After my last post about my trip to New Zealand, it was brought to my attention that there might be some confusion around me using the term “sea of All Blacks” in reference to the rugby team/fans. So, I wanted to clear that up for you non-rugby folks:
The All Blacks is the name of New Zealand’s national rugby team – a name that was popularized during a 1905 tour of the British Isles, according to Wikipedia. In fact, you can learn a lot about the history of the team here. (Likely most of it is true, but hey, anyone can edit that site soooo… That said, it’s still the name of the team.)
As you can see from my video below, the teams’ colors are black and white, and the fans tend to wear black and white in support. If you look into the bleachers across from where I was sitting, you can easily spot Ireland’s fans, and of course a woman in pink. (That’s not me, I was the one filming, so I’m on the opposite side. However, I’m now a little sad that I never noticed I had a twinsy. We could have been waving our hot pink arms at each other the entire time. Opportunity missed. Moment gone. 😦 Until next time, my hot pink twin!)
Thanks to my friend Elizabeth and her quick/dextrous fingers, we had some amazing seats. I’m not zoomed that far in. Anyway, below is my video of the opening haka.
What’s the story behind the haka? I’m glad you asked. Here’s even more fun info here and also here.
And for those who want to understand the words/lyrics: the All Blacks perform multiple hakas, but I believe this is Ka Mate (please someone correct me if I’ve got that wrong) Note: some directions are being called out ahead of the Ka Mate telling them to stomp their feet and slap their thighs. This was seriously cool to see in person.
The Words of Ka Mate
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
I die! I die! I live! I live!
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
I die! I die! I live! I live!
Tenei te tangata puhuru huru
This is the hairy man
Nana nei i tiki mai
Who fetched the Sun
Whakawhiti te ra
And caused it to shine again
A upa … ne! ka upa … ne!
One upward step! Another upward step!
A upane kaupane whiti te ra!
An upward step, another.. the Sun shines!!
All that to say, I wasn’t describing anyone’s skin tone. I’m not actually “pink” – well, unless it’s 105 degrees in Texas and I’ve been outside more than two minutes. Oh wait…
In fact, I can’t tell you much about the other people, other than: there was an overzealous wee girl behind me (easily under 10) who really wanted the All Blacks to get in the game and they kept profoundly disappointing her; she let them have it. There was also a very rude man at the end of our bleacher who seemed pretty insistent that he was not about to stand up to allow us to easily slide into/out of the row (he lost that battle of wills at least twice), and a really sweary guy who I’m pretty sure swore at me as we tried to make our way through the wall of people getting beer in order to get to our seats – I gave him my disapproving meemaw face, which I’m sure made him rethink some life choices or had no impact on him at all – one of those. I think they were also wearing the colors that supported New Zealand’s team.
Fact: Nothing drives my team lead crazier than when we’re encouraged to share “what we did on our Summer vacation” in one of our bi-weekly meetings. I know, I know, I just broke one of my writing rules – “Rule #1: Avoid discussing work”. But I promise you if she came across this blog she’d say, “OMG!!!! I don’t want to hear about another Summer vacation! You didn’t seriously tell perfect strangers about yours. GROSS!” and then she’d kind of laugh and shake her head. So, I’m writing this knowing most people probably aren’t dying to hear about my Summer vacation, but here we are – I’m writing, and for some reason, you’re sticking around.
Let’s pick up where we left off: Day 3 of Covid.
On the night of Day 3, I actually slept while laying flat down on my bed like a little bed sleeping hero. Go me! I mean, no offense to the recliner, but… Well, actually, it wasn’t bad, but I happen to be addicted to the bed.
My main accomplishments during my Covid stint included: making a tissue mountain, raising the stock prices for Puffs (you’re welcome Proctor and Gamble), and smothering my nose in copious amounts of mentholatum while perfecting the messy ponytail. I basically lived my best life – I smelled amazing (see mentolatum facial above) and looked great (also see sloppy hair reference above). Seriously, step aside Victoria’s Secret gals, meemaw is working this quarantine runway! Then, I finally got better. For weeks afterward more friends would rise up and attempt to steal my runway crown. Some people have no shame. Back up and find your own pandemic tiara.
Then in the middle of July, I spent two amazing weeks in Aotearoa/New Zealand – the land of the long white cloud. I went from Hakas to Hobbits – Fjords to Redwoods to geothermal springs (that smelled so bad and were so beautiful). I had the good fortune of taking it all in with one of my oldest friends and favorite people who now calls this place home.
However, I’ll do you a kindness by sparing you the details (my team lead would be so proud – ok, she wouldn’t, she’d be proud if I just dropped the whole subject altogether, but she can’t always have it her way). So, here are some highlights:
The highlights (in words) :
Getting this wonderful moment to spend so much time (though not enough) with one of my very favorite people.
