I, Jessica Machado, fan of pre-marital sex, alcohol and caffeine, spent Thanksgiving with 30 Mormons.

As far as setup goes, I need not say much more, except that my Mormon aunt and uncle were sweet enough to offer me a full turkey spread at their friends' house, and I spent the night prior to T-day drinking wine until 2:30 in the morning, putting me in a next-day social haze and further adding to an already awkward situation. In other words, I was a little slow when I shook hands with 27 strangers and tried to explain what I do for a living (freelance writer for a dying paper; long-term grad student; income scrounger) and why I'm moving to NY in a month (No, I don't have a job lined up or a place to live). Although I can usually find common ground with most people, my state at the time, coupled with excessive stuffing and spoonfuls of green bean casserole, made it a little challenging to animatedly explain my existence to a room full of parents, grandparents and charitable folk who give 10 percent of their income to God.

However, in the end, I think I pulled off a fair amount of sociability, and they were none the wiser about my subtle hangover. (The fact that they may have no understanding of such a concept also helps. However, I did give one woman my business card, so she could be reading this right now and busting me.) And yet I didn't necessarily pull off not being a general douchebag.

On the drive home, my uncle made the comment that it was interesting to see me talking to so-and-so, a very nice woman dressed in J Crew, who's about the same age as I am. "It's weird because she has three kids, a house and a family," he said. I joked how she's "so adult" compared to me, to which my aunt innocently replied, "Well, Jessica, some of us are just late bloomers."

I was too dazed to come up with snarky retort.



Turns out that writing, recovering, editing and defending a thesis is not enough to earn you the right to say "I turned in my thesis." There is a process, a very specific process, one that involves formatting guidelines and $80 worth of paper, just so three copies of this document will sit in a basement unread for eternity.

While I sloughed through the graduate office's bureaucratic rigmarole, I did manage to find a few "little joys." For example:

1.) I had to come up with a title and abstract for my thesis. I took this to mean I should come up with a catchy title for my memoir and a snappy synopsis for my imaginary book jacket, clever little hooks that will get my non-existent hardcovers to fly off the shelves and on to the NYT Best Seller List. But there was just one problem: Somehow in the four years I thought about writing a memoir, I never gave much thought to what I would call it.

So strapped for time, I went the cheesy route.

In the vain of all the current memoirs on the shelves--Leaving Dirty Jersey: A Crystal Meth Memoir; Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together; and Going Rogue: An American Life--I was very inclined to use a colon.

Failed ideas:
- Project Runaway: One Woman's Determined Journey to Escape Paradise for the Recklessness of Hollywood
- How to Regret Your Twenties: A Guide to Excessive Drinking and Avoiding Your Mother
- Wah!: A Twentysomething's Refusal to Grow Up

The Winner:
- Under the Covers: A Memoir of Reluctance

(Sadly, this really was the best I could come up within a week.)

2.) In a thesis, anything copyrighted that's quoted or described in detail needs to be cited. I had two things listed on the "Works Cited" page of the most important paper of my academic career:

- Motely Crue. “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Girls, Girls, Girls. Elektra, 1987. MTV. 11 May 1987. Music Video.

- Crane, David, and Marta Kauffman. "The One with the Jam." Friends. NBC. 3 Oct. 1996. Television.

3.) When you turn in your thesis, you get a mug that reads "I just turned in my thesis." No joke. I filled it with beer and took four aspirin.



Portland: The City that Accommodates



I'm not quite sure when you're too old to be carrying a flask to a party, taking shots of Goldschlager, or begging the convenience store cashier to let you buy a case of beer at 2:03 a.m., but I'm pretty sure it's sometime before the age of 32.

Now, the above scenario would be somewhat excusable on Halloween (which was when this occurred), but when you find yourself playing a drinking game called "Moose" at 3:30 in the morning one week later, you start to wonder if growing up is even plausible.

Because I don't mind further exposing my blatant immaturity and sharing what I learned this weekend (when other "kids" my age were changing diapers, or doing more sophisticated things like the New York Times crossword puzzle or lines of blow), I've created a handbook to playing Washington state party favorite, "Moose." (Being from Hawaii, in college, I only played games like "quarters," which involved, simply enough, flipping a quarter into a shot glass. I didn't even see a beer bong or a keg stand until my midwestern ex-boyfriend demonstrated such classics at a holiday party one year.)

Moose rules:

1) All players pour some of whatever they're drinking (at this point in the morning it was whatever crap beer was left in the fridge - Hamm's, Olympia, PBR) into a mug.

2) Prop up an empty ice tray onto the mug.

(And take inaccurate documentation of such a display. I apologize for the missing mug. It was 2:30 in the morning after all.)

3) Players then take turns bouncing a quarter off of the table and into the ice tray.

4) If the quarter lands in the left column, the "bouncer" (aka the one who threw the quarter) drinks the number of cube spaces reached from the bottom of the tray.

(In this case it was four spaces. And four very long gulps.)

5) If the quarter lands in the right column, the bouncer gets to delegate drinks to whichever player he/she wants based on the number cube spaces reached from the bottom.

(In this case it was five and the player delegated them all to himself.)

6) Whenever a player gets the quarter into one of the very top two spaces, all players race to bring their hands to their heads like antlers and call out "Moose." The last player to call "Moose" has to drink the contents of the mug.

7) If the quarter lands in the mug, the bouncer also has to drink whatever's in the mug. (Depending on how you look at it, I was either the night's biggest winner or the biggest loser. I Moosed every single time. Hence, the lack of photos after this first Moose.)

On an unrelated but oh-so-related note, today, I overheard a woman old enough to be my mother explain the meaning of the word "douchebaguette" to her colleague. Hint: It was the inspiration for this post.