The newest trend in car paint color is the “flat” color look….new cars have the non metallic paint, popular in grey and military green. It’s a unique look, in that it’s still very sharp, without being too flashy.
At 3pm this afternoon while driving home from Tropical Smoothie, I saw a 2023 Kia Sorrento with this flat grey color, and it gave me an analogy on how I envision my life going forward.
“If I were a paint, I’d prefer to be a flat grey, because I’m tired of being a bright orange-sparkly semi-gloss.“
Bright and glossy – this feels too showy and fake to me. Some people choose to be this way, and others have to do this as a form of survival. Living this way has been exhausting. As much as I love music, the last few years have felt very glossed over….as life was challenging, music was my outlet, my shield and my crutch. Sadly, I’ve lost the joy of performing, because I felt like I’ve been going through the motions out of necessity and survival.
I want to be “flat” for a while….no music (except a fundraiser type of gig), and finding my authentic self. As much as there are times that I think about performing, I can’t yet visualize myself doing it and feeling passionate and authentic about it. It definitely feels like having a broken leg and no crutches right now. It’s challenging, but I’ll learn to find my way and walk again.
And if all else fails, perhaps a can get a new car with the flat finish.
I decided to write again. I wanted to write again. Truth be told, I really needed to write again.
I’m currently sitting poolside at the indoor pool at the Fairfield Inn in Scranton Pennsylvania. In the barely 24 hours that I’ve been back in Scranton, I’ve found an incredibly unexpected reason for having such incredible gratitude.
I first moved to this area almost 28 years ago in September of 1994. During my time here, I had a number of negative experiences that far outweighed the positive ones, and I’d always thought of Northeast Pennsylvania as something that I’d survived and put into the rear view mirror.
About three weeks ago, I made a decision that no loving parent should have to make. My daughter Lauryn told a judge in Lancaster Pennsylvania that she’d rather live with and be adopted by her grandparents, as she would rather have their last name, and as she doesn’t want to be a part of my life. Although her decision was based on a number of untruths that she has been told for her entire life, this decision is what would make Lauryn incredibly happy right now, after many months of darkness since her mother passed away. Yes, I could appeal, but at this point an appeal would only cause more resentment from Lauryn, and that would only make the chance of a future reconciliation with her much more difficult.
For a number of years since moving to Virginia, I’ve felt that Lauryn was the only true success I’d had while living in Pennsylvania, and that there was absolutely nothing else positive to show for my 18 years that I’d lived here. After the judge’s recent decision, I felt like my entire life from 1994 – 2012 was a complete waste.
My original plan this weekend was to stay in the hotel and binge watch Netflix except for things that Jenn and I had planned. I’m very thankful that things did not go as scheduled….I ended up connecting with three former band mates from when I lived here, and we reminisced about how much fun we had back in the day. I also reconnected with Debra Costanzo, one of my lifelong best friends who I met and worked with here over 25 years ago. As I’m now almost 53, my perspective was surprisingly different after spending time with everyone last night. I felt very grateful to have had the opportunity to be reminded of a lot of positive and fun experiences that I never viewed as special. I’m realizing just how much these moments meant to the people around me, and I wish I’d been more aware of these moments all those years ago when they happened.
This morning I went to JCPENNEY at the Viewmont Mall, where I was a manager from 1994-1996. This was also the place of a lot of my failures, including the biggest one I had when from when I lived here. I reached out to one of my former JCP colleagues this morning, and we had a wonderful conversation. Sadly, she informed me that one of my mentor colleagues (with whom I used to share an office) passed away a few years back, so I’m also grieving this person’s passing this afternoon, but also feeling incredibly thankful that this person was such an incredible mentor to me. Today for the first time, I didn’t feel the normal shame I’d feel when I’d walk through the store in the past. It felt like a fresh start.
Although I don’t know what my future holds with Lauryn, I don’t feel like the failure I’ve been feeling like for the past few weeks. Where it’s been easy to go into the mindset of “I may never see Lauryn again” as a reminder of my perceived failures, I’ve felt a feeling of optimism today. I’m going to continue to try and communicate with her, even if the communication is not reciprocated. As Jenn and many others have said, I took the high road and put her needs above my own. There’s no failure in that. I can honestly say that I’m not sure I’d feel this way had I not come up here this weekend.
