I don’t get sick often. Not really. I get a cold once or twice a year, but that’s about it. Nothing to even keep me from going to work. The thing is I am very good at knowing when I need to take a break and rest, and I’m very good at saying so and getting the rest I need. But the pace and rigor of this semester have been such that all the rest I get on the weekends simply isn’t enough. And it’s honestly easier to go to work than to get a sub and make lesson plans for them. That is, it’s easier when I’m well. But this week, I’ve been forced to slow down, and I’m very grateful for it.

Last Wednesday, I felt tired. But whatever, I feel tired on Wednesdays. Don’t we all? But I also felt a sort of pain in my ears, like someone was pushing a Q-Tip out from the inside. It passed, and I didn’t think about it again. Thursday, I felt way off. I texted Will in the morning and said I just didn’t feel right, and that I needed to go to bed early that night. By the time I got home Thursday evening, I was really starting to feel bad. I felt feverish and weak, and my throat felt disgusting. I thought it was post-nasal drip, so I took some cold medicine and went to bed.

I stayed in bed until 12:30 Friday afternoon. I tried to get up a few times. I considered it every time I got up to go to the bathroom. But I just couldn’t do it. When Will left for work that morning, we thought I had the flu. But as the day wore on and I didn’t have a runny nose or anything, I started to suspect strep throat.

We went to Urgent Care on Saturday morning, and he confirmed the strep and told me I was not to go to work at least until Wednesday. He also wanted to take some blood to test for mono and said I should stay quarantined until that test came back. So after a quick trip to Target for some penicillin, I’ve been at home since then.

All of that was fine. It was miserable, but it was fine because I wasn’t scheduled to work at all on Friday or Saturday. I was to be a woman of leisure regardless of my health. But then Monday came, and with it, the guilt. I knew I couldn’t go to work, and I had made arrangements and lesson plans for subs, but I felt like I should have been doing something with my WHOLE DAY OFF. Right? Shouldn’t I have been planning lessons or making up tests or doing something productive that I could do from the comfort and rest of my sofa? My husband said no. He said my only job was to get better, and that I shouldn’t do any school work at all. He told me to read, to sleep, to start and finish an entire TV series on Netflix. And for the first time in my life, rest was really, really hard for me.

I realize now that my life had worked up to such a frenzy that coming down so suddenly felt like jumping off the Scrambler while the ride was still in motion. It was scary and not at all safe. But you can’t live your life on the Scrambler even if you do occasionally close your eyes and breathe deeply. So I took the leap.

This week, I have watched all available-on-Netflix episodes of Call the Midwife. I’ve also watched several episodes of New Girl and Doctor Who and no less than four movies. And sure, I did some laundry and some dishes, and I made the necessary arrangements and plans for substitutes for extra days, but I didn’t do any of the work that could wait. I’ll get back to that next week.

One of the hardest parts about being a grown up is finding the right balance between work, play, and rest. It’s hard because it’s different for everyone, so you can’t use others’ lives and needs to prescribe your own. It will only make you feel guilty or crazy or weak. I have coworkers who teach insane hours while also taking care of kids and chronic health problems and who knows what else. They do it, and they’re fine. But their bodies are different from mine, their support systems are different from mine, and their passions are different from mine. Their struggles are also different from mine, and I don’t know what their struggles are, but I know they exist. Nobody has it all together. So all I can do is listen to my own body and give it what it needs. This week, rest has been very, very good.

Very Makey Outey

I’ve been watching a lot of Friday Night Lights on Netflix lately, which, if you don’t know, is about high school football in Texas. It’s pretty much a dude soap opera, and I’m kind of hooked. And since it’s about high school students, there are a lot of bad decisions made, and there’s a lot of making out happening all the time, which has got me thinking about good and bad places/moments to go for the first kiss. Pay attention, gentlemen.

