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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Dear 2019:

Despite the fact that I likely won’t be awake to officially welcome you (I’m elderly and need my sleep), I really am looking forward to seeing you.

[As for you, 2018, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Good riddance (we did not have the time of our lives).]

Readers who have been with me here for a while know that I’m not a resolution kind of gal. Why wait to make changes you need to make?

I needed to start a diet, so I did — in September.

I needed to rethink some relationships, so I did — in July.

I needed to get a project back on track, so I did — in February.

All that said, the first day of the new year offers a good time to reflect. And I have looked inside myself and found some internal shriveling. Hence (such a good word), here’s how I hope to improve while I’m in you, 2019:

  1. Refrain from strangling Dominic for one more year. It’s so hard. He’s 14; the hormones are strong with this one. Eddie and I take turns playing Good Cop and Bad Cop. Today, Eddie was Bad Cop, telling Dominic to turn in some missing school work. Then I get this text:
  2. Let Gideon hold my hand, even when his hand is clammy. His hand is always clammy. Or sticky. Dear God, WHY is his hand always clammy or sticky?
  3. Stop telling Gideon his hand is clammy/sticky, and that he needs to wash WITH SOAP.
  4. Resist the urge to roll my eyes at Eddie. Ever. No matter what silly thing he is asking/doing/saying. At least where he can see me. And he will do the same for me. (And believe me, I give him plenty of opportunities.)
  5. Avoid being a beer snob. If all they have is Coors Light or PBR, just walk away. Get some water, maybe even out of the garden hose (same difference). No need to make a big deal of it.
  6. Cut down on collecting dead things. Photos of dead things can be fine. And friends posting about dead things on my social media also is fine. And live things too.
  7. Refuse to engage with toxic people. Clearly, I’ll have to give up Twitter. (But then I’ll miss people posting about dead things and live things.)
  8. Write more; talk less. And don’t get sidetracked by Words With Friends. (Is this appropriate? Probably. I don’t know him.)
  9. Seek help for my Amazon Prime addiction. The plus side of this is that Christmas shopping was done by October.
  10. Invite people over. Yes, our apartment is the size of the Keebler tree. No one cares.
  11. Use the following words every chance I get: savory, shank, persnickety, moist, perfunctory, shocking, lollygag, kerfuffle, fracas, soiree, illicit, nefarious, supine, incandescent, degloved and mollycoddle. They just have a remarkable mouthfeel.

As for you, 2019, we will chat again when your 90-day probationary period is up. And mine too, I guess.

Happy new you,
Beth

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Dear Retailers Who Start Decorating for Christmas Around Halloween:

There’s a special place in Hell for you. Sorry, not sorry. By doing this, you skip over one of the most important days (well, what should be one of the most important days) of the year: Thanksgiving.

Despite its rather-odious origin, Thanksgiving provides a good time to take stock of your life and be happy for what you have.

Look, I’m not great at this. In fact, a quick check of this blog reveals I haven’t done this publicly since 2012.

While much on that list has remained the same, today I am thankful for these particular things:

Jason Momoa

Dear God. This fine creature is No. 7 on the list.

  1. Friends and family who “get” me. For example, I am fortunate enough to have a spouse and at least one child who went willingly along as I planned a Thanksgiving trip (more on that later) and brought Hando. (The other child, not so much. He’s 13 and permanently cranky.)
  2. The ability and inclination to travel.
  3. Funny, wise and supportive work colleagues (you know who you are).
  4. An endless supply of taxidermy (and related products) on the Internet and in physical stores.
  5. The bacon-imprinted blanket Trish gave me. It’s the softest thing ever.
  6. WiFi.
  7. Jason Momoa, you sexy bastard.
  8. Willpower to stay on a strict diet (22 pounds less of me so far, in case you were wondering).
  9. Creature Comforts’ Athena, my favorite beer.
  10. Apothic Red. It’s just an eminently drinkable red blend.
  11. The fact that I’m clearly not an alcoholic, as I’ve been able to stay away from No. 9 and 10 because of 8.
  12. Coffee.
  13. Diet-sanctioned almond milk for No. 12.
  14. Labeling of products in other countries (see photo below).
  15. Leaves that change color.
  16. Uno.
  17. Airbnb.
  18. Words with “ack” in them, like “slack,” “crack” and “tacky.”
  19. Dating Hautnah,” the German version of the British show “Naked Attraction” (and it’s on where we are traveling!).
  20. This blog. I used to keep a journal, but I’ve updated my practice thanks to technology. Now I can document all my weird adventures and odd thoughts, and schedule them to post whenever. (A corollary: I am thankful for the readers of these strange musings.)
Good times!

