Posts Tagged ‘ birthday ’

How do I begin to write this?

It’s been coming since October 30th when I found out I’d lost my long-time friend, my wise and ever-patient confidant, Timothy.

Now see, when I started writing just now, I began telling the story of our special relationship, but that being 33-years’ worth, I had to stop. No one knows the unique nature of all that we shared over the years. And I’m not sure I want to tell it. It’s ours.

How do I write this?

Take Two

Since he died, I’ve known that I would have to write something. Sometime. I want to commemorate this day when Tim would have turned 73. I also wanted this date to mark a turning point for me. But I don’t seem to be ready to write what I need to say to Tim, what I need to tell myself.

Take Three

Tim had just fought and won a battle with leukemia. I’m not sure that he won the battle with the wretchedness of chemotherapy. He died unexpectedly and alone.

I sobbed for days. Tears of regret and anger, tears of gut-wrenching, cruelly abrupt loss. We had only just made it to the point where it seemed Tim was ready to be friends again after mourning the loss of his wife. I had missed our friendship so much! And yes, I sorta hoped for one more, last chance with Tim, although he was not the person I’d known so many years ago. His memory that had “failed” me so often was now failing him, too.

I’ve spent the months since his death reliving every contact we had over the years, every moment we shared. Analyzing the winding road of our strange relationship, wandering through datebooks, pictures, and keepsakes. Taking what I can from it, and trying to make it OK to let him go now. To let us go.

After all these years, I didn’t realize I hadn’t already! I’m just not done with it all yet. There is more yet to discover, more to learn. More to write.

I do know one thing though. When I get to wherever this is leading me, it will come with the affirmation that it’s OK to let go. I will finally be free.

Happy Birthday, my dear, dear, Timothy

With much love, P


I thought this was MY birthday?

I am already cursed by having a birthday when everybody else but me gets flowers and other sweet overtures. But I was awakened to this year’s birth day by the mother of my birth, who after offering the initial birthday greeting, went on to dump on me her frustrations with her obstinate husband of the day before. OK, that’s no different from any other time we talk… But this is my birthday! After going on a bit about that, her parting sentiment was about how one of my sisters is going back to work Monday after being on leave, and she’s sure she’s going to be fired.

Happy Birthday, Paula.

Later I had lunch with that same sister. I have to give her major points for arranging several days in advance of today to buy me lunch. I am entirely grateful for her thoughtfulness in this gesture, knowing that her finances don’t really allow for such an extravagance.

But she, too, used our time together to dump on me about her problems. Dredging up her hurts from a past marriage, from her childhood!, and from her present-day work situation (that she thinks she’s going to be fired from).

Happy Birthday, Paula.

She didn’t ask me anything about what’s going on with me since we last talked (and we don’t talk often due to constraints on her end). I had to interject a thing or two from my own frustrations. But it seemed pointless. My problems don’t come close to hers (thank God).

Surely, this is not what I get for MY birthday?! I want do-overs!

When I got home, I found that the mail brought no birthday greetings at all. However, I noticed that a flower pot on the porch had been moved. Hm, I know I didn’t do that…

Upon investigating, I saw the reason. The pot had been moved to help camouflage a greeting card and protect it from blowing away or being otherwise vanished from my porch.

With good reason. The card was from my step-brother, who had gone out of his way to stop by on MY birthday, and it included a $100 bill.

I haven’t heard from the other two siblings (yet?). But the contrast among the various things I was “given” by my family today is striking! There are too many inferences, implications, and analyses rife to go off on here…

But all that aside, it’s my birthday, and I rather prefer the gift that came with no burdens attached. I would have preferred it, even if it came with no money at all. On My birthday.

It’s only one day. It’s supposed to be mine.

To Lynn on Her Birthday

Dear Sweet Friend:

For this birthday, you will be getting the gift of life in a brand new body. The physical health and restoration your time on earth does not allow, you will receive in divine style. For what compensation your employers have long withheld, you are being promoted over their heads!

