Wow. I think I’m scheduled to go on a cruise.

Last night, I started preparing by doing a self-tanner test. I tried a new creation from the self-tanner wonders at Loreal. This morning, I woke up and thought that maybe I had a skin disease or something, and then I remembered that I went to sleep right after my at-home spray tan. I sort of look like a white and tan tobiano.

Not being able to get a tan has affected my entire life. One summer, I went to the city-pool a lot with my friend, Holli. Holli was one of the kids that could argue on the playground that she had 1/16 Indian blood (we weren’t PC then). But the little girl with the last name “Whitehorse” always beat everybody out, because she had old black and white pictures of her granddad wearing a headdress. Anyway. Holli had a year-round tan that developed into a very dark brown through the summer. She played in the pool never worrying about things like sunscreen or sunburn.

Even as a child, I had a fear of staying in the sun for too long. It’s like I have an internal timer that puts panic inside of me if I’m outside with too little SPF. In as little as fifteen minutes, I’m cooked to a painful pink.

Why is it that most African-Americans want to be lighter and Caucasians want to be darker? Are we both trying to look more Hispanic? Is this J.Lo’s fault?

My friend, Jonah, and his bro, Aaron, rented a car back in the fall when they came to Houston. There was a CD that was left in the car. It was a Houston rapper by the name of Mike Jones. They were amused because each and every song has Mike Jones repeating his name.

Last night at Young Life, a kid was standing in the corner after everything was over. He was kind of staring off into space when I heard him say, “Mike Jones.” It was like I heard E.F. Hutton or something. Talk about effective advertising.

I’m posting his site, but haven’t really tested the lyrics on cleanliness. Check out his website and see how many times you can count “Mike Jones.” The winner will receive a free piece of cake at the My Super Sweet Sixteen Times Two Bash.

My favorite candy used to be Nerds. I feel guilty for saying “used to be” like I’m being unfaithful or something. I could down a box in about 5 minutes. Sweet, sour, crunchy, and fabulous. I even figured out that if you talk into the box, you sound like you’re giving a radio transmitted message (fyi, this was when I was much, much younger—I’m way more mature now). I probably could have been a few inches taller if I was eating something more nutritious than Nerds.

Then, about four years ago, I discovered truffles. They are pretty amazing. The best ones are from Chocolate du Monde in Rice Village. I like expensive chocolate. Why waste calories on Hershey’s? After eating the real deal, the supermarket stuff sometimes tastes like wax.

What happened to the Beth that was obsessed with sweettarts and candy that made your eyes squinch and the back of your jaws ache? Am I a choc-o-holic now?

Not quite. I am still not into chocolate cake or ice cream. And that’s a good point to remember as we count down to the biggest event of the year…my Super Sweet Sixteen Times Two!!

My co-workers have leftover Valentine M&Ms just sitting in a clear container for everybody to eat. I want to eat them. But I'm not going to. So, I've been taking off the clear top, and smelling them.

Oh dear. I am weird.

The Houston Rodeo is back. Last night, the sky was aglow with the lights from Reliant Stadium. And I could actually here muffled music in my apartment from the show.

I haven't been to the rodeo in several years. I don't know if I want to go or not. It's stinky. The traffic is atrocious. And I really don't like feeling nervous as I watch the riders on the bulls and the bucking broncos. It's scary. It brings back too many memories of the movie 8 Seconds and Lane Frost.

But, Sheryl Crow will be there this year. And I really like Sheryl Crow. But then again, at the rodeo, the artist is way, way, way down in the center and the closest seats still make the performer look like as tiny as a horsefly. If you have a free Sheryl Crow ticket, let me know, and I'll go with you. I'll pay for parking. ;)

Esprit used to have an ad campaign about how some cool person would change the world. I always wished I could come up with something cool like the people in the ads.

But I’ve been thinking about it this week. And this is what I got:

1) Work weeks would be 35 hours for full time, instead of 40.
2) Everyone would get 6 weeks of vacation a year—not just teachers (who really deserve about 12).
3) Splenda would be outlawed. That stuff tastes horrible, and it has to be cancer causing or something.
4) Reality T.V. shows could only last for one season. They’re kind of like Rocky movies. The first few are really good, and then they start getting a little weird. Where will Survivor Twenty be? Probably in eastern Kentucky.
5) Companies would stop providing health insurance, and people would buy it on their own. The costs would be comparable to car insurance and kind of function like car insurance companies. The competition between companies would create lower costs. And then, independent workers could afford it. Right now, the cost is so high if your job doesn’t pay for it; I think a lot of people who would start their own businesses are discouraged, because health insurance cost is too high. The American dream is dying.
6) Starbucks would have a tasty competitor.
7) Older people in our society would be more respected instead of our culture being so youth-centered. I don’t know how to change that. Maybe with reality shows about senior citizens instead of twenty-somethings? The Real World Miami filmed in a nursing home?