Appearing on a jumbotron at a major event thanks to some people going wild behind me. I squealed and pointed like you do. Well, I don’t know about “you” but definitely like that other person you’re sitting next to.
My first rugby match
My first Haka!
Cheering for Ireland the All Blacks!
Unexpectedly, running into friends in Te Anau, like you do in another country
Being handed Legolas’ prop bow while touring the Weta Workshop
“Who here has shot a bow?” “MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” “Here you go. Draw that.” “Please, thank you, and step off other tourists. I have THE bow! Ummm nooooo, you don’t get a turn.”
Sprinkle sauce (it’s a thing – trust me).
The Bucket Fountain (Hell Mouth – also a thing – trust me – every tourist should visit this national landmark)
Singing loudly along with a performer singing covers in a hotel bar and getting stared at by “proper Kiwis”.
Creating a playlist from said bar
Keas, Tuis, Pukekos
WINTER WINTER WINTER
Cheese, because… well… cheese
Every single other moment
It was beautiful – restorative – the place I wish I were right now sitting by a fire on my friend’s deck high up in the hills overlooking a harbor, drinking a cider, enjoying the cool night air while listening to my friend whistle to the tuis.
And yes, given the opportunity I would go back in a heartbeat just to explore one more path, see one more stunning/breathtaking view (New Zealand is kind of an overachieving showoff in this regard), and enjoy one more conversation – one more adventure.
One quick question though before I run off. Is anyone looking to adopt an adult? Must be wealthy. Must expect nothing in return other than super gracious notes of thanks and social media shoutouts. Must be willing to generously replenish empty bank accounts. Asking for a friend. Also, the aforementioned friend requested I note that Christmas is around the corner and nothing says Merry Christmas quite like adoption and a large travel budget. Please see me if interested in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Hope you all are having a great Summer (and surviving this heat).
Let’s just start with: I don’t really know what day of Covid I’m officially on. Day 5, if you start the count from when I was exposed. Day 3, if it’s the day two little stripes showed up to wreck my weekend. I’m sure the Googles would clarify this little mystery, but ehhh… I’m typing here. Who has time to perform a search? Plus, does it really matter? I mean, I have Covid.
Who am I kidding, I don’t have a gift for analogy. (John, hit me with something that works and is wildly inappropriate, please. Thank you! I’ll throw it in later. (Sometimes you need your heavy hitters who have a rare gift. Trust me, he’s your guy. Ask him about thermal bending. He’ll explain it in a way that you’ll never forget and you’ll wish you had.)
Anyway, it’s like something… unfortunately, I’m incapable of telling you what that something is at the moment, but sometime around Wednesday, I came into contact with at least one person with Covid according to a lovely woman who sent a lovely note explaining she’d tested positive. On Friday, after testing positive myself, I wrote my own little note to everyone with whom I’d come into contact. Something like…
I apparently have the ‘ronas. You may now, too.
Whoopsie. My Bad. This is why I shouldn’t be social.
This is also why I should work from home more of the days.
E-mail “sent” 6/10/2022 (WP is prompting me for a citation. Blame them. Psst, can you cite a fake email? Yes??)
Only, I suppose I did write it in a more professional manner where I fell firmly on my sword and prostrated myself before my colleagues since I felt genuinely awful for spreading something I wasn’t aware I had. (Fact: I have some next-level martyr guilt when inspired.) Just for funsies, the responses I received fell into two categories: 1) you’re too hard on yourself, get better, and 2) we don’t do contact testing (not, “thanks for letting us know, sorry you’re under the weather, wishing you a speedy recovery,” but more of a, “Hello, you made words that included the word “Covid.” Sweet Baby Jesus, what’s wrong with you? Please do not inform the people whom you came into contact with – we don’t do that here.) Ummm… really? Wow.
Granted, if I had a cold I wouldn’t wander around begging for forgiveness from people I’d encountered while I had said cold, or the people who’d touched the handles I’d carefully licked, but this is Covid and I’m only part monster. (Disclaimer: No actual handles have ever been licked by me (I don’t know what you do, so I can’t speak for you.)
My Symptoms: Some Boring Bits
Friday, it felt like I had a typical cold for me (I don’t know what a typical cold looks like for you, so again I can’t speak for you here). The kind that starts in my chest and finishes off in my head. Spoiler alert: this isn’t going to be a story about how it did anything different. Yay. Friday/Saturday, I coughed up a storm making the cartilage around my upper rib cage scream. Saturday, sneezing had joined in on the fun, and well today, today I feel a lot better – I can do neat things like breathe easily again. (Quick note: I’m off to find something to knock on because it’s well known that the universe is an actual jerk who is targeting you (and by “you” I mean “me”), and the only thing keeping its wrath at bay is the wood that one would knock on. This is a well-known fact about the universe. You’re welcome.)
