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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

Echo and the Bunnymen perform for the elderly at Chastain Park.

Dear Fellow Concert-goers (aka Grizzled Old Beasts Just Like Me),

It was great to hang out with you at the Echo and the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes performance last night. Between the sets, I was taking a good look at all of you — people watching, as I do. You know, finding inspiration for this blog and other writing projects.

I noticed plenty of partial and full hair loss, beer bellies, socks pulled up too far, white shoes, varicose veins, gray hair, etc.

“Jesus, these people are old,” thought I.

That uncharitable thought was followed quickly by this one:

“Oh shit. These are my people. I’m old too.”

Dang. That was a rude awakening. I’m still 27. In my head. Forever. As I bet you are too.

 

Notice the beer (which was delicious). Then notice who is beyond the beer. Notice the cane and the socks.

How we feel how we look.

It’s depressing.

😕

But not as depressing as the thought of the geriatric dating game. Some of you were definitely hooking up (or trying to, at least). I mean, good for you.

Eddie and I ended up joking about that this morning (I’m in blue, in case you are cursed with an Android phone):

(Don’t give me flak for hating on the stout hairless men of the world. We all have a type, and that’s not mine. And they don’t like me either. So there.)

If forced, I guess I’d have to get some Botox and lipo and start cougaring. But then I’d have to forget knowing every ’80s song, including the Femmes’ repertoire.

I cannot live a lie.

Just like us (in our minds), the Femmes’ sound hasn’t aged at all.

So I think we should all agree to keep on keeping on, just as Hunter S. Thompson recommended:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a Ride!'”

Ride on, fellow geezers.
Beth

 

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Dear Dad,

The last time I wrote to you here, I had satire on my mind. This time it is to complain. Thanks to you, I feel the need to bleach my entire body. This weekend cleaning out your garage was rough.

Even before you passed, I had marshaled the troops (i.e., your son in law and grandchildren who had no choice) to get your garage hoard somewhat under control. Just one bay of the three took us almost an entire weekend, including two trips in two trucks to both the dump and Goodwill.

Since your September demise, I’ve spent many weekend days inside your house going through mounds of paperwork (Why would you save owner’s manuals for appliances you gave away in the ’90s?), office supplies (so many office supplies) and CDs (Four copies of the same Flatt and Scruggs recording? What the heck?!) in just one room alone. At least I was in air conditioning and relative comfort.

This garage cleaning, though … sheesh. Here’s what I personally handled in just three hours:

1. Empty and near-empty bottles of all manner of small engine fluids
2. Stacks of 78 rpm records
3. Hundreds of jars of dried-up model airplane paint
4. All kinds of outdated technology (a slide projector!)
5. At least 45 different species of spiders and bugs, most of them alive and ready to rumble

Some people (you) might say, “Hold on — that’s valuable stuff!” Well, Dad, not when it has been in a detached garage without climate control and regular roach bombings.

Three more trips to Goodwill and another trip to the dump, and I’m not done yet. I see at least three more days of purging ahead of me. And maybe some therapy to address my new daddy issues.

I know it’s bad form for me to be upset with you when you aren’t physically present to defend yourself. It’s frustrating, though, because I remember the week I spent — using vacation days from work, no less — cleaning this very same garage after Mom died in 2009. And you were not happy about it (even though you asked me to do it).

When I tried to get rid of your model-airplane parts, you yelled at me that you were going to get back into building planes. When I questioned the need for 400 cassettes, you said you still listened to all of them — even though there was not a tape player in sight (the reel-to-reel player doesn’t count). When I started to throw away some dry-rotted Christmas decorations, you claimed you used them “just last year” — a statement we both knew was false when Frosty melted in my hands.

I begged you to be more aggressive in your tossing. I remember saying, “Dad, please don’t leave this all for me to clean up when you die.”

Now it’s almost 10 years later and everything is exactly as I left it. Except you’ve added more. For example, what’s this collection in the corner, Dad?

I really don’t want to put my hands in that pile.

I was not prepared mentally or physically for this garage showdown. For one thing, I forgot to bring gloves, a mask, boxes and industrial-strength garbage bags. When Katherine brought out some trash bags from the house, I felt encouraged that they were laden with “rodent repellent.”*

mint-scented rodent repellent bags

That is, until I got a whiff.

Remember my last post in which I said I have a “titanium stomach and a broken sniffer.” Yeah, well, mint-scented rodent repellent apparently is my kryptonite. I could smell that very well. And my stomach did not approve.

