Birthday Bliss

Wednesday March 14th, 2012 – Rockford, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   If I had to pick only one birthday in the last 20 years that was my hands down favorite on many levels, today would have to be it. Absolutely everything went exactly the way it was supposed to today, and I’m grinning like a lottery winner as I recall it all. Days like today make life a party.
   It started with the weather. That’s not a big deal when it’s sunny and toasty, (which sounds like a morning radio team in Oshkosh or Kalamazoo) but growing up in Wisconsin I grew to get used to not knowing what kind of weather to expect on a March birthday. It could be anywhere from a miserable drizzle to a full blown blizzard, or any other weather word that features the double ‘z’.
   Rarely if ever were any of my childhood birthdays even a little sunny as I remember, much less the absolute perfection that was today. It felt like a cross between Hollywood and Honolulu, with a little bit of Miami Beach and Maui thrown in for effect. It was downright tropical, and couldn’t have been a nicer surprise. If this is what global warming is, I’m for it. Sorry for the polar bears.
   The weather was only the backdrop. I met Jim McHugh, Rick Young and Phil Gayter at 9am in Lake Forest, IL to begin the exciting journey of my King of Uranus character. Phil is an absolute whiz kid with a camera and editing, and Rick knows several business owners in Lake Forest. We did some recording of situations where I dressed up as the King character and it was a total blast.
   Rick arranged sessions at a sporting goods store and insurance agency, and the people involved were fantastic sports about playing along. I was dressed like the King, and dropped into everyday life situations to see what would happen. Some people were in on the joke, others weren’t. It was a total learning experience, and a necessary part of the process of developing the King’s persona.
   Lake Forest is the stomping ground of the filthy rich in Chicago, so it was especially hilarious to see the looks on some of the faces as they tried to figure out who or what was in front of them. I’m still trying to figure out who this character is, but this was a great way to experiment with it.
   After an entire morning of laughs and fun, Jim and I drove to Rockford to fill in as guest hosts on WNTA radio’s afternoon show from 3-5. That was another pleasant experience, and we got to play radio and hang out. The vibe was all positive and low pressure, how radio should always be.
   Then, my roommate and her son took me out for a delicious birthday dinner at Red Lobster and I laughed some more. That laid back perfect vibe was there too, and we had a funny waitress that added to the whole experience. Everything was clicking on all cylinders, and I just let it happen.
   My phone didn’t stop ringing all day with people wishing me a happy birthday, and I received text after text from others. My email count was right around 1000 of people who took the time to remember my birthday. 1000! Yes, some of them only said ‘happy birthday’ – but so many others took time to write a heartfelt personal note and it blew me away. I had no idea I meant anything to anyone, much less that many people. I was overcome with emotion, and it touched me deeply.
   A dented can’s dents can run extremely deep. I’ll admit I have a very difficult time with feeling any kind of acceptance or love from anyone. I just do. I have so many painful memories from my childhood that are still there, no matter how hard I try to get past them. My father’s mean spirited cutting words were devastating, as was my step mother’s laughter afterward. It was excruciating.
   I know I’m not the only one who experienced any of that ugliness, and that stinks. I don’t wish that on anyone, and I know there are countless others who have their own dents to deal with from childhood even though they’re fully grown adults. It may fade, but it NEVER fully goes away.
   That’s why I freely write about my life in every aspect. I hope it will help others deal with their deepest feelings and know they aren’t alone. I never thought I was the only one having problems, even though at times it can seem that way. There are those who had it way worse than I ever did.
   I never got sexually abused or locked in a cage for years or any of those horror stories we have all read and heard, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have issues. I wish I didn’t, and it’s getting a whole lot better, but certain soft spots and hot buttons are still there. Self esteem is one of them.
   Being mercilessly made fun of and told one is useless over and over again during the formative years has a lasting effect. I never fully believed it, but hearing it over and over sure has a way of rocking a kid’s psyche to the core. That’s when we’re the most impressionable, and hearing ugly negative things from those who we thought were supposed to love us really can cross our wires.
   I know it did for me, and it’s probably a major reason I was attracted to live performing. Those laughs and cheers are as close as I’ve gotten to love, and I never get sick of hearing them. I don’t know what I’d have become had I not been a performer, but ‘inmate’ is probably high on the list.
   Human beings are complex and delicate creatures, and we need love and nurturing throughout our formative years to know what it feels like to be able to pass it on to not only our children but humanity itself. How can we show others genuine love if we haven’t been shown it ourselves?
   This has been the basis of my inner anguish for as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt the right thing to do in life was love others, but I didn’t know what it was like to receive it and that’s what I’ve always wanted most. I thought it should come from a family, but I never had anything close to anything that fit my picture. It’s always been a struggle, and I’m fighting it even now.
   There were roughly 1000 people who took the time to wish me a happy birthday and many told me they were glad I was part of their lives or how much something I did meant to them. 1000! What an ecstatic feeling that is! I’m grateful for every single one, and I will answer each one of those emails personally if it takes me until my next birthday. They are all special to me.
   But, I can’t help but notice that my siblings couldn’t find thirty seconds to do the same. That’s a mystery I don’t think I’ll ever solve, but it’s not on me anymore. I said I was sorry and I meant it. I need to focus on 1000 people who like me – not 3 who don’t. That’s difficult for a dented can.

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