Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Hits Richmond: Damage Ensues

When you thought of Hurricane Irene's path of destruction, you probably weren't thinking of Richmond, VA.  Don't worry, its not your fault.  The weather channel was pretty focused on NYC's epic and unprecedented evacuations, and we did not appear to be in the hurricane's path.  Even our local meteorologists were saying "it won't be that bad" and, perhaps, if you were in other parts of Richmond, it wasn't.

But it was bad here.

This morning I woke up to the hum of generators and the gnarl of chainsaws.  While the sky is blue and the breeze is gentle, my neighborhood looks like a demilitarized zone.

I live in a neighborhood called Stratford Hills.  The trees are at least 150 years old, and we have no shortage of them.  In the fall, we are regularly blanketed with orange and gold, and we have to break out our leaf blower six times before Christmas and the January leaf collection.  Some of our trees are taller than four story buildings.  Many of them lose large limbs in an average summer storm.  If you have read my blog before, you know my car has already recieved its fair share of damage from even the most minor squalls.

This, my friends, was no squall.

Last night, we experienced sustained 40mph winds and gusts were recorded up to 71mph at Richmond International Airport.  Our trees blew and swayed like they were made of rubber.  The gusts were so loud, if you were standing outside (not reccomended, but we have a dog that had to pee) it was nearly impossible to hear the person standing next to you.

We lost power at noon yesterday. 

Today there are almost half a million people in the Richmond Metropolitan Area without electricity.  Dominion Power has asked us to be patient, and stated we will likely be without power for one to two weeks.

Throughout the night, the snap, pop and thump of trees falling regularly interrupted the repeated knocking of smaller branches, acorns and other debris smacking the roof and deck.  My neighbor and friend was terrified to hear a shrill scream around mid-day -- it was the sound of a neighbor's daughter -- a tree had crashed through her room.

Not long after, the same friend had a tree fall on her house.  Two hours later a second one fell:

The trees ripped the deck right off their house.  They still haven't determined if there is any structural damage to their home -- they won't know until the tree can be removed, probably by crane.  And god only knows when that will happen.

We are okay.  Thanks to Mike, who is a whiz with extension cord mapping, we have wifi, cable TV, a fan, and cold food.  However, soon we will not have any more hot water, and we won't have AC until the power comes back on.  Our house, despite being surrounded by enormous oaks and pines, was not hit.  However, our neighbors to both our right and left have giant trees in their backyards that narrowly missed their homes.

This morning, Mike ventured out to see what was happening on Forrest Hill Ave. -- the main road by our house.  It normally takes about one minute to get out of our neighborhood.  It took him over 15 today.  There are trees down on nearly every road - rendering them impassable.  Chippenham Parkway - the highway that backs up to the far end of our neighborhood -- is closed.  Every store on Forrest Hill Ave. was closed, except Martin's -- they are operating on generator power, but its now a cash-only establishment.

I took Hops (dog) for a walk this morning.  When I got to the bottom of the street, I saw this:

This tree was blown over at the roots. 

So then I turned around and walked to the top of my street.  I saw this:
I looked left:

I looked right:

I turned the corner:

And now I understand why you can't get out of the neighborhood.  I also feel it is a miracle we came out unscathed.

Walking around the neighborhood, I started to tear up.  One neighbor's tree uprooted and split their house right down the middle.  Another's did the same and crushed a brick carport.  Homes have sustained thousands of dollars of damage, and folks who have lived through Isabelle in 2003, said that similar damage to their home took six months and over $50,000 to rebuild.

I estimate approximately ONE out of every THREE homes has either a tree or an enormous limb on their property.  About half of those have damage to their homes as a result. 

Let me explain how this begins to affect us over the next few days: In order to clean up, many need to use chainsaws to move limbs and trees. These require gas, which is also needed to operate generators.  Right now, there are no open gas stations in the area, so neighbors are pulling together, sharing gas and moving food into one another's refridgerator's in order to find a way to make roads passable, and driveways and windows clear.

Which is why we feel humbled by the small amount of mess we'll deal with over the next few days:

Some houses are unlivable right now.  It is unclear when they will be able to return home.

Those of us without power may need to leave too.  There's only so many cold meals and cold showers one can take before starting to go a little nuts.

