Hey! Why don’t you come over to my apartment for a wee bit of a virtual visit? Take a moment and I’ll give you quick tour starting at the top left corner and working our through. I hope you enjoy your little peek into my madness.
*Click on the picture to view full size.*
1. What better place to start then in the bedroom. This is my Moroccan style, haremesque bedspread and one of the many jewel toned pillows. I quite adore the colors.
2. Shakespeare! I am guessing there is no shock and surprise in discovering that I have a stack of books relating to The Bard in my place. Yes, there happen to be two volumes of his complete works in that stack. What? One wasn’t enough. I really do need two. I do. Sort of. Maybe. Truthfully, I used to have four and decided maybe I was getting a bit obsessive. I gave away two copies. Book dealing again. I can’t help it.
3. My kids! My guys! My dudes! The bigger of the photographs is the littlest and his official photo for Arkadelphia Soccer League. The smaller picture is the eldest and his official cross-country portrait.
4. Baby Jesus and entourage have taken up residence on the windowsill in my living room. I used to just pull out this hand carved nativity only at Christmas but decided to keep it around for the long haul.
5. DVDs – Trust me, this random snapshot of movies is a mere drop in the bucket. I have more … many, many more and right now they are all in terrible need of their own piece of furniture to call home where I can alphabetize the lot and stop losing my mind every time I go looking for a specific film.
6. Globe lamp. Globe “piggy” pank. Globe pencil sharpener. Globe … well, the little one is just a globe. I have mentioned before that I collect them ... here is some proof. Somewhere else in the room is a pair of globe salt & pepper shakers. Crazy, huh?
7. Everyone needs a little art. Me? I like being able to see Mount Kenya every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to sleep. It makes it all feel just a teeny bit more like home.
8. We’ll call this the “proof I went to university” shelf. With the exception of 'The Dark Ages' book … those are all textbooks. Why do I still have them? Why not? Actually, I think 'The Dark Ages' is a textbook too. I bought it at a used book store though. It wasn't used for school. Yes, I really am that geeky.
9. 1991, Christmas present. This is a hand carved, brass embellished Arab chest that I absolutely adore although it is in terrible need of some tender loving care. Usually, I oil the wood and polish the brass more often. It has been a while. It now calls out to me through this picture. Dang it. Take a seat. I’ll be right back.
Okay! Arab chest is now polished and pretty. On we go …
10. Does anyone else think that coffee mugs breed when on a kitchen shelf behind cabinetry doors? I do. So, I purged. Now they hang on this nifty coffee mug tree and live on top of my refrigerator so I can monitor their naughty behavior and not end up with an excessive abundance of mugs.
11. Anyone for a board game? Believe you me - I wish these were all the board games I owned. Nope. This isn’t even half. The crazy dudes and I play a heck of a lot of board games. You are most welcome to join us. Only one warning: You have to keep an eye on the eldest child. He’s crafty!
12. This looks completely out of place in my home now that the photograph is side-by-side with all my other stuff. “What IS it?” you ask. This … is my shower curtain. Moving on.
13. The Highlands of British East Africa: Winter Home for Aristocrats. This cloth wall hanging is replicated from an actual colony-era promotional poster. It has always made me laugh. One … it just seems so ridiculous. Two … if you look closely there are tons of animals and snakes and the like climbing into and out of this train while it is stopped at a station. Oh yeah --- what brilliant marketing minds came up with that concept? Were The Maneaters of Tsavo not enough?
14. Let me see … Emerson, Dana, Marlowe, Shakespeare (more), and Sophocles live on this wall mounted shelf with one of a pair of gilded hemisphere maps in the background. More books. More globe-like items. Do you see a theme yet?
15. Refrigerator hodge-podge. I keep thinking that someday I am going to be rid of all the stuff stuck to the ice box. It keeps not happening. Honestly, it is the best place to stick reminders although there is nothing quite so essential in this particular photograph. Somehow I neglected to get one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle magnets in the photograph. Odd.
16. I couldn’t possibly have artwork of Mount Kenya alone. Kilimanjaro would get jealous. This painting has taken up residence on the opposing wall from Mount Kenya. It is quite a bit larger and features giraffes.
About both paintings: My maternal grandfather made two trips to Kenya in the early 70’s. Obviously he purchased some artwork while he was there (or he was storing them for my parents who had purchased them at some point). He died last year and both oil paintings were located in his attic. I am honored to be the recipient of said artwork.
17. More movies … stuck in the VHS time warp. They live on a shelf in the hall closet (shockingly alphabetized) and, no surprise, there are more and more and more.
18. Eldest child’s astronomical bedspread. He is completely into the stars and the planets. There are two solar system models hanging from the ceiling as well. I took pictures, but they fell victim to editing ... as did the picture of my Coca-Cola bottle carved out of ebony.
19. Seeing as child #1 loves the stars and the planets … this is the star chart marking the location of the star that I named after him for Christmas a few years ago. The ‘Orb of Coinneach’ is its official title and it sparkles away near the Gemini constellation. If you knew my child well you would know that I simply could not assign a moniker like “Big K’s Star” to this particular celestial body. Too boring. It took me quite some time to come up with ‘The Orb of Coinneach’ but the Taggard name is of Scottish heritage. There you go.
