• DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    by Mary Beth Ellis
  • Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers
    Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers
    Random House Trade Paperbacks
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Older women are hot!

I married a woman older than me, which doomed me to a life of constantly telling her how young she looks. Most of the time I'm successful in convincing MB that she looks 21 to me, but then incidents happen which crush all my efforts. The latest occurrence was last week at a grocery store in Ohio after MB's event at "The Mount". We picked up some celebratory ice cream and sparkling wine, and after going through the checkout, I noticed on the receipt what the cashier had put for MB's birthday, after not asking for her ID.





We have a very important Volume Update from last week's appearances in Cincinnati. This is a Hair Check from the speech at my alma mater:



Considering the wideness as well as the curl intensity, we can deduce that this was indeed an important event. However, as you can see, the momentum was with the Q&A session at the College of Mount St. Joseph:




Here, we have more extensive finger fluffing, far wider use of small curlers in the back, and liberal application of mousse. I feel compelled to point out that this ain't no slam on Mercy; it's just that college students, as a rule, tend to have more disposable cash than high schoolers. One has lunch money; the other has beer money. Therefore, the hair spray goes to the elders.

truth at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com


And To Think I Blegged It On... oh, forget it.

My next MSNBC article is about the various movies made from Seuss books. Problem is, my proportion is all out of whack here; I'm a literary purist, and the mere idea of a person picking up a ten-page book and saying "Wouldn't this make a great two-hour movie?" immediately disqualifies the project from awesomeness in my "the book was better" world.

I simply do not have a good track record with extra-Seussical outlets. There's a Seuss-themed land at Islands of Adventure, which I only visited during Halloween Horror Nights, when the puffy turrets and twisty sculptures are lit all creepy. And then the park adds huge smokestacks of black-lit bubbles, in which cavort... CLOWNS. In--again-- creepy lighting. You guys, I need to quadruple my meds to get through this piece.

The other problem is (there are always multiple problems-- you know this about me by now) that the article needs to be 1000 words, and I have a feeling the editors aren't going to appreciate a 998-word bio blurb. So what do you think? Seuss movies: Do they merely suck, or do they really suck?

honestly wanting to know at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com


It's Okay

A visit to my alma mater was relatively pleasant, but not spectacular. The bottomless affirmation hole that is me, therefore, categorizes this as "Utter Failure, Category 2." When I don't care about something, the half-assery of it all is discernable from distant galaxies. Countless lumpy art projects, frustrated former bosses, and barely-completed Spanish 101 worksheets shout the testimony. But if it matters, and if there is PowerPoint, I chase standing ovations and fireworks and conversions to Jesus on the spot, and if none of this happens...oh. There's that loser sound effect from The Price Is Right, followed by a five-hour, one-woman power lunch of further PowerPoint, mental PowerPoint, with all the obnoxious zoomy sounds and spinning pie charts I deserve, dissecting What Went Wrong.

Given that I had no earthly clue how to talk to high school-aged people when I was in high school, I might have cut myself a break, given that the girls were plopped before me directly after lunch and directly before a detention session. I had no right to present them with the check from a lifetime of an achievement-based self esteem. Still, I was paralyzed regarding the next night's appearance at the College of Mount St. Joseph. There had been actual preparation regarding the high school speech-- twenty! slides!--but this next one was utterly projector-free.

"What are you going to talk about?" Josh The Pilot asked, two hours before I went on.

"I'm thinking about it," I said, unable to let him in on the fact that "thinking about it" consisted of staging a cage match between a dragon puppet and a horse puppet for the amusement of Jim The Small Child Nephew.

What I was thinking about was pain, and how writing, even humor writing, especially humor writing, stems directly from it. I thought we non-fictionistas had the pain market cornered, but a fiction writer in my MFA program once attested that novels and short stories, too, consist of disemboweling oneself directly onto the keyboard. Messy, yes. Interesting, also yes.

I think it's because we're literally born of pain. We might not feel it--we're too busy being slimy and cold-- but Mommy sure does. It's the very first sensation we're aware that other people experience.

My godchild, who normally leaps from juice box to little brother patrol to living room recreation of Radiator Springs-- he knows it too. Usually he doesn't notice me much except when I appear bearing His Majesty's Happy Meal, and that's all right. That's his job. He's not the Department of Health and Human Services; he is, instead, three. He does not exist for my self-affirmation. That's Bridezillas' job. But last week, Jim pointed at a wound on my finger.

"What happened?" he said.

"Aunt Beth is hurt," I told him, because "Aunt Beth suffers from a mild form of onychophagia, which is rooted in her ridiculously high expectations of herself and her total inability to self-regulate during stressful episodes" was not covered on Sesame Street last week. This satisfied him for the moment, as Uncle Josh came by with a lion puppet, which meant that another round of cage matches was in order.

But Jim returned to the offending thumb later in the afternoon. "What happened?"

I repeated my answer, but there was no lion to save me now. He pondered this for a moment, then said, "It's okay?"

"Yes," I told him, "it's okay."

"I make it better?"

I assured him that with the possible exception of a trip to an R-rated movie, he makes everything better, including (and I'm making, I'm aware, a wild assumption here) childbirth. Because writing from pain wouldn't be any fun at all if there weren't literary Tylenol in the form of-- well, you.

Thank you, Tylenol.

yay The Readers at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com



Many thanks for the chest-releated concern. I'm on Cipro now, so if anybody is planning an anthrax attack, go ahead on.

I spoke at my alma mater yesterday, the entire time wanting to smoke a cigarette, not because I smoke, but because, as always, I could. But I reverted to True Self, and meekly followed freshman staircase traffic patterns even when the alumnae hostess encouraged me to cozy up to any old banister. It also shouldn't surprise you that I was running behind due to snow, which meant that my mommy had to call the main office and let the staff know that I was going to be late for class. I have learned nothing.

The building has been highly renovated. Places where walls used to be now host state-of-the-art Mac labs, professional theatre makeup rooms, and digital television studios. I am not sure how I feel about a fourteen-year-old having more hard drive space and a better graphics platform than I do, but given that all I would do with it is stick Calista Flockhart's head on Arnold Schwarzenegger's body, perhaps it's for the best, cosmically.

Josh The Pilot was there, too, and stirred much more interest than I did, given that he was a male under 40 in a womens' school. It totally made up for not having a boyfriend in high school, because instead of merely everyone I knew being jealous of me, it was everyone I saw. By the end of the session, the girls were still glaring at me, but their heads were maybe one millimeter off the desk, which I claim as a great victory.

One student asked me, "How do writers get their work published?" I congratulated her on summing up every day of my life in one sentence.

careered at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com