My heart goes out to everyone who experienced some loss last night.  Its a scary and sad process to wake up this morning and try to figure out how to best deal with an overwhelming amount of damage. 

Some folks on facebook were calling this storm "lame" or "boring."  I'm so glad that was your experience.  But say a little prayer for those who were not bored, but scared and saddened, because this Hurricane was not as bad as it could have been. 

And had it been worse, these photos might have been yours.

Stay safe this week and check on your neighbors.  Help each other and make sure your friends and family are okay. 

We'll be here.  Cleaning up.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Customer Service: "Get it your damn self": Part II

I know you're excited. 

"Part II?" you say.  "I didn't realize there would be a sequel!"

Ah, yes.  I have a great many things to say about Customer Service "Professionals"-- most of which can be summed up by my use of ironic quotation marks around the word "Professional," but I encourage you to delve into my history with CS"P"s by going here and here.

All caught up?  Excellent.  Then allow me to tell you of my recent excursion to Martin's.

Pause.  I lied. Story not immediately forthcoming.  First, some Martin's background for those of you non-Richmondites.  Martin's, owned by Giant Foods, bought Richmond's longtime local grocery store chain Ukrops, much to the chagrin of most older members of the metropolitan area.  These folks felt they would miss the chipper pleasantries of their local Ukrops employees, and their grocer's fastidious commitment to a high-end shopping "experience."  The rest of us were siked that we would now have a grocery store nearby that was open on Sundays and sold beer, and an immediate end to the Food Lion trips that necessitated a full-body sanitation ritual upon leaving.  I was also pleased to find that after leaving Martin's, I no longer had to find a satanic circle in which to sell my soul to afford my groceries.

But anyhoo, people are generally bummed about the absence of Ukrops.

I am here to tell you Martin's Nay-Sayers and No-Shoppers: Martin's Customer Service Does Not Suck.

Here's why:

So I'm doing the pre-vacation shop.  You know what this means.  I am buying anything I want.  Eff Special K. I'm getting Lucky Charms.  Screw double-fiber wheat.  I'm getting Wonderbread.  We never buy frozen chicken wings, but hell -- its vacation!  They're in the cart.  Everything is in the cart.  Another cart is in the cart.  You get the picture.

And I'm wrapping things up in the produce section, when I realize I need a few of those ice pack things you stick in coolers to keep shit cold. 

Now, where would you go to find those-ice-pack-things-you-stick-in-coolers-to-keep-shit-cold?  No really, think about it.  What aisle are they in?

[Insert Final Jeopardy Ditty]

Exactly.  You have no effing clue.  Its okay.  Neither did I.  But what was worse: I had absolutely no confidence that a single human working at Martin's would know either.  Especially someone in the produce section.  I thought this would be like a trip to Home Depot, where you are wandering the paint aisle, and you see a CS"P" and ask him where you can find -- oh, I don't know, something super complex, like painter's tape, and CS"P" says "Oh, I don't know.  This isn't my section.  You'll have to find Jim."  And then you spend 15 minutes looking for Jim, who is apparently explaining the nanochemistry of latex paint to a customer because you have now waited so long you could have actually painted your entire house by now -- only to have Jim tell you that you are, in fact, standing directly in front of painter's tape.

But I risk it, people.  I risk defrosted chicken wings, rancid whole milk and molded Wonderbread, and I ask red-pepper stocker Anthony where I can find those ice-pack thingy majiggies.

Anthony -- who is all of 17 -- pauses in in pepper-stocking and lifts his eyes towards the drop cieling. I'm waiting... waiting...  Then -- boom! -- a light goes off! He's got it!  He holds up one finger in my direction and then --

He takes off.  He totally ditches me amidst sweet potatoes and pre-packaged pistachios.  I am now standing there -- list and pen in one hand, cantaloupe in the other -- looking like I need directions to the deli counter.  And I am having a slight crisis:

What to do now? Follow him?  What if I can't find him? Continue shopping? What if he can't find me? What if I just keep missing him amidst the aisles and we end up playing this awkward game of marco-polo?  Stay here?  For how long?  How long can I keep perusing legumes before people think I'm stalking someone?