20. Yet another wall mounted shelf with books, candles and a couple of fake (adviseable in my care) Bird of Paradise blooms. The books are an Arthurian series … yet another historical type addiction of mine. I have no idea how many novels I have that touch on this very subject.
21. Are you tired of all my books yet? You’ve only seen a glimpse. Believe me.
“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” ~Henry David Thoreau, US Author
22. One corner of the kitchen window sports an aloe plant (a real one - because burns happen in the kitchen ...) and an empty wine bottle (because my kitchen décor is that of grapes and vineyards and such).
23. There are numerous shelves in my house that desperately needs some organization. This is just one of those. There are books, photographs, a jewelery chest, movies, disposable cameras … who knows what is on this shelf. For that matter, I find myself curious as to what could possibly be on those cameras now that I know they are there.
24. Standing globe. This is the one the boys use for reference since it is large and easily accessible. It happens to have been a Mother’s Day gift from my ex-husband. It is one of the few gifts I have kept.
25. Yearbooks! Don’t read the dates. They aren’t in order either. If you haven’t figured it out - I’m obviously not obsessive compulsive.
26. Shelf of Sanity!!!
27. Word nerd puzzles. The brain needs practice. Well, my brain needs practice.
28. Framed photographs (2 Cheetah, 1 Leopard) that live … sadly … on the floor behind the front door to my apartment. Yes, on the floor and leaning up against the wall. They have been there forever and I don’t think they will be moved any time soon. Um, the black and white one … yeah – that’s mine … as in I drew it.
29. Have I mentioned that I write? I had to crop the photograph, but I think there were six … maybe seven … journal type books in this picture. Not one of them is completely full yet. Those that have been filled completely have a home of their own. Typing is not my only medium.
30. I saved this one for last because you KNOW that every person on the planet needs a big brass bowl full of carved and painted wood fruits and vegetables. You know they do. Everyone. Aren’t you jealous?
There you go … a little voyeuristic peek into my life beyond just my words!
“Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood.” ~Lionel Trilling, American Author
I received a phone call today from someone needing some advice … or an ear to talk to … someone to bounce ideas off of … someplace to vent. This person is dear friend to me and I listened as she attempted to disclose the circumstances in which she has now found herself. Knowing people the way I do, I also made some rather accurate educated guesses regarding her current situation. She is overwhelmed and rightly so. She has been manipulated. Her weaknesses have been exploited. Those involved are using misunderstanding to their own advantage.
Decisions need to be made. She must save herself … emotionally, physically … and, yes, spiritually.
I have given my advice (for what it was worth). I can not make resolutions on her behalf.
I am here … if she needs me.
I am here.
I am here.
"Circumstances may accumulate so strongly even against an innocent man, that directed, sharpened, and pointed, they may slay him." ~Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” ~ George Carlin, American Comedian (I couldn’t exactly let the week go by without a Carlin quote. May he rest in sarcastic peace.)
Stupid drivers. They are everywhere. I might just be the only person in the state of Arkansas who knows how to navigate the roads properly. I jest, of course. Maybe. Today, for example, was just one day and I encountered numerous idiots in the thirty mile round trip between work and home. My international readers who reside within the British Isles or a former colony (as I did for so many years) shall have to forgive me. I am about to vent about driving in the United States.
Is it really too difficult for some individuals to put just a little more pressure on the gas pedal in order to actually make their vehicle go, at the very least, the speed limit? I quite realize that I have a penchant for
Semi-trucks. Do you know what it means when your vehicle is five times the length of mine? It means that it take you a heck of a long time to pull out from a gas station or a parking lot. Quit jumping out in front of me and crossing over my lane in order to make a left hand turn. Wait until you have plenty of time and space. Did you see my mouth moving as I slammed on the brakes and waited for you to cross? Yeah? I wasn’t singing along to the radio.
Guess what? Interstate on-ramps have a purpose. That purpose is acceleration. You are meant to speed up so that when you pull onto the interstate you are going the speed limit or are close to reaching that goal. I am so bloody tired of being behind some stupid driver who pulls onto the highway going forty miles per hour when the traffic on said road is already speeding along at least thirty miles per hour faster. Someday you are going to get someone killed.
I realize that the four-way stop is becoming an endangered species in this country. Perhaps the one good thing about living in a small town is that there are a few of them still around to remind us that stoplights are not always necessary. Still, traffic always stalls at the stupid four-way stop because somebody is too moronic to figure out how to navigate the bloody thing. It’s shaped like this: +. There is a stop sign on each side. The rules are easy. Whoever reaches their stop sign first … goes first. If two cars reach their own respective signs at the same time … then the vehicle to the right goes first. How hard is that?
Oi! I encountered all three of the above scenarios today … along with five or six others. I know I am cranky lately, but seriously – I think the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) is handing out licenses like they are candy.
“The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
~John Milton, Paradise Lost
I have been lost in the labyrinthine recesses of my own mind lately listening to the cacophony of hounding thoughts. Trapped by the inability to halt the ever present nagging of my racing psyche, I have ineffectively searched for a quiet mental corner where I could hide amid the static calm of incessant white noise … the sound of a roaring waterfall or the crashing of ocean waves on an unnamed shore.
