The tragic story of identity lost in a single snip

One of my earliest memories is that of sitting at story time in nursery school.  I was a young 4-year old with hair so long I often found myself sitting on it.   To free it, I leaned forward, bowing my head until it came loose, then rolled back to listen to the rest of the story.  Men called me Blondie.  Women cooed over my golden locks.

We had an old black and silver 1955 hair dryerhair dryer that could either sit on the counter or be held like blow-dryers of today.  We used that until it started to emit electrical shocks, then finally updated to an orange plastic model in the seventies.  Mom would sit me down in front of it, working the boar’s-bristle brush through the long maze of snarled nests.  If her patience wavered, I never knew it.  Although years later I learned how much she hated that task.

The Powder Pouf Beauty Salon was a cornerstone of the *Moon Plaza for many years, along with Buzz’s Barber shop, Dave’s Sport Shop, the Marine recruitment office, a dance school, and the Alcohol Anonymous meeting room in Fridley, Minnesota.  Every Saturday morning, for several years, I packed coloring books and crayons in a small bag, and scrambled into the back of my mother’s white Chevy with red interior.  No seat belt.  No video games.  I remember the smell of hairspray, the hum of the dryers, and looked forward to the attention from all the ladies in curlers and lipstick.  It was a very pink place, as you can imagine.

If business was slow, sometimes Sandi, my mother’s beautician (they weren’t stylists back then), turned a dryer on a low setting and let me feel the tiny jets of air tickle my scalp.  The warmth gave me goosebumps.  The white noise lulled me into a trance.  Sometimes I got a bottle of pop, pulled out of a coin-operated machine, that clinked and clunked as the money fell, the mechanism unlocked, and the bottles rolled into place.  It was a magical place where my mom transformed from Saturday morning bed-head into a ravishing washed, curled, teased, and sprayed helmet-clad angel.

Then one day it was my turn.  Mom turned up the hype.  This was my rite of passage.  I would be beautiful.

Upon arrival, my woman-friend, Sandi, sat me in a booster seat and wrapped me in a cape.  In her hands she held scissors, a rubber band, and my faith.  She bound my hair in a pony tail, and in one snip her scissors removed from my head the very essence of my being.  Sandi held the bound hair up like a dead rabbit at the end of a day’s hunt, then curled it into a plastic bag that my mother tucked into her perfume-scented purse.

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My pony tail still resides in the plastic Glad Brand sandwich bag in which it was originally placed, rubber band intact.

I was Sampson.  Stunned.  Powerless.  My mother sat in the chair next to me, chatting and smiling with Delilah, seemingly oblivious to my loss.  Several snips and one Saf-T-Pop later, I was on my way home in the back of the Chev.  Mom chatted about the usual things, none of which were important to me in my grief.

pixie

Found this on YouQueen.com as a bad haircut for a square face. Guess who has a square-shaped face? Yeah. Me.

At home, I sat on the kitchen floor playing with dolls, or coloring, or something.  I have a lot of memories of playing on the kitchen floor for some reason.  Gramma and Grampa came through the back door to say hello.  Gramma’s eyes shifted from me to my mother and back again.  I felt like a specimen.  Mom explained that this was a Pixie Cut.  It was very popular in those days.  Feeling their stares like hot fire on the top of my head, I looked up at Gramma’s speechless face.  Never being one to say anything if she couldn’t say something nice, she finally announced, “Well, she’s so homely she’s cute!”

“Mother!”

“Well she is, isn’t she?”

I didn’t know what homely meant back then, but I knew from my mom’s reaction it wasn’t good.  I filed that word into a special place in my memory called, “Things I don’t want to ask about, but want to know someday.”  And when I looked back at my school photo many, many years later, it all came back to me.  Mainly, because I thought to myself, “My God.  I’m so homely, I’m cute.”  Like a frog or a bug.

This is where I was going to insert my homely picture, but I can’t seem to find it.  If I find it, I’ll add it and let you all know.  For now, picture a plump, round-faced girl, missing a tooth or two, in a polyester brown dress with a gold collar . . . sporting a stick-straight little blonde pixie cut.

The following Christmas I got a play wig.  It was a long blonde play wig, and it was as if someone had reattached a lost limb.  I wore it all the time, glamorously flipping it back with my hands, or whisking it off my shoulder with a toss of my head.  Eventually, when I had more voice in the matter, I grew my hair out.  Mom chiding, “As long as I don’t have to brush out the knots, you can do whatever you want with it.”  Later I cut it again, and permed it.  Later yet I grew it out and now still wear it long.

