Better than Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel

Yesterday morning, I heard a radio commercial for a boat show in Greensboro this weekend where everyone’s favorite waterskiing squirrel will be performing LIVE!! I got a little excited and then a little nostalgic about my own encounter with Twiggy, but not quite enough to make me want to drive to Greensboro and pay money to attend a boat show.

Little did I know that small, furry, woodland creatures would be a theme for the day.

I later entered into an email conversation with Mrs. Emily Furr Hogan that turned at some point to the topic of transferring VHS videos to DVDs – something neither of us is capable of. She then made the following statement:

I’m pretty sure Matt’s grandma knows how to do this. I need to call her. And yes– I did just admit that a lady in her 70’s knows perhaps more about technology than I do. I think she uses the VHS / DVD thing when she’s making videos of her chipmunks. I’ll find out details.

Now look, friends, you cannot say that someone’s grandmother makes videos of chipmunks like it’s a normal thing and just leave it at that. It is not a normal thing. Please acknowledge that. Since Emily and I had not previously established that things of this nature must be adequately presented both for their creativity and incredulity, I requested more information. Here’s what I got:

It’s all true.  She sets up these dioramas on her back porch and lures the chipmunks that live in her yard to come into the dioramas via a little trail of sunflower seeds.  Before you know it, you’ve got a scene that features a chipmunk driving a covered wagon.  Or hanging laundry out behind its teeny tiny house.  Or “wearing” a santa suit in a little Christmas scene.  (She props up the outfits & as soon as the chipmunk stands perfectly behind it, she snaps a photo.)

This stuff is AMAZING, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on some of it.  She’s got video and ALBUM UPON ALBUM of these types of photos.  I remember her expressing genuine, deep excitement upon finding the tiny covered wagon.  “And I told the store clerk that this would be just PERFECT for my chipmunks!!”

Y’all, this story expresses so many things I love about Emily:

  • She knows someone who builds dioramas for chipmunks and then lures them into tiny covered wagons with sunflower seeds.
  • She is related by marriage to this person.
  • She sees both the humor and the amazingness in such an activity.
  • This sort of thing comes up in the course of a normal conversation for us.

I must see these photos/videos, but more importantly, I must find a single cousin of Matt’s to marry so that I too might join this family.

Mrs. Hogan Goes to Raleigh

I know it’s not quite as Capra-esque as a visit to Washington, but having Mrs. Emily Furr Hogan herself here in my very townhouse was definitely a highlight this week. Mrs. Hogan, it seems, booked a trip to NC, was very excited to have nearly two whole weeks with her family, then got to WILKESBORO!!!!! and realized there’s only about a week’s worth of visiting that can be comfortably done there. After that, without some buddies with whom to get into some mischief, it’s just boring. Plus, I think the snow covered up all the sidewalks and driveways she might have wanted to sidewalk chalk, so she had to get out. And I am just honored that she chose to come visit me!

So we had a little reunion last night at dinner – Emily, Julie, Jessica and myself representing Wilkes County – and Amaris and W-Josh rounded out the group nicely. Knowing as much as they do about my childhood and adolescence, they fit right in. We could flow easily in and out of conversations about our current life situations, Matt Hagaman, travel, the Wilkes Skippers, manties (man + panties), and the Wilkes Central Madrigal Singers without anyone missing a beat. Well, Emily and Jessica had never heard of manties, but we caught them right up. Besides, I think I made up the word manties back in my days at American Eagle SoHo (flagship store 81), so clearly it just needs some time to sweep the nation properly.

By the way, regarding Mr. Hagaman, Emily Furr Hogan tells me he was recently sighted wearing a sweater vest. I never thought I’d see the day.

Anyhoe, after dinner, Emily had a little surprise for me. Right there in downtown Raleigh, she pulled out of her trunk…

Tippy the 2-D Dog!