“A thick, black cloud swirled before my eyes, and my mind told me that in this cloud, unseen as yet, but about to spring out upon my appalled senses, lurked all that was vaguely horrible, all that was monstrous and inconceivably wicked in the universe. Vague shapes swirled and swam amid the dark cloud-bank, each a menace and a warning of something coming, the advent of some unspeakable dweller upon the threshold, whose very shadow would blast my soul.” ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot
As I have been
I've anchored the center with the Kenyan flag. It just seemed the right thing to do. Here is what you are looking at: 1. Diani Beach, Mombasa; 2. Brackenhurst Baptist International Conference Center, Tigoni; 3. Thompson Falls, Nyahururu; 4. Treetops Hotel, Aberdare Range; 5. Rift Valley Academy, Kijabe; 6. Fig Tree Tented Camp, Masai Mara Game Reserve; 7. Lake Nakuru; 8. Carnivore Restaurant, Nairobi; 9. Nairobi Market; 10. Giraffe Manor, Karen; 11. Ivory Burning Site Monument, Nairobi Game Reserve; 12. Kilaguni Lodge, Tsavo West Game Reserve; 13. Kenyan Flag; 14. Mount Kenya Safari Club, Nanyuki; 15. Tea Fields, Limuru; 16. Sikh Temple, Makindu; 17. Chania Falls, Thika; 18. Samburu Lodge, Samburu Game Reserve; 19. Keekorok Lodge, Masai Mara Game Reserve; 20. The Ark Hotel, Aberdare Range; 21. Amboseli Game Reserve; 22. Market Day; 23. Malindi Coast; 24. Fort Jesus, Mombasa; 25. Mount Longonot, Great Rift Valley.
"We don't call it homesick. We call it missing home. There's no sickness involved, it's a state of mind." ~John Litten
I need to take a moment to piggyback on my tangent about our shrinking world. Melain asked, in regard to my concern about growing prejudice, "Do you really think it's getting worse? I feel like it's WAY better than it was in the 60's and 70's?" My response was that fewer individuals seem to exhibit prejudice, but those who do seem to be more radical and have deeper hatred. The ugly truth is that our world is becoming more and more violent as each decade passes and it saddens me.
A speech was given on this topic on April 5, 1968. Yes, in 1968. Forty years ago. Forty! Today the words are just as applicable here in the United States as they were when Robert F. Kennedy first uttered them. Violence continues to grow. As Bobby Kennedy's words are much more eloquent than my own, I present you with his speech in its entirety:
This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.
It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.
Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.
No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.
Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.
"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."
Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.
Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.
Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.
This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.
I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.
We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.
Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.
We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.
Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.
If we can not solve the issues of prejudice and violence in our own country then how can we hope for it to spread worldwide. It has to start somewhere. Why not here?
"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle." ~Lewis Carroll, Author
What I typed:
1. Elizabeth "My God is an Oath"; 2. Chocolate Peanut Butter; 3. "Rift Valley Academy"; 4. Black, Black, Black; 5. James McAvoy; 6. Java Java Java; 7. "1000 Places to See"; 8. "I'll take that!"; 9. Professional Traveler; 10. unique madness; 11. wordnerd; 12. ET (I used my initials instead).
What popped up:
1. Elizabeth or Elisabeth, 2. Peanut butter filled chocolate cookies, 3. RVA Rugby Crest, 4. I love black,black black!, 5. James Mcavoy, 6. Java java java!, 7. neuschwanstein, 8. Strawberries, 9. Professional traveler, 10. weather remote, 11. Wordplay in The Green Room by candlelight, 12. "Immense et Rouge"
Here is what to do if you would like to create your own mosaic:
Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search. Pick an image which intrigues you based on your answer. Then, simply copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into this nifty mosaic maker.
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.
"There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic." ~Anais Nin, Author
“The more we all know about each other, the greater the chance we will survive.” ~Meet Joe Black, Film (1998)
Riddle me this: Why does it seem that IGNORANCE is actually growing world wide with the speed and intensity of a deadly air born virus? It is a plague. How is this possible? Should not the growth in knowledge and education be reversing this trend? Am I a total loon for thinking that prejudice might one day become a thing of the past?
I know I am a sci-fi junkie, but will it really take an apocalyptic World War III and the rebuilding of life and technology (or the discovery of the warp drive) after such an event before we humans and our man-made governments figure out that we would all be better off if we were to accept that we really are one race.
WE ARE HUMAN!
“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.” ~John F. Kennedy, 35th US President
I borrowed the bones of these ABCs from Melain. As I am suffering from some serious mental blockage when it comes to composing right now I figured, “Aw hell. Why not?”
Obsessive film fan that I am, I could be writing about the AFI 10 top 10 that aired on TV last night … but, everyone fancies himself/herself a critic and I am sure the world at large does not agree with all of the top 10 choices in each of these genres: animation, romantic comedies, western, sports, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, gangster, courtroom drama and epic. Personally, I think it is a pretty fine list so I don’t have much to say except, “Go check out the link for yourself if you missed the actual broadcast.”
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the ABCs of Beth.
Please remember: I am not Dr. Seuss. There will be no attempt at rhyme or alliteration … “Big A. Little a. What begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator … A-A-A.” If that is what you are looking for, please go check out ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book! by said Amazing American Author … A-A-A. Hee hee!
