December 25, 2017: My -0 Birthday

Tomorrow we’ll be six months away from my -0 birthday.  You know that birthday where I finally turn ummm… another year older-ish-esque! Happy Birthday to Me?

You’re probably wondering: 1) Why do I need to worry about it now, and 2) wait, if she’s writing about it, does that mean it’s another present grab? Dear Lord, is she three? I get it. You were born on Christmas. Bummer for you. I’ve got a family to think of! I’m out of town!

Well, 1) if Hobby Lobby can have Christmas stuff out already, then I’m actually a little behind in mentioning it, and 2) YES! You guessed it! It IS a present grab. You’re a good guesser! Also, I’d like to point out that you can see your family any time. I only turn -0 once! (…a decade. Err… bygones.) Go ahead and book your flights. No, book them to Austin. Why do you have to act this way?

So, remember 10 years ago? That other -0 birthday? There was you, me, some other people, and someone MAY have had a dramatic boo-hoo? Then someone’s friend had to hold up each subsequent present and grill the giver with a, “is this going to make her cry?” only handing the gift over only if she was assured, “ummm no? I don’t think so?” Remember? The birthday girl then gave that amazing speech (ok, that was a test – if you’re claiming there was a speech, then you’re now just pretending to have been there, and the bobbing of your head in agreement with all of my words right now is kind of hurtful. Way to be hurtful. This is why I actually cried.)

So, this birthday will be a repeat of the one held 10 years ago – same restaurant (maybe) – same rules. I’m going to ask for something that represents you. If you’ll recall the previous -0 birthday, I received an assortment of stories, photos, poems, comics, drawings, homemade bread, and CDs. I loved all of them, and I’ve saved each item, because it’s a tiny time capsule of who you all were 10 years ago. Ok, I lied. I didn’t save all of them. I totally ate the bread. Hey, it’s not fruitcake people. It wouldn’t have lasted. Don’t judge me. What if I “promise” (no reason for the quotes, nope – move along) not to devour any more presents (well, unless that’s what they’re intended for)? Fine. What if I just promise to try? We good?

Loot

Anyway, back to the present grab. This can be anything at all as long as it’s an expression of you.  It should be something that when I look at it, I see my amazing friend, or my beautiful family member – an item that says something about you in this moment in time.

The reason I’m announcing my request so early is to give you plenty of time to think. You guys are rather think-y sorts.

A quick note: There will be only one person whom I’ll ask for something very specific – the rest of you can go nuts – for that person it’s an idea I want them to play with (see quote below). (Anyone else is welcome to play off of this, too if you really want – create a picture of you? you in warrior garb? a sketch? a puppet? finger paints? whatever inspires you when you read it, but that also represents you).

Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’
The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’

I’m going to shoot for the weekend of December 16th (which is also my beautiful niece’s birthday, and I will be mindful of that so it may  be Sunday the 17th).

Oh, and before I run off. This blog post also serves as the even earlier announcement for my upcoming reverse quinceañera in a year and a half – so, start thinking about your hoop skirted dresses, your perfect tiara, and of course your sari, because Bollywood style dance, y’all! (I feel the “y’all” really sets that sentence off. Wow, I think my Dallas is showing.) I already have a fabulous stylist I’ll be coordinating with (thank you, Mere!), and think Beth + hair extensions. I KNOW! FABULOUS! (That was the adjective you chose, right? RIGHT?!?!?! Again, HURTFUL!)

I look forward to seeing you guys there. Here’s to another decade with you amazing people. I’m looking forward to many more!

 

All I Want for Christmas

My birthday is somewhat of a hassle.  Don’t get me wrong, I have the best birthday ever, but nonetheless it’s a hassle.  You see, I was born on Christmas day.  Yes, THE day – not Christmas the week or Christmas the month or Christmas the year – Christmas day.  If there are other Christmas days that aren’t on the 25th, I’m unaware of them and I definitely wasn’t born on them. Several of you have heard this all before.  Hang in there.

The origin of the hassle comes from all of the negotiating and wrangling that occurs every year. Apparently other people see the day as more than just my birthday.  (People get funny ideas sometimes.)  Still, they’d like to be with their own families (or so they claim).  With my own family, growing up with divorced parents, I got to enjoy the hassle of the tug-of-war – who got me for Christmas birthday, who had me last year, could the day be split between the two and which grandparents would I get to slice the cranberry gelatinous congealed sludge worm with.  A battle that could be “lost” depending on the viewpoint of the parent. Should the parent who saw it as a win or lose thing in fact lose, dramatic sulking could ensue – always a special birthday treat.  Seeing friends on my actual birthday was out of the question. Once I went away to college I learned that neither parent really cared for Christmas (but they swear they like my birthday) so needless to say its become a little less troublesome (political?) over the years.

