Tag Archives: birthday

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!

Ruminations on the day before my birthday

27 Aug

It is the 27th day of August and it is raining. The day before my birthday and I am taking two days off from work.

I read somewhere that marketing folk never introduce a new product in August. I have heard that August is when all of the shrinks leave Manhattan for cooler climes, leaving their patients to swelter and cope for the entire month.

August has some issues.

On this day in history, the volcano, Krakatau exploded in 1883, LBJ was born in 1908; in 1910 Thomas Edison demonstrated the first talking pictures; also in 1910, Mother Thesea was born;  Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs made his first appearance in a magazine in 1912; and Brian Epstein died in 1967.

On this day in history, in 1958 in Enterprise, AL, my mother’s water broke. Or so I’ve been told.  I wouldn’t really know because I wasn’t there. Well, I was there, but…OK, you know where I was–wondering why I was hearing the rush of water all of a sudden.

My parents had a friend  named Mr. Searcy who owned a mortuary, so he also owned a fleet of ambulances. Apparently there was a fine line between destinations when one entered an ambulance in 1958. Hospital or funeral home….Let’s just take a ride and we’ll see how it goes.

These were pre-paramedic days, after all. They may still have been using leeches to cure people for all I know.

Anyway, my parents had an arrangement with Mr. Searcy to drive my mother to the hospital in Dothan. I was due in October, so since I was premature, my mother was not allowed to have any anesthesia or pain killers. The hospital staff  also wouldn’t let her have any water.

I know this, because my mother told me this story hundreds of times. I wouldn’t say she was resentful, but she wanted to make sure I was fully apprised of all she had gone through to bring me into this world.

Thanks a million, Mom. But I didn’t ask to be born, now did I?

Apparently being in labor is painful. That’s what my mother told me anyway. To make matters worse, despite the whole “premature” thing, I was taking my sweet time vacating the womb.

Isn’t that just like me? Always early wherever I go, but never quite convinced I want to go there in the first place.

As I mentioned, in addition to the excruciating pain my poor mother endured, she was also dying of thirst. She spoke fondly of one particular nurse, an angel of mercy who dabbed my mother’s lips with ice cubes.

My mother insisted mine was a natural birth–not by design, but because they wouldn’t give her any drugs, lest theyharm her fragile premature baby. To hear her tell it, my mother invented natural child birth. Oh, the agony.
One of my favorite scenes in the TV show Mad Men is when an obviously pregnant woman, smoking a cigarette and holding a martini glass, puts down the empty glass and grabs a fresh drink from the tray of the waiter passing by. (They didn’t really know better back then…) All I could think of when I saw that scene was, “My mother, folks!”

So, it is a little ironic they wouldn’t let my poor mom have any pain killers, considering the nicotine and cocktails I had no doubt been enjoying since I was a mere zygote.

And so, on August 27, 1958, my parents waited for me to arrive.

But of course, I wasn’t born on August 27th. I wasn’t born until 3PM the next day.

Poor, Mom.

I can only imagine what was going through my tiny, new brain at the time. “What’s with all the pushing?! I’m not leaving! Don’t I get a say in this?!”

I don’t remember the experience, but I hung in there as long as I could.

As Jim Morrison said:  “Actually I don’t remember being born, it must have happened during one of my black outs.”

Happy Anniversary of my last full day in the womb.



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