And yet, this is not the way you planned or expected things to go. It’s not what I expected for you either. And I’m selfishly disappointed that I won’t get to see you triumph over your many challenges in this life. But triumph you will in the next.

I just have one request. Will you write to me and let me know how you’re doing over there?

What Do I Want?

I was just surprised to receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate in appreciation for a presentation that I gave last month for my local STC chapter (Lone Star). This was my first time to be “the speaker” at a monthly meeting and therefore a professional milestone. After 12 years of STC membership, I knew that speakers agreed to present at their own expense (even the ones from out of town). But I also knew that the chapter typically presented an appreciation gift to the speaker.

I had no idea that it would amount to $50! especially for a “local” speaker. So I was surprised to receive the gift by way of email yesterday.

It’s an interesting coincidence that just last month I sent an Amazon gift certificate to a friend in honor of her 60th birthday. Prior to that purchase, I had placed my first ever order on Amazon for 2011 tax software. Other than these two purchases, I am not familiar with Amazon at all.

But now I have the opportunity to purchase $50-worth of anything I want from Amazon! The problem is that I have no idea what I want or where to begin.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but I am not a shopper. So window shopping, or its present day equivalent, browsing, I just don’t find to be inspirational nor a good use of my time. Besides, with the breadth of Amazon, I think I could easily start down that path never to return…

I am not someone who always has the goal of her next acquisition in mind. My goal is to satisfy my financial obligations and ultimately, to have financial security, whatever that is.

I am not an extravagant person. While I do claim to have educated taste and to enjoy things and experiences of sophisticated quality and value, somehow I don’t have a list-in-waiting of “things” I need to satisfy those abstract desires.

I want to be comfortable in every sense.

I want to be sated with good quality, well-prepared food .

I want to be challenged and ultimately gratified in meeting the challenge in my professional career.

I want to be respected.

I want to be accepted and embraced in all of my uniqueness.

I want to be celebrated despite the fact that my birthday is on February 14.

But … I just can’t figure out how to buy any of these things on Amazon.

And that’s because my wants are simple. My wants are basic.

In other words, I just don’t “want” anything that can be bought on Amazon. Either I already have what I want or

I need to keep shopping.

Happy Birthday Blog!

January 30 marked the one year anniversary of my first post and the launch of my blog, Footnotes.

February 6 last year, I published my second post and sent out an email announcement to everybody I thought might be receptive to it or at least not too annoyed by it. And on February 7, 103 people viewed my blog!

There was nothing special about the 2/7 post. It wasn’t memorable in terms of literary genius. It was the second in the series of finding my way in this medium, finding a voice for my blog, figuring out the answer to “OK, you put yourself out there. What are you going to do now?”

I’m sure those 103 people viewed my blog purely out of curiosity. But then, when they decided to make the click that logged a view in my site stats, they didn’t know but what I might just have something important to say, did they? Something amusing. Something poignant even. Something worth the short time it would take them to read it.

Unfortunately, no one day since has come close to matching that number of views. Does that mean I don’t have anything to say that’s important, amusing, poignant, or worth reading? Did I manage to disappoint 103 people by the same thing all in the same day?!

With 40-something people who subscribed, follow, or set up an RSS feed to be notified of my new posts, rarely does a single day see even that many views when I publish one. And when I say “rarely,” I mean never.

Have I failed even those who voluntarily signed up to be annoyed by notifications of my posts? Have I turned them off by allowing my eccentricities to show in my stories? Possibly. Are my musings too strange in their honesty or lack of it? Likely. Do people just not get my sense of humor? Well…

Nah… Not possible. None of the above!

Have I fallen down on posting regularly? OK, yeah. I could blame it on the inconvenience of being employed now, but that’s not an excuse even I would buy. If my blog postings have flaked out, just think how far behind I am on writing that book, which was the reason for the blog’s existence in the first place. I no sooner finally managed to leave the awful year of 2008 behind in my narrative when the calendar changed to 2012 and pushed me back another year. If I can’t manage to catch up to at least my most recent period of unemployment, the book will have no end! I need to finish this story before I have to experience another opportunity to keep writing it.