And by the way – I know a number of my friends are a little thrown by my “Günther Varnish” posts….that’s something that started when I lived up here and was gigging here and in NYC using that stage name. A lot of the humor is “inside joke”, but it’s something that became very fun and creative with some fellow musicians who are no longer on this earth, and it makes me think of them and of my time here in NEPA with some very fond and funny memories. The fact that some people thought that Lane Stowe was more of a fake stage name than Günther Varnish still makes me laugh all these years later.
To the wonderful friends and family I have here in Scranton and Northeast Pennsylvania…I offer a heartfelt THANK YOU….where I’ve often felt resentment for living here, I can now appreciate the life lessons I’ve learned here, and how my time here has helped me to become a better human being. For these things, I am most grateful. And I’m very glad that this place is nothing like the way it’s been portrayed on The Office!
A few weeks ago, I found an unopened letter that my mom wrote to me back in early 2011, when I was in the process of moving out of my house with Michal in Lancaster. I stuck it in a box while packing, and I totally forgot about it. Without going into great detail, my mom let me know that my dad in fact was aware of the “abuse” that happened to me, and that it embarrassed and ashamed him, like it was my fault. He was more concerned about his image than the fact that I was violated as an almost 9-year old kid. Finding this out now more than ripped off a Band-Aid….it means that the things that my dad did to punish me (including playing Lee and I against each other like a pit bull fight) wasn’t just intentional. It was devious, because he felt that we making him look bad because we weren’t meeting his expectations. At no point in my life have I ever wanted to disassociate myself from my dad than I have for these past few weeks.
As I’m writing this, I’m still awaiting word about if I will have full parental rights for my daughter. She stated that she prefers to live with my ex-in-laws (who also want to adopt her). She looks at me with the same disdain (albeit different circumstances) that I have for Larry Stowe.
I AM DONE FEELING LIKE A VICTIM.
The last 43 years have been based on feeling fear, insecurity, narcissism and self-loathing, and that will always be “Lane Stowe.” I became addicted to all of that. And now I know why. History repeated itself.
I had an older brother, Lawrence Arthur Stowe Jr. He was born in 1955, and he died in 1959 of pneumonia. He was also autistic. Even though we know much more about autism now than 1959, that’s still no reason to be ashamed and embarrassed about your child. My father was ashamed of Larry Jr., and put incredible pressure on my mom (and later me and Lee) to match his incredibly flawed expectations.
“Lane Stowe” was the result of all of that bullshit – struggling with racial identity, comparing himself with others and not feeling good enough, accepting abuse in ALL forms, and making TREMENDOUS mistakes because of all of these things combined. Three nervous breakdowns and a suicide attempt. Although I’m not changing the name of Lane ARTHUR Stowe for work/financial/legal purposes, as far as I’m concerned, LANE IS DEAD.
Mwenye Shoukari means “thankful” in Swahili. I’m thankful to still be here…I’m thankful to have found the courage to no longer be afraid. I’m not worried about what the judge decides, because Lauryn will always be my daughter. She deserves a better dad than what “Lane Stowe” could ever be.
This week is our six-year wedding anniversary. I know this is a big event to a lot of people, because it happened on The Today Show, and a lot of people love to hear the whole story. Believe me, I’m truly happy that it brought joy to so many people. In hindsight, I hate how “Lane” was that day. All of my insecurities were on the surface, and there was a whole lot of self-pressure to be “on” and everything going just right. I look forward to celebrating our anniversary, but just because it’s our anniversary, not because of all of that hype. Up until about six weeks ago, I’d be stressing about “oh, I hope I say and write the right things on social media” about our anniversary, and that was all rooted in the insecurity and validation. How incredibly fucked up is that?
