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!

 

UN!! Or How the Great Leader Ruined my Birthday

I don’t have anything new or interesting to offer regarding the pulling of The Interview, but that’s not stopping me from typing words.  That’s right, if Michael Moore can say something funny about it, then I certainly can type a long winded blog piece that rambles a bit then ends abruptly.  That’s how I roll. My words carry weight – like air.  Is that a bad analogy?

See, I was actually one of those people who did plan to see it on Christmas Day, which is my birthday, but a certain hypersensitive great leader made it so that wasn’t possible.

I confess, I’m kind of a Kim Jong Un nut.  Some people form cults around Benedict Cumberbatch, I happen to follow sanitized news about Un quite religiously.  If he makes the news on a Monday, then I’m kvetching about it… on a Monday, because see I just read it and I’m on top of it. I was excited when he recently disappeared from the media for a good month, I had the highest hopes for a coup – fingers crossed and all that someone in his regime said, “hey, we’re the darkest spot on the globe and our so-called “great” leader is batshit crazy.”  My disdain comes from the human rights abuses, the multi-generational hard labor camps (North Korean holiday retreats for the entire family) established for those moments when you (or a distant relative in your family) offend the Kim’s, and the outrageous threats against South Korea and the rest of the world.  I can’t tell you what a complete let down it was for me when he re-emerged with a cane and started pointing at things again for the press. He’s got mad pointing skills.  Are there worse out there who are more deserving of my ire? Absolutely, but Un is the one on my radar.

He got there some time after he fired some rockets into the Sea of Japan, then fired some more missiles close to the South Korean border, “purged” his uncle (not by starving dogs) and then later executed (not him personally, of course) his girlfriend and her band for “pornography”, closed access to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and held his breath and blustered some incendiary threats.  Yes, Un is on my radar and more importantly on my nerves.  He’s a pudgy humorless sociopath with nuclear capability.  It’s well-documented (ie. I’m writing it here) that I don’t care for sociopaths with nuclear capabilities (that actually goes for the slender funny ones, too).  They tend to get unstable and button-pushy and when they get like that, they work my nerves (and countless innocent civilians end up dying).

We won’t talk about Rodman.

So, when I heard of The Interview some months ago, I didn’t care that it was Seth Rogen and James Franco (whom I may love more in Freaks and Geeks) – it could have been anyone and I’d reserve my seats.  And the truth is, deep down I know Seth Rogen and James Franco can make me laugh even if those laughs are cheap.  I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a simple soul. When Sony announced it would release on my birthday, it was like Christmas had come early. (See what I did there? I was born on Christmas.  Get it? I’m so alone. 😦 ) In other words, it was a big win

Of course, once they got wind of it N. Korea held its breath, stomped a lot and issued threats, which actually ensured the success of the movie. Unfortunately they finally “got real” and well, you all know the rest.

Here are my thoughts on that:

  • No, it’s not the world’s greatest marketing campaign and no, we saps are not all being duped by Sony.  As much as I love a great conspiracy story, I’m pretty sure (call me naive) Homeland Security, the FBI and President Obama do not care about how well this movie does for Sony. There aren’t kickbacks to the administration.  The FBI’s cyber-terrorism unit likely has better things to do than get a fix in for a movie studio.  And let’s be honest, there are stronger movies for them to get behind.
  • Yes, it is great publicity for the movie.  While I would see it minus the whole circus, I recognize two things about myself: 1) I have no natural sense of taste, and 2) I’m kind of alone in my love for Seth Rogen and James Franco.  Now, if it is released, the movie is going to do gangbusters (that’s really really well), because people who would never have seen it, will go. Way to market one for us, Un! Solid job, mate!
  • While I agree Sony completely caved, so did the theater chains like Regal, Cinemark, AMC, and Carmike even after Homeland Security said they had no credible intelligence that there would be any attacks on theater chains.  Granted, I get the theaters don’t want to take the risk when it comes to their theater goers and likely their staff, but come on… Couldn’t we send some National Guardsmen in to see a free movie and in turn take care of any would-be psychotic Un fans?
  • Note to Sony:  as one person said on NPR, when you write an email think “how would that look as a headline in the New York Times”?  It’s a simple rule of thumb – use it.  Yes, you do look like asses. Yes, they did get about 10 terabytes of your data, which is a ton of data, and will lead to nowhere good. And yes, the malware is destroying your systems – also bad, but hey the damage is done.  Your pants have already dropped.  The one way you can make it worse (depending on what else is in that 10 terabytes) is capitulating.  I don’t say that because I have waited to see the movie for six months… no wait, that’s exactly why I said it. My bad!
  • Paramount… thought I didn’t see you over there.  Really, you can’t re-release Team America: World Police? Way to stand up! No wait, I mean that opposite thing for “standing up” – I think that’s “roll over”.

In the end, I guess we’ll end up seeing The Imitation Game for my birthday – another bit of  holiday hilarity that will end with the suicide of Alan Turing – a fun, light-hearted holiday romp for my birthday – just what I was hoping for.

Thanks for ruining my birthday, Un.

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.

Where’s My Christmas Card?

You’re not getting one. Sorry.

The truth of the matter is that I went card shopping this year and bought the most amazing and unique couple of boxes of Christmas cards. They were COOL! You would have loved one. I would have even written: “Merry Christmas!” and depending on how well I knew you, I’d throw in a “Love, Beth & ” (the other part is left blank for Jay to sign; I refuse to sign another person’s name – it’s like forgery – Christmas wish forgery and I want no part of it).

Last Friday, I went to free them and bring them to work; they had incubated a couple of weeks in that bag so they could become fully developed and lovely cards. I even remembered how they were black and white velvet with possibly some cutesy little animal on them. I was WRONG! Lurking inside the shopping bag were the most gawd awful attempt at artistic masturbation using a ruler and every single rejected color a color palette could belch up – muted purples, greys, browns and this sickening yellow. There was a tiny elk slapped in the middle and in the lower right corner a freakish looking wren. I re-opened the bag looking for the black & white velvet cards, but no luck.

Sure, I vaguely remember buying these, but they were much cooler and I distinctly don’t recall shooting up before I went shopping, which I obviously did. I had to scramble into the Christmas closet to find something acceptable for work and thankfully produced cards that were more “me”.

Now these hideous little things sit on the kitchen counter winking at me, knowing I’m too frugal to just pitch the little bastards into the trash (Goodwill!).

So, for those of you who typically get cards, but didn’t this year:

Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Love, Beth &