Don't tell me you haven't experienced this sort of anxiety over standing awkwardly and conspicuously in a place where everyone else has a purpose.  Its like waiting for someone in a restaurant -- everyone else has something to do, except you.  Which is why you are checking facebook on your phone for the 47th time in the last 15 minutes hoping people think you are reading an Important Work Email.

No one thinks that, FYI.

Ultimately, I scuttle myself and my cart full of goodies over near a display of wine and pretend to cross stuff off my list. 

After only a brief expanse of awkwardness Anthony returns [relief!] with a variety of ice-pack-thingies [joy!] and he knows the price [shock!] and location [amazement!] of every one of them.

I am awed by Anthony's customer service professionalism.  And I decide to tell someone this. So after selecting my preferred ice-pack I waltz myself and my cart over to a guy who appears somewhat managerial, and I tell him my story.  However, this person is not a manager at all [embarrassing!] and recommends I fill out a comment card at the customer service desk. 

I get Anthony's name and sachet my happy shopper ass on over there.  I ask the person behind the desk for a comment card and she looks at me like my head has been replaced by a cantaloupe.  Service Desk Woman (SDW) claims no such card exists. 

Hm.  A conundrum.  She looks at me in despair.  How to take my compliment without a comment card?

I politely suggest that perhaps A PIECE OF PAPER would work just fine.

Christalmighty, people. 

But before I can even get pen to not-a-comment-card paper, an actual, real-deal manager walks up and SDW suggests I just tell him what I was going to write. 

Which I do.  And this guy is just peeing himself he is so thrilled about my compliment.  And I'm confused, until two things happen:
#1: He repeats the sentence "Usually we just hear complaints" three times.
#2: He drags me over to the Regional Manager -- who just happened to be visiting that day -- so I can recount my story to her. 

At this point I am telling the story for the fourth time, and my groceries are melting and molding and otherwise rapidly going south, and my mind is no longer interested in this act of kindness anymore, which is why this happens:

I begin my tale of sojourning to the produce aisle and seeking ice-pack thingies, and how... um.... this guy... um... young guy.... uh... stocking peppers....

I forgot the kid's name.  

You know what that means?  It means all three of us walk further away from my grocery cart, and back to the produce section so I can point awkwardly at Anthony and say "That kid" while I watch him turn six shades of embarrassed by all the attention I have now brought to him.

By the time I get back to my cart and head to the checkout, I have really racked up some stats in Martin's:

Number of Ice Packs Anthony Found and Brought Back to Me: 4
Number of Times I Told This Story to a Martin's Employee: 4
Number of Minutes Attempting to Pay Martin's a Compliment: 27
Number of Cart Items Now No Longer Edible: 6
How Much I Think Anthony Actually Appreciated What I Did: 0

You know what?  Next time, I actually will get it my damn self.

Day #300+: I'm Back.

And I want to talk about random stuff.

I had previously claimed I didn't want to maintain blogs that were just wild, mucky-mucking around the odd stuff of life.  However, I like writing and finding something like a "theme" to write an entire blog about is a smidge challenging, and prevents me from actually sitting down and writing funny stuff.

So screw this, I'm going to write about random stuff.

So there.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Day #19: Age: 30

Today I am 30.

Not surprisingly, I doesn't feel much different than 29.

My parents and sister threw me a three-year-old's birthday party last weekend. Cutest. Thing. Ever. Mom had cupcakes, streamers, matching plates and napkins with a cornocopia of cupcake flavors featured on them (see photo for details).

Before the party started, my sister looked at me and said, "You're not turning thirty. Your turning free" and held up three fingers. Adorable.

My in-laws helped me eat three pizzas last night, which could not have made me happier.

But The Best Birthday Present Ever Prize goes to my husband for this:

Last night we were in bed (get your head out of the gutter). I'm watching TV and Mike is effing around with his iPhone, as usual. Mike starts chuckling a little. Then he starts full blown laughing.

Me: [annoyed at show interruption] "What's so damn funny?"

Mike: Your blog.

Baaaahzinga! We have a winner!

A few odds and ends before I finally say goodbye to this blog. First, the answers to some (In)Frequently Asked Questions:

Regarding Day #12: Technology: "Did you get your 20 bucks?" - BS in Midlothian, VA.
BS, thanks for writing in. Yes, I did get my 20 bucks, all in $5 bills, because the CS"P" had run out of tens and 20s. Shocker.

