two beers and barely feel it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I think I owe you a couple of apologies. First of all, I am SO SORRY that I couldn't be at home today for Mother's Day. And while I'm at it, I'd also like to apologize on behalf of all your children for lying to you for the past week. I'm sorry that Crasey told you she couldn't come home for Mother's Day, and I'm sorry that the Fairy King keeps avoiding your calls. I'm sorry that Umulu, who's home visiting you right now, keeps fabricating reasons to leave the house, and I'm sorry that all of our phone conversations lately have been all about ME-ME-ME-ME. I hope you'll forgive us when you realize it was all in a good cause, that all of us were stumbling under the burden of the very great secret we've been keeping, and feeling terrified that we would crack under the combined weight of our guilt and excitement.

You see, we've bought you a puppy.

What's more, when you wake up early on Sunday morning, all of your children (except me, of course, and again, I'm so sorry) will be crowded around your bed with flowers, muffins, and a squirming bundle of fur named Obadiah. We hope this goes just a little way to showing you how much we worship the ground you walk on. You are, without exception, the most wonderful woman, the best mother, and the most loving person we know, and in spite of your unbelievably corny sense of humor, we love you more than anything.

Although we know that no dog will ever take Sheba's place in your heart, we hope that this little guy fills the empty space in our home.

Your Children.

UPDATE: 8:30 AM. The Amazing Captain Mommypants LOVES THIS DOG.

This format is a little strange, I know, but we were video chatting this morning, and I took these pictures. Here's Mom with Obadiah. I know it's hard to see who's there behind that HUGE SMILE THAT SPLIT HER FACE IN HALF, but that strikingly attractive woman is my mother.

And then I made everybody get in the screen so I could take a picture of the whole family (minus Pops, who is in Australia on business right now -- Hi, Dad!! We miss you!!).

And just cause I feel guilty knowing that my mother (who hates having her picture taken) will say something completely untrue like "oh, god, I look terrible" when she sees these pictures on the internet, here's a beautiful photo of Captain Mommypants and Bug from last summer.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama. Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stick a Fork In Me.

I clicked save on my last paper at 9:15 tonight, and ran out the door to go proctor the final exam for the class I TA. When I got there my professor, who might be the sweetest most understanding and kindest woman in the world, looked at me and said (kind of cautiously, like you would to a crazy person), "So, how's it going?"

I looked at her blankly for a second and then, for the first time, I said these words: "I'm done."

"That's great!" she exclaimed. I don't know why, but I just didn't have it in me to smile or look happy or ANYTHING NORMAL, and I'm pretty sure I was just staring at her like a tripped out zombie, so she filled the awkward silence, saying, "Well, Cheasty, you look a little shell-shocked."

And I started to cry.

Honestly, I have no explanation, other than tremendous stress-relief. These past two weeks have been hell. I can hardly sleep, and when I do I have nightmarish anxiety dreams like I've never had before in my life. And I, who love good food more than anything, have been so stressed that I CAN'T EAT. The thought of food makes me want to yawp all over the place, and I've got this constant pain at the top of my tummy. I've lost 6 pounds, though which is nice, if I don't mind putting it right back on as soon as I start eating again. Six pounds in two weeks. I should market this stuff.

So there I sat, crying helplessly and feeling like, COULD this be any more inappropriate? I should be laughing, dancing, leaping from rooftops! And in my head I know all about weird stress reactions, but jeez.

Well, there you have it. Tomorrow and Monday I'll grade exams all day, but Tuesday and Wednesday I am devoting to sloth and indolence. And wine. Don't forget the wine. Of course, Thursday it starts all over again, as I prepare for my Oral Defense on May 23rd, but somehow I feel ok, like I've crossed the major hurdle, and from here on out, I'll be fine.

Tonight, however, I will open a bottle of wine, drink two glasses, and sleep like a baby. You know why? Cause I'm done.

La, la, la, la, LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

I Love This Joke, Five.

"What are the two sexiest animals in the barnyard?"

