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Happy Birthday, L. Frank Baum

15 May

“Oh, I see;” said the Tin Woodman. “But, after all, brains are not the best things in the world.”
Have you any?” inquired the Scarecrow.
No, my head is quite empty,” answered the Woodman; “but once I had brains, and a heart also; so, having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart.” – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Today is the birthday of Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919), famously known as L. Frank Baum. In 1900, he published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He went on to write 13 more Oz books, as well as numerous other works.

Baum’s avowed purpose in writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was to write an American fairy tale, a book for children without the dark tone of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.

The first musical version of The Wizard of Oz was produced in Chicago and then on Broadway in 1902. In the stage version, Toto was replaced with Imogene the Cow. Apparently Mr. Baum did not have final script approval and there were other significant changes as well–including the elimination of the Wicked Witch of the West entirely, and the addition of topical references to President Theodore Roosevelt and other politicians of the day.

Baum, who actually lived in Aberdeen, Dakota Territory (later South Dakota) rather than Kansas, was a strong advocate of women’s suffrage and when Susan B. Anthony came to Aberdeen, she stayed at the Baum’s house. Baum’s belief’s about women’s equality are reflected in several of his works, include the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz.

In 1905, Baum announced his plans to open an Oz amusement park on an island off the coast of California. Baum said he planned to live on this island and have children as advisers in the development of the park. Alas, financial reversals prevented Baum from moving forward with his vision. Another problem may have been that no one has ever been able to locate the island Mr. Baum claimed he was buying to headquarter the park.

The classic film, The Wizard of Oz, was released 20 years after L. Frank Baum’s death. When I was growing up, annual television broadcasts of this movie were a big event. I watched every year. While not entirely faithful to the book (few movies are) the movie owes its genesis, message and its spirit to L. Frank Baum, the man who gave us The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The message of both the book and the movie resonates for me every day. All too often we go through life thinking we are “less than” when, in reality, if we look within, we can find that we had everything we needed all along.

You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.
― The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Thank you, Mr. Baum. Happy Birthday wherever you are (hopefully over the rainbow…)

Winter Will Be the Death of Me Yet

9 Jan

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We had “snow flurries” yesterday.

Floridians call that “a near blizzard” and I am sure there are some enterprising souls who will be expecting their employer to declare a “snow day” today. But they won’t. They will expect everyone to scrounge around in the back of their closets, find something that will serve as a winter coat, bundle up and come on in to work.

Employers are like that—wanting you to show up for work and stuff.

I used to have a job that required me to travel to Maryland–often in January or February, as luck would have it. I stayed in a hotel that was less than a half a mile from the office.

One night it snowed big time. When I got up, there was white as far as the eye could see! It was hard to distinguish my rental car from all of the other big snow lumps in the parking lot because all of the cars were completely covered. “Oh, heck no!” I exclaimed–I am sure this had all the makings of a “snow day.”

Surely my employer will not open their offices today!

So I called the “Incliment Weather Hotline” with baited breath. The recording answered. A man’s voice recited the
date and then advised that the office would be open and said that everything is “business as usual.”

Business as usual?

Business as usual?! Has this guy even looked out his window? How is anyone expected to get to work under these conditions? A person could freeze to death or go snow blind (not sure what that is) or get snow sickness (might be making that one up) or something!

It is a good thing the rental car people had the forethought to provide me with a scraper-thing to clear my windshield. You can’t even buy one of those in Florida. You can buy pecan logs and gator repellent in Florida, but the scraper thing? Forget it!

As I was scraping the glaciers from the windows of the car, I felt the urge to share the experience with a friend.

“I know,” I thought (and it is a wonder I could think at all because you really would have thought my brain would have frozen solid by this point,) “I will call my friend and co-worker back in Florida–the one who grew up in New York, but was smart enough to move to Florida some years back.”

It is a miracle I was able to dial my friend’s desk phone–I don’t know how cell phones can even work in such bitter cold. Don’t the cells freeze up? I guess not because her voicemail answered.

After the beep I said, “Hey, Terri, this is Bill. And this is the sound of me scraping the ice off of my fucking windshield!” Scrape! Scrape! Scrape! said the scraper as I attacked the ice with all of my Flordian might.

When my friend got to work and listened to my message, she laughed and laughed.

Then she forwarded the message to HR and filed a formal complaint about me leaving obscenities on her voicemail.

True story! Except that last part about her forwarding the message and the formal complaint. She would never have ratted me out to those goons in HR!

