Cut the Mullet

Y’all, these questions are getting more and more bizarre. Not this one, but I was just looking at the most recent ones, and well, it’s about to get real interesting. Next week. For now, we’ve got to deal with this:

When are mullets going to come back into style? And be honest, are you counting down the days to that moment?

Dude, where have you been? The mullet has been back in style for at least five years, six in Europe. There are really two major differences I can see between mullet popularity now and the mullet popularity of olde.

  1. Many of today’s hipster trends started out as redneck and/or 80s trends, and the hipsters are now cycling them back through with a strong sense of irony. Hipsters love irony. Half of them don’t really understand what it means, but they love it regardless. Anyway, the mullet is one of those trends that was popular for a while in the 80s, and then the rednecks and big hair bands carried into the 90s, but now the only people rockin’ it are the rednecks who just can’t seem to give it up…and the hipsters.
  2. Curly mullets are OUT. Forever. And thank goodness because that is not a good look for anyone. It somehow worked for the glam bands of the 80s and early 90s, but once grunge came in, the curly mullet went out, I believe, never to return. Amen. I’ve seen a wavy hipster mullet here and there, but that is a very different animal. I’m talking about curl. A.C. Slater, Ogilvie home perm curl.

On my particularly funky hipster days, I will catch a vision of myself with some crazy hair style, and I’ll be all about it, and I might even try to get it cut that way. The last time that happened, I essentially wanted a mullet, but really what I was after was versatility. I wanted “bangs” I could sweep down from the top when I wanted bangs, but that I could push aside on days I didn’t want hair in my face – humid days.

It didn’t really work. I just sort of had a mullet. I did the bangs once, and they received rave reviews, but I could never get them to work again because my hair just does whatever it feels like doing with little to no regard for my wishes.

What I have learned from this is that I can do layers, and I can change up the color, but that is about it. Anything else either does not work at all or only works for about 2 days before the weather changes, or it gets too long to keep doing it, or I sleep on it wrong, or I don’t gel it just right, or the stage of the moon shifts, or American Idol gets a new judge. And then it’s pointless to even try.

So no, to be honest, I am not counting down the days until curly mullets come back into style because (a) I don’t believe it’s going to happen, and (b) dang. If the curly mullet ever is en vogue again, I’ll probably be too old to be among the trend-setting unless it’s only in style for women of a certain age, in which case, I still won’t get one.

Case closed.

Tat2 Questions

Y’all seriously, I have an UNHEALTHY NEED to combine words. I literally can’t stop myself. Like in the title there, do you see what I did? I have 2 questions today, both about tattoos, and I just couldn’t help it. It’s a sickness. But here we go with the questions.

What’s the tattoo, and where is it?

I think I mentioned in the answer to this question that I’d gotten a tattoo. Now, there was very little about that post that was serious, so I don’t know why this reader thought that the part about me getting a tattoo was true, but…keen eye, reader. Fine work indeed.

Let me just start by saying that I thought about getting a tattoo for YEARS before I actually did it. I was never opposed to them in any way; I just couldn’t think of something I wanted on my body FOREVER. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to get a design or a picture – I could get words, and y’all know how I love words. So then the question was, “What should it say?”

The first thing that came to mind was a song we used to sing in high school chorus (How many Madrigal Singers on the blog page???). The lyrics of this song came from the Song of Solomon 8:6, which King James translates as, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death.” Based on that, I wanted a name of God “sealed” on my arm, but what name? I thought about all the names used for God in the Old Testament – Elohim (God Almighty), Adonai (Lord), Jehova-Jireh (The Lord will provide), Jehova-Shammah (The Lord who is present), El-Roi (The strong one who sees), El-Olam (The everlasting God) – but they were all just a little too specific for me. I wanted a word that would encompass God’s very nature. And then I remembered 1 John 4: 8 and 16. “God is love.”

At this point, there were so many Scriptures that this one word reminded me of that an entirely different thing came to mind. In Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” I liked the idea of having God’s words attached to me so I can see them whenever I use my hands. Walking around with a box attached to my wrist all the time, however, was just not practical. Walking around with a box attached to my forehead was even less practical, and clearly I was not going to get a face tattoo, so we were back to the arm. And this reinforced my original idea based on the Song of Solomon.

So. Love on my arm. That part was set…sort of. To make a long story short, a week or two before I actually got it, I found Galatians 5:13, which says, among other things, “serve one another in love,” and it was then that I decided to get serve on my arm too.

So I think technically I have two tattoos. On the top of my right wrist, facing me, it says “agape,” which is love in Greek. It is there, facing in that direction, to remind me that I am loved unconditionally, selflessly, sacrificially, as the word in Greek implies. On the other side (the palm-side) of my wrist, it says “douleuo,” which means serve. Literally, it means “to make oneself a slave.” I liked the specific meaning of this one as well because I feel like it’s the proper response to “agape.” It’s an intentional act of sacrifice to serve someone else. This one faces out, toward my hand, in the direction service should go.

They’re both in Greek because I liked the specific meanings of the words in Greek, and because Galatians 5:13 was originally written in Greek. Plus, I think the Greek letters are really pretty. And I got them both in brown for two reasons. (1) I wanted them to look more like henna than real tattoo – organic and natural. And (2) as they fade, I wanted them to look more like birthmarks than old tattoos – like love and service are just a part of me.