Regarding Day #8: Homeownership Part 1 in which I discuss my clever air-conditioning unit disguise plan: "Is it behind the plant?!" -- fellow blogger NatCrat in MD.
NatCraft, thanks for playing along. No one else ventured guesses. The answer is, yes. I hid the air-conditioner behind a palm tree and pretended it wasn't there for 6 months, until Mike and his dad took it out one day and patched the wall. When I pointed out to people, "Hey! Look what Mike and his dad did! They took out the air-conditioner!" visitors would respond with: "What air-conditioner?" Prooving definatively that people are less observant than we all hoped.

Regarding Day #13: Holidays: "Did you plan the matching sweaters?" -- everybody who read that post.
No we didn't (scout's honor). However, as my cousin (and artist) Kate noted, there were many, many, many planned matching-sweater events in my childhood. Meg and I can be found in a variety of ancient photographs, sporting identical old-lady reindeer sweaters, presumably of craft-fair origin. My mom can produce said photographs upon request.

Regarding Day #11: Holly Homemaker I am Not: "Where can I get an out fit like that for a little kitchen fantasy i have?" -- Anonymous.

First, I would give good money to know who this is (I have some suspicions...). Second, I'm sorry to say I have no idea where you can find an outfit like that, but I applaud your creativity.

Regarding me, in general: "Are you going to write a book/column/another blog?" -- Nice People Who Love Me.
First off, this is a massive compliment. Every time someone mentions this, I feel super-proud and grateful.

The thing is: I prefer to write blogs with an angle so I don't wander off into too-general, wildly-unrelated, mucky-mucking about stuff. Currently, I can't really think of an angle that can sustain a blog (or a book) over a long period of time (or pages), which is why I do these short-term blog projects.

However, if you have any suggestions for what I could write an entire blog (or book) about, please suggest away. I'd love to hear some ideas.

Next item of business: Thank Yous.

My mother raised me right, so I'd like to thank...

Cass. You gave me permission to use "Urban Assault Vehicle" (Day #3: Driving) 10 years ago, but I still want to make sure you get credit for that one. 10 years later, its still damn funny. Thanks also for the trip down memory lane and reminding me about "The Fish Tank."

My sister Meg, with whom I shared a facebook banter about her Subaru. I was still laughing about that days later and it inspired Day #6: Vehicles.

My mom, for (1) saying nice things about me in the comments on Day #11: Holly Homemaker and for (2) the laughs at the party. I know you don't want me to say which joke of yours I used, but thanks for letting me steal it and for inspiring the blog its found in.

My mother-in-law Sharon, who I plan on asking to become my agent. Thanks for the heaps of support and for encouraging me to start blogging in the first place.

Sara Eastman (blog promoter extrodinaire) and Kara Eller (fellow blogger) for your support via facebook emails. Talking about writing helps me write better.

Thank you to my 17 followers. I'm not clear what happens when you become a follower (I hear nothing happens except that you show up in my list of followers) but I appreciate having something akin to a fan club.

A huge thanks to anyone who posted a link to Act Your Age on your facebook page and brought a whole new set of readers to the blog. So incredibly cool of you.

And of course, Mike, who lets me broadcast stuff about him and our lives freely, and who is this writer's favorite person and greatest supporter.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day #18: Passive Agressive. Um, is it cold in here, or are you just pissed at me?

No one is particularly good at confrontation, albeit the people who are good at confronting others tend to do so with a gusto a relish that I do not care to be the recipient of. I, however, did not learn that the best way to handle a problem is to address it directly until well into my twenties -- and quite frankly, I'm still only marginal at it.

While I was waiting to develop my confrontation skills in my twenties, I practiced the art of passive aggressive behavior. You know, not-so-subtly telling someone that they suck.

In college, I had a roommate and we shared an apartment for about a year and a half. She was a nice girl who tolerated my smoking and drinking habits, but she had these fish...

The fish were a gift she received from her boyfriend on Valentine's Day. So guess what she named them? "Val" and "Tine." (Oh, I'm sorry -- did I just hear you vomit a little bit? Its okay, I did too.)