This is why I choose to no longer be “Lane Stowe”. This isn’t a “change the name and you’re cured” situation. It’s gonna be a lot of work. There are a lot of changes that need to be made. You don’t go from living in the ego part of your brain to the spirit part of your brain overnight. (Yes Charli, I’m reading your book). The people who truly love me and are in my corner will understand and continue to be there. Those that don’t will easily identify themselves, and they’re not my worry anymore.
By the way, this is the last blog post. I went back and read all of the previous posts this weekend. Although there were some cool moments, there were also moments that are truly cringe worthy, and a lot of things that I wish were not written.
This name change (technically a nickname) isn’t a joke. In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced Muh-WHEN-yay Shook-RAH-nee. If it’s easier, I’ll happily go by “M”, “Hey You!” or “The Happy Person Formerly Known as Lane.” Nobody bats an eye when someone changes their name to become famous. I’m changing my name so that I can finally feel REAL. No more performing. No more being “on.” Feeling authentic. I’m done worrying about being the “acceptable Black man” as defined by Larry Stowe. I hope that making this kind of change will be embraced more than it will be mocked, but I’m also realistic. (Kemba – I PROMISE to add the missing name when the time is right. That’s just as important to me as well.)
My older sister legally changed her name from Sharleen Stowe to Ayofemi Folayan, which translates to “Beautiful Rainbow.” That’s what she was to me, as we only see the beauty of a rainbow for a short amount of time, and I only had her in my life for two years. My great niece and great nephew are named Mawiyah and MeJean. I’m doing this to honor them, my true heritage, and also for Larry Jr., who deserved a helluva lot more from our father.
The first step has been taken….I have absolutely no idea whatsoever of what’s gonna happen next. But there will be no fear or insecurity on this new part of the journey.
Never have I been so thankful to have a blog title without any CAPS.
Here’s the scary part….this blog tried to capitalize Urkel as a recognized name. Are you fucking kidding me?
The reason that I say HATE (and I know it’s a very strong word) is that for the majority of my life, I was him. He was me.
I’m struggling with waiting for a verdict for a process that was going to have a lasting impact on two families and their friends, and I’ve never wanted to be less like Carlton Urkel. Where’s the high pressure wash to get this off of me, once and for all?
Growing up, it was incredibly fucked up that our dad put all this pressure on us to be like a Huxtable, a “perceived as smart and safe representation of the Black teenager”, because being “too Black” was not acceptable. Making us feel the disdain for preferring Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Robin Harris over Bill Cosby.
Carlton Urkel has created such a divide in our society, to the point where he’s become almost time-capsule Top 10 worthy. And some of us drank that Kool-Aid down to the last drop. And karma has finally caught up.
Boy, did Cosby fuck us all up, right? How he banged the drum about how we as Black people should walk, talk and act. Damned if he wasn’t TV commercial, children’s show or occasional really-shitty movie. Man, I wish my dad has lived long enough to see THAT downfall.
The image showed its true buffoonery with these two. They gave people two code words to make fun of someone perceived to be Black on the outside, White on the inside, without having to use words like Oreo or “PseudoBlack.” You could have people laughing with you for being like Carlton or Urkel, even though many laughed at you behind your back (both Black and White) for being like them.
We now live in a country that is much more open and honest about our reasons for racial division, and that characterization needs to be put back in the box, never to be seen again. Like Roosevelt Franklin on Sesame Street. (Three guesses at who used his star power to make that muppet go away, because he didn’t speak and act a certain way.)
Depending on the verdict next week, there’s a part of me that’s going on permanent hiatus regardless of how it goes. It’s a part that was nothing but defensive, arrogant and narcissistic. (And yes, I see the fucking irony in that sentence. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, folks.) And damn if it’s not pretty cool to do it while truly leaving, but truly not going ANYWHERE at the same time.
7 more years. In 7 years, I’ll be 59 1/2, and I’m going to retire. I would love to say that I’ve had an illustrious career, but honestly I haven’t. My career has had some incredible highs (as well as some truly demoralizing lows), but it’s allowed me to pay my bills and learn some things along the way. There’s one thing I wish that I’d learned a lot earlier, and it’s answered a lot of questions about my struggles with Corporate America.