DON’T have the first kiss:

  • in the car – I know this is pretty traditional, but I just find it awkward. You’re all twisted sideways, stuck in the seatbelt, upholstery squeaking against your jeans, not sure where to put your hands. Not romantic.
  • in the midst of a fight – I don’t know why you are suddenly making out if you were just having a fight, but this happens a lot on FNL.
  • in the midst of great stress, like, say, after you’ve accidentally murdered someone and are trying to cover it up. Just sayin’.
  • with your boyfriend’s best friend (or best friend’s girlfriend) while your boyfriend (or best friend) is in the hospital. This is more awkward than the car.

DO have the first kiss:

  • on top of a Ferris wheel – I haven’t seen this happen on FNL, nor have I tried it personally, but it’s on my list. In addition to your kiss, obviously.
  • in the midst of a celebration – Team’s just won a big game, and your girl’s rushed the field with the rest of the town? Lay one on her.
  • at a romantic landmark – This won’t work for most people, but if you can swing it, the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Spanish Steps in Rome, a gondola in Venice…
  • under the stars – Shoot. A planetarium would even do provided no one is feeling queasy from the show.

Any other suggestions?

Downton Abbey Drinking Game

I am 32 years old, and I played my first drinking game yesterday. It was also my first time creating one, and having never played one before, I’m not really sure how they’re supposed to go, but W-Josh and I were watching the second season of Downton Abbey, and we thought we’d make it more interesting. After two rum-and-Cokes apiece, we both tapped out, which was definitely for the best because the end of the season is really good, and based on when we started playing the game, we wouldn’t have remembered the last episode if we’d carried the game out through the whole season. Plus, I’m too old for that mess.

So like I said, I’m not really sure how these things are supposed to work, but from what I’ve gathered over the years, it seems like the only point to a drinking game is to find as many reasons as possible to drink, so here’s what we came up with. Feel free to add rules and tweak things any way you want should you be inclined to play. And if you make improvements, I’d love to hear them!

When watching any episode of Downton Abbey, take a drink whenever:

  • anyone says, “Mr. Bates.”
  • Mary and Edith exchange cattiness.
  • there’s a close-up of anyone showing signs of inner turmoil on their face. Take two drinks if this person is Mary.
  • there’s a long camera shot of the house.
  • a woman makes a non-verbal utterance.
  • the grandmother says something sassy.
  • Mr. Bates takes the fall for something that wasn’t his fault.
  • Thomas and O’Brien make an evil plan.
  • anyone overhears or eavesdrops on something.
  • Daisy gets fussed at.
  • Sybil and the chauffeur have a conversation in or around the car.
  • Mr. Carson comments on the inappropriateness of maids serving dinner.
  • anyone mentions or alludes to the incident involving “poor Mr. Pamuk.”

Must. Get Off. The Couch.

So I’m sick. This is like the 5th cold I’ve had this year, which is ridiculous. I generally get one cold in November and maybe one in April or May and that’s it. This is just out of control. But I don’t want to let it get me down. There comes a point when you feel like another episode of How I Met Your Mother would just be a waste of a perfectly good Saturday. For the record, that point comes after eight episodes (plus one episode each of The Office, Up All Night and 30 Rock). So eleven. Eleven episodes. A dozen is one too many.

And also, I feel like today is already a success on the adventures because Donald E. Miller (E for Effing) CALLED ME ON THE PHONE. Rang me right up. Said, “Hey, is this Beth?”

And I said, “Why yes, yes it is, and who might you be, Mr. Sultry Voice?”

And he said, “This is Don Miller,” to which I laughed, “Oh Don, how lovely of you to call! I got the peonies you sent, and they are simply breathtaking.”

“I’m glad you liked them,” he demured, and I could hear the blush in his voice, but he cleared his throat at that point, and I sensed him manning up for the real purpose of the call.

“The reason I called,” continued Don, “was to ask you a question.”

“I’m all yours. I mean, I’m all ears, Don. Go ahead.”