So that answers question #1. Now for #2:

If one’s husband were, hypothetically, opposed to tattoos, but one wanted to get one, where would be the best location to ensure the husband didn’t have to see it in, um, intimate moments?

Dude, you are asking the wrong girl. I know nothing of, um, intimate moments, but I would imagine he’d have to see it at some point no matter what. I mean, unless you got it in some bizarre place where no one would ever see it (like in your crack or on the bottom of your foot), and then what’s the point? Plus, I just don’t think you should get one if your husband is opposed to them. I know it’s your body, but what with you and your husband being “one” and all, it’s sort of his body too. I think it’s just more respectful of him and your relationship for you to not get a tattoo if he’s that opposed to it.

I mean let’s say I was married, and my husband wanted to grow a mullet, and then shave Mt. Rushmore in one side of his skull and a swastika in the other. So essentially, now he has a mohawk down the center with long, nappy hair down his back, our founding fathers on the right, and a Nazi symbol on the left. On the one hand, hey, it’s his head, not mine. But on the other hand, I would kill him. Especially if we’d talked about it, and I’d said, “No. Absolutely not.”

It’s like when my friend Emily’s husband wanted to name their first kid (boy or girl) Beef Supreme Gibson. And he was serious. It caused a big fight because Emily felt that Nick wasn’t taking their kid seriously, and Nick felt that Emily wasn’t respecting his opinion. Ok, so it’s not really like that at all, but that’s a true story. They named her Magnolia, by the way.

So to recap: Don’t get a tattoo if your husband is so opposed to them that you’d want to hide it from him during times when you’re supposed to be the closest two human beings can possibly be. Consider it your act of unselfish love and service to him.

Jeware. Welcome.

Today’s formspring question isn’t so much a question as it is a request, and a rather vague one at that, but here goes:

More on Jews, Please. Thank Jew.

Friends, I’m not really sure how to respond to this, but I suppose I have several options.

  1. I could start an ongoing Jew segment, giving you the history, culture and traditions of the Jewish people. Honestly, though, I think that would be a little weird and not at all in keeping with the serious themes of online dating, disturbing dreams, food, and haircare products you’ve come to expect here. Sure, there’s the occasional bizarre writing activity, but I think I’ll save all my educational writing for Your Dictionary. I am actually supposed to write an article this month on the origins of Judaism, so keep an eye out for that.
  2. I could replace “Jew” with “you” in a sneaky reversal of the song-enhancing practice I learned from Collice and Grady, and tell you more about myself. But who wants to hear that? Oh wait. Apparently y’all do. You keep coming back here to read this stuff and asking me questions to answer (some of which are going to get REAL personal this week). So I guess in a way, I answer this request every time I post something new. Jew’re welcome.
  3. I could give you some awesome song lyrics with “Jews” in place of all the “yous,” but you have to promise not to think me racist or antisemitic in any way. I’m not talking about actual people. It’s just a word that sounds like another word. And makes every song hilarious (and sometimes horribly offensive). My apologies in advance to every Jewish reader I have. If I could do the same thing to followers of other religions, believe me, I would. I actually do it sometimes with “Mormon,” putting it in place of “moment.” That’s pretty funny too. “Where was the Mormon we needed the most?” “I’m hanging by a Mormon here with Jews.” – A DOUBLE!!

So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll give you some lyrics just like Bill and Ted gave the princesses before they got taken away by those royal ugly dudes. Let’s see…

  • “Jews don’t own me. Don’t say I can’t go with other boys, and don’t tell me what to do, and don’t tell me what to say, and please, when I go out with Jews, don’t put me on display. I don’t tell Jews what to say, and I don’t tell Jews what to do. Just let me be myself. That’s all I ask of Jews.”
  • “Jews, my darling Jews, mmmm…bittersweet memories – that is all I’m taking with me. So goodbye. Please don’t cry. We both know I’m not what Jews, Jews need. And I will always love Jews. I will always love Jews.”
  • “Jews must not know ’bout me, Jews must not know ’bout me. I can get another Jew in a minute. Matter fact, he’ll be here in a minute, baby. Jews must not know ’bout me, Jews must not know ’bout me. I can have another Jew by tomorrow, so don’t Jews ever for a second get to thinkin’ Jews irreplaceable.”
  • “Jews got a piece of me, and honestly, my life would suck without Jews.”
  • “If she would’ve been faithful, if she could have been true, then I would’ve been cheated. I would never know real love. I would’ve missed out on Jews.”
  • “Jews can’t escape my private eyes. They’re watching Jews.”
  • “Wherever Jews go, whatever Jews do, I will be right here waiting for Jews.”
  • “Tell me how am I supposed to live without Jews now that I’ve been lovin’ Jews so long? How am I supposed to live without Jews? And how am I supposed to carry on when all that I’ve been living for is gone?”
  • “I’m not gonna write Jews a love song ’cause Jews asked for it, ’cause Jews need one. You see, I’m not gonna write Jews a love song ’cause Jews tell me it’s make or breakin’ this.”
  • “For all those times Jews stood by me, for all the truths that Jews made me see, for all the joy Jews brought to my life, for all the wrongs that Jews made right, for every dream Jews made come true, for all the love I found in Jews, I’ll be forever thankful, baby….Jews were my strength when I was weak, Jews were my voice when I couldn’t speak, Jews were my eyes when I couldn’t see, Jews saw the best there was in me, lifted me up when I couldn’t reach, Jews gave me faith ’cause Jews believed. I’m everything I am because Jews loved me. Jews gave me wings and made me fly, Jews touched my hand, I could touch the sky. I lost my faith, Jews gave it back to me. Jews said no star was out of reach. Jews stood by me, and I stood tall. I had their love, I had it all. I’m grateful for each day Jews gave me. Maybe I don’t know that much, but I know this much is true: I was blessed because I was loved by Jews. Oh, Jews were always there for me, the tender wind that carried me, light in the dark, shining their love into my life. Jews’ve been my inspiration. Through the lies, Jews were the truth. MY WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE BECAAAHAAAUSE OF JEWWWWEWWWWWS!”

