The Ambush

It started off as such a perfect southern California day. The sun was shining. The temperature was in the low 70’s. Somewhere in the background a bird was chirping. I was in such a cheerful mood I decided to go to the grocery store to buy food for dinner (when you’re unemployed it’s the little things). I pulled into my parking space with the windows and sunroof open. ‘Zac and Sara’ was blasting on the radio. It was as if everything was right with the world. I grabbed my environmentally conscious reusable grocery bags and walked toward the entrance.

Then it happened. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming. I knew to be prepared. I had practiced my whole life for this moment and in an instant I forgot all of my training. I was surrounded. There was nowhere for me to go. I began to feel the fear rise in chest when one of them looked at me and said “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” What should I do? I mumbled something about ‘on my way out’ and they dispersed. I felt relief. I felt as if I was going to make it. As I was looking at the avocados it hit me. They will still be there when I leave. And I had practically promised that young girl with the giant brown eyes that I would purchase a box of deliciousness from her when I left. My palms started to sweat.  I could feel the room begin to spin. I sat down on a crate of oranges to think. I couldn’t leave out the back. Last time I did that the police and I had a very intense conversation. If I left out the front Big Eyes would be waiting with baited breath.  I walked through the store picking up things I didn’t really need or even want wasting time trying to figure out how I could escape her evil clutches. As I thought about the three foot criminal mastermind waiting for my cash outside the front door, I realized she only had 3 badges. The rest of the girls had dozens. Why did she have so few when the other girls in her troop had so many? I casually walked past the front door pretending to be very interested in the bouquets of flowers at the front. Big Eyes was by herself. The other Girl Scouts were huddled up talking. Even the moms at the table were ignoring her. She sat alone in a folding chair swinging her feet and looking down at the ground.

For those of you who have never seen a sad Girl Scout with only three badges it is a jarring sight. I felt my eyes well up. I forgot my pretense of looking at flowers and began just staring at her. Wondering what in her young life had led her to this point. Alone selling cookies on the street for cash. I began to imagine her home life. Her father had died when she was young and her mother worked two jobs to support her and her older brother who had a heroin addiction. She loved ponies and always did her homework. She said her favorite color was rainbow because she couldn’t bear to choose one.  As a single tear ran down my cheek she looked up and made eye contact with me. She gave me a sad, distant smile. I turned away quickly so she wouldn’t see me cry. I went to the ATM and withdrew $30. I checked out thinking the whole time of Cordelia (which is what I had decided to name Big Eyes) and how much getting her cookie badge would mean to her. As I walked out of the store I was once again surrounded, but this time I wasn’t afraid. I had a purpose. A mission. I walked up to Cordelia and asked for 7 boxes of Thin Mints. Her face broke out into the largest smile I had ever seen on a child. I could practically see the tears welling up. As she handed me those boxes of chocolate minty delight and said “Gee, thanks Ma’am!” I handed her the $30 and told her I didn’t need change. I walked away with a sense of pride. I had done something. I made a positive influence on a young girl’s life. I am someone she would always remember. As I stopped to let a car pass I heard the little angel’s voice speaking very loudly and excitedly to her fellow scouts, “Guys! It totally worked!”

I should be angry. I should have gone back and spoke to the moms standing behind the table allowing these little tricksters to pull the wool over unsuspecting members of society and asked for my money back. I should have written a nasty letter to my alderman asking for the banning of Girl Scout cookies statewide. Instead, in a state of shock I walked to my car and drove home. Windows up and radio off. As I sit here now surrounded by plastic wrappers and little green boxes I almost feel proud of little Cordelia. When life gives you lemons you sell Girl Scout cookies. I would like to hope that one day she will become an evil genius with aspirations of blowing up the world if they choose to not buy 1 billion dollars in Samoas. And when that day comes I will gladly put on my Evil Henchman Girl Scout uniform and march right alongside her.