Lovey! (We’ll get to this part in a bit.)

That leaves my friends.

Each year we lay out the birthday/Christmas plan – something that gets my friends together before they head off to see their families. Something they hopefully see as a fun, if not a wholly silly, thing to do together.  From roller skating to pizza parties to David Sedaris to light strolls and always finishing with a little ABBA, we’ve done some fun things. (Even if we caused someone to quit their job by asking for silverware.)

This year I believe we’re singing.  We may be singing badly, but there will be singing. So that part is taken care of.  (This is kind of an early warning post to get everyone prepared. Do your “ne-hi-hos”.  No Jennifer, not “knee-high hos”.  For shame.)

Now to the question of presents.  I’m old.  I don’t need any presents.  I just need your presence.  See what I did there? I know, something every pastor has done every year, but I’m claiming it today.  This comes up every year, because people never truly believe that I don’t need them.

Well this year, for the first time, I’m asking for a present.  A special present.  The reason for this blog post kind of present. And with this request you’ll understand why I’m having to mention it early, this is going to take some preparation.

I want a musical number.  Yes, my friends.  I want you on a stage.  I want you singing.  I want choreography and I want the smoke machine.  (Please warm it up pre-dance number.  A “lessons learned” from the past.) You’ve got roughly 9 weeks to form a plan, rehearse and book a stage. Coordinating costumes and puppets are optional.  However, “Lovey” is not so someone better talk to Topping. There needs to be a Lovey cameo/dance bomb – like a photo bomb, but with choreography. (You could also purchase one of Lovey’s cousins for bonus points; he could also be in the production. Dream big!)  Please note regardless of crazy stuffed critters making an appearance: break out solos are welcome. Tap numbers are VERY welcome!  Encouraging me to join you guys briefly in my own cheetah print tap shoes.  WHOA!

That is all.  I look forward to singing with you guys and of course, my birthday present.  Now watch this video for inspiration.  No seriously, watch it:

Christmas Stalkings

I’ve been feeling left out.  It seems that everyone (and by everyone I mean all of my favorite bloggers) have had a Christmas story to share.  I do not.  Well, I take that back.  I do, but I was threatened by my family.  Fingers were wagged, serious voices in menacing tones were used and there were likely veiled threats which could have put my Christmas/Birthday loot at risk.  Hmph.  You win this time, family.  Then there’s the other story where I spent an entire day being quite rude and when asked politely what I did by some strangers, I may have said somewhat snidely (although, there’s no actual proof and character witnesses are notoriously unreliable), “What do you mean? I don’t do anything.  I’m an uninteresting person.  All I do is sit quietly and listen to people.” Then I folded my arms across my chest in defiant hope the attention would move to someone else. (Maybe not my finest moment, but I had worked myself into a full blown holiday snit with no hope of escape.  It’s a better story if you know all of the players anyway.)

Then a Philosophizing Mouse whispered in my ear that I did in fact have a Christmas story. (You may have your little birds, I prefer deep thinking navigational computer tools.  Hey, I don’t judge you.)  The mouse was right (as always), I do have a Christmas story.  One that will keep my Christmas/Birthday loot safe and one that doesn’t involve a tale of me growling for hours, (oh, “Home for the Holidays” how you get me) which makes it a “nice” story.

Jay and I were invited over for a Christmas Eve celebration involving food and games.  The only request our super enthusiastic hostess had was that we wear a Christmas outfit.  Well now, I don’t have a Christmas outfit.  When I confess this, it is suggested that I buy a shirt and draw a tree on it.  Oh my, I could do that, but… You see, I haven’t had a Christmas outfit (or even a shirt I’ve drawn a tree on) since I was a pre-teen. It was around that time that my eyes rolled into the back of my head only to remain forever stuck.  It’s especially pronounced when I’m confronted with the phrase “Christmas outfit”.  There are two things working against me when it comes to the whole idea of a Christmas outfit.  1) Christmas Day also happens to be my birthday and I’m a little weird about how much of my day I’m willing to share with Christmas, so we’ve drawn up a truce.  In that truce I’m fairly certain it states that I don’t have to wear a Christmas outfit.  2) I am not whimsical.  I am without whim.  Ask anyone who has ever asked me to do something silly.  I am pointedly against whimsy.  No whim here. Whim Free Zone! I am also shy.  Outfits, festive hats, etc. bring attention.  How perfectly mortifying for me.  And now you know why I took improv.  As they say, “I’m a work in progress.” One day, I may be whimsical, but not today.