A - ADVOCATE FOR: PRESERVING THIS PLANET!!! Seriously people … it IS the only one we have and it is obviously rebelling against us. It is the host and we are feeding on it like a swarm of starving parasites. Twenty-five years ago I was eight years old and the snow cap on Mount Kilimanjaro extended down the side of the mountain like a draped blanket. No longer. Now what snow and ice remains is perched ever so thinly at the apex. I do not need graphs and statistics to believe in Global Warming … I’ve watched with my own eyes what it has done to both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya within the course of my lifetime. In a few short years there will be no snow on the Equator and our children will think that we and Victorian explorers such as Dr. Livingstone were completely loony for claiming to have seen such a thing. It’s a damn good thing we have photographic proof, huh?
B - BEST FEATURE: I have absolutely BEAUTIFUL eyes. Modest about them, aren’t I? They are not just REALLY green … they also possess an amazing shape shared by many a feline creature as well as intriguing flecks of gold. My natural eyelashes are not too shabby either. I project the bulk of my emotions with my eyes. They are often very misunderstood.
C - COULD DO WITHOUT: Winter! Oh, how I abhor the cold. My equatorial blood has nothing but disdain for the months of November through March in the Northern Hemisphere of this planet. The warmth of the sun is life. “Sunlight is the life-blood of Nature. Mother Earth looks at us with such dull, soulless eyes, when the sunlight has died away from out of her. It makes us sad to be with her then; she does not seem to know us or to care for us.” ~Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat
D - DREAMS and DESIRES: Are they not one in the same? Those things that we longingly desire inevitably find their way into our dreams and, very often, many things surface subconsciously in our dreams that we are astonished to discover we really do desire. My dreams and desires are a wee bit fuzzy at the moment. I am in the midst of letting go of some that are rather unrealistic and forming new ones that could possibly be quite life altering. I believe all dreams and desires should be just that … life altering. It is possible that all may not be reached in my lifetime, but the journey … oh yes, the journey … it should be most memorable.
E - ESSENTIAL ITEMS: Essential?
absolutely necessary; indispensable
1) Chapstick and Carmex: Dry, flaky lips are just SO uncool.
2) Listerine, Extra (gum) and Altoids: The war against bad breath must be fought on all fronts.
3) DVR: I have not the time or patience for watching television as it airs. Record. Watch later. Do not ask me about amusing commercials because I haven’t watched them in forever.
4) Passport: If you don’t know why then you need to read a whole heck of a lot more about me.
5) Stories: Books. Movies. Songs. Poems. Fables.
F - FAVORITE PASS TIME: Writing. This applies even when I seem to be writing nothing but total crap. Still, I write.
G - GOOD AT: Talking! “She talks too much.” ~Miss Myers, 1st Grade Teacher, Rosslyn Academy (1981) It is a gift. Man! I would make a great radio disc jockey. I talk even when there is no one there to listen except myself. Some say that talking to oneself is madness. I answer myself too … that, my friends, is where the true madness lies!
H - HAVE NEVER TRIED: Sky Diving! Bring it on!!! Note to self: lose a few pounds (ok – a lot), save a few bucks (ok – a lot) and proceed to jump out of a perfectly good airplane! Bonsai!!! Geronimo!!! Woo Hoo!!!!
I - IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS: Retire. Finish college. Buy a house in the U.S. somewhere other than the stupid town in which I currently reside. Buy a house in Kenya. Store some away in an account with a ridiculously high interest rate. Travel. Travel. Travel.
J - JUNKIE FOR: Coffee. I am still working on some sort of intravenous device that will dispense coffee directly into my veins without killing me. Of course, I don’t intend to give up actually drinking the good stuff either. I’ve been called a ‘coffee slut’ and a ‘coffee snob’ and yet … I care not. Yes, I have my own dealer.
K - KINDRED SPIRIT: Um, okay … well, I have already chatted about what female friendships are like for me. With that in mind, let me just say this …
He knows who he is. We are not married. We were never married. We are not romantically involved. Our lives have run a parallel path without intersection and seem destined to continue on said course. He knows me. He understands me. There is no judgment. He is closer than much of my family. Is this not the definition of the word?
L - LITTLE KNOWN FACT: I ran a 15.2 second 100-meter dash when I was only TEN years old (4th grade). The current women’s world record is 10.49 seconds. I did improve in junior high and high school. Unfortunately … the university I attended did not have a track team. I know. I know. And, well, now I’m a big girl and my knees hate me. There is no way I am sprinting 50 meters – let alone 100. Maybe someday.
M - MEMORABLE MOMENT: August 15, 1992 – It was my birthday … one of the last truly great ones. I am quite sure that I alone know and understand why it was memorable. For now, this is something I will keep to myself. Shocker, huh?!
N - NEVER AGAIN WILL I: allow my life to get in the way of WHO I AM!
O - OCCASIONAL INDULGENCE: I had the first professional massage of my life a few months ago. BLOODY HELL!!! What was I waiting for ($$$$$)? Now – I make the time and the money for this specific occasional indulgence.
P - PROFESSION: I once had an actual profession, but I gave it up for a number of reasons … some good, some not so good. I was a Corporate Concierge and I absolutely adored that gig. Maybe someday I will go back. For now, I have a job. I work in sales and marketing for the largest state park in Arkansas. It is not so bad. It is not so awesome either.