Are Jew satisfied?

Interview With Jason Boyett (aka my best bff forever)

As you may recall, I posted a review last week of Jason Boyett’s new book, O Me of Little Faith. Well, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jason and ask him a few questions. And by “sit down with,” I mean, I sat down and emailed him, and I think he probably sat down to email me back. That counts, right? (Best BFFs FOREVER!!) Here’s what we said to each other. (My questions are all big and important, and his answers are written in a smaller font and confined in smaller boxes.)

You spent a lot of time with O Me of Little Faith. If you and the book were high school seniors, what would you write in its yearbook?

Dear O Me of Little Faith: I told you some things I’ve never told anyone else, ever. You helped me deal with some issues and clarify my thinking on a lot of stuff, so I appreciate that. But you should really put a shirt on.

Really? No “Stay cool,” “RHASL” or “Roses are red, coffee is black, and I’m the first one to sign in your crack”?? Ok then, next question…

Doubt is something that you’ve struggled with for a long, long time. What made you want to write the book now?

Because I’m tired of burying that internal struggle and disguising it behind the mask of a Christian who has it all figured out. I don’t, and I don’t see any use in pretending otherwise. In the process of being honest about these doubts, I’ve discovered that lots of other believers have them, too. So I wanted to write the book as a way to share how I’m learning to deal with it — in hopes that others can walk alongside me in this journey. I hope it’s an encouraging book that reaches out across the loneliness that always seems to be attached to doubt. I hope it provides a safe place for us to start talking about this kind of thing, rather than hiding it.

Right on. I’m a big fan of honesty.

There are lots and lots of (awesome) footnotes in the book. Why didn’t you just include those thoughts in the text? Were you one of those kids in college who gave all your serious psychology papers a title and then a second, snarky, alternate title? I was.

I have never written a serious psychology paper, so no luck there. But I have always loved footnotes. Sometimes, as I’m writing, I think of a joke or an aside that’s only marginally related to whatever I’m writing about. And I really want to use it, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in the text. It might disrupt my precious narrative flow or get in the way of whatever point I’m making. Or it just might not be necessary at all. So what do I do with this frivolous stuff? Either I edit the joke away…or I turn it into a footnote. Footnotes are the clear choice, right? Right.

Oh I concur.

I read the book almost entirely while at my job as a Census 2010 employee. Where did you write it? And what’s the most boring job you’ve ever had?

I wrote it at my desk in my office in my home in Amarillo, Texas. Late at night, mostly. Honestly, I haven’t had too many boring jobs or jobs that allowed me much reading time. My first real job involved delivering prescription medications. It required a lot of driving, which was kind of boring. But reading while driving doesn’t exactly cause the time to speed by. (It does, however, shorten your lifespan.)

Unless you get yourself one of them high falutin’ books on tape. You know, one read by somebody real sexy…like Conway Twitty.

Are you concerned at all that the book will cause doubt where it did not exist before?

Possibly. But, you know, we make it pretty clear on the back cover that it’s a book about doubt. If you are surprised to encounter doubt and hard questions when reading it, then you weren’t paying attention. You can’t say you weren’t warned. But here’s the thing: as believers in Christ, we are supposed to be following and pursuing the truth. Or, the Truth. Capital T. If it’s the truth, shouldn’t it be able to stand up to honest questioning? What do we have to fear? I think the questions I ask in the book are honest ones, born of my desire to understand. So I can ask my questions and express my doubts in pursuit of the truth, or I can hide them in the name of spiritual safety or comfort or peace of mind. Which action is the more truthful one?

Good one. Let’s open that up for discussion, shall we? Hey readers, please discuss.

Chapter 8: “The Paralysis of Weddings and Births” starts out, “I was fearless until I became a father.” But just two chapters earlier, you told us that until 8th grade, you were “soil-your-britches-scared” of roller coasters. Why you gotta be such a liar?

Ahh! Contradictions! My entire thesis has now been ruined! You’ve caught me. I wasn’t actually fearless until I became a father. I was using hyperbole in order to start that chapter off with a bang. Also, you’re mean.

I’m kidding. That’s really picky. But that’s the kind of scrutiny with which (I assume) the majority of intelligent God-doubters read the Bible. The “the-Bible-contradicts-itself-too-much-for-me-to-believe-it” argument keeps them from getting over or pushing through their doubt. What do you have to say to them?

