Get back on the damn horse.

My bad.  I accidentally let this blog lapse for, um, about five months.  For that I apologize to you, my loyal readers.  And by “my loyal readers” I mean “Grandma.” (Hi, Grandma!)

I’m telling you, I had the best intentions of updating regularly all through what I knew was going to be a busy semester.  So to bring everyone up to speed, here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to since my last post on 17 August 2009:

1. Ironman Canada

This really deserved its own entry (or five) given how important an event it was to me.  I flew out to Seattle, home of my best friend/pseudo sibling Evie, and we drove up to the race site in Penticton, British Columbia.  Along the way we stopped in Leavenworth, WA, which is a faux-German town in the middle of central Washington because… why the hell not?

Of course there's a Starbucks there, just like in Old Bohemia.

On that note, we took a lot of pictures of us pointing at things.

Leavenworth is the kind of town that makes you want to point at things.

Where were we?  Oh yeah, on the road to Penticton.  This picture pretty much summarizes the travelling portion of the trip:

Expressive faces.

Martha was less than excited, I had my mouth open a lot, and Evie, uh, really enjoys driving.  Also, I’m wearing my homemade “Wise Latina Woman” t-shirt, which was way more topical back in August, but nevertheless confused the hell out of most of the Canadian officials.

We had a pretty good time in Penticton.  See?

At the swankiest McDonald's ever.
Evie and Martha got real excited.
I found this mural rather inspiring.

And as for the race itself?  I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun competing.  I stayed strong during the swim, passed hordes of people with much fancier frames during the bike, and although I struggled a little during the run, I rallied at mile twenty and put in a fast finish.

It's almost over!

I crossed the finish line in 11:22:01, over an hour faster than anticipated.  So needless to say, I felt really good about my performance, and I already have my eye on doing another one in 2011.

2. Exams

Unfortunately (or maybe not) this one comes with far fewer illustrative photos.  Basically, I chewed through a couple hundred books, wrote thirty pages on them over the course of two weeks (during which time I also cooked Thanksgiving dinner for nine) and then gave an oral defense of my essays in front of a panel of four faculty, one of whom was present by phone.  Any way you slice it, the experience was exhausting and soul-crushing, but in the end I passed… with distinction.  All along I had said that I would be absolutely content to barely pass, so long as I didn’t have to go through the experience ever again.  Yet somehow, my committee was impressed enough with my written and oral answers that they passed me, and then some.  I’m still somewhat surprised by this, but who am I to argue?

3. Tea Parties

No, not the insufferable political kind.  Every December my friend Becky hosts a holiday/birthday party in San Diego which, seven years on, still draws a sizable crowd of Bonita Vista alumni:

7.5-year reunion?

As a good guest, I like to show up early to help out.


When Becky started out having these parties, we were still in high school and, being the good kids that we were, alcohol could not be served.  So we had tea, and a lovely selection of finger foods and desserts.  These days, the turkey roll-ups and tartlets remain, but we’ve graduated to more adult libations.  And since Becky is such a local mover and shaker, she now hosts at her very own condo (she bought it this year) rather than her parents’ very lovely (and very pink) house in Bonita.

But why, you’re probably wondering, are you dressed like a Folsom Street pirate balladeer? That’s an excellent question.  As part of a personal tradition stretching back to our high school days, I “dress up” for the tea.  Sometimes this means a particular costume, but more often it’s simply a pre-party search for the most ridiculous thrift store duds I can find, and I’m usually not alone.

Bird and lights courtesy of Target.

We actually found the teal jumpsuit during a trip to the Salvo in June when Evie and I happened to both be home in June, and we met up with Becky and Sarah (pictured).  Anyway, after the party we hit up The Lamplighter for some karaoke awesomeness.  Sarah changed into a post-party outfit, but the Bump-It stayed in her hair.

Whoa-oh-oh, she's a lady.

And then, to round out the night, we went to Denny’s.  For some reason, they now feature a selection of items under the heading “Rockstar Favorites,” which includes Jewel’s Acoustic Smoked Chicken Quesadilla, Los Lonely Boys’ Texican Burger, and the Hooburrito.  Remember Hoobastank?  You probably tried really hard to suppress all memory of them.  Well, they’re back!  In burrito form.

What makes it an acoustic quesadilla?

Martha ordered the Hooburrito, which features chicken fingers and BBQ sauce.  She was not happy.

Smile, Martha.

All in all, a pretty full night, and only one of many adventures had over the holidays.  I also rode a bike (not mine) from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale, worked with Habitat for Humanity, and fulfilled my civic duty by alternately sitting an standing at a government building downtown (aka jury duty).  But this post is insanely long as it is, so we’ll save those stories for another day.