Q - QUOTE: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! This is ME we are talking about. What is the name of my blog again? I love quotes. Let’s see … just one? "Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary." ~Sir Cecil Beaton
R - REASON TO SMILE: Chubbits. Fatheads. Crazy Dudes. Merry and Pippin. Dudes. These are all pseudonyms for my children. Pay attention!
S - SORRY ABOUT: My temper. Yes, it does get out of control from time to time. When coupled with my penchant for sarcasm or brutal honesty … well, it can get ugly. There you have it.
T - TAG SOME FRIENDS: Not happening. Not this time. If, like me, you find this intriguing then feel free. I’m not stopping you.
U - UNINTERESTED IN: Paris Hilton. Britney Spears. Lindsey Lohan. WTF???? Why is ANYONE interested?
V - VERY SCARED OF: Severe Thunderstorms. Lightning. Thunder. Sideways Rain. *Shudder* Not to mention … have you ever noticed that really, really bad things happen to people during thunderstorms … especially in movies. Not good.
W - WORST HABIT: If we are talking … I can guarantee that I will interrupt you at some point. I do not really mean to do it. I am trying to stop. I truly don’t think that my words are more important than yours … I just open my mouth and blah, blah, blah, blah ….
X - X MARKS MY IDEAL VACATION SPOT: Impossible! I’m partial to anywhere in Kenya (obviously) so I will shy away from destinations within that particular country. I don’t know. This is SO hard. Out of all the places I have been to date … probably Bermuda. The country is amazing and it has beautiful beaches and fabulous architecture and great shopping (and I hate to shop) and crazy good dining options and insane amounts of CULTURE! Loved it! In my fantasy world the ideal vacation would be spending two or three weeks in Scotland.
Y - YUMMIEST DESSERT: I’m down with anything that combines super dark chocolate and peanut butter together to create something irresistible and fantastical and guaranteed to give me a foodgasm.
Z - ZODIAC SIGN: I’m the quintessential LEO by the traditional zodiac. According to the Chinese calendar I was born in the year of the TIGER. Did I mention I have very feline eyes? Hmmm?
“It raises all sorts of philosophical questions about the nature of self, about the existence of the soul. AM I ME?” ~Being John Malkovich, Film (1999)
“When life gets you down do you wanna know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” ~Finding Nemo, Film (2003)
That's it. That's all I've got today.
It is Friday the Thirteenth. “Woo Hoo!” I say.
I chose “13” as my lucky number back in high school. I am quite sure it had something to do with going against the grain. It was even the number on my basketball jersey. Superstitions are a load of irrational crap and I usually find some random reason to celebrate on this day. Not so much today. This particular number has a completely different meaning to me this day … this month … this year. It has a more ominous relevance than usual. Why? In three days my oldest child will turn (*gulp*) thirteen. THIRTEEN!!!
“Thirteen is embarrassed by the beginnings of a new colthood; the child becomes a youth. But twelve is the very top of boyhood.” ~Booth Tarkinton, Penrod
I am about to be the mother of a teenager. What the hell was I thinking by procreating?? Alas! Well, in honor of my child’s progression into the teen years and my failing denial that the event is taking place, I will now present thirteen random thoughts about supposedly being a responsible adult in charge of two impressionable minds.
1. I wake up EVERY SINGLE MORNING and realize, “Oh my gosh! I’m a parent. I am in charge! How did this happen?” I toss and turn in bed for as long as I possibly can … knowing the exact minimum of time required to get all three of us out the door on time with some sort of food in our stomachs and clothing on our bodies. Yes, we usually have to rush. I hate mornings.
2. I once thought the whole “Motherhood Curse” was total bollocks. You know - “Some day you are going to have a child that is JUST LIKE YOU!!” I was also young and ignorant at the time. Stupid genetics.
3. Thankfully, I have kids that are really funny, mad, witty, brilliant, musical, athletic, and fascinated by life.
4. I wish I could emulate my own parents. They had to have issues with my brother and me … but they never showed it. They are awesome.
5. Bill Cosby was right. Children are brain damaged.
6. Am I completely screwing them up?
7. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys. Thank God I have boys.
8. “One should always be ready to listen to one's children, even if they have nothing to say.” ~Chicken Little, Film (2005)
9. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever underestimate your kids. Learn something from them every single day.
10. I have learned to always make time to dance with my kids.
11. Confession: I never planned to be a mom. There was no defining moment where I decided to have children. They were not planned. Either one. And yet, they are my world.
12. The love I have for my children does not surprise me. The astounding amount of love they have for me … THAT I find humbling and wondrous.
13. “Sometimes we forget that children have just arrived on the earth. They are a little like aliens coming into being as bundles of energy and pure protection here on some kind of exploratory mission and they are just trying to learn what it means to be human.” ~The Martian Child, Film (2007)
Have you heard of the Five Love Languages? Yes? No? Either way – go read them. You may not agree with the entire concept or the religious implications but, believe you me, there is a lot of common sense in the premise. I have taken the test (not the 30 second online quiz ... the test). Apparently, I speak a strange combination of two dialects: Quality Time & Physical Touch. I am teetering precariously between the two which means that, dependent upon my mood, I prefer one over the other … but there are no guarantees as to which one I may be craving at any given moment. Seeing as I am already Bipolar – me being highly unpredictable in this area of my life is just par for the course.