Deep breath. Pause. Muffled encouragement from his buddies in the background. “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”

“Why Don, what a surprise. I thought you were in Tennessee.”

“I am. But I thought maybe we could Skype it?”

And that’s why I have to get off the couch now. I have a Skype date with Don in five hours, and I don’t have a thing to wear.


He called to thank me for going to see Blue Like Jazz last night, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Both the movie and the phone call, I mean. That is the true story.

But since “Talk to long-time quasi-celebrity crush on the phone” isn’t on the list of Awesome April Adventures, I feel like I should at least make a friendship bracelet or find a park and swing. But both of those would require me to get off the couch. So off the couch I must get.

The truth is I don’t know what to do with myself. I thought my life was going in a particular direction, and I was all geared up to do what needed to be done for that, but now it seems that I’m headed a different way – a way I didn’t make a plan for – so I don’t know what my next steps are. And in the absence of a plan, my default is to sit on the couch and watch TV. But that doesn’t help things. What I really need is to just start moving, like when you get into a cab and say, “GO!” and figure out your destination a few blocks later. Ok, so I’ve never done that. You know who does that? The people on How I Met Your Mother. Apparently, for all my talk of hating to plan, it turns out I need at least a rough outline. But in the absence of a rough outline or even a next stop, I still need to get off the couch.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I should probably start by changing out of my jabambas.

2012, Why You Be So Fast?

Um, I’d just like to point out that we are already through almost 1/12 of 2012. What? Where has this month gone?! Oh right, lesson planning, old episodes of Wings on Netflix, and Words with Friends. And about 50 cups of hot chocolate. I’m having one now as a matter of fact, but I made it with water instead of almond milk because it has less sugar that way, and I want to be asleep by 10 tonight because tomorrow’s a hair washing day. And that, friends, is my life.

I know I said I wasn’t going to make any New Year’s resolutions, but I do want to do a few slightly more exciting things with the next eleven twelfths of the year. But we’ll just call these whatever the annual equivalent of a bucket list would be. Is there a word for that? “Goals” doesn’t seem exciting enough. It’s too corporate, too type A, too…predictable for me.

The Awesomeness Conspiracy

In the pursuit of awesomeness in 2012, I will:

  • make videos for the interwebs
  • surprise people
  • surprise myself
  • not be afraid to fail
  • go swimming
  • flee the country
  • make crafty things
  • salsa dance
  • send real mail
  • party like it’s 1999
  • stay up past midnight (but not on school nights)
  • make rockin’ playlists
  • not beat myself up over not finishing the crafty things I started
  • frolic in parks
  • sing karaoke like nobody’s business
  • be grateful
  • be sneaky
  • tell people how great they are
  • go to New York



Y’all, I have one more week in this long, long, long, long, long semester. Not bad-long, just long-long. And I’m ready for a break, but what I’m really excited about is organizing all the boxes of class materials under my bed into spiffy binders. And these spiffy binders will all fit into one box, making it possible for me to get rid of all the others. Then, I’m going to adjust my prices and re-list my books on in the hopes that they all sell so I can get rid of that book case. And after that, I’m going to go through all my clothes and sort them honestly based on what I wear and what I don’t. I’m going to get rid of the ones I don’t wear, and then I’m going for a run.

When I get back from the run, I’m going to shave my legs. Both of them. All at once. Then I’m going to catch up on all my stories and take a nap. When I wake up from the nap, I’m going to go to the movies. I don’t know what I’m going to see, but it’s going to be good, and then I’m going to do my Christmas shopping.

After that, I’m going to read. I don’t care what. I’m going to go to the ‘Bou, get the free drink they promised me after making me the wrong drink last time, and read until I’m over it. Then I’m going to look at Etsy and Pinterest while I watch Bones and, let’s be honest, probably Elf for the fourth time in a month. I’m going to lie on the floor and watch the lights on my Christmas tree twinkle while I listen to all my favorite music. And I’m going to talk to people on Skype at all hours of the day and night when I would normally be asleep or at work.