Okay, maybe not all good ideas.

I’ve been having withdrawal symptoms for UK basketball. It’s really hard to catch one of the games living in Texas. I was never a huge “I Bleed Blue!” fan, but I still like to support the team. I didn’t really know anything about their record this year until Abby started talking about how great A&M was this year. Basically I told her, let the Big 12 just stick to football and leave basketball to the SEC.

Anyway, Abby was right about UK’s sad record this year. Last night, the Wildcats were playing LSU at home. LSU played like Kentucky used to play—confident. The score was LSU 21 to UK 6 when I had stop watching. Who in the world were these players for Kentucky? And didn’t they know who they were? They were playing for Kentucky: the Barbeque and Basketball Capitol of the World. See Moonlite Bar-B-Q:

I called my mom. I told her I thought the team hadn’t been good since my granny passed away and was no longer praying for them. It’s kind of ironic how the time correlates.

My mom called me back to tell me that Kentucky had pulled through and won the game! LSU 63; UK 70. I realize that LSU’s record this year isn’t great, but I think Kentucky really needed to win. My mom said, “Never give up.” She’s such a cheerleader.

Kentucky needs basketball. It’s something that gives pride to everyone in the state. Kentuckians are made fun of all around the world for chicken, the derby, not wearing shoes, and other things I won’t mention. So we embrace basketball. And we’re good at it.

Yesterday, I caught an old Northern Exposure episode. I almost got stuck in a t.v. warp which would have then taken me through hour long episodes of Magnum P.I., The A-Team, and Kojak. I know, I know, a pretty good way to spend the day, but somehow I got myself out of the house.

On this episode of Northern Exposure (Rosebud), Leonard, the Shaman, was looking for explanations of "White-Man Medicine." The Native Americans have lots of stories which teach them lessons, and nothing from the white man really measured up. Later, Chris explained that Christianity kind of overtook all the folklore since the Gospel hit the bestseller list.

Anyway, Leonard finally kind of figures out through Ed that movies are white man medicine. They comfort the white man. I think we all relate some part of a movie to an emotion or situation that we go through. And sometimes we use those movies to guide our decisions. Probably not the wisest thing to do.

Is this the reason why celebrites have become so important? Because we base the answers to the deep questions in our soul on the reactions of the characters they play? So in a way, we are making those celebrites our medicine men? Or our healers? I don't think Jehovah-Rapha would be very pleased. Am I swimming too deep in the kiddie pool or does this make sense?

I feel like I've contracted a disease after watching too much t.v. today. I'm housesitting and the house is filled with every techno-savvy equipment you can imagine. So, in every room I go into, I have cable access and a flat screen. And then I worked out at the Y today which is filled with televisions because for some reason when people work out, they want their brains to zone out.

Anyway. Do you know how much I heard about Anna Nicole today? And when I wasn't hearing about her, it was Britney. I think I was watching MSNBC, and the topic of discussion is Britney and her party-ing. Is this the news? Why does Hollywood have to take over news? Is there anything going on in the world besides the things that happen in LA to people whose ambition is seeing themselves on t.v.? Ugh!

If I see a People magazine I might throw up. I've been know to parouse the pages, but at this moment, I've got Media-itis. So I need to stay away from it for awhile. Please! Are the only ten people on earth Britney, Cameron, Justin, Nicole, Paris, Sienna, Jen, Brad, Angelina, and Oprah? If so, I'm glad I live on my own planet.

If anybody wants to go ahead and get me a Starbucks t-shirt for my birthday which is March 22nd, that would be cool. I like chai tea latte with soy.

I realized this morning that I have a secret Starbucks budget in my brain. I justify spending money on something and tell myself, "Okay. No Starbucks for a month because you're buying this." And then when I pass by Starbucks I say, "Well, I didn't spend that much on lunch, so I can squeeze in a Starbucks." I betcha Mary Kate and Ashley never have to do that.

But it's okay. John Piper sent me a great sermon this week about how being rich isn't easy. Whether I always feel like this or not, he's right. The Bible tells me so. Just like the song says.

