Saturday, December 30, 2006

Finally...At Last

No more Groundhog Days...On Friday, we had another special dinner at my aunt's with everyone and just had a blast together. Cousin Dave brought the music video game Dance Dance Revolution and I even played it. I had on a better slingshot with support so I could get my groove going.

Today was Angie's last day in Trampa; her LA flight left at 6:40PM. My side gig as her chauffeur ended today until she visits again right after Dave and Michelle's baby is born. We also toasted to A Happy New Year before she left, drinking the delicious Ice Wine my aunt and uncle bought during their recent trip to Canada.

I decided to let Angie's mother (my aunt) accompany her to the airport so they could spend some alone time together with my uncle while I stayed behind to watch Nan. She was no bother since her physical therapist came today. He wore her out so she slept most of the afternoon and early evening. Poor thing...

You know when you've been putting off something you shouldn't? I had that today. My dad left me a voicemail on Christmas evening and he left another this morning. I buckled down and returned his calls before I had my Chinese takeout tonight. It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. Truth be told: I've had a really good Christmas and didn't want any hiccups.

At 25, I came to the realization that my dad was a toxic parent to me and have dealt with it since. Now at (almost) 36, he's trying to make a better connection with me. How do I tell him he's too late? What is worse is that he and my stepmother have been forcing me to address her as "Mom" by signing their cards, etc. "Mom and Dad" for at least two years now. I've resisted because I've been angry that I was not asked first.

I don't want to lie because it is not my truth. She is not my mom though I do love her in my own way. My aunt has taken the place of my mom and I've even addressed my uncle as dad in the last several years. My uncle feels guilty for not taking me after my mother died. I guess he feels I would've had less pain in my life. I've tried to let him know that people's core values never change -- I am still a kind and loving person, but just have this issue with trust. He does know and understand, but I cannot control his feelings.


Wrestled with my innerself just now and I will try to call my stepmother Mom, but it will not have the meaning behind it. Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons. They are approaching the latter part of their august years. Would it really kill me? I am letting go of the anger I've felt to make room for something else...something I am opening myself to now, trusting the universe with what is starting to have more meaning to me.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Cars, Trolleys, Escalators and Elevators

Ground Hog Day. Again. I got a call from Angie saying that we were meeting her brother's wife Michelle and their kids at a coffee house in the Channelside District located in the heart of downtown Trampa. The call came at around 11:30am; our rendezvous time was to be 1:30pm. Get ready to dance because we are about to do The Hustle, Sarah!

I was showered, dressed, coiffed, powdered, perfumed and in my pink Nike shoes in seemingly record time, but still not enough to make our time especially since I still had to drive to Brandon (30 mins) and pick up Angie to drive to Channelside (20 mins). We got stuck at the Crosstown toll booth since some moron didn't have it together in front of us. I even got a call from nine-year old Kristen who berated her TiTi Sarah for being late. She's too young to be surly. Aargh.

We finally met them after parking where Christ lost his second set of sandals on the fifth level of the parking garage. We then took a very (needed) relaxing ride around the Channelside District, historic Ybor, outskirts of downtown Trampa and back to Channelside. The kids enjoyed the ride since we had a conductor and they got to wave at other trolleys passing by.

An early dinner found us dining on chicken wings and fries at Hooter's Restaurant where the attraction isn't the food, but the scantily clad cleavage of the waitresses. A lot of pretty faces, but no cleavage action...not that I am even remotely interested, just feeling disappointed for the guys who go there for the view. Just as well, people do take their families there as we did.

Channelside View from the Fifth Level Garage

Somehow I got conned into going to a movie since I suddenly found myself taking the escalator to the second level where the theaters were located. I just thought we were taking a trolley ride and having ice cream with the kids. We ended up seeing "Eragon". It was okay...a lot left unsaid in the movie and seemed rushed. It was no "Lord of the Rings", but I did enjoy the actor Jeremy Irons. I've had a crush on him for years. What a voice!

It was dusk when we got out of the movie and we were about to embark on the garage elevator when I caught sight of an old co-worker and friend, Scott, coming out. He was on his way to see a hockey game down the road and was accompanied by a woman I had never seen before whom he hurriedly introduced as his wife. (In the 11 years I've known Scott, this is his fourth wife and he's just shy of 40. I've been there to see him through some of his engagements and divorces. He's just a romantic, I guess.) We gave each other a big hug and he still called me "Sarita". If his wife's reaction was any indication, he probably seemed a little too happy to see me. He told me to call him at the office right before the elevators doors closed.