I really needed a hazmat suit, a cheering squad for motivation, and an OSHA-approved eye- and body-wash station. I even considered another trip to the Jeju Sauna. That’s how bad it was.

None of my friends should wonder why I like the show, “Hoarders.” It provides cognizance, comfort and coping skills all in one!

I realized, though, while I was doing an extended-surface and deep-body-cavity cleansing afterward that you are still teaching me even though you have moved on to the great beyond.

The lesson?

Never do this to your kids.

Mine will be lucky to get a footlocker from me, as I plan to chuck almost everything long before I kick it.

You know I love you, but I did not love this.

Sigh.

Say hi to Mom and Gram for me.

Your organized and aggravated daughter,
Beth

* Note that it says it is effective against raccoons. Two things:
1. Hando did not come with me on this adventure, so I guess it works on dead raccoon parts.
2. It does not work on live ones, or at least live rabid ones. Katherine tangled with one on the front porch just moments before we got there. (Ironic, no?) The rabid brethren of Hando then tangled with a car and lost.

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Yep, that’s a moonshine still (and a guy named Bullet Bob). Welcome to the South!

Dear Liquor Lovers:

Though I am mostly a beer and wine drinker, I went on a mission that you would love: a trip to the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery.

For someone like me who likes to go on adventures and write about them, this had all the elements of a good story:

1. An interesting setting
The distillery is next door to Dawsonville City Hall, which is also home to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. The distillery is connected.

It’s a short walk to the Food Lion if you need vittles before or after.

2. Colorful characters
Inside, I met “Rocket Man” and “Bullet Bob.” That’s how they introduced themselves. Here’s Rocket Man with his wares:

And here’s Bullet Bob with the grain mash on the tour of the (about 20′ x 20′) distilling room:

And here’s Richard, the stuffed Raccoon, otherwise known as “Dickless,” according to Rocket Man:

Hando will be disappointed that he missed meeting his brethren.

4. Snappy dialogue
Me (introducing myself because I felt I had to as I was the only person on the tour): “I’m Beth.”
Bullet Bob: “Where are you from?”
Me: “I grew up in Stone Mountain.”
Bob: “I once drove up the mountain in my jeep on a double date.”
Me: “Was that the last date?”
Bob: “No, I married her. That didn’t last long.”

Rocket Man (at the tasting, pouring me a pink potion): “Ever had Sex on the Beach?”
Me: “Yes.”
Rocket Man: “I mean the drink.”
Me: “Har har.”

4. Believable conflict or peril
After a tiny taste of the White Lightning, I had to keep from screaming “Motherf—–” at Rocket Man and sprinting to the Food Lion for a jug of milk. (Moonshine that is 109 proof will do that.)

3. Compelling plot
I drove an hour to a city I had never visited to take this distillery “tour.” I put myself in great danger (Atlanta roads, moonshine tasting, jar of raccoon penis bones next to the tasting cups), all to get presents for friends (and a good story).

Peter Piper picked a peck of trash-panda peckers.

The tale also had a great resolution: I came away with an understanding of how moonshine is made, more information about “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” the aforementioned gifts, and this blog post.

And perhaps new items for the must-drink list for you boozehounds.

Salud!
Beth

The devil in a jug

*Apologies to Will Smith for changing his lyrics.

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A summary of “Avengers: Infinity War”

Dear People of Earth Who Want to See “Avengers: Infinity War” But Didn’t See It On Opening Weekend:

I have thoughts about the movie, if you want to hear them. I’m just a regular person, not a movie critic. Here are some other disclaimers:

  • I’m not a DC fan. Sorry. Too dark. No humor. I fell asleep during “Batman vs. Superman” and didn’t feel like I missed anything. I refused to go with my family to see “Justice League.” I did like “Wonder Woman,” though.
  • I’ve seen all of the Marvel Universe movies. I wish Stan Lee were my grandfather. When my kids met him, I was the one breathing into a paper bag. As I do.
  • I love Thor, Loki, Iron Man and Bruce Banner (not the Hulk, though).
  • I don’t like Captain America, Bucky, Spider-Man, Vision and the Scarlet Witch. There: I said it.
  • I cannot get enough of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
  • I haven’t read any of the comic books.

All right. Now that I have all that out of the way so you know where I’m coming from, here are my thoughts:

1. The movie could have been subtitled, “How Thor Gets His Groove Back” or “The Trouble with Hulky” or “Call Me By My Superhero Name.” (And two of those could be six-word movie reviews.)