Re: No. 14. I’m not a mayo fan, but this labeling might make me reconsider.

My point is that there is not a direct line from Halloween to Christmas. If you need to divest people of their money, then you can play up the need to be thankful. Guilt is a great motivator.

Talking turkey for real,
Beth

* Thank you, Ariana Grande.

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Dear People Who Don’t Understand My Love of Bad Taxidermy:

First, you don’t have to understand. You don’t live with me. (Unless you are Eddie, who does have to live with me and spends most of his time rolling his eyes and sighing.)

Second, what’s there to understand? I think it’s funny. Maybe you don’t. Fine. I don’t judge your love of period dramas and pumpkin spice brisket. (That’s a thing, right?)

Third, if you must know, I can trace it back to early 2014. Eddie and I were chaperones for one of the boys’ field trips, and we were waiting for the school bus to arrive. BuzzFeed put out a listicle of top 10 examples of bad taxidermy. Eddie and I laughed ourselves to tears recreating the poor creatures that made the list. Like this:

It still makes me laugh.

And so I started posting other examples of bad taxidermy on people’s Facebook pages as birthday greetings. Totally normal behavior. Right? Right?!

Then I got my first piece of bad taxidermy: a squirrel tail in the shape of a question mark.

It was a thank-you gift from a graduate student after she successfully defended her thesis. I was her chair. She gave it to me and said, “I saw this and thought of you because you like bad taxidermy and wrote question marks all over drafts of my thesis.”

True.

The tail led to a deer head from the 1950s, then a deer tail plaque with a thermometer (a furmometer!), then a blowfish ornament, then Hando.

Now, people see this and think of me:

And that’s fine by me. (I immediately thought, “Christmas gift!”)

You still don’t get it?

Well, I don’t know what to tell you. Many people do get it, and get me. Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) would.

Maybe you can just scroll on past. Or look away. It really only matters that I think it’s hilarious. That’s my thing. You find yours. I support you.

Yours in foam forms and glass eyes,
Beth

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Dear Fake News Media:

You don’t exist.

You are a figment of a certain someone‘s overactive imagination and marketing strategy to a willing audience.

You are an oxymoron. If something is fake (i.e., not real), it’s not news (news is real). News is not fake just because someone doesn’t like it.

You know what does exist? Actual news media made up of real people who work their butts off to inform the population and hold people in power accountable — the fourth estate that ensures a strong republic. (Oh that old thing … )

You know what is newsworthy? Here are the criteria:

Timeliness: happening now or just happened
Prominence: the person/entity involved is well known or powerful
Proximity: happening or happened nearby
Impact/consequence: affected or will affect readers/viewers
Novelty/rarity: out of the ordinary
Human interest: the lives of others are interesting

If it’s not out of the ordinary, it wouldn’t bear a mention. That’s just the way it is.

There’s a saying in news:

You don’t cover the planes that land.

You cover the wrecks.

Someone I know on Facebook (name withheld for protection) wrote:

MSM would be lost were it not for [Trump’s] tweets. They hang on every word, analyze them, and re-analyze them.

Um … yeah. He’s the president. What he says is news. Duh.

“Lost,” though? Not likely.

There’s plenty to cover without Trump tweeting.

It blows my mind how much we cover in one day.

That’s from Kristen Welker, White House correspondent for NBC News.

She said that last night in the AEJMC keynote panel, “Covering the White House: From Eisenhower to Trump,” held in Washington, D.C., and broadcast on C-SPAN.

