A Thanks and A Welcome!

A Thank You

As you know, the Out of the Darkness Walk has received a lot of my attention lately. With Jay never far from my mind (I still say “hey” everyday; I still update him on the big things) this walk was important to me.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I received a great deal of support starting with the people who volunteered to those who made donations, and of course there were so many wonderful messages.

That brings me to “The Thanks.”  In addition to showing gratitude for that overwhelming support, I want to offer up thanks to someone who has been a huge supporter of this Blog. I think of her as “my one reader whom I haven’t had to to cajole, bribe, or threaten not to show up at a family event” in order to get them to read my writing. This may speak to her questionable taste, limited reading choices, or possibly a mental condition that is really quite rude to point out in public, so you know, cup your hand over your mouths and avert your eyes, please. Who are we to judge? It also may speak to pity. I’m good with pity driving people to these pages. “Bless Beth’s heart, she does try. The least we can do is bear witness to this… this… well, you know… bless her heart, as I was saying.”

This woman is the writer behind the blog Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, and it’s truly my favorite blog. I’ve been reading her stories for several years, beginning with a wonderful piece describing the joys of the jury duty selection process – written as a metaphor. My brain took a moment to adjust to this new brightly worded light, then, as I recall, I’m pretty sure it said “whee” and proceeded to cartwheel about enthusiastically. With her writing, she masterfully creates art – reframing the ordinary in a way that transforms it into something new and extraordinary – as if you’re seeing it (whatever she’s describing) for the very first time. Her stories are told from various perspectives – from that of a tree, a bird, a painting, or even a wooden lizard. However, my personal favorite are those told by RC Cat of the Realm (the Resident Cat (RC)) – a majestic Maine Coon who bemusedly patiently suffers watches over the bumbling dotards his adoring staff since clearly they are in need of supervision.

At the end of each RC entry we, as readers, are invited to bow down graciously, leave a can of tuna at the door, and hope for a cheek pat of recognition. You never want to leave without paying proper homage to both RC or this author.

This past week she honored both Jay and myself by including the Big Blue Mess in one of her own pieces – a piece titled Between. It was absolutely beautiful, and it touched me deeply that she would honor me in such a way. When you have a moment, I ask that you go and read it – that you introduce yourself to her world.

On Saturday, she and Molly the Malamute went for their own walk in their own hometown and sent their positive energy into the world to help those who struggles with depression and mental illness. On Saturday, while in the “Between,” I stood at my window and watched those good thoughts swirl across the sky, looking for those who needed the love and courage.

Thank you, Phil! Thank you for the soft cheek pats that are your words.

A Welcome

Please welcome my new Editor-in-Chief, David! I’m leaving his last name off and allowing him to decide whether he’d like to add that in – hey, he does have those editorial privileges now, and we’ll let him decide whether he wants you to stalk him across the web. David is an English professor in Japan and has kindly (possibly “foolishly”) offered to help clean the mess that is my writing in this Big Blue muddled Mess.

David is also a long time friend – one who helped me find my tribe oh so many years ago in high school. He helped learn to proudly embrace the things I still love and enjoy to this day. I wouldn’t quite be the me you know without this person.

Thank you, David for taking on this thankless task.

(Also, David hasn’t proofread this yet.)

[Editorial Comments: Hi, everybody! Thanks for the intro, Beth, and also for a post that, at least on first read-through, didn’t need any editing whatsoever! Go you! But I’ll add that I’m David Farnell, a name that might be familiar to a few whose friendships with Beth go all the way back to high school. Beth found me again on Facebook a few years ago, despite my move to the far side of the world, and it’s been great being back in contact with her. Now, I shall go back to being invisible.]

What’s Next

Well, I’ve taken a few trips since the last time I really sat down to spin you a tale. I enjoyed a few more adventures, and I’m currently planning a Reverse Quinceañera/Bollywood birthday party (what do you mean it’s only four and a half weeks away?!?!?!). This can only mean one thing – more stories! So throw on your prom dress, your tiara, your chanclas, then grab a margarita and sit back.

