I Got Dressed Today (and I Don’t Think That Bar Is Particularly Low)

Jan 17 2018

I don’t want to brag, but I’m a big goal setter, and I usually accomplish my goals, too. Last night, for example, I thought about what I really wanted for myself today (it’s important to plan ahead, you know), and I decided I’d set a goal to Get Dressed. Friends, I DID IT. I got dressed today! All the way dressed, including panties and shoes, because when I do goals, I do thorough goals.

I realize this sounds like a Setting the Bar Low piece, and it is, I guess, but it also isn’t. It’s been hard lately to get up while it’s still morning, to wash my face, to brush my teeth, to shower more than once/week, and, frankly, even that often feels like a chore. I mean, I like being clean, it’s just that that’s becoming more of a memory or an ideal at this point and not so much a reality. 

I’m not worried, yet, about depression rearing its head. To be clear, that’s exactly what it’s doing, but I’m still winning, and this is just part of it. A new skirmish in an ongoing war, but I have depression outgunned for now.

Last night, I just wanted to lay on my couch, face down in smashed Cheerio shards and wispy dog hair, prone and unmoving, breathing through the corners of my mouth. I managed to make it through yesterday, but barely, and I wanted today to be better.

Now, if I had my druthers, I’d wave my magic wand and be All the Way Better, Right Now. Like the magician who reappears after her trick in a puff of smoke, a slinky sequined dress, and stilletos, hair perfectly coiffed and hand upraised. TA DA! Sadly, though, my wand is on the fritz, so I have to try for better the old fashioned way. Incrementally, which is a real bummer. 

So I set a goal. One thing about today that I wanted to be different than yesterday. I picked Wearing Clothes. I wanted to pick wearing clothes, grocery shopping, writing, actually responding to emails instead of reading them and intending to respond, showering, scheduling, budgeting, and cleaning my room, but I know better. One thing at a time, Beth, for sustainable change. One thing at a time for a lot longer than I would wish. One thing at a time because, in a shocking twist, Something Sometimes is often healthier than the All or Nothing I prefer

In conclusion, I got dressed today, friends. I planned it, I prepared diligently, and I achieved my goal. Rejoice with me! And feel proud of yourself, too, please. Sometimes, reaching for the goals that seem small to others are, in fact, making a choice to live. 

With love,

In Case You Need Thumb Seeds, Tiny Watermelons, Or A New President, Which Are Basically The Same Thing…

Jan 12 2018

You know how sometimes you wish you had more than two thumbs to give? Like, when you’re all, TWO THUMBS UP to your friends but then you wish you had three thumbs because they brought cookies? Or four because they said your kids probably won’t all grow up to be serial killers? In those moments, I’m all, “I REGRET THAT I HAVE BUT TWO THUMBS TO GIVE, friends.” They deserve so much more. 

This isn’t just me. It can’t be. I mean, I know it’s just anecdotal evidence, but Facebook added a love button because sometimes like simply isn’t enough. I think they still need to add a vomit button and a rolling-eyes button given our current political environment, but still, Facebook is at least attempting to allow us to share the scope of our emotion, and I appreciate that.

I texted my friend Kasey a four-thumber the other night…

“Four Thumbs Up <- That’s if I had 4 thumbs.”

…and right away, she understood not just my approval but my deep desire for additional thumbs. 

If you cut off your big toes thumbs might grow in their place.”

Kasey gets me. She really does. I like her because she’s not just a problem solver, she thinks of practical solutions. Still, I had a few questions, for clarity, you know?

Do I cut them off with scissors? Or a knife? Or pull them off? Like, does the cut have to be straight and even for the thumbs to grow? And do I have to put thumb seeds in my empty toe holes? Does it only work with my big toes? Or can I cut off all my toes and have 10 thumbs down there?”

I’m so glad I asked, friends. Kasey initially assumed a certain level of Toe Thumb awareness on my part, but I’m a true Toe Thumb novice. 

For sure a knife. A really really big one. Make sure you cut from the bottom up if you want the thumbs to be up. Thumbs down on your feet would be embarrassing. Yes you need thumb seeds in the big toe holes. Make sure it is centered and not wonky. Very bad things happen if your seeds are placed wonky. You can get thumb seeds at Home Depot. It only works with your big toes. I highly recommend not cutting off all your other toes.”