Chance meetings. What are the odds? My odds are pretty good lately.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pavlov, What's with the Bell?

My co-worker Joey (aka co-conspirator/friend) and I had an interesting IM conversation this morning:

AGOL: sometimes you can get so caught up in all the BS of life
joey: life has BS??
AGOL: the last four years have been that for me..yeah, didn't anyone tell you?
AGOL: you didn't get the memo then
joey: life IS bs
AGOL: you got it
joey: I like how we are all trained rats
joey: growing up we all moved at the sound of bells... how f'ed up is that?
AGOL: that's a good way of putting it...that's why the rest of us hatch plans
AGOL: pavlov...f**cking a$$hole
joey: lol
joey: it's pretty wild if you sit back and think about things like that... all through school you moved at the sound of bells
AGOL: see.. i was a rebel...i asked too many questions like, "what's up with the bell?"
joey: they slowly wean you off the bell so you just know to move when a certain time comes up on the clock

Joey has it all figured out now. He's smarter than most! He's been able to disengage himself from the drone mentality that gets forced fed to the population. As in the "Matrix", Morpheus says, "Free your mind!".

My mind has probably been too free, if you can ask my teachers all through school and some college professors. I like it that way...Off to get ready and have another Groundhog Day of "special dinners". Cousin Dave is having mouth surgery tomorrow so it has to be tonight. I guess I just can't free myself to have a day to myself...Sigh...My family apparently has a special bell for me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Just a Yo-yo

Christmas is starting to feel like that "Groundhog Day" movie. Every time I turn around, I am either exchanging gifts or having a special meal.

I was late getting to my aunt's house today to exchange gifts with cousin Florida and her family. Truth be told, I wasn't feeling that well. Fatigue and cramping are always a nice combination for the AGOL. I know, I know -- TMI. Get over it.

Florida and her husband left to run some errands. Angie and I would take the twins and their older brother home later. When we arrived at their home, the twins gave us a mini violin concert. I was so impressed! Angie had played the clarinet in school and I had played the flute before learning how to play the alto saxophone. It has been years since we each played an instrument, but we were up to an impromptu violin lesson from the girls. If the initial discordant squawks and piercing sounds were any indication, we needn't quit our day jobs.

Ten minutes later, our bows finally made sounds appropriate for a violin. We began to really enjoy it. We were so surprised at how much easier it seemed than making a proper embouchure on our chosen wind instruments. Trying to hold a saxophone in your mouth while blowing into it can be difficult if you're not used to it. Maybe my bottom lip was just too big. I don't know.

I teased Angie that I was starting to become a "Yo-Yo Ma". She replied, "You're just a yo-yo". Nice cousin. I almost had to kill her...Some sort of freakish string accident perhaps? Sadly for the world, my virtuoso dreams had to be aborted because I was laughing so hard that I couldn't control my posture.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Good Day

Waking up with a spring in my step and having the feeling strengthened by reading e-mails from Yummy made for an auspicious Christmas Day. I even drove to Brandon smiling in the face of rain!

My aunt had cooked a big breakfast, a mixture of Filipino and American dishes. What a treat! I always opt for the white rice if served and to my surprise, she made longanisa which is a Filipino sausage heavily laden with garlic and is sweet. Food of the AGOL!

We exchanged gifts and decided to continue later so we wouldn't be late at my cousin Dave's home in South Tampa. When we got there, the kids had already opened the first batch of gifts and were waiting patiently for the bags of loot we brought in. The kids received Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) from their parents which is a dance music video game. It is played by following the arrows that correspond to the music beat of the song chosen. A special floor pad is used to "play" the game. Here's a picture of five-year old Carter demonstrating his prowess during the song "Let's Dance" by David Bowie. It is a little hard to see with the light and the giftwrap carnage around the pad.

The adults also had a turn on the thing, but I declined since I didn't feel like jiggling all over the place and risking two black eyes. It was fun to watch my uncle (63?), cousins Dave (39) and John (37?) play this -- a great laugh was had by all. What a bunch of hams!