After I got the windows cleared–all the while feeling just like William H.Macy in “Fargo”, I began the trecherous quarter of a mile journey to the office. While I was driving, I listened to local radio. The morning banter zoo crew people were going on and on about the weather and then they mentioned two things I had never heard of in my life:

  1. Did you know that car doors can freeze shut? Not helpful I am learning about this after I am alreay on the road. If I had had more advanced notice, I could have used this as an excuse not to go into the office. I bet those bastards would have expected me to walk! “It’s only a quarter mile…” Have they no heart?!
  2. Then they explained about the scariest cold thing of all. Have you heard of this “black ice”? It seems that sometimes during the day the snow starts to melt, but when it gets dark (which it does in the frozen north at like, 3:30pm) and the temperatures drop to below freezing (below freezing!) the melting snow–especially the snow on the roads under overpasses, freezes into sheets of ice that look for all the world like normal, la dee da, go ahead and drive as fast as you want road surface.

So your car slides, spins, maybe even rolls over–and you DIE!

That was many years ago, but I am pretty sure that is what they said–“If you drive on black ice, Bill, you will DIE!”

So of course I just assumed my employer would let me leave work well before sundown because they cared about my safety, right? Not so much, as it turns out.

Not only did they make me drive a full quarter of a mile to the office in post-blizzard conditions, they also did not let me leave early. I didn’t get out of there before 5PM. And, as I have already established, it was dark.

Time for the Black Ice to rise up and menace the innocent!

I white knuckled my way back to my motel. As I traversed inch upon inch of road on that harrowing quarter of a mile journey from Hell, I was convinced that at any moment the black ice was going to reach up and grab my rental car (I knew I should have taken that extra insurance!) and throw the vehicle, with me in it, into a dark, cold ravine.

Where I would DIE.

I don’t really know if there were any revines between the office and the hotel, but at that moment, as I was being terrorized by the sinister black ice, I was pretty sure that I knew exactly how that soccer team felt–you know, the ones who crash landed in the Andes Mountains who had to survive by eating their dead comrades.

Just like them, I was cold, I was scared and boy, was I hungry!

Fortunately the hotel had a happy hour buffet–after a few pigs in a blanket and two for one beers, I regained my normal intrepid composure.

And that is what winter means to me.

I had best scrounge around in my closet and find that winter coat because I need to get to work. I can only pray that those snow flurries did not freeze into black ice. At least I can take some comfort in the fact that between my house and the office, there are no ravines.

Happy Friday everyone. Stay warm!

Purge or Accommodate? That is the question.

8 Jan

Maybe it is the sink or swim transition from “The Holidays” to regular routine; maybe it is the weather; maybe it is a bi-product of my advancing years–what ever it is, I am in a really crabby mood.

It came on like a slow fog, enveloping my being and then just settling into the corner of my mind where my outlook resides.

Not the email kind of outlook–perhaps I should have chosen a better, less confusing term–thank you, Microsoft!–but it is early and cold and I am swimming in my stream of consciousness–I don’t really have the time or the inclination to consult a thesaurus.

You know, outlook–perspective, the way I look at things, the View Master of my soul, my world view goggles.

Point of view not so happy.

I need to find a way to work through this.

I have found that sometimes if you take the time to listen, life will send you messages, telling you the things you really need to know.

Hopefully at this hour, life will not repeat its familiar refrain of, “Reach for the Jim Beam.” That would be cruel. Life knows I gave up bourbon for breakfast last Lent. To tempt me now would just be wrong.

Life, I am listening.

Listening…

Really listening…

PATIENTLY listening…

What’s that, life?

My f-ing Drop Box is full?!

Unless this is a metaphor–and if it is, I don’t want to consider what my metaphorical “Drop Box” might be–I do not find this helpful.

Wait. Could it be that the “Drop Box” is anything you’ve had enough of?

That just popped into my head this very minute, after I swallowed a big gulp of coffee. And a little ran down my chin and that annoyed me and then BAM–insight!

I used to have a lot of insights when I drank breakfast bourbon but most of them just made me late for work. Coffee is a little more productive.

So how do you make more room in your “Drop Box”? You delete files. PURGE FILES–yes, yes, yes!

Wait–I might need that file. No, not that one, the other one. Only I probably need the first one too. No, I am saving those pictures for a rainy day. People pay money for pictures like those–especially if they are in the pictures, if you know what I mean…

“Purge files” seems like such a powerful message—I really will have to meditate on that.