However, despite it behaving like a normal cold (for me again, still not very sure about you – I’m never too sure about you, truth be told), I did constantly monitor my temperature, blood pressure, O2, and pulse. I did inform my doctor. I did try to get whatever shot/pill they offer if detected early enough and I did receive a big ol’ “not for you”. Rude. I mean “yay” I’m not considered at high enough risk to warrant one, but also there’s that fear of missing out (FOMO) thing at play.
My Pout and a Wee Rant: The Selfish Stuff
Pre Pout/Fuss Disclaimer: I’m very lucky to live the life I live and am lucky to be able to do the things I do and have the relationships I have.
Friday was the start of my long-awaited four-day weekend beach vacation to celebrate my friends’ (not merely “a friend’s”) child’s graduation. This is a kid I’ve not only tricked into believing I’m their aunt but also that I’m their favorite aunt – a kid who thinks a fantastic graduation present is spending four days on the beach with old people playing board games – a kid who will jokingly call me their “Beth-st friend”. I LOVE THIS KID! Thinking it was just a cold, I made their favorite cookies Friday morning (with mask on) ahead of the car ride down with them to the coast. Then I tested just to be safe. Two little lines later and I wanted to flip coffee tables and fling over two dozen cookies out into the yard. (In all fairness, while they’re this kid’s favorite cookies, they don’t have chocolate in them, so I find them very confusing and because the universe has a wicked sense of humor, I actually make them well. For the record, I make an amazing lemon cookie too. Which, funny story, also doesn’t have chocolate. Why? Why do they exist? Anyway, throwing them into the yard wouldn’t be a huge loss to me because of said lack of chocolate.)
Sure, we can have some kind of do-over weekend later, but it won’t be the same. It will never be this weekend. Those moments are gone.
The Fussy Bit I Mentioned
During this, I received praise for enduring all of this alone.
This actually got to me. Like crying level upset.
In my defense, I was at the height of the worst part of my symptoms where I wasn’t feeling exactly at my best (aka felt like garbage). AND I’d just watched the last episode of This Is Us, which I thought I’d seen, but they snuck in one more. The train episode was the perfect ending, people! But no, couldn’t just stop there when there were a few more emotional heartstrings left to tug. YOU NEXT LEVEL MONSTERS! So I’d just had ugly cry part two! Did I mention I wasn’t feeling well and was emotional?
Anyway, I appreciate the sentiment. I really do.
However, I don’t know that what I’ve done is exactly praiseworthy when I don’t have a choice. I have to put one foot in front of the other, which is more a sign of perseverance or possibly tenacity rather than one of bravery or strength; it’s basic survival. Praising me for it, especially when it’s happening a month before the anniversary of Jay’s death, keenly reminds me that strong isn’t the word you’re looking for. I’m alone. It reminds me that I get to walk through this world by myself.
The rational part of my brain would hop in here and say (because I’ve said this to many a friend): You’re not at the end of your story; you don’t know how it ends. You don’t even know all the characters This is just one chapter. And the irrational part snarks back, “oh, don’t I though?”
So, for now, I appreciate it, but if you could hold back on any praise for remembering to do something that amounts to “getting up, breathing, and feeding myself again.” I mean “go me” but ehhh… it’s just a day ending in the word “day”.
Now let me walk that “I’m alone thing” back a bit, too.
I’m not entirely alone in the sense that I do have people who care about me. So, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a huge thanks to everyone who checked on me every single day this weekend – usually multiple times a day – to make sure I was ok – that I was still hanging in there. You’re the best. I appreciate you, and for those of you who got really scared – the ones where we performed brief tangos where “I’m not sharing with you how badly I feel, and you’re not telling me how scared you are.” I’m not done being sick, yet and we’ll still dance that dance but know I appreciate you for caring that much.
Hopefully, after some sincere wood-knocking for the universe, I’ll continue to improve.
Additional Random Bits of Gratitude – Ending on a Better Note
Thanks to the following:
All the places that deliver: from groceries to O2 sensors and Tylenol
Stranger Things, Season 4
The Good Place
Cell phones + My inability to text (good times)
Videos with friends laughing at TV shows
Marco Polo videos
“Call Me Maybe” Tribute videos by various US Armed Forces units (it’s an embarrassing addiction a guilty pleasure that cheers me up)
Roel – so great to hear from you; your texts cheered me up! I cannot wait to see you when you get back from your trip!
Ok, off to call it a night and get ready to face Day 4 or 6.
I’ll probably fire this one off a bit too quickly, then look back with regret that I hadn’t taken the time to massage the words as well as I could. Ehhh… that’s almost every post you read here. Somedays I get to own the fact that my words aren’t always my strength… and that’s ok.
When I asked people to share something real for Mental Health Awareness Month, that was a big ask – a hard ask. Hey guys, take this figurative microphone, and now go speak your truth to your friends, your family – the sea of co-workers, classmates, and that gal you connected with on that flight – those people you call your “followers”.