I leave you with a song that’s been in my head since the cruise, re-appeared at Saturday’s walk, and just got added to my birthday party playlist. Stand up and dance with me!

A Big Blue Mess 2014 Video Recap

Here’s a photo/video recap of my various shenanigans over 2014.

Huge thanks to Bruce Thiesen at Ram On for the inspiration and encouragement. (In other words, he’s the guy to blame since I would never have had the idea to create a recap video on my own.  In fact, go to his blog to point fingers at him and then stay to read a few posts.)

Another huge thanks to the cast and crew (aka friends and family) who put up with my goofiness and help make each day an adventure.  You guys are the best   I sometimes share that with other people, too even when you’re not listening.

Also, before I wander away, I need a favor – a promise of sorts: Whatever you do, please don’t let Richard or Topping know that I finally opened up my video editing software and actually spent some time trying not to be overwhelmed by it.  They might get ideas.

Finally, Happy New Year, Y’all! I look forward to more adventures with you in 2015!

Shoutout: WordPress Gurus & Friends

Friends – we had an exciting week on this blog, well ok “exciting” doesn’t quite describe it. It was more “eh, ok”, but let’s pretend for me that it was exciting.  We (the royal version who is not particularly regal) learned two things: 1) I can set posts to private without driving the blog completely underground (yay) and 2) that while I can set posts to private, I cannot fix it so you can see them.  That means, if you signed up for the private version of BBM, WordPress converted you to “Followers” when I made the blog public again.  As “Followers” (as opposed to lowercase followers without quotes, which isn’t what you are, you guys are special) you just get an email when I post – like you just did to receive this.  You’ve gone years without having to receive an alert, so you won’t hurt my feelings if you go to the bottom of the email and hit “unsubscribe”.  You know our favorite shared social media source will alert you or that RSS feed you were already using.  No need for me to spam you.

WordPress.com Gurus – is there any way to share a private post without converting people to Admins on my site?  Now that I’m a bullhorn to the universe and that horn will be blown quite loudly, I need a solution.  That’s assuming people still want that same sarcastic content they’ve come to love.  Until that time, this site is officially rated G and will only include stories about cuddles and bunnies and isn’t that Jay Leno a hoot.  I love talking about those so much that it makes me want to skip around my yard while carrying a little basket. OR without a solution it could go a different direction – somewhere between R and toxic to make it so unpalatable that it becomes unreadable.  That’s where I’d offend all of my favorite readers and that’s not really what I want to do.  You’re clever folks, any suggestions?  I need your help.  Ideally I’d like to create a group who get special content. (By “special” I mean you know as special as I can make it – ummm… I could get you all shirts, too?  BBM swag? A free round of Mexican martinis? A signed photo of Sam?)

A final question: Would moving it to WordPress.Org give me any more control?

7×7

Jacqueline over at Mature Student Hanging in There (or maturestudenthanginginthere) was kind enough to award me the 7×7 Award earlier in the week.  Jacqueline is one of those who make bold claims like:  white powdery stuff falls from the sky and collects on the roads, rooftops and sidewalks (I still suspect this is a myth since this past week we’ve had highs in the 80’s (26’s if you’re one of those Celsius cultists) and we all know the weather is the same everywhere and that the Earth is flat and carried on the back four elephants atop the giant star turtle Great A’Tuin.

Ok, so I don’t believe the world is actually flat, but I’m spot-on about the turtle.

Thanks to Jacqueline, I’ve learned about Scottish traditions – most recently Burns Night.  Of course, the fact that I didn’t know this prior to a few weeks ago earned the great disdain of one of my British co-workers.  Once I recognized his face was collapsing in from the complete horror that I had not heard of this, I reminded him that he’d used a certain word in the past to describe Americans and their ignorance of other cultures.  He started throwing out possible words.  “Was it xenophobic? Isolationist? Ignorant? Provincial?”  I smiled as he spoke each new word, and declared that it wasn’t the correct one just so he’d throw out more.  Exasperated, he finally threw in the towel and explained more about Burns Night.