Now the person asking for this outfit is someone who you don’t want to let down.  She LOVES Christmas!!!  Not even a mere “loves”.  No, it’s a LOVES!!  And that’s when I found myself at HEB (our local grocery store chain) on Christmas Eve heading to the Christmas aisle to see if there were any Christmas headbands.  You know the kind with antlers or a tree or maybe a snowman.  If all else failed, I could get a Santa hat and while the thought of wearing such a thing pained me beyond belief, I knew it would be greatly appreciated.  I marched through the store while a little pep talk played through my head.  “You can do it! Do it because it will make someone else happy and it won’t hurt you.  Go on now. Just one more aisle.”

I rounded the aisle passing a woman who was hopping on one foot with a single goal to… “Are you ok?”  The woman hopped away, “I twisted my ankle.” “Do you need help?” “No, I’m just working it out.” “You sure?” She hopped alongside me until we made it into the aisle. “I’m good.  This just happens.” After some convincing that she didn’t need help, I moved to where the headbands would be if the aisle hadn’t been devoured by shoppers who were clearly more on the ball than I, but I was still optimistic.  “Oh, would you look at how cute this is.”  My hopper had become more of a ginger limper and brought over a festive Christmas tray. “Adorable!” I turned back and refocused.  Surely, there were some antlers here.  I just wasn’t seeing them.  “Look at this!” I smiled politely to comment on her latest find.  She offered up that she was picking things up for her fellow teachers while I foolishly told her about my Christmas outfit mission.  The next thing I knew she’d limped to my side and was pulling things down.  “How about this? You can wear this ornament like a necklace.  The contrast would be great if you had a green shirt.  Do you have a green shirt?” No. “You should go to Hobby Lobby, get a green shirt and then…” She had a million suggestions. My eyes went wild as I imagined puffy paints, a Bedazzler with fake plastic jewels and then I pictured the glue gun mess and crafty thing carnage splattered across my table.  It was awful.  I tred not to audibly yelp.  I should mention I’m not crafty.  The right side of my brain is a tiny little nugget – a place where creativity leaps into an empty abyss. She continued to throw out suggestions, nuzzling in closer to my side and then my “fight or flight” reaction kicked in.  I politely thanked her and ran to the opposite side of the store. “Bad idea. Bad idea. Pick up things. Get out.” It was one of the few times I was thankful for HEB’s expansiveness.   With the distance I began to breathe more easily and felt pretty confident that with her bum ankle I’d never see her again.  How far could she reasonably hop? Cue the Psycho theme music, because as soon as I felt safe she’s on me again before I could even scream.  “I found you this shirt!”  It’s a holiday shirt. “Wow! Look at that. That’s not atrocious.” (She caught me off guard.  It was the nicest thing I could think to say that wasn’t, “OH MY GOODNESS!!! You again?!?! How did you… How could you… AHHH!!!”)

I escaped the store with a poinsettia in hand, looking over my shoulders as I made my way to the car, and I was hopeful this plant would be enough of a distraction that the hostess wouldn’t notice I wasn’t wearing a shirt that blinked or sparkled.  That night I even donned my favorite crimson sweater and threw on poinsettia earrings – a compromise.

No mention was made of the holiday outfit.  Whew.

The Near Birth of Greene Snottis

On Christmas Eve, the day before I entered this world, my mom was in a bar drinking, chain-smoking and watching a Cowboys game.  Warning labels hadn’t been gracing the packs of cigarettes for all that long and I hope that not a lot of information about fetal alcohol syndrome was known at the time; otherwise, I may have to give Mom the stink eye next time I visit her grave.

This was a time before people cared about your “Baby on Board” or about strapping your kid into a seat. (The laws were a little loose when it came to seatbelts.)  Miraculously, I managed to survive at least well enough to type and form mostly coherent thoughts.