"Brown chicken brown cow."

I'm going to start saying this all of the time. You know, when it's situationally appropriate. Like, for example, every time I look in the mirror.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Now This Is Ironic.

Synopsis?  Prospective juror in marijuana possession case caught smoking a joint next to the courthouse.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Better Than Better

Oh, lawsie.  Remember when I told you about the paper that my advisor told me was "a disaster?" I just got feedback on my second attempt, and the relief I feel is enough to melt rubber. Seriously, I almost wet myself. If I hadn't been sitting down when I got the news, I might have fallen down, all weak in the knees. I sent her a second draft yesterday, had anxiety dreams all night, and when I got her email this morning, I got a nervous tummy before I clicked it open. It said, and I quote: "Hi, a few things, very few, to clean up and it is a wrap! Much better than better!"

Much better than better. I keep saying that over and over in my head.

Hoooooooooooo. is that a word? It's the noise I make when blowing out a long breath of relief, half way between "who" and "ho." Anyway, that's the noise I made. Thank you, Magic, I'm glad you came back when I needed you. I read through the notes, and she wasn't kidding. One split infinitive, a couple of places where I used the same word twice within a couple of lines of itself, a quibble over word choice, and that was it. At the end of the paper she'd written, "A WRAP AND NOW WORTHY OF YOUR EFFORT! A VERY NICE JOB!" This professor is pretty notorious for tearing work apart. She's like a machine, with a zero tolerance policy on bullshit. That woman can smell spin a million miles away, and she tells it like it is. Some people don't like her style, and I'll be the first to admit that it's really hard to take when somebody says your work is a disaster. But here's what I like. She's brutally honest when it's bad, but by the same token, when she says it's good, she's not just blowing sunshine. It's good.

My secret fears going into comps were two things. One, disappointing my professors (and myself) by not doing the best job I could do. And two, I've lately feared that if this professor didn't like what I'd produced for my portfolio that I was going to run out of time. If that happened, I'd have to give up and re-schedule comps for September. Four more months of this monster hanging over my head? I'd rather jump.

So to say the least, I feel better. In fact, I feel better than better. One more paper to go, two more days to do it. Rock on, Cheastypants. I think I can really do this.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grumps.

Today, my dears, is a red-letter day. Some of you may remember how much I love my Granddad. He's the bee's knees, and today is his 81st birthday. Happy birthday, Granddad!

There are about a million things I really love about Granddad, and today I'm going to tell you about a few of them. Gotta leave 'em wanting more, as my mama always said. Wait. Did my mama always say that? It might have been somebody else, come to think of it. Well, whatever. Story still applies. Here's a little picture of Granddad and his Julie. Isn't Julie cute? I love Julie, too, just so you know.

They're sitting here on the tailgate of their pickup truck. Look inside. See all those crates and cleverly organized shelves and stuff? See the padding and carpet on the floor? Granddad and Julie go on long, long, LONG roadtrips, and rather than stay at hotels, they just pull into a KOA campground, lay out their blankies in the back of the truck, and go to sleep. That's right. They live out of a truck bed. How do you say "kick-ass" in every language in the world? They were my inspiration when, for my first job out of college I worked as a backpacking guide in Utah. I worked an 8-day-on-6-day-off schedule, so I didn't bother renting an apartment. I just tricked out my truck like my grandfather's, and took off to the four corners every chance I got. What a time, man. That was great, and I owe it all to my granddad, without whom I never would have thought to do that.

What else is cool about Granddad, you ask? Why, I'll be happy to tell you. First off, he's handy as hell. I think I got my handy-ness from him, too. Every time I call up there, he's over to the Home Depot or the Lowe's getting stuff for some home renovation (winter) or garden work (summer). And when he's not remodeling and fixing things up, he's tending to his beehives. Granddad, just like my dad, is a beekeeper. His honey would bring you to your knees, and the jams he and Julie make every summer are ambrosial. Granddad and Julie eat like kings.