Now, if you are unfamiliar with Tippy, let me just explain (and this will give you a good idea of what all of high school was like for us even though it happened in grad school). When we were both living in NYC (Emily at Columbia and I at NYU), I had…a vision. At the time, I called it a 1-D dog until someone pointed out to me that that would just be a line. But I wanted a flat dog. I don’t know why. Don’t ask. It doesn’t make any sense, I know. Maybe I felt left out seeing all the people walking dogs around the city. Maybe I wanted a pet I didn’t have to take care of. Maybe I’m just super weird. But Emily was on board with the idea and set to work straight away.

What resulted was an image of a dog, printed once, then reversed and printed again. The prints were then mounted on cardboard and foam core and glued together with a yard stick in the middle. The yard stick comes out at such an angle that when you hold the end of it, it looks like Tippy is walking in front of you on an unusually thick leash.

We walked Tippy all over the Big Apple. We even took him to a dog park, where Tippy “played” with other dogs, which basically meant that we poked strangers’ dogs with our pieces of cardboard and foam core. I still can’t believe we got away with that. But good memories. Good memories indeed.

So Tippy now lives in Raleigh, and he is currently perched in the window by our front door, “keeping watch.” He’s a good pup.

Emily also brought me a Puerto Rican woman’s driver’s license, but that’s another story.

Question of the Day

Today’s question comes from my formspring page. I’m not sure if someone actually asked me this, or if maybe formspring just felt bad for me because no one was asking me anything, so they threw one out there for me to answer. I don’t really care. It’s a good question.

What are your long-term plans in life?

I kind of thought we’d start out with things like, “What are your favorite pizza toppings?” or “How DO you get your hair to be so awesome?” but no, we’re going straight for the big guns. Mama, is that you again? Do you really think you’re going to get a satisfactory answer to this one? I’ll try.

I got out of the planning business a long time ago. I don’t know how many of you know this about me, but I started out in undergrad as a music major. I had plans, see? I was going to be a music therapist. But then that fell through, and I haven’t done much planning since. My college advisor asked me one time what my five-year plan was, and I think I just stared at her blankly for a minute before I either started laughing or broke down in tears. I just could not envision my life five years out. I still can’t. I haven’t even tried since then, and five years is really not that long, so as far as long-term plans go…well, you got me. I have no idea.

I do have things I want to do, but I don’t have a time line for them or anything like that. I’m working toward some goals, but I don’t know when I’ll achieve them, and I’m not trying to plan my life out too much because (a) there are so many things I can’t control, and (b) where’s the fun in that? I really like the spontaneity I’ve got going and the freedom I have to change things up at a moment’s notice. But for those of you who really want a more concrete answer to this question, the things I want to do are as follows:

  • get married
  • have kids (although I’m really interested in adoption, so I might get some kids rather than having them myself)
  • publish books (multiple)
  • continue to see new places in the world
  • build my savings account back up
  • pay off my student loans
  • eat delicious food
  • own a home
  • live off of writing and teaching (although I could still do the Census for fun)
  • enjoy whatever life throws at me because somehow, it all has the potential to be beautiful

Who’s next? Keep ’em coming!

Food Project Update OR Soy No Mas

So as you may recall, I’m poor, and I had all this food sitting in a bag on the floor because it wouldn’t fit on my shelf in the food cabinet, and as a result of these two things, I decided to eat all my food before buying new food. ALL my food. Well, I’m proud to say that I’m down to a bag of rice, two half-boxes of pasta, a jar of salsa and about a spoonful of almond butter. I think I can feel good enough about that kind of progress to go shopping when I get paid tomorrow. Unless y’all have any ideas for that kind of food combination.

Yeah I didn’t think so. Me neither.

Back story: When my beloved Brookie was just getting to know her husband Matt, he was in Wilmington and she was in Raleigh, so there was a lot of emailing that went on, and they switched up the subject lines for each message, which was really cute. Well, they’d already established that they both spoke Spanish, and Brookie wanted to make the subject line for one email about this dairy-free ice cream called Soy Delicious, but since “soy” in Spanish means “I am,” she questioned whether this was an appropriate thing to say to a man she barely knew (I am delicious). I told her it was hilarious and to go for it. She did. They are married. I take full credit.