Well, as long as we’re being honest, let me admit that I am one of those kinds of doubters. Reading the Bible is frustrating for me. People tell me the best way to combat my doubt is to “get in the Word.” But I have gotten in the Word. I’ve even written a book about the Bible (Pocket Guide to the Bible, available at fine bookstores near you). But when I read the Bible, I tend to come away with more questions than answers. You’re saying it’s not fair for you to be overly picky about the contradictions and discrepancies that certainly do exist in my book. I agree that there are probably mistakes. That’s because I’m a human being and I mess up. A lot.

But there’s a difference — I’m not claiming my book to be divine. Many people DO claim the Bible to be divine, without mistakes and without error. That’s what I was taught as a child, that the Bible was the “very Word of God.” So when I read the Bible and see these apparent errors or contradictions that require exegetical gymnastics in order to explain away — well, it causes me to doubt. It generates questions and a lot of frustration, because God has given me a brain. Should I just turn it off and ignore the stuff that makes me uncomfortable? I don’t think so, because that’s not intellectually honest. My entire faith tradition is built on what the Bible teaches. If I am going to devote my life to what it teaches, then it needs to be able to bear some close scrutiny. Again — if the Bible is true, it should be able to withstand my honest questions.

So to answer your original question, what would I say to the folks who struggle with faith due to doubts about the Bible? I would say this: I get it. I totally understand. If I have trouble understanding and even trusting the Bible, then of course I’m going to be dealing with some doubt.

What I like so much about that chapter, though, is that it encourages action in spite of doubt. No. That’s not true. It doesn’t encourage – it takes away your best excuse for inaction. It kicks you in the face and says, “Stop being so freaking lame and selfish.” That is not a direct quote or even an insinuation, really. It’s just what I took from it. By the way, Chapter 8: “The Paralysis of Weddings and Births” seriously changed my life. This isn’t a question, just an opportunity to say thank you.

You’re welcome. It’s a fairly philosophical chapter, with all that Kirkegaard stuff, but I understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes you just have to make the leap into the fog of uncertainty, right?

Exactly. Ok. This might be a long shot, and it’s totally not related to the book, but I have to ask: Do you know Don Miller, and if so, could you set me up with him?

Don and I exchanged emails right after Blue Like Jazz was released, way before he became the super-famous DONALD MILLER. So he probably knows my name, and we have some mutual friends, and as writers we’d probably have a lot to talk about. But we’re not buddies or anything. So for me to attempt to set you up with him would be all kinds of awkward. For him. For me. For you.

Which is to say, of course! If we’ve learned anything from watching “The Office,” interpersonal awkwardness is hilarious. So let me get in touch with him right this minute.

Ok I know that’s a joke, and that you’re not going to get in touch with him about setting us up, but I have to admit, I might have just had a small aneurysm from the excitement. We should move on before I go into cardiac arrest as there is no one here to find me and take me to the hospital.

This is only quasi-related to the book, but do your kids have pet turtles? Do you ever stack them up on each other to teach them about faith? Have you chosen someone to take care of them after the rapture?

I have had several pet turtles in my life. Actually, they were tortoises — the kind we discovered crossing the street and felt sorry for so we took them home and put them in the backyard. And then they disappeared from October to May. And then we saw them again, maybe, twice more before they disappeared forever. Turtles are mysterious creatures.

I have never stacked a turtle, because I am haunted by what happened to Yertle. I couldn’t live with those consequences.

I haven’t taken steps to care for my pets after the rapture, but if I were to do so I would definitely go with my friend Bart, the guy behind Eternal Earthbound Pets, which is an actual business created to take care of Scruffy after you’ve gone to meet Jesus. Bart’s an atheist, so he pretty much figures he’ll be left behind. I interviewed him at my blog, by the way. Here and here.

Awesome. And finally, my roommate and I discussed the choreography of an interpretive dance during a roadtrip we took over the weekend. Do you have a song preference?

No preference, as long as it’s either Michael W. Smith or Kool Moe Dee. If you can find a way to do a mashup of those two, then I’ll be happy.

I’m on it. If your book tour brings you to western NC, let me know. I’ll make you a PB&J and have my dance troupe ready to perform our MWS/KMD/OMOLF liturgical dance.

Census: The Penultimate Countdown

Wow. My month of employment with the 2010 Census is almost over. Tomorrow is my next to last day, and honestly, y’all, I’m kind of sad. I mean the Census and I have had some good times sitting around for the last month. I feel like I just got all the numbers memorized that I have to write on my time sheets, and now I may as well clean out that wrinkle in my brain to make room for the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s next hit. Dag.

I wish I had a video montage or slide show of my time there set to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” to play for you. Here’s how it would go (start the video, enjoy Sarah’s face at 0:11, and then read [reeeaaalllly sllllooooowwwwwlllyyy] through the list while you listen):

  • Test day: Staring blankly at the test administrator.
  • Test day: Cheesy grinning, pointing at the post-it note with my score (28/28 – 100%)
  • A calendar flipping three months over to show how long it took for them to hire me after I took the test.
  • Training day: Taking the oath of office.
  • Training day: Getting fingerprinted.
  • Training day: Me and Al eating granola bars.
  • First day at my site, setting up my table, hanging my banner.
  • Showing off my ID badge and giving a thumbs-up.
  • Filling out paperwork with a goofy grin on my face.
  • Talking to after-school program kids.
  • Reading a book.
  • Typing on my computer.
  • Writing poetry to my Census office supplies.
  • Standing outside, talking on the phone.
  • G-chatting on my phone.
  • Schlepping up the hill with my bag-o-Census-goodies.
  • Asleep on my arm at my table.
  • Helping my roommate do her taxes.
  • Helping a kid count change for the vending machine.
  • Explaining to a kid that two dimes and a nickel are not a quarter, although they are worth the same amount of money.
  • Reading a different book.
  • Putting away my supplies.
  • Schlepping back down the hill…into the sunset.