We had our late lunch and exchanged gifts. There was a special group gift. Dave's wife, Michelle, gave us each a mini package and told us not to open it. At her direction, we all simultaneously opened to a hint of the actual gift. The hint was a washcloth....a baby washcloth! Dave and Michelle will be expecting their third child around July. We cheered and if you know how much Filipinos love children, you would understand the near hysteria both sets of grandmas exhibited. We used the washcloths to dry our eyes. It was like winning the lottery and to me having a baby would be. A divine soul choosing you to carry its earthly self so it can experience earthly life -- what an honor!

After we calmed down, the group of us made our way back to Brandon to exchange more gifts and just enjoy spending time together. We ended up not making it to cousin Florida's home, but she is dropping the kids off tomorrow at my aunt's while she is at a doctor's appointment. I guess I will not be having a day off from everyone tomorrow...

Cabal was glad to see me when I got home; I was away a little longer than expected. I spent time with him, poor thing. He's content sleeping near me right now while I update you and listen to a CD called, "Paris Under a Groove". I am beat and looking forward to some sleep.

This year the AGOL did receive Peace and Goodwill.

A very special thank you to my Christmas emotional support. You guys rock -- I loved your text messages!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Twas the Night Before Madness

Not a creature was stirring. I know -- my PBD is sleeping soundly next to my feet while I type. It is my third Christmas with him since I rescued him from uncertainty. He's a great creature and I am thankful he is happy with his new home. If he could've, I am sure he would've helped me wrap some last minute gifts I bought today.

I headed to Brandon again this morning and picked up Angie so we could make our way for last minute items. Traffic wasn't bad and God knows how much I enjoy driving in Brandon. The road design hasn't caught up with the population boom so basically it is a cluster f*(@.

Right now with the dog sleeping at my feet, the tree lights giving a warm glow about the living room, orchestra music from the "Casanova" DVD I just watched, and my gift wrapping almost done, I feel a sense of peace. It must be the AGOL Christmas Miracle!

Let's not celebrate too soon though. We must wish for the AGOL Christmas Patience tomorrow. I am going to my aunt's for an early breakfast and gift exchange, followed by everyone making their way back to South Tampa for late brunch and another gift exchange at my cousin Dave's, and then driving to my cousin Florida's home for more gift exchanges. It is quite a Christmas Day triathlon. Somebody better have some Christmas spirits served in tall, really tall glasses. More nog than egg, I always say. And to all a good night!

In Tagalog: Maligayang Pasko Sa Iyong Lahat
In English: Merry Christmas to All of You

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mi Cousin es Su Cousin

"Road Trip! Road Trip!"

I love yelling those words because it's fun to travel that is if I don't get car sick on the way. It is an embarrassing thing if I am not driving; however, it can be alleviated if I can sit shotgun in the front, have eaten a good meal, have enough ventilation or if someone isn't driving like a MF. (Y'all know who you are because I tell you you drive like a mofo.)

Today, my uncle drove my best friend/cousin Angie, Nan, my aunt and me to Port Charlotte to see my cousin Frankie's new home with his groovy wife Brenda and their adorable angels Julia and Olivia. Here's a pic of the house. The landscaping is not set yet, but the house inside is breathtaking and they have a view outside the deck with pool overlooking a nice canal. They chose this location so that they can park their boat nearby.

I must admit I was in danger of getting car sick because I hadn't eaten breakfast and it was almost noon. My seat arrangement ended up behind my uncle and thanks to Angie who packed a bag full of horrible snacks, I oinked the first 20 minutes vacillating from cookies to candy to Cheetos followed by a gulp of cola. I am surprised I didn't actually hurl the rest of the way. Disaster was barely averted...

Brenda is an amazing hostess so we had a delicious time while we visited them. This girl receives AGOL kudos for her efforts. There were "no chips and dip" -- enough said. She even remembered the champagne I liked from her wedding. Believe me this stuff is no Cristal, Dom or even Korbel, but I like it and she always remembers. Add a healthy splash of orange juice and AGOL was in Mimosa Delight.

Among all the groovylicious times we were having, were their two daughters running around like hooligans loose from prison. They opened their gifts from us and just had a blast. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that the younger Olivia greeted me outside with a hug, kiss and "You painted my face!". I was arrested by this baby doll and her big blue eyes. Blink. Blink.

