A Simple Wish

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. –Neil Gaiman

At the beginning of 2017 I was given a box that held 260 colorful envelopes filled with notes/quotes/questions/advice from my friends and family. These lunchbox notes were to accompany me each day of work and were to be opened at lunch (thus, the name).  There were instructions directing me to open one first, and it ended up containing the quote above.  These, in turn, became the things I wanted to achieve – a list of what I wanted to accomplish throughout the year – a road map – a bucket list.

So, I wrote a little more. Maybe not sketches, as I’d planned. It turns out that in this political climate my attempts at satire have too sharp an edge to them. I started turning off NPR more (sorry guys, I still love you) and sang more, replacing the news with singing – each time I got into the car.  I even made it out to karaoke, something I hadn’t done in years, and belted out a little Lady Gaga, ABBA, and Kansas. I now have a baby stereo system in the house where I repeat the show daily. (To the delight of my neighbors, Elle King’s America’s Sweetheart is my current go-to.) I made some art, and sent cards off to friends and family. To surprise myself, I entered the Warrior Dash, and I can say I was in fact surprised in the end. This one set me back a bit, causing all of the things to stop, and me to momentarily forget the list.

As I grew stronger, I was able to dive back in – writing, singing, reading, laughing, and creating.  The only one left to tackle was “kiss someone who thinks [I’m] wonderful.” So, a month ago I decided “screw it” and I re-entered the online dating world to give it a more serious try.  I went on three dates over five days. André, of the infamous meltdown, was the first. See below for a recap.

The second was Todd. I have to admit that over the past three weeks I became a 16 year-old girl when it came to all things Todd – a distracted girly mess. One of my male friends joked, “hell, I’m starting to have a crush on Todd” thanks to all of my incessant Todd talk, usually followed by, “do you want to see his picture?” It was terrible, and kind of fun, and it reminded me of staying on the phone for hours in high school, of passing notes, of having my girlfriends spend the night, of listening to music in the darkness of my room, and of daydreaming. He was a reminder that I was still alive, and still able to be reduced to a blushy, giddy little girl mess.

I met Todd a day or two after the André-no-I-don’t-want-to-drive-to-Costco-for-the-great-gas-don’t-put-your-face-near-my-face incident. I went to his place, knowing my adopted big brothers would not be pleased for safety reasons, and watched him put together a doll house for his granddaughter. He was just as beautiful in person, and also very simple in ways I won’t be able to quite convey here.

A few highlights from that evening: He told me, “I’d totally mack with you, but I’ve had a lot of coffee, and I don’t like to kiss with coffee breath.” Wow, umm… I don’t think anyone has ever said they’d “mack” with me. I’m not sure I’ve “macked” with anyone. Maybe I’m not a macker? If we “macked” would this count towards my “…kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful?” Gaiman didn’t say anything about “macking with someone.” Then Todd professed his love of the phrase “that’s what she said” and probably used it 15-20 different times. Apparently, she says a lot. Todd expressed with certainty that a whole comedy routine based on that line would quite possibly be the best stand-up comedy routine ever.  I’m not so sure. I threw in a few “that’s what she said” lines to make him happy, and he giggled gleefully (alliteration also makes him happy) while continuing to work on this dollhouse (a bit of a structural mess, but it also made him happy). I then turned the conversation to why he loved the town we’re in, because frankly it’s a sea of HOA’s to me, and I hoped he might have some insight that would make me see it differently. His response: “I’m near three strip clubs.” Oh… “Yeah, I love strip clubs and I would totally pay for you to get a lap dance.” At this I had to say, “That actually wouldn’t do anything for me, but thank you.” He smiled and offered up, “well, it would do something for me.” Ohhhh kay… (For any of you thinking a strip club birthday gift card might make the perfect gift, you should give that to someone else.) I got a tour of his apartment and the multiple 8″x10″ prom pictures proudly displayed on the walls. I have to confess, my prom pictures are still in the “vintage” envelope they came in. (Sorry David! I did put one in a photo album and used it for a #TBT thing on FB.)

We ended with a side hug, and I sighed… so pretty. There goes my 16 year old girl, and a 49 year old woman drove home – music blaring, while singing at the top of her lungs.