And then, as the song comes to a close, imagine the screen goes blank, and then the words “We all count” fade in to finish us off. Good times. Good times indeed. And a single tear falls to the floor.

Now Taking Your Requests and Dedications

Oh my gosh, y’all, I thought that I had posted this THIS MORNING, and I just realized that I never did. Wow.

Dear Brain,
Please turn on. No, on second thought, don’t. I want to go to sleep.
Love,
Beth

Now…

I’m stealing this idea from a few people because it’s good, and I like it, and I’ma think of it as “collaboration” rather than idea theft because they might not have come up with it by themselves anyway. Here’s what’s going to happen:

You ask me a question. I answer it in a blog post. You can leave your questions in the comments, or you can email me. You can also just tell me you’d like to see a post about __________, and I’ll consider those too. And seriously, you can ask me anything. That doesn’t guarantee I’m going to answer all your questions, but feel free to ask them. Any subject, whatever.

Or if you want me to write bad poetry for someone, you can make a dedication. Or I’ll just rip off some Paula Abdul lyrics and call it a day. Whatev.

1000 Ways I’m Better Because of Blogging

Ahem. Do I look any older today? Any wiser, perhaps? You may notice that I have a new banner up at the top there, which is all thanks to my awesome sister, who is much better at that sort of thing than I am. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

This is my ONE THOUSANDTH BLOG POST. I wish I knew how many words that was, but I have no idea. To be sure, it’s enough to fill multiple books, which is very encouraging. I know that I am capable of writing a book. It’s just going to be a matter of time and diligence. And that leads us directly into today’s actual post. I’m not really going to list 1000 ways I’m better because of blogging. You can read back through the past six years to see my journey if you want to. I’m just going to hit five highlights that I think encompass them all.

I’m More Confident in My Writing Ability

I started blogging in 2004 after meeting some girls in NYC who had blogs and couldn’t believe I didn’t have one. I think we’d met just once or twice before they both recognized that I would either love it or be good at it (I’m not sure which – maybe both). And for the first little while there, I really didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t set out to make this website what it is. It just evolved. In the first few months, I blogged about two things: Christianity and community league hockey. And while the hockey was a lot of fun for me, I’m not sure anybody else got it. But my more spiritual writing was what got people’s attention. Those were the posts people read and said, “You know, you’re a really good writer.” I didn’t really believe them (still have trouble with it, actually), but taking the risk of putting my words out into the world began to build a confidence I hadn’t known with anything before.

If you read any books or blogs or articles on writing, one of the things you’ll have read over and over again is that in order to be a better writer, you have to write. Just write and write and write. Every day. And it’s funny – I never really considered what I do here writing. Not “real” writing anyway. Not writing that matters, but it does. It matters to me, to my craft, and hopefully to at least a few people here and there. And I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but even if I haven’t, even if I’ve stayed at the same level or even regressed, it doesn’t really matter because I love it more every day, and the more I fall in love with writing, the more confident I am in my ability to do it. And maybe that’s what improving is.

I’m a Better Problem Solver

I know things about HTML that no Psychology major or ESL teacher should know. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve screwed up this website to the point where I thought I’d lost everything and would have to start all over. And then, miraculously, I fix it. Sometimes this requires the assistance of several people who are clearly much smarter than me, but I think that’s part of problem-solving – humility and the support of people who still love you even though you suck at something.

So first of all, to everyone who has helped me solve a technical issue, I’d like to return the favor. If you ever need anything edited, or if you have a website you want me to advertise, or if you’d like some vegan cupcakes or cookies, you just let me know.

And the other part of problem-solving is just not being afraid to fiddle around. Granted, that’s how I get myself in trouble, too, but it is how I learned to do 100% of the things I now know how to do with my page design, and it spills over into the rest of my life. When I started this thing in 2004, I was not the kind of person who ever would have dreamt of going vegan, writing a book, walking marathons or cutting up/refashioning her clothes. I did what I’d always done, ate what I’d always eaten, wore my clothes the way they were made, and didn’t often push myself into territory that was dramatically different or uncomfortable (sometimes, but not often).

But as I’ve learned to solve problems better, I’ve gotten more comfortable with experimentation and challenge because I’ve realized that (A) it is very hard to screw things up entirely, (B) I am very luck to have an amazing network of people who are always willing to help me out, and (C) that’s how I learn.

I’m No Longer Afraid of Commitment

If you are one of the, like, three people who’ve been reading this since it began, you’ve been with me through two phone companies, eight moves, thirteen roommates, *cough cough* boyfriends/quasiboyfriends, countless crushes you didn’t even know about, three churches (not counting any of the ones involved in Church Search 2010) and at least five jobs. And there have been times when I’ve been more committed to blogging than others. I hope you’ll have noticed that over the past year or two, I’ve become more consistent. This is a phenomenon that is slowly taking over more aspects of my life. I’m living in places for longer, I’ve been with the same phone company for several years now, I try to blog every day, but if I can’t, at least three times a week, and in general, I’m looking for places to be and people to be with for the long haul.

