I wear a lot of sunscreen. As a card-carrying member of the redheaded race, I am entitled to wear sunscreen--or else suffer the consequences. The freckles on my shoulders are unusually blotchy from a tricycle riding incident when I was four. My mother left me out for fifteen minutes pedaling on the patio, only to find out that my shoulders had blistered.

In the 80s, sunscreen only went up to SPF 15. Most of it had to be reapplied after each swim session. I didn't want to be one of the kids in wet t-shirts at the lake, so sunscreen application became my summer past time. People with darker skin or the ability to tan just don't get it. "But you were only out there ten minutes! Why are you pink?!"

I can't even imagine having a tan. It seems like a luxurious dream.

Anyway, as I age, along with that fair skin goes other skin anomalies. Today I visited the dermatologist to make sure that the unusual spots that were moving in on my freckles were safe inhabitants of my skin.

So then we played the mole game that everyone likes to play with the dermatologist:

"Look at this. Is this normal?"

"How about this one? Is this safe?"

"What's this thing? Do you see how it appears uneven?"

Women's magazines have given me just enough skin cancer information to get me freaked out about most of things on my skin. And the more I'm out in the sun, the more things appear. I noticed my left side is more affected, probably because of driving.

Finally, my dermatologist answered all my questions.

Me: "See this mole on my arm? I don't like it. It turns pink in the sun."

Her: "I don't know why it's turning pink, but it looks like a regular post-30 mole."

Me: "Post-30 mole??"

[pause for a moment of disbelief at the news]

Me: "How about these little flat brown spots on my hands? And on my face?"

Her: "Well, most people refer to those as liverspots."

So, for a trip to the dermatologist, I was told that I have a post-30 mole and some liverspots. Talk about a boost of self-esteem! She should have at least given me a free sample of Retin-A as a consolation prize.

I'm going to start boosting my SPF level, and I may have my post-30 mole removed as a birthday present next year to help turn back time.

He was part of all of our memories. These are some of mine. I wasn't such a huge fan, but his songs are still playing in my mind, and I still wish I could move like that.

Dear Mikey:
I remember you. I will always remember you. You were part of my life. You had already had a very illustrious career by the time I arrived into the world, so when I first paid attention to you, you were solo without your brothers.

I bought a folder to hold my worksheets that had a big picture of you on the outside. You were propped up on your elbow and had on a white shirt with a yellow sweater vest. I think you had your glove on, too.

Joey Jordan, a kid in my class, had a red jacket just like yours with all the zippers. He was kind of annoying, but that boosted his cool points.

For my 7th birthday, Krystal, who always had a flare for style, got me a velcro wallet with your picture on it. I used it to keep notes that were folded very carefully into strange origami-like structure that usually had a small triangle tab that said, "pull." I still have it in storage somewhere. I won't sell it on eBay, because it's too special.

I remember watching your video of "Billie Jean" (despite the fact the song confused me) where the squares would light up on the floor. You were an amazing dancer. For the rest of my life, I've tried in vain to imitate your moves. I spent many evenings on our linolium covered kitchen floor trying to get my feet to slide into the moonwalk. I also tried that thing where you popped up onto your toes. I could do it wearing Chuck Taylors when I got older. I would still love to master the dance from the "Beat It" video.

Later, after I watched the premier of your "Thriller" video (my memory could be failing me, but I believe it was on CBS because we didn't have MTV), I tried immitating the dance. The shimmy with the clap was my favorite thing. I'm not gonna lie, that video was really scary. And the laugh at the end of the song was just creepy.

I loved your Pepsi commericials. I am so sorry about your hair burning. I liked it that you were back with your brothers. It was always exciting to see that commericial, because I tried to figure out what caused your hair to burn.

The first time I saw your Black or White video, I was at Kari's house. It was mesmerizing. You never made a bad video--except of course, for the one entitled, "Bad."

When I was many years older, I worked as a camp counselor. We would perform a musical play for the campers on their first night of camp (didn't know this when I signed up). One year, I got to play the role where I sang your songs (but we altered the words to fit our camp). It's really hard to sing like you. Especially with your early year songs.

I know you had some difficult years--in childhood and adulthood. You had a big impact on the world, but I fear the impact hurt you in ways that no one can fathom. I'm so sorry for the way the world swallowed you and chewed on you. It was obvious from your physical appearance and your actions that your were hurting and very confused. I pray for protection for your family while they mourn your death.

Thanks for the songs and for being a part of my memories. I will sing your songs to my children (except for "Billie Jean" and "Bad") and teach them your dances. Hopefully, they will be more gifted dancers than me.


Maybe I'm entranced by the commercials. Maybe I've just never met Shamu. Whatever the case, I'm going to SeaWorld. Soon. I already got the tickets.

At 15, I went to Epcot Center with my parents, and we toured something called Land of the Living Seas or something like that. I still occasionally have dreams about the aquarium glass breaking. Fish freak me out a little bit. Maybe SeaWorld wasn't the best choice for my fish phobia, but I'm going. I just won't swim with the dolphins, but I might get the courage to touch one.