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Thoughts Upon Turning 30

Well, I have now been 30 for 3 days 11 hours and 32 minutes. In my world that officially makes me an expert.  I have learned a few things in the short time since I have been 30 that I feel it is my duty to pass along to all of you, my dear friends, that are right behind me finishing up your twenties. Those of you who have left 30 in your dust, I have no advice for you. Except when you take a skillet out of the oven, don’t forget it’s hot and grab the handle. I still regret that one. So here goes:

Thoughts Upon Turning 30

A Short List by Elisa Lindsey

  1. The most important thing you should remember is that you will do some truly awesome things for your birthday, you will get amazing once in a lifetime presents. You will plan the most lavish birthday you have ever had and inside you will feel like nothing has changed. You expect, whether subconsciously or not, to feel different but you just don’t. You feel like it’s a really special day when you’re still 29.
  2. Someone will call you old. No matter if your friends are older or younger, SOMEONE will call you old. And it will sting. In addition, I was invited to a cougar bar within my first two days of being 30. And that stung too. Then you will realize “Hey! I look pretty darn good for 30!” Which also leads me to my next item on the list:
  3. You are suddenly hot. In 24 hours you just went from being an old 20 year old lumped into the same category as supermodels, young actresses, playmates, and barely legal cheerleaders to being the young hot 30 year old. Now you’re the supermodel. You’re the barely legal one the guys clamor for, and trust me, randomly men who you have known for years and always said “but you’re beautiful!” when you were fishing for compliments will go out of their way to tell you that you look hot now that you’re 30. And the numbers will surprise you. Older men think you are the age they have a chance but you’re still hot, young, and gorgeous. Younger men suddenly see you as the sexy older woman just reaching her sexual peak who actually has a brain and can have a conversation unlike the vapid little girls they continually meet in bars. In short, you’re REALLY effing hot now and in your prime. Go for it!
  4. Clothes. Clothes, which were never easy are suddenly more of an issue than they have ever been. You are now in that odd place between low-rise jeans that show your thong and mom jeans. You suddenly realize your constant wardrobe of clubbing clothes and eye catching neon is completely ridiculous. But you don’t want to put on jeans that have an elastic waist and an embroidered sweatshirt (dickey optional) yet. So you wipe the glitter from around your eyes, pull the jeans out of the back of your closet, (the ones your mom bought you on her last trip to visit) and put on a button down shirt that you hope isn’t too wrinkly or shows too much cleavage and prepare to take on the world.
  5. Who you are and all your dreams have changed in the last few years and you didn’t realize it. Slowly over the last couple of years your priorities have switched. That career as an astronaut you always wanted that made you decide to be part of Nasa? It has been replaced with a more sensible and personally rewarding job building rockets. You never had an “ah-ha!” epiphany moment, you just suddenly were no longer the person you were when you turned 20 and you are suddenly okay with it. That doesn’t mean you give up on your dreams, though! Quite the contrary, you still truly pursue what you want to do but the reasons why have changed. I still act because I love it, but not because I wanted to be a rich famous actor like I did when I was a starry-eyed 19 year old. Now I want to write and bake, with a small steady acting gig on the side. Hopefully you didn’t spend $100,000 in student loans on a career you want as a hobby now. Maybe the business degree WAS a good idea because no one seems to know what in the hell a Liberal Arts degree ACTUALLY is
  6. Look at your contacts on your phone. See all those party friends you never call anymore? Yep. You have slowly phased them out. My idea of a great night is cooking dinner, baking something, and catching the new CSI while I drink some beer. While my party friends still call to see if I want to hit up Sunset Strip and meet some guys, I just simply don’t want to. And once I realized the only thing we had in common was partying, I slowly faded away. I still consider them my ‘Ride or Die’ bitches and have a grand idea that someday we will all be able to be friends again, I can’t exactly invite them to my cousin’s “Rocking Bar Mitzvah”. Not after the table dancing incident at my Aunt’s 90th birthday.
  7. Everyone you are or ever have been related to will realize you’re 30 and ask when you’re getting married and/or having children. All of them. And if you’re a female turning 30, all the older women who have just wanted you to settle down now just want you to have a baby before your eggs shrivel up. They have thrown the idea out the window that an old maid like you will ever be married and have decided they would rather live with the shame of your bastard child in the family than no child at all. Brace yourself. Prepare witty comebacks like, “Did you forget to iron your face today?!” or “Well in two to three years you won’t have to worry about this anymore, will you?” If those don’t work, deflect attention on someone else “Did you see Cousin Mary brought her boyfriend to the reunion? They have been together for 6 years, did you know that?” The older relative will immediately smell champagne and wedding favors in the air and finally leave you to polish off the fifth of gin you snuck in by yourself.
  8. Last, but not least. Everyone will give you advice. Ignore it. 30 is different for everyone and you will handle it in your own way. As a matter of fact maybe you should forget you ever read this blog. After you forward it your friends of course.