And I’m not scared of it. I am sometimes scared of not having these things ever, of always being this sort of nomad who blows in and out of people’s lives, is never truly known and then easily forgotten. But I know that’ll never happen. I’m too good with a telephone.

I Have a Voice

…which I use on the phone for hundreds of minutes each month. If you haven’t heard it, email me your digits, and I’ll call you. For real. But mostly I’m talking about two things:
1.    My writing voice.
2.    A platform.

I was at my new Thursday morning writing group yesterday, reading a chapter from my book-in-progress to two listeners. One of them has read/heard a lot of me, and the other was a woman I’d just met. And one of the things the new lady had to say was that she loved how my voice on paper was exactly like my speaking voice. I don’t always achieve this, but as my confidence grows, so does my authenticity. And perhaps even more exciting than having a voice is having people recognize it and like it.

I hate to tell y’all this, but only about 7% of what I do here is for you. Mostly what happens is I see something noteworthy in the world or inside myself, and I want to document it. I don’t put it to you for your approval, but for your participation. But when you do approve, well that feels really good. And the more people approve of what you have to say, the more they want to hear, and the greater the opportunity for you to speak on the topics that really matter to you. I don’t do much of that here (mostly it’s just general ridiculousness), but on the days when I do have something important to say, I’m glad y’all are here to listen, and if I’ve said something that resonated with you, feel free to pass it on.

I Know Who I Am (and So Can You)

I feel the most like myself when I am genuinely laughing – not laughing out of politeness or discomfort or as a way to fill a void, but really cracking up. In those moments, I’m not self-conscious, I’m not worried, I’m not dissatisfied. That’s me being myself fully and completely.

These have been good, good times, friends, and if you weren’t around for some of the earlier ones, I want to invite you to see the hilarity for yourself.

Ode to a Weather Man – My poetry really is one of my favorite things on here.
The Zimmerman Limmermacht dream – You know you’re crazy when this kind of thing goes on without you even thinking about it.
Hey, remember when I was a pole dancer? Good times.
The one in which I shake my head violently.
One of my all-time favorite poems, God is NOT a Temp.
The one where Whitney imitates a porn film.
Goodness gracious how many haikus did I write that day?
That’s Racin’!
The one where I talk to Jane Austen, who, sweet as she is, is really quite thick.
Roy Orbison + Clingfilm = Endless Entertainment
Why I’m becoming a Jehova’s Witness (It took me 3 tries just now to type ‘witness’ instead of ‘Whitney.”)

Here’s to another 1000 posts!! Onward Hoe!!

Reclaiming Awesomeness

I don’t know really how to approach this, so I’ll just say it. I think we’re all pretty clear on the fact that I am awesome. My friend Dan always says I have the highest self-esteem of just about anyone he knows, and it’s true, but I’m about to let y’all in on a big secret: I used to be way awesomer. Not in every way, but I was a lot more fun. Some might have called it immaturity, but thinking about it now, I know that is only partially the case. Mostly, I was just comfortable being myself. I just was who I was, and I didn’t care what anyone thought who happened to be walking by as I was leaping across the mall on ECU’s campus or lying at the bottom of college hill laughing in the dark just for laughter’s sake. I simply did not care, and it was fun. I hugged my friends freely and whole-heartedly, I loved more deeply, I lived more passionately, and believe it or not, I was even more ridiculous.

I haven’t been that way in a while, and someone called me out on it today. Somewhere along the line, “growing up” for me turned into “becoming steadily more boring and guarded,” and I started to wonder why. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened. Maybe it was little remarks here and there, or maybe it was a disappointment that never got dealt with that then got covered, layer by layer, with other disappointments. Most likely, it was a combination of a lot of things, but somehow I got the message that who I was wasn’t ok, and that I needed to be different.

And friends, that pisses me off. Who ever told me that who I was wasn’t a good person to be? Who told me it was wrong to be a little crazy, to run wild around campus doing silly things, to dance in public, to hug people I love, to be myself? Who made playing just for kids and told me to grow up and be serious? Who said my dreams were silly or stupid, and that I should get a real major, a real job, a real life? Who told me I couldn’t be who I was? Who killed the real me with their boring non-awesomeness?

At this point, some of you think I am being melodramatic. Clearly I am not talking to you. You can go watch this YouTube video.

But I know some of you feel the same way I do – that there’s something you wanted to be or do that you were told (in some way) was not ok, not because it was immoral or unethical or sinful, but just because it wasn’t practical, or maybe because it was silly, stupid, unrealistic or weird. I know you feel this way because I talk to you about your life, and everything’s going along just fine, but when I get you on one particular topic, you light up. But you don’t pursue it. You just wish.

So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to resolve to be ourselves no matter what that means because everyone will be a lot more awesome that way. If you’d like to participate in this with me and reclaim the real you, who IS ok even though someone told you you weren’t good enough somehow, then please rise, raise your right hand, and repeat after me:

I (state your name) do hereby resolve to live my life exactly as I am, honestly, unapologetically and passionately. I will not hold back who I am, for better or for worse. I will guard my heart against evil, but not against feeling or experience. Even pain will be accepted without regret if it comes from having lived fully. I will not do anything simply because it is the good and responsible thing my inner college advisor tells me I should do. Rather, I will love and live with reckless abandon, not wasting a moment of my life on boredom, regret, indecision or general non-awesomeness.