Val and Tine lived in a tank that looked more like a giant flower vase. It had blue rock things in the bottom and little trees sticking out of them and some other random crap people think fish like (do people think fish have decorating sense?).

The tank lived on our rarely-used kitchen table and the fish swam and pooped and crapped up the tank until the thing had accumulated a slimy, brownish-green, poo-and-food film on it. The film spread and gained thickness and grossness and a personality and a stomach and a full-on life of its own. Soon, Val and Tine were no longer visible through the tank-flim monster and I feared the film would get hungry and just say "eff it" and eat them both.

Speaking of eating, did I mention this tank lived in my kitchen? As in: The place where one makes food (occasionally -- usually just Tombstone pizzas, but that's neither here nor there). The tank provided me with an excellent diet plan. I would walk into the kitchen to make something (read: a pizza) see the tank, vomit, and decide to abstain from eating for another day.

One day, my roommate asked me if I would take care of the fish while she was out of town for the weekend. I agreed. I fed the fish and the Film Monster at the pre-ordained times on Friday. I did this again on Saturday.

On Sunday we had a floater.


But could you blame the fish? If your name was Tine and you were swimming in a sea of poorly- decorated excrement-water and spending your days avoiding a giant Film Monster, wouldn't you want to just give up the good fight?

So now what to do. Roommate would not be home until the evening. Do I get rid of the fish? Flush it? What if she wants to say goodbye one last time? What if she wants to bury it somewhere special? Hold a funeral? Say some last words? How do I explain that not only did the fish die on my watch, but that I didn't kill it, The Film Monster probably did or it was a suicide, oh and by the way I flushed it down your toilet and that may be why its a little backed up right now.

What would you do? Huh?

I'll tell you what I do:

I decide to pretend I never saw it. Yup. I order myself a pizza, sit on the sofa, turn on Law and Order and work on the Walrus of a Lie I'm planning to tell.

Roommate comes home.

"Ohmygod! Ohmygod!"

Me: [very concerned] What?

Roommate: Did you know Val died?

Walrus Lie now reduced to Goldfish-Sized Lie: I thought Tine died, so I'm not actually lying when I say:

"I had no idea."

Roommate: Did you feed them?

Me: "Yes! Of course I did!" [Not a lie. Doing okay so far.]

[Roommate is not convinced. Is looking at me like I am a fish-hating murderer.]

Me: "Look, I mean, the tank was really filthy. I think that probably contributed to his demise."

Roommate: "So why didn't you just clean it?"


I mean, you have got to be shitting me, right? Does she not realize that I have absolutely no affection for these boring-ass "pets"? Furthermore, does she not realize that no one volunteers to clean up other living being's poop?

Shortly after Val's death, Tine kicks the bucket and heads to the giant sewage-filtration system in the sky and we are left with just the Film Monster.

Film Monster sticks around for about a week before I take tank and Monster outside on the deck and leave them there.

A week goes by. My roommate walks past the tank, filled with water and muck, 57 times a day. Does she move it? No. Does she clean it? No. Does she throw it in the dumpster? No.

So you know what happens? It gets really effing cold out. So cold water freezes. You know what happens when water freezes?

It expands, folks. It expands and shatters the glass tank and blue-rocks spill out all over the deck like intestines. Little trees and orange castles litter the deck like carnage of some natural disaster. Its like a welcome mat, only instead of "Welcome" it says something more like "Things Die Here."

So its, you know, real welcoming and all.

Still, my roommate does not clean it up.

People come over. They ask the obvious:

"What the eff is that?"

Oh, its just the shattered remains of my friendship with my roommate. No biggie. Just step over this way.

The glass and guts and slime stay there for a week. Neither one of us is talking about the giant heap of blue and green detritus spread all over our deck, right next to our front door. In fact, neither one us is talking.

We are locked in an epic cold war battle of Who-Can-Ignore-the-Biosafety-Hazard-On-Our-Front-Porch-the-Longest.

One day, to send a message, I put a Heafty Cinch Sac on her pillow.

It occurs to me know that the message I may have been inadvertently sending was: If you don't clean that shit up I'll smother you in your sleep.

Woopsie daisy!