It’s daunting as hell to remove one mask to reveal a new one – an unknown one. It’s much easier to post vacation photos. However, a couple did fise to the challenge. You found your voice. You spoke your truth. You were honest. You were fearless. You were courageous.
I applaud your bravery for being willing to take that leap.
Before Jay died, I hadn’t given much thought to the community I had around me. It was a given – these people who steadfastly stood by my side weaving a net of support in the event I fell (like I’ve always woven for them). And when I fell and fell hard, they held tightly to its edges unable to prevent all of the bruises and deep scrapes but enough to protect me from shattering on the ground.
I thought about them a lot last week.
As I mentioned, May heralds the beginning of my season of sadness – of anxiety. Last Monday, I found myself outside a building unable to flee, pleading into a video that I just wanted to go home – that the day was overwhelming – that I was a freak. I explained that I just wanted to pull the blanket over my head and be done with the day. Why was the Uber app not resetting my password so I could just get one fucking ride home? Was it too much to ask for the universe to stop conspiring for one bloody day so I could just shut all the blinds, lower the temperature in the house, and just “not” for a bit? My phone buzzed, “where are you?” I frowned. “We can’t find you?” You don’t really want me around …and then I let my friends coax me back until I was ok.
At the end of the day, I sent a new video explaining what happened as big tears spilled down my cheeks. “I’m ok now, it’s just that for a moment…”
The rest of the week was calm, and on Friday a new message, “are we doing something tomorrow?” I rescheduled my day of nothingness and when Saturday rolled around I asked, “do you know what today is?” Yes. “I almost forgot. I was always bad at remembering.”
Saturday was our 15th wedding anniversary. We would have been together for nearly 23 years.
She pulled me into one of the best days I’ve had in a while – one filled with laughter and paint.
The subconscious is an incredible and crazy thing – working in the background and oftentimes keeping our conscious out of the loop. A seemingly random Monday wasn’t as random as I thought. My skin just a bit thinner as we march through the months of this season. I suspect a lot of Monday had to do with Saturday.
… and then there are my friends – still holding onto the edges of that patchwork net – knowing instinctively, without being told, that they should hold on a bit tighter.
Thank you, my friends. Thank you for being there, for listening, and for lifting me back up. Thank you for pulling me back when I start tumbling towards the edge…
…and thank you for splattering me with paint to make sure I was ok. 🙂 (not figurative.)
A few days ago I threw out the challenge to share something real – something true – something unfiltered in light of Mental Health Awareness Month – a way to press pause a bit on the fairy tales we spin through social media – a way to show that our lives are real and not these flawless Rockwell-esque fictions – that we’re more akin to the characters from Shameless than This is Us.
A day later, my friend (and editor) David bravely took up that challenge by writing a very open and honest piece about his own mental health challenges:
Please take moment to read his words, and when you’re finished accept my new challenge to you:
Educate yourself on how to help a friend or family member in crisis
Do your part to help remove the stigma around seeking and receiving help for mental health issues
Support legislation to make mental health care both affordable and accessible
Talk/try to fix less
… and if a friend/loved one is in crisis, recognize you don’t have to shoulder their burden, but be able to provide them with the information and resources to put them in contact with professionals who can.
Then plan to walk with me and my Jay Walkers team on Saturday, October 29th from wherever you are in this big ol’ world.
Let’s all work to be better – better people, better friends, better members of our global community.
Wielding language has never been my strength. So, I practice.
The way I express my thoughts is the way I speak. With each post, you catch the faint strains of the voice that whispers within and without.
To be honest, I’ve been continually surprised that I’ve had a following, especially outside of my family and friends. I’ve always felt that these posts capture doodled thoughts rather than convey a coherent story. Occasionally, I’ll litter the pages with an update or two for my family and friends as an attempt at a proof of life so they don’t worry. (Now that I think about it, a photo of my face by the current headlines might be simpler.) But on a more serious note, I just don’t post often enough or even well enough to garner a true following. (I’m way too lazy.) So, I guess I’m surprised that you all continue to come back.
I’m both humbled and flattered. Thank you.
When I reflect on previous posts, I recognize the ones that receive the most praise and comment are the ones where I’ve been open about my grief over the loss of Jay – where I talk about how I struggle – present tense. I’m told I’m brave. I’m told I’m strong.
The pain has definitely eased over time; however, it is ever-present.
I was crafting a new post – one where I planned to paint a picture of how I’m winning at life – you know the drill – that social media fluff we throw out to the universe to say, “Hey, look – my life is amazing – I’m a success – I’m fun, beautiful, creative – a winner by all accounts – better than!” The proclamation accompanied by a perfectly framed shot of my suntanned tootsies at sunset – a half-filled glass of some enviable drink close at hand as a way to support my claim.
What a disservice it would be if I let this moment go by. So, with that in mind, here are some of my thoughts – something that’s a bit more real and in keeping with what people tend to appreciate more on my blog – something that is more true than my pages filled with my wins.
