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!

The Laborious Birth of a Tribute

Post the family’s Thanksgiving get together, I was driving down Mopac listening to KGSR wrapped in the afterglow of all the well wishes, good conversation and great food.  I had 40 minutes of music and in-my-head time and I started thinking about how great my friends and family are. While under the influence of a lethal combination of L-Tryptophan and sugar, I started composing a blog entry.  I do this all the time while driving, but few rarely make it to the website because I either don’t jot down the idea or it floundered before I could commit it to virtual paper.

Bringing Out the Worst in Ern

As I drove, I composed the entry which basically talked about how completely in awe I am of my friends and their talents.  I wrote about how gifted each and every one of them are.  At this point in the thought process, I mention a story I wrote in an expository writing class at UT called “The Aluminum Rose” – a story specifically about one of my oldest friends, Angie, that reflected on how beautiful and unique she was by comparing her to a foil rose her father crafted for her many years ago.  I backspace over this bit, recalling the day the professor took that story, threw it up on the overhead and an entire class picked it apart (nothing beats the humiliation of having a classroom full of uppity upper level English students holding a microscope to your writing).  This particular class nearly ended in a brawl due to a disagreement over whether I had proven that Angie was either a unique or a beautiful person.  What I took away from the whole experience was that while you can make certain claims in writing there’s a limit to what you can expect your audience to accept wholesale.   I ponder this for a bit – if I say that my friends are awe inspiring and gifted, I will need examples.

I mentally start writing examples starting with Ernie, my oldest friend – the kid who was responsible for me my first day of school in Austin, Texas.  I talk about Ernie the concert quality pianist (after only a couple of years playing), Ernie teaching in China, Ernie the guy that tried to sneak into a forbidden part of China and didn’t get arrested, Ernie, the Germans and the Crazy Knife Wielding Chef – so many stories.  I even tease him a bit in this unwritten blog over his perception of himself as a young boy.  (I’ve known him since he was seven and he remembers himself as a bit aloof and overly studious – not particularly a playful kid.)  I recall that I once had to remind him of our various 3rd grade adventures, to which he replied something along the lines of how I brought that out in him.  (It was actually a less flattering recollection – I think it had to do with me being kind of a spastic mess and being so irritating he had to sink to my level.  I love my friends.)

No Doors Were Harmed - Jers NYCI write about Jerry, my college roommate who really came into his own in New York.  I recount some of his adventures like with the tribe in Ghana or the private tour of the Roman Baths in Malta by one of the archaeologists. I write about his work with psychiatric patients and the homeless and I take a moment to be blown away.  I make a mental note to send an “I love you, guys’ note to both he and another old roommate, Jim.  I truly love them both. Recently, through Facebook, the two of them had made me laugh over a tiny clash with someone who doesn’t know me.  I think about how perceptions of me vary wildly between the older friends and the newer, but decide not to mention it in the blog piece because it’s not very relevant.

I think about the rest of my amazing friends, but before I decide on who to write about next and what I’m going to say, I begin to wonder why it is that these incredible people go slumming with the likes of me.  There’s an Ernie speech that immediately pops into my head, but I don’t let it play out.  Suffice it to say that Ernie is right. I can’t decide whether to include this bit, because no one wants to read some sad little self-deprecating analysis.  Plus, some might think I either need a serious pep talk or I’m trying to manipulate them into throwing praise my way.  I decide to leave this out.

At this point, I’m well down the road and a story pops into my head from my PBS days.  It’s where I thanked the universe for helping out after a pledge drive.  I was cautioned not to name names in the future to avoid accidentally forgetting someone and the inevitable hurt feelings that would follow.  I think I may be heading down that road where I heavily praise some and forget others.  I see the drama unfold.

I mentally crumple up the pages and chuck them into the bin.  I’m working myself up into getting mad over a blog entry that doesn’t exist.  The post-Thanksgiving moment has left and I’m neither feeling warm nor cuddly.

Now it’s Sunday and I’m kind of having a grand “fuck it” moment, mostly because I haven’t poked the blog in awhile.  So, I’ve decided to write what I intended in a rather round-about fashion and give a blanket thanks to all of my friends (and one beautiful parent of a friend who has always inspired me) – you are all truly amazing and gifted people who I am constantly completely blown away by – from your stories, your writing, your photographs, your sculptures, your beauty,  your achievements with your patients, your clients, your students and your kids – your adventures, your unique views of the world and how you choose to share/express those – for all the laughs and smiles throughout the years and the fact you all choose to slum with the likes of me.  I kind of love you guys.

… and to those who are hurt that I didn’t name them specifically, know that it’s only because I happen to love Ernie, Jerry, Jim and Angie more or you owe me an email.