15 Reasons Why I am Not Going to my 10 Year Reunion

1~Seriously, we’re all friends on Facebook. I know where you live, how many kids you have, how long you’ve been married, and what you do on a daily basis
2~I live exactly 1430.58 miles from the high school I graduated from. It is a $567.30 plane ticket. That is not including the ticket to the reunion or for the drinks that will be necessary to cope with the fact I am not 16 any more. It will cost me $310 to go see my boyfriend for his birthday in Chicago and I will have enough money left over to take him out for a nice birthday dinner and drinks and possibly jazz.
3~Yes, I am an actress in LA. Yes, I have done some film and TV. No, you probably have never seen me or heard of anything I have worked on. Yes, I would rather do theater. No, I don’t want to hear about you or someone you are related to’s secret desire to become and actor. I also don’t want your unsolicited advice on what I should do to become a famous Hollywood actress. I also don’t want to answer questions like :”Who is your favorite actor?” or “Do you understand David Lynch?” No one understands David Lynch. If they say they do they are either lying to you to look cool and superior or they looked the meaning up on the internet.
4~No, I don’t want kids. No, I don’t want to explain my reasons or listen to you tell me how I will change my mind when I get older and “settle down”. And I can guarantee you, if I have spent 6 years of my adult life as a nanny that looking at pictures of your precious little angels will not convince me to get off my birth control.
5~I like to think that I am a good actress but my acting skills tend to run out after 3 hours of pretending I care about other people, their jobs, meeting their spouses, how wonderful their children are, and their lives. This remains true whether or not I genuinely like you and with or without drinks.
6~I divorced my High School Sweetheart. I don’t want to answer the inevitably uncomfortable questions surrounding that part of my life. Considering everyone knew we were dating, since we dated for 4 years, and everyone knew we got married I would just rather avoid any questions on the subject
7~I don’t remember half the people that say they went to high school with me. Combine this with the fact that I am terrible at names and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Maybe it was all the drinking I did in “college” or maybe I just am really forgetful but I don’t want to spend the evening pretending to a) be sober and b) remember your name much less that hilarious thing that happened in 3rd hour English when we were Sophomores.
8~I did not finish college (apparently you can’t major in Jager shots).  I don’t have a high powered, high paying job to compensate for this. Nor did I marry rich. I have done nothing incredibly meaningful in my life. I am 15lbs heavier than the day I graduated and look not at all different other than my hair is darker. I also am not good at pretending I am an astronaut or was in the peace corp. I don’t make enough money to say I am a full-time actress.  I am simply an administrative assistant who does dinner theater on nights and weekends. I can feel your eyes judging me from here.
9~I have 2 cats. They are my world. I share pictures and talk about them constantly. They sleep with me every night and I talk to them on the phone if I have to be away from them. Yes, I am dangerously close to being a crazy cat lady at a very young age. I also realizes how that looks to those of you “dog people” who only have one pet and live “normal” lives that don’t involve calling your pets “children”.
10~Yes, I live in Southern California and work looking at mountains all day, across from Angels Stadium and spend every weekend working at the beach. The hottest it gets in the summer is 85 degrees and in the winter it once dropped to 50 degrees. No, you can not come visit or stay with me.
11~I was not nice in high school. I wasn’t a “Mean Girl” but I wan’t voted Miss Congeniality either. I was even meaner after high school then disappeared for several years. I am pretty sure there is someone out there I went to high school with that is hell-bent on getting a “Carrie”-like revenge on me. And frankly, I don’t look good in pink OR pig’s blood.
12~Along the same vein, there are people from high school I am avoiding for my own personal, selfish reasons. The last thing I want is to spend the night avoiding drunk people I don’t care to see or talk to. Besides, where DOES one get pig’s blood these days?
13~I have a really truly wonderful relationship with a wonderful man. I literally feel like this relationship made me think fairy tale endings really can happen to anyone. That being said I don’t want to have to spend an entire evening explaining a) that we have a long distance relationship for part of the year but it really does work and we both trust each other completely (imagine the looks I get on that one!) b) why he can’t be there with me (um…he is in school) c) why we have been together for almost 2 years and live together when we can and I am planning to eventually move to Chicago to be with him but we aren’t even talking about the M word d)the whole kids thing and e) He’s NOT Italian…he’s Sicilian
14~I’ve made up my own versions of what happened to me in High School and I honestly don’t want anyone to tell me the truth and ruin all the good memories I have
15~And finally the MAIN reason why I don’t want to go to my 10 year Reunion is…I couldn’t find a thing to wear