My favorite v-day memory is this:

When I was in college, a random guy who I met in the main science building asked me out for Valentine's Day. I didn't have much time, so we went to Taco Bell. He drove, and while at the border, he said, "Beth. It's like, you're so pure. It's like you're matter, and I'm anti-matter, and if we touch, we'll both explode..."

I'm not making this up. After that, I realized that not having a date on Valentine's Day wasn't really that bad.

Attached is a pic of the Austin sunset I saw. Just because it's romantic. :)

I live in a garage apartment, and I get the pleasure of kind of renting a dog, too. Frida belongs to my landlady, but I can borrow her when I feel like having a dog. She tells me hello every morning. And welcomes me home every evening.

She gets really, really excited when I come home and leaps about 4 feet straight in the air, and then runs to find a toy from the yard. After that, she bounds up my steps and wags her tail at a high enough speed to generate sparks as it hits the railing. I throw the toy as far as I can, and she leaps into the landscaping or wherever she needs to go to fetch it. And then she runs back up the steps, panting heavily, so I can throw it again.

Sometimes I count the number of times I throw to her (because I am a counter) and I've thrown it up to 30 times, and she's ready for more. She is a fetching machine. She's not so much into letting me pet her; she just wants to play fetch.

Steven said I was tagged.
Tagged? Is that a gang reference?

If you get tagged, write a blog post telling 6 weird things about yourself and clearly stating the rules. After you state your 6 weird things, choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you're tagged" in their comments on their respective blogs and tell them to read your blog for information as to what it all means.

Anyway. I’ll play along.

I’m supposed to list only six, so I will stick to the rules.

1) I wish I was a hippie. I’ve always been fascinated by hippies. But I wouldn’t be stinky. I would shower most days. But I would travel around the world, and hug people and wear Birkenstocks with socks.
2) My hair is red. Perhaps not a huge phenomenon (na?), but it does make you different, and it affects your life. And red hair does not dye easily (see Lindsay Lohan’s roots for reference).
3) I count. Just like Count Dracula—while I pick up things around my apartment. Usually, I’ll make myself pick up as many items as my age—22.
4) I have a God given gift of making fast friends with strangers. While checking a flight monitor, a lady came up to me in the Heathrow airport, stood and talked to me for an hour, confessed her life story, hugged me, and told me she was sad we had to part. This happens a lot. My mom has the gift, too.
5) I follow rules. I like rules. I’m usually pretty good at following them. When I had braces as a kid, I followed the rules to a T. I wore braces for 1 year 2 months because I listened to my orthodontist. And I still wear my retainers around 3 nights a week.
6) Something about me is innately weird. Children identify it almost immediately. They said, “You’re weird.” I don’t get it, but I love kids anyway.

So I tag Abby, Kelly P, Erin B, Scott, and Arshunda. If I can figure out how.

From Falling Down:

Look what I got.
We got a puppy.
We got a puppy.
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Hi, puppy!

In college, my friends Paul and Rob used to quote the “Hi, puppy” line and then tackle somebody. It wasn’t that bad because both of them were barely a buck fifty put together (no offense, guys, I have no idea how buff you are now).

I left the puppy business as of January 1, 2007. I even declared my resignation in my Christmas letter excerpted below:

Over the summer, I “dogsat” like crazy. I didn’t say no to anyone. I spent time with Mandy the Dachshund, Autumn the Shiba Inu, Ariel the Airedale, Oscar the Border Collie, Mallie the Lab mix, the five English Springer Spaniel puppies plus the mamma, Sadie the Retriever, Cassius the Boxer, Gizmo the Pekingese, and Cody the Keeshond. Then I decided to stop dogsitting, except for Autumn, because she was the original dog I housesit for before things got out of control—the five puppies episode almost left me with gray hair like Cruella DeVille screaming, “Puppies! Puppies!” I’m passing on the rest of my business to other friends. (I apologize to other dogs I might have left out, like Emmy the mini-Yorkie and my precious Frida and Andy, but I don’t think I officially dogsat for them this year.)
If you are interested in dogsitting, please let me know. I’ve had three people call me this week to dogsit. And I’m done!!

I don’t even really like keeping pets in the house. I grew up in Kentucky where dogs live outside. And please don’t call PETA, but my dog "lived" on a chain for fifteen years! And now, by some strange twist of fate, I spend most weekends with a pooper scooper and a leash. I'm in pet purgatory!!