It was all the way back in March and this four-year-old still remembers when I painted all the kids faces at my other cousin's kids' birthday party. All of a sudden I found myself painting fantasy butterflies on their faces. The lady who was designated face painter was late and by the time she got there, she bowed out that she couldn't do the ones I had done. Because Olivia was in my family, she got special treatment that day so I painted bee and flower 'tattoos' all over her arms which was the wrong thing to do. The rest of the kiddies wanted them, too! What are you gonna do?

We left cousin Frankie and Brenda's home a few hours later and drove back the hour and a half in better time than getting there even with a little rain. I left my family at their house and drove myself home to take care of Pretty Boy Dog who was waiting for me patiently...okay, not so patiently. I am sure he had been mentally mapping my trip back inside the apartment.

Flamenco Over Easy

Flamenco music appeals to my soul, jazz music appeals to my heart and disco/belly dancing speaks to my body and for my mind, it is a mixture of those only with foreign lyrics usually in French. This morning it is the unique beat and the fiery flamenco guitar that stirs me. Thanks to a compilation CD by the Gipsy Kings I am able to revel and indulge in their version of it.

It is Yummy's fault. He wrote me words this morning before his plane trip that stirred me...Like a gypsy in camp by firelight, I want to dance and express the music, the history of my current being and the lives before. Castanets are lovingly bound in my hands so they can keep time with my heart as my feet move closer to the fire built by camp followers. They clap their hands to accompany me as they too feel the primordial beat of the music. A trickle of perspiration cascades down my temple and continues meandering down to the space where my heart would be. I continue to dance. Tu eres mi sueƱo real.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Goddess Made of Jade

Fog and dreary days must be making it from the other side of the Atlantic. Despite the weather, it was a great day spent with my cousin and our respective goddaughters who happen to be twins. We follow the same formula, though not necessarily in the same order: Lunch+Movie(s)+Bookstore+Visit to Grandma/pa's house=Girlie Day Out.

Today, we had a nice lunch at the Brandon Cheddar's. Watching the twins maneuver their lunches is a sport in itself. When I think how I prissy I am when I eat, they take the cake! I wonder where they get it from...We did make it in time to the movie despite having to gas up at the station across the way and then crawling by way of Brandon Mall just to make it across to AMC. Holiday traffic=BAH HUMBUG!!

If you haven't seen "Happy Feet", it is worth the trip. I, too, had my doubts on this being a good animated film, but it was hilarious. Penguins rock! I even got a little vaklempt at parts...such a sap! Of course, no time for dawdling, the piece de resistance was coming up which is always a trip to Border's bookstore.

The last time I took the twins there was for their birthdays in June. It's not that I censored their book choices per se, but I had to encourage them with more lighthearted fare instead of the heavy tomes that kept finding themselves in their arms...a lot of European history and autobiographies which they voraciously read. Nothing against all that, but the time before that they bought several of the same things; they just needed a balance of reading. They are only 14 years old and I would like them to enjoy this time of their lives. By the same age, I was already too jaded. This realization dawned on me as we were in the bookstore. Sigh. I dread the day they find out the real story behind the wizard in Oz. Such sweet girls. I am grateful they haven't lived through my childhood or even their mother's.

No tomes for them this time, one bought an anime Naruto guide and the other bought three rather ghoulish slasher DVDs...Yuck! I do not like films with useless violence to scare their audience, but we rarely say no to the twins since they ask for so little. Their grades in school are phenomenal so the bookstore is a way of rewarding their hard work.

I didn't escape the bookstore empty-handed either, I bought a present for a niece and two new CDs for myself. One was recommended by a music critic on the CBS Sunday Show entitled, "Talk to LaBomb" by Brazilian Girls. It is good for a party and something different for your CD collection. The other was highly praised by my new yummy friend Peter called "Be" by rap artist Common which has a lot of funky beats to groove to when I need it. You were right - Track 6 is great!

In fact, tonight I used that CD as inspiration when I practiced my photography project. Nothing like a good groove to get you going. I am doing a special series on sets of things. I take liberal creative license in putting them together for a really sharp vignette. They are humorous yet it makes the viewer think of life's bigger picture. I'd post them, but they are private for a special Greek patron...