Since Jay’s death, I have continued to struggle. Not every day, not all the time, but in flashes. I struggle to find purpose – my raison d’être. Since Jay’s death, I have anxiety attacks that begin to appear in May and last until the end of September. It’s carved out its own season in my life – backyard picnics, blockbusters, cool pools, big hats, sandals, mosquitos, and anxiety – gotta love anxiety season. October heralds my subconscious snow-birding its way back from wherever subconsciouses go – hey, even the subconscious needs a restorative break.
The attacks come out of nowhere – usually when I least expect them. I can be watching a comedy on TV and then every fiber of my body tells me something is desperately wrong.
I love October as much as I dread May.
I continue to struggle with being alone. It’s not that you aren’t all great, but you’re not my partner. You offer many important things, but not the whisper in the middle of the night or fingers lightly dancing across my back to lull me back to sleep. You cannot hold me or look at me in a way that makes me believe I’m all that matters.
I struggle with the idea that I will never be truly loved again.
After Jay’s death, several people felt they’d help by remarking, “At least you were loved.”
What a truly awful thing to say.
That statement reverberates through my soul. I am the “once loved” – like a child’s discarded favorite toy.
Things to Work On
I have a laundry list of things I need to work on, but some days, as I stand at the crossroads of “Do you want to make it better or make it worse?” I choose “Make it worse.” I flip the proverbial coffee table. I rage at the world – a tempest – unrestrained.
Standing in the eye of my storms are my pillars – friends who batten down, listen quietly, and still stick around. They blink slowly, considering the volume of filth I’ve unleashed into the world, and ask quietly, “Are you finished?” Honestly, sometimes the answer is “No!” So, they wait until I’ve exhausted myself, and redirect me to something else.
The Words I Use
Each day I paint myself in words that are run a spectrum: abusive, bleak, encouraging, beautiful. Sometimes I use all of them, and sometimes none.
Today those words happen to be particularly brutal. Tomorrow they may be different. Tomorrow I may not use words to tear myself down. We’ll just have to see.
Tomorrow I plan to get up and start again.
I will work on my perspective – on my personal narrative.
Just An Idea
I wish there were a May Mental Health Awareness Challenge where we were encouraged (unafraid) to post something real – something unguarded – something that boldly proclaimed, “While I have had successes, I have also experienced epic failure/deep disappointment/profound sadness – I’ve had days where copious amounts of concealer and duck face at the perfect angle of a camera couldn’t fix – just like you.”
I’d like to see a challenge that gives everyone a safe space to be honest and open without judgment and without people feeling the need to rush in and “fix” the issue. (Something that often happens when we’ve broken away from the duck-faced herd.) A challenge where our raw truth is not only accepted but embraced – where we pull back the carpet and finally see that what we experience is normal/typical – that what’s abnormal is the fiction where we all live perfect and happy lives.
I’d like to see a challenge that shows it’s ok to feel sad at times. It’s ok to feel small.
I’m not suggesting we move into those moments, but that we acknowledge they happen.
I’d love a challenge that gave us all a small reprieve from the feelings of inadequacy many experience when comparing their lives to the social media-generated fictions shared by all of us – stories we carefully curate and run through our “gorgeous tootsies at sunset” lens.
Are you up for that challenge?
Can you be open? raw? exposed?
Can you listen to someone else’s truth without judgment? Without a need to gaslight? Without a need to rush in and fix it? To sit by quietly and accept?
(Points if you can do it while sharing a photo of unmanicured gnarly feet in tatty flip flops next to some Natty Light (Bud Light, Yuengling, Pabst).)
I picked up my phone and typed back some version of “good, not much going on” – my default response. I’m always some version of fine, good, or “well” if I’m being more grammatically correct. (Although, I would argue that somedays I am indeed “doing good” so don’t assume I mean “well” when I’m throwing off my glasses and donning my cape.)
I’m just not the type who shares a lot in person. (We’re not going to count this blog. Ok? Ok. Good talk!)
I’m the type who’s more content to listen. And honestly, the uncomfortable truth is that when I’m speaking, my stories are actually quite awkward – they’re excruciating to my intended audience. I trip over my beginning, then I’ll blurt out something completely random at the worst moment. So, it’s a kindness that I simply state, “I’m doing good/well. How are you?” It makes it so much easier to simply bow out at the beginning to avoid the blank looks and stares of horror.
Now you understand why my presenting to a large group and receiving positive feedback turned into a bit of a brag. Me speaking successfully, even to just a couple of friends, is a always major victory worth posting about. GO ME!
Also, if I’m honest, a lot of what I do seems tremendously boring despite having friends who think the opposite – from singing improv, to my reverse quinceañeras, to archery, to being a moderately successful fundraiser – it all seems so hem haw – so mundane that it doesn’t seem story-worthy. Thus, I’m doing “good” or “well”.
