Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, My Love!!!

First ... because I am not much of a poet ... some words borrowed from Stevie. They express nearly perfectly how I feel about you:

"That girl thinks that she's so BAD
She'll change my tears to joy from sad.
She says she keeps the upper hand
'Cause she can please her man.
She doesn't use her love to make him weak
She uses love to keep him strong.
And inside me there's no room for doubt that it won't be too long
Before I tell her that I love her
And I want her
And my mind and soul and body need her ...
Tell her that I love to
And I want to
And I need to do all that I have to to be in her love."

Celebrating today the fact that the world is a better place because just a few ... ahem ... years ago you came into it. I know my world is a better place ... as a matter of fact, my world IS because of you.

Your story, my darling, is something close to epic -- and well worth telling. People who come from backgrounds like yours don't often make it. They succumb to their surroundings. They let the harshness of their environment abort their dreams. They fade and shrivel under the pressure ... sometimes they simply perish.

Not you! You are the rose that pushes its way through a crack in the concrete, blooming, growing and thriving. Do you realize what an outrageous, fantastic success you've made of your life ... made out of little more than the love of your mother and grandmother and the strength of your will and imagination? I know you are not one to blow your own horn so I'll do it. There's something special in you and it shines through you and on us whom you love everyday in innumerable ways.

Somebody needs to write that book about your life (shoot, if you don't I will). You are a sort of contemporary Jane Eyre ... overcoming hardships and obstacles with a mixture of tenacity, good will and relentless optimism. All that and you are still irresistibly gorgeous too! Nobody believes me when I tell them your age (don't worry ... I haven't told lots of people) because -- well, frankly, you've got it going on (and on) Mammacita! Beautiful.

And so I feel like I always feel on this day -- how is it that you have the birthday and I get the gift? You are an outstanding mother, a wonderful wife ... my partner, my sweetheart, my best friend. Shemetra Owens, I LOVE me some YOU!

Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 15, 2009

So, what IS with the bow-tie anyway ...

… I ask as if anyone really cared to know. I think I have a (mostly) sober estimate of myself – and at a time when even “the imaginary-audience for my life is growing small and silent,” I don’t cling to any delusions about most folks giving more than half a hoot about what I do, think or say. Still, there’s that nagging little trait, that strident interior voice that looks for, longs for, insists upon and sometimes even creates a sense of personal significance in the face of the overwhelming anonymity of modern existence. That’s the voice that blogs and posts on FaceBook and shamelessly looks for attention from some kind of real (though maybe only virtual) audience. It’s the voice that believes it has something significant to say and declares that you would do well to listen.

Then again … it could be that, even as old as I am I have just not been able to shed that little part of my psyche that is still painfully self-conscious … wonder why that is and where that feeling comes from …

{Cue the harp music … picture gets all squiggly … fading out of the
present and into the past … first day of kindergarten 1969}

~ The day started really bad (all tears and snot when the parents left) but got better as it went on. It was time to “go to the basement” which was the euphemism the teachers taught to keep us from saying “I gotta go pee.” Well, when we got there, we were amazed at how big the room was … and all along one wall, a row of gleaming white porcelain urinals. They were as tall as the tallest kid in the class and stretched all the way to the floor. I for one had never seen anything like it. While I stood there in awe, a kid named James pushed his way past me and very confidently and deliberately (here, please forgive my indelicate usage) dropped trou, copped a squat and did #2 in the urinal. At first I was merely disgusted … it was liking watching someone defecate on Stone Henge or something … but then I was terrified. Right as James was finishing his …er … movement, the upper classmen (i.e. first and second graders) came in. They roared with laughter at James’ error and dubbed him the name he would carry for the remainder of his elementary school career – “Doo-Doo Boy.”
Well, seemed like James was okay with the new moniker. He turned out to be a paste-eating, hair-pulling, cookie-stealing wild boy, quite worthy (and I think even proud) of his nickname and notoriety. I, on the other hand was horrified … how one false move, one mistaken violation of some societal norm, could mark you for life. Why, given a different set of gastro-intestinal circumstances, I might well have become “Doo-Doo Boy!” ~

But, I digress … play the harp, squiggle the picture and let’s get back to twenty-first century, middle-aged me – to-wit, the bow-ties. Whether it’s from my juvenile need for attention or my even more juvenile insecurity about what people think of me, when I turn up the house-lights in the theater of my mind, one of the three people in my imaginary audience stands and says, “Yeah, so, what’s up with that anyway?”

Well, madam, I’m glad you ask. I have been accused of making a political statement (either I’m a Louis Farrakahn-like radical or a Tucker Carlson-ish neocon). At one point I even considered making up a Nathaniel Hawthorne-style story, attaching some grave and deep spiritual significance to the donning of new neckwear and the doffing of the former and more traditional. But the real reason is not as controversial and compelling as all that.

I just like bow-ties, y’all. I always have. They are a little uncanny … somehow a bow-tie manages to be both cool and geeky, sharp and frumpy, traditional and edgy. And, it makes you a little less invisible … might be frivolous and vain on my part but people seem to see and acknowledge me more when I’m sportin’ a bow. I wouldn’t say it’s gratifying – sometimes it’s not even desirable … but it is kinda nice. And in these dismal days, kinda nice is actually – well – pretty darn nice … and a positive like that deserves a little accentuating.

So, I’m a convert, friends! Bow-ties forever! How ‘bout you pick-up a few and join me – we could start a club!