After we all visited Grandma/pa's house for a bit, we took the twins home back to their parents. They are always so thankful, polite, gracious, loving and generous with themselves. It is a joy to be around them. I reminded my cousin on the drive back that we were just like them. She quietly agreed. Maybe I am not so jaded after all. There's still hope.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

20 Questions

Shopping can be just absolute dullsville when you don't know what to get the ones you love, especially if they have everything. Yesterday, while walking through the Brandon branch of Linens and Things, my cousin and I came across a cute little game called "20Q". I was suckered in immediately.

This game originated on the internet on the website which is where my cousin first heard of it. The gist of the game is for you to think of something and when you're ready you start the game. It asks you 20 questions to which you reply so the game can arrive at its guess which can be eeriely dead on. My first guess was swimming pool. I was stunned! If it doesn't guess correctly after 20 questions, it asks you five more. If it is still wrong, then it concedes a win for you and teases you back into playing the game. Easy mark.

Wouldn't it be great if you could play this same game with the universe? You would make your wish and it would ask you to make sure that is indeed what you wanted. Hopefully, it would guess correctly what you wished for at that moment. And then just to make sure, if it guessed wrong, it would ask you more to give you a second chance. Of course, if it didn't guess correctly, maybe that is not the wish the universe has for you...or can give you. That part sucks..being wrong...again...and again.

I played this game recently with the universe and it gave me a better answer than I could ever hope for in my little corner of the world. That was the problem. The universe has a bigger wish for me and it involves a much bigger world and perhaps me crossing an ocean. I've crossed an ocean before for a new life 25 years ago leaving loved ones and familiar childhood things so what would be the big deal this time around? No big deal at all if the universe deems it so. Sometimes you have to give up something in order to receive something far better. My tagline used to be Be Wild, Be Happy & Be Free. The universe is far more generous to those who follow it rather than to those who constantly question it. Similar on the 20Q website, your answer could be just one click away.

Update: I told I am no longer to have a tagline. Let it be known and let it be said, "AGOL no longer has tagline and will not have one in the future". Ha!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On Parole from Humbugging

I feel utterly wretched for typing the next line:

I really despise Christmas as a season.


(still waiting)

Whew! I didn't get struck by some supernatural bolt of Christmas judgement. I guess it's okay to express my discontent. My close friends can almost start watching a particular point in the calendar where my gloom sets in. It is usually late September to mid-October. I just get freakish thinking about the season's impending arrival. My throat starts to contrict as if some imaginary boa is squeezing hard enough to keep me alive to witness it all. My intestinal fortitude carries on like a live wire whizzing back and forth on a deserted street while sparks of helpnessness spew forth.

In my (almost) 36 years, I can count on one hand how many memorable Christmases I've experienced. Only one stands out with family and it's not even my immediate own. The rest are with dear friends. What made them stand out was the sense of freedom I felt in the celebration. No pressure...just free-flowing fun and the freedom to express my love to them. Tears are pinpricking my eyes as I type. Please God help me hold them at bay while I finish this damned soul vomiting.

I will say that I am getting better at handling the whole thing. This year is actually the best since 1989. Eons ago, I know. Work with me. It's not easy holding together threads of insanity from a ball of yarn that has many threads sticking out. Each one you pull may be your final undoing. How does it go? Knit one, Purl two...

The most hypocritical way I have found to deal with Christmas is to fight it head on. I now have my yearly handmade ornament exchange the Sunday before Thanksgiving which forces me to decorate like mad and plan an over the top brunch. I really give Martha a run for her money. Yes, dammit, my candles are floating in cranberries in a bit of water! I have a 6-ft artificial tree with 1300 lights, fairy lights in some places which is how I like to think about them. I've had to serve notices to Tampa International Airport so they are sure not to mistake the glow coming from my apartment. Diverted airplanes can be such a handful.

My days have been flying by like loose confetti in a street parade. Only I haven't been paying attention to the floats, the band and the glittering tiara and flowing gown of the parade queen. wonder -- the queen is in drag. Another fake.

All is not lost. I did have another holiday party which brought some really great vibe to my place. Maybe I should have one every weekend? It is costly in energy and in the pocket book.

