40 for 40 #8: Blondie

Vintage Electric Guitar

The first time I almost met Debbie Harry I was 26 years old. I was staying in the Grace Jones room at the Chelsea Star Hotel and it was one year after Joey Ramone died. She was to be at a posthumous birthday party for him, and I was to be there with a certain friend.

After traipsing around the city all day, participating in both planned and spontaneous activities, I returned to my room to wait for my friend to call. She had been at a picnic all day and that was the plan.

I waited and waited and waited until I finally fell asleep. At about 3 a.m. the phone woke me up. A friend of my friend called to tell me that she fell asleep a few hours ago. Both parties were over, and I foolishly chose to wait and rely on someone else rather than do what I wanted to do.

Blondie has visited the Lehigh Valley many times over the years. And, even though they are one of my favorite bands, and I feel a connection to many of their songs unmatched by other artists, I have never gone to see them. Until this year.

The Friday before my 40th birthday, I saw Blondie perform at a local venue. And it was fantastic on many levels.

Rapture. At last.

40 for 40 #7: Collecting Mud On My Boots

You might think that I have given up on my quest to do 40 fun things in celebration of my 40th birthday. I have not; indeed, I have been so busy doing things that I have not yet had time to sit down and write about them!


Last year, I expanded my horseback riding horizons by riding in Virginia. It was not only an expansion of my horizons because I had never ridden outside of Pennsylvania, but because it was an adventure ride on steep mountain trails after which I was in so much pain that I had to use my arms pull myself up from a seated position for about a week afterwards.

This year, I decided to ride in two additional states, Tennessee and Kentucky, thus completing my tour of the core horse states. I rode a mule in Tennessee and a spotted draft horse in Kentucky, thus producing two bonus new experiences — riding a mule and a draft horse.

I travel with my paddock boots when I anticipate riding while away from home. I have not cleaned the boots on purpose, because I love the idea that they contain fragments of dirt from all of the places I have ridden. Looking at my boots, I am reminded of the lovely horses who so patiently allowed me to ride them, and of the beautiful moments created by our time together.

Choices and Consequences

When watching CBS Sunday Morning on, when else, a Sunday morning, I learned that more video is uploaded to YouTube every minute than I could possibly watch in a day. I can’t imagine the luxury of time it would require to even sift through all of the content on the site, let alone the Internet. I only use either when I am looking for something very specific, and something that will, at least in my feeble mind, add value to my life. But apparently some people have the time to watch other people play video games. Wow. I wish I had time to play video games (not really).

I have been sick and laying about the past few days, and taking full advantage of having recently purchased a Roku device. There are so many things — good and interesting movies and shows — that I would like to watch, and I know I will never have enough time in my life to see them all. It brings to mind a conversation I had with a TV-obsessed friend at the age of 24, a time during which I refused to have TV in my home. “I really learn a lot from television.” So true. The guilt I might have felt at that time in my life has vanished; it really is OK to spend time, some time, watching television.

But then there are so many other things I would like to do, like travel and plant gardens and write books and sip tea on rainy days. And then there are all of the things that I need to do. Laundry. Bills. Home maintenance. How does one fit it all in?

It’s impossible. And the finitude of time is slapping me across the face as I look forward to my 40th birthday in a few months. It saddens me that I will never have enough time to completely pursue all of my varied interests. The older I get, the more this realization intrudes upon my ability to live in the moment. Some planning is needed, lest I miss out on the most important things. Like season two of Happy Valley.

So there comes the regret, the guilt. Looking back on my life, I have wasted so much time. So much time, it’s unbelievable. Doing things that did not bring me joy, that depleted me, that robbed my soul of its warmth and effervescence.

Ideally, I would like to work toward a reconciliation of presence and planning — both intellectually and in practice. It is said that life is about choices. But it’s not just the big choices, like where we go to college and purchase a home. It’s also the little things in life that have big consequences, like which TV program to choose next.