The first time I took the DISC personality test was in 2017…..boy, do I wish this had been available in 1990. I’m definitely the green “D” personality – direct, dominant, decisive and thinking about the big picture. It has helped me in terms of not fearing big moments, but it has also caused me some big mistakes (bucking authority, being very black & white about things).
My secondary color is C (yellow), which is perfectionist who expects the same of others. This has been a blessing and a curse as a musician, as I try to sing songs trying to sound as close to the original recording as possible, but in my head feel disappointed when the rest of the band does not.
My “green/yellow” personality has impacted my life in ways both unbelievable and disappointing. Sadly, it’s all now come to a head. I’m at a crossroads in my life, and it feels like I got here seven years too early.
I’m tired of being green, especially when I’m doing it for 40 hours every week. I’m tired of being yellow for the other 128 hours as well.
I can’t retire from my day gig….plus I truly like and respect the people that I work with…i know it’s not them, and that the issues are within. It’s the other things that I’m letting go.
As of June 18th at the conclusion of the Uptown Vocal Jazz gig, I am RETIRING from being a professional musician. Truth be told, I don’t like it anymore. I thought I’d take the rest of 2022 off and start fresh in 2023, but I don’t think I’ll feel differently at the beginning of the new year.
As I’m still awaiting a very important decision about my daughter (as of the time of writing this), I do know that my happiness has long suffered, and before 2023, I need to make some drastic changes, and that my happiness needs to come first and foremost, if I hope to be around for a while.
Here’s to seven years of good luck. Let’s hope the grass is greener.
Otto and I have our morning ritual – sometimes it starts at 6:30 am, and I’m not a fan of when it starts at 4am. We do our morning stroll, so that Otto can stretch and do his business, and we get some fresh air and exercise.
Some days this goes very smoothly, and other days not so much. For example, on trash day, Otto is like a four year old in a candy store….he has to sniff around each and every trash can, so a 30-minute walk becomes a 90-minute walk. I’ve also noticed that Otto figured out a new way to mess with me…..he purposely walks on the opposite side of the hand holding the leash, forcing me to constantly switch hands, or spin around like a top!
I’ve noticed that I’ve started coming up with nicknames for Otto when he starts to annoy me sometimes during our walks – I never call him a name with any curse words, but some of the names that have popped in my head have made me laugh out loud, much to the amusement of my neighbors! Otto has his “psych out” move, and it’s the one he does when it’s either raining (like this morning) or it’s frigidly cold. He’ll sniff around and almost get in his squatting position, and then he’ll just change his mind….he did this in the pouring rain this morning, and I loudly said to him “Hey! Today, Little Lord Fauntleroy!!” Little Lord Fauntleroy?? I usually say “Your Highness” or “Skipper” or “Sparky”….perhaps “Prince Valiant” could be a new one?
As Great Pyranees dogs are instinctively protective, Otto will bark at anything or anyone that he perceives to be a threat. Sadly, this also includes squirrels that dart down the trees at 6:30 am, much to the chagrin of the neighborhood. Yet I keep thinking that when I say “Pipe down!” to Otto when he goes into his barking rant, he’ll instantly stop because I said so…..as if!!
It’s very easy to see which dogs are well trained in their morning routine compared to the dogs who are not. The owners faces usually say it all. After being outside for well over an hour this morning waiting for Otto to take care of his business, I came across two other owners out with their dogs who had been out there just as long (or longer) than I was. As we all stood there soaking wet, our three dogs tangled up in each other’s leashes, none of them ready to go inside, I looked at the other two guys who were also soaked through the skin, and we just started laughing. I think we all knew that this was one of those moments that comes with the territory.
To dog owners and dog walkers everywhere, I salute you. We love our pets, and we cherish just about every moment that we have with them. Through sleet, rain, cold or snow, we will always have our morning walks.
On my 8th birthday on August 15th, 1977 (the same day my friend and fellow musician Jenna Marotta was born!), my mom gave me the Chuck Mangione “Feels So Good” album that truly helped set a path for me. Call it divine intervention or whatever you want to call it. I started playing trumpet in 3rd Grade Band, and I had this incredible “rock star flugelhorn player” as a role model.