Interestingly enough pixies not elves have been helping my mood along. They've forced me to start feeling alive again. Here I've been trapped in a somnambulistic state of my own casting. My intuitive side is something I try to squelch deep down since I feel things more deeply than most. Little wisps of other people's energy lick my own as I pass them by, trying to tempt me into playing a game I care nothing to engage in. The channels are open more than usual, but I am good with it. Shields up!

I am Winter's Daughter and should be reveling more in the season. It would be easier to attempt if I lived somewhere where the weather wasn't tropical. Maybe turning the air conditioning down lower than 68 degrees might help. I can't wait to see the electric bill! Tampa Electric's favorite customer lives right here.

The gloom is still there, but hiding in the corner while the real me is shining and be a bit more mischievious than normal. That IS the real me -- why do I hide her? I am not ashamed of her, but I do take great pains to protect her from the world. Pixies...that's the answer. I will have to send them an invitation very early next year so Ebeneezer can leave me alone.

Update: Sometimes you just have to express yourself to get things out. I am okay. Y'all know life is not always tinsel, sometimes Rudolph leaves you a warm present. Thank you to the dears who asked about me. Hugs to you!

Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing

A week whirled by like a mad dervish. I am a little dizzy from having a cold, working, playing nurse to Nan while my aunt and uncle went out for spell, preparing for my holiday party on Sunday, picking up my cousin from the airport on Sunday morning at 6am and then going home to be hostess goddess. And in the middle of it all, an intoxicating development playing peek-a-boo to drive me out of my senses throughout the week.

I am about to take off from work for a the rest of the month so we will see if I can gain some semblance of order. I know that I am just deluding myself, but a girl can try.

Things I discovered this past week:
1) The peanut butter addition to the Chocolate Fountain offerings is the bomb!
2) I wish for special Scooby Snacks from PK's Corner Market.
3) I am really on crack when it comes to throwing a party -- Who fills their tub full of fiberfill, iridescent shreds and round ornaments to make it look like a bubble bath is pouring forth? It was quite the conversation piece at the party.
4) I am craving a lot of new items from PK's Corner Market; they make pies!
5) Airports are wonderful for people watching and wishful imaginings.
6) I will be sending the proprietor of PK's Corner Market a suggestion on how to improve his selections. He might choke...but he'll thank me for it! (Cue: Chris Isaak's song, "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing")
7) I'm still Santa's favorite!

Friday, December 15, 2006


The peril of perils has fallen upon AGOL...a cold! Being under the weather has got to be the biggest time waster of the known universe. Not only is it inconvenient, it is annoying!

I told my LA cousin yesterday that I had a cold and she typed in IM, "ACHOO"..."In your case, 'achoo'", referring of course to my sneezes that sound like they come from a muppet. (In the Philippines, I distinctly remember sneezing "ach-ing".) The whole blowing your nose bit is just vile and you all know what a small nose I have! The tissue could whittle it down and I would have to change my name to "Sphinx". I had already been skewered by my cube mates about not sneezing properly. It must be my rebellion from hearing my dad sneeze as a younger AGOL. His sounded like he sneezed a lung everytime it was so loud.

Luckily, I am now almost over the whole sordid ordeal. I can't wait to no longer have medicine head from the OTC pills. On Wednesday, at the tail end of one dose, I had a beer. Needless to say, that was interesting... So no wilted goddess for my party this weekend. The weather also promises to be clear unlike the fog and dreariness going on right now.

I do like dreary days, but only if they are cold so I can enjoy a Baking Day. Perfect weather for regular baking...and "baking" with your honey if you have such a person. I guess I'll be getting that KitchenAid Mixer out. I get turned on as easily with a heavy duty appliance. Speaking of...I wonder if someone will buy me a lifetime gift certificate at the paint mixer at Home Depot for Christmas. Going to sneeze that thought away now.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mad Cow Monday

I laughed the whole hour it took me to drive to work today listening to the Steve Harvey Show which is now syndicated on 95.7FM. He was non-stop comedy and I loved every minute of it. I was slightly exhausted from laughing when I parked on the third floor garage at work. It was a nice diversion instead of feeling the slow creep of road rage on one's person during bumper-to-bumper rush hour.