ANYhoe, in the past few weeks, since I used up the last of the soy milk, I have noticed a marked improvement in both my skin and my digestive system, which makes me seriously wonder if I’ve got some kind of soy allergy. Now, for most people, this would qualify as a minor inconvenience – minor because my gas and skin problems are not that serious, inconvenience because there is soy in almost EVERYTHING. But for a vegan (even a quasi-vegan), the possibility of a soy allergy poses a larger problem.

Soy is what vegans eat. Soy beans, soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), etc. It’s a complete protein, which is what I tell people when they look at me all concerned and say, “But you have to eat meat. HOW DO YOU GET ENOUGH PROTEIN?!?!” This is a different post entirely, but suffice it to say, I just explain to them about soy, and although they don’t buy it and think I’ve been brainwashed by the Japanese, they tend to leave me alone about the protein.

So if I’m allergic to soy, what ever shall become of me? As a vegan, with no more soy, do I too cease to exist (remember that Spanish lesson from earlier, kids)?

I had an existential crisis for a moment over this, and then I got really excited about eating a wider variety of veggies and beans and not relying so wholly on soy to complete a meal. I mean, after this little food challenge, I’m all kinds of creative in the kitchen. Once I’ve got my pantry restocked, there will be no limit to the flavors I can create! Oh I can’t wait to make a grocery list!

Decisions, decisions

First of all, my sincerest apologies for my many days of absence following my return from Portland. I feel like I’ve been caught up in one big Christmas party since then, and it’s been a little weird, quite frankly, all around. I went to the grocery store for the first time the other day, and although it’s not that big a grocery store, I was a little overwhelmed by there being a whole building of that size dedicated solely to the sale of food items. I mean, we had Auchan in Italy, which is enormous. It’s sort of like a Super Wal-Mart. They’ve got everything, but because it’s so big, it makes total sense that they have everything, and so it’s not that strange. But the grocery stores – the Conad, the Maxi Piu, the Sisa – are not that large. At least not the ones I went to. So the Food Lion was a tad odd to me. Plus, I understood everything, and I was allowed to make my own purchase (as opposed to the commissary), and my bags didn’t cost me any extra.

I’ve also been driving, which is totally weird after three months of not driving. I’m getting used to it, though. And every new city is a new adventure in what my hair is going to do in response to that city’s water. So far so good, I’d say. It’s a bit large today, but that’s what bobby pins are for, am I right?

Well, that’s enough stalling. Let’s get down to what I came here to tell you. Some of you are going to be very excited, and some of you are going to be very sad, and some of you already know all of this, but I’ll tell you anyway.

Somewhere over the Great Lakes at ungodly o’clock in the morning, when I hated just about everything, I made a decision. Now I know what you’re thinking. That is probably not the best time to make a decision – when you hate everything. But you are wrong. It is the perfect time to make the decision that I made, which was the decision not to move to Portland.

I loved Portland. Please understand that. And if I were looking for a cool place to live for a year or three, it would be just the place, but I’m not looking for just another adventure. I’m looking for a home, and I realized (thanks, Leigh) that if I move somewhere with a plan B already in the back of my mind (like that I could always move back to NC if it doesn’t work out), it’s like I expect it not to work out. But if I move somewhere expecting it to be my home for the next 40 years, then I’ll treat my time there very differently.

I want to go somewhere I can comfortably expect to live for the next 40 years, and Portland is just too far away for that. I would want to see my family more often than I’d be able to, and if (fingers crossed) I were to get married and have kids, I’d want them to know my family better than they’d be able to from 3,000 miles away.

So I think I’m staying in NC. Where, exactly, I don’t know. My top choices are Asheville and Wilmington, and they’re in a pretty tight race right now. I just don’t have a job in either place. Or a place to live. If you have any connections in either place that might be able to find me something that doesn’t involve too much math, drawing or handling of bodily fluids, do let me know and/or put me in touch. And if you have any connections that might be able to find me something in adult ESL or writing/editing, that’s even better.

That’s all for now. I’ll keep you updated on any and all future decisions as they occur. And after Christmas, I’ll tell you about my encounter with the least helpful Best Buy employee EVER. I can’t tell you about it now because it would give away one of my Christmas gifts, and I like surprises.