Feel free to add in any clauses you want that are specific to your life. Write it down somewhere, sign it, date it, tell someone and have them call you out on it if you start to slip back into the acceptable-for-all-audiences version of yourself who sucked. And then, just like Dolly Parton says, “You better get to livin’!”

Well Now That That’s Over

Thirtieth birthday – Check. And now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can go back to being 29. Here’s what I’ve decided: There is nothing wrong with the number 30 or the age. I’m not upset that I’m 30. I don’t long for younger days or miss the glory of my youth. No no, there are parts of years past that I’ve learned from, and I’m glad they happened, but I don’t know that I’d call them glorious by any means. It’s just that I guess I’ve always had in my mind a picture of what the life of a 30 year old looks like, and that is not my life, so until it is my life, I can’t possibly be 30. It’s just not natural.

Whitney and I had this conversation the other day:
Me: From now on, whenever people ask me how old I am, I’m just going to tell them how old I feel in that moment.
Whitney: Buddy, what’s wrong with your actual age?
Me: Nothing. I just feel like it’s not accurate.
Whitney: That’s the most ridiculous thing ever.

Really, buddy? Ever? Ever? Need I remind you of Joey Deadweight, “Trained to Avoid the Bulge,” The Glaze, The Daze, The Laze, poop cupcakes, Zimmerman Limmermacht, God Is Not a Temp, and whatever this was about? And those are just the things we’ve come up with. That is not counting Weng Weng, The Best Fight Scene Ever or Ain’t No Weather Man. I mean come on. Let’s keep things in perspective.

But seriously, “30 on 40” was awesome good times. I got to see lots of my favorite people, who gave me really great gifts. Brookie and I performed our traditional reunion jumping dance. I got out of my house for a few days, which is always good for me. I didn’t make out with anyone, but there was plenty of cake. All in all, I’d call it a successful beginning to a new decade.

My 20s. All of them.

And just like that, my 20s are over. Man, what an awesome decade. I’m going to try to do a recap of all my 20s birthdays and hit the highlights of some of the incredible things I’ve had the opportunity to do in the last ten years. I’m old, though, so I might not remember all of it, but I’ll give it my best.

20

My 20th birthday was also known as “Princess Day.” In college, we started calling all of our birthdays Princess Day, and we’d wear tiaras and sashes and be treated like princesses. So I think that year, my friend Rachel made like she was going to take me to dinner at Chili’s, but then when we got there, we were “hijacked” in the parking lot by Becky and Faith and taken somewhere else instead (Applebee’s maybe – Chili’s was just too crowded for our large party). And then after dinner, they took me roller skating. You remember that, right, Laura Jenny?

Other than that, 20 was not a very remarkable year, although I think it was the year I did that deviance project for my sociology class – the one where I dressed up like some kind of cracked out super pirate (of the ECU pirates) and ran around downtown handing out candy and doing body builder muscle poses in the elevator of that apartment building.

It was also the year that I met my friend Andy, with whom I shared the most horrific moving adventure ever. Amazingly, we are still friends.

21

By my 21st birthday, my parents had moved from WILKESBORO!!!!! to New Bern, which was only about an hour’s drive from ECU, so my mom came to town for that one, and she and all my friends and I went out to eat at Red Lobster (then one of my favorite places on earth), where I was COVERED in toilet paper by the semi-psychotic waiter who was responsible for celebrating the birthdays. He dressed up like the Gorton’s Fisherman, covered the birthday girl or boy in an entire roll of toilet paper and sang birthday songs through a megaphone – songs like, “Who’s got a birthday? Who? Who? Who? Who?” which was, of course, an adaptation of the Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

That year was also the year I decided not to work at Caswell again, regretted it, and was down there every chance I got. That was the year of 9-11, and just a few months after 9-11, I decided to leave the country for the first time and go on a mission trip to Honduras. I don’t think anybody saw that decision coming. I had several friends who’d gone to Kenya (while I was not working at Caswell), and when they came back, they all came to me individually and told me I needed to go overseas, and y’all are not going to believe me, but my response to all of them was, “Nope. I’m fine right here with my indoor plumbing and my familiar foods. I’m not going anywhere. I’ma stay right here in the U.S. of A.”

And then one very normal day, I was sitting in the computer lab in the psyc building at ECU, and plain as day, as though someone were standing right over my shoulder, I heard, “Go to Honduras.” I stopped, my whole body stiffened, and (almost out loud, but not because I didn’t want everyone to think I was crazy, so just in my mind) I replied, “Come again?” And the voice said, “You heard me.” And just like that, my world travels began, but not until…

22

I have no idea what I did on my 22nd birthday. I remember that being sort of a rough time. It was my last semester in college, and there was just a lot going on. I’m sure it was celebrated. I just don’t remember how. But to continue the story started just a moment ago, that was the year I left the country for the first time. It was also the year I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s sort of a long story that I’ll share with you in person if you want to know, but by the time I got back from Honduras, I knew I wanted to pursue ESL as a career, and by Christmas of that year, I’d been accepted to NYU’s graduate program. And THAT is a day I’ll never forget. I’d gone home for lunch and checked the mail on my way back out to work. When I opened the envelope and saw the word “Congratulations,” I almost drove off the road. I just couldn’t believe it. And then I started calling everyone I knew to tell them about it. It was a good day.

