an easy one

Here’s the question:

Have you ever done Locks of Love?

No. I wish I’d known about it in 1999 (?) when I cut my long hair all off. It’s pretty much been short to medium length ever since then, and they require you to have at least 10 inches to donate. If I can ever get it grown out, though, and then if I ever decide to cut it all off again, I would definitely donate it.

I’m beat today, y’all, or I’d answer another question. The next two in the list sort of go together, though, so I’ll try to do them both tomorrow. For now, I’m going to space out for an hour or so until I have to go to work. And y’all can go watch my new favorite video.

It has been an exceptionally good week.

Today I made a delicious lentil recipe I found here. I had to cook it longer than the recipe calls for, but it was REALLY good. I stuffed my face with it for lunch AND dinner, and I’m going to have it for dinner again tomorrow (and probably lunch on Friday). Apart from that, this week has just been really good.

The weather is perfect, I saved electricity today by drying my laundry out on the porch, my students and I all came back from spring break with renewed energy, so classes have been particularly enjoyable and productive this week, I have had lots of good conversations with friends, DLF IS A FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR!!!!!!!!!! (which means I am legally obligated to go to Belgium in the next year), I’ve had a couple of really awesome hair days, I read the entire gospel of John yesterday, Lost and Glee were both great, and I’m going to Wilmington this weekend with my roommate. I honestly don’t know that I could ask for a better week. I think to do so would be extremely selfish and picky (but I wouldn’t argue with a boyfriend being thrown into the mix).

I don’t know what else to tell you except good night, pleasant dreams, ask me more questions, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Exciting News!!

Don’t ask me why, after going to bed at 2:00 a.m., I was awake at 8:30, but I was. Wide awake. I will be asleep much earlier tonight. Anyhoe, because I am an addict, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is reach for my PunkBerry to see how many people have loved and affirmed me whilst I slept. If I were basing my self-worth on this alone, I would have to conclude that I am only of value to Snapfish, Elance, Writer’s Market and the iTunes store. Thank goodness I’m smarter (and more awesome) than that.

But when I woke up this morning and checked my email, I had a lovely surprise – an email from Jason Boyett, author of the “Pocket Guide” books (Pocket Guide to the Bible, Sainthood, the Afterlife, the Apocalypse, and Adulthood) among other things. Señor Boyett had posted on his blog yesterday that to promote his new book, O Me of Little Faith, when it comes out in May, he’s going to get bloggers round the globe to read it, write reviews on Amazon, blog about it, facebook and twitter it, and just generally talk it up. That’s where I come in.

I emailed him, told him how awesome I was and how awesome y’all are, hinted that there might be an interpretive dance in it for him, and that I’d allude to it in my Neil Diamond musical, and he wrote me back saying he’d send me an advance copy of the book for review!!

Now. To some of you, this means that I’ve just created homework for myself, and you don’t know why a body would do such a thing. To ME, however, it means six things:

  1. A successfully published author knows who I am. This is a very big deal.
  2. I get to INTERVIEW successfully published author, thus becoming best bff’s forever.
  3. Successfully published author was neither offended nor alarmed by my interpretive dance or my Neil Diamond musical, which automatically makes him my best bff forever.
  4. I get a free book, and y’all KNOW how much I love free things.
  5. I get to work on a project! I am awesome at projects.
  6. I don’t know, but I think and hope that he knows Donald Miller and can move me one step closer to meeting/marrying him. Eh? EH?!

And the weather in Asheville was BEAUTIFUL today. A marvelous, stellar day all around.

Man Babies

The pastor of the church I went to in Raleigh talked a lot about men who wouldn’t grow up. You know the ones – they live in their parents’ basement where their mom probably does their laundry, they may or may not have a job, spend all their money on video games and TVs on which to play them, and can’t commit to relationships because they’re “too hard.”

This is a sad, sad existence, and if I’ve just described you, might I offer a few tips?