2. All the Avengers  (except two) got screen time — some more than others, of course. I’m satisfied.

3. I now like Scarlet Witch and Spider-Man much better. Shocking! (There’s a bit between Spider-Man and Star Lord — with side notes from Iron Man and Drax — that is brilliant.)

4. The best villains are the ones that have an understandable motive and some humanity. Thanos is a great villain.

5. There’s enough in this movie for five stand-alone movies (i.e., plenty going on, so don’t step out for popcorn or a wee).

6. If you haven’t seen any of the movies, you still will understand what is going on. You won’t pick up on some of the comments, but that’s OK.*

7. It’s funny. The best thing about the Avengers is the chemistry among them (and the resulting banter). The best scenes are the ones where characters meet other characters for the first time.

8. The ending is dark. Not really DC dark, but darker than usual.

9. BUT know that this isn’t over. There are more Avengers movies to come, so don’t freak out at the ending.

10. It’s worth the money (but it does make me want to go back and watch the first “Iron Man,” the first “Avengers” and the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” for all the character development and quotable lines).

Hope you enjoy it! I’d love to know what you think.
Beth

* If you’ve never seen prior movies, this will be me trying to explain:

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Dear Trish the Chicken,

It’s been eight years since your untimely death. I miss you on the reg, but never more so than yesterday.

I went to the Northwest Georgia Poultry Club show in Calhoun, Georgia — an hour northish of where we live now.

By myself.

For no reason beyond curiosity.

I did feel out of place, though. For example, I drive a Volkswagen, not something like this:

 

Also, I wasn’t wearing camouflage. (An oversight, really. I do own plenty of camo and a general affinity for rednecks.)

The show made me miss you so much, and also miss having a house where we could have chickens. Look at your beautiful brethren!

This looks like some kind of dog!

I thought the sign said “bitchen” at first, and I thought, “Yes, that is a bitchen’ chicken.”

Look at this handsome specimen!

She’s got legs, and knows how to use them.

What a beautiful bird.

This face!

As I am mostly a “city girl,” it’s hard for me to understand some customs. For example, why is one of the judges wearing a Clinique consultant coat and the other is wearing an apron?

Let’s review your skin care regimen.

The apron on the guy on the left says, “Judge.” It makes me fear for the losers of the competition.

The contestants were vying for these trophies. And perhaps the hand sanitizer as well.

And the title of Champion Cock.

These were the sights. You can imagine the smells. Here are the sounds:

Finally, thanks to the onsite Tabernacle of Praise, I was able to say a little prayer for you.

Anyway, it was an interesting Saturday morning.

And I still miss you.

Love always,
Beth

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Dear Trump, GOP and NRA assholes representatives,

I am a teacher, and I DO NOT want to carry a gun to class. I’m there to instruct, not take down a “bad guy.” (Armed teachers = unusually bad idea, even for you)

I have one goal in class: Teach. I work with college students, so they are paying my salary. My goal is to give them their money’s worth and more. I want to be the life-changing (life-saving in a different way) professor like Dr. Brightman was for me.

Part of my job is figuring out what each student needs (and I guarantee that it is not an AR-15 in their hands or mine).

Students usually come in a handful of personas. Here’s a field guide:

The Tracy Flick
Hand up first. Already has an A, but wants extra credit. “Overachiever” doesn’t even begin to encompass this student. Also can dissolve quickly if mastery doesn’t come easy.

The Ferris Bueller
Seems like he doesn’t care and isn’t paying attention, but he is smarter than the average bear. Often turns in the best work in the class without even trying.

The Jeff Spicoli
Sigh. What do you do about a student who is paying money to go to college, but is just a complete slacker? Love them anyway.

The Summer “Tinkerbell” Hathaway
This student is suspicious of you from the get-go, but you will slowly win her over if you do, in fact, know what you are talking about. And then she will try to push you to see how far she can go.

The Will Hunting
This student may appear to hate your guts during the class, but he will surprise you later on when he tells you that he learned so much from you. It is an unexpected, but joyful moment.

The John Bender
Hard candy shell with a liquid center. Seems confrontational, but is masking a deep-seated vulnerability. I love to see these kinds in five years when they are all well-adjusted and shit.

The Regina George
This student often is the most challenging because she has created a particular persona, and may resist your efforts to get her to think about anything/anyone other than herself. The trick is to help her figure out how to make assignments interesting enough to her so that she will enjoy doing them (thus learning in the process).