Now, my understanding of the award is the recipient is supposed to name 7 posts that I like and then pass on the award to 7 fellow bloggers.  Well, here’s where I need to confess that I’m terrible about reading multiple blogs, many that I do read have won the 7×7 award and I’m terrible about passing on awards.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the blogs or their authors; I’m just the perfect storm of shy and lazy.

So, I’ll cheat a bit and list a few of the blogs I enjoy (they in no way represent all the blogs I enjoy and are not all the blogs I think deserve recognition):

I love stories and I deeply admire people who can tell them well.  My epitaph will doubtlessly read, “tell me a story” since this is a common plea.  A few of the blogs I can always count on for their writing, their wit and a great turn of phrase are:

Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

All Write written under my new favorite pseudonym Harper Faulkner. Complete aside: I feel there really should be an actual author sporting this name.  Faulkners, I’m looking at you.

Kana’s Chronicles, formerly Kana’s Notebook

Anna’s Family Blog – which isn’t the name and I can’t link to it, but trust me there are a lot of funny stories being told there.

I’ve added a lot of these stories into my personal story repertoire so I’m always well prepared when challenged to, “tell me a story.”  Most of my friends are now familiar with these author’s names, their personal tales and my friends enjoy hearing the latest stories.  (Left on my own, I’d just retell the stories they’d already heard many times before and be greeted with great groans that said, “please, not the time you freaked out in sketch writing class again.”)  Plus, these stories are fresh and not the typical Happy Hour gossip, “well and then do you know what she did next? I know!!!! And there was a chinchilla in the room. NO!”  (As we all know, chinchillas are possibly the cutest animal ever and when people are up to things they shouldn’t be it should never be in sight of an innocent chinchilla.  Note: no chinchillas were actually in any rooms they shouldn’t have been that I’m aware of) (Yes, I am ending that sentence in a preposition – flying in the face of all good grammar, because I don’t feel like writing “of which I am aware.”  I’m a rebel.)

A blog I discovered through All Write that I’m enjoying (and Seth, I think you might as well if only for the photography; the author is married to a photojournalist) is:

The Art of an Improbable Life

I guess I’ve now made this award a 5×7, which is a nice size for a photograph.

As for my 7 blog entries, I had a tough time.  I’ve had this blog since 2006 and have close to 500 posts.  It’s hard for me to remember what I wrote and harder still to pick out a favorite so I relied on the help of friends and included several of their suggestions.  I’m only naming 6 right now, since I told my friend DeAnne that she’d have time to think about it post some fun oral surgery.  (Lucky girl, send her good healing vibes.) So, in no particular order:

  1. Some Kind of Woman – I wrote this the night after my mother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 65.  I was sitting across from my Mom chatting when it happened; it’s a moment that haunts me as I stand perpetually at that door watching the events of the day repeat. I never intended for this to be read at her funeral; however, my aunt asked if she could.  It’s the only piece that has ever been presented to a large audience.  Hrmm… probably says a lot about my writing.
  2. I Hate Houston – this is a very inside joke between me and another friend, although I am proud to claim that at one point it was among the top 3 searches if you Googled “I Hate Houston”.  Sadly, it’s slipping in the ratings.  Anyway, it’s my most read blog piece.  Oh, and for the record, I’m just indifferent to Houston.
  3. Hey, Don’t I Know You – where I make fun of reincarnation
  4. A Drought Jingle – I still want a jingle.  Just the other day it sprinkled a bit and a cheery newscaster posed the question, “will this be enough rain to pull us out of the drought?”  We need 20+ inches of rain and his question made me want to stomp down to the station and kick him in the balls while responding, “this rain won’t be enough, but maybe your tears will be!”  Needless to say, I’m still mad about the drought.  But hey, only 9 more years to go!! JAZZ HANDS!
  5. (Reserved for DeAnne)

Thanks to all you folks you regularly slog through my writing.  I appreciate all of you.