But above all, I love two things about Granddad. First, I love what a trickster he is. Once a long time ago he bet my little sister Crasey $10 that she couldn't catch a fish in the ocean with her bare hands. Well, first of all, he should have known better than to bet Crasey anything. That kid is more stubborn than... I don't know. Than the most stubborn thing in the world? Anyway, Crasey spent all damn day splashing around in tidal pools, belly flopping on fishy-looking shadows, trying to hustle minnows up on shore. And don't you know it, after 5 or 6 hours (I told you she was stubborn), Crasey actually managed to catch a decent-sized little fish WITH HER BARE HANDS. So she's crazy excited, right? She holds this little fish up in her hand, squealing and bouncing around, screaming "Granddad, Granddad, I did it! I caught a fish with my bare hands!! Look look look!" And Granddad, without batting an eyelash, looked at Crasey, looked at the fish in her hand, and said, "Aw, you cheated."

In all fairness, that story is just as much about how cheap Granddad is (tighter than a bull's ass at fly time, as he'd say) than what a trickster he is, but like I said before, the story still applies. So let me tell you about the second thing I love most about Granddad. I love how much he loves his Julie. Peas and carrots, those two, and every time I start to get to feeling bad about being THIRTY AND SINGLE, and start wondering if my standards are too high, I look at them and think to myself, just relax, you've got time.

As Granddad tells me all the time, I'll know when it's right.

Happy birthday, you old fart. Keep rockin' out.  I love you.

Fat Cyclist

I'd like to send a special shout-out to a fellow blogger, a guy named Elden over at The Fat Cyclist. I don't know him personally, but I read his stories about biking and life, and he always gives me a laugh or a moment of inspiration to get outside and ride my bike.  Right now, however, Elden's wife is dying of cancer, a disease she's struggled to defeat for four years.  She's got brain cancer, the same disease that killed my Aunt Karen. Elden continues to blog about life, about his wife, about this process, and every day I find myself sending prayers out to a God that my logical brain is convinced doesn't exist, but my heart clearly still believes in. Go visit the Fat Cyclist. Send him and his family some love, some prayers, some whatever-it-is-that-keeps-you-going.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I've been eating like shit lately. Well, not always shit, but pretty commonly like shit. And when it's not shit, it's at the very least strange. But this is normal for end of semester eats -- I run out of food, run out of time, run out of the energy to make grocery store runs. And just like that, whap! Amazing Cheastypants the Gourmand, the Connoisseur of Fine Dining (well, in my dreams, anyway) becomes Amazing Cheastypants the Scavenger, the Eater of Moldy Leftovers, and the Scrounger for Edible Eats. I remember one time in my sophomore year of college sitting in my dorm room alternating spoonfuls of Jif Crunchy Peanut Butter and a repulsive re-hydrated soup called Cha-Cha-Chile, cause it was all I had left in my fridge and my last final exam was the next day. That was a low point.

It hasn't gotten that bad in a long time, but end-of-semester eating is always an adventure. Last night, for example, Penata and I (who are at right about the same place regarding food, time, and the will to go shopping) tried to make a square meal out of the sad remnants of our combined cupboards and crispers.
"What are you eating for dinner, Cheasty?"
"I don't know. I've got some brown rice, and some broccoli that will go bad if I don't eat it tonight. What about you?"
"Um, I have some peanuts."
"Well, that's protein."
"Anything else?"
Her voice is somewhat muffled, coming from inside the refrigerator, but she burbles about something, and pops out smiling with a shiny red apple.
"Hey! I've got fruit!"

So that's what we ate: a stir-fry of broccoli, rice, apples, peanuts, and balsamic vinegar. Don't tell, but it was really sort of tasty. Tonight was pizza - our specialty, pepperoni and pineapple - which is always tasty, but come on. I could do better than that.

