31 December 2007

Goodbye 2007, Hello 2008

zinnia's party hat, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Steppin' out with my baby
Can't go wrong 'cause I'm in right
It's for sure, not for maybe
That I'm all dressed up tonight

Steppin' out with my honey
Can't be bad to feel so good
Never felt quite so sunny
And I keep on knockin' wood

-- Israel Isidore Baline

30 December 2007


I have a purpose. You do too. Don't believe me if I try to tell you that I've known what mine has been all along because anyone who says that is either a big fat liar or she's a tightly bound deterministic sort who hasn't had a wide enough band of existence to discern purpose from not-purpose and wouldn't know purpose if it walked up to her and slapped her upside the head. But yes, I believe we all come into the world messy and gooey, and though what it will be might not seem clear from the gate, we are each born with purpose. We do some awfully strange thing to either confirm or deny our purposes but, like it or not they're there. Purpose exists. And while it is kind of funny in that morbid sort of off-color hilarity, I am fairly sure that some people's purpose really is to serve as a clearly bad example for the rest of us.

I've shaped myself around the inkling I have about what my purpose might be, but there's really no way of telling whether my guess is accurate or not because that sum total doesn't come until after I'm gone and while I hope by then we'll have worked out some inter-reality communication device, my guess is that we probably won't be sitting down to tea to discuss it.

I know I've had several unsatisfying attempts at narrowing down my purpose. I'm pretty sure it has to do with helping people. The results so far have been mixed. When I was a kid I thought I could help people by being a funeral director, but given my inability to keep my emotions in check I decided I'd make a terrible funeral home director if it meant the people coming to me for my professional help instead had to console me. Then I thought I'd help people by doing whatever they wanted. I ended up being taken advantage of a little too often. Many people have remarked on my apparently remarkable patience, so I worked with slightly more tender populations- kids, disabled, elderly. Burnout can come quickly though, and I didn't especially enjoy doing something for which patience is some big whoop-dee-doo deal. (it's really not. work on it, and you'll see too) Then I hear a few things about how calming my voice is - practically a magical potion for customer service jobs, so I wonder if my purpose could be to work as a financial customer service pod person for a major corporation. That particular quest started off all right, but somehow my purpose began to include handling oozing molding dripping unsalable products which, I gotta say, scrapes some of the dazzle right off the dream. I slowly wondered 'hunh, I have no particular accounting proficiencies, so why am I such a whiz at this 10-key again?' I'm confident that I stuck with that job as long as I was able to because, as a single mother, a job with health insurance and benefits make an incredible difference and I sorely needed them, right up until the trade-off started to make me sick. I didn't go back.

Someone also told me that I did nice work with computers, so I thought I could help people by making things look pretty on a monitor. But once I started taking programming classes I quickly realized that I'd rather have shredded paper stapled to the surfaces of my eyeballs than write computer code. Yes, I try to keep as up as I can tolerate on computerish happenings, but I've meet a few geeks in the ensuing years and, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to say I am no geek. I wish it were not so, but 'tis true.

The way I'm coming to look at the situation, it makes good sense to keep getting up each day if there's one thing I want to keep coming back for. So maybe I can make that one thing, whatever it might be, the thing I'll think of as my personal write-in candidate for the position of My Purpose.

And if I keep getting up every day, and if I keep returning to this thing I've elected, I believe I'll either discover that the thing I thought would propel me into bliss isn't working out so well, or I can realize hey, this seems to be doing it for me, and I can keep exploring the edges of that thing.

If I was an umbrella stand, (well first, I'd be mind-numbingly bored, but stay with me here...) I would be constructed with reinforcements at all the right umbrella stand places. My knob would be strong and tight. I'd be sturdy. I'd be heavy. I'd be built and ready to hold umbrellas under the harshest sun and against the strongest winds and even under substantial spring rainstorms.

But at the end of summer when colder weather starts to roll in, I'd probably get my feelings downright hurt for no longer being that fabulous wonderful umbrella stand that everyone knew and appreciated during the mild months to somehow suddenly becoming this toe-stubbing heavy-ass frozen-to-the-deck troublemaker. Fair weather friends, I'm telling you ... how d'ya think we umbrellas came to use that colloquialism anyway, duh?