Family, Mac & Cheese, Afghans, Poetry, and Air Trumpets

As I was growing up my family moved a lot because of my dad’s job. Even after I “grew up” and moved out of my parent’s home I have continued to move to strange new cities where I don’t know anyone. But no matter how far from home I am I have discovered that nothing makes you feel more comforted, less lonely, and more at home than comfort food. For me personally it is a mixture of food cooked by my Southern momma, the occasional summer lunch cooked by my papa, but mostly a combination of whatever happened to be in the pantry. I grew up on casseroles, boxed dinners, canned food, and generous amounts of love. My family always sat down at the properly set dinner table with the television off for every meal from the time I was born until I moved out of the house. No matter how hectic my life got through the troublesome teenage years I was always at home for dinner sitting around the table with my Dad, Mom, brother, and sister. While biologically my family only numbered five there were frequently more people at our table. My momma and papa never hesitated to extend an invitation to someone who needed a hot meal or even just needed company for the evening even if the meal we served was the last meal we had in the house. I can remember one winter we were snowed into our giant 1920’s drafty house in Kentucky with 13 inches of snow on the ground when one of my brother’s friends and his mother walked through the snow to get to the grocery store only to discover it was closed. As they walked back by our house they were invited in to warm themselves with blankets and board games and homemade, from scratch, hot cocoa made by my momma. Some meals were only boxed macaroni and cheese but to us it was a feast. We never knew we were “poor”. Every meal was served on a table with silverware (not real silverware, but we never knew), cloth napkins (hand stitched by my momma), we had to ask to pass everything instead of just reaching for it, and we frequently used our “good plates” (which looking back were probably $20 for a set at Wal-Mart). Yet sitting at that humble hand me down table we never knew. We were taught never to talk with our mouths full, always to use our napkins, never to use our fingers to scrape up food from our plate, and to never put our elbows on the table. To us we lived in a giant palace full of nooks and crannies and love. Above all it was full of love. To us the kitchen and dining room were the heart of our family. Not just holidays but everyday. One of us kids would set the table while another one poured the iced tea and one of us helped momma and papa finish getting dinner together and onto the table. To anyone else we lived in a broken down brick house that was drafty and empty, and completely out of date. To us it was paradise.
Dinner at the Lindsey household was never a short event. Even if there were no guests we would sit around and talk about how good dinner was, what had happened at school or work that day, what we were going to do the next day, or even talk about the MacGyver episode that had been on earlier that day.
After dinner may have been my favorite time. We would play board games, watch Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett, a family movie, play cards, do cross-stitch, or my favorite nights, reading poetry aloud from my mother’s worn copy of ‘One Hundred and One Famous Poems’. I can still remember sitting in the living room with everyone stitching, writing, and relaxing listening as we each took turns reading these poems. Even to this day I can recall the sheer emotion I felt and the tears I shed every time we read ‘The Highway Man’ by Alfred Noyes. The day my mom gave me my own copy of that book I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait for it to be well worn and read nightly to my future family.
While we never had a great amount of spending money we always made do. We had each other and that was what we needed to get through the day. Our clothes may have been second hand, we may have eaten boxes upon boxes of discounted macaroni and cheese, but we were happy and care free. And that is all anyone can ask for. To this day I have met very few if any people and families who are lucky enough to have the full and rich life I was fortunate to experience growing up. My only hope and wish is that someday I will have a family, biological or not, that I can share the richness, happiness, values, lessons that built character, and most of all boundless love with.
Thanks Momma, Papa, Josh, & Abby. I am who I am and a much better person because of everything you shared with me. The unspoken lessons I was taught by all of you have made me feel tough as nails, prepared for anything, happy, and most of all, loved. Loved unconditionally and completely. And in this world that sets me far above anyone else. Thank you. I love you guys. I can’t wait to see you in October. I am lucky, fortunate, and blessed to have been allowed to have the family I have. I love you. I honestly do.

