New Hair Gel Search 2010

It seems I’m looking for a lot of things this year: a church, a boyfriend, and now a new hair gel. I’ll update you on Church Search 2010 later, but for now, I want to talk about hair.

I have been using the same hair gel for…I don’t know how long. Years. It’s Citre Shine Mega Hold #10 (ultimate). The orange stuff. And it’s great. It’s not flaky or sticky, and after it’s fully dry, my hair’s not even crunchy, but the hold is incredible. The problem I have every time I get my hair cut is that the product they use to style it doesn’t last even until I get home. My curls laugh at it saying, “You call THAT hold? Pshhh.”

But the Citre Shine with its fruity goodness and chemical combination comes alongside my curls saying, “Come on, baby, let’s you and me cut a rug.”

(I don’t know why it suddenly sounds like I’m talking about Boyfriend Search 2010. Perhaps there is a metaphor.)

Anyhoe, Citre Shine has discontinued my gel, and I honestly don’t know what to do next. If you have curly hair, what do you use? If you know someone who has curly hair, would you mind asking them what they use and getting back to me? I’d appreciate it.

I have a couple of bottles left, so I have a little time to search, and I’ll hold off on the really sad post until I scrape the last drop out of the last bottle with a spatula. But for now, I just need suggestions. Who’s got ’em?

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?

Census: Day 3

If you haven’t already guessed, “Census: Day 2” was AKA’d as Ode to a Government Pen. Here’s what happened today.

The whole time I’m sitting there at the community center, there’s an after-school program going on. The first day, the kids basically ignored me, but now they’re more and more curious about what I’m doing there. Yesterday, they were asking me all kinds of questions about the census. And they must have noticed me doing a lot of writing (with my government pen), so today two little girls came up to my table, and the following scene took place:

Kid #1: (Fiddling with my government pen) Do you have to write stuff down?
Me: Only if people come to ask me questions about the census.
(Both girls, standing in front of me, raise their hands straight up into the air, arms fully extended.)
Kid #1: I got a question.
Me: Oh yeah? What is it?
Kid #1: How’d you get your hair to grow like that?
Me: I dunno. It’s just how God made me, I guess.
Kid #2: I got a question.
Me: Shoot.
Kid #2: Who curls your hair?

The Biggest Difference Between Freelancing and…Not

I think it has been well established that I like to write. And on that note, a sidenote: I’m about to hit 1,000 blog posts, and I’m trying to think of something exciting to do for it. Any suggestions? End of sidenote.

So I’ve been writing freelance for the past couple of years for various websites and having a lot of fun with it. I’d like to do it more. I’d like to write as my main job (and teach a few days a week), but here’s the thing. As a freelancer, you have to actually finish work in order to get paid. If you sit at your computer for eight hours a day and don’t complete anything, that’s zero dollars for you. If you work as a normal employee (on salary, hourly wage or contract) of a company, you get paid just to show up, and they assume that you’re working the whole time. I mean, obviously if you never do any work, you’ll get fired, but I’m just sayin’ – I have long conversations with people online while they’re at work. During this time, they are getting paid while I am not because they’re at work (“working”), but I’m not getting anything done. A job job is, therefore, in just about every way provided you like your job, preferable. But I have yet to find a company that will pay me to write about the kinds of things I write about full time.

If you know of such a company – one that wants to pay someone to write for 35-40 hours a week on topics such as hair gel, crazy people, internet dating, personal victories over technological ineptitude, vegan food, weird dreams, musical theater and travel – let me know. But I can’t even imagine what that company would be, so I guess Onward Hoe! is it. Come on fancy ads! Baby needs a new pair of shoes! (Not really, but it sounded better than “Baby needs an oil change, some hair gel and toothpaste.”)

Boyfriend Search 2010

If you follow me on twitter, which you should be doing if you’re on twitter, you have seen recently this tag: #boyfriendsearch2010. The tweets with this tag so far have been as follows:

  • ISO: vegan bread recipe w/out any kind of milk, motivation to write 3 articles, 9 hrs of sleep, 2 hrs of cuddling
  • Yessss. Didn’t even have to wait ’til morning for Flock Of Seagulls hair.
  • I just ate a LOT of beans. Probably a good thing I’m snowed in and can’t subject the public to the forthcoming gas.
  • Eating alone is boring and expensive, y’all. I just want someone to cook with.
  • I don’t want to actually DO ice dancing, but it’d be nice if someone would throw me across the room to “Open Arms.”

I am greatly enjoying this tag for both funny tweets (Flock of Seagulls/beans) and serious ones (eating alone/”Open Arms”), and I would very much like a boyfriend in 2010, but that’s not really the point of this post. I came here today to tell you about Al.

There were a lot of bizarre and hilarious things that happened at yesterday’s all-day census training, including, but not limited to the girl sitting next to me whose hair was normal from the front but had a foot-long braided rat tail in the back, and the lady who brought in her sheet music after lunch and “rehearsed” while we were waiting to get started again. And initially, I thought that Al would also be in that category, but he turned out to be not only completely normal, but also completely awesome.

For the first few hours of the training, I referred to him in my mind (and on G-chat) as “Overalls Howard” because he was wearing overalls, and his name was Howard. But at that point, my name was Elizabeth, so we still had a long way to go. I think we initially bonded over our equal broken-heartedness at the “No Jeans in the Workplace” policy, although Overalls Howard immediately decided that overalls were not jeans even if they were made of denim. They were bib overalls. End of story.