23

I’m not sure how we celebrated 23 either. I was living in Winterville with my sister and hanging out with Collice and Hilary a lot, so they might have all been involved in the celebration. I just don’t remember what we did.

Anyhoe, that year, I left the country for the second time, had my wisdom teeth removed, moved to New York City, drank alcohol for the first time and got my nose pierced.

24

In grad school, I got involved with the Navigators, a campus ministry similar to InterVarsity, with which I was involved in undergrad. A week or two before I turned 24, the Navigators went on a weekend retreat/conference in upstate NY, and I just had the best time ever. For my birthday, I asked to go to Winter Conference again, and we sort of did have a little mini version of it, which was really nice. And then we sang karaoke. But my clearest memory from that night was Mike and Sonja dragging me, running, through the streets of NYC yelling, “IT’S HER BIRTHDAY!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BETH!! BIRTHDAY GIRL COMING THROUGH!!” So fun.

That year, I:

  • started blogging
  • left the country for the third time to backpack Europe and study Spanish in Spain (see any entry from late June-early August 2004)
  • resolved not to move back to NC
  • decided to move back to NC
  • spent New Year’s in San Francisco
  • moved back to NC

25

For my 25th birthday, Laura Jenny (aka Marieke, aka Partner) and Jason Jones took me to Bojangles. Then we went back to Jason’s house, where they had a cake for me, and Jason made very strong margaritas, and we all decided it would be better to watch a few episodes of Knight Rider before driving home.

Starting that year and continuing for the next few, we had a lot of fun making the dirtydish. There’s not much activity there any more, but I was and still am very grateful for what it did for my writing. It gave me an outlet and the confidence I needed to put my stuff out there for a new audience to read. Thanks, ddo.

And we’ll just hurry things along by saying I’ve left the country at least once a year since that first time. When I was 25, H(P)M and I went to Paris. That was also the year Emily Furr Hogan and I spent New Year’s in Times Square, which was SO fun.

26

No idea. I didn’t even blog about it. I probably went to Chili’s. This might have been the year I had bangs, so it’s possible that I blocked it out. However, this was definitely the year I flew to London to stay with Ann and surprise DLF for New Year’s. Oh what fun we had!!

27

My life in Raleigh by this point had reached a level of autopilot where I was almost curled up in the back napping. I knew I needed some sort of adventure, so just before I turned 27, I signed up for my first Avon Walk. It helped. It also got me to the gym, where the Cutie Von Hottenstein encounters began, which culminated in the weirdest party I’ve ever been to in my life. I also went vegan that year, and oh, that was the year of the most awful semester of my life. I won’t force myself to think about that right now, though.

Gasp!! I don’t think I left the country that year. Did I? If I did, I don’t know where I went. I think I was too busy. Oh my gosh. I need to take two trips this year to make up for it.

I think for my birthday that year, I was supposed to go on a luxurious mountain road trip retreat with some friends, but I became deathly ill and was laid up in bed all weekend. I definitely went to Chili’s, though.And wait, was this the year I had that awesome surprise party, or was that mystery 26? Either way, there was one year when my sweet Brookie, even though she was in the middle of working on her national board certification (which she passed on the first try thank you very much), conspired with Whitney and all them hoes to throw me a surprise party that I almost didn’t go to! Whitney, however, being the genius that she is, got me to go, and it was awesome. Whenever it was.

28

By 28, I’d met Lauren (Josh), whose birthday is the day before mine – HAPPY BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY, BUDDY!!!! – and that was the year we had the photo scavenger hunt party and the Teen Girl Squad cupcakes. This was also the year wherein:

  • Brookie moved to Wilmington 🙁 and got married 🙂
  • I moved in with Josh and Josh
  • I didn’t think I would survive the summer
  • I had a boyfriend
  • Whitney and I went to Mexico for H(P)M’s wedding
  • I became an indentured servant of Wake Tech
  • The Rack Pack walked DC

29

We’re almost done!! Last year’s birthday was lots of fun. We went to Bald Head Island for the weekend, played Wii, rode bikes, lounged around and hung out on the beach. It was a much needed get-away for everyone, and nobody wanted to leave and come back home. We powered through, though, and it went on to be a most momentous year. I completed my indentured servitude, moved to Italy for three months, almost moved to Oregon, and moved to Asheville instead.

I’ve traveled well over 13,000 miles in the past year, visited two new countries (Hungary and Austria) and a few old ones, and now, I’m getting ready to head out on what I’m calling my “30 on 40 Roadtrip.” It’s where I turn 30, having three parties in three cities on I-40. And I’m sorry for the rushed ending, but if I don’t get in the shower, pack and leave very soon, I will actually miss my second party – the one in Raleigh tonight.

But one thing before I leave. If my post yesterday made it sound at all like I am disappointed with where my life has gone, that is not the case. I meant to say that high school senior Beth just could not have imagined all of this – all the travel, adventure, friendships, food, passions, love, opportunities and general awesomeness I’ve had the incredible pleasure of experiencing. I can only hope that my 30s out-do my 20s.

HAPPY BETHDAY!!!!!!!!