Conclusion? ASK QUESTIONS. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say the very last thing you want is upside down Toe Thumbs.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

P.S. If you’re looking for toe seeds at Home Depot, Kasey offered some advice on where to find them. 

Thanks! Do you know where at Home Depot the Thumb Seeds are? I assume not with the vegetable seeds; that would be weird since thumbs are obviously not vegetables. I just need to know where to tell Greg to look. I thought maybe with the pipes and/or screws since those are the parts for making robots?” “Defs not by vegetables that would just be inappropriate and disgusting. I believe they are near the screws and you should probably tell Greg to pick up a couple of those screws just in case too. They can be helpful in the rare case that they fall off.”

P.P.S. I also looked up “Thumb Seeds” on Amazon, as one does, hoping to find out whether I can have them shipped to my door and save myself the trip to Home Depot. 

I have several take-always from the search results, as follows:

A) Amazon verified Kasey’s advice by providing product info for a prosthetic thumb in case growing your own thumbs from seed proves too difficult, a pocket knife for toe severing, and thumb seeds. Well done, Amazon. Well done.

B) Clearly the seller has to call these “thumb watermelon seeds” because the selling of human body parts is prohibited, presumably even in seed form, but, by looking at the picture, one can see they are, in fact, advertising the thumb.

C) Microscopic watermelons are also a thing, which I didn’t know prior to this search. I presume these watermelons, each of which must be peeled separately in order to eat them, are for people who are exceedingly bored and thus can allot time to tiny watermelon peeling. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I know not who these people are, but I would like one afternoon to be them, please.

P.P.P.S. Following the horrific “shitholes” comment by President Trump yesterday, one of you (I’m looking at you, Mehera) suggested we elect Jed Bartlet president, instead. I’m in favor. Also acceptable, in no particular order: Jean Luc Picard, Michelle Obama, Mike Rowe, a bag of chips, my Golden Retriever Zoey, Sarah Silverman, Elizabeth Warren, a rock, The Rock, that one flight attendant who had enough of his job and pulled the emergency exit door on the tarmac so he could escape via life raft slide, my favorite barista Ian from the Coffee Cottage, Stampy the Minecraft YouTuber, Boss Baby, Gayle King, Ira Flatow, or these teeny, tiny watermelons that look like thumbs. Sheesh. 

A Jumbled Mess That Makes No Sense But Maybe I’ll Write About Watermelon Thumbs Tomorrow

Jan 12 2018

I keep trying to write to you but my brain is all over the place in the current political and religious environment in the U.S., so half the time I want to unload my thoughts on serious subjects like our president’s abhorrent use today of the word shitholes to describe Nearly All the Countries Where Black People Come From, and the other half of the time I want to ask you how many Maturity Points I get, exactly, for not posting the photos I took of Greg sporting the kitten speedo I gave him for Christmas. 

In other words, my thoughts are like a tumble dryer spinning on the infinite cycle, a symptom, I suspect, of the anxiety of our modern era, and it’s difficult to stop the spinning long enough to pull out Just One Thing and write about it well. Do you do this, too? Do you spin and spin and spin and spin? Or is it just me?

I tried again tonight, and no luck. Zero. So I stream-of-conscienced it, instead, which did no good at all.

All I want in this moment is five minutes of quiet — five minutes to gather my thoughts and take a deep breath and just, you know, try to release a modicum of the pressure that’s been building in my neck and shoulders and back all day — and, because I’m a good communicator who doesn’t expect my family to read my mind, I have told them this. With words. And also with the red laser beams shooting from my eyes, dramatic sighing, and saying, “Seriously, you guys. SERIOUSLY.” 