(Yeah, I’m at a journalism education conference with other university professors/administrators — plus news organizations/foundations — and I’m still a journalist. Both of my professions are under fire. Lucky me!)

Those people who are suspicious of the mainstream media, though, should take solace in this fact shared in that same panel by Christi Parsons, former White House correspondent with the Tribune Company.

Because [Trump] is so personally antagonistic, journalists go above and beyond to double check.

The news media is not the “enemy of the people.” The news media consists of real people trying to do important work in a profession under siege by the person in the nation’s highest office.

Those who delight in calling the media “enemy” plus “fake,” think about this:

Do you really want to live in a country without independent media covering people making decisions with your tax money?

The true enemy of the people is the lack of critical thinking.

My advice to those worried about veracity and bias? Get your news from a variety of sources, as suggested by Herman and Chomsky way back in the ’80s.

My advice to the 43 percent in that poll? Please educate yourself about democracy and guy named Jefferson. Or don’t, but don’t answer polls. Skip the news, and just go watch Netflix and chill.

My advice to journalists? Keep on keeping on. Ask the tough questions. Submit the open records requests. Keep striving for objectivity.

We need you more than ever.

And tell me where I can donate so you can hire security.

Yours in solidarity,
Beth

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Dear loyal readers,

If you have been with me here for a while, you know that grammar and punctuation often are topics for posts. Many moons ago, I wrote a few posts about words I hate. I also wrote the antithesis post. Two, actually.

But I have a new list with a theme.

Always an anglophile, I’ve become even more obsessed with all things England after my recent trip. As you all know.

[Before you get your knickers in a twist (explanation below) about this obsession, just know that my fixations come and go, roughly lasting two weeks to a month (memory refreshers here, here and here). Bear with me; it’s almost over. Also, I’ve been bingeing “Game of Thrones.” Cut me some slack.]

Hence: British words I love (in alphabetical order, because I’m proper like that)

  • ace and, sometimes, aces (adjectives): excellent

Use it in a sentence, please: “That’s ace!” Trish said when her telephonophobic friend finally called her back instead of texting.

  • barmy and barking (adjectives): mad, crazy

Use it in a sentence, please: Eddie thought his wife had gone barmy for going out every weekend.

  • bollocks and bollocking (nouns): nonsense, verbal trash; trashing, telling off

Use it in a sentence, please: Si spent way too much time talking bollocks. Meanwhile, Clair gave Karl a royal bollocking for sleeping during the set. (In his defense, he did have to get up at 6 a.m.)

  • candyfloss (noun): cotton candy

Use it in a sentence, please: Her late grandmother’s hair was blue and spun into an orb like candyfloss at the circus.

  • caravan (noun): RV

Use it in a sentence, please: Hannah is contemplating a caravan rental for the music festival.

  • car park (noun): parking lot/garage

Use it in a sentence, please: Terry didn’t like to go to new places because he worried about finding adequate car parks.

  • cheeky (adjective): impertinent

Use it in a sentence, please: Gideon is becoming quite the cheeky monkey.

  • chuffed (adjective): pleased

Use it in a sentence, please: Hazel was chuffed to little mint balls.

  • dodgy (adjective): sketchy

Use it in a sentence, please: She fled to the ladies room to avoid the dodgy fellow at the bar.

  • faff (verb and noun): to waste time (v) or a time-waster (n)

Use it in a sentence, please: Dominic felt that any interaction with his family was a bit of a faff.

  • gutted (adjective): really upset

Use it in a sentence, please: Beth was gutted about what that asshole Ramsay Bolton did to Theon Greyjoy.

  • hoover (verb): vacuum

Use it in a sentence, please: She accidentally hoovered up the slip of paper on which she wrote an important email address.

  • jacket potato (noun): baked potato

Use it in a sentence, please: Do I really need to?

  • kit (noun): clothing

Use it in a sentence, please: “Come on then, get your kit off,” she had her hero say to the heroine in the sex book she was writing.

  • knackered (adjective): exhausted

Use it in a sentence, please: Cris was knackered Sunday morning after staying out so late the night before.