So if I was an umbrella stand frozen to an icy landing out there alone and feeling washed-up, I would hope that the falling snow would either submerge me until leaves start budding or that it would say soft snowy things to help me feel less uselessly alone. One snowflake might blow prismatic kisses toward me. Or a little snowflake children's choir would sing me tender lullabies. Or a usually snobby group of early adolescent snowflakes who'd normally skrinkle their noses at me would have an empathic moment in relating to my emptiness to crack barely-perceptable snow smiles. Old snowflakes who've been around for weeks might smell weird, but I'll bet they'd be the most compassionate companions. They'd circle their sun spotted flake arms around me, telling me soothing stories about how sometimes we think we've lost both our worth and our way. Those times can be trying. They can be untenable. But eventually -and there's always an eventually if you wait long enough- then (if you're a snowflake) kids come out to play, or (if you're an umbrella stand) winter eventually passes and then everyone will be so glad to have your sturdiness back around again, or ("like people", as the snowflakes tell my umbrella stand knob because they don't have their glasses on and they don't realize it's a knob and not an eye) you realize that this thing you've been questioning and doubting, the thing you've agreed to get out of bed and get dressed for, this thing you have been practicing is, quite possibly, exactly what you were meant to be.

If I was that directionless hope-challenged frozen umbrella stand, old snowflakes saying that kind of thing to me would probably be just the perfect sort of murmuring. It might even be just enough encouragement to make me stick around to see what would happen come the end of winter.

29 December 2007


strength, originally uploaded by McBeth.

We each are stronger than we can imagine.

Frail, too. Breakable in the simplest of ways.

But oh, how strong we can be when strength is needed.

28 December 2007

third chakra

Anahata, under further exam, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.

-- Neil Gaiman

27 December 2007

we deserve no praise for doing what we ought

winter shoreline, originally uploaded by McBeth.

25 December 2007


yep, my new flashlight works, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms inside your head, and people in them, acting. People you know, yet can't quite name.

-- François de la Rochefoucauld

23 December 2007

bah humbug

warm head, cold heart?, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Linus: You're so crabby all the time you've forgotten how to smile!
Lucy: Who's forgotten how to smile?
Linus: You have! Let's see you smile. I'll bet you can't!

Lucy tries to smile

There! See? A smile goes up, not down! You've forgotten how to smile! See?

Linus leaves

Lucy: How humiliating!

20 December 2007


winter card, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.

-- Henry David Thoreau

17 December 2007

what is left

coat tree, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Art is what's left over after you've defined everything else.

-- Michael Vitale

15 December 2007


cordially yours,, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Tea! thou soft, sober, sage and venerable liquid; thou female tongue-running, smile-smoothing, heart-opening, wink-tippling cordial, to whose glorious insipidity I owe the happiest moment of my life, let me fall prostrate...

--Colley Cibber

13 December 2007

the wheel

old and slow, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.

-- Dave Barry

11 December 2007


snaggle, originally uploaded by McBeth.

All the time a person is a child he is both a child and learning to be a parent. After he becomes a parent he becomes predominantly a parent reliving childhood.

-- Benjamin Spock

09 December 2007

lunar landing

lunar landing, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.

-- Buddha

04 December 2007

winter crafts

I ventured out earlier today for a few groceries and supplies, then spent the last few hours curled up in the ridiculously poufy blue recliner. With a cozy blanket tossed across my lap, I've been poking holes into an orange using a medium-sized picture hanging nail. Then into each of those holes I've insert one whole clove. The trick is to get a good sense of the clove stem size and get those cloves as close to the surrounding inserted cloves so eventually, when the entire surface of the orange has been poked and cloved, you won't be able to see orange skin between the clove heads.

I started out in something of a seasonal funk, frustrated at my desperately low income, wondering how or if I'll be able to buy nice things for my loved ones, resentful of the television commercial people who are shopping and decorating and gifting and making wish-fulfilling memories with their pretend families whose outfits all complement one another. Something about the changes taking place in my own family have me examining others' families; watching them more closely for clues to reveal how these organizations are supposed to work when life gets complicated.