The one thing I have never done is color it.  I have few vanities with this old body of mine, so let me have this one.  Oh, there is some grey in there, but it’s harder to see against the blonde.  Men still call me Blondie and more often Sunshine.  Women still ogle, although I suspect they’re looking for roots.  And someday I’ll be too old to pull off this long, straight Thirty-something style.  But I’m going to rock it as long as I’m able, and maybe a little after that.

In my golden years

I imagine I’ll it cut short again.  Maybe if I’m lucky they’ll say I’m so homely I’m cute.

Peace . . .

*Moon Plaza still stands.  Although updated, it is much the same.

Buzz the barber celebrated his 50th year in business in 2015, although he quit racing motorcycles at the age of 67.

I’m sad to say that Sandi the beautician died in 2008 at the age of 60.   She was eventually the owner of The Powder Pouf and another location in the northeast suburbs of the Twin Cities.


Eh?

I’ve itched to get back to my writing.  You poor people are the benefactors of my fruit.  I appreciate your faithfulness, ever patient while I restructure my life around holidays, diet and exercise.  Just kidding.  The exercise bit hasn’t been working out very well.  Get it?  Working out?  I crack me up.

800px-Map_of_Minnesota_highlighting_Kittson_County.svgThe holidays, you ask?  Well we went up north, as Midwesterners are oft to do.  We go waaaaaay up north.  Bubba has family up there, and as such, they are as good as kin to me as well.  It’s a trek, but the road trip is nice.  There are several hours (about 7 to be exact) where there is nothing but the two of us exchanging meaningful conversation and healthy snacks.

Yeah . . . just kidding again.

Actually, Bubba turns up the tunes, we do a little head-banging until I have something to say and he politely turns it down.  He nods in agreement, waiting to see if I’m done, and when I go back to checking out Messenger, Snapchat, or Instagram, he turns it up and we return to the head-banging.

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Nelson Bros Bakery:  Donuts on top are life-size. Rolls on the bottom are gimammoth. Yes, they are so big they require a new word.

In Clearwater, Minnesota, we stop at the Travel Plaza and buy a muffin from the Nelson Bros. Bakery.  It’s tradition.  They boast cinnamon rolls the size of your head, and they aren’t just bragging.  One of those things would feed a small family.

We listen to podcasts like TED Talks, Freakonomics, This American Life, Radiolab, and sometimes I can get him to listen to Savage Lovecast.  Then we stop to let Bubba and the dogs pee on some secluded back road.  We switch command posts, me taking the wheel while he naps.

Our route takes us through Fargo, until at last we settle in a little Minnesota town a stone’s throw from both Canada and North Dakota.  At first glance, it’s a quiet little place with not much going on.  But then the Canadians come to visit.

Bubba’s late mother came from Canada.  I never met her, but she lives in the pictures and stories that surround the place.  Once a year, the Canadians come down from parts north.  They bring with them Coffee Crisps, homemade wine, and border stories.

Coffee Crisp

Coffee Crisp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bubba loves Coffee Crisps, something that until recent years, had not been found this side of the Canada/US line.  As I write, he brushes the crumbs from the last one off his beard.  The new dog, Mosh, climbs up to check for remnants.

I, however, love the homemade wine.  And roast beast with gravy, and potatoes, and jello salad, and Christmas cookies.  And conversation.  I must let you know that no Canadian conversation, in my experience, is complete without a good border story.  It starts out innocently enough.

“How was the border?”

“Not too bad.”

“You got through pretty good, eh?”

“Yeah.  Pretty good.”

“Not like that one time, eh?”

English: U.S. border station at the canadian b...

U.S. border station at the canadian border in in 1991. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then we’re off.  Homeland security only adds another layer of interest to the ever-increasing buzz.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve heard the stories before.  I love to listen to them talk.  I imagine they like to listen to us, too.  There was a moment when we had to clarify that a parking lot was the same thing as a parkade, neither of us fully understanding the other.  Call me a word geek, but I love those moments.

The “eh” is something we laugh at or joke about, but they use it the same way we say either “huh” or “ya know,” which is just as strange to say when you think about it.  I wonder if they laughed about the way we talked on the way home?  I really hope so.