New Moves

Of course you are all aware by now that I have a special way with the meeeuhnz. And by that I mean I am highly skilled in becoming buddies with them. Some girls have guys just falling all over themselves whenever they’re around, unable to think straight or form coherent sentences, but very few are able to get to the “just good friends” stage like I am. I’m telling you, it’s a gift. But whether you’re looking for just good friendship or something more, the first thing you have to do is get the dude’s attention, and I am always on the lookout for new methods of attention-getting.

The first one that every savvy gal should have in her arsenal was introduced by Miss Elle Woods when Legally Blonde came out in 2001. My roommate in Honduras, Charity, and I also introduced to our Honduran family the following summer. It’s the Bend and Snap. Now, I’m not really sure what the appeal is of the Bend and Snap, and if you have any information on this, do let us all know in the comments. We are very curious as to whether or not it would actually have any effect at all on a straight man, much less a positive one.

The 2nd-8th moves, I picked up two years ago at Emily Furr Hogan’s very sexy bachelorette party. Almost none of these moves are appropriate for meeting men, though. They are all reserved for when the two of you are…ahem…better acquainted. However, I do use sexy up on a regular basis, for as I’ve said before, it is a perfectly functional means of rising from a squatting position. Sexy down, however, all the hip rolling and the pony will have to wait. Sorry, y’all.

Well, #9 was introduced to me a few weeks ago at lunch by my friend Casey, who said that it was taught to her by a friend whose mother sat her down when she was 13 and taught it to her. I love that part, by the way. Her mom was looking out for her. Or teaching her to be a trollop. I’m not sure which.

Anyhoe, the move is called Stingray/Stungun, and it basically consists of two different looks. I have tried to capture these in the following photos. However, I have surely not done them justice as they really need to be seen in motion for maximum effectiveness.

Stingray involves a concentrated, squinty-eyed stare, as though you are shooting sexy laser beams out of your eyes. It looks something like this:


I think ideally my lips should be more pouty, but I was trying to take these picture in public a couple of weeks ago, and there were people around, so I didn’t want to do too many more takes lest the hotel begin to wonder what, exactly, I was doing on their internet.

The second half of the move is Stungun, which is a more taken-aback sort of look, as though you are saying to the gentleman, “Who, me?”


Apparently (according to Casey’s friend’s mom), you look even more mysterious and desirable if you say or mouth the words, “Stingray…stungun,” whilst doing the looks. I am mouthing “stungun” in this picture, which is why I look less than shocked and more like I’m working on a jawbreaker.

So there you have it. “Stingray” is a sort of “Hey there big boy, yeah I’m talking to you” sort of look, and then once you’ve got them with that, you hit them with the coy, surprised, yet still sexy “Stungun.” “What? Why sir, why ever are you looking at me so?”

What do you think? Does it have potential?

New Requirements for a Husband

I still like these requirements for my future husband, but some days, when I get really tired of the whole thing, and I just want to get married and be done with all the meeting and greeting and making nice and pretty, I pare it way down, reducing the requirements to the following:

  • loves Jesus and wants to love me like He does until death do us part
  • has a personality that complements mine
  • is moderately attractive to me
  • hates Adam Lambert

Ok FINE, maybe the last one isn’t absolutely necessary. Or maybe it is. If you think this is you (and especially if you think this is you), please send a 200-word essay to explaining why.

Helping the Googlers

So I’ve told y’all before about how I have Google Analytics, and how freaky-awesome it is that I can see some of the stuff I can see. For example, I know that in the past month, someone in New York Googled “Matt Hagaman” and spent a minute and 48 seconds here. Freaky. I love it. What up, New York!

Well, I got an email from Emily Furr Hogan the other day telling me that she got real bored one night and just started Googling stuff to see if Onward Hoe! would come up, and many times, it did. Upon doing my own research, however, I discovered that OH! doesn’t come up for several search results pages, so I decided to help out all the Googlers of the world by posting some key keywords right here, right now. That way, when you search for a phrase like “I like the Slanket. I don’t care what the comedy jokes are,” hopefully you’ll get here faster.