I suppose it was in that process of de-funking that I began thinking wistfully about what a lovely thing my family could be when I was a small child. Both my parents helped make the majority of the gifts they gave to other people, and if we were either good enough or whined enough to drive my parents up a wall, my older sister and I would be allowed to help. The years my dad put together the complicated ornament kits, I'd get to take one of the straight pins and painstakingly sort all the microscopic silver pearl beads from the rest of the pile. And then I'd sort all the white beads, and then the purple disks and on and on, whatever else required sorting, until each color and shape was fully contained in its own individual cereal bowl. Then we'd sit and watch our father thread two gold pearls, three red bugle beads, and three white pearl beads onto a straight pin which he'd then stick into a Styrofoam ball. And then another, and then hundreds more, until the Styrofoam was replaced with a fancy snowflake-looking creation that would be finished off with a velvet ribbon that would later enable the ornament to hang from the recipient's Christmas tree. I loved those gift-making times. I loved hanging out with my dad. We didn't even have to talk a lot; just sitting there, being allowed to hang quietly at his elbow and study the details of my father's hands - it was wildly rewarding enough.

There were the ornaments, there was impossibly intricate string art, there were handmade candles, there were glass containers filled with layers of colorful beans , there were the beading loom-made bracelets and choker-style necklaces, and there were cloved oranges.

The cloved oranges were my mother's specialty, though occasional my dad would lend a hand with ice pick duty. My parents' expectations of us were clear when I was young, and it was understood that we girls would be granted permission to use the pinprick sharp ice picks after a quick safety briefing, but if we were dumb enough to entertain ideas of poking holes in ourselves with them we'd have to deal with the stupidity fallout on our own, too. Fair enough. Soon enough we'd all laugh at our collectively sticky hands, and when the last orange was clove covered, Dad would macramé long slender braided rope hangers for the oranges to hang in. Our fingernails would carry the crisp scent of cloves for days after these present-making sessions.

Those memories, those connections, - that experience - is what I have decided I want to practice this year. I don't want to elbow strangers in malls, I don't want to have to swim in excess, I don't want to get so worried about giving gifts that are "good enough". I will give goodness. The things I will share with those I love will be things I have created with my own sticky clove-scented fingers.

* * * * * * * *

update: wouldn't it just figure, the first orange I'd been cloving turned mushy in one or two spots, including a rather large circumference around the top. While I worked on poking holes, etc. I had to be more and more careful about those mushy spots, but by the time I got to covering the remaining peek-a-boo areas of orange skin on its bottom, the top split open. Now my orange looks like an afro-covered Pac Man. I was crushed last night (orange crush? ha!) but it's not tragic enough to make me stop trying. Orange #2: I Mean It This Time will begin today.

03 December 2007


scarlett b&w, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky.

-- Fran Lebowitz

01 December 2007

wishing star

purple star, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Star Light, Star Bright
First star I see tonight.
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.

30 November 2007


dry head, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Strangers are exciting,
their mystery never ends.
But, there's nothing like looking at your own history
in the faces of your friends.

-- Ani Difranco

29 November 2007


stand alone, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering.

-- Arthur C. Clarke

26 November 2007


three plus three, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Hunting is not a sport. In a sport, both sides should know they're in the game.

-- Paul Rodriguez

23 November 2007


two plus three, originally uploaded by McBeth.

There is a tendency to judge a race, a nation or any distinct group by its least worthy members.

-- Eric Hoffer

22 November 2007

good men

the love of a good man, originally uploaded by McBeth.

A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.

-- Buddha

20 November 2007

be still

lake fog, originally uploaded by McBeth.

There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, yet not.

-- Rabindranath Tagore

19 November 2007


past midday, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Every thing possible to be believed is an image of truth.

-- William Blake

16 November 2007

coming home

sun visor, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.