At times like this I like to fantasize about my favorite meals, to dream about what I would eat if I could eat anything, and tonight, this is what's on my mind. I went to Italy last year, and while traveling in Napoli I met a cute Brazilian guy (woo-woo!) and we ate the hell out of that place. One of the most memorable meals we shared was on the patio of a waterfront restaurant with a waiter named Luigi (I mean, come on. Was I in a movie?), boats bobbing peacefully in the harbor by our side, a warm sea breeze, a delicious bottle of white wine, and one of the most amazing octopus salads I've ever had. I took a picture, and I still go back to look at it whenever I want to remember that wonderful wonderful WONDERFUL Brazili--- er, meal.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Magic Is Back: A Modern Love Story

Whew. That's really all I have to say. I've been kind of worried about myself lately. With all the work I have to do, I keep waiting for my brain to kick into its special "go" mode, but it just hasn't been happening. Where is my Magic?

This is how it usually works. When I have a paper due, the monologue in my head goes "Blah, blah, moan, moan, unk, unk, shwoosh, shwoosh, groan, moan, whine, blah blah blah," until just the exactly right moment, when all the sudden something clicks into place and I think "OH HOLY SHIT, I'VE GOT IT NOW! GO! GO-GO-GO-GO-GO!" I like to think that my Magic is just chilling out up there, slowly stirring, mixing, fermenting, waiting for just the right moment to deliver that potent chemical cocktail of three parts panic, two parts inspiration, and one part genius. And when I drink that glorious tonic, it's like my brain does a hot little cha-cha with maracas. God, I love my Magic. In a burst of glory and sunshine, it pours out of my head, onto the written page, and into the annals of history. Ta-daaaaaaa!!! LOOK, WORLD, AT WHAT I HAVE CREATED!!!

I rely on my Magic. I don't understand him, but he has yet to fail me. But lately, he hasn't been there for me. I just wrote an entire paper, every word of which felt like pulling molars with red-hot pincers. It's done, but gah. It took twice as long as I thought it would, and it just wasn't any FUN, dammit! And now I've got two more to do, and frankly, I've been a little worried. Was my Magic gone? Was he flirting with somebody else? Should I feel betrayed?

Nope. Maybe he was on vacation. Out to lunch, definitely. But gone? No way. Just when I was feeling desperate, low, uninspired, cranky, and on the verge of giving up, in came my Magic. And, oh, was he cool. He sauntered in, jacket slung over one shoulder, hat cocked over his eye, popping his suspender straps and smiling a wicked little grin.

"Oh, Magic," I gushed, "You're back! Thank God, I've missed you so. I thought I would die without you! Never leave me again!" I threw myself on his broad shoulder. "Oh, baby," he crooned, "quit this nonsense. You know I'll never leave you. Now let's get to work."

So we did. I sat myself down on his lap, and my fingers flew. Every time I felt a little lost, every time I started to hesitate, Magic just leaned a little closer, and whispered sweet nothings in my ear. Ten pages later, I think it's time to stop and take my Magic out for a margarita. We can work some more tomorrow.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Toothpick? Gum? Rubber band? No Problem.

Hello, I am the Amazing Cheastypants. While I am most well-known for being sexy, gorgeous, glamorous, and sophisticated, there is a little known side of me that I'm about to reveal, for the very first time, today. It turns out that I am a whiz at the practical application of scientific knowledge and the inventive use of common household items to solve desperate problems. I know, I know. I'm as shocked as you are, but it's true. I am, for lack of a better term, one heck of a whiz-bang MacGyver.

Why, just this weekend I was on my way to a bar to meet some friends for a beer. I unlocked my bike from the rack, tossed my luxurious mane of bouncy beautiful hair in the breeze, and pedaled suavely off down the road into the sunset. Well, sort of. Really, I only got about ten or fifteen feet, and then THE FRONT WHEEL FELL OFF MY BIKE, and I glamorously staggered and stumbled and dragged the bike along, trying not to fall flat on my face in the middle of the road. When I told my friend Reeno about this she almost herniated her large intestine from laughing so hard at HOW FREAKING EMBARRASSING that must have been. Yes, thank you, it was. I mean, what the hell. My wheel fell off and I almost ate pavement in the middle of campus. Who in the hell does that happen to? Anyway, that's not the point of this story. The point of this story is what a freaking genius I am. (applause, applause, thank you, thank you.)