  • knickers (noun): panties (yes, I love this word too)

Use it in a sentence, please: I already did (see above). (Knickers in a twist = panties in a bunch)

  • pinched and nicked (verbs): stole

Use it in a sentence, please: René pinched some candy from the jar on Beth’s desk.

  • rogering (noun): sex

Use it in a sentence, please: Once the heroine had gotten her kit off, the hero gave her a good rogering.

  • rubbish (should be a noun, but Brits use it as an adjective): worthless

Use it in a sentence, please: I’m rubbish at this Twitter malarkey.

  • skip (noun): dumpster

Use it in a sentence, please: The teenager’s mother got so angry at him that she threw all his Xbox games in the skip.

  • shambolic (adjective): very disorganized, confused

Use it in a sentence, please: The shambolic mess of a woman straggled home after a night out way past her bedtime.

  • shirty (adjective): bad-tempered or aggressive

Use it in a sentence, please: Barry reminded his old girlfriend that the night of the first Tommy Stinson experience was also the night she got into a scrap at the front of the stage because some girl got shirty with her.

  • the tits (adjective): fantastic

Use it in a sentence, please: That shit is the tits.

  • wee (should be a verb, but Brits use it as a noun): pee

Use it in a sentence, please: I went for a wee,” the crazy American shouted to everyone within earshot at the club.

I have heard or read all of these in just the past month. I’ve used some of them. It’s made conversations more interesting.

(British friends, if I have got it all to cock, please make sure I’m sorted. I promise I won’t throw a wobbly.)

 

Side note: This was in the British aisle of my local international market. Pretty sure it should have been Marmite. (I was looking for mushy peas. No, they’re not gross. Shut up.)

Cheerio!
Beth

 

 

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Dear Brits,

I love you. You know I do. As I recently found out thanks to the results from the Ancestry DNA kit, I have at least 18 percent of you in my system (the geography nerd in me is a little confused by how Scotland and Wales are somehow marked separately from Great Britain, though). Look here:

Anyway, I’ve always been an anglophile, thanks to my burning desire for Adam Ant.

So when I needed time away to complete a project I’ve been procrastinating on for a year and a half, I chose your chilly, tea-soaked environs. Thankfully, I had a Delta voucher, vacation time available, and two long-time friends who live within 20 minutes of each other.

These are a few of my favorite things:

1. The pubs. Within a one-block radius in Uttoxeter, for example, I worked on my project at The Black Swan, The Old Swan, The Old Star, Ye Olde Talbot and The Vault. The Guinness was spectacular at all.

2. Coffee. I have no shits to give about tea (sorry), but you have proper coffee. I love that you feel free to order cappuccino at all times of the day.

3. Friendliness. You love Americans like mothers love their weird, wayward sons. I was a source of curiosity in every pub I visited to write. Many of you wanted to know what I thought about Donald Trump. (I try not to think about him.) Many of you were pleased at my beer of choice. Every pub played American music, which amused the crap out of me as I am the biggest fan of the Second British Invasion.

4. The TV. No one does television better than you. There is no way anyone else (except maybe the Dutch) would have given the world “Naked Attraction.” The promo line? “A daring dating series that starts where some good dates might end — naked.”

It’s not pixelated at 10 p.m. on a weeknight. I’m shocked. And hooked.

5. The language. I’m tickled at your phrases. The terms of endearment alone sold me (“Duck,” “Shug,” “Love”). I’m definitely “sorted” at the moment. I’m using “straightaway” instead of “now.” I’m in love with “posh” (the word, not the Spice Girl).

I could listen to you all day. And did:

“She wants a wee!” — said by Man One to Man Two as I was trying to slide past Man Two to get to the ladies room.

“We’ve replaced you with someone far more attractive. You weren’t doing your job, so we’ve sacked you.” — Man Three to Man Four as I was sitting in his seat at the pub.

6. Your bluntness. Take this sign, for example.

Harsh. I feel sorry for the Simon Howie haggis. They can dream, I guess.

Anyway, thank you for being you. I hope to see you again soon.

Tra!
Beth

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