The Birthday Raven Unicorn

Eight years ago I wrote this poem for my birthday. I hate acknowledging such advancement of age, but one must do what one must do to survive. So I must write and whisper “sixty eight.”

 

The Raven

The Unicorn

by

Claudia Edgar Allan Anderson

 

Once upon a weeknight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

Over a many quaint and curious volume of forgotten recorded TV shows

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my patio door.

‘Tis my dogs I muttered, tapping at my patio door.

Only this and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December

And each separate dust bunny made a mess upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow – vainly I had thought to borrow

A DVD from my son’s room, but sorrow – sorry he had misplaced Avatar

Just a DVD and nothing more.

Presently my channel surfing grew boring, hesitating then no longer

Dickens and Rennie dogs, said I, truly your forgiveness I implore

But the fact was I was napping, and so gently you came rapping.

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my patio door.

That I scarcely heard you. Here I slide open the door

Snow piled there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing

The dogs so quietly sleeping, sleeping down the bathroom hall

But the silence was now broken, and the dogs were gently snoring

And the only word there spoken was the whispered words ‘sixty oh.’

Merely this and nothing more.

Open here I flung the patio shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In stepped a stately unicorn of the saintly days of yore.

Not the least chuckle made she; not a minute stopped or stayed she;

But with the air of a know-it-all, perched above my breakfront door

Perched upon the dusty wood just atop my breakfront door

Laid down, and smiled, nothing more.

By the silly and irreverent decorum of the smirk that she wore

Though thy horn be sparkly and spirally, thou, I said, art sure no dog.

Smiling and bouncy ancient unicorn wandering from the snow piles

Tell me what thy lady’s name is on the night of the Walking Dead finale!

Quoth the unicorn, ‘sixty, oh!’

The unicorn still beguiling, all my weary bones into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a foot stool in front of unicorn and breakfront and door;

Then upon the polyester sinking, I betook to linking

Fancy unto fancy, remembering all my years of glorious tales

What this full-figured, laughing, ditzy unicorn

Meant in singing ‘sixty, oh!’

Prophet! said I, thing of beauty – prophet still, if real or fancy –

Whether astral traveling or whether sent by Gandalf

Are you telling me age has no meaning?

Quoth the unicorn, ‘sixty, oh!’

And the unicorn, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the dusty wood just atop my breakfront door;

And her eyes have all the seeming of a family whose love is beaming

And the ceiling lamp o’er her streaming throws her shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that now is dancing on the floor

Now is singing ‘sixty, oh!’

Birthdays

Birthdays are a strange thing.

When you’re young, you can’t wait to have a party. It used to be all your friends at your house with party hats and games; today it’s Chucky Cheese or Rock Climbing parties.

When you’re a teen you often just go to the mall with some friends or hang at someone’s house for your birthday. Big shows of celebration of your day of birth are embarrassing.

When you’re in college, your birthday usually turns into a bender, with loud music and laughing, drunk friends playing beer pong or beer bags.

When you’re in your 20s and 30s you often have kids, so your idea of celebrating your birthday is having your parents babysit while you get a night out for dinner and/or a movie.

When you celebrate your birthday in your 40s or 50s, you’ve usually got a good group of friends around you, so you enjoy throwing a big bash at your house or at a friend’s house. You drink chocolate martinis and eat hors d’oeuvres. You play music from your teens and dance around the living room with a beer or a glass of wine.

When you head into your 60s, celebrating your birthday takes a different turn. Your birthday parties entail taking the family out to dinner for something “different” like hot wings or Thai, and you try not to think of how many years you’ve got left to sing “Happy Birthday.”

I’m not in my 70s yet, so I don’t know how I’ll spend them. I try and be a glass half full kinda girl, but when there are more years behind you than in front of you, that’s a hard task to keep.

Yet these birthdays are the most important. Because I’ll tell you one thing.

Another birthday means you’ve survived.

I’ve survived Cabbage Patch Kids, 8-Tracks, The Freddie, and Howdy Doody. I’ve survived 9/11, the impeachment of Nixon, and the death of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I celebrate being alive and full of love and hope, even in the face of runaway Twitter or bashing poor Charlie Brown tv shows.

I celebrate because I’m alive. Looking around me, that’s not always an easy thing to be.

So what does a 66-year-old do for their birthday?

How about sushi with my family then the grandkids over night then go to see Wreck It Ralph Wrecks the Internet tomorrow? That’s love, no matter how you celebrate it.

Celebrate YOUR birthday every year. Every day.

Make your heart happy.

Christmas is Every Day

How are you handling the holidays?

I myself am not yet “into” them. I feel like Ebeneezer Scrouge bah-humbuging everything. Not that I don’t make the birth of Christ a big deal — it’s just that his birthday has become so commercialized. You wind up feeling like a loser if you don’t buy kids the hottest and most expensive things TV can offer. Ok, I’m really not that bad — but I do think the pressure to perform over the holidays is too much.

You see, I would give my grandson that Nerf gun next week. I’d give my cousin that movie tomorrow. I don’t need a reason or time frame to give gifts.

I guess that’s built up on my ramjam belief that Christmas is every day to me. I see my youngest grandson smile up at me and feel that is a gift. I watch my deskmate conquer a tough project and that’s tinsel on my tree. I go to the doctor and get a good checkup and that is every gift anyone could put under my tree.

I don’t like that there is a special day set aside for eating together as a family or singing songs together or wrapping and opening presents. Christmas is a celebration of new life. Of new hope. It’s about a baby and a mother who had a hard time finding a place to stay and an ethereal figure who made her with child.