  1. Get a job if you don’t have one.
  2. Instead of spending your money on electronics, save up enough for three months’ rent and a security deposit.
  3. Move out of your mom’s basement.
  4. Find a pretty girl and take her to dinner. Wear clothes that look good.

Perhaps that was too curt. My apologies. I just wanted to get through that part of the post and onto what I’m really talking about: Man Babies. Friends, this has to be the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. Do I say that a lot? Well this time it’s true. People are always asking me where/how I find these ridiculous things online, and I think that they think I spend hours each day scouring the internets for silly sites to show you, but the truth is that people just send them to me. I’ve got this amazing unofficial team of researchers who see bizarre, creepy and/or utterly hilarious things and immediately think of me. I’m so honored. But back to the Man Babies.

If you haven’t gone over to look yet, I’ll just describe it for you. What they’ve done, see, is they’ve taken pictures of dads with their babies, and they’ve used a photo editing program like Photoshop (or as my friend Colleen called it last night, Photochop) to take the dad’s head, shrink it down, and put it on the baby’s body. Then they take the baby’s head, enlarge it, and put it on the daddy. Some are done with more skill than others, but they are all thoroughly entertaining for one reason or another.

I think my favorites are the ones where the baby hasn’t learned to smile for the camera yet, so what you get is this vacant-looking absentee of a father, or worse yet, a manic depressive with a baby by a lake. But I also enjoy the ones where the dad has facial hair, so you get things like “Little Guy/Big Guy” here or “Rasta Baby.”

But the ones I find particularly disturbing are the ones where the mom is also in the picture, the ones where the kid is a little older, making it look like there’s just a baby-faced guy hanging out with his midget friend, and the ones where it takes you a minute to realize there was a switch made at all.

And of course, the grandpa ones are even funnier.

What’s your favorite Man Baby?

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’!”

If You Take a Walk, He’ll Tax Your Feet

Tax time always makes me feel like a grown-up, no matter how old I am or how old I feel at any other time during the year, but this year, I feel especially grown up because my taxes are too complicated for me to do on my own at home. Well, honestly, I probably could do them on my own, but I have a lot of questions for future reference, so I’ve made an appointment with H&R Block for this afternoon.

And then I think I should probably invest in some freelancing software to help me keep track of all the moneyz coming in and all the business expenses going out, and while I’m at it, I might just buy myself some new pants. You have to offset the responsible with the irresponsible, don’t you know. So just to be on the safe side, maybe I’ll see what other mischief I can get into.

Dear Asheville,
I have no idea how the Vance Monument got wrapped entirely in bubble wrap, or why there are giant clothes in a neatly-folded pile beside that giant iron, or where all those goats came from. No idea at all. Don’t look at me. Maybe you should ask Harry Anderson (of TV’s “Night Court”), who apparently lives in my neighborhood. Judge Harry T. Stone always was a jokester.
Love,
Beth

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.

Old Timers

Tomorrow is the last day of my 20s. OH MY GOSH. It’s just so weird. I don’t feel 30. I still feel 23. If you were to ask high school senior Beth where she thought she’d be at 30, you would get an answer that in no way resembles my current life. If you asked her where she thought she’d be at 23, this is a lot more like it. Although she’d still probably tell you she’d have a husband and a full-time job.

I also just feel like there’s so much left to do – not in a never-ending to-do list sort of way, but more like a bucket list. The world is just so big. Life is just so expansive, and I want to fill it up, and I know that in 30 more years, it’ll start to feel like time is speeding up and running out, but right now, I still feel like it’s all out in front of me. Just like I did at 23.

So you know what? Bring it on, 30. I still get carded, no one believes me when I tell them how old I am, and the only signs I’m aging are my careful driving and inability to remember any of the sketch comedy bits I’ve ever come up with. They’ll come back to me some day, though, and then I’ll take my shot at writing for SNL. If you remember or know of or had a hand in creating any of them, could you leave a comment with a hint of some sort?

Thanks.