The Steve Stifler
Every female faculty member has this student’s number (meaning we know exactly who he is). No, we cannot have a meeting with my office door closed. No, we are not going together to the fraternity party Friday night. It’s great to see this student mature and even <gasp> get married.

The Sam Baker
This student is smart but can be quiet and thus overlooked. Pay attention to this one. Still waters run deep, as they say. This student often ends up being as close to you as students in the next category.

The Todd Anderson
With this student, you know early on that he/she will be in your life forever — and that is a good thing. You “get” them, they “get” you, and it is a lovely, symbiotic relationship. You start out as professor/student and morph into colleagues and friends later on. Some people in the aforementioned categories will end up in this one, and that is a lovely thing too.

I live to make a difference. And I live for notes like these:

That’s from a student who graduated five years ago. No surprise that she was a Todd.

I want to learn how to better reach every student. I do not want to learn how to better reach my gun.

I want to be accurate with grading. I do not want to be accurate with aim.

I want to get paid to carry full classes. I do not want to get paid to carry a gun.

Please, please, please find a different way to achieve the one goal we all want: peace in schools (and everywhere, for that matter). The answer is not arming teachers.

Thanks,
Beth

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Dear Helicopter Parents:

I’m going to have to ask you to stand down. Before you get your knickers in a twist*, know that I know you: I too am a member of Gen X. Like you, I was raised by Baby Boomers who never knew where I was until the streetlights came on.

(Or when Chris Marosy’s dad rang the dinner bell in the Marosys’ front yard, whichever came first.)

Stop checking your child’s calendar, Snap and Insta for a hot second and listen to me.

What happened to you?

You know good and well that we didn’t have play dates or Pinterest-inspired birthday parties or gender-reveal parties or baby wipe warmers or organic food. (We ate Chef Boyardee ravioli out of the can, FFS!)

You know what else we didn’t have?

  • Car seats or (many times) seat belts. We just rolled around in the back of cars, putting on shows with our feet in the back window.
  • Hand sanitizer. We barely washed our hands.
  • Awards unless we came in first place. Not first? Loser.
  • Remote controls. We got up to change the channel on the TV. Only four channels; not much of a workout.
  • Cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc. See above.
  • A ride to the corner store. We walked our asses there to get our fix of Bubble Yum, Atomic Fire Balls, Bottle Caps and candy cigarettes.
  • A choice when it came to chores, the food on our plates, sitting quietly at events (no tablets or smartphones to keep us occupied).
  • Parental supervision. We were latchkey kids. We were babysitting by age 10 (sometimes earlier). The only goal was to keep the kids alive until their parents came home.
  • Words of encouragement. “Good job” not typically in a Boomer’s vocabulary.
  • Attention. Not even for injuries. That is, unless a bone was sticking out of the skin. Then we might get a Band-Aid.
  • Timeouts. We got the belt if we were acting up. Or, in my case, a whack with a flyswatter.

I’m not saying all this was great, but I am saying that we all turned out fine. We are suspicious of authority, skeptical of everything, but fine.

Our kids will be fine too. You DO NOT need to hover — I promise. We made mistakes, and we learned from them. You are making it harder for them to be adults by doing everything for them.

These are things you’ve said to me or around me (names changed to protect them like you want):

  • “Kyle is having trouble making his morning class. Can you go to his room in the mornings and wake him up?”
  • “Madison needs to learn to advocate for herself.” (Yet you come to every meeting and interrupt her when she tries to speak up.)
  • “Who will be doing Dylan’s laundry in the dorms?”

I heard a story about a dad who came to his son’s job interview. The kid did not get the job. Of course.

Poor kids.

It’s not their fault. You made them this way.

I would have DIED if my parents had talked to any of my professors or college staff. You would have too.

My parents showed up at college twice:

  • To move me in.
  • To see me graduate.

That’s it.

Times have changed. I get it. And I know there are positives to being more involved in your child’s life (like maybe fewer snatchings, less drug use, a feeling of being more connected — loved even).

I’m just asking you to back off — just a bit — when little Connor goes to college.

All of us who work at universities will thank you.

And that means you will have more free time to take up new hobbies like:

  • Finally watching “Game of Thrones.”
  • Exercising (that stomach isn’t going to flatten itself).
  • Day drinking.
  • Napping.
  • Both of the above in that order.

Thank you, from the bottom of my after-school-special-loving heart.
Beth

* I’m British now. Didn’t I tell you?

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