Luckily, the day continued in the same manner. I teased Bubble Boy about suffering from Mad Cow this week which refers to an expected visit from a female megalomaniacal co-worker...Okay, maybe I exaggerate...a little. She can be nice on a personal basis, but she has a need to control things professionally and she's just been promoted. Maybe she just needs a good appletini? Has anyone offered her one? Maybe some chocolates? Everything is better after chocolate. Even beer, but that is another story.

Lunch proved to be a repeat selection from Friday at downstairs cafe. I had a Reuben again. I just love the complexity of taste from the toasty crunch of rye bread, the saltiness of the corned beef and the tang of the sauerkraut. It was made fresh instead of one of the "specials" of dubious meat floating in equally dubious liquid bath screaming, "Pick me! Pick me!" from behind the glass. Double Ick. Then came the food coma shortly after lunch which had to be fought with mugs of coffee.

Six-ish finally arrived and I left to go home to be a slave to PBD. Before I made it home, I called ahead for Chinese take-out. My eyes were starting to get round again from not eating rice this weekend. I also had to support my people!

My dog was walked, fed and entertained. I got to have egg drop soup, a bit of white rice, a bit of chicken lo mein and a bit of beef & broccoli. I can bring a tasty leftover lunch tomorrow -- no dubious food! Besides my fortune cookies, I received a Chinese calendar scroll with cherubic cartoons. All was good in the world.

Real Fortune Today: It is better to ask some questions than to know all the answers.
Learn Chinese: Bean Sprout (Dou-ya)


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Corn Dog & Chips

You know your "AGOL-isms" have been successful when they start to influence your friends' decisions and lifestyles. I have the annual privilege of being invited to a long-time friend's Christmas party last night. Her elegant party always has a lot of hot hors d'oeuvres which require attention whether it is cooking, serving and refilling. It gets to be quite the production so she was looking for ways to make it easier on herself. Her neighbor suggested that she serve more cold selections like potato salad and :::queue dramatic music clip::: "potato chips and dip". She was horrified -- all she could think about was my rule on non-sport event food selections: "NO CHIP & DIP". I laughed so hard! Her husband said that he would greet me at the door with a corn dog and a side of chips. I couldn't breathe when I heard that one.

Here's the herstory. Growing up in the Mother Country we had a lot of get-togethers that involved homemade cooked food, barbecue and for the adults, rum libations. I don't ever recall a bowl of chips disgracing the table. The whole cooking thing is so ingrained in me that I can't think of having a party doing it any other way. It says that you care enough about your guests to cook and serve them especially if you are serving a lot of alcohol. You need something to soak up the Guinness, margaritas and your favorite-tinis!

AGOL Entertaining Observations:

1) No Chips & Dip
(Exceptions: Sporting Events or if you are serving tortilla chips with salsa. If you are serving chips, please make sure you get the sturdier chip so it doesn't get lost in the onion dip thus encouraging double-dippers! EW EW EW)

2) Serve Real Food If You Are Serving Alchohol
(See Rule #1...You want your guests to survive the drive home. Can't cook? Get some pre-made food at the deli. I can't believe I am about to type this...I am feeling faint -- you can even buy frozen pizza, heat it and cut it into small pieces for appetizers. AGOL doesn't really like pizza.)

3) Make sure your bathroom paper products are filled or accessible if you run out.
(Gentlemen, we can't shake ours dry like you can so please be considerate. BTW, don't be shaking too long or we'll start to wonder if we should start charging admission.)

4) Evaluate Before You Arrive at a Party
This is really bad, but the truth hurts sometimes. Have some BMA Cookies if you don't like it. Before I go to a party, I evaluate the situation. Questions you must ask yourself: Is the hostess full caucasian? If yes, Strike One. Is the hostess rail thin? If yes, Strike Two. If the answer is yes to both questions...There is NO FOOD at the damn party so you better eat some PBJ before you leave the house! This is 90% proven true -- I have my own committee.

5) Play Lively Music (or any music for that matter)
Okay, smartypants -- I didn't mean polka (although I can appreciate a good polka, right Tawnyia?). I will be playing some Brian Setzer Orchestra and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy this weekend and some totally rad 80s selections.

This was taken a bit back by my great friend Tawnyia after we went grocery shopping to show everyone that I actually bought a bag of chips. Since the buddhas (I have two!) are only known to exist in my home among my circle of friends, it was hard proof. Then she had the nerve to send it around from her phone. What are friends for?