Of course, you can have unlimited space in your Drop Box if you pay a little money to the right entity. Maybe that is the real message here:

Pay money to the right entity if you want your Drop Box to be more accommodating.

That is a very powerful, albeit somewhat disturbing message. So much to think about!

Let’s summarize this valuable message from Life:

Purge your Drop Box and do what it takes to make your Drop Box more accommodating.

I think that is what life is trying to say.

Let’s say that is what it is saying.

That’s what I think. Yes. Just sayin’…

I hope we all learned a valuable lesson today and if not a valuable lesson, maybe a helpful tip.

As you go through your day today ask yourself:

Is this going to make my Drop Box too full?

What can I do today to make my Drop Box more accommodating?

Will I have to purge first, or should I just pay money to some entity to expand my Drop Box so that my Drop Box becomes limitless?

Wishing you and your Drop Box much happiness today.

OH, By all means, feel free to take selfies with your Drop Box and forward them on to Cat Zen Space. My Drop Box loves to accommodate compromising  tantalizing photos I can cash in on  enjoy some rainy day…

Happy Thursday!

Let’s Get Perspective!

6 Jan

Monday was everything I expected it to be–chaotic and non-stop busy. Not too bad, actually.

I think sometimes I enjoy a little chaos.

I wasn’t so keen on waking up this morning.

Before my alarm went off, the cat advised me it was time for me to get my “furless butt out of bed,” as it was time for breakfast. The cat convinces me to get up by sitting on my chest and then patting my face with his paw. He even pats my mouth, as if to say, “this is the hole breakfast goes into. Now get up and give me something to put in my face hole!”

Animals have such a way with words, don’t they?

Once she knows I am alert, or at least conscious, it is time for the dog to remind me that she wants to go for her morning walk. She has a special bark that says, “I want to go out and I want to go out now, please!” If I ignore her she crawls up on my pillow and sits on my head. The dog weighs 70lbs, so this tactic is bound to get me stirring.

Animals have a way with non-verbal communication too.

When the dog and I ventured out into the cool, dark morning, I noticed that the street seemed especially dark. Then I realized the street lights were out as far as they eye could see. (I say “the eye” because at that hour, pre-coffee, I only have enough strength to have one eye open.)

Further down the street, I could see lights and the general hub bub that indicates the electric company is working their magic on an electrical pole. It was dark and cold and some poor guy had to not only get out of bed–he had to climb into a cherry picker and play with live electrical wires. (I hope he at least had both eyes open.)

God bless the electric company. (And not just that Rita Moreno show that used to be on PBS, but the real electric company too. And Rita Moreno and friends also.)

Today, I am told (because I don’t really remember when this happened) is “traditionally” believed to be the birthday of Joan Van Ark. She was born in like, 1412 or something. She is a heroine of France, a Roman Catholic saint and, of course, played Valerie Ewing on Falcon Crest.

Wait–that can’t be right. Surely I have some of my facts mixed up here. OH–of course, Valerie Ewing wasn’t on Falcon Crest–she was a character on Knots Landing! What a faux pax! My apologies.

Anyway, I heard she was burned at the stake. Very sad.

Also on this day in 1994 (and this I do remember) figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee with a police baton by some goon who had been hired by the husband of her skaing rival, Tonya Harding.

This incident is remembered primarily because of Nancy Kerrigan’s tearful response to the attack–“Why, why, why?”–a cry that would permeate the collective consciousness for decades to come.

I know I can be found at least once a week, at work, curled up under my desk, writhing and crying, “why, why, why?”  But of course, all of us have a similar tale to tell.

The really horrible aftermath of this event is that it made Tonya Harding famous and she just wouldn’t go away!

She didn’t get any medals at the Olympics, so you would have thought she would slink off quietly–but no! Just when you think  you have completely forgotten her, she pops up participating in some “celebrity” boxing match, or giving a “tell all” interview complaining about how crappy her life has been.

Maybe she should step back and get a little perspective.

Maybe Tonya would benefit from studying the life of Joan Van Arc. Joan was burned at the stake, Tonya! And you think you’ve got it so bad!

Life is so strange, is it not?

The coffee has kicked in and now both of my eyes are open. Time for me to dam up this stream of consciousness and ride off into the sunrise for another thrilling day in the world of gainful employment.

Have an awesome Tuesday.

Synergy is a many splendored thing

7 Mar

It is a chilly Thursday morning–pre-sunrise, as I type.