-- John le Carre

15 November 2007

sizing up the new sister

theo meets lulu, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

-- Elizabeth Stone

12 November 2007


A birthday seems like a good marking point kind of time to reflect. Thing is, I don't like the intense focus or scrutiny involved with having to come up with my own super happy and overly chipper things to say. So instead, I've pilfered a birthday quiz from Club Mom or Mom's Club or Mom's Little Flask club or whatever the proper name is for the group. Apologies to all moms everywhere who are so into momhood that their jaws have gone slack because, in essence, I just bastardized all your blessings by making fun of the name which I cannot remember. Please. Wrap your patience up in a little package and tie it with a shiny ribbon. THAT'S a gift I could totally use.

How many birthdays have you celebrated so far?

When is your next one coming up?
Precisely one year from today.

If you could get anything, realistically speaking, what would you ask for?
Can courage and strength be considered a realistic gift?

If you could ask for something like magical superpowers, which kind?

Teletransport. Or thought transferrence. Or being able to disappear.

Who do you want to be with during your birthdays?
Those I love. This year I spent a weekend full of pre-birthday time with KD. Today I'll be driving to IA to herd nephews while their new sister is born.

How do you plan to celebrate your upcoming birthday?
Not celebrating so much as simply getting through gracefully.

What was the worst present you ever got on a birthday?
I don't really remember. If it was bad enough I will have shoved it out permanently. Which, the more I think about it, works pretty swell.

What was the worst birthday fiasco you ever had?
Nobody called or sent a card or appeared to remember.

Did you ever purposely give someone a crappy gift?
I never give purposefully crappy gifts. If I have, they've found their way into crapdom by sheer accident.

edit to add: That's not actually true. I do save the purposefully crappy gifts for the annual Christmas Bingo game with local friends who don't read my blog so unless you're the one to spill the beans (in which case I WILL hunt you down later) they probably won't remember the weird little "paint your ceramics" kit I got last year because it will be in fresh shiny unrecognizable paper this year.

Who would you never ever ever want to attend your birthday?
I don't mind anyone attending my birthday - but what an awful thought to consider - being that selfish that I'd turn all princess-y about who I want or who I don't want to be there.

What was the best birthday present you've ever recieved?
My maternal grandmother's ruby ring. It came at a time when it was the least practical thing I could actually use (oh lord was I broke and making do, ai ai ai). But my mother had been holding onto it and gave it to me with all the love she had (both for her mother and for me).

What was the best birthday you've ever had?
I'm not big on birthdays; I don't have an answer for this one.

Why was it so great?
I get through them. See??! Isn't that great?

What is your fave birthday activity, even if you havent done it (yet)?
I went bowling last year, when I turned 40. I like the idea of doing something I'd probably never do otherwise -- minigolf, batting cages, posing nude, an illegal driving manuever, etc.

Who would you love to come to your birthday to celebrate with you?
I'm not comfortable with spectacle, so maybe a quiet happy visit with those who appreciate me.

What did your family do to celebrate your birth?
Kicked my older sister out of the crib to make room for me.

What did, will happen for your sweet 16th birthday?
Oh dear, well, that's a fairly awful story. My parents gave me the dog I'd been begging since early childhood for, but Jericho was very new, very little and as it turned out, riddled with worms. He didn't make it through the night.

What happened for your 21st birthday?
Hmm, I wonder if I was present for my 21st birthday.

Would you be okay with dying on your birthday?

Pick someone you really really love:

What would you get them for their birthday if you could give them anything?
It might be considered illegal in my home state. Let's just call it "niiiiiiice".

10 November 2007


mrs tompson's kindergarten class, originally uploaded by McBeth.

When you love people and have the desire to make a profound, positive impact upon the world, then will you have accomplished the meaning to live.

-- Sasha Azevedo

07 November 2007


skylight, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I don't care much for facts, am not much interested in them; you can't stand a fact up, you've got to prop it up, and when you move to one side a little and look at it from that angle, it's not thick enough to cast a shadow in that direction.

-- William Faulkner

06 November 2007

decisions, decisions

gentlewomen, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.

-- Henry Ford

02 November 2007

keeping pace

keeping pace, originally uploaded by McBeth.

In philosophy if you aren't moving at a snail's pace you aren't moving at all.

-- Iris Murdoch

31 October 2007

strangers in the night

punkincluster, originally uploaded by McBeth.



carmelized maple, originally uploaded by McBeth.