My grandparents were from Saskatchewan, Cananda — they talked a lot about Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Regina.  Gramma used to say Regina like it rhymed with Vagina, and my mom would purse her lips, shake her head, and correct her.  I don’t remember Gramma saying “Eh” very often, if at all, but Grampa used that word regularly.  He lost most of his hearing in the war — the artillery going off too close to his ears — and he would interrupt us mid-sentence with a loud, “Eh?”

Gramma would often whisper something completely inappropriate in his extra-large ear, to which he would reply, “Eh?”  Then before the hair on the back of my neck could fully stand, it was out.  Gramma, taking a breath of air, and speaking as loud as her tiny frame permitted, would announce something like, “I said . . . It’s very sad how large that woman over there is.”  And she would point.  And he would stare.  And I would try to hide in the neck of my shirt.

Grampa also used it in place of an exclamation point at the end of a sentence.  “The thing with kids these days is they’re all doped up . . . eh?”  That was not a question.  That was a statement that you were meant to a agree with or suffer his resignation from the conversation.

But mostly, he kept quiet, trying to look interested in what was being said.  He had hearing aids, which only helped a bit.  He complained of the background noise, and still halted conversations by interjecting something completely off topic, followed by “Eh?”  I suppose it was a lonely place — amongst family and still alone.  I used to believe he was a man of few words, and only spoke when he had something to say.  Looking back, I think he was doing a lot of lip-reading, and waiting until he thought he might have something relative to say.

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Butter Currant Tarts

Listening to the Canadians made me wish I knew my distant relatives that still live up there.  We are ghosts to one another, linked only by those who came before us.  Still, every Christmas I make the Butter Currant Tarts from the recipe that Gramma passed down to me.  And occasionally, you may see an “Eh?” in my writing.  When you do, that is not a simple verbal interjection.  That is me waving my Canadian flag, singing “Oh Canada!” — incidentally the only two words I know from that anthem — and saying, “Hey Grampa and Gramma, I haven’t forgotten.”

Peace . . . Eh? . . .

 

 

 


Celebrating the Giving in Thanksgiving

During my 5k walk benefitting two local food shelves on Thanksgiving morning, I looked up and let the fat snowflakes hit my face.  It was a soft snow with little breeze, and in an instant I felt thankful.

UntitledI was feeling my age upon waking that morning.  The bones creaked and the muscles were rigid.  I poked my head out of bed a few times before I left, testing the layers I’d chosen, finally settling on the long-sleeve cotton shirt we received with our race packets, my food bank hoodie, and a pair of grey sweatpants.  I laced up my old-lady white sneakers, and loaded the shelf-stable groceries in the back of my son’s vehicle.

This year marks our second annual Thanksgiving walk/run for hunger.  Last year the thermometer read a daunting one degree Fahrenheit.  I learned a few things about the 5k/10k races, specifically involving winter weather.  As a runner’s sweat drips down his or her back, stalactites form on the seat of the pants, forming —  for lack of a better term —  butt-cicles.  It’s true.  My son’s facial hair froze into a grampa-white beard and mixed with the evidence of his mile-5 nosebleed.  He was terrifying despite the smile on his face.  Although these are not the reasons I don’t run, they definitely justify my rationale.

Today was about thirty degrees warmer than last year, but the snow lent a sense of adventure.  About 15 minutes after we saw my son off on his 10k run, the rest of us lined up for the 5k.  Once the runners had all passed, the dog-walkers, strollers, and I settled into a brisk, yet slower, pace.  My joints had stiffened standing in the cold, and they ached as I began.  I snapped a few pictures, found some good classic rock on Pandora, and firmly secured my earbuds.

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Somewhere in the middle, I looked up into the swirling white, and I felt thankful.  And I thought about that word — Thanksgiving.  Giving thanks.  Certainly I am thankful to the people who organized the race, and to the food shelves who will put the proceeds to good use, and to my body for being able to carry me a whopping three miles on a frosty morn, and to my employer who gives me Thanksgiving off — even thankful to the earth for the crisp air and swirling snow.

UntitledBut there is more to it than thanks.  There’s giving.  In the end it doesn’t matter who or how you thank.  Whether you offer up prayer, or thank the cook, or tip the waitress.  Thanking is polite.  Giving takes more.  Here, as I looked before and behind me, were all these people who took time away from their kitchen, or got up early, or scheduled Thanksgiving dinner just an hour later, so that they could give of themselves.

And after all the participants have gone home, or finished their Bloody Marys (just sayin’), there are people who are cleaning and clearing the route of signage or trash, sorting and storing the collected food, packing the race gear away, and accounting for expenses and proceeds.