However, I recognize that some people want to know, like my cousin who was enjoying a beer in a foreign state (aka any state that is not Texas).
This post is for my cousin. (I’m giving you an excuse to bow out now before gets awkward. If it does, feel free to post links to your horror selfies. Selfies of thumbs up are also welcome! )
How’s it Going, Cuz?
Let’s roll up the sleeves while I catch you up!
My Treacherous Foot
Well Cuz, for the last several months I’ve been building up to walk a half marathon. I’d actually been walking pretty steadily over the last year – my tank tops and capris slowly morphing into more wicking layers and fleece as the weeks passed. One weekend I walked 10 miles, then 11, then finally 12 (with a lot of interval walks throughout the week). Well, 12 was apparently too much. Overpronation with poor arch support FOR THE WIN! My ankle gave up the ghost. While it’s slowly gotten better, on Friday, a 10-minute walk set me a bit back. Of course, this is right after I optimistically proclaimed to my doctor, “I don’t need that appointment! It’s getting better!” Oh, Murphy’s Law, you’re the worst.
I foresee a podiatrist in the near future. This irritates me because I want to get back to walking. I like walking.
After My Triumphant Presentation
I went to the conference where I presented with a gigantic “ow” in my heart. I limped through each day, and while “making IT fun” as I spoke, my head was screaming “HEY!!! LADY!!! Why are you standing on us!! Don’t make us set your nerves on fire! Oh, that’s how it’s going to be? Enjoy this!” And they did so quite gladly. I made it home, iced up my ankle, and then headed off on a plane with a friend to visit her daughter.
I got in zero of the sightseeing in a city I desperately want to experience. Aside: a do-over is in the future.
I sat in our hotel room with an elevated foot and an ice pack mee maw style. The only good thing was that it forced us all to just relax and truly visit. There were so many good talks, so many fun games, and an amazing girl’s night filled with facials and poorly painted nails. I marveled at this young woman who was just a wee girl. Was that yesterday? I swear it was yesterday.
I’ve told her and her siblings that they’ve ruined other kids for me. I never cease to rock back on my heels and just marvel at the amazing people they’ve become. There were amazing kids who have grown into amazing humans.
My First Time to Use the Bathroom on a Plane
Of course, to visit her I had to hop on a couple of planes and I guess that morning, I really decided over-hydration would be my thing. My kidneys were excited. My bladder was not. So, there I was in the middle seat with the guy on the aisle fast asleep and I really needed him to wake up. He was that guy who’d snort himself awake, and I had to time my “excuse me, sir” for that right moment. Finally, post a resounding snort, I got this attention and was able to make it to the restroom.
Having never been in the restroom on a plane, I had two important thoughts:
Can someone’s intestines really be sucked out? That’s urban myth, right? (By the way, when I flushed, I had a moment of “OMG! that’s so not a myth!! That sudden vacuum could kill someone!!! Do people check on these things? This is why you don’t overhydrate, Beth!!!!
Remember that time on Dead Like Me when George died by being struck by a meteoric toilet seat falling from an airplane. I bet this is how it started.
Fact: I have really profound thoughts sometimes.
I returned to the seat prepared to face the same blank faces I was cursed with sitting next to the remainder of the flight. Great. I’d decided I’d just throw in the earbuds again and fire up the audiobook.
Something I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is now I don’t mind chatting with a stranger on a flight as much, but these days, everyone has their heads bowed to their glowing new digital messiah.
So, I amble down the row and discover someone is missing from our row. The person walking behind me then tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could get into the row first. Ah, window guy! And that’s how I met my new best friend Justin K.
My New Best Friend, Justin K.
Justin popped down and the conversation started. One of those great conversations which lasted the entire flight and ended with an exchange of phone numbers. (He agreed to talk to a college student I mentor about a potential job since my new best friend Justin K. works in an industry this young man is interested in.) Throughout my trip, I managed to get a lot of mileage out of “my new best friend, Justin K” stories. Hey, we got a lot of talking in. He was an interesting guy! And I learned things, too. Like I now know not to blow my nose if my occipital bone is broken as well as how doctors handle your eye if it sinks to its respective occipital floor post said blowing. Arguably gross, but knowledge is power, right?
As an aside, almost everyone I know has a goofy honorific to help distinguish them when I tell a story. There’s Tank Commander, John; My Kiwi Doctor Friend, Julie; David the Professor in Japan (aka, my editor who again received no warning that I was about to write again and will perform the thankless task of cleaning this up – hopefully. Please, David???), and of course Jim, not that Jim, the other Jim, no not that Jim either (in hindsight, I need to work on the Jims). And thus, “My New Best Friend, Justin K.” was born.
For the record, Cuz, I’m known affectionately known as “the Texas Beth” to some.