The spirit moved me to take a whack at a stream of consciousness morning page, so I have stationed myself in bed, a cup of coffee and a cup of blueberry yogurt on my bedside table.

One simply cannot approach the written word without a beverage. My dog, Domino, is occupying her favorite spot on the bed, nursing a rawhide chewbone–her version of an after-breakfast aperitif. Meanwhile, my significant other lies beside me–not quite snoring, but performing a fascinating medley of breathing sounds which confirm he is both very much alive (Whew! I don’t have to bother putting the mirror under his nose to see if it fogs up) and asleep. Nearby, on the back of a chair, an orange cat–a very loving tabby named Alien Poodle (we call him Pooh for short) is washing his paws–the cat version of an after breakfast aperitif, as well as a cleansing ritual passed down through generations of felines–if you can call bathing in your own spit a form of cleansing.

When I write these morning pages blogs, I just try to go with the flow (a bit of the Tao) and just write whatever crosses my mind. Sometimes I check into my brain and find there is really pretty much nothing going on (a bit of the Buddhism) but usually there are thoughts bumping off the walls of the padded cell of my mind like (insert simile here…maybe something about rabbits or overly excited puppies?)

Lots going on in my head and in my life these days. Work. Lots of stuff going on there. For the most part, I do not write about work in my blog because a) I am a consummate professional who feels that what happens at work, stays at work, and b) I signed a confidentiality agreement and you think they won’t sue my ass?!

As you can see, my reasons for not writing about work run the gamut from a) to b), But what I can do is a word association game and throw out a few terms and phrases that come to mind when I think about my job right now: Change. Lots of change. (And I am not referring to the ceramic mug filled with accumulated loose change that I keep in one of the cabinets in my office)–I am talking about the “how dare they make significant changes, forcing me to (OMG) adjust” kind of change.  I am talking about words like “merger” and “realignment” and (just to keep things ecumenical after my previous mention of Taoism and Buddhism) dear, Jesus (a bit of the Christianity) “synergy.”

This is not a dig at my beloved employer, because they didn’t invent that word, but I hate the word “synergy.” I don’t really remember the moment someone slipped that one into the popular business lexicon, but one day, like a decade ago, people started throwing that word around like everyone knew what they meant and hey, isn’t this a fun word: Synergy!

My least fond recollection of this word is the time I was called upon to talk about something at an executive meeting (a meeting which I had never been invited to before because, well, I wasn’t an executive) and I actually felt my brain forming a sentence that then slipped right out of my mouth in front of the God, the CEO and everybody–“I am looking forward to this collaboration, I believe we have some good synergy there.”

Holy Crap! If I had been struck dead by a bolt of lightening at that very moment, I would have been completely happy. Instead, I must go through life, living with the harsh reality that I actually used the word “synergy” in a sentence in front of a group of people–just like that word is neatly tucked into my regular vocabulary. Oh, the humanity!

Don’t bother asking me what “synergy” means, because, in my experience most of the time, when someone uses that word, they are just throwing it in to spice up their talking points, without regard to actual definition.

Another form of the word is “synergism.”

Synergism is when two people achieve synergy at the same time.

“Was it good for you?”
“Good?! it was more than good. Baby, it was outside the box! I truly felt a paradigm shift!”

Ironically, after I finished typing the previous sentence, I noticed a pop-up window that had opened on my computer without any prompting from me. It turns out to be an add for Jimmy Dean sausage with a header that reads, FEELING THE GLOW YET?

No, Mr. Dean, I am not. But thanks for asking.

Since it is time for me to get ready to leave and spend time with the employer I love so very much, I will have to let this be the end of the line for this particular ride on the train of thought. Please disembark and remember to take all valuables with you. Thanks for riding with us today.

I hope your Thursday is synergistic!

Free Falling Monday

4 Mar

I strayed from blogging for a bit, but now I have wandered back to play here again.

It is early on a cold Monday morning as I type this.  I considered skipping work–taking a snow day and just staying in bed all day sounds very appealing.  But I have concerns that the complete lack of snow outside, despite this abysmal cold, is sure to cause me trouble down the line. So, I am up. I pretty much crawled out of bed and then crawled into a cup of coffee. Splashing around–damn, got half and half in my eye…

I recently returned from a business trip–my second one this year. I went to Parsippany, NJ. where they actually have snow.  The first time I went there, there were pretty snow banks everywhere. This last time, I found fewer snow banks, but the ones that still existed were becoming gray and dirty with age. Nothing gets nastier faster than long linfering piles of snow, At least in my “spent most of his life in Florida” limited snow experience.