Well, I didn't know what to do, did I. I mean, my wheel was in my hand, and the hardware that's supposed to attach it to the bike was just gone except for one little bolt that I found about 10 feet behind me right by the bike rack. It's an old bike, a 1984 Schwinn with rusty cables and a tenuous grasp on functionality, so I guess parts of it are just giving up the ghost. I should've stopped to look at the mysterious squeaky noise that had started earlier that morning.

Your average sophisticated glamorpuss would probably have just given up at that point. I might have re-locked the bike up, taken the wheel with me and gone to find a bus home. But that is not the Amazing Cheastypants way. Gather round, young Jedi knights, and let me tell you what I did. I found a piece of string and I tied my wheel back on the bike, got back on, rode to the bar, and had a beer with my friends. That, my poppets, is the Cheastypants way. In fact, I might change my name to MacHandypants. At the risk of exposing a dangerously inflated ego, I AM AMAZING.

Also, I am dead lucky that my knots held and I didn't die in a tragic biking accident in the middle of rush-hour traffic. I can't believe what a dumbass I can be sometimes. Did I really think that was a good idea? Good god. A mighty thanks to my friends, who convinced me that I was a giant retard, and I should definitely just get a ride home with a friend. I took the bike in to the shop this morning and the mechanic, who said he's seen "just about everything" gave a long, low whistle and said, "Wow. You've been riding this bike?"

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Love Letter for Penata

I know I'm lifting this right off of List of the Day (hi, Cary!) but this was just exactly the kind of laugh I needed today. Watch the soulful Babs while she yodels out sounds that would make my roommate and good friend, the burp-tabulous Penata, proud. Have I told you about Penata's burps? For such a dainty, lady-like, and soft-spoken young woman, Penata really knows how to let 'er rip. I'm just glad they don't come out the other end.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I Love This Joke, Four.

Where does a pirate keep his buccaneers?

Under his buckin' hat.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Very Very Good News. Very Very Good.

You know how sometimes you get good news about a dream or hope that you were secretly panicked wouldn't come true? I love that feeling. First I get dizzy, then I realize that I forgot to breathe, then I squeal and leap and jump for joy, then I have to go potty.  It always happens in pretty quick succession like that. 

"Wow, Cheasty," you say.  "This seems like it's pretty fresh in your mind!  Why's that?"  
"Most perceptive of you, my dear!" I respond.  "Let me explain." 

Today I found out that I've been awarded a huge fellowship for next year. Wahooooo!!! Yippeeeeeeee!  Hoooooraaaaaaaayyyyy!!!!  Dance of joy, dance of joy, dance of joy, la-la-la-la-LAAAAAAAAA!!!

Months of unpleasant tenterhooking are over, and now I know can now go to El Salvador and Nicaragua to do the research I have to do for my dissertation, and I can stay for months without having to worry about running back home before I'm ready.  And bling, bling, I'm getting like a 40% increase in income!  Not that that's such a huge AMOUNT, really (I only earn like 13K a year now as a graduate teaching assistant) but proportionally, it's quite astonishing.  In fact, (and I know that this is sad) I don't know what to do with ALL THAT MONEY.  I'm filthy, stinking rich!  I know, I'll buy diamonds.  No, wait, scratch that.  A yacht in the Mediterranean. Oh, no, never mind.  I know.  I'm going to Tahiti.  Want to come along?  Trip's on me and my big fat heavily loaded WALLET!  

I'll leave you with some pictures from my last trip to El Salvador.

the mountains:

public transportation:


Blogger just stopped letting me upload pictures, the bastard, so you'll just have to imagine the beach at sunset, palm trees and blue skies, delicious pupusas (the national food of El Salvador), and some of the loveliest people I've ever met. I haven't been to Nicaragua yet, but I've heard wonderful things, and am equally excited to be there, as well. Yay, travels!