A dear, sweet friend of mine just had a baby last night. She waited to see if she was having a boy or a girl. Now that she's had the baby officially, I'd like to get her another gift. My friend is wayyyy into monogramming, so I keep picturing this kid in monogrammed sailor suits.

I'm a little slow in the ins and outs of this baby world thing and its merchandise. I've just graduated from everyone I know getting married, to everyone now having babies. I guess next, I'll be overloaded with school fundraiser requests.

Anyway, I just started recognizing a kiddie clothing store called Janie & Jack. My friend got her niece a ton of cutie clothes there for her first birthday, and I'd like to get my friend something cute--but for her little boy. Boy clothes aren't always as cute.

My friend, Erin, discovered the thing she needed most was a pee-pee tee-pee. Maybe I could get some monogrammed ones...

I am fighting a balance of clean closet/messy room. The more I try to sort the closet, the worse the room gets in the process. I really hope there is a happy, neat ending to this process, or I might have to call one of those TLC programs like, Mission Organization or Bless My Mess, or whatever they're calling their shows these days.

All I know is that putting away "winter" clothes in Texas in kind of a joke, because that just means I put two sweaters away, but still the process seems taxing.

My weekend plans:
-Taco Milagro
...and maybe a veggie burrito from Cafe Brasil. It's my new favorite thing. It has quinoa in it. How do you say that word?

I went to one of my favorite local Texas chains today for lunch. I have a like/dislike relationship with the place since they redid the menu a few years back, but it's still good.

Lately, I can't get enough of their Veggie Tart. It might sound very un-Texas, but it's really good. It's a pastry shell topped with a bit of pesto, sauteed spinach, roasted tomatoes and artichokes, and then finished off with some tasty goat cheese. I love it.

Today, I couldn't find any partners in crime, so I decided to take myself to lunch and read the book that I keep staying up and reading. When I got to the car, I realized I had forgotten the book, so decided I would make the best of it with me, myself, and I.

After I picked up my food, I squeezed into an open table and sat very close to some other guests. I thought that their conversations might be interesting to listen to since I wouldn't be having any with myself in public.

Within a matter of five minutes, I heard the 50ish ladies to my left drop the M.F- bomb, and then the 60ish men on my right dropped the regular F-bomb. I was apparently in an F-bomber war zone. I kept thinking, "Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Jesus loves dirty mouths, too."

But I'm really not comfortable with that type of language, and in an instant my desire to eavesdrop (which also is unholy) immediately left, and I realized that even though these people were dressed to the nines, their hearts might not be in great shape.

I have to catch my own self sometimes when words are tempted (or actually do sneak out) to flow from my lips which are not so honorable. In Proverbs in says, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." So when worty-dirds are coming from me, I know I need a heart check.

My sister told me a funny story today. She said that someone she knew prefaced the story told to her by saying that it wasn't a redneck thing...I guess it's a matter of opinion or location.

My sister's friend said, "Oh, I was in the most beautiful wedding. The bridesmaids and groomsmen all rode in on four-wheelers!"

My sister said, "I hate to ask...but what about the bride?"

"Oh, she came in on a tractor! It was a John Deere and shined up real nice. She was in a bucket on the back."

Then my sister asked, "Well, wasn't your dress short? How did you ride the four-wheeler?"

She replied, "The ladies rode side-saddle, and the guys drove."

This settles it. If I ever get married, I must get married in Kentucky so I can have four-wheelers in my wedding. I bet for the cost of a fancy hotel reception in Houston, I could afford to buy brand new shiny four-wheelers.

Weddings are all about budgeting for what you really want. And expressing yourself.

I went to CVS to buy razors today, and the store had them locked up. I had to have a store clerk help me get the razor off the hanger thing with a special tool. I noticed that the hair products were not locked up--although they were more expensive than the razors.

I guess maybe needing a razor is more of a thief emergency than hair products, but in my own situation--not that I would steal--if I don't have hair products, I might as well stay home.

I just couldn't get the thought out of my mind of someone rushing in the store, grabbing razors, and then going away in the getaway car.

I went to an event the other night and participated in a mixer. The goal was to obtain signatures of other people that matched listed statements. There was hustling and bustling, and I got everything signed except for four statements. We used to play that game at showers and other events when I was a kid, so I've had prior training in this event and can be a slight bit tenacious without even trying.

After time was called, we had to keep our hand up to show how many questions we got answered right. I kept my hand up, and didn't realize that I was the only one with my hand still up, and I had won the game! For my amazing act of obtaining enough signatures, I received a gift card for Escalante's.

I like winning things. It's a neat feeling to realize that you've achieved something and received a prize. The prize could be a pen or a certificate or anything, and for that moment in time, you feel excitement and amazement and honor all at once--like you're literally beaming.

Maybe that's why we all love to watch The Miss America pageant (I've given up on Miss USA now) or the Olympics. We love to see people beam from the energy and excitement of winning.

On the flip side, I've been a loser, too. We've all been. But I hope somehow in life, God arranges for all of us to have that moment in time to be a winner.