I traveled to The Garden State via Newark airport.Speaking of snow…

Many moons ago, I worked for an airline reservation center.  I did not work for an airline, but for a company that had been contracted to operate reservation call centers for the airline. This was very unusual at the time, but then the airline itself was unusual. It was called People Express and it was  like traveling on a Greyhound bus that flies. But it was ridiculously cheap. Those were the heady days right after the airlin deregulation. You could make a reservation, but you didn’t pay until you were actually on the plane. Back in those days, airlines actually served food pretty much no matter where you were going. People Express would serve sandwches, but you had to pay extra.It was the cheap fares that made the airline such a success.

People Express’s hub was Newark International Airport, or EWR as it is known in the business. No matter where you went on People Express, you had to fly to Newark. Jacksonville, FL to Orlando? You still had to fly from JAX to EWR to get to MCO.  We had to learn all the airport codes to do our job, and I remember the mnemonic device we used to remember the Orlando airport code was “Mickey COuntry”

I began as a lowly airline reservation person–something called a Sales Associate. I was eventually promoted to a customer service position. For the life of me, I can’t recall my title, but essential function of the job was taking escalated calls from unhappy to irate callers, transferred to me from Sales Associates. Those of us who did Customer Service had no actual power to resolve problems or to compensate these upset callers, so all we basically did was listen, sympathize, offer them an address where they could write a letter (yes, snail mail!) to register their complaint.

One ofthe women I worked with often handled less that happy customers by saying, “It sounds to me like you want a full service airline.” People Express prided itself on not being a full service airline, so this was as good a response as any.

I remember the most bizarre call we ever received was from a tearful woman who discovered, to her horror, that as the plane took off and began its ascent,the man seated next to her–a total stranger, in the words of Elaine from an episode of Seinfeld, took it out and began pleasuring himself. ( I guess the change in altitude really got him going.)  When the horrified woman tried to leave her seat to alerta flight attendant, she was ordered to sit back down and buckle up! The plane was in ascent mode and FAA regulations require everyone to be seated and strapped in! Even back then, well before 9/11, you didn’t trifle with FAA rules.

If this had happened today, it would be all over the 24 hour news cycle. “Take off took on a whole new meaning for one playful passenger, according to the woman seated next to him….” and so it would go, all over TV and the world wide web. But, as it turns out, I don’t remember what (no pun intended) came of the man or his disgusted seat mate, except the woman in my office whohandled the call wasappropriately sympathetic as she gave the caller the address where she could write to register her complaint.

I told you that to tell you this–that customer service job was the catalyst for my very first (oh, look at me! I’m all grown up!) business trip. I was sent to the airline’s headquarters at the Newark Airport. As luck would have it, the night I arrived, there was a blizzard and the next day, I got to enjoy my very first “real snow.”

 

Snow in Newark

Actual photo of me, along with two colleagues, playing with snow.

 

The next evening,  I took a shuttle bus into New York city to have dinner with my college room mate who then living in Manhattan. I will never forget the sight of  hookers playing their trade in knee high boots. I guess prostitutes can’t take a snow day/night.

I flew out of the Newark airport on Friday. I have returned to Florida in time for a cold snap, but at least there’s no snow, therefore no plausible option to take a “snow day.” And you can’t just “call in cold.”  They don’t buy that story for a minute. Employers are so demanding!

In previous blogs, I have  mentioned the church near my house with the precariously listing cross upon its steeple. Here is some photographic evidence of the steeple of which I speak–including the crooked cross reflected in a puddle in the street in front of the church.

crooked cross02

crooked cross

cross

A little less than a year ago, a tropical storm came through the area and blew that cross straight:

 

cross52812

Alas, this momentary weather miracle was not to last. Gravity and birds have been working that cross ever since. From the vantage point of my front yard, that cross leaned more and more to the right with each passing day.

easter morning

Upon my return from New Jersey, one of the first sites to greet me in the little ghettopia where I reside, was the bare steeple, the cross having finally been torn asunder, the top of the steeple all ragged:

steeple torn

steeple and cross

I had feared that when it finally did fall, the cross might deck some unsuspecting pedestrian. I was relieved to note the cross lies peacefully on the church’s slopping roof.

steeple and cross2

Poignant, yet somewhat comforting to know that the listing is no more, and now it is at rest.