My Mad(s) this Week
Now onto the less fun. The thing that almost became its own post/rant. It has to do with a friend and a mental health discussion. The long and short of it, to avoid a full-blown, “I’m going to lose my mind” rant is this: We were talking about how certain mental health issues, when untreated, can be very limiting and isolating and how some people see it a mental illness as “a choice” or “a weakness in constitution”. I stated that no one would willingly choose to be debilitated by depression or any number of mental health issues (albeit saying “no one” is a generalization, because you can always find that one exception). My major point was that when it comes to mental illness, it’s typically not a matter of people “not trying hard enough to be happy”. My friend’s response: they disagreed.
That kind of attitude, which unfortunately is not uncommon, is why it’s so very hard to get people proper mental health care. It contributes to why: 1) people won’t seek it out, because of the stigma attached – they just need to toughen up, and 2) why it’s so damned hard to get legislation that would make it more accessible. I’ll say it again and again and again: mental health should be treated like physical health and it should be easier for those suffering to have proper/easy access to doctors and medication.
The same person later went on a rant about how they couldn’t visit parts of the country because of their politics.
Fact: You can’t catch political cooties by stepping into a city where the majority of voters vote a particular way that’s different from the way you vote. You’re not going to wake up blue if you were red or red if you were blue. In fact, I’ve heard you can even go around and still enjoy the sights, restaurants, and other local offerings without anyone ever knowing which way you vote. The novelty!
Politics don’t affect how I enjoy the outdoors.
Cuz, I’m currently working on not blowing up at this person; it’s a challenge. Apparently, you can’t curb stomp the stupid out of someone. Also, you probably shouldn’t say “curb stomp” ever.
An Archery Competition
Well, Cuz, you’ve made it to the end. We’re almost through and I want to end more on a high than a low so here we go with archery stories!
In May I’ll be competing in my first archery competition. Until three weeks ago, I honestly didn’t realize I could shoot at 30m (the distance I need to shoot in order to compete), then someone said I could and I did. Words have power.
I’d post a photo, but I’m way too lazy to upload one. Just know my groupings were really decent.
The main point of competing at this point, according to Coach Nick, is for me to become socialized at competitions. I mean, did you know I can’t have my bow next to me on the line? Monsters!
I’m both nervous and excited.
That’s All Folks
That’s all I have for now, Cuz. I hope you’re doing both well and you’re doing some good, too.
Seems like last year that I proclaimed, “hey folks, I’m gonna write more!!! gonna use my little writey brain and jot down my little writey thoughts about all the things a writey little writer can write about.” So funny story, I’m a liar. Yep, just straight-up lied for funsies – broke every branch on the tree of trust we’d been growing together for years. Thankfully, you’re the bigger person and you came back despite the betrayal. Go you!!
Writing is my comfort zone. I feel fairly comfortable spinning up a tale when I have a tale to tell. I’m solid at taking anecdotes and stretching them into stories. A Rumplestiltskin of words. Now, please note, I’m not assigning an adjective to the types of stories I tell – I’m not saying they’re good, or bad, or even middling – they’re just “stories”. As my reader, you can fill in the adjective, and I’m reckoning that if you’ve returned here again, the ones you have chosen are more on the positive side. I need to believe that you’re not actually a masochist, doing some karmic penance, or just here to witness another train wreck while you snack on popcorn.
I believe in you!
Well, this week I did something wholly out of my comfort zone, but I’m proud of it, soooo humble-not-so-humble brag incoming.
Please avert your eyes if you hate a humblebrag. You’ve been warned!
On Monday, I gave my first in-person presentation to a room full of people. First, let me lay some groundwork. I don’t present. Ever. It’s not something I’ve done. It’s not something in my toolbelt of skills. Me standing in front of a group of people and talking is actually a special level of Hell accurately described by Dante in his Inferno, where he accurately predicted a sass-filled Texan would ultimately land amid piles of Post-it easel pads that’d lost their stickiness, failing laser pointers, broken overhead projectors, milky transparencies, and an audience of demons who stare in silence as she stuttered, stammered, oh’ed, uh’ed, and cleared her throat through an uncomfortable rambling and, of course, eternal presentation. Dante was more than just an Italian poet; he was a prophet. Step back, Nostradamus.
At least this is what my pet demon likes to whisper along with, “Hey kid, let’s say that when you face plant later we go drown our sorrows in some ice cream? Jenn won’t mind. She’ll support your poor decisions after embarrassing yourself.” While the more angelic and supportive side hops in with, “ok, but hear me out now – what if you not only succeed, you actually crush it, and there are high fives?? THEN you could celebrate with victory ice cream. Jenn won’t mind!” (Jenn, I promise to work hard on this part of me when I return from vacation. Pinky swear.) So, I worked on imagining myself succeeding. It seemed like a better way to spend my energy. What would that look and feel like? I also acknowledged that if I had a case of the nerves, it would be ok; it was only 30 minutes out of the day. I can survive most things for 30 minutes.