Here’s how it’s going:

  1. I have one kid reading me all the titles in a cookbook — “Pressure cooker Chinese chicken, Mom. Tex-Mex beef and rice casserole! Bacon apple pork chops. That sounds good. You should make that one, Mom. Mom? You should… oh! Souvlaki! What’s souvlaki? Mom? Mom. Mom. MOM. Are you even listening to me, Mom?”
  2. I have one kid with expressive language disorder and an abiding desire to be the Boss of Everything correcting the first kid on his pronunciation — “Dude. That’s SHELL LOCKEY.”
  3. I have one kid who just slammed his toes on the leg of the couch, jumping on one foot and yelling, “FUCK. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck,” because of science.
  4. And I have one kid turning up the volume on his Minecraft YouTube videos because “EVERYONE IS TOO LOUD FOR ME TO HEAR. EVERYONE. EVERYONE IS TOO LOUD,” which I couldn’t agree with more.

^^^That’s it.^^^ That’s all I was able to write. It felt like my brain was cross-eyed and on fire.

But now it’s after 10pm and the children are in bed, which means I’ve got approximately 9 minutes before someone comes back out with a question about this week’s schedule… or a request to make cookies tomorrow… or a permission slip to sign. I will remind them that bedtime is Not the Time for These Things and tell them to ask again tomorrow, they will fuss because they forgot and they neeeeeeeeeed to know noooooooowww, and I will threaten to take away their screens which obviously distracted them from remembering. I’ve wasted 2 minutes already telling you this, which, if you have children, you already know, so that’s 2 minutes I’ll never get back. 

Friends, I am weary. For real. So, SO tired. I mean, physically tired, yes, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually spent. And trying to raise kids right now? Knowing the Trump presidency and the church’s complicity in it, along with the church’s exclusion of us and of gender and sexual minorities, will be a major part of their formative memories? It’s overwhelming. 

So, in lieu of a brain that works, I’ll leave you with the encouragement to go watch this today, on the 8th anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake: Anderson Cooper’s emotional tribute to and defense of Haiti whose people deserve our love. He explains more eloquently than I ever could why we need to treasure each other and learn from the dignity of the Haitian people. 

Waving in the dark,

 

 

 

P.S. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about watermelon thumbs. That will make more sense than this jumbled mess. Maybe.

 

Greg Thinks My Cooking Looks Like an Open Wound

Jan 3 2018

Greg thinks my cooking looks like an open wound. 

“BETH?” he yelled from upstairs. “WHY DID YOU POST A PHOTO OF AN OPEN WOUND ON YOUR BLOG?”

Listen; with a family our size, we have to yell from one floor to the other. Yes, our parents taught us not to hollar throughout the house because we are humans and not elephants trumpeting in the wilderness —“Go FIND people and TALK TO THEM WITHOUT YELLING,” my mother would yell — but we have too many people in our house for that to work. Do you have any idea how much exercise we would get if we always talked to our people in person around here? Every request and reminder? For all five children plus the spouse? THAT’S SO MANY STAIRS TO WALK, y’all. We’d get repetitive stress injuries like extreme marathoners, and, healthcare being what it is in America, WE CANNOT AFFORD THAT. So we yell. It’s just practical. 

So. “BETH?” Greg yelled from upstairs. “WHY DID YOU POST A PHOTO OF AN OPEN WOUND ON YOUR BLOG?”

And I yelled back, “I DID NOT POST A PHOTO OF AN OPEN WOUND ON MY BLOG.” 

And he yelled, “YES, YOU DID. I’M LOOKING AT IT RIGHT NOW.”

And I yelled, “I DIDN’T.”

And he yelled, “OH, YEAH. I SEE IT NOW. IT’S JUST PIE.”

Which is when I realized my beloved partner — the man to whom I committed my life and body — can’t tell the difference between my cooking and torn flesh. 

There is no point to this post other than to make you feel good about whatever you’re putting on your table. I live to serve. Simply ask yourself from now on, “Does this look better than a fresh, bloody lesion?” If the answer is yes, you’re doing better than me. 

You’re welcome. Weird encouragement is better than no encouragement?

Love,

 

 

 

P.S. Click here for the recipe for Heinous-Rhymes-With-Anus Flesh Wound Pie

 

On the New Year, Choosing a Word, and Being Wilder on Purpose

Jan 2 2018

I’ve never picked a personal Word for the Year, even though I’m pretty sure all the popular kids do it.

I assume I don’t pick one because I’m lazy.

Or maybe because I’m busy.