No Ads in 2012!

Yesterday, I learned something exciting and fun – that there are ads attached to my blog.  Who knew?  Well, apparently some of you did.  You’d think I’d know this, too since it is my blog, but I had no clue.  You see, when I view my blog it’s completely clean and ad free.  So, huge apologies if you thought I was promoting brie filled crescent rolls yesterday.  That certainly sounds lovely, but I’m more a sausage wrap kind of person.  Those who know me should have immediately noticed and said, “Brie.  Brie? That’s so uptown. Beth is more an Easy Cheese girl, this can’t possibly be her doing.”  (Thank you Jerry for recognizing that I’m really  more Kraft Singles (blech) than Brie.)

My goal is to have those removed in 2012 or, in other words, on payday.  Yes, Christmas shopping is preventing me from providing you with much needed ad relief.  Darn that Christmas!  In the meantime, enjoy some brie filled croissants!

My croissant-free view (left). Your delicious pastry-filled view (right).

Blog “Wisdom”

It seems like every time I find a new blog, I also find another author dispensing advice on how to write.  It makes me feel like I’ve really let you guys down by not sharing my own bits of writing wisdom.  Yet, I applaud you all for continuing to persevere without my keen insights.  Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my very own list that you could learn from and use to grow into better writers.  As the self-proclaimed Queen of run-on-sentences and comma splice errors, I feel like I’m clearly the authority on this subject.  I’m also the Queen of Sarcasm, I feel I need to spell that out since sarcasm isn’t always easy to express in writing and I don’t want you to have read the first few sentences and thought, “wow, she’s really pompous”.  I mean, I am actually pompous, but in this case I’m just being sarcastic since I can’t offer you any actual wisdom on this subject.   I will make this promise to you, though – I won’t tell you about the proper use of “their, they’re, and there” or “your, you’re”, because I figure if you flub that, you typo-ed and everyone makes typos – in my case, blame Jay for failing at his editing duties.

  1. Write with your audience in mind.  Your audience may be your Aunt Gladys.  Write to please her.   In my case, my audience is anyone who knew me before and during college.  This includes a large chunk of family and friends.  It’s where I tell anecdotes (sometimes theirs), since this is what they like to hear in person.  I’m an exaggerator.  I add meaning to insignificant events for the sake of a better story. Anyone else who chooses to read my blog is just a happy bonus.  I tend to avoid politics and religion, because that’s not the purpose of this blog and my mother taught me that there were certain conversational taboos. I’m also quite rabid in my beliefs (especially politics) and you don’t really want to read some crazy rant that would be high on vitriol and low on humor.  The only time I will venture there is if I bump into a politician or something interesting happens in a church.  Like the time at Anna’s wedding where Anna (or maybe her husband Jonathan) said, “I do” and Anna’s priest responded with something along the lines of, “if you say so.”  That response made those vows memorable and caused a ripple of snickers throughout the church.  See, a church anecdote is born!
  2. If your goal is to be a writer, then practice writing at least 30 minutes every day at the same time of day whether you publish it or not.  I cheat, since my blogs are written in the same style that I would write a letter so I spend 30 minutes a day writing letters.  I need to follow my own advice, though.
  3. If you want your audience to be chubby middle-aged women who knows way too much about geek culture, just leave a comment and I’m sure I can think of more specific advice on how to draw-in more readers like me – God help you.

I’m assuming that most bloggers are hoping to get a small amount of popularity, because we all get a thrill when someone aside from Aunt Gladys finds us and are willing to follow us along our written journeys.  We write for our own purpose and  hope for some connection as proof that we’re not alone in our thoughts.  I guess, for me, I don’t want some homogenized blog reading experience and I sometimes feel that I’m alone when I read “Do’s & Don’ts of Writing Your Blog”; it seems like others want a more uniform experience.  I enjoy the blogs I read because they’re different – each person telling their own story in their own specific way.  If everyone told their story in the same way, what a boring place the blogosphere would be.  So, that’s why my advice is basically: write for the people you want to attract to your blog and write every day – don’t worry about everyone else unless you really do want to be the next Dooce or 1000 Awesome Things or The Blogess and in that case read every Do and Don’t you can get your hands on and get fired from your job for writing satirical pieces about your co-workers and have the national media cover it (seems extreme, but I have faith in you if you’re truly committed to your dream).

