It’s not my birthday…

Well the rain falls down without my help I’m afraid
And my lawn gets wet though I’ve withheld my consent
When this grey world crumbles like a cake
I’ll be hanging from the hope
That I’ll never see that recipe again

It’s not my birthday, it’s not today…

– They Might Be Giants, “It’s Not My Birthday”-

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.

-Louis L’Amour-

No, dear readers, it is NOT my birthday today. That cherished occasion lies nine months in the future. Today is auspicious, however, for at least two reasons:

A) Today was the last day of my IT career. I’ve left behind Very Large Corporation, Inc, and Information Technology alike in order to take up my bindle stick, pluck up my courage, and hop aboard a train bound for Creative Enterprise.

and

B) Today is my “rebirthday.” Exactly 2 years ago today, I received the precious blessing of the state court and changed my legal identity to match my actual one. I may be only two years old, but I’m advanced for my age.

It’s been a busy day, is the point.

I’ve been struggling for years to return to creative work, the victim of an odd (and, at times, cruel-seeming) paradox; despite having zero formal IT training or education, possessing what can only be described as mid-level technopathy led to the assumption that I was and would forever be a “techie,” despite both my frequent side projects in the creative arts and my own hearty protestations to the contrary. Eventually, the time I’d spent in IT (which was, naturally, time away from design and other creative fields, at least according to my resume) reinforced this idea; “Claire must be meant for IT because Claire’s in IT and Claire’s in IT because Claire’s meant to be there.”

Not pretty.

But, the wheel of life spins under our feet regardless of our forward motion, and eventually I was able to – through a series of contacts, design projects and a stubbornness so profound that mules roll their eyes at me –  procure my new position in Marketing and Social Media. My excitement is so profound that I’m pretty sure I’ve been levitating most of the day, which sounds fun until you stop at the grocery and can’t activate the little pressure-plate door opener thing.

But I digress.

As I was packing up my few remaining possessions and saying my goodbyes, I realized how deeply IT has affected me, both as a person and an employee. Yes, there have been challenges to my patience at times – ID-10T errors and PEBKAC abound – but for the most part, even the most grievous frustrations were ameliorated by that magic moment, that singular instant, when I solved someone’s problem. Money has never been a particularly strong motivator for me; my inability to manage it, coupled with the sort of disregard for material gain most people associate with terminal illness or religious mania makes it a poor carrot with which to lead me down the primrose path. However, put me in a place where I am genuinely and consistently helpful to someone, exorcising not just the demons from their Excel macros but the shadows from their workday, and I am a happy camper (provided, of course, that there is gratitude for services rendered…ingrates turn the knob of my Smitemaster 3000 to “11” ).

This has not been an ideal job – what job is, in the final analysis? – but it HAS been a useful one. It’s taught me many things about myself, and the kind of work, environment and interactions I require to feel as though I’m making a positive impact every day. It’s introduced me to some great friends, taught me that trust needs to be earned (not just given away like novelty tokens at a particularly cruddy fundraising carnival), and, perhaps most importantly of all, helped me to understand all the things I’m NOT as well as those I am.

And for that, I will be forever grateful.

It’s been a day of lasts – last login, last cup of tea, last casual sweep of Ice Station Zebra, last hugs and tears and laughs.There will be letters to write, e-mails to exchange, lunches to coordinate; there will be attrition as bodies both peripheral and central in my personal galaxy move closer or break orbit and disappear into space beyond.

But it’s also a day for beginnings. Here I stand, two years as Claire behind me, with (let us hope) many more ahead. The sun has not yet reached its apex; the future stretches before me, a road traveling through sunny heights and icy, shadowed lows. Having reached a fork, I’ve chosen what I hope is the right one, and focus my gaze on the horizon.

No, it’s not my birthday, my friends. But somehow, I still feel as though I’ve been given a gift.


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CDL Blogoversary, Day Seven: TV is Life

We’re celebrating Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary, and I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Through June 10th, there will be a new post from a different guest each day, culminating with a new, full-length short story by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my guests’ work as much as I do, and I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens during the NEXT year.