I am sure there is a philosophical or theological opportunity here that I am missing, but the cold seems to have clouded my mind, so I will just let the photographs speak for themselves.

But I am reminded of the wise words of Mr. Tom Petty who once said, “I wanna glide down over Valhalla I wanna write her name in the sky. Gonna free fall out into nothin’. Gonna leave this world for a while.

I don’t know about you, but for me, that provides some real perspective on how that cross must have felt as it broke loose and fell to the church roof.

Which reminds me of another quote—this time from Joseph Campbell:

We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.

Time for me to freefall out of here.

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

 

In which I get all potty mouth and optimistic on my birthday

3 Sep

Good morning and Happy Labor Day.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1894. I didn’t realize until I did a little research that the holiday was fast tracked by Congress after the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike. The folks in Washington were hoping to avoid further conflict by making Labor Day a national holiday.

I was only ever a member of one union. When I was teaching, I joined the teacher’s union. That’s right, I was one of those “bottom feeders” Rush Limbaugh talks about. But let me tell you, when you face a classroom of teenagers all day long, day in and day out, you really need to feel like someone has got your back.

Anyway, this blog isn’t about unions, except for the whole Happy Labor Day part. So, what is this blog about? How should I know? This is one of those steam of consciousness things I do. No telling where that stream will take me.

My birthday was last Tuesday. I took Monday and Tuesday off from work and had myself a long weekend. That was nice.

On the morning of my birthday, I rode my bike downtown to Chamblin’s Uptown.

I don’t really do commercials in this blog, but can I just say, I love Chamblin’s Uptown? It is an amazing used bookstore plus a wonderful cafe. It was the closest I’ve come to a “Paris-esque” experience since I returned from Paris. But really, I see Chamblin’s as being more like Greenwich Village must have been in its boho hey day.

Admittedly, I am a bit of a literary romantic. Guilty as charged.

I managed to spend seventy bucks on books, and since it was my birthday, hooray for me. Then I sat in the cafe, drank a bottomless cup of coffee (not literally. A bottomless cup holds no coffee–but you know what I mean, right?), ate an egg and cheese croissant and wrote in my journal.

Here’s what I wrote:

It is my motherfucking birthday!

What is significant about this opening line–besides the sheer poetry of it, is that I was actually feeling a little bit elated that it was my birthday.

I don’t get all that bummed out about birthdays, I am usually indifferent. I don’t want anyone to make a big deal out of it, but I do appreciate a simple acknowledgement–a simple, “Happy Birthday!” from a friend is sufficient. But elated? And this was before I had consumed one cup of coffee for every year of my life.  (Or so it seemed.)

Here’s the weirdest part about being so happy about it being my birthday–I wasn’t jazzed because I had just turned 54 as much as, I was excited that I am just beginning my 55th year of life.

I may be 54 on paper, but I have actually completed my 54th year on this planet–at least in this incarnation. (Not necessarily an endorsement of reincarnation, just leaving the door open…)

I know what you’re thinking–you’re thinking I was all a quiver over those senior citizen discounts that will start rolling my way. Yeah baby–cheaper movie tickets, Early Bird specials and the like.

Hey, someone wants to give me a discount for reaching a certain age, Ima gonna take it. But that had nothing to do with my elation.

Frankly, I can’t totally explain it. I just know that, for some reason, recognizing that I am beginning a new year of life, feels rich with possibility.

Maybe it is because my 54th year was such a special one. I stepped out of my comfort zone, actually left my house after dark on more than one occasion, worked on and performed in The Coming Out Monologues, met some amazing new friends, went to Paris. I didn’t see any of that coming when I ended my 53rd year of life and began my 54th. It was just another birthday.

I have a secret fear of being happy. (I guess it isn’t all that much of a secret since I just wrote it.) I can’t say when it began or why, but I do have this inner voice that tells me, “If you are happy, you will be smacked down!”

If things go well, then they are bound to go wrong.

You’re so in love, you get married, but you take your honeymoon voyage on the Titanic.

Or, something like that.

But somehow, passing through the time portal into my 55th year seemed like a really cool thing to be doing. For some reason, it made me happy. I know that life isn’t going to be perfect, but when it isn’t, maybe I shouldn’t take it so personally. Maybe I’m not being smacked down because I am happy. It’s just that, shit happens.

Sometimes good shit happens too!

Happy Motherfucking Monday!

Faerie Visions

A podcast by Max Gibson

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