Saturday, May 16, 2020

Happy Birthday To Me?


The birthday that hit me the hardest was when I turned thirty. It was a different time then. Today I guess fifty is the new thirty. But in 1985 leaving the twenties behind meant one could no longer kid herself. Don't get me wrong; I was definitely a full-blown adult, with children and a job and a house, such as it was. The cognizance that I was heading down that long unpaved road was a reckoning.

Milestone birthdays since then were simply days. Forty was nothing. I felt great. Fifty was a bit of a jolt, but nothing actually changed. Sixty gets barely recognized, because it's the big one forthcoming that actually counts. 

I wonder if before there was such a thing as Social Security that sixty-five was much noticed. I realize people can take SS anytime after sixty-two, but 65 seemed like a good number to me, and frankly, I've paid my dues.

So, no, this birthday (on Tuesday) isn't really a big deal. It's the event four weeks from now that will be momentous. Healthwise, I was blessed with good genes, but also with an addictive personality and hit-or-miss willpower. My first post-retirement resolution will be to do better.

Since I began working at age fifteen or sixteen (who can remember that far back?) I've held a variety of jobs -- some horrible, some tolerable, a couple that were great. I've dabbled in various avocations. At one time I invested heavily in photography equipment -- filters and lenses and the whole bit -- I still like composing shots, but it's not as if I make a deliberate effort to search out subjects. Now my phone's camera is perfectly fine. The fun thing about film, however, was the anticipation. The mind's picture was always far better than the developed result, but every processed roll contained a couple of nice images.

Then I had my plant phase. I never did anything half-assed. I had a long wooden step-stand in front of my bay window and I purchased small plantings for less than a dollar each and nursed and fertilized and watered them religiously. At the peak, I probably had twenty plants. 

Then I stopped. That sort of sums up most of my diversions. I lost interest or hit a wall. 

When I was young and poor (and I mean really poor), I tried crafts, the less expensive the better. I remember doing ink tracings on glass using a dip pen and pictures from a coloring book. I tried doing things with yarn, but I hadn't learned any of those skills (my mom did no handiwork -- she owned a sewing machine but only used it to repair hems). 

For a time, I fancied cooking, and I became pretty good at it. Bear in mind, I was someone who'd barely known how to make a grilled cheese sandwich when I got married. My mom didn't teach me to cook, but in her defense, I never asked, either. Baking was pfffft -- easy. I baked a lot during that time, too; but learning to cook was a feather in my cap.

Once I accidentally stumbled upon counted cross-stitch, my hands were never still. The secret about this endeavor is that it's the doing much more than the finished project that matters. A person like me with tumbling thoughts needs that soothing repetition. Again, though, I gave up stitching for about twenty years (I'm back now).

I was a songwriter, and a good one, for about ten years. Then I hit the wall and stopped. Even accounting for my childhood accordion lessons, I'm not a musician, and that's a real drawback to songwriting. The six-plus chords I know on the guitar are limiting.

I even sang my own songs on record, feeble as I was. Some said I was a good singer; I thought I was a tolerable one.

Music has been a constant in my life since I discovered what music was -- I'm guessing age three or four. I used to perform for guests in my mom and dad's living room -- lip syncing to records and dancing (man, what an intolerable brat; but I was deadly serious about it and not showing off -- much).

One would think I've been writing my entire life, but I really haven't. The advent of computers helped push me in that direction -- a lot. Let me tell you, typewriters are balls of frustration and writing by hand? Then what? Stuff the papers in a drawer? I did write "newsletters" on a manual typewriter when I was a teenager -- newsletters that were sent nowhere. They discussed music -- just like I do now on this blog. But I stopped writing for many, many years. In the past five or so years I've penned two complete novels and half of another. But long-form writing is a sludge. Maybe once I have more than two weekend nights to devote to it, it'll come easier to me. 

The one thing I know I'm good at is writing. Give me any topic and I can dash off something interesting. The trouble is, you've gotta give me the topic. The problem with my novels is that I can't develop interesting plot points. 

My longest-running, without a break pursuit has been this -- Rich Farmers -- which I've been writing since 2007. I guess that tells me what my life's purpose is. Do I care that no one reads it? It's sort of like cross-stitch -- it's the doing that matters.

So, sixty-five is coming in three days. I get to have curbside pickup for lunch! And I have the day off. Otherwise, it's a day.

I'll keep writing about music and other stuff, but music is the message, as this blog's tagline states.

I would end with a song, but how do I pick one that sums up sixty-five years? So I won't.

(Your Song Here)













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