Whatever, it still didn't work.

Eventually, our landlord comes over and informs me that we are violating Section 4: Code 52: Line 9 of our lease agreement that says something to the effect of "Tenant shall not leave gangrenous fish tank remains on front porch."

Fair enough.

I pull up my big-girl panties and confront my roommate when she gets home from work, like a mature adult:

"Dude. When are you going to clean up the shit out there."

She says: "I didn't put it out there. You clean it up."

This is it. This is the Film Monster that broke the fish's back. We have it out. I mean, we fought with passion just short of hair-pulling and bitch-slapping.

In the end, the confrontation was a good call. We calmed down. We made peace. We both cleaned up the fish tank remains.

And I learned from this experience. Now, when I want something done, I'll send a message less subtle than a trash bag on the pillow. Eff the passive, let's go aggressive:

I'll put the whole damn bio-hazardous mess on there.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day #17: Hangovers. A Brief Compare and Contrast.

Last night Mike and I were hanging out on the deck, discussing what I should post today. Mike said "Hangovers" would be an appropriate topic to cover after a post on "Alcohol." Additionally, we may have been mentally preparing ourselves for this morning...

We started to make a list of hangover cures, but realized that our actions at age 20 were radically less sensible than those at age 30, and so we offer you a brief compare and contrast in the form of top 5 lists.

Top Five Favorite Drinks at Age 20:
1. Keystone Light (in a pitcher, preferably at BT's in Radford, VA)
2. Beast Light
3. Natty Light (in a can, preferably in the basement of a fraternity house)
4. Icehouse
5. Shots of Jagermeister

Top Five Drinks Avoided at Age 30:
1. Keystone Light
2. Beast Light
3. Natty Light
4. Icehouse
5. Shots of Yeagermeister

Top Five Favorite Things to Eat When Hungover at Age 20:
1. The leftovers from the pizzia you ordered at 3am.
2. Fast food breakfast purchased via drive-thru (and while wearing a hangover hat and sunglasses)
3. An entire bag of potato chips (in my case, Cool Ranch Doritos) and a Blue Gatorade
4. Donuts (please note that this word is pluralized)
5. Lunch

Top Five Favorite Things to Eat When Hungover at Age 30:
1. Advil
2. Tums
3. Tylenol
4. Pepto-Bismol
5. Lunch

Top 5 Hangover Activities at Age 20:
1. Drink a 7-11 coffee
2. Chain smoke a pack of cigarettes
3. Eat fried food
4. Rehash the hilarity from the night before
5. Drink beer

** Note: Look at this list. Doesn't sound like a Friday night in college? What we did to "cure" hangovers was the same damn thing that caused them in the first place. We were like gods back then...

Top Five Hangover Activities at Age 30:
1. Take Advil.
2. Lay on sofa.
3. Watch a sporting event until 5:00pm.
4. Order a pizza.
5. Fail to shower until next morning.

**Note: This sounds shockingly like my today...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day #16: Alcohol. "I like my drink with a splash of snob, please."

This is a subject near and dear to the hearts of many, and especially appropriate on a Friday afternoon when those of you in this time zone are shortly to engage in the art of consumption. I, for one, will be hoisting a glass as soon as possible, because I believe I am entitled to start celebrating my birthday a full three days in advance, and continue celebrating it though Thursday.

Let's just cut to the chase here: I have drank some drinks. If you read Beth and Mike Across America, you know I will still be standing at last call and I'll be the one with enough sense to tell you to go home because you're wasted.

Because here's the thing about me and alcohol:

1. I can count on two hands how many times I have been really and truly drunk. When I broach the "Beyond Tanked" threshold, I pack myself up and put myself to bed, thereby eliminating the need for next day phone calls that begin with "Um... so... about last night..." and end with you apologizing for something you fail to recall doing.

2. When I do have one too many, I am the happiest drunk on the planet. I love you when I'm drunk. We are best friends. I will tell you so. I will tell you so repeatedly. I will hug you and sing to you and praise your glories and thank you for being my best friend (even if you aren't).

Then I will pack myself up and put my drunk self to bed.

The reason I manage to stay in control when everyone else is saying things like, "I haff a fantashtic idear! Less settoff firewerks in the garage!" is because I drink expensive beer and I drink it slow.