His next album “Children of Sanchez” starts with these incredible lyrics sung by Don Potter:
“Without dreams of hope and pride, a man will die/though his flesh still moves, his heart sleeps in the grave/without land, a man never dreams cause he’s not free/ all men need a place to live with dignity.”
Powerful words….I did not appreciate those words in 1978 the way I do now in 2022. And I had no idea of just how much I appreciated them until a few days ago.
On February 12, 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed in the suburbs of Buffalo New York. Two of the members of Chuck Mangione’s band, guitarist Coleman Mallett and saxophonist Gerry Niewood perished on that flight, as they were on their way to perform with Chuck in Buffalo. As I had the pleasure to have met Coleman, and Gerry was a very good friend and colleague of my professor Steve Brown at Ithaca College, this tragedy hit me very hard on a personal level, and I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and sorrow that Mr. Mangione felt and still feels to this day.
Steve told me a couple of years ago that Chuck Mangione hasn’t picked up his flugelhorn since the accident. In my selfish mind, I thought how could he not? Here’s a man who has sold out concerts around the world, and how great would it be for him to honor the memory of these two incredible musicians. Then I had my moment of clarity last week.
We all have traumatic events in our lives, and others may not understand how deeply we are wounded. I was triggered by an event last week, and it felt like somebody ripped out my emotional stitches. In the past, I’ve been told to “get over it” and “that’s how this person is” regarding this issue, and the reactions/responses I’ve received were from the perspective of how my feelings were inconvenient to others because of the pain this person caused me. I’ve had the exact same feeling about one of my musical heroes who stopped playing music, and that he should just “get over it.” I’m very ashamed to say that out loud, because I have nothing but the utmost respect for Chuck Mangione, and this was a full circle moment that has put things into a much clearer perspective for me.
Chuck Mangione has found a new path. He’s a doting father and grandfather, and he was recently seen at Ithaca College cheering on his great niece, who plays for the Ithaca Womens basketball team. He’s done what I still struggle to do – he found a way to move forward, regardless of what the people (or fans) hope or think he should do. It’s time for me to do the same – my trauma comes from being racially offended by both White people and Black people (“White wannabe”, “sellout” “you just like White women”, “Carlton”, and the list goes on and on.) There are many times when I wish I could just yell “FUCK YOU!!” at the people who ‘jokingly’ say this to me (and I’m sure behind my back)…I had one friend say that I “ran away” from Pennsylvania, because I decided to leave an emotionally abusive marriage, that I didn’t want my daughter growing up thinking was the norm. Although I’ve turned the other cheek, I still feel the pain from that comment.
I struggle in dealing with trauma. I’m thankful that I do have genuine friends that tell me not to worry about the opinions of others and to not let others control my happiness. My whole life I’ve allowed people to do that, from my dad who was very image conscious, to my ex girlfriends and ex-wife, to many of the people who I’m surrounded by now. When I see how content Chuck Mangione is with his life now, that is the goal that I continue to strive towards.
I’m not sure what my future holds….it’s time to do the things I know I need to do to feel better and be happy, even if it’s not what ANYBODY expects. (Paging Clinton Tuckerman!! 😎)
And to Chuck Mangione, I especially want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your music has been a very important part of my life, and it has always been a part of my path. I totally understand and respect why you put the horn down and found a new path. I think it’s time for me to do the same for a while, if not permanently. I can no longer worry about everyone else’s expectations over my own happiness. Period.
My flesh will continue to move, and my heart will stop sleeping in the grave.
I signed up to play flag football in Fairfax, starting on Monday nights in mid-March. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to play a game of pickup “two-hand touch/stop tackle” football (or what’s known these days as the NFL Pro Bowl), and for the first time in 31 years, I’m finally fulfilling my dream.
My love of playing football goes back to my grade school days, throwing the football with my brother Lee in the front yard….I was his John Stallworth to his Terry Bradshaw. (The Giants were truly awful back then, so Joe Pisarcik to Earnest Gray just didn’t have the same inspiration.) I vividly remember the summer of 1980, running across the yard to catch a deep pass, totally forgetting about the Japanese Beetle trap my dad had put in the yard. BAM!! I hit that thing at full speed, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t catch that ball, bloody nose and all!