So here are some actual search phrases Analytics informs me have been used to find me:

  • beth parent loves matt hagaman always
  • beth parent oh so crazy hoe
  • beth parent wants to marry donald miller
  • matt hagaman, you’re a beautiful man, love beth parent
  • matt hagaman– you’re #1 in my heart, love beth parent
  • onward hoe beth parent do you see this beth? (this one was my favorite)
  • onward hoe beth parent super
  • onward hoe beth parent weird
  • onward hoe dirty words
  • onward hoe freaky
  • onward hoe sexy
  • “nursing bra” “fitting room”
  • black bunny hoe
  • hoe can i leran to speak italiano
  • this is why we can’t have nice things
  • wow wow woopsie games

There. Now, if anyone comes looking for those again, hopefully they’ll get here faster even though I’m pretty certain some of them were looking for a website with drastically different content from what I provide here.

And now some keywords I hope one day might drive traffic to the site (and perhaps spark events that will become the content of future posts):

  • beth parent will you marry me? love, Don
  • publish 10th book
  • job as SNL writer
  • my eye finally stopped twitching
  • received my check for $10 million, billion, gazillion
  • black bunny hoe

Reunion Pictures!! Round One (maybe of only one, but we’ll see)

These are going to be all out of order because I didn’t have enough foresight to upload them in the right order, and I don’t have the give-a-crap right now to rearrange them.  Here we have Emily, Wes and Lizzy on Saturday night. Precious.

Emily, Wesley and Lizzy

Jessica, Emily and Jennifer on Friday night. I tell you what – this is a good-looking group of ladies right here.

Jessica, Emily and Jenn

And speaking of good-lookin’ ladies, check these two out. Emily took this picture wanting to get the bluegrass band in the background, but I think she was also hoping to get a clear shot of the topless gentleman who later asked me to dance. He’s in there, but you can’t really see him. I saw him, though. Up close and dance-able, and believe me. It was not pretty.

at the Apple Festival with Chelle

Besu and Wesu, reunited after eight years or so. Man, I love this kid.

me and Wes

And whilst we’re on the subject of kids I love, Emily and Jim. Heart.

Emily, Jim and me

Although the whole gang was not present, those of us who were got together for a photo. Along with Carrie, Katie, Jeani, Jim, Alan and a host of others, these were the people I spent most of my time with in high school. They were basically my extended family. Pictured here are Emily, yours truly, Lizzy, Julie and Wes. To those of you who weren’t there, we missed you. And we hope you can make it to the 20-year reunion.

the gang

LOVE love.

Special thanks to Emily Hogan for the photos. Apparently she didn’t take any of the future Mr. and Mrs. Matt Hagaman, but just as soon as I get some, I’ll put them up. I know that many of you are Matt-curious. And the INSTANT that video footage of the dancing hits YouTube, believe you me, you will be notified.

Reunited, and it feels so good!

I realized as I was headed out of town on Friday that I had, both tragically and classically, forgotten my camera, so I don’t have any reunion photos for you just yet. However, there were several cameras there, which means that sooner or later (hopefully sooner), facebook will abound with memories of the weekend, and when that day comes, I shall save them as… and share them with you. But only if I look cute in them. But seriously, who are we kidding? OBviously, I will look cute in all of them. I’m cute. That’s how I roll.

ANYhoe, the ten-year reunion of the Wilkes Central class of ’98 was a weekend-long event. It started Friday night with drinks at “The Lounge” above Dooley’s bar in Wilkesboro. Yes, Dooley’s. Dooley, for those of you who don’t know, is the name of Whitney’s dog. We have long suspected that he was up to something like this, but Wilkesboro – that’s quite a commute. I guess some of those night classes* he took were business-related. And this explains why he sleeps all day every day. I just want to know whose car he’s driving back and forth with gas prices being what they are. If it’s mine, I expect him to chip in for maintenance and top off the tank.