Aside: I now get to mark this off as my writing task for the day. Woo hoo!  Yes, I used you all for my own personal growth.  You’re welcome.  Errr I mean, I dispensed wisdom.  That’s it.

Aw Shucks!

Jacqueline from Mature Student Hanging In There kindly awarded me with the Kreativ Blogger Award. Jacqueline lives in the highlands of Scotland where I understand it gets to be very cold – the kind of cold that would instantly kill a Texan. She’s also a proud mom, a non-traditional student, a caregiver, a puddle jumper and one of Santa’s jolliest elves. You should take a moment to check-out her blog.

This is a pay-it-forward award and rules state:
For this award, I have to share 10 things that you may not know about me (lucky you). Then I have to pass the award on to at least six other bloggers.
I shared 12 things about me, because I can and I really wanted to add a music video at the end.

As for my six+, I’m going to cheat a bit and point to my blog log – like Miss Staten Island of My Old NY. All of these people deserve recognition for the blogs they write. I enjoy each of them for a variety of reasons. If I named them individually (like Miss Staten Island of My Old NY ) then someone might get the idea that I loved one more than the other (or were being pushy again about someone posting) and you should all know, I love you all just the same (at least when I’m talking about you in an open forum. 😉 The ones that buy me presents, I actually do love more – like Thistlecloud). There’s only one I would add, which is not on that list, and that is my friend Anna’s blog. I’m not allowed to link to it. 😦 I know. It’s very sad. You would enjoy it, too. It’s very funny. (I’m suddenly Hemingway.) Thanks for depriving the world of your funny, Anna.

10 Things About Myself

  1. I was born on Christmas Day.
  2. I’m often asked “do you mean THE day” – yes, there is in fact only one Christmas Day that I’m aware of, but you may have two – if you do, that’s ok, I was born on the one that gets all the recognition on the calendar.
  3. I played viola through college and received a small music scholarship and I’ve played professionally.
  4. In the last orchestra I was in, I spent most of the time wanting to beat up a particularly obnoxious flautist. If I described her to you in detail you would, too. Since I can’t handle the tremendous responsibility of unleashing a mob on a helplessly annoying flute player, I’ll refrain from continuing the story. However, please feel free to send her a psychic “stink-eye” on my behalf.
  5. Most people outside orchestra aren’t aware of this fact:  the viola is the most beautiful instrument in the orchestra.
  6. I was 18 before I ever crossed the Texas state line.
  7. When I’m in Texas, I do not have an accent – you do. We’ll renegotiate the next time I’m outside of the state.
  8. I used to hold a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do before I was hospitalized for an unrelated injury that took me out of that sport. I’m 100% confident you could beat me up, but let me say it only takes 10 lbs. of pressure applied to the right spot for a person to permanently wreck your day. I happen to weigh more than 10 lbs.
  9. I struggle with writing. I’ve never been a “verbal” person and prefer gesturing and grunting as a way to communicate. (My friend Anna is the only one person who can translate this with any accuracy. We’ve held many serious conversations where no actual words were spoken.) Where my cousin spoke at an early age, I tended to walk up to things (like people who talked too much) and hit them – who can stand sassy talking types with their clever little words? Seriously, I do blog to work on my writing skills so I don’t devolve into a ragged creature that scrambles around on the floor and scurries off to hide in dark places.
  10. My all time favorite movie is Sex, Lies & Videotape.  What can I say? It really speaks to me.
  11. (because I can) My friends are all scarily brilliant people who keep me around for their amusement. They don’t think that I’m aware of this because of my excessive drooling.
  12. Finally –  I’m going through a huge Mumford & Sons craze. Enjoy! (New album in 2012!)