The Witch on the Outskirts of Town

You know that old abandoned house at the edge of town? The one with the tattered curtains and overgrown weeds? The one where the old lady lives who you’re pretty sure is a witch? Yeah…that is what my blog has become and I am the witch (but I think most of you were already aware of this) Remember last time I didn’t blog for a long time and I said it wouldn’t happen again? Well, apparently I am not a woman of my word. Every few days I think “Oh! I should write a blog about that!” Then inevitably I forget 3 seconds later and never write a blog about it. This doesn’t mean that I hate you, my faithful readers, it just means I am incredibly lazy. I mean, how hard is it to post pictures of bacon and write “Man! That looks good! I love bacon” then make an off-handed reference to Martha Stewart? The answer is incredibly hard when you are a first class procrastinator like me. (Which according to my mom I got from my dad, by the way) Nevertheless, here I am writing a boring blog with no point about how I left you once again to fend on your own. There are days I want to just close it down and avoid the “you haven’t written a blog” guilt (which despite what people say is a real guilt) but I have a mental block about abandoning this blog because I, like everyone else on the internet, think that my opinion is unique and important. Besides-in the 5 months since I wrote a blog I am averaging 4 views a day! I am pretty sure I only know 4 people so that is very encouraging. I refuse to move out of the haunted empty house my blog has become. As a matter of fact I am beginning to imagine my blog not unlike “The House on Haunted Hill”. The original, not the crappy remake. And I am pretty sure I may be Elenor, haunted by the ghost child of my blog. But I digress…
Why am I writing this blog? So far all I have done is ramble on about how important I am and that I am lazy. Well the reason for this particular blog is essentially to let you know I am still alive, I didn’t forget about my blog, my opinion is important and I am lazy. So there you have it. Will I write another blog before the apocalypse on 12/21/12? Who knows! I can’t see that far into the future. I can’t even tell you what I am doing tonight after work. (She’s writing this at work?! Won’t she get in trouble? The answer is no. I have an awesome boss who I am pretty sure will read this and laugh) The only thing I can tell you is eventually, someday, I will write a blog. It will be about bacon. And you will laugh.

