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.


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.


  • 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

Birthday: The Models

Shadow Box
Originally uploaded by Beth Doughty

Those at my birthday may have noticed the picture below didn’t have the shadow box. This deserves special mention especially since one of us might have had a mini-meltdown at the birthday party over it.

You see, I have a rare phobia involving model robots in small spaces….
No wait… I’ll start at the beginning. A small story for my friends/family who were at my birthday since I couldn’t choke it out.

When my mother was growing up in the 40’s they lived in a big house with their grandmother, aunt, uncle and her cousin Philip. Mom & Philip did everything together so it was only natural that when Philip and his dad got together for model building that Mom would join them. Well, Uncle Phil explained to a young Mom that girls didn’t build models, which was a lot like saying “as soon as you’re on your own kid, you’re going to build as many models as you can get your hands on” and after being deeply offended that’s what she set about doing.

Mom has built all sorts of ships, shuttle craft and when the Star Wars phenomenon hit the 70’s she grabbed up these models – putting in more work than was called for on C3PO and possibly R2, but that’s actually not the original R2 that she put together – he disappeared – and somewhere in the 90’s we went on a mission to find a duplicate kit. These were the models I took with me for show-and-tell; the envy of all my classmates at the time. In fact, for that one day I was popular – everyone wanted to play with them. (Not that I was old enough in the 70’s to take them anywhere, mind you.) These are the models that always stood on her shelves even when she started to loose everything and had to drastically reduce what she owned to what she could fit into a single bedroom. I would say that of all the models my Mom built, and there were many impressive ones, these meant the most to her.

My cousin Kim used them in part of the display at the funeral to remind people of who Mom was and I remember Kim saying she wanted to do something special with them and I completely forgot about them.

Then my TWENTIETH birthday party came along and I’m pulling out gifts, working my way to opening my “Box o’ Beth” and get to this. Kim had placed Mom’s models in a shadow box, lit up the back with stars and there R2 and 3PO stood before me on the sands of Tattooine.

Kim, I will never be able to express how much this gift meant to me – how incredibly thoughtful – how deeply it touched me. Thank you!

Birthday Loot

Originally uploaded by Beth Doughty

My grandmother was a firm believer that you didn’t go around bragging about your gifts. The kid next door might have only gotten handpainted rocks and a Chia Pet compared to your Solid Gold album featuring Dionne Warwick (well, not mine because that would make me VERY old and I just turned 20 – who was Shawn Cassidy? I have no clue, I never had a poster. *cough*) Of course, my grandmother also had some crazed notions about how girls wouldn’t date if they showed the slightest signs of intelligence either, so I take what my grandmother taught me with a huge grain of salt. In other words, I’m about to brag.

That there, that there up above, that’s a sample – something I’d like to call the best birthday presents ever. What you’re looking at represents poems, pictures, CDs, comics, haikus, original drawings, original stories, food and a fresh wreath of pine – all of it from my friends and family for my TWENTIETH birthday.

By far, I have the best friends and family a person could ask for and since I have this blahg, I have to brag on them. This was one of those occasions that I will never be able to properly express how grateful I am for all of them.

Thanks guys, for giving me so much of yourselves for my birthday. It was by far the best birthday EVAH!

A Meaningful Question

In college, everyone had “that” professor – the one person who did more than most to introduce them to a new world view, shape their ideas, get them excited and inspired about education. I was lucky in that I had three: Dr. Louis H. Mackey, who taught me a little about Ethics, Dr. Michael Adams who tried to teach me Advanced Expository Writing (blame him – he’s the one who passed me) and Dr. Richard C. C. Kim who got me so excited about Political Science that I thought I should make it my major. Little did I know that what he taught me had more to do with philosophy than politics.

I took every class that Dr. Kim taught, sitting at his feet in my mind trying to absorb everything he said. I wasn’t Dr. Kim’s best student by far, but that didn’t stop me from eagerly anticipating each class in a vain attempt to will myself to be more like Dr. Kim. He was one of “those” professors – the one other students warned you not to take, but you knew better than to heed their warnings. With his offbeat teaching style and radical views, he was a far cry above the professors who merely wanted you to “read chapter 3 and answer the questions at the end of the section.” In fact, most of my core beliefs about politics and political philosophy come from this man and his out of print book “Kimbrations: Reflections of a Philistine”.

We students spent a lot of time in “Plato’s Cave” (a room filled with articles and books set aside by Dr. Kim to study politics and philosophy) looking for truths and looking for meaningful questions. To Dr. Kim, a meaningful question was not “how are you doing?” (He would argue that the person who asked had no actual interest in how you were actually doing, he just wanted to hear the word “fine” so he could shuffle down the hall and be done with the social obligation.) In fact, if you made the mistake and asked Dr. Kim how he was doing, he would tell you exactly how he was doing, which was always a bit startling because it was never “fine” or “well”. Dr. Kim’s example of a bad question would be, “what color is my underwear?” He would state (and I hope I’m doing this justice after 20 years) that because it was a very answerable question, it was not worthy of being asked. The kinds of questions he was looking for took some thought. Those were good questions; the kind that forced you to think.

What this all is leading to is my birthday and the present that I want from my friends/family. Since it’s a 0 birthday, I’m allowed to do something a little different. I want to ask my friends and family a few questions that they answer and give to me as a birthday present, but I’m stumbling because I can’t think of truly “good” questions. I want something beyond those e-mail chains of “What is your favorite color?” “What is your favorite movie?” or “What color is your underwear?” – while they are arguably interesting (depending on whose asking) they don’t really tell me much about you. I want to know you.

So, I’m asking you as my readers. What is a good question to you? (Seth? Tony? Lori? Pam?) – something Dr. Kim or the metaphoric blind man, Johnny Alameda, that Dr. Kim invoked in many a class, would see as good.