When I was in my twenties, I aspired to be a wine connoisseur. I bought different wines and tried to remember their names (fail). Nice people bought me wine paraphernalia (of which there is an abundance on the market: cocktail napkins, candles, openers, closers, keys, holders, glasses, and this enormous gadget called The Rabbit that won't fit in any of the drawers in my kitchen and therefore has been relegated to The Cabinet Where Kitchen Utensils Go To Die next to the oven).

Unfortunately, all that work was for naught. Sigh. The wine that can typically found at my house is labeled "WHITE WINE." Not savignon-blanc, or pinot-gregio, or chardonnay, just "WHITE WINE." Its by White Truck. I recommend it.

I also thought, in my twenties, that I would become a fancy-drink-drinker. Fancy-drinks, in my world, are any drinks made with liquor. I don't touch the sauce, man. Nooooo way. Because I am smart. I learn from mistakes. I know this about myself: you give me a shot, and I will go from standing-up-and-talking to believing I am truly a candidate for So You Think You Can Dance and attempting to prove my assertions, um, anywhere. Dance floor not required.

Its just not okay and its the kind of thing that comes back to haunt you in the form of stories told to people whose opinions matter to you.

So I have become a beer snob. My husband is my partner in beer snobbery. We scoff at your Miller Lite in a can. We pashaw that Bud Lite Lime in your fridge. We refuse to drink your free Natty Ice.

Isn't this obnoxious?

It so is, but we don't care, because we know more about beer than you do and we aren't afraid to flaunt it. However, we concede that you have the right to flaunt your checking account balance in front of us because ours is suffering from our expensive taste.

Its not just that we exclusively purchase six-packs that run us about $9.89 each (although, we do and we do it so often that when we walk into Once Upon a Vine South, the owner, Tomy, says "Hey MikeandBeth!" Is this socially acceptable?). Its also because we feel we need to mingle with other beer-drinkers who are as snobby as we are, so each year we shell out $400 bones plus the cost of a hotel room and we attend Savor.

Savor is an American Craft Beer and Food Experience. No really, that's what they call it.

Picture it:

You dress in your best cocktail party attire, tuck your $100/pop ticket in your pocket and stand in line to enter the National Building Museum in DC. You enter a hall that is a full two stories tall and chock-full of tables featuring beer made at craft breweries from around the country. Each beer has been paired with a small dish prepared by one of the top catering companies in the area. You mingle and rub elbows with brewery owners and bar owners and other people with an ungodly amount of expendable income.

We also get our nerd on. Yes, you can (pay $$$ and) attend "Salons," which are small sessions on topics such as "The Historie of the American IPA" or "Panel Discussion on Cheese Pairing."

Truly and honestly, this event exists. See this for details and you can come with us next year and get your annual dose of beer snobbery too!

Part of the beer snobbery is due to the fact that Mike brews beer. In case you haven't had the opportunity to try Mike's beer, let me assure you, its good. Its not your buddy's homebrew where you taste it and then say "Yeah. Wow. Um. That's different" while you figure out how you're going to choke the rest of it down without gagging.

Mike's beer is excellent -- it makes our basement look like a meth lab, but its worth it because we have a nearly unlimited supply of awesome beer.

We have a kegerator:

I remember the night we realized how much Mike's brewing had changed our lives.

We were sitting out on the deck in the fall a few years ago. We are frequently found there, but are definitely found there when, like this particular night, it is cool and crisp out. We have not started to hate the 3 million leaves that will shortly dump themselves on our lawn, because at this point they are golden-orange and beautiful. Mike and I are having some laughs, catching up after a busy week, enjoying the tunes coming through on the outdoor speakers.

We are chuckling and smiling as we stroll into the kitchen to refresh our beverages.

Screeech... music stops. Smiles drop. Silence.

We are out of beer.

Mike and I look at each other. We can read the look in each other's eyes: But I was having so much fun... So much fun that now I can't drive anywhere...

Then it occurs to us:

There is an entire keg of beer downstairs, on tap, ice cold.

The "Hallelujah Chorus" begins to play. The night has been saved.

This post has made me want a beer -- immediately. I suggest you hoist one too, but preferably not one in a can.