The problem with celebrating this or that religious holiday is that none of them match. Was He Jewish? Muslim? Anglo-Saxon?

Celebrate Christmas every day. Thank God, the Goddess, Allah, anyone you want that you have been given another day to make someone smile.  Give the gift of yourself. Help those who need your help. If you have the means, buy gifts for your loved ones on December 25 and August 14 and February 2 and July 23.  Don’t save your love and family dinners and presents for one day a year.

Because that “day” is every day.

65 Is Not Just A Number

It’s Monday evening;  it is quiet around the house, which is good, seeing as I threw my own birthday party Saturday.

I have a hard time saying I’m 65…there are so many memories strung out behind me, three-quarters worth I can’t remember. I am in the second half of my  life, making memories  every day, forgetting memories every day.

You can say 65 is just a number, but so is 21. 49. 1,204. In theory, that is correct. But that’s over 520 million breaths. 65 birthday parties. Over 268,000 hugs. 500,000 bites of chocolate. Its that and so much more.

I threw myself a party because I wanted to…dare I say I was afraid that no one would remember this momentous occasion? That my day of turning old enough to retire would be brushed over like an ant on the table?

It’s hard to admit your own insecurities…especially when they sound stupid in your ears.

I wanted to celebrate making 65 years of life. Good and bad. Up and Down. Two kids, 2-1/2 grandkids. Friends. Traveling. Camping. Working. So much has been packed into these 65 years — how I wish I could remember them all. My kids as babies. My kids as teens. My mindset at 30. 40. 50. Different from where I am today, no doubt different from where I’m going.

I’ve outlived my mother by 11 years, and am aiming at my father’s ripe old age of 86, and adding 10 to that. I don’t want the memories to end. The friendships to end. The dreams to end. I’ve got so much to do that there’s no time to feel bad about what has been.

So throw your own party. Celebrate your life. Every day of it.  Don’t wait for someone to come along and validate all the years you’ve given to mother earth. Do it yourself.

Even if you can’t remember half of it.

8 Reasons to Dissect Your Birthday

 

glassDo not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

~~Dylan Thomas

 

Yesterday was a day just like any other day. Work, a quickie visit with my husband before he went to work on the second shift, a little dishes, a little TV, then bed.

It also was my birthday.

Not a big deal these days…especially when the digits have long risen above 30. Or 40.

Yet it was such a big deal that I didn’t want to talk much about it. It was a slightly traumatic view of life both before and behind me. I fluctuated between being happy with a good life to panicking that I may not wake up tomorrow morning. Roller-coaster nonsense, to be sure.

But through these emotional states, a stronger, calmer, younger goddess has emerged. And this is what I’ve decided.

  1. I’m not going softly into any dark or light night. By the time I get to be 90 science will have developed an immortality pill that extends one’s life for at least 50 more years. Until then I’m going to kick ass and put myself out there.
  2. I am going to stop thinking of my day of birth as the day John Lennon died. There is some sort of macabre connection between one’s celebration of life and another’s death. It’s just plain creepy. I’d rather think of it as National Brownie Day or Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day. Which it was.
  3. Presents are overrated. Sure, it’s nice if you wake up your birthday morning and there’s a pair of diamond earrings waiting for you at the breakfast table. But just as likely is a hurricane blowing out of the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi River, crossing the state of Illinois and hopping to Lake Michigan, having landfall in Milwaukee.
  4. On the same subject, presents come in many ways. The problem is we don’t always see a present as a present. We see it as a symbol. E = mc2  is a symbol too. So are the Golden Arches. And the middle finger. We all know what those symbols mean. I’m not the real thing, but I represent a real thing. A substitute. The real thing couldn’t be here so I’m the stand-in. Looking at it from out here, it’s really pretty hollow.
  5. Face it. No one at my age likes their job. I just turned….(drum roll…heavy breathing…dramatic rolling of eyes…) 62. Too late to start a new job, too old to just quit. Too tired to argue, too slow to be a super star. I have so much on my personal plate that I don’t have time to reinvent myself. I never thought I’d ever want to see retirement through my front window, but it’s a hell of a lot more exciting than looking out the back window, spending 30 more years doing what I’m doing.
  6. Everyone loves birthday cake. I myself enjoy birthday lasagna, birthday cheesecake, and birthday Moscato. I can’t really digest two of those three. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat my favorite foods and drink milk out of my favorite wine glass. Don’t let your food limitations limit your fun. Celebrate your birthday every day.
  7. People always tell me age is just a number. Society has limited itself by drawing the line of existence at 60 or 70 or 100. It’s hard to get over a life’s worth of judgment. But it can be done. We have to remember that age – numbers – are limited only by this planet, this galaxy, this reality. So why waste time counting? With all the alternate reality, alternate universe and alternate lives theories floating around out there, I’m sure there’s one where my cosmic clock is really ticking backwards. And I can live with that.
  8. And lastly, the biggest thing I learned is that a day is just a day. Birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day, are all arbitrary darts on the dartboard. You don’t need presents and ceremonies to make your day special. If it’s too cold to celebrate your day of birth in December, celebrate it in June! Christmas in July! What does it matter? Don’t make the “day” more important than any other day you live and breathe and laugh.

I hate getting older. That’s a fact. But until that immortality pill gets invented, I don’t have much of a choice. So instead of letting my hate rule me I’m gonna fight the world with love.

All you need is love. Which reminds me of John Lennon. Who will forever be associated with my birthday.

Here we go again….