I’ve learned to make peace with pets in the house. But it still bothers me that most pets in America have better lives than most children in the world. Didn't mean for this post to end grim, but it's true. Our dogs probably shouldn't live on chains, but our children shouldn't be neglected either.

Note: Picture is of my niece, Emily, and Sparky

Why do I like this picture? It seems kind of morbid, but yet sweet. The skeletons were found outside of Rome. I wonder if it's Romeo and Juliet.

Perhaps this picture won't make it on the front of a Hallmark Valentine's Day card, but I think it's a good portrayal of human love.

The Cam Shaft Position Sensor is broken on my jeep. Cost of part: $26.12.
Cost to fix it at the Austin dealer: $453. I really should have taken automechanics in high school.


Last night I got to go to my first YoungLife club in Houston. It was lots of fun. Lots of pizza. Lots of candy. Lots of "Catch Phrase." It was such a blessing to chill with kids. And just enjoy them. One of the leader's shared Tony Dungy's testimony. It's an awesome blessing. :) It's on YouTube and hopefully I can post the link.

Saturday, I drove out to Austin and had a great day. I read. I drank coffee while looking out at a not-so-gorgeous waterfront, but it was still peaceful.

And I witnessed an amazing sunset.

I headed home from my delightful day, and about 15 miles outside of Austin at the Bois D’Arc Lane (I know. Weird.) my Jeep slowly died. The check engine light came on, and then the steering wheel got really hard to turn. Luckily, I had a large shoulder to pull off on, and I coasted until my car stopped moving.

I prayed. Head to the steering wheel; heart to God. Help! I called Geico Roadside Assistance. And after what seemed like an eternity, they found a tow truck for me. And figured out where I was. I actually said these words to the poor lady trying to help me: “Please tell them I’m by myself and in the middle of nowhere!!”

Then I called a friend who I guess has kind of become my “in case of emergency” back-up. I said, “Just listen. I went to Austin by myself. And my car died. I’m getting a tow truck, and I guess I’ll rent a car and drive back. I just wanted you to know where I was.”

“Beth,” she said calmly. “Can I talk now?”
“Yes,” I said.

Then she explained, “I’m in Austin.”

So, she picked me up, took me to stay with her at her aunt’s. And now my jeep is hopefully being fixed in Austin. Below is a pic of my dead Jeep on the left. My friend’s car is on the right. I was sitting in the fancy tow truck.

So, this is twice in 2007, that Geico has been used by God as a tool in my life. They helped the security people find me when my purse was missing. And now they helped me in my time of need with car issues. Maybe I’ll be on one of their commercials soon! (not the caveman ones)

Hmmm...I don't think I'm celebrating this year. I'm not going to put up a tree or lights...or make any queso.

1.Cereal – Lucky Charms, Kashi anything, or Raisin Bran
2.Pasta – Ravioli, Penne, etc. w/ some Paul Newman sauce
3.Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly
5.Cheese and crackers (Laughing Cow is nice)
7.Blue Diamond Almonds (Jalapeno Smokehouse or Chili-Lime)

I serve dinner most weeknights anywhere between 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. Feel free to call and let me know if you'll be over. I'll get out the extra spoon and cereal bowl for you.

I suppose sometimes God puts us through hard times to draw closer to Him. So some of the trials in our lives actually help us to get a better understanding and closer relationship with God. I think that God is using public transportation to grow my faith.

I know I blog about Metro about 15% of the time. For so long, it was a mystery, and now it’s a part of my day-to-day life where God shows me Metro-miracles.

This morning, I clearly pulled out my Metro pass out of a book and made sure I had it. After I sprinted in the rain to the bus as it sat at the light, I got on and fumbled through my bag for the pass. I took out every book and bible I owned, and could not find it. I dropped my water bottle in the search. I took out all my snacks for the day. I searched my coat pockets. It was no where to be found. I prayed in my head to God. I didn’t know where the $1 would come from, because I had about 1 cent on me, as usual.

I worked my way over on the crowded bus (standing room only) and told the bus driver I didn’t have my pass. (Usually, that’s when they dump people off at the next available stop—no pay, no ride.) And she said, “The machine’s broken. When it’s got the white bag over it, that means you just get on.”

I hadn’t even noticed.

I looked at the couple standing in front of me and said, “So I dug through all my stuff, and I didn’t even have to pay?” They smiled and said, “Uh-huh.” I suppose it was nice being the bus entertainment for the morning. But it was even nicer to experience another Metro-miracle!

Do you dare to ride the Metro Bus?! Only the humble and the prayerful allowed.