My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane.

-- Robert Frost

23 October 2007

left in a right world

I'm nothing if not adaptable, but here is a short list of things that, as a left-hander, I find short-sighted and terribly frustrating...

The door of the microwave oven hinges on the left. The control buttons are on the right side. This is not the most accessible design for lefties.

Dish soap comes in a right-hand form-fitting plastic container that has to be poured using the right hand (else, big whoop for the meticulously designed form-fitting hand grip). The flip top also works easiest if you flip with the right hand. To dispense using my left hand means the front of the bottle faces away from me so I get to stare at the directions, with which I am now infinitely familiar.

Shampoo and other personal care products also come in flip-top containers that look sleek and cleanly designed from the front. But for a left hander to use the product, the container has to be turned around backwards. And again, companies are manufacturing so-called ergonomic containers, but they're catering to the righty market. Those bastahds.

Good luck taking an 8th grade music class if you're a lefty. All the school guitars were strung for right handers. Lefties have to just make it work or, as my cousin Patrick did, purchase a lefty guitar.

Some knives are sharpened on both sides of the blade, yes. But most of the kitchen knives in the drawer have a blade edge that is quite specifically fantastic for a right hander, while they pose a safety hazard for lefty me.

Oh good lord, the stories I could tell about scissors.
Starting from the earliest years, all those dumb safety scissors were made for right handed students, leaving the left handers to bend their construction paper more often than successfully cutting it. One of my favorite gifts from my mother that I still use so much that it lies at the front of the drawer full of dangerous kitchen implements is a left-hander's kitchen scissor. Big, fat red handles and heavy bone cutting blades on that sucker. Which, incidentally, never goes missing because it is one of the few things that nobody else in the house can use.

I would like to add a few more un-left items that popped to mind as I was listing the previous.

- Sewing classes. Try learning to knit or crochet when being instructed by a righty who refuses to adapt the lessons to my dominant - their non-dominant - hand.

- Ink pens. A lefty can generally forget about using gel pens unless she doesn't mind carrying the smudgy remnants on the edge of her left hand. Most other ink pens pose the same trouble, unless the lefty learns to hold their hand below the writing line so as to keep a clean paw. Fortunately, I saw that one coming early-on and it's less of a problem.

- Holy crap, can I just add that my favorite item of all - MY CAMERA - is a right-dominant tool. I cry foul.

22 October 2007

21 October 2007

rearing up

hiking surprise, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Here's the place where I will tell you about my idiotic tendencies.
Once I've listed them properly, I mean.

How do I fail thee? Let me count the ways.

We like to think we’re cooperative caring beings. We are. I mean, we do have good in us, we do good things for others and we strive to be the best at whatever and whoever we are. I don’t fault us for this tendency to overbrighten by omission, but I think this rosy painting can make it very difficult to belly up to the confessional bar with a contrite and accurate picture painting heart.

Therefore, I’m taking this opportunity to lay prostrate some of my embarrassing and otherwise bad habits out - right here; right now.

- I had to stop taking my child fishing because I’d get so sucked into my own mesmerizing fishing challenge place that I’d get snippy with him if he had 6 year old audacity to say something as untoward as, “I need your help, Mom. My lure got caught in weeds”. How dare he expect me to put down my own pole to help his little frustrated self!

- I don’t ever corner well. Give me the opportunity to escape out a back hatch during times of conflict or I promise you it will turn ugly, quickly.

- I regularly, unintentionally, leave things behind. Everywhere. Meds, phone chargers, books, clothing, just about any personal item that can be picked up, transported, and set down elsewhere. I live between my own home and KD’s apartment but the materials I bring along with me to her place are things I am actively using and want to have nearby, so there is a regular assortment of personal items I schlep back and forth in my car that stands a very good chance of never finding their ways home with me. As a matter of fact, if you visit Tutto Pasta et Trattoria’s lost and found box, you’re welcome to the lovely double-sized umbrella with pie slices of the brightest primary colors and a solid good-feeling grippable wood handle because – for as many times as I’ve forgotten or have left behind my favorite (fill in the blank) – I could not be bothered to go back to collect my beloved umbrella after I’d been there shooting stills for my brother’s friends' short film. I also like thinking that it’s really okay that I leave things behind and lose what I mean to hold onto because, as I’ve rationalized it, someone else who really really needs them will be thrilled to re-use all I leave behind. I hope some person is relieved to have found those fantastically cozy form-fitting winter gloves I invested in then promptly misplaced last year.

