“Has anyone ever told you that you look just like that Miles guy from Sideways?” We’re in the Buena Vista tasting room, the first stop of the day on our Saturday wine tour, and Fran, the ex-military hottie from Utah, is thinking she is giving me a complement.

 

This on the heals of “Hell Friday” where I discovered that after two months of phone calls, forms and frustration I do not qualify for a 12K teacher forgiveness of my student loans because I had a student loan balance in 1998 when the program began (one unfortunate reality of being a lifelong learner is that sometimes it can be expensive). Plus, I discovered I was not hired to do the summer teaching job with a local non-profit even though I helped create the curriculum and have been teaching it for years.

 

And now I’m being compared to Paul mother effin Giamotti!?! I guess she could have said Chris Farley or William H. Macy but come on… Miles, from Sideways! As if.

 

I let it go and we have an outstanding day of wine touring (Fran and I eventually laugh about the comment which she continued to explain was not meant in an offensive way- maybe I’m just too damn sensitive). I use the experience as an incentive to commit to losing 20 pounds before summer (no bread, ride my bike, wear tighter T-shirts). And all is well.

 

Today is my birthday, 52 years of living on this magical ball and the one and only thing I am worried about is time. Or rather when mine will end. Cause it will, no one gets out of this place alive, you, me, Paul Giamatti, in 100 years, we’ll all be gone. I am at that stage in life where friends start getting cancer, having heart attacks, and dropping away (moving, changing, getting tired of my shenanigans, the reasons are many).

 

That part sucks but the great thing about this stage of life is that when I take stock of the big picture, it looks pretty good. Someone to love, beautiful friends (and a few ugly ones), and an imprint on the world that makes it easy to get out of bed in the morning. I’m not a famous novelist, never played at Wimbledon, and didn’t marry the prom queen (actually saw the prom queen a few years ago and I’m really happy we’re not married), but so what?

 

“Every day above ground is a good day.”

 

Life is short and we’re really not going to accomplish all the stuff that we set out to do but if we prioritize correctly, live well and accomplish some of the stuff we set out to do, it can be enough. We don’t talk about death enough but we should, it would make us appreciate life a little bit more.

 

I said the eulogies for both my parents and just finished a friend’s memoir before she passed. There is a common message throughout which is that you can live forever in what you say and do in your life. We get out what we put in but we have created a society that prioritizes working for the sake of being rewarded, not reaping the rewards of the journey. Work hard today so that you can retire later. Make lots of money; buy lots of things, so that you can….what?!? Become a flaming shit bag on the doorstep of America? http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2016/12/02/flaming-sht-bags/ Hope not.

 

The world needs you now, active, paying attention, learning, participating. Sure, take a couple of hours to recharge the batteries, rest and decompress but then check back in because too many of us are checking out.

 

“Smartphones can make us dumb people.”

 

Have you seen the commercial where Mark Wallburg talks about how we need to rethink TV as now being all around us? That scares me. I like living in a real world, not a virtual one. One filled with beauty and danger and joy and sorrow and all the ups and downs that life brings. I like to talk about death and learn from my mistakes and ask why I didn’t get the summer job (the hiring panel was “blown away” by the lesson presented by another candidate-oh well, move on).

 

It’s a messy, complex, and wonderful life. One that should be celebrated and appreciated and lived as fully as possible. We should all heed the words of the good doctor, Hunter S. Thompson,

 

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Every day is your birthday.