birthday

Happy Birthday! Fuckin’ Not!

My phone’s been pinging like a pinball machine. Friends on Facebook or text messaging to wish me a happy birthday.

I’m not responding.

Fuck that noise.

I do not want to be 60 years old (I want to be dead, but that’s another story). I want to be younger. Much younger. Like 45 years younger. It’s not about eternal youth, shit like that. It’s about life choices. Every year, every day, I’m reminded I should have taken the left fork, the road less traveled. I took the right instead, the superhighway that rushed me to exactly the place where I didn’t want to be.

When I was a teen, I remember telling myself and others that I didn’t want to work however many years at a job I hate until retirement. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. It’s funny–not long ago, someone told me I’ve had a good career. Brought me up short. I thought, “career? What career? I’ve had different jobs. I don’t have a career.” Then I realized. I’ve been doing this shit for longer than some people have been alive. And I’ve hated almost every minute of it. Almost, because there were fun times, times I enjoyed, but those were few. Mostly, I wished I was anywhere but here.

So here I am, nearing the end of my “career.” Every day, I wake up with the feeling I’ve wasted my life. Wasted it doing shit I don’t want to do, and not what I wanted to do.… Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Lori B.!

Today would have been my sister’s 61st birthday.

Lori died in 2010. Brain cancer. I gotta tell you, cancer is some nasty shit. It was horrible, worse than horrible, to watch her die. The tumor was huge–covering almost a quarter of her brain. I saw the pictures after her surgery. It looked like the surgeon had taken an ice-cream scoop and went to work. He couldn’t get all of the tumor because some of it was too close to her brain stem for comfort. So she had to go through chemo and radiation. That’s some nasty shit, too. Still, the cancer went into remission and in the end, it bought her 2 more years. But it came back. It was a type of cancer that always comes back, no matter what you do. And when it came back, it was inoperable. So I watched Lori die, little by little, piece by piece. I cursed the cancer that was killing her. I cursed Duke University for not doing enough to cure her. I cursed a whole lot of other stuff, too. The hardest part, though, was saying goodbye. We were in her room at the hospice. I saw the DNR tag attached to the end of her bed and lost it. Lori and I had our troubles growing up and we weren’t close but there was never any doubt about our sisterly love. So we’re at the hospice and by this time she’d lost her ability to speak. We stared at… Continue reading

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

My Great Dane Daisy Mae is THIRTEEN today!

Happy Birthday, Daisy–you’re the BEST!!

Another Year Gone

If you could live your life over again, what would you change?

Yeah, I know. The epitome of tired old questions. But I ask for a reason. My birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I’m not happy about it. I haven’t been happy about my birthday for almost a decade. It’s not so much that I’m growing older, though I’m not happy about that either. It’s that when I look back on my life all I see is gray. To be sure, there are bright spots but the gray consumes all. When I look the other way, toward my future, I see the same. Bleak.

Me, I would make several huge changes.

When I was 12 (or even earlier), I’d have figured out some way to convince my parents that there was something wrong with me, that I was emotionally unstable. I would have badgered them to take me to a psychiatrist, instead of retreating because I figured they didn’t care about me. Then again, when I was growing up, black folk didn’t go to mental health providers unless they were going to the loony bin. Psychiatry and such was for white people. Black people worked out their problems in private. Don’t air dirty laundry.

I’d have stayed with my music studies. Become a professional musician. Years ago, I caught up with some of my friends from high school. One is a bluesman in South Carolina who performs with his wife. They travel the globe doing their thing.… Continue reading