So while I’m thankful to all the people who provided a way for me to give last Thursday, I’d like to change my definition of Thanksgiving from a day to give thanks, to a day to be thankful for the opportunity to give.  I don’t give as much or as often as I could.  But while my body is able, to participate in this annual event seems like a perfectly splendid way kick off this season of giving.

Peace . . .
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Ode to an Ornament

UntitledLittle ornament, I sometimes think of you on the warmest days of summer, waiting silently and patient in your storage box of red. You quietly guard so many memories beneath your glassy wings.

The day we brought you home, my mom and me, we found you hanging from a needled branch on a department store christmas tree.  The music piped, the lights twinkled, and we saw you dangling there.  We laughed at your tiny feet, your silly eyes, and eggshell hat.  My mother said, “It looks so fragile, I don’t suppose it will last a year.  But it’s so silly I think we need to get it, don’t you?”  I emphatically agreed as the saleswoman wrapped each of the ornaments we had chosen in layers of tissue and placed them in a bag.

Every year as you emerged from your ball of crumpled paper, Mom would exclaim with delight that you had made it one more year. And every year so far, you have.  Do you remember the year we brought you up to the cabin in Wisconsin?  You swayed nervously on the feeble bough of a tree so small we tied it to the window to keep it standing.

You’ve survived toppling trees, wagging tails, and even curious toddlers. You’ve seen the birth of many grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.  You’ve seen tears of joy and laughter.  And you’ve seen the tears of remembrance.

You see, you never know when you’ll open a box and the thing you find most precious is broken beyond repair.  And everything it ever was will remain only in the heart of those who love it.

Thank you for reminding me, especially at this time of year, that life is fragile and fleeting and to cherish my loved ones with all my heart while they are within the reach of my loving arms.

Peace . . .


The Hardest Gift 

   
 We are now only one turkey dinner away from being launched into the official gift-giving season.  I know that sentence made you cringe. There’s all kinds of bad juju wrapped up in there.  It brings to mind long lines, empty wallets, and whiny kids waiting to sit on a strange man’s lap. Tell me, when else do we let that happen?

And there is the added stress of finding that one gift that will change someone’s life forever. I received one of those gifts the last year of my mother’s life. It was the hardest gift I’ve ever had to receive. 

It was a pair theater tickets to the musical The King and I.  She loved the theater.  All four of my children had attended by the time they were six. She made sure of that.  We have a wonderful Children’s Theater in Minneapolis, and the productions are amazing. 

The catch was that it was a pair of tickets for the both of us. This would, under normal circumstances, have issued no grief on either of our parts. But these were not normal circumstances. Since my mom’s stroke six months earlier, I had only taken her out once or twice.  

At the risk of sounding shallow or selfish, I tell you I was afraid.  My mom had always taken me out to the theater. I followed her leads, and let her help me.  This was going to be very different. And it went beyond what I wanted to do or any fears I might have had. My mom wanted to go to the theater one more time. And she wanted to go with me. 

When I showed up at her house, her live-in caregiver greeted me at the door.  Mom was wearing her prettiest black dress, though it hung lake drapery on her thin frame. She wore makeup and held a small black bag, the tickets tucked securely within. 

I pulled up to the front of the theater, as she instructed, parking in front of the valet.  She pressed some bills in my hand, telling me to give them to him as a tip. The valet helped me unload and unfold the wheelchair. Leaning down, I wrapped my arms under hers, and around her back. I lifted her to her feet, supporting her while she shuffled to position herself in front of the chair.  The valet held the chair steady and, once seated, asked her if everything was okay. She nodded, and he grinned wide as I handed him the money she had provided. 

I was walking a tightrope, balancing between helping my feeble mother and letting her help me, as it had always been — offering some small piece of normalcy in the otherwise implausible life she now lived. And yet, it was no act. This was her world, not mine. I needed her every bit as much as she needed me. 

I followed her crooked finger, turning this way or that, past elegant ladies and handsome men. We took the elevator to an usher who directed us to one of the seats next to a bit of open floor where we parked and set the brake. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and I allowed the tears to swell in my eyes. 

I was ashamed at my nervousness and astonished at my pride. Proud for facing my fear, for having her want to spend this precious time with me, and proud, as always, to be seen with her. 

I’m not sure how she did it, perhaps by sheer will, but she made it to intermission without vomitting. You see, this is what really killed her. She kept very little food or drink down. Her voice was weak and coarse from the irritation of it. And she was slowly wasting away. But the fact is that the first half of the show was quite uneventful, aside from the magnificent story unfolding on stage. 