Two days later, I had coffee with the runner post my half marathon (where I did surprise myself). He was absolutely brilliant. Smart, engaging, a fantastic storyteller (and we all know how I love good stories), and I was none of those things in return. And while I recognize I’m not his type physically, he’s the kind of person who absolutely should be one of my friends. I was lamenting this to my aunt yesterday, and she kindly offered to call him up and explain how great I was.  “You know if you want me to, I’d do it,” which made me laugh. All I could picture was a call that might sound like, “Hi, this is Beth’s aunt. She’s really great; you’d really like her. I’m so proud of her. Anyway, she thinks you’re really neat. She has a lot of really neat friends, so if she thinks you’re neat, then there’s probably something special about you. You should really be her friend. I’m going to have a get together at Easter, and she knows she’s always welcome. You could come, too.” While I loved this idea, and it made my heart smile, I can only imagine how that would sound to a stranger. “Please reconsider being my niece’s friend. We love her.” I love my aunt, and I love that she was serious. Also, a side note to my friends: she really does think you guys are neat. Also, damnit, he was really cool.

So Neil, I failed a little when it came to living up to your New Year’s wishes.

While the year continued to hold a few more hardship, it was also one that was filled with magic, and dreams, and good madness. I read some fine books. I made some art – I wrote, I drew a little, I sang loudly and often, I laughed, and I surprised myself (half marathon!!).  I was surrounded with the best people. Old friends, new friends, and family… and though there were tears, there was more joy.

I plan to do more of that next year.  And maybe… just maybe… I’ll “mack” with someone who thinks I’m wonderful.

Dedication: This was for Tori who suggested I had another blog piece in me before the end of the year. Hears to you, kid!

On Resolutions and Mayans

Thanks to some exceptionally  lazy Mayans, who either ran out of large bits of stone or simply grew bored with chiseling, I’m left wondering if it’s really worth the effort to make any New Year’s resolutions.  I mean, we’re talking the end-of-days.  If I decide to exercise more and eat healthier how will that help me come Saturday, December 22nd?  Then there’s all of those apocalyptic pre-show events to ramp us up to the big day.  I definitely don’t want to miss out on any of those.  Everyone whose anyone will be there.  My hope is that they’ll get Ricky Gervais to host.  Fingers crossed! So, I’m thinking I can just write off December entirely and maybe even November as well; those months are officially booked. That leaves me with about ten months to resolve to do something.

Now last year, I also didn’t make any resolutions even without the threat of calendar-hating Mayans, but I did try a few things that challenged me in new and scary ways.  I got on stage a few times and while up there, I even improvised a few songs (we will never mention the gospel number again).  I wrote some of my very first sketch pieces and had one performed.  (Sure, I actually didn’t have a choice.  A flyer was shoved in my hand declaring that this event  was going to happen despite me digging in my heels, but it still counts.)  I made a new friend.  I discovered some great writers through WordPress.  Heck, I even got a new subscriber or two to my own blog. (Thanks, y’all!)  And I received a beautiful compliment from Tom, one of my teachers, that hit home and I’ve been mulling over.  It was: “Beth, you’re brilliant. I wish there were a way I express that to you where you’d believe me.”

I think from this, we may be able to draw-out a list for this year.  Well, for the next ten months:

  • Continue to challenge myself, despite it being insanely intimidating.  (No one needs to know I nearly dropped my new sketch class the day before it started.)
  • Write more – sure, the June Creativity Challenge pushed me a little more than usual, but when I saw the blog stats on my writing over the year, it was kind of pitiful.
  • Read more.  Last year I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society = a charming little book and I’m sure there was something else.  Surely, there was. (Most pitiful reading year in ages.)
  • Become wise – not wiser, just plain old wise.  I want to sit on a mountain, have pilgrims trek up to see me and bring offerings.  In lieu of that, I’ll settle for more movie nights where friends trek up to my suburban utopia and bring snacks.


  • Believe Tom.  Of all the things on my list, this one is the hardest for me.  I’m not certain it’s even achievable, but I’ll try.  I truly wish I could believe him. I know he wishes I could, too.

There’s one last resolution I want to try that I came across on a beautifully written blog titled The Art of An Improbable Life. I want to make a list of the important people in my life and write them a letter that expresses what they mean to me.  Now, I know some of you are uncomfortable with this kind of thing, so you’ll just have to suck-it-up and live with it for the remaining five months we have on this planet.  Yes, that’s right – five months.  You didn’t think I was going to start writing to you tomorrow, did you?  If you’re lucky, I’ll put you at the bottom of the list so you won’t have to endure my love letter for more than a couple of months tops.

I think that’s a pretty impressive list considering the impending doom.  Thank you,  Mayans!  Your laziness has helped me keep that list short.