Upon my arrival at Dooley’s, I saw at least ten people I’d been missing for some time and at least ten more I hadn’t really thought much about at all since 1998 but was ecstatic to see nonetheless. And then every time someone new would walk in, we’d all just look and think or say out loud, “Holy crap.” We just could not believe that they’d actually shown up. So we chatted and hung out and posed for pictures and caught up until I was about to fall over from exhaustion, and around 1:30, I staggered back to the lovely Michelle’s house, where I was staying (thanks Chelle!!). By that point, my expectations had already been exceeded, and we still had another full day of reunion fun ahead of us!

We slept in on Saturday, took our time getting ready, and rolled on over to the Apple Festival around noon. I got a caramel apple sample from Coach Tommy Johnson, who I’m pretty sure had NO idea who I was. We ran into Susan and Emily at some point and walked around with them until Susan left. Then Michelle, Emily and I wandered down the street just a bit more until we decided that it was entirely too hot and crowded to stay out there when we’d pretty much seen everything there was to see already.

Michelle went over to her parents’ house for a while, and I went to help set up for Saturday night’s festivities. Then I came back to discover that there was nary a full-length mirror in Michelle’s house. I called Emily, who saved the day by coming over to tell me what looked good together (since I couldn’t see my outfits as a whole). We both got ready and headed over to Roni’s Italian Restaurant.

Our excitement grew as we approached the restaurant and saw all the cars parked outside. We were fashionably late, so several reunion-goers had already arrived and were inside awaiting our grand entrance (ok, maybe they weren’t so much awaiting our entrance as just hanging out, but still…). It was a different crowd from the one on Friday night. There was some overlap, but there were several people who were there on Friday but not on Saturday and vice versa. In all, I think we probably saw 60-70 people from our class including (but by no means limited to):

  • Julie Gilstrap, who came from Scotland. I hadn’t seen her, I don’t think, since I was in Edinburgh in 2004, althought we’ve kept in touch pretty well via facebook (thanks facebook!).
  • Lee Spears, who came from frickin’ CHINA even though he didn’t actually graduate with us (he was whisked away to the School of Science and Math after sophomore year). I thought it was very cool of him to come.
  • John Bowman, who also left us for the greener pastures of Science and Math, but who was also very cool to come back for our reunion.
  • Matt Hagaman. And his fiancée (sniff sniff). The rumors were true. And alas, she seems lovely, so we didn’t feel it was appropriate to take her out back and deal with her. I guess we’ll just let her marry him and wish them all the happiness in the world.
  • Sam Graham. Oh internet, if you only knew.
  • The lovely Mrs. Emily Hogan, who was voted “most changed since high school,” although we’re really not sure why. She did get a haircut, but other than that, I don’t know that I see a whole lot of difference there. My hair is much shorter now than it was back then, and I didn’t get any votes in that category. What up with that, class of ’98?
  • Brandie Huffman, who was voted “least changed since high school” (evidenced by her name tag, which read “GO EAGLES!!” below her name), and of whom I hope to see video footage very soon. Not many people danced, but really, that was fine. She did enough for all of us.
  • My buddy Wes, who lives with his wife probably twenty minutes away from me. I hadn’t seen them in probably eight years. Shame on us. We must repent of such long absences.

There were plenty more, but since most of y’all are bored because you don’t know these people, I’ll stop there. I skipped the picnic at the lake on Sunday afternoon because I had to get back to Raleigh, but before I left, I had brunch with Jim at the Coffee House, which seems to have recovered nicely from when that van drove into it a while back. I highly doubt anyone has ever called a meal at the Coffee House “brunch” before as it is essentially a generic version of the Waffle House. Oh so swanky. But brunch with Jim is lovely by definition even when the meal comprises hash browns and waffles with a strawberry-flavored fruitish topping.

I can’t believe it’s come and gone so fast. We have literally been excited about this reunion for the past five years, and just like that, it’s over. It was good times, though, I must say. Good times indeed. Mediocre food, perhaps, but the company would be near impossible to beat. I tell ya – it’s going to be hard to elope when the time comes and not invite some of those old friends to celebrate my wedding. We’ll have to have some killer parties all over the country to make up for it. Perhaps even all over the world. Yeah, I can handle that.

(*Whitney dreamed once that Dooley started speaking, and when asked how he learned English, he replied very matter-of-factly, “I took night classes.” )