And then, during one of the breaks, we bonded further over our smart phones, he with his Droid and I with my PunkBerry. He was pretty good with it considering he is old enough to be my grandfather, but there were still some features he didn’t quite understand, so I walked him through a couple of them, and he showed me all his cool apps. It was around this point that I found out he goes by his middle name – Al.

Now Al is diabetic, so he had all kinds of little snacks on him to keep his blood sugar up. And at the end of the day, I mentioned that I had to immediately drive 45 minutes to Brevard to teach for three hours when the training was over. He was concerned that I wouldn’t have time to eat, so he pulled out a granola bar and gave it to me “for the road.” I thanked him, and he laughed and said, “You know, I’ve never been on a dinner date quite like this.”

It was my pleasure and my honor, Al, and I’d be happy to take you out for some Lance crackers any time.

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.


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.


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…


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.


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.


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


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.


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!!


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.


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


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.


Decisions, decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m still standin’ (yeah yeah yeah)!

Wow wow wow, friends, I am so sorry to have left you in such a lurch all week, but it’s been a busy one. I spent all day on Wednesday working on some articles so I could take Thursday and Friday off. I don’t think I’ve even mentioned yet our trip to Sorrento last weekend. It’s such a cute little town with lots of stores and limoncello and woodworking shops selling inlaid wood masterpieces. We went with a tour group from the base, so included in the tour package were transportation to and from Sorrento, a four-course Italian lunch and a day of shopping. It was great, and maybe I met a cute Italian named Ottavio who wanted me to stay and go out with him. Maybe.

Anyway, also on the tour was a girl named Holly, who’s here visiting her cousin, who happens to live right down the street from me in the same neighborhood as Tracy. She’ll also be here until December, and she also has very little going on during the day, so we decided to go to Capri together on Thursday. And y’all, it was QUITE the saga. I’m not even going to tell you all of it because it’s so ridiculous, and I just don’t feel like doing all that typing right now, but long story short, we didn’t get there on Thursday because of a man begging for change, and we weren’t sure we were going to be able to use our tickets on Friday. However, we did miraculously make it on Friday, and it is THE most BEAUtiful place I have ever seen IN my entire life. I have pictures, but they won’t do it justice. You’ll all just have to go at some point. Seriously. Must.

I’ll post the pictures later on, whenever I get a chance to upload them and get back to the internet, but until then, just imagine what you think the most serene place on earth would be like. Then add a row boat and George Clooney, and you have Capri. No, we didn’t see George Clooney, but we’re pretty sure celebrities have vacation homes on Capri based, if on nothing else, on the fact that it cost me €6 to drink a Sprite at lunch. For those of you who are math and/or international currency conversion-challenged, that’s like nine bucks. FOR A SPRITE. Just one. And Georgey was nowhere to be found when il conto (the bill) came. Freakin’ Clooney.

Anyhoe, in a couple of weeks, I’m going to go back to Napoli to do the Archeological Museum, but other than that, I think I’ve done pretty much all the things I wanted to do around here. Success!! And next week, I’ll be in FUNDON!!!! And then like a week and a half after I get back from that, I’ll be on a plane headed back to the USA. Crazy. CRAZY!! I can’t even handle how quickly this has gone by. And THEN…

Well, I guess I should tell you now. When I get back into the country, I’m taking a wee detour on my way back to Raleigh…to Portland, Oregon. I’ll be there for a few days, checking things out and trying to decide if I love it enough to move there. We’ll see.

Oh, and I have bangs. Today at least. Tomorrow, I’ll probably sweep them back to the side, but I realized last night that I’ve had them all along and never utilized them, so today, I busted them out. So far, the response has been positive.

Ok, I’m off to Thanksgiving dinner at church! If I don’t post again until I’m in London, y’all have a GREAT Thanksgiving, and I’ll talk to you (and SEE you) soon!!


I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret. Curly hair is disorderly, and you really have to know what you’re doing in order to keep it in line. Luckily, I’ve had a couple of decades to perfect my methods, and so far, I’m pleased with what I do. But for the past couple of days, it’s just been out of control. Part of that, I’m sure, is just that nature tends toward disorder and chaos (hence the post title), part of it is that I need a haircut, and part of it has to do with ’80s hair.

I have just worked out why big ’80s hair stuck around for so long. It wasn’t because it was still in style. It was just because it took so long to grow out all the permed, teased, fried-out frizz. I mean, I went to an ’80s party on Saturday, for which I created myself some faux bangs. I didn’t cut anything. Shoot, I didn’t really tease all that much. I mostly just pinned, fluffed and sprayed, and the hair that was involved in that styling process, even after four days and two washings, is still frizzy and enormous. It’s not how I’d prefer it to be. It’s just how it is.

And I’d like to think that the early ’90s hairdos were just people’s weak attempts to style the hair they’d ruined during the ’80s, when, bless their hearts, they just didn’t know any better.

Now, normally I would find my personal hair situation disconcerting, but I’m getting ready to go to Europe, where the fashion has been in ’80s come-back mode for at least the past five years, so I’m thinking I’ll either fit in perfectly, or I’ll be on the cutting edge of the ’90s come-back. I’m trying to imagine how grunge is going to rear its greasy head again only more form-fitting and trendy, and you know what? I like it.