It’s Really More of a Supper Club

Things I learned this week: Buffalo and Wild Boar are delicious, three desserts in one night are NOT too much, all martinis taste better with blue cheese stuffed olives, and I am too white trash to eat at five star restaurants. How did I learn these life changing tidbits? My Steve is home for Spring Break this week so we went out to a fancy dinner for my belated birthday since he wasn’t able to come home in February. We got dressed up and went to the Manhattan Steak & Seafood restaurant (it’s really more of a supper club) in Orange. Oh. My. God. Sometimes when I think about heaven it’s crystal chandeliers and leather upholstered booths. We of course made a great impression by changing our reservation time 3 times then arriving with our own bottle of wine. It was a good bottle of wine and there was no corkage fee but we still came in with it. We started with a split of champagne and an appetizer of scallops. The scallops arrived and it was two. Two scallops. They cost $9. I have to say though, they were worth every single penny. They were the best scallops I have ever had in my entire life. They were creamy and buttery and perfectly cooked. They practically melted in your mouth. Once we were finished with the appetizer we ordered our entrees and a drink each. Steve ordered the Wild Boar and a Manhattan while I ordered the Buffalo Filet and a 007 Martini. When the waiter asked how I wanted the filet cooked I said ‘medium well’ (as I always do) and the waiter said “the chef prefers to cook it medium rare. I suggest you try that.” Yeah it was that kind of place. (I hear Chef Francois’ voice in the back of my head: “In ordering something “special”, I only assume that a. you are profoundly ignorant and I pity you or b. you mock me…in which case I must fight you in a duel!”) The martini’s came out and the glasses were intricately carved crystal martini glasses whose stem had to be at least a foot tall and the glasses alone had to weigh 1lb each. And my martini had blue cheese stuffed olives in it. They were divine. SOOO good. When the entree arrived it was the most beautifully decorated plates I have ever seen. The buffalo was like an extra delicious filet mignon. It had a little game taste to it but was like butter. Smooth and flavorful. It was like eating the best steak you have ever had in your life and as a life long carnivore who LOVES steak that’s saying a lot. Even the mashed potatoes (which were served in little florets around the plate) were good and I HATE mashed potatoes. The meal was so good not only did I eat every bite but I, Beth, mixed my food. There was food everywhere and I did not care! Steve graciously let me try his herb encrusted wild boar. It was fantastic! The sage-y goodness was, as Steve described it, “like a pork chop on steroids”. And of course since it was my “birthday” we HAD to get dessert. Warm bread pudding and two glasses of port was ordered while I tried very hard to look sophisticated while licking my plate clean. You need to understand I am from the south and I LOVE bread pudding and this was AMAZING bread pudding that was devoured in approximately 3 seconds flat. Then the waiter came out and since it was my birthday they gave me a complimentary tiramisu with Happy Birthday written in chocolate and a little candle. So of course we ate that. We wouldn’t want to offend the chef…again. Then it was time for the check. Which came with two cinnamon sugar biscotti to soften the $200 blow but luckily the port had already done that. So we paid the bill, took our unopened bottle of wine, and walked merrily out convinced that we had fooled everyone into thinking we belonged there. Of course I’m pretty sure they just laughed at ‘those white trash people who ordered their steak medium well and wore clothes from Sears’.

Every Rose Has it’s Thorn

I have been receiving a number of requests to write a blog about gardening and house plants. Here’s the problem: I inherited my dad’s black thumb. My mom can grow any type of plant in any climate. I’m pretty sure she has a rubber tree that she has kept alive for 20 years and has moved cross country in the back of a U-Haul in 100 degree weather. You give me one day with that thing and it will be dead. I have even killed a cactus. My mom’s favorite story is she took a large African Violet she had been growing and split it into three plants (insert technical term for that here). One to keep, one for my sister, and one for me. That night she was talking to the plants, as she does, and told them where they were going while giving them a drink of water. She woke up the next morning to find the one she has re-potted for me was dead. It died of fear. That is how bad I am at growing things.
The only thing I have ever been successful at growing is those little kits that come out every December. You know the ones, you buy them at WalMart and they come with the potting stuff already included, fool proof instructions, and the bulb already has the flower stem sticking out of it by the time you get it home. Recently I grew one such plants. While our affair was brief it was a glimmer of hope for someone like me. I took that genetically modified plant bred to make people like me feel better and I raised it from a misshapen  little bulb into a beautiful flower. Of course I forgot about it in the pantry until it was already half grown and the only reason it was ever watered was because it was an unusually rainy season in Southern California and I had put it outside so the cats didn’t eat it. It bloomed delicate little flowers that I completely took all the credit for until I moved to my new home in Orange County and abandoned it. My mind often wanders back to those few happy days we spent together, blissfully unaware of how abruptly it would end. The days I would stumble home drunk and accidentally bump into it. The days the wind would knock it over. The day I accidentally dropped a sock in it while carrying my laundry in the apartment. I wonder what my life would be like today if I still had that plant. I wonder if it remembers me. I wonder if someone else is taking the credit for those little white specks of joy I so lovingly nurtured. While it’s hard, I must move on. I must not dwell on the past, no matter how wonderful it was…

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