The story I was told about the moments before I was born was that Mom believed she was suffering from a raging bout of indigestion brought on by a bad tuna sandwich.  The idea of contractions never really entered her mind. Yes, it’s nice to know that my mother heralded my birth by thinking it would be a great time to rummage through the medicine cabinet for Pepto.  I’m sure that for years after she still hoped Pepto would do the trick when it came to me; that’s what good children do for their parents and I was the best.   In fact, I’m also pretty sure in the last month that I was around Mom she said at least once, “you’re giving me a headache.” You’re welcome!

When Mom arrived at the hospital she made sure to get hopped-up immediately on the all the best medication – she was not a person to embrace natural childbirth or pain.  I’m sure she would have preferred to be comatose during the time it took to deliver me.  Come to think of it, the first thing she taught me before I could raise my head was how to hold my own bottle. You see, Mom was also not much of a baby person.  She loved me, but she didn’t see me as a living doll.  She wanted me to hurry up and grow-up so we could talk about movies and other things.  I was a mini pre-verbal friend who would take a frustratingly long amount of time to reach adulthoot.  There are pictures of her (and my) achievement where I’m maybe a month old tops and I’m holding my bottle. Needless to say, breastfeeding was out of the question.  While at the hospital, Mom was high on whatever they shot her up with, and at that moment she decided to try an order from an imaginary drive-thru explaining to Dad that he just needed to honk twice to get the carhops to come to the car.  Imagine her surprise when those carhops brought me – a loud baby girl.  According to Mom, I was in fact the loudest baby in the nursery.  WOO HOO!

Fortunately  for me  I was born a girl. You see, I was named after grandparents and the story goes that had I been a boy, my name would have been Greene Ottis (after my grandfathers, James Greene and Elvin Ottis).  Note the double “t’s” in “Ottis”– that means it’s pronounced a bit like “Otter “ or “Snot” rather than “Otis” your elevator – in fact, had I been named Greene Ottis, I’m confident that by the time I reached elementary school  I would have been known as “Greene Snottis”, because really how could you not go there.

Mom said it was a joke.  Dad claims he, at least, wasn’t kidding.  Bullet dodged.  And even though I’m not a huge fan of the name I was given, there is some amount of solace knowing at least it’s not Greene Snottis.

Birthdays

As I mentioned before, Kendra offered up the idea of writing posts about my various birthdays for the June Creativity Challenge and as I also mentioned in that same post,  I can’t remember them well thanks to the whole bundling of Christmas with my birthday.

Sure, there are a few that definitely stick out.  When I turned 10, my father threw a surprise party for me and about 5 minutes after everyone yelled surprise, you know the point where you’re kind of settled in and maybe the surprise-iness of the situation has worn off, my 6 year old cousin Kim burst out of the restroom yelling “surprise”.  She still gets teased.  Mental note: “Must jump out of the bathroom yelling “surprise” next time I see Kim.” That will be a surprise!   The only other surprise “party” came when I dropped by my parents sometime after college and found my roommate asleep along with a lovely homemade chocolate cake with crunched up peppermints on top waiting for me.  I think I got in trouble for being late.  Who knew?

Around 30, I completely came to terms with the fact that I would never see my friends on my actual birth day – something about them wanting to be with their own families blah blah blah, so I started throwing parties for myself.  I got this from Dad whose parties had become quite the event over the years.  (He was born on St. Patrick’s Day).

So every year, about a week before Christmas, my friends gather together and we roller skate, bowl, stroll, dine or go see a show– all fun, but mostly uneventful events – not worth an individual blog.  Sure, a few things have happened over the years. Like the time that gal broke her arm at the skating rink and we didn’t go with her to the hospital opting for ice cream instead.  (Hey, that’s what her husband was there for – why ruin a perfectly good celebration by moping about in an ER?  Hello! She’d want us to trooper on without her.)  There was the time I groped my friend April’s boob accidentally thinking Jay was behind me – that’s the story  I’m sticking to, at least.  Then there was the time I dramatically burst into tears because I was so touched and overwhelmed by a gift. (Mortifying!  People don’t describe me as “stoic” because of my emotional outbursts. My image tarnished thanks to an unexpected shadow box.)  Really, there’s truly nothing like sobbing through an explanation of why a gift meant  so much in an  incomprehensible voice and punctuating each sentence with a sad, red, drippy gross face.  Thankfully Anna  took charge of all gifts at that point grilling the giver before handing it to me with, “is this going to make Beth cry?!?!!”

The only other birthday of note would have to be this last year when our waitress quit mid-service for no apparent reason unless you count my asking for silverware. (You can read about it here)  Craziest thing ever.