- At my old meat factory office job there was a handsome man who came weekly to tend to the rented plants all over the building. I had a crush on him and, because he so closely resembled the More Little Visits with God caucasian storybook version of the white hairy muscular savior with the kind eyes, I renamed the plant guy Jesus. But to be clear, I didn’t want him to get too big a head (‘hey everyboddddyyyy, lookit me I’m all walkin’ on water and everything!’) so I called him Hay-zeus. I called Raphael, or whatever his real name was, Hayzeus. To his face. Anyway, Hayzeus and I flirted shamelessly with one another every Thursday when he was tending our office rental plants and one day, while he was leaning over my desk to reach a peace lily, I asked him what kind of plants he kept at his home. I imagined a garden of Eden sorta setup – an atrium dense with lush tropical varieties and colorful birds flitting back and forth between the highest branches. Hayzeus paused from what he was doing to look at me and he responded with a guffaw. Then he said, “Are you kidding? I take care of plants all day long, every day of the week. The last thing I want to look at when I go home from my job taking care of plants is more plants that need tending to. I have no plants at home. None. And I like it that way.” I thought Hayzeus’ response was hilarious, and it wasn’t until this year that I realized I have started down that same road. I help a friend tend her large gardens every week and while I do adore pulling weeds, I’d be completely weeded out by the time I’d get home and my garden started to look like the exterior ‘before’ image of an Extreme Home Makeover yard. I expect that there are Wild Thing creatures living below the thistle flowers and the puffy dandelion heads; even below the creeping Charlie which, near as I can tell, has established dominance over all other green leafy things I’d purposefully planted over the years. I can talk the gardening talk but I fall short of being a capable representative of walking the gardening walk. What the hell, I figure, most of the weeds are green and mostly blend in; the slugs need somewhere to establish residency if they’re ever to receive mail so they can get a library card, and I take care of others’ gardens so I expect a full pardon on my lack of attention to my own. More than anything, this all makes me misty and examinate about my Thursdays with Hayzeus because I really think we could’ve gone somewhere with my newfound sympathetic understanding of the difficulties inherent in his career.

- I exercise so I can rationalize eating more. I cannot claim this as my own personal discovery, by the way; my friend Claudia started me along this particular road to self-discovery the night she said she was feeling stuck and couldn’t decide whether to shake the ennui by going to the gym or by crawling under the blankets. We agreed that she could maybe go to the gym for an abbreviated workout routine (‘forget about the free weights, just do the treadmill’) and she could then reward her righteousness with a bottle of wine coupled with tasty undelicate servings of mostly off-limits food. I’ve come to realize that I dangle reward carrots in front of my own nose for just about everything I do that I don’t want to do. C’mon McB., just make the bed as soon as you get out of it and as reward for your fantastic bed-making you can then go downstairs to the kitchen where the coffee grinder and electric kettle will be waiting for you. Or, clean off the surface of the computer desk, then you can play 22 continuous games of Bejeweled 2. Or, collect the mail from the mailbox and if you actually open any of the envelopes you can then watch two hours of mindless television. If you don’t open the envelopes, mmm, you can still watch two hours of mindless television, because you’ll be upset with yourself for not having opened the mail and two hours of mindless television will help soothe your agitation.

- I tried having a bitch-free week, yet I complained the entire time about how a full week is too long to have to go without complaining. I’d appreciate partial credit for not having shared my complaint-free week of complaints with others.
- Any laundry in the washer or dryer that is in the way of my own laundry will be dealt with as I see fit. That's just too bad if you want your clean shirts hung on hangers, if you weren’t there to immediately hang them the way you prefer, you’ll get your shirts I’ve had to deal with in a folded stack. I will be courteous enough to at least turn them outside-out so you can differentiate between the dirty clothes on your floor and the clean clothes I’ll stack on your bed that you will inevitably toss onto the floor.