But I digress. This is about my blog’s birthday. The book might never live to see one.

May I ponder some more stats with you? Total views in 2011 were 2,550. Total views to date: 2,712. That kinda sounds like a lot. But not when you compare it to blog stats in the hundreds of thousands. I have a long way to go to command that much traffic.

So far, the single post that has received the most views (98) is Speaking of Boxes posted 3/9/11. Not sure what it was about that one that made it so popular. But again, people have no way to know whether they’ll like what they read until they read it.

With only 40-something people set up to receive notices, it’s obvious that at least one of them told someone else about that post or sent someone the link to it. Hey, why not? It’s free! You, too, can annoy your friends by sending them spam about my blog! (I find it amazing what junk people will forward in email, but it doesn’t occur to them to even read my blog, much less share it.)

Hm, that gives me an idea. Every time I receive spam, I’m going to reply with a link to my blog. No, wait! The link to my blog is in every email message I send because it’s in my signature. It hints in blue, Click this! I dare ya.

Otherwise, I guess I’m gonna have to rely on the Internet for the world to find my blog. So far, my ironic post How to Fix a Stuck Zipper has been the most popular with search engines. I hope that the unwitting readers who find that post are too amused by what they read to be annoyed that it wasn’t the answer they hoped to find.

So will I get only an echo in return if I ask for your advice? What do you think I should do to get more traffic? OK, besides posting more often, using better keywords, and appearing on Oprah?

Can we get a dialog going here?

I’m too old for this …

The dawn of 2012 doesn’t only mean another new year. It means that in six weeks, I’m destined to suffer a birthday that signals another high school reunion is due this year. Really?!

But what have all these years done for me? According to Denny’s and Taco Bueno, I reached senior citizen status a few years back. Besides the privilege to increase my cholesterol and my waistline for less money, what have I really achieved?

I own a single rental property, which I maintain and manage myself. On November 30, my investment went from a profit center to a cost center overnight with only 15 days’ notice. So I’m currently in the between process of turning the last tenant’s greasy, grimy mess back into a desirable dwelling place.

I’ve been through this a few times since I began this venture in 2004. By now, I have an inventory of supplies, task, repair, and shopping lists, schedules, spreadsheets, and lists of lists to follow when I have to assess the previous tenant’s responsibilities for repairs and cleaning and begin to do what’s necessary to get the property ready to show.

The obvious incentive is that there’s no rent money coming in, while I’m currently responsible for two mortgages, two water and electricity bills, not to mention insurance and taxes for two properties.

But this time, I don’t seem to be able or willing to put in the evening hours on workdays or extended hours on weekends (and holidays) to push this project forward. I recall doing just that in previous turnover periods. Why don’t I have the energy now?

Haven’t I earned the right to slow it down? Why don’t I have the privilege to choose the pace of time? Instead I’m slowing down, while time picks up speed.

The answer is not that I should stop landlording. What I should give up are new years and birthdays. Because I’m just too old to get any older.

Today is my Daddy’s birthday

He would have been 87, had he not died half my life ago.

This year I turned the same age he was when he died. And relatively speaking, I’m young. OK, middle-age. But even middle-age is too young to die!

I’m just getting my second wind, or third, or fourth … maybe not even my last. I’m only now beginning to figure out who I am, what my unique gift is, that which I must share before I leave it behind.

In his time, my Daddy shared his talent and love for music. He had a beautiful tenor voice, which he gave forth with gusto. As a child, I was embarrassed at how loud he would sing on the rare occasions when my family sat together in the pews of a congregation. Now, I guess the fact that his gift soared several rows away in all directions was his way of sharing. Many times I’ve longed to hear that big voice again.

From the director’s podium, he shared his sense of humor and his ability to inspire choral cooperation from choirs of all ages. In all my life of singing in school, competition, church, and semi-professional community choirs, no other choral conductor could surpass his talent in my eyes. No other conductor could so effectively instill in me the fear of making a musical mistake.

That’s the Daddy I love, admire, and remember, and whose enduring gift I receive again as I honor his memory today.

Paul A. Robertson

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