  
We pushed out to the lobby, each ordering a glass of wine against my better judgement.  We exchanged small talk, and I made sure she was comfortable. Back in my seat, the alcohol calmed me and made me sleepy. 

The man next to me leaned over me to ask my mother how she was enjoying the play. I will forever be in this nameless man’s debt. Perhaps he sensed my trepidation. Maybe he just wanted to make an old woman feel seen and heard. But his conversation brought me relief and I will always remember him.

The lights dimmed again, and the actors took the stage. I scarcely remember the production.  Each nerve in my spine stood rigid and ready, like taking a newborn home for the first night. I waited until it came. The retching. The straining. I held a bag with one hand while soothing her back with the other.  While I measured the distance to the door and which was the worst distraction to the audience, it stopped. I handed her tissues, and it was over, and the musical concluded in one grand finale.  

Before we left the theater, we found a wheelchair-accessible restroom. I wheeled the chair in, locked it in place, and asked what she needed next. Mom assured me she would be fine, but that she would leave the door unlocked, “just in case.”  I paced outside like an expectant father, waiting and listening for what seemed too long a time. When at last she emerged smiling, she suggested we find dessert. 

When the evening concluded, I left her in the capable hands of her caregiver. We kissed and hugged and exchanged thank yous. I imagine she slept well that night and awoke the next morning with a happy heart. 

As for me, I haven’t been to the theater since, and when I do it will never be the same.  I am ashamed to admit the fear I felt. I hope I was able to hide it.  Yet she was my mother, and mothers have a way of knowing.  

I’m not sure who received the greater gift that night, the giver or the recipient. And I can’t tell you whether the gift I received was the honor of having been chosen to receive it, ot the strength I found in carrying it out.  But I can tell you its greatness lies within the mystery. 

Peace . . .

  


Wisdom is Less of a Gift than a Purchase

Personification of wisdom (in Greek, "Σοφ...

Sophia, the Greek personification of wisdom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes I’m asked why I blog.

First and foremost, I blog for therapy.  Unlike a diary, it forces me to choose my words wisely.  Where a diary will take any abuse you want to give, my public blog requires I treat my thoughts with respect.  And in doing so, I find an appreciation for “life and all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.”

I blog for posterity.  It’s something to leave behind.  I don’t believe in a supernatural afterlife.  Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to hang around watching over my loved ones eternally.  In a recent mishap, I accidentally and unavoidably caught a glimpse of all the pictures on the Rebel’s phone.  Trust me when I say I don’t want to watch over them from above.

I blog to pass along a wisdom.  Ancient cultures sat around the fire listening to lore from their elders.  While I do have plenty of advice to share around the fire, most of it involves the perfect toasted marshmallow or the dangers of wielding hot pokers.  Besides, who has time to sit around a fire listening to their elders anymore?  Anything like that gets shared here as “Lore” for those who find it valuable enough to read.

Lady wisdom (2)

Lady wisdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure at what age one becomes an elder, but I think I’m growing into it as gracefully as possible.  That is, kicking and screaming, my brittle nails shredding on the door frame of old age.  My daughter, the Romantic, reminded me that I once announced I was going to age naturally and embrace it — gray hair, wrinkles, and all.  Yeah . . . I was thirty-something and knew nothing of disappearing collagen or finding coarse, white eyebrows reaching out like odd antennae over the tops of my bifocals.  And so this thing of wisdom that comes with age is less of a gift than a purchase, dearly paid for with my declining condition.

Perhaps there is a responsibility to share what has been so expensive to attain.  Maybe I want to spare my children and readers the pain I’ve born.  After all, the suffering of my children is two-fold; once for their pain and another for the remembrance of my own mistakes.  Or maybe I just want to give you a shortcut, a life hack, so you can surpass where I have been and finish farther ahead.  Whatever the reason, sharing lore is clearly a primal need, present since men acquired the ability to speak.

English: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock form...

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock formation in Wadi Rum, Jordan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The elders of my youth have all passed away.  They, too, shared the experience of their years.  Some of it I remember, most of it has probably been forgotten.  The truth is, I gained less of my wisdom in listening than I found in living.  The toddler learns more from touching a hot oven than from being told it is hot.  Riding a bicycle can only be mastered after falling.  We learn to guard our heart once we know how deeply it can hurt.