- I constantly chew the inside of my mouth. My dentist would be appalled.

- I have generous definitions of the things that can be Febreezed to include dirty laundry that I want to wear but can’t be bothered to wash.

I’m not sure I can continue this accumulated list of my bad habits further than a toe dip into this brief list. I can always come back to it, right? Like, right after I watch two more hours of mindless television.

So what are yours?

20 October 2007

the quiet life

campsite visitors, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.

-- Albert Einstein

07 October 2007


originally uploaded by McBeth.

Let my prayer rise before you like incense; the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

-- Lutheran Book of Worship, p. 145

01 October 2007


gimme the beat, boys, originally uploaded by McBeth.

We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view.

-- Mao Tse-Tung

25 September 2007


sassy swinger, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

-- e.e. cummings

24 September 2007


twist in the road, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I am driving into the sun
Up I-94.
You know how I love
Open roads and cruise control,
Squinting into the reflected glare.

That girl is going places
Does backtracking to an outlet mall count?
Briskly, the wind swats at my hair
Pushing violet brown
Into my eyes,
thousands of cylindrical slaps
admonishing me to snap to.

I fancy myself a fast lane driver
Yet, as ever,
I roll along a mere five miles per hour
over the limit,
puttering stalwartly with the elderly and the unconcerned
in this slow lane

Light blasts a path through flashing pines.

My brother, my sisters
we all
strive to create beauty,
nurtured by our profound understanding of
what it is not

Tossed onto the passenger seat lies
a tawny colored garment
The brassiere I have not worn
For two years since its purchase
Though still fresh, it has become dusty.
Strands of cat hair from a more youthful time
flitter up and off the smooth cotton
into the wind stream.
A soft layer of history
Waves goodbye.

To prevent the potentially unrecoverable risk of
grabby-fisted patrons
An ink-filled security tag had been affixed to
my travel companion, to
my indulgent purchase.
The tag remains intact
as twinkling pirouettes of light leap
off a passing lake
with watchful winks.

My child is now an adult with bewildering
broad and quiet shoulders.
This baby-man I have assisted
into his current changeling glory

Will he, like me,
struggle for twenty five years before he knows
to delight in the
colorful zaniness of a moss rose?

I contemplate whether he,
using adept powers of recall and observation
as his trustworthy guides,
will allow himself the
luxurious blanketing reward in
being loved by another?

My prayers propel off the wand and
out the open window,
iridescent bubbles of hope
aimed upward
for him;
Catch the wind, beloved.
Ride it! Exult in it!
Count on that which you believe in
Question that which you don’t.

Corn and soy fields flaunt the
simplicity of growing where planted.
Aisle after tantalizing aisle
swaying confidence
and their beguiling proposition
which, I decide, cannot possibly
interpolate the subtle combinations
of sun,
of soil,
of nutrients and seasons.
I volley a string of expletives to
the stalky streams
flying by at warp speed.
It isn’t typically so easy,
Nor is it always as simple
as standing still
and waiting.

A billboard shrieks by,
Jesus Loves You!
Its easiness careening haphazardly
into the already-distant past.

Did the responsibility of double-checking
an inattentive clerk’s work
rest on my soft shoulders two years ago?
Maybe yes.
Maybe no.

Either way,
I am now driving into the sun
five miles below the limit
and great distances from
where I am,
squinting into the reflected glare.

21 September 2007


between the lines, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Today I am feeling worse and worse as the day progresses.

It's like when I was a kid and I got whacked around or banged up or if I fell on the sidewalk or snapped my neck while unsuccessfully trying to perform a backwards roll (I thought you were very mean to make me do that, Mister Selby. Just sayin') -- I stand up and forbid the tears to come. I tell myself that I'm tough. I tell myself I can take it. I rub the sore spot and keep telling myself, "I'm okay! I'm okay! I'm okay!". It's not that the self-talk was or is false; I believed it could help, believed it was worth the practice of uttering, but rare are the moment it felt true in the moment.