This year I’m thinking karaoke or maybe something to do with improv (like for example, I’d like The Knuckleball Now to perform at my birthday – just saying – I mean if you were looking for ideas and wanted to get a head start on saving.)

And this year, like every year, we’ll end it with a little “Dancing Queen”.

BBM: The Christmas Edition or How I’ll Miss My Aunt Philis

Well, the most notable thing to happen this holiday season is I had to disown my aunt. I feel really sad about it since she’s the last of my grandmother’s children, the last solid connection to my Mom, but it had to be done. I’m going to miss her. She’s a great aunt – one of those who is very sweet and funny – a joy to be around type – the rock of the family; you’d like her.

Of course, I fully appreciate that this act is going to leave me in a bit of an aunt bind, so I’m going to be auditioning for a new aunt.

What I’m looking for is someone in their mid-60’s, about 5’2″ with a big smile who can put on puppet shows or maybe one act plays for birthdays – none of this singing. Who wouldn’t agree that a birthday party wouldn’t be 100 times more entertaining if the guests spontaneously burst out into a puppet show? (One of those well-rehearsed, everyone-knows-their-lines performances where the guests are holding professionally made/visually engaging puppets that require at least three handlers to manipulate – think the Lion King stage production of birthdays. Picture it, your guests dressed in black, as to not be distracting, and suddenly they spring up in unison and they’re manipulating large puppets telling a birthday story. How is this not the greatest birthday idea ever?) I’m sorry, but if you’re one of those singing aunts, you’ll have to shop for another family. If you’re the type that suddenly feels the urge to stand up in a crowd and lead choral lemmings in a round of “Happy Birthday,” then I’m sure you’ll find work elsewhere. I hear some restaurants are very big on eager birthday singers and you might even land at one where you get to bang things or whoop. Who doesn’t like whooping? You’re probably a good little whooper!

If you know of any out-of-work aunts looking for an aunt gig who have any puppeteering talent, please send them my way.

(Note: Inside joke – I’m actually not giving up my aunt for the holidays. Well… not yet. There are still a few more days until Christmas and my actual birthday.)

Update for Charla

Since my step-mom uses this blog as an update on what’s going on (or what I’m thinking about) and I’ve been really bad about posting lately, I thought I’d update her. My apologies to the rest of you who probably are a couple of seconds from yawning if you go much past this sentence.

Sam – A few weeks ago she had a set-back. The right side of her face became paralyzed (previously it was her left side). Fortunately, since we’d been through this on her left side with visits to the neorologist, cat scans, spinal taps – all that kind of fun, we got her to the vet immediately and the recovery has gone a lot faster. Sam still can’t blink with either eye. So poor Sam, four times a day we try to convince her that sitting patiently while we smear goop in her eyes is fun. Of course, the peanut butter covered pills help. Although, she’d prefer those to the eye full of goop. Sam’s left eye now blinks more regularly, but it’s not consistent. Despite all of this and the added trouble of the cats popping her every time she looks at them wrong, Sam is one of the happiest and goofiest little dogs around.

Bowling – April is the last month of bowling and I plan on ending as the worst bowler of the year. WOO HOOO! You see, we get a ranking list once a week and there’s my name right there towards the bottom. “Suckiest Bowler in the History of Our League: Beth”. The handout used to include a “Least Improved” listing, but someone thought that was a little mean and they removed it. Still, I know in my heart that my name is there in the software.

Work Stuffs – I’m in the process of working towards a CAPM certification and should have it by the middle of the summer. This is the first step to me eventually getting a PMP certification (I just need the hours). Basically, I’ll be an authority on acronyms and will have a lovely piece of heavy paper with my legal name on it (yippee). I’m hopeful it will also include one of those little gold embossed thingies to make it look all official like.

OtherStuffs

  • Anna lost a bet and will be treating me to a fun-filled vacation day in the next couple of months. YAY!
  • It’s still not too late to get your Dragon Con tickets (Aug. 28-Sep. 1) for my 40 1/2 birthday. Guests are signing up and so far it looks like a decent BSG turn-out. I’ll be the one cheering madly in the front.
  • Lance’s Band the Killer Crocs of Uganda is performing at Momo’s on April 5, 11pm
  • Colt, April & Jonathan celebrate their birthdays in April. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (Now I don’t owe you cards.)
  • I still need people to come help me design a garden and give me lawn advice!!! HELP ME PLEASE! (I’m not kidding.)
  • …and I’m plum out of updates