If you would like to join me in any of these activities (except the napping and leg-shaving), you are welcome to do so. It would please me very much. We can make gingerbread houses and eat cookie dough and go ice skating and maybe even hold hands.

What I’ve Really Been Doing

Ok so now that everybody pretty much knows, I guess I can talk about it.

I might be moving to Europe. It’s weird to type it out into the world like that. So far, it’s just been discussed privately among a few close, trusted friends and people I knew would understand and be excited with me. Honestly, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’ve been taking things one step at a time, and really, at any point, the whole process could just be over, and that would be it. We’ll see. But for now, we press on.

I’m applying to go with World Team either to Italy or Spain. This is the same organization I went to Italy with back in June, and so far, this process has been…quite thorough. It’s been very cool – I’m learning a lot about myself as I go – but it has also been taking up lots and lots of time that I might have otherwise spent blogging. Or (let’s be honest) watching every episode of Bones (again) on Netflix. The application alone was at least twelve typed pages, and then they sent me the personality tests, the spiritual gifts test and the Bible tests (one of which I told you I flunked miserably, the other I haven’t been brave enough to take yet).

Then they sent me the official invitation to join them for a week of information, evaluation and mutual assessment, and suddenly things got really real. First of all, I need about $700 to make it happen, which is the first real commitment I’ve had to make. Until now, it’s all been literally on paper. Just theoretical. Just a really, really amazing dream of a possibility. Just paella and/or pizza, European public transit, Romance languages and adventure abounding on every side. But when it hits your pocketbook, it hits home.

Then, speaking of home, I started thinking about all the things I’ll miss if I leave. Weddings, birthdays, family reunions, my godchildren growing like weeds, Baby Josh, maybe Moravian Sugar Cake in my PJs with my family on Christmas morning. I don’t know what I’ll miss and what I won’t, but I know I’m asking my family and friends to make as big a sacrifice as I’d be making in going.

But then I started thinking of all the things I’d miss if I didn’t go, namely the chance to do something awesome, something bigger than myself, something impossible, something I’ve felt compelled to do for the last seven years. I don’t know the details of what’s in store for me. I just know that if I don’t at least try, I’ll always regret it and wonder.

I think y’all would too. You know me. You know I’ve got this crazy pull toward Europe. I honestly think if I didn’t at least try to go, some of you would be disappointed. So I’m asking you to sacrifice with me, but also to share in the awesomeness, knowing that your letting go is fueling something incredible.

I didn’t intend to make this a fundraising post, so you can stop reading now if you want it to not be about money. But if you’re still with me, and you want to give a little bit to help me get to the assessment week, please contact me. Comment, call, email, text, smoke signals, carrier pigeon, dream invasion, note in study hall, whatever. But maybe don’t send me a pigeon. You know how I feel about birds.

For Relaxing Times, Make It Vacation Times

Well, what I thought was going to be a relaxing weekend of nothing at the beach turned out to be a busy three days of hanging out with lots of people, not sleeping very much and designing stage lighting, but that’s just how things go sometimes. No? Some of you are shaking your heads no. Is that not what you do on your relaxing weekends at the beach? Is assembling/disassembling giant paper lanterns and hanging them from 20-foot ceilings for complete strangers’ weddings not a part of everyone’s vacation? Huh. Interesting.

Well, despite the manual labor and the fact that I didn’t ever actually step foot on the sand, I had a great time in Wilmington. I got to hang out with most of my Wilmington peeps, and I only ended up paying for one meal the entire time I was there. See? The manual labor paid off. Literally. And I got back just in time for Community Group last night, which is always a pleasure.