Or, more honestly, probably because I’m too invested in making sure I don’t have time alone with myself to actually sit and be quiet and think about what I want, who I want to be, and how best to love this broken, shaky, beautiful world around me.

So, instead of sussing a Word for the Year, I’ve spent the last week trying new Instant Pot recipes, baking No Knead Crusty Dutch Oven Bread, and researching whether or not it’s possible to dry the starter for Amish Friendship Bread, like this, so I can eat it whenever I want without needing Actual Friends to pass it along to me. (Answer: I STILL DON’T KNOW AND THIS BOTHERS ME). 

My friends come up with cool words every year like BRAVE and LET IT GO and LOVE BIGGER, and you know what? They do it. They Pay Attention to their words. They let themselves be challenged. They try and they fail and then they keep trying which is success as far as I’m concerned, and so they change themselves in important and profound ways. 

I want to be like them.

But I’m not.

I’m more… muddled, I guess. Murky. A maze of both Magic and Mess. And also, I don’t know what to make of Things Lately. Like 2017. I don’t know what to make of that. Cluster Fuck seems too mild, and Dumpster Fire is downright adorable now, from Good Old Days of 2016. Remember that? When the fire was still contained in the dumpster? THAT WAS SO FANTASTIC, friends! I feel like we should apologize to the dumpster, you know? Like we maligned the dumpster without cause.

So, while I love seeing my friends’ words like Hope, and Thrive, and BE, and Listen, I can’t quite wrap my brain or my heart around just the joyful, contemplative goals right now. They feel… important, but also… incomplete. I’m happy for the New Year, I’m grateful for a symbolic fresh start, but I’m also mourning all the things that died last year, and I’m not sure my Expectations and Mirages are done dying yet. I still hear the death throes, so brushing off my hands and declaring Mourning Over feels premature. But I can’t choose Mourn as my word, either, because I don’t want to only lament what’s lost. I’m too grateful for that. Too glad to have my people. Too thrilled with this utterly strange, wild life. 

Is there a space, I wonder, between positive and negative? Between darkness and light? And, if so, how do I choose Dusk or Dawn, where light and dark converge, instead of Midnight or High Noon? What’s the word for that one? Where I’m content and confused, mixed and a little mangled, heavy-hearted and hopeful, but OK with all that? Where’s the quantum magic that takes us more than one place at once? Lost and found at the same time and somehow more free because of it?

Where do we get to be complex? Fully human with all the grand, gory bits that entails, and still made in the very Image of God? In the Image of Love? In the Image of all that is Divine and perfect? 

Where is that place, and how do I find it in 2018? Remember it in a word? 

I sat on the couch tonight, my back and brain aching from Doing All the Things this holiday season; my heart on cruise control because sometimes I Just Cannot Deal with all the Heart Things; my mouth running to remind kids of chores and chastising them for “not remembering” their work, as though that’s not simply part of the Human Condition.

I sat on the couch tonight, and I thought about the complexity of the year gone by and the undoubted challenges in the year ahead.

I sat on the couch tonight, and I thought about the joy and grief of wandering in the wilderness, which is where we’ve found ourselves in this season. I thought about how glad I am discard the false idol of safety and to release the pressure to conform in favor of being free to love my neighbor as myself.

I thought about what it is to be wild like the earth shakers and game changers.

I thought about what it might be to be wilder than I allow right now.

I thought about what it would look like to acknowledge I’m complex. 

To be fierce and a little feral.

To welcome both strength and weakness. To rest in either one. To fight neither.

I thought about what it might mean to allow myself to be intense without apology; to stop listening to the voices that tell me I’m too much; to give free rein to fervent kindness, bold joy, deep grief, and love which never fails. Even when they arrive in rapid succession. Even when they overlap and make things messier.

I thought about being wild.

I thought about what it might mean to be wilder. To be more free. To be more me, as I was made to be. As though I’m worth pursuing, even in the tangle and chaos of the wild. Especially there. 

So I picked my word. 

Be wilder.

Which is, of course, also bewilder. 

Because I want to remind myself that it’s good and right to become ever more free. And it’s also OK that there’s going to be some confusion. Some consternation. Some complexity. Some muck and some mess.

Welcome, Wild Ones. Come and be free.

With love,