[Today’s Guest Blogger is Megan Gesing, a pal I met on The Twitter. Megan is a 27 year-old Instructional Designer, Actress, Filmmaker and Artist.  She’s from Cleveland, OH but lives in Las Vegas, NV for the time being.  Contrary to popular belief, she doesn’t live in a casino and hates gambling. She really loves the sun and doesn’t eat meat.

Megan writes a blog called Love, Megan.  Check it out! http://www.lovemegan.net]

I watch a lot of TV.  I always have.  I’ve been acting since I was a kid, so I attribute this to research.  With all of this TV watching, I began developing this theory… See, my life can be pretty bizarre- Sometimes unbelievably so.  Stuff happens to me that you only see on TV… so, I’ve come to the conclusion that my life is a TV show- or more accurately a series of TV shows based on the same character.

When I was a kid, I was the cute little girl on a family comedy.  The kind of girl who’s mom dressed her up in pretty clothes and dress shoes, but who insisted on going outside and attempting to climb a tree anyway.  This always ended badly… but not horribly, so the audience (whoever and wherever they are) could laugh and shake their heads at her.  “Aw, that poor girl.” There were ups and downs, laughs and tears… Just like any good family comedy.

Through Junior High and High School, my show was more like “Boy Meets World” or something like that.  I had a great group of friends and we were pretty wholesome.  There was always just enough excitement and embarrassment to make the audience cringe and fall in love.  C’mon- you know the kind of show.  There were some great characters that got their own spin-offs and you always knew it was going to end at some point.  It may be sad, but high school can’t last forever, right?

Well, then I went to college.  My show got a complete overhaul: new location, new cast, new attitude.  It wasn’t really “wholesome” anymore.  It was dramatic and intense.  I got into trouble, I got my heart broken, I learned a lot about myself. I’m pretty sure it made for great TV week after week.  We always had summer break and a new season started every fall.  Each spring, something shocking would happen that would leave us all hanging waiting for the “season” to start in the fall.  Each year we’d welcome new characters and say good-bye to others.  People were scandalous, crazy, supportive and loving.  I mean, it was college.  Then I graduated and I’m pretty sure my show got cancelled.

But, audiences must like me because I landed a part on a wholesome kids show, playing their sarcastic-but-loving daycare teacher.  I couldn’t take this for too long, so I moved to Las Vegas.

That’s the show I’m on now.  It’s been “on the air” for three years now.  It’s exactly what you’d expect from a 20-something dramedy.  Insane roommates, ridiculously unhealthy relationships, challenging jobs, new friends…  It was a great show for a long time- but it’s pretty boring now.  I need a change.

I’ve been doing my best to change to the storylines myself, but sometimes I get the sinking feeling that I have no control.  I get the feeling that nothing’s going to change right now.  Maybe the writers are on strike, or the production company gets a great deal to shoot in Las Vegas.  Something completely out of my control is keeping me stuck here.

We’re going on summer break.  The show’s going to be in repeats for a few months and for the first time in a lifetime, there’s no big cliffhanger ending… There’s no big mystery to solve or surprise to wait for next fall.  Just a 28th birthday. Woo!

Think about it, we’re all stars of our own TV shows.  People make guest appearances on each other’s shows and shows spin off from each other.  We’re all the star of our own show… or at least we should be.  When the storyline falters and you start to feel like a secondary cast member on someone else’s show, there’s a problem.

Actors have shown us that it’s possible to demand quality from your writers: more face time, a more interesting plotline for your character- whatever you need. Just look what it did for the cast of Grey’s Anatomy- OK, maybe not the best example…

But as the star of my show, I’m demanding better storylines.  This fall, it’s going to be the start of the BEST SEASON ever.  Something big is going to happen.  Things are going to change.  I just really hope I don’t get a brain tumor or hit by a bus…

Stay tuned.

[It’s me again. Speaking as the star of literally dozens of mental television shows, I can confirm that we are each living in a program of our own making. Be sure to tune into Megan’s site for more fun and a possible season-ending cliffhanger involving ninjas, ferrets and a surprise special guest!*

*NOTE: I am, in fact, making this up.

Coming up tomorrow: The CDL Blogoversary celebration comes to a close with a COMPLETE short story from the Circe universe, courtesy of yours truly. Walk, don’t run, to your nearest chair and perch on the edge with anticipation, won’t you?]

CDL Blogoversary, Day Two: Adam Lambert’s Loss is Our Gain

We’re celebrating Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary, and I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Through June 10th, there will be a new post from a different guest each day, culminating with a new, full-length short story by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my guests’ work as much as I do, and I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens during the NEXT year.

[Today’s Guest Blog is by Blanca Meneses, a friend I met on “The Twitter.”  Blanca is Cuban American and has lived in the US since 1969. She has an MBA in International Business, a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and a Paralegal Certificate. She currently works as an in-house paralegal at a Fortune 500 company. When not working, Blanca focuses on her photography. She resides in Miami with her partner and their Goldendoodle, Cocker Spaniel and two cats. Visit her online at http://www.blancameneses.com]

I sit here today still dumbfounded by the results of American Idol. I still feel confusion and disbelief when I think about the results. I mean, Adam Lambert should have won, right? Right? He’s multitalented and the best contestant ever to compete on American Idol. But for some reason, or reasons, he did not win. We all know that now.

I remember that on that Wednesday evening, May 20, 2009, I was sitting in front of my big flat screen tv with my partner and our two dogs watching American Idol with the Bose stereo system blasting away just waiting for the results. Finally, after all the artists sang, some better than others, and after they dimmed the lights, my heart began to race. I was nervous but optimistic and hopeful. I was so confident, as I”m sure were many other Adam fans, that Adam would win. But when Ryan Seacrest announced Kris Allen as the winner I was in utter shock and disbelief and felt mentally and emotionally stiff. I couldn’t move! The phone rang. It was my partner’s mother. I’m screaming saying that this is BS! What?! What?! What?! What????!!!! The unthinkable had happened! Kris Allen won.

I was enraged. I went on Facebook to tell the whole world how I felt. My status was not pretty. In fact, I was fuming! I went on Twitter to tell the whole world how I felt. My 140 characters were not pretty. In fact, I was still fuming! Why didn’t Adam win? How did this happen? I was perplexed and upset! I was so enraged I even shedded a few tears.

Tears? Why yes, tears. Tears because I took his loss personal. Tears because I believe Adam Lambert lost because he’s “different” and obviously more colorful than the conservative Kris Allen, who, in my belief, didn’t win on talent alone. Adam Lambert has not really admitted he’s gay, but he is quite flamboyant. His black fingernails, his heavy eyeliner, his walk, his thick make-up, and at times his clothing, all gave way for people to think that he was over the top in every which way. But more important than anything, he is unbelievably talented.

Did Kris Allen win because of the conservative vote? Did Adam Lambert lose because he’s “different”? We might never know; however, there is wide speculation and much talk that the reason Adam lost and Kris won was because the conservative vote pushed Kris over the edge. So now, all of a sudden, we have conservatism vs liberalism and red states vs blue states in an American Idol competition. And here I was thinking that the election was over.

The bottom line here is that this country, although some states are making progress with LGBT issues and we have a Democratic president and a Democratic congress, is still quite conservative. It is the fight of the religious right vs those that are to the left of the religious right. I do believe that more and more people are becoming more accepting of LGBT people, but I also believe that homophonia is still alive and kicking in the good old USA.

So, in the end, I had to accept that Adam had lost this year’s American Idol crown. But, I do believe that he is well on his way to having an abundance of success. As a matter of fact, he might just be on his way to becoming the lead singer for Queen. Sweet and at the same time ironic, isn’t it?

Here’s to you Adam and to your undeniable talent!

[It’s me again. Regardless of American Idol‘s role as, ahem, “entertainment,” I do believe that Adam’s decision to be open about his homosexuality adversely affected his shot at the crown. As Blanca said, his loss will ultimately be America’s gain, especially since the runners-up from Idol seem to make a bigger splash more often than their crown-winning counterparts.

Special thanks to Blanca for sharing her views! Be sure to stop by her site to say “hola!”

Tune in tomorrow for some short fiction!]

A Time For Heroes

So here’s the thing:

I live in Ohio, a state known more for its election-swaying and obese presidents than its heroes (Neil Armstrong and Rodger Young aside).

That’s about to change, however: ladies and gentlemen, there’s a new hero in town.

Shadow Hare, as he is known to the grateful citizens of The Queen City, is a man on a mission. Armed only with a taser, handcuffs, pepper spray and a high, somewhat nasally voice, Shadow Hare has taken to the streets of Cincinnati to combat crime, doling out Citizen’s Arrests like they’re going out of style. And you know what? Good for him, I say.

Seriously, here is a guy willing to endure not only the ridicule of law enforcement and the public at large, but risk physical injury in order to help others (Shadow Hare reports that he suffered a dislocated shoulder while intervening in an assault last year).  And he’s not alone – Mr. Hare (?) is  the leader of a handful of heroes in the Allegiance of Heroes, a nationwide network of heroes determined to fight crime wherever it rears its hideous, gore-flecked head.

(Or at least crime of a reasonably mild nature. I don’t think these guys are going after Osama anytime soon.)

Part of me is understandably critical of a scrawny pipsqueak who runs around dressed like the bastard lovechild of Donnie Darko’s  Frank and a drunk mime. The other part of me is inspired by the courage inherent in such an act, saying to the world “I will be a doer and not simply one to whom things are done.”  We are a nation in crisis – no, crises, and the feeling of utter powerless that comes from being buffeted by forces beyond one’s control is frightening in its intensity. Obviously,  not everyone responds by donning pajamas and a mask, but it’s still heartening to see the desire to make things better rather than succumb to the slow decline of atrophy and corruption.

Thoughts, dear readers?

Presidents’ Day: Suggested Reading for My Fellow Nerds

It’s Presidents’ Day, kids, and while many of you are no doubt off of work or school, savoring the deep discounts at JC Penny or attempting to convince Obama to make it rain candy, some of us are trapped at work, toiling for minor ducats under the thumb of employers unmoved by the celebration of our nation’s great leaders.

Luckily, some of us have plowed through so much work today that there’s a momentary gap in the river of unrelenting tedium, and so have the time to create things like lists of books you should be reading today instead of giving Lincoln a purple beard.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House Arguably the most populist President of all time, Old Hickory could take a beating and keep on bleating, as they say. Whether tearing it up in N’awlins even after the war was won or slapping down the veto whoop-ass, Jackson was a fiery and charismatic man who nevertheless scared the bejeebus out of the elite with his rough-around-the-edges, “Le etat, c’est moi” ways.  Sort of like someone else we know from the past 8 years – only not, you know, out to destroy the world.

Truman Oh, Harry. Sure, you dropped the nuke. Sure, you saw Reds in every corner coffee shop. But, you were a stand-up guy, and you backed up your talk with the walk.  At 1,000 pages, this looks like a bit of a paper anchor, but McCullough knows what he’s doing, and trust me, you’ll be finished before you realize it.

The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia Come on, nerds, you know you want it. Besides, what could be more fun than discovering the facts, figures and foibles about our nation’s storied leaders? Well, besides that complicated scenario I’ve concocted involving me, Robin Meade, a tanker-truckload of Peeps and several bottles of Patron Silver?

So get out there, citizens, and learn a little about your forefathers! You’ll be glad you did!

Consider the Vote Rocked.

First off, I have to say it – WHOO-HOO!

Now, that said, on this historic morning in America, a lot of folks (many of them sharing my politics) are going to be posting things like “Yay! The Last Son of Krypton has claimed his birthright and defeated the big bad monster!” This is because they have allowed their emotional jubilation at the sight of Barack Obama ascending to the Presidency of these United States to cloud their perception of more peripheral truths, namely:

1) McCain is nobody’s idea of a monster. Wrong man for the job or not, he’s a hero and deserves our respect. Gracious in defeat (if not in his campaigning), noble in his manner, John McCain’s concession should prove as an example to everyone who’s interested in moving on and getting down to the business of getting our country back on track. I say this NOT as someone blind to his fear-based campaign strategy, but as someone who truly admires a man willing to serve a country he clearly loves both politically and militarily, endure (for the most part) the opprobrium of his own party in the name of doing what he believes to be right, and, yes, occasionally behave as a “maverick,” if one can still use that word with any shred of sincerity. We may not agree on a lot of the issues, but I cannot help but admire him for everything he’s done, as well as his exhortations for unity in the aftermath of this history-making race.