I try to pretend I'm not into trends. In high school, our halls were filled with so many leather bomber jackets after Christmas of 1991 that it looked like an entire herd of brown cattle had entered the halls between classes.

I held out, and never got a leather bomber jacket. I knew that it was a trend. The price of the jacket versus the wear I would get out of it didn't seem to balance very well. Years later, I am not sad about not owning a brown leather bomber jacket.

Now, it seems that more than clothing fads, we've become a nation of tech fads. The new iPhone has just been introduced, and it's pretty much just the old iPhone with a few more bells and whistles. But everybody has the urge to buy it.

Apple does a great job of luring us. It is kind of ironic that its symbol is a bite out of the apple which is also a symbol of the fall of man. With apple products, we all need one more bite to obtain a little bit more knowledge...


I've pretty much spooked myself out now with those thoughts, so my next statements are going to sound very hypocritical for such a strong argument behind avoiding apples and the fall of man, but I might get an iPhone.

Currently, I have a Palm, and my co-worker, who has new-apple-product-disesase (NAPD), wants to get the new iPhone, so he might sell me his old one to help go toward the price of the new phone.

I like my little Palm just fine. I like the little keyboard. I can drop it, and it still lives. And I like it's Sudoku game and Solitaire. But I know the iPhone would be shiny and slick and could serve multiple functions...I don't know. It might sounds silly, but I'm going to pray about it. I don't feel as tempted by it, so therefore, I think I could own it without making it my little god. But I need to check with the mighty God first.

I got some new shoes. Now I am about 5'7". I love being tallish. I never have to hem or roll up my jeans again.

I've been letting my hair grow. Or Giovanni has been letting my hair grow. He's my hairstylist.

It took awhile to find a hairstylist that I liked. I had a dear friend from home that I loved to have cut my hair--but she's a few too many miles away and probably retired by now. I pay Giovanni about 10 times what I paid her.

Giovanni isn't crazy expensive compared to other stylists around, but even if he was, I would sell plasma for his haircuts. Because I don't just pay for Giovanni's amazing cutting skills, I also pay for his honesty and his ability to not chop off all my hair.

I stopped telling Giovanni what I like. Sometimes I do say, "Bangs," or "No bangs." I let him decide what needs to be done.

He taught me to stop using ponytail holders that were breaking my hair to bits. He taught me that I can be post-30 and still have longer hair. And he never fails to compliment me on my hair color.

I am getting a few grays--or whites, and I keep asking Giovanni when it's time to color. He always says in his great Italian accent, "You know I tell you the truth. I will tell you when it's time to color your hair. It's not time yet."

But the last time I went in, I said, "Is it time?" And he said, "I will let your hair turn white before I color it. There's no way to recreate it."

So, I guess I go white. It's kind of nice not having to think about haircuts anymore. And I honestly take a lot better care of it, because it's like I want a good grade from my hairstylist...and he'll lecture me if I don't do what he says, but in an Italian accent!

Recently, I bought a large pruning saw and chopped down the papa banana tree that was about 20 feet tall and growing in my 2x4 landscape patch at my townhome. I also took down the 10 feet tall junior tree growing next to him.

Within two weeks, I've noticed sprouts. One of the sprouts came out of the center of the remaining trunk.

It's been like an alien tree. I think I could literally spend 10 minutes and see it grow before my eyes. I took these pictures to document the craziness.

Day 1 - Morning
Day 1 - Evening

Day 2 - Morning

Tonight when I go home, I would not be surprised if it was taller than me and could talk.

Right now, my life is about points. I'm adding points I eat for food (something I swore I would never do--but it's become a work-related effort). I wear a pedometer to earn points which turn to dollars based on my steps. And I'm also earning points at the Y for workout times and weight lifting. All this point business for fitness is a little overwhelming.

I decided to change my fitness slogan to "What's the Point?". And after I get burned out, I might move it to "Where's the Beef?".

There's a man in our building at work that drives a different exotic car to work everyday. Today, he drove a new Ferrari. He owns some Land Rovers, a Porsche or two, and Audi R8, and some other sweet rides. It's pretty crazy that someone would have so many cars, much less, such expensive cars.

I wonder if there's somebody else that's driving a different car everyday, but it's less noticeable. Like they drive the Dogde Caravan on Monday, the Ford Tempo on Tuesday, Wednesday the Buick LeSabre, and on Thursday and Friday the 1989 Ford Ranger. --Those were all actually all cars my mom owned at once. Although, she might have gotten rid of the van before buying the Tempo. She likes to have a back-up car.

Once when I in Kentucky, I borrowed one of my mom's cars to drive to see my friend, Leslee, in Nashville. I parked the Ford Tempo at the end of the driveway, and Leslee came out to see me.

"Beth! Where did you rent that car from?!" Leslee said.

"Judy's Hoopty Rentals," I said.

It was pretty funny that she thought I rented that car. I keep telling my mom she should start a low budget car rental service. Her policy could be: If it breaks down, you fix it.