Because the son of my mom’s best friend died from a ruptured spleen playing JV football, my parents were totally against my brother and I even thinking of playing football. The “jocks” who played football at our high school made fun of us, because we were just “music geeks”…these same football players almost set a New York State high school football record – for INEPTITUDE. Over the course of two seasons, the team scored a total of SIX points (one touchdown, missed extra point). In 1983, the team went 0-8 with eight shutouts, and in 1984, they went 0-8, one aforementioned touchdown, one forfeit…..who says there’s no crying in football? At least I learned how to play “Taps” very well while in the marching band.
I used to love playing football games with my friends in the neighborhood. Our friend Bill Hughes had the perfect Yard for games, and we even put up a rope between two trees one time so that we could kick extra points and field goals. If we didn’t play at Bill’s house, we played at Shokan Park. The best games were the snow games. During my junior year of high school (Winter ‘85-‘86) we had some of the BEST games. We had one game at Bill’s house where Mark McNulty threw me a TD pass, and then I ended up getting covered by all the snow on the shrubs by the garage when I fell into them, and one game at Shokan Park in about 8” of snow where we could barely run because the snow was so deep, and we could barely see, because of the snow blowing in our faces! The best game (which for me became the worst game) was the game I played in my front yard. We had early dismissal from school because of a snowstorm, and we still had about 6” of snow on the ground. Remembering the treacherous footing from the game at Shokan Park, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to use my dad’s snowblower to “clear the field”….the ground was still frozen, but between the snowblower and the game, the grass took a beating. I still can hear my dad stomping up the steps to my room saying “Goddammit!! What the hell did you do to the yard???” Good times!
In college, I met a lot of fellow music majors who shared my love of playing touch football. On any given school day or weekend, you’d see a game of football being played on the quad within the Terrace dorms at Ithaca College. I remember playing with my friends Rob Wrate, Rod Wascisko, my brother Lee, my brother-from-another-mother Rob Collins, my roommate Chuck Wilson, and many other friends from my classes and ensembles. Whether sun, rain (mud!) sleet or snow, there were football games to be played. The last game (one of my all-time favorites) was when the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity was challenged to a game by the Delta Phi Zeta sorority (and their boyfriends), because they were seriously convinced that they could beat a “bunch of wimpy music majors.” This was two weeks before I graduated in December of 1990. Even though Chuck (my roommate at the time) and I weren’t in Phi Mu Alpha, we were more than glad to help our fellow music majors, and we showed NO MERCY. As Chuck and I were addicted to Tecmo Bowl, we created a playbook (ok, we photocopied the plays from the video box playbook instructions), and we took this very seriously. We didn’t care that these frat guys and sorority girls were hungover and obnoxious. All I remember is that I lost count of the score, and that Chuck and I had a blast!
So here I am, 52 1/2 years old, getting ready to do something I love, but that I haven’t done in years…am I concerned about my body not being as spry as it used to be? Absolutely! I signed up for the co-ed beginner league, which is strictly for fun and not competitive league play. Do I expect to go out there and score a lot of touchdowns? Nope, not at all. Am I gonna rock my new Nike Vapor cleats, my Neumann receiver gloves and my Deion “Primetime” Sanders do-rag, listening to Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit” to get psyched up for the game? HELL YEAH! I just want to have fun, get back into shape, and make some new friends. The friendships are what I remember more than anything else from back in the day.
February 15th….it’s always a unique and bittersweet day. It’s my half birthday (yes, I still recognize it at age 52 1/2), but it’s also a day of mourning, as it’s the day one of my closest friends passed away.
This year my half-birthday had more significant meaning, as I have decided that on February 15, 2029 (or soon after), I plan to retire at age 59 1/2. At that time (or possibly before), I hope to move (or snowbird) to the Gulf Coast of Florida. As I’ve grown to hate cold, snowy winters, I want to enjoy the warm temperatures and the sunsets on the Gulf, even if it means splitting time between Virginia and Florida.