I know what you are thinking. Well, I know what those of you who know me or read my entries on a regular basis are thinking. Maybe. It is probably something pretty close to this:
“Beth, what are you doing babbling on and on about love languages when you are single?”
That’s the point. I’m single. I have been for almost a year and a half now and most days I am perfectly content with that fact. And then there are those days when the desire for physical touch becomes almost overbearing. Believe it or not, I’m not talking about sex … just touch.
Touch. Intertwining fingers. A hand on the small of my back. Gentle kisses on the forehead. Hugs.
“I hope someday, somebody wants to hold you for 20 minutes straight and that’s all they do. They don’t pull away. They don’t look at your face. They don’t try to kiss you. All they do is wrap you up in their arms and hold on tight without an ounce of selfishness to it.” ~Waitress, Film (2007)
Yep, that’s what I need.
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I don’t cry. Well, I do … but not a lot. I cry when I am intensely angry or extremely frustrated. Media outlets can make me teary-eyed: songs, movies – even TV commercials. I don’t really know why I am this way. I guess I have just had WAY too much practice at being the stoic one … having the stiff upper lift … feigning courage and strength during highly charged emotional situations … whatever.
“Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.” ~Albert Smith
Imagine my surprise, while on the verge of sleep and happily horizontal in my bed last night, a valve suddenly burst and I found myself drowning in tears. This was no small sniffle. I bawled. I wailed. I sobbed. For five minutes I lay in my bed and just blubbered like I haven’t cried in … well, I don’t remember the last time I cried so heavily. The strange thing is that I don’t even know WHY I was crying. Once my weeping spell was complete and I had washed away whatever it was that must have been bothering me, I got up and turned down the air conditioner just a bit, wiped my eyes, and went back to bed where I did eventually manage to find slumber amidst my puzzlement about what had just occurred.
“I discovered early that crying makes my nose red, and the knowledge has helped me through several painful episodes.” ~Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
Of course, this morning I had black circles under my eyes courtesy of my crying fit. Lovely. I also feel as though I had been hit by a truck while mysteriously sleepwalking down the interstate at some point during the night and the poor soul who smacked into me returned me to my bed instead of taking my ass to a hospital. I don’t look quite that bad. At least, I hope I don’t look quite that bad. Still, it is enough for me to not want a repeat performance. I don't like crying to begin with, but seeing and feeling the results of a midnight breakdown on this body is enough for me to despise the practice even more … especially since I am still unable to determine why the whole thing took place.
“Tears are Summer showers to the soul.” ~Alfred Austin, Savonarola
“Let your tears come. Let them water your soul.” ~Eileen Mayhew
“All I know is if you don’t figure out the something you’ll just stay ordinary and it doesn’t matter if it’s a work of art or a taco or a pair of socks … just create something new and there it is. And it’s YOU out in the world … outside of you and you can look at it or hear it or read it or feel it and you know a little more about you. A little bit more than anyone else does.” ~P.S. I Love You, Film (2007)
I have been asked on multiple occasions why it is that I do what I do … writing my random scribblings and posting them in a public venue. Go figure that I would eventually stumble across a quote from a film that really sums up my point of view better then I could myself. I do this because I learn something about myself with each and every entry that I post. Even in the silliness of participating in a meme I learn about me by being forced to think of the answers to questions I may not have truly though through on my own.
I am creating.
I am putting myself out in the world.
I am rediscovering me.
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda, American Actor
Female friendships. I am no good at them. I do not really know why. It is a mystery. Don’t misunderstand me. I do have female friends, but I am not a member of a group of three or four women who know absolutely everything about one another and would brave the fires of hell for each other. I can’t help but wonder if I might actually be missing something.
“We know now that no matter how far we traveled on our own separate paths... somehow we would always find our way back to each other. And with that, we could get through anything. To us. Who we were, and who we are … and who we will be.” ~Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Film (2005)
Traditionally, my closest friends have always been guys. I was a tomboy and most of the other girls wanted to be indoors playing with their Barbie dolls while I preferred to be up a tree or exploring the Kenyan forest surrounding my home. Even in adulthood I tend to get along better with men than I do women. I find female friendships to be so bloody tedious because most of them are so high maintenance. Women have a tendency to create their own melodrama and I simply have no patience for that type of behavior. Combine that unavoidable fact with my penchant for being a little too blunt at times and someone’s feelings are bound to get hurt.
My closest female friend throughout childhood was B.C. Our parents had been friends since college and then seminary and eventually ended up on the mission field in Kenya together. For a number of years you could literally throw a rock from my house to hers. She was much more girlie but we had some unspoken understanding with one another. We spent a portion of each day playing house in the small cabin she had in her yard forcing her brother to eat mud pies or some other such girl-like behavior. The rest of the day was spent in the great outdoors plundering through the woods, playing hide-and-seek in the tea fields or climbing trees. We had our disagreements, but they never lasted long. This was probably the most successful friendship I ever had. Eventually we ended up at rival high schools, but our friendship remained until we sort of lost touch with each other during our college years. We email from time to time now, but we do not live near one another and are both absorbed in our own lives.