I'm stuck between dosage levels of this latest antidepressant I've been trying. Despite the faulty start and the red welts that appeared out of nowhere when I first took the starter baby dose of Lamictal, I agreed to give it one more try. The good news is that I haven't had that potentially life-threatening rashy thing. The less-good news is that after 3 weeks of the first try, the two week break to let the rash go away, then my current 7+ weeks of this second attempt, I'm not taking enough yet for it to be considered a "therapeutically effective" dose. But I've been taking it for a long enough stretch of time that I'm catching myself having ridiculously hopeful thoughts that it might work while, simultaneously, wondering how I can possibly keep up this dumb optimism long enough to figure out if I will stay committed long enough to reach that invisible state of what mayyyyybe could be my therapeutically effective level, and when the hell I can get there, or if I'll ever get there because none of the scores of meds have helped shake this much over the past two decades of treatment. That's if we're not counting the Seroquel I loathe like no other for its side effects, but yeah I have to admit it helps.

There are a few precipitating factors to my foul state of mind but surely not enough to make me feel as though I should crawl back in bed until the feelings -and the days- pass, which is my current inclination.

Creative blocks.
Relationship issues.
Social engagements.
Merely opening the mail and figuring out what to do with it is too hard.

I haven't altogether given up my attention to personal hygiene, but with fewer showers and teeth-brushing episodes I fear that nasty stink looming on the horizon.

I crave my very own Calgon commercial moment.
I'd like very much to be taken away by bubbles and contentment, and I wouldn't argue (well, not much and certainly not with vehemence) if a magical fix-it person was to saunter in armed with a magic wand and Very Big Plans.

I'm stuck.

19 September 2007

evidence of a prowler

evidence of a prowler, originally uploaded by McBeth.

The cat's motto may well be:

No matter what you've done wrong, always try to make it look like the dog did it

but if you're a cat named Puppy, and if you live in a house without dogs, it makes your case significantly harder to buy when you try to argue that the mystery tongue marks that showed up in the pan holding solidifying bacon grease are due to a hungry mutt.

15 September 2007


egomaniac, originally uploaded by McBeth.

To endow the writer publicly with a good fleshly body, to reveal that he likes dry white wine and underdone steak, is to make even more miraculous for me, and of a more divine essence, the products of his art. Far from the details of his daily life bringing nearer to me the nature of his inspiration and making it clearer, it is the whole mystical singularity of his condition which the writer emphasizes by such confidences. For I cannot but ascribe to some superhumanly the existence of beings vast enough to wear blue pajamas at the very moment when they manifest themselves as universal conscience.

-- Roland Barth

12 September 2007


orbs of happiness, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Probably, oh, two weeks have elapsed since the last time I meandered out to the back garden to check on the plants. It wasn't even as though I kept trying to remember to look in on them; I just completely lost track of that area of the universe while attending to others. Until this afternoon, when a bird outside the kitchen window began causing a commotion. The commotion caught my eye, I quietly stepped out the back door to see what that was about, then I gasped as I looked over to the cherry tomato plant.

In two week's time that plant has turned into some creepy wonderful Little Shop of Horrors FEED ME, Seymouristic monster lush with pom pons of 6 to 8 tomatoes, deep red clusters that sag over both themselves and the tomato cage as though the plant is too too pregnant, as though her center of gravity has been so altered that she is unable to stand anywhere near upright these days.

"Birth me, already!", it groaned.

I ducked back into the house to grab a bowl, then obliged my neglected fruit-bearing friend. The three quart sized bowl was not really large enough to hold all the cherries I picked, but as long as I walked slowly and balanced each new addition carefully on the top, it worked well enough.

Each time I pass by the bowl I nibble. Two. Three. Two. Three more. I can't stop thinking about how lucky I am to have grown and harvested such a treat.

07 September 2007

i don't remember

shed your assumptions, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I don't remember
how to say your name

I stretch the edges of my mouth
to accommodate the broad aah
of your vowels
but my throat emits a moan,
a coarse static,
as though I have tuned you in
between channels.

You died
then I died
and died
and died
until I realized I could no longer die,
until I realized I had to begin breathing again.

And now,
I don't remember
how to say your name.

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