And speaking of pleasures, I think I slept for about ten hours last night. Then I caught up on all my stories (The Office and 30 Rock) and watched Born in East LA, which was loaned to me by a student who recommended I watch it. It’s pretty bad. Cheech Marin gets deported to Mexico even though he’s an American citizen, and he can’t convince anyone that he’s not an illegal immigrant because he accidentally left his wallet (with his ID in it) at home, and apparently all Americans – particularly those involved in any sort of border control – are complete a-wipes. Oh, and his mom and sister have gone to Fresno, and he can’t get in touch with them. So he works in Mexico for like a week with Daniel Stern while his Mexican cousin stays in his house, clueless as to what’s happening because he doesn’t speak English, and believing the entire time that Jesus is speaking to him through a creepy holographic picture that’s covering up the answering machine.

In the end, he’s able to get across the border with a handful of new friends even though by that time, his mom would probably be back in town and able to answer the phone and help him. Oh the silly problems we had before cell phones. Breaking down on the side of the highway and having to walk to get help, forgetting what you were supposed to get at the grocery store and having to go back home for the list, getting wrongly deported and having to work for Daniel Stern in Mexico. God bless technology.

So it’s 2:00, and here I sit, still in my jabambas. My options at this point are to either (A) take a shower and watch more movies, or (B) skip the shower and watch more movies. I suppose I could get a head start on my lesson planning for when class starts back up in May, but I had a pretty exhausting weekend, so I’m thinking I’ll save that for tomorrow. Or next week.

Is Recuperation Like Mourning?

I’ve been to the gym exactly twice since we got back from New Orleans. Yes, that gym that I pay to be a member of. Twice. And while I’m starting to feel a small tinge of guilt for the money that’s being wasted every day that I don’t go, I don’t want to go.

I’m actually supposed to be over there now for a meeting of the “Wellness Challenge” group. I can’t remember if I’ve told y’all about this or not, but basically, we all set individual goals six weeks ago. Then they broke us up into three groups:

  • people who LOVE exercise
  • people who like exercise ok
  • people who would sacrifice limbs to get out of exercising

I’m in the last group. I mean really, they can’t actually expect us to keep showing up at the meetings, can they? We are self-proclaimed haters of all things exercise-related, and that includes the gym. If they wanted us to meet weekly, they should have held the meetings at IHOP.

So instead of going to the meeting, I’m blogging about how I’m not going to the meeting. But also, Amaris and I were talking yesterday, and we agreed that we’re just not ready to start exercising again. In the month or so leading up to the race, we were SO gung-ho about it, so focused, so determined. Then we got there, and it was all fun and exciting. Then we got back, and our bodies had to just keep going because we had obligations to fulfill.

We’re pretty sure we were running mostly on adrenaline until a few days after we came home. Then we started to come down off that high, and we needed a break from all non-essential activities. I’m still taking that break.

I’m starting to have thoughts here and there about going for a run, but I’m not yet to the point of being excited to put my running shoes on. I think it’s a little bit like a mourning period.

  1. First, there’s denial. Nope, nothing’s sore. I feel great! I’ll be at the gym tomorrow!!! (Now let me go to bed. Is it 8:30 already?)
  2. Next up, anger. Why won’t these stupid blisters HEAL ALREADY?! I NEED TO GET BACK OUT THERE!!!
  3. Bargaining: Maybe if I “take care of” these blisters, they’ll heal right up, and I’ll be able to run by the weekend.
  4. Depression: What’s the point? I’ll just give up running forever and spend the rest of my life on the couch watching 3rd Rock from the Sun on Netflix.
  5. I’m not sure how the acceptance phase is going to play out yet as I’m not quite there, and I think the parallels start to break down there anyway, but I hope it will involve running.

The plan right now is to (at some point soon) start back up with Chubby Jones and finish that Couch-to-5k training. Somewhere in there, I want to sign up for a 5k so I can have a new goal to shoot for. Once I get there, I’m going to work on 10k training and ultimately work my way up to finishing a 1/2 marathon in three hours, running/walking regular intervals (3:1?) the whole way. In a tutu.

I just don’t feel like it yet. Maybe when I’m 31.

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.