Junior high and high school brought more friends into my life, but my closest friend from those years was truly ultra-high-maintenance. She realizes that about herself now. After years of an astoundingly strained relationship we are now attempting to heal those wounds. Difficult, actually, for both of us.
In college there was B., B., D. and myself. But, we had a bad habit of getting each other into trouble. After our freshman year we were drawn apart in different directions … different schools. But, for one brief year I had what many women carry from childhood into adulthood. I doubt I will have a group of friends like that again. My sophomore year of college brought C. into my life. I love her dearly although she lives in England and we haven’t seen each other since 1994.
Cell phones, email and sites like Facebook make keeping in touch easier … though not always personal.
So, here I am … wandering through adulthood … acquaintances coming and going. Strangely enough, I still find my closest friends are guys. There are two or three from high school with whom I feel comfortable sharing pretty much any part of my life. Men tend to not judge and they do not mind me being blunt. There are times I wish I had a close knit group of female friends. Life, as it stands, can get a wee bit on the lonely side. Sometimes.
"Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world." ~Eleanor Roosevelt
I was tagged by blazing goddess for the following meme which I find intriguing enough to complete and post myself. Memes can be a fascinating thing … allowing the author the opportunity to divulge information that may have remained private while simultaneously filling that little bit of voyeurism that resides within the reader.
As for the title … well, this meme is all about the number eight. Of course, on its side the number eight doubles for the infinity symbol (∞). Stand it back up and it becomes ‘Upright Infinity.’
Eight Things for Which I Have a Passion
There it is. The “passion” word. Ugh.
“Passion is my life. In fact, what is life without it? A grey wheel of habits spinning oddly on.” ~Nanny McPhee, Film (2006)
1) Faith. Read Hebrews 11. I believe! I will not shove it down your throat. Make up your own mind.
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” ~Oswald Chambers
2) People. I have a passion for people. Truly, we are a fascinating species. I particularly love to people watch. I make up stories about people and make fun of people and … very often … open my mouth and strike up conversations (usually rather fascinating ones) with random strangers. People are incredibly intriguing.
3) English Literature. I love it and I have been called a “dealer” for buying books for individuals who can not afford their own. Shakespeare. Dickens. Shelley(s). Austen. Lewis. Tolkien. Marlowe. Wordsworth. Coleridge. Byron. Keats. Scott. Blake. Eliot. Browning(s). Fleming. Rowling. Bring me books! Bring me poetry! I do not get on well with individuals who blatantly refuse to read.
4) Education. If I had the money I would forever be a student of something … anything. This applies to formal and informal education. I would be fluent in at least three languages. I would study art in depth. I want to learn dance and how to be a good bartender and all about astronomy. Teach me. I will learn.
5) Travel. I have yet to find a way to truly assuage my wanderlust. Everyone knows I have it. I compulsively rearrange the furniture in my apartment every few months to make it feel as thought I have moved to a new place. I talk about travel constantly … places I have been … places I want to go … places I want to revisit. I have a mental list of 100 places I want to visit before I die and those are just the important ones. I will be thirty-four this year. Odds are I am going to miss out on a lot of those destinations.
6) Music. I am not gifted musically, but music is a vital component to my life and my happiness. It moves me … physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am often asked about what type of music is my favorite but that is such a difficult question for someone who has an extremely eclectic collection of tunes. In my heart, I must confess, I am a bit of a rocker chic. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. Still, I love all genres of music and they each have a place in my soul where they fit perfectly.
7) Writing. Good or bad … I can’t stop. Words! Words! Words!
8) Earth! Global warming is no joke. I have watched the glaciers on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya melt away to almost nothing over the course of my lifetime (33 years). That, my friends, is a reality. I do what I can. If I had the funds I would build a green home and drive a hybrid vehicle. If we all do a little … we can change a lot.
“Global warming is not only the number one environmental challenge we face today, but one of the most important issues facing all of humanity ... We all have to do our part to raise awareness about global warming and the problems we as a people face in promoting a sustainable environmental future for our planet.” ~Leonardo DiCaprio, The 11th Hour
Eight Things I'd Like to do Before I Die
Just eight? Eight! I may have to play a little game of eeny-meeny-miny-moe to pick only eight.
1) Fitness. I want to be fit again and firmly believe that the journey to do so will take me on a parallel path of self discovery. In high school and college I was the ultra-mega-athlete extraordinaire. I discovered in recent years that my identity was closely tied to that “Supergirl” persona. I have sort of been floundering every since. There are reasons galore (hard pregnancies, depression, etc.) that have contributed to me being “out of shape” and those are now under control. It is time for me to take my life back.
2) My boys. I want to succeed in raising them to be modern day knights.
3) Home. I desperately need to go home to Kenya. If I could move there today and make a living … I would do it. At the very least, I need a visit. I can not begin to convey the depths of exactly how important this is to me.
4) Travel. Visiting all the places on my “Top 100” list will probably never happen. That being said, I would like to hit the top ten before I die. In no particular order, that list currently is: Scotland, Egypt, Prague, Machu Picchu, Cape Town, Dubai, Ireland, Greece, Victoria Falls, and Venice. I say “currently” because my choices might change tomorrow. The list of places I want to revisit is quite extensive as well, but I won’t address that here.
5) Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. The final full semester of my college education fell victim to a particularly hellish time in my former marriage and the first time my ex and I separated. Life has simply been in the way ever since. I hate leaving things unfinished and I want to complete my degree.
6) Book Club. I want to start and facilitate a really, really great book club with fabulous literary choices and a wonderfully diverse group of participants.
7) Literary Epiphany. I am waiting for the light bulb-over-my-head moment that leads to the writing of a complete novel. I may never attempt to have it published. I may never let anyone – even those close to me – read it, but I will have written the thing and that is what is important.
8) Love. Find it. Experience it. Trust it. Feel it. Taste it. Believe it. Touch it. I want to absolutely lose myself in raw, forgiving, passionate, exhausting Love.
Eight Things I Say a Lot
I am a creature of habit and I always have some new catch phrase or favorite word. Then, of course, there are those repetitions courtesy of the work environment.
2) “DeGray Sales Department, this is Beth …”
3) “That’s Fantabulous!”
5) “Bloody Hell!”
6) “Here, read this!”
7) “Ok! So, you know when ….”
8) “Danka Schein!”
Eight Books I Have Read Recently
1) Pride and Prejudice
I go through all six of Jane Austen’s novels each year.
5) Mirror Mirror
Gregory Maguire is just plain awesome!
6) Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy by Eric G. Wilson.
A great read for anyone who thinks they are depressed.
7) Atonement by Ian McEwan. Sheer Perfection.
8) Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Required annual reading.
Eight Movies I Have Seen Eight Times
Um, well, you see … the thing is … I watch A LOT of movies. I adore film. So, this list of eight is a mere random sampling.
1) The Lost Boys. “What?” Yep. This was my favorite movie from 1987 to 1992. I was young and I watched it a countless number of times.
2) The Mummy. I love this movie. The premise is great and the humor is spot on. “No more goat soup!”
3) LOTR. I love launching weekend long Lord of the Rings marathons in order to watch all three extended editions back-to-back.
4) The Phantom of the Opera. If I lived in New York City I would be at the Broadway production at least once a month. Alas, I do not. I must fill my longing for this musical via the film (and a CD of the original Broadway cast).
5) Batman Begins. Who needs Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer or George Clooney when Christian Bale does it SO much better? Actors aside … this film was a far cut above the rest and probably the best comic book/super hero movie ever made. I have high hopes for ‘The Dark Knight’.
6) Star Wars IV, V, & VI. That would be ‘A New Hope’ and ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ for you losers out there who needed clarification. “May the force be with you.”
7) Hope Floats. This particular chick flick was more than extremely relevant to my life the year it was released in theaters.
8) Gladiator. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son. Husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” Hell yeah you are!!!!
Eight People Who Should Do This Meme
Seeing as I ignore more then half the memes for which I am tagged … please do not feel obligated! Ciao!
4) Caffeinated Librarian
6) Mo Ma
8) Mzungu Chick
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~Plato, Ancient Greek Philosopher
No, I do not want to be a man.
“Please don't lie to me, unless you're absolutely sure I'll never find out the truth.” ~Ashleigh Brilliant, English Author & Cartoonist
I believe in honesty. It is not difficult. Once you have had far too many lies in your life, faith in the truth … often brutal … comes rather naturally. Freedom comes with subscribing to the philosophy that honesty is essential. Lies breed more lies. Keeping up with that many “stories” has got to be overwhelmingly exhausting. I have no idea how people do it.
“Sometimes people can surprise you. Sometimes they have a great capacity to hear the truth.” ~The Verdict, Film (1982)
I know. I know. Most of us come from homes where telling the truth is emphasized (pounded into our skulls) from birth. And yet, what seems like human nature … the need to “cover your ass” (C.Y.A.) … comes early in life. I see it all the time. Don’t you? The standoff between disappointed parent and caught-in-the-act toddler who is managing to spit out a line of complete bull in a desperate attempt to avoid punishment. Those of us raising children expend untold amounts of energy in frantically trying to convince our offspring that telling the absolute truth really will result in a benefit for them. Kids are never convinced. I firmly believe that life has to get in the way a few times before we humans truly learn our lesson about the need to be honest.
Preaching about the need to tell the truth does not extend merely to parenting. How many cliché phrases are out there that involve honesty??
“Honesty is the best policy.”
“The truth will set you free.”
“Truth fears no questions.”
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
“Dare to be honest.”
“When in doubt, tell the truth.”
Actually, most of these phrases become not-so-cliché when the sources (Shakespeare, Twain, etc.) are identified … but I digress. My point is this:
When we spend so much time and effort on emphasizing the importance of honesty in our lives …
… why is it then that we find it so bloody easy to lie to ourselves?
“To change for others is to lie to yourself.” ~Mona Lisa Smile, Film (2003)
“Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete beastiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself. A man who lies to himself is often the first to take offense. It sometimes feels very good to take offense, doesn't it? And surely he knows that no one has offended him, and that he himself has invented the offense and told lies just for the beauty of it, that he has exaggerated for the sake of effect, that he has picked on a word and made a mountain out of a pea- he knows all of that, and still he is the first to take offense, he likes feeling offended, it gives him great pleasure, and thus he reaches the point of real hostility...” ~Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov