|Looks like another burnt birthday. The norm.|
Growing up in the Midwest, birthday's were simple events without a lot of fanfare. Your mother or spouse would ask you a few days in advance about your favorite dinner. If your spouse was not one to cook, "What's your favorite restaurant?" might be a question. Although, for all the time I lived in the Midwest, I don't ever remember going to a restaurant for my birthday.
On the big day, you'd enjoy your favorite meal with family and a few friends, a cake would come out, everyone sang happy birthday, you opened a few gifts and it was over. Once I turned 21, I'd head to a bar with a couple buddies, get drunk and never spend a dime. Someone would drop me in my front yard and that was my birthday for that year.
When I went to Las Vegas to live in 1996, I learned a completely new meaning of birthday. Birthday was not a couple hours with family and friends. Birthday was a full-blown event. It could even turn into a festival that lasted for days.
I only remember one birthday during the fourteen years I was in Vegas where it was at home with just family. The rest of my birthdays were at restaurants or bars or casinos and there were lots of people.
In addition to the actual birthday date, there were friends and business associates that had to take you out for a birthday drink, dinner, lunch, a movie, whatever. Birthday could take up an entire week.
Kids birthday parties were mega-affairs that involved all kinds of activities. You seemed obliged to have a clown, ponies, go to some bounce-house palace, roller skating, baking classes, movies or some other over-the-top happening that could include upwards of 20 or 30 kids. I never saw birthday parties like this until I went to Las Vegas. My days of, "Here's the lasagna you requested," a song, blown candles and a few gifts were displaced by the birthday event.
My mother, raising three kids, had a rule that we only had a party with friends every five years. You had one at age 5, 10 and then you didn't give a crap at 15.
Now that I'm back in the Midwest, I've returned to modest birthdays with little or no hoopla.
Last year, I was extremely depressed. The highlight of my day was talking to my then 9 year-old daughter on the phone; and seeing that dozens and dozens of people on Facebook, most of whom I had no idea who they were, wished me Happy Birthday. Some people are just freakin' nice. I really didn't care about the birthday wishes, but I felt better knowing the the human race was not a bunch of greedy, selfish bastards.
After I thanked every single one of the people that wished me Happy Birthday on FB, I had a burger or some other grilled food at my sister's house - no song, no cake - and went home. I don't drink anymore, so hitting a bar was not on the agenda. Maybe I should have taken myself to Dairy Queen.
Birthdays haven't been too good for me since about 2004. On my 50th birthday, my dream house closed and I had to get out, selling my custom furniture in my driveway to people who wound up never paying me, and moving into a tiny cramped house that was full of boxes from floor to ceiling. Exhausted, my sister, my daughter and I ate at some lousy burger restaurant. I thought that was the worst birthday I could imagine. I swore things would be different in the future.
Well, things have only gotten worse with every year that has passed.
I'm broke, unemployed, eating a pile of meds every day - but I have my blogs.
This birthday is supposed to be one of those milestone birthdays, too - 55. But it will suck.
Almost seven weeks ago, my ex-wife on the advice of a counselor decided that I shouldn't talk to my daughter on the phone. I can only write to her. This is something she can't do without a court order. She's concealed my daughter from me this whole time. Concealment of a child from the other parent is a category D Felony in Nevada. I'm working with her attorney, trying to get a reasonable agreement.
My daughter started school this past week, I think. I never heard anything from her or my ex-wife - another violation of our custody agreement - a contempt of court charge. There are ten violations in addition to the felony that my X will have to face if we go to court. But I'm broke and I can't do anything. Can't file a motion. Can't defend myself.
My daughter is all that matters to me. She's always been my best buddy. Everyone that knows us knows how special our relationship has been. But that was halted by her mother.
I really only want to talk to one person on my birthday - my daughter.
On Facebook, my name will pop up on that list in the upper right corner of the screen and I'm sure dozens of people will write the same things like they did last year, "Have a great time." "Spend it with people you love." "Have a drink for me." "Don't eat too much cake." "I hope you get something good." "Try not to get arrested. LOL." All of the comments were cute, but so far from reality - it was pitiful. This year, the reality and the celebration will be diametrically opposed.
But, one thing I've learned in my life, "If fun doesn't come to you, make your own fun." So, I've decided that I'm going to shave and shower late in the evening before my birthday, put on clean jeans and a t-shirt (those are the only clothes I own) and head to my favorite Denny's about 1 am. I'm going to have a FREE Grand Slam breakfast and write about it. Then, I'm heading to another Denny's and do the same thing. And again. And again. By noon, I should be in a carb and sausage coma. I don't plan on answering my phone until my daughter calls - if she calls.
You see, another kink in the day is that my X and I share the same birth date. My daughter will be at school all day and then she'll be whisked away for mommy's birthday celebration with her whole family and some of her friends. There might not be time for Dad in the whole mess.
I'd really like to Skype with my daughter and actually see here, but that is a pipe dream right now. It's been over three months since I've been able to Skype with her. Her mother won't help her setup her camera. It's a five minute thing, but that's asking too much.
So, if you're in the Cleveland area and you're at a Denny's and you see a guy groaning as he shoves another bite of pancakes in his mouth, that's me. Don't say hi or wish me a Happy Birthday. I'm planning on quitting smoking the same day. I won't be in a good mood, unless my daughter calls.
Grand Slam time, for as long as I can take it. Then, lots of sleep. I see my psychiatrist the next day. Once I tell him what I did, he'll be whipping out the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) to see if he can prescribe a pill that will halt diabetes and sedate me into some form of sanity stupor - more pills.
I'll have fun. I guess. FREE food and my laptop - all day. It won't really be a celebration, it will be revenge. I'm still looking at the Note To Self - Skip my birthday - and you can too.
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