I’m told there is occasionally wisdom in my words.  If you find it here, it is yours.  If you want to keep it, however, it’s going to cost you a couple of wrinkles and maybe a white antenna eyebrow.  But I guarantee it will be worth it.

Peace . . .

 


Reach for the Stars

Our second date was a movie.  When I asked him what we were going to see, he said, “There Will Be Blood.”  I told him that was okay with me, but what was the name of the movie?  I think he thought I was trying to be clever.  I wish that were true.

Bubba is the entertainment manager in our house.  He knows the director, the actors, and which ones are up for awards.  He remembers story-lines and quotes for years.

I can’t tell you what I watched last night.  Which is why I use the Netflix rating system.  When asked, I can bring up the app, search for the movie and tell you what I thought of it.

Netflix has a 5-star rating system.  At first, the five stars seemed limiting.  However, once I attached meaning to the ratings, it was easy.

  • 1 Star:  I’m scarred for life.
  • 2 Stars:  Ninety minutes I will never get back.
  • 3 Stars:  I came.  I watched.  I was entertained.
  • 4 Stars:  I’d recommend it.
  • 5 Stars:  Changed my life.

I’m pretty sure Bubba’s looks like this:

  • 1 Star:  No chase.  No nudity.  No blood.
  • 2 Stars:  Not even the car chase can redeem it.
  • 3 Stars:  Eh.  The actress was hot.  Ending was predictable.
  • 4 Stars:  Explosions AND boobs within the first two minutes.
  • 5 Stars:  Great effects, heart-stopping stunts, 3D-worthy, awesome soundtrack.  Ending practically gave him whiplash.
Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the ...

Marilyn Monroe from the trailer for the film Some Like It Hot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And what if we weren’t rating movies, but life?  Is this what it means to “reach for the stars?”  My rating system certainly looks different from Bubba’s, or yours, or Marilyn Monroe’s.  Greatness is relative.  We can no sooner rate someone else’s movie for them than they can ours.  And by movie, I mean life.  My three-star day is forgettable.  A day in Katharine Hepburn’s 3-star shoes would definitely be 5-star worthy on my scale.

Screenshot of Katharine Hepburn from the trail...

Katharine Hepburn from the trailer Woman of the Year (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 3-star film is the norm.  It’s the average against which greater and lesser movies rate.  So, too, is the 3-star day.

For instance, you know a 5-star day or film before it even begins.  Unless you win the lottery, you’ve planned for it.  It means something.  People are talking about it.  It will probably be the best thing that’s happened to you, but it has a huge disappointment potential.  And for that reason, it is emotional.  You get married.  Your child is born.  You begin the best job ever.  Five stars.  And I bet you can tell me the date.

I wouldn’t want every day to rate five stars.  Think about it.  They’re tiring!  Most 5-star days take a week of recovery.  And if every day were life-changing, my life would be in constant flux.

A 4-star day is probably where you aim most mornings.  It’s attainable.  In most cases, you probably have some control over achieving it, but it takes some planning and preparation.

Three-star days are where you are going to land most of the time.  It’s the median, after all.  You might have a 5-star breakfast and four minutes after leaving the house you’re caught in a 2-star traffic jam.  At the end of the day, you came, you watched, you were entertained.  Average.

No one plans a two-star day.  I don’t think any director really plans on producing a two-star film, either.  You just run out of resources — time, money, energy — to make it great.  Sometimes it’s a lack of planning, or sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control that bring your rating down.  Hopefully you learn from it, and your next movie will be better.

In a way, 1-star films are as memorable as 5-star.  Again, it is easy to compare a 1-star movie to a 1-star day.  They are usually worse than you imagined they were going to be.  You will never be the same, and thankfully they are rare.  The difference is that a 1-star film becomes a cult classic.  A 1-star day hurts deep in your chest.

Sometimes it’s a matter of realizing your day is falling in the ratings, and to take action.  For me, it’s a simple list.  A walk.  Drinks with a friend.  Giving.  A heart-to-heart with a loved one.  Sometimes just a home repair or accomplishment.  For you maybe it’s more complex, or intense.  Bubba might like a heated debate over gun control or the who is the best Marvel Superhero.

While the list is simple, the action is harder.  On bad days I hide behind my phone, both mentally and physically.   Two-stars are not uncommon these days.  As both director and protagonist, I play key roles.

The trick is to remember where my stars are . . . and then reach.

Peace . . .

This Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of a d...

This Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of a dense swarm of stars shows the central region of the globular cluster NGC 2808 and its 3 generations of stars. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 


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