I’ve spent my whole life as an outgoing Type A personality. As I continue to get older, I enjoy this less and less. Where the pandemic has been hard on people because of the loss of face-to-face interaction, I’m finding more peace by not having to be “on” for the entertainment or expectations of others. That’s why I put my energy and creativity into sharing Otto with everyone, instead of posting about myself….I know how much joy he’s brought into our home and our lives, and I’m glad that I can share that with others, as it’s about him, not about me. He lives a simple happy life – playing with his friends at the dog park or at daycare, chillin at home or in the car, or just taking walks through the neighborhood. There’s something to be said for stopping and sniffing the roses (or fire hydrants, or whatever Otto comes across).
Eleven years ago, one of my best friends died unexpectedly. Nine months ago, my ex-wife and the mother of my child died very unexpectedly. Neither of them got to watch their children grow up, see them get married and start families of their own. That’s heartbreaking. They were both “on-the-go” people that had to be “on” to do their jobs, and for all their incredibly hard work, they didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of their labor in the way that they deserved.
We all live on borrowed time…I’m thankful that I’ve had so many tremendous opportunities in my life….I had my 15 minutes of fame, I achieved most of the goals that I had for myself, and I’ve made some wonderful lifelong friends along the way. I’ve also made many big mistakes (both personal and professional) for which I carried shame for a very long time, but that I’ve made peace with and that I’ve learned from. All of these things occurred as a result of my Type A personality. It served its purpose, and with each passing day, I try to move away from it more and more.
When I moved from New York to Pennsylvania, it was because of my job. When I moved around Pennsylvania, it was because of relationships, and I again moved because these relationships ended. The only time I felt like I happily and actively moved for myself was when I moved to Virginia. I’ve experienced things here that I could only dream of (including simple but rewarding things, like having the MLK Memorial all to myself one night), and my 10th anniversary of living here will be in two months. I know in my heart that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in this hustle and bustle, materialistic image-conscious environment known as the District of Columbia, and that I want to enjoy a more serene life like I had as a child, but with much better weather year-round than the weather of the Catskills.
I know that a lot of my friends were taken aback when they found out about my “clothing optional” lifestyle. I expected the jokes and the shock that followed, but it showed me that I can handle it, and that I no longer care about what people expect of me. I know how peaceful that experience is for me, and that I don’t have to care or worry about being “on” for anyone else. I want to embrace that feeling of peace and quiet more and more as I get older.
I’ve also decided that this will be my last year on social media. Although it has given us all an avenue of communication, I’ve seen more damage on social media than good as a result. One of my lifelong friends posted a condescending and degrading comment about people who are vaccinated. I copied and pasted this post into a Word document, and changed the word “vaccinated” to “minorities”….even though these are two very different groups, the hatred when I read it with the change of one simple word was both disturbing and disgusting. I now find myself questioning my friendship with this person, and how I could be so blind to not see this part of their personality for all of these years. It’s been 14 years of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and all of these other platforms, and yes, they are addicting. It will be a challenge, but I need to ween myself away from these to achieve the life I want to live.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t dream about what I hope my retired life will be like…if my life was a book, Chapter 1 would’ve been my life through college, and Chapter 2 would be my professional career. I’d love for Chapter 3 to include a very simple life – enjoying friendships, not having to feel obligated to meet anyone else’s expectations for my career, and maybe having a condo in Cape Coral and a bulldog named Spartacus (I could call him Sparky!), as after Otto, I can’t imagine not having the happiness of another happy pooch…I have no desire to compete and compare anymore…Otto has helped me to realize that in putting my needs aside for his….when he needs to go out at 4am, it doesn’t matter how well I sing, or how well I put a presentation together.
Life is short….as we were younger, it was all about A’s….grades, success, personalities and recognition. I wanna be Type F (or in this case, Type FL for Florida), being the person I dream about being, even if nobody else can see that….nobody else’s opinion matters, and I sure as hell would like to enjoy a few Gulf sunsets before the end of my “book.”