So, I got up in front of the room and stepped away from the mic, because I can project like a champ (ask anyone who’s sat in a small room with me and had to remind me, “you’re right across the table from me, not across a stadium, Beth – I can hear you.”) I started talking and kept talking, running through the slides. I didn’t falter. I just peeked into that skill toolbelt and found helpful tips from friends and a few from improv.
I won’t bore you with specifics, but those tips/tricks were there when I needed them, and it turns out they’d been in there for a while. Who knew?
After the Q&A at the end, I realized I’d done it. I’d presented to a room full of folks. I hadn’t face planted! (Jenn – I also didn’t get ice cream. Baby steps? So, props to me??)
Then a more magical thing took place: several folks came up to me and thanked me for making IT (the subject I presented on) “fun,” and one woman actually apologized saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that when I asked you for directions to the conference room that you were famous.” (I’m not gonna lie – that may have been my favorite bit of praise. Oh, and for the record, I’m so not famous.)
Anyway, to wrap it up, it really felt great! I just wanted to share a story about stepping out of my comfort zone as a way to break the months’ long silence on the blog – my actual comfort zone. Bonus, I got to chat again to y’all.
So, thank you for still sticking around. I won’t promise to write more, but you never know.
So, I was out walking, minding my own business (and by “minding my own business” I mean, “I was totally caught up with staring into this random family’s house because they had the same model, and I was wondering how they had their front area set up”) on a beautiful Saturday evening (and by “beautiful” I mean “overcast, blustery, and perfectly miserable” (for Texans, this is when temps dare to dip below 60)) WHEN out of nowhere, and completely unprovoked, this random family’s over-protective attack tree root, which had buckled the sidewalk, leapt out and knocked me to the ground. I laid there for a bit, because the last time I had a good fall, I permanently lost my ACL (I miss you ACL and our pro Tennis dreams – I’m sure we would have been seeded #1 in the geriatric leagues right after I developed an interest in playing and, I dunno, showed some undiscovered hand-eye coordination talents) and temporarily said goodbye to my MCL. The old lady checklist began as my taste buds politely (and a bit sarcastically, I might add) offered, “mmm… notes of iron with a distinctive split texture”:
Can you stand? Seem to.
That blood in your mouth, do you have all your teeth? Yep.
Loose teeth? Nope.
Can you move knees? wrists? Check. Check. (As I rotated, bent, flexed, and wiggled things.)
Inventory: what hurts? Chin. Teeth, Knee. Hands. Ego.
Do you need to go home and cry or can you finish the remaining two miles? Cry?
Is crying on the workout sheet for Saturday? No.
Is walking? Yes.
So, you’re going to keep walking? Yes??
That’s the spirit! You go little trooper!
I stood for a minute more wiping mud off my hands, shirt, and leggings while wondering, “How many cameras caught that? Am I going to find it online one day as a .gif – an endless loop of me losing a fight with concrete? Ugh, I shouldn’t have done that to that one guy. Karma. Am I right? (You probably think I’m kidding. Let’s go with that. I’m a nice person. 🙂 You can trust me.) Then I started walking – picking up my pace and this time paying more attention to the path ahead than the neighbors’ homes. Thankfully, I walked away with only a bruised/cut chin, a slightly busted inner lip (did I mention I kind of face planted? I sorta maybe fell on my face), a bruise along the side of my knee, and quite a nasty “boob-boo” (as a friend who is a GP referred to it – a medical term, I’m sure) – basically a huge bruise on my chest that I actually discovered two days after the Great Sidewalk Attack of 2022. In my defense, I don’t go around looking at my chest. It didn’t hurt, no need to look down, so imagine my surprise when I actually did see it. It was a mix of, “what the…???” combined with a need for further scientific study, “does it hurt when you go like this? how about this? Hey, watch it lady!”
For a while now, I begin each New Year by seeking out the words of Neil Gaiman; no one can express a New Year’s wish as well as he can. (This probably isn’t entirely true, or even partially true, but his words always resonate with me.) While on that hunt, I was inspired to send a New Year’s wish of my own to a friend, then I realized it’s something I wish for all of you. I hope Mr. Gaiman doesn’t mind that I borrowed from his style.
I hope your year is filled with so much laughter, your sides ache.
With everything going on, it’s easy to be cynical and express those frustrations, but there’s so much out there that is genuinely good. I hope you find and embrace that goodness.
I hope you approach each day with child-like wonder; this world is a beautiful place with so much yet to discover.
I hope you explore more and in exploring, your passion for adventure is reignited.
I hope you’re inspired to create, dream, and learn new things. You are at your best when you are true to yourself and give yourself permission to do those things.
I hope you dance under a star-filled sky.
I hope your heart is filled with so much love you feel like you’ll burst.
… and I hope that you feel seen, and loved, and appreciated.