2) Barack and Biden won, yes. This is exciting. This is historic. This is truly unprecedented and electrifying in its impact. It is also going to be, as Barack put it, “a long road and a steep climb.” In addition to the White House, Barack has also inherited a country in economic crisis, a war on two fronts, and a populace perilously close to being divided against itself over issues of faith. This is akin to fighting for two years for the right to muck out the Augean Stables – and it will take Herculean strength indeed to re-route the rivers of conciliatory healing and wisdom through our clogged stalls and aisles. Of course, it’s not a one-man job to do so; all of the bridge-building, aisle-crossing and effective compromise Obama pledged in his campaign will have to be brought to bear in order to heal the rifts that divide us…or at least begin the process. Either way, it’s a big mess to clean up, and while I’m over the moon that Obama’s leading the charge, it will be a team effort. This is the beginning, not the end, of the hard work.

3) Given the rifts I talked about above, there’s a real danger to the life of our next President. I have been shocked – literally shocked – by the number of people who have greeted my elation with “We’ll see how long he lasts.” Given our country’s history of assassins, both bumbling and monstrous, I do fear for Obama’s life. I fear his mere presence will be seen as a threat that requires his removal by people whose best interests lie in continued division and hatred.

But it is my sincere hope that Obama will not be cowed by the threat of evil. It is my hope that he will continue to embrace and espouse not only hope, which is paradoxically ephemeral and eternal, but progress, and that the change he brings will lead us toward something better, despite the shadow of fear. It is my hope he will stand on the power of his principles, and it is my hope that he will build strong partnerships throughout our government that will ensure a better life for the people of the United States.

So come on, friends (and I say that sincerely…black or white, red or blue, Conservative or Democrat, we are all, at heart, Americans). Let’s celebrate a chance at something truly new, positive and powerful in the leadership of our nation. Let’s look forward not with trepidation, but anticipation, setting aside the animosity and anger that have kept us from working effectively to our shared benefit.

Let’s get to work.

Jackson Comes Alive!

Yeah, sorry about that, Pete. Trying to make a point here.

Yeah, sorry about that, Pete. Trying to make a point.

Things Peter Frampton and I have in common:

1) We both reside in Ohio.

2) We both enjoy the dulcet and masterful tones of Django Reinhardt.

3) We’re both pretty f-ing pissed off that people keep stealing our Obama yard signs.

I mean, come ON. All I wanna be is free to support the candidate of my choice. Is it so hard to believe that I deserve the respect of my right-wing neighbors, rather than their scorn and midnight sign-lifting skullduggery?

What kind of world are we living in here? I mean, they have TEN THOUSAND (actual number: 17) McCain/Failin’ signs scattered in the yards near my home. Is it REALLY necessary to boost my lonely Obama sign? And, if you’re going to steal that one, why on earth would you leave all the signs for the Ohio Democratic nominees? Does your percolating, first-amendment-ignoring hatred for my political affiliation extend only to the Federal level, or are you (as I suspect) so woefully ignorant of local and state politics that you left the signs intact for fear that one might be for a Republican candidate?

There are four days left ’til the election. At no time during the election year have I felt the urge to go a-prowling through the neighbor’s yards, plucking their ubiquitous McCain/Unable cardboard bits from their aluminum stems like so many red-hued flowers in a garden of hate. Yet here I stand (figuratively speaking), my own small plot ravaged by the petty larceny of someone bent on breaking all the rules.

Seriously, believe what you want, people. Support whomever you choose. Just try to remember that, as Heinlein taught us, your right to swing your fist ends at another person’s face (well, an inch or two away, actually) and your right to rock(ing chair) the vote ends at the edge of my property.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a video camera, a length of rope, and a sign to buy.