Gosh, there is so many more other -isms, but they fall into the Feng Shui category, more drilled down Cooking Lessons and AGOL General Topic. Those will be forthcoming at a later date. Right now, I have to still go over my holiday gift list and the food & beverage selections for next weekend. It's also time for a late lunch. Party of One. Today's selection, mademoiselle, will either be a choice of PBJ or eggplant parmigiana with a side of pasta...

I guess I better start boiling water for that pasta. Bon Appetit.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wishful Thinking

Labels I wish some men have on them...

My candy bar this morning did! I had to re-read it twice. Made me smile.

:::Chiclets Flashing!:::


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Scary Meat, Mushrooms & Slimy Onions

Your AGOL is the Hostess with the Mostest! (and that's just my chest - haha) I'm hosting my second Christmas party within a month, but this time it is for my dearest old work buddies. There is a reason why our "circle of trust" is tight. It boils down to our food freakishness of allergies and what is not on the "approved list".

I always want my guests to feel extra special and enjoy my gatherings so I had to ask two if they had any food allergies or foods they couldn't stand. My Wisconsin Waif says something about a possible seafood allergy, but she's not sure until the test results get in soon. Then she mentioned mushrooms and scary meat.

WTF is scary meat? I'm thinking pteradactyl...Then she clarified "no blood, no bones, no dark meat, no gross looking fat or grizzle you know stuff like that and also nothing cute...I have the cute rule". Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Then we question the cute rule in our head because I know she didn't mean cute guys and she probably wasn't thinking Koala Kabobs either...I almost died laughing!

Then we get to Bubble Boy who is apparently allergic to life, he more recently found out he is allergic to wheat. We can dig that, AGOL just has to shop better and revise her menu...He'll just have to stay away from my Rhumba Rum Cake and the poundcake by the chocolate fountain.
Can those be made with rice flour? I am just crack waiting to happen...

I have two friends who don't like chewing into cooked onions although they like the taste of onions. It is slimy they tell me. Another one doesn't like mushrooms either. The other item on the "not approved list" are raw tomatoes especially if they are slightly heated. What can you expect from a group of IT peeps? I still love them....lucky them - spoiled brats!

Of course, what you are not reading and is the most important to memorize is the AGOL list of rules for parties. I'll save that for later. Meanwhile, I'm craving some Philly Cheesesteak with the works...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Slice of Paparazzi

Mirror, mirror on the wall...along with my AGOL-pink Razr phone. This self-portrait was taken using Gumby-like skills. If you've ever tried to take a nice photo of yourself (not because you really wanted to) in the bathroom, you might get this. The image resolution is quirky from the camera phone, but the pose is not bad, eh?

#2 AGOL Official Photo...See Profile for #1 AGOL Official Photo

It took me a while to maneuver the phone facing me while watching the result in the mirror and trying to "vogue" it for the camera. This was actually taken a month ago -- the only thing different is the blonde highlights are brighter thanks to my amazing and freaky Korean hairdresser, Michelle. This woman tries to pick the same strands she did last time AND she does the whole head, not just the crown! I get a neck ache from scooching down my 5'8" frame down the chair, but it's worth the pain and the three-hour visit.

I just sit in the magic chair and watch myself metamorphose into looking like a cross between a demented anime character and a SETI coordinate thanks to the foil which is probably picking up alien signals. What price beauty? Thank goddess the result is quite fabulous when Michelle is done. Now if we can only work on the booty part...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I Lava My Java

Next to chocolate, coffee is the elixir drink of the gods! I love drinking coffee, eating coffee candy, coffee ice cream and coffee mixed with chocolate for a mucho mocha matrimony. Today, I experienced the Senseo coffee maker.

In 30 seconds, you can have 4 oz. of java and in 60 seconds, you can have one 8 oz. eyeopener or two separate cups filled simultaneously with 4 oz. of romping roast with your honey! It not only makes you foam at the mouth, but it foams in your cup as if you're a barista at that ubiquitous coffee house.

Can you tell I worked years in retail by the stylized Senseo photo?

Thank you to my L.A. cousin for sending me this gift. It came with 18 coffee pods to test its mettle. Now I can buy more flavors and share the sensation...after I get the 'shakes' subsided that is!