Unhappy Birthday: The Twelvth Day of Giftmas 2012

unhappybirthdayI apparently hate my birthday. I didn’t used to. Being a New Year’s baby was always a badge of pride for me. I never had work or school, people always remembered and “it’s always a party” I would say as often as I could stand myself hear it. My three best friends from high school would make it a point to come find me and bring in the New Year with the birthday boy.

But time marches on. The guys spread out around the country, the phone calls slowly decreased and the parties seemed more and more juvenile every year. But that’s not really the problem.

In addition to the already present anxiety of the calendar turning over, reminding us that the earth continues turning whether we’ve accomplished those goals or not, I also turn another year older. What used to be cause for celebration is now a dreadful reality that I have gotten old and that potential I had 19 years ago never materialized. Instead, it was wasted on convincing myself I was having fun and being too scared to pursue my dreams for fear of failure or more honestly, laziness.

I can’t watch Scrubs now without thinking of why I couldn’t have done something like that. I had that kind of talent, right? There were several non-family members who would have put legitimate money on me getting on Saturday Night Live. I find that I’m now trying to convince myself that I wasn’t that talented in order to justify the fact that I never tried. It makes my past decisions a little easier to swallow. And that’s probably one of the saddest parts of this entire process – that I have to pretend I was NOT as clever and funny as I thought I was in order to slow down the descent into depression.

I did something. I need to keep reminding myself of that. I did the standup thing when I was 32. Probably too late, yes. But I learned enough to discover some sleep aids. I could probably live my life a thousand more times, trying different ways out of the maze each time, and possibly never amount to what I wanted to be. I could get closer, sure. But I may have never reached the potential I thought I had. This helps a little. But once that calendar blows past Christmas and there’s nothing else written down for the rest of the year, it’s a very, very lonely week.

I think back to when I was at my best. And I’ve been good at certain things at certain times, but I mean as a person. When I liked myself the most. And that was college. I came into my own and found that I could be myself and have friends. I learned new things and I was good at most everything I tried. I hadn’t yet learned about sex so other things still mattered. I really liked myself then. And sure, we tend to romanticize the past, but it’s hard to argue about who I was then.

I’ve found myself driving by and walking around old hangouts recently. Parks where I used to play soccer, streets I used to walk down. Just to try to get that feeling back. Not to live in it, just to feel it for a few minutes.

And to answer the next obvious question – no, I don’t necessarily like the person I am now. I have lost touch with so many friends, I don’t do special things for people anymore and I’m stuck. I’m married now and just had a child. A child as wonderful and beautiful as her mother and everyone who has children and has met my daughter has assured me that she is indeed the best child ever. But thinking that her mere presence would reverse this downward spiral of self-reflection is a huge burden for her.

I knew I would grow up. I can no longer live that lifestyle I look back on with fondness, even before the wife and daughter. I have told my wife that she has made me the happiest I’ve been in my adult life. And that is true, but with an obvious caveat. The sad truth is that I’ll possibly never be as happy as I was when I was playing flag football by day and floor hockey at night, spending weekends overnight in the editing lab and playing spades, hearts and Magic until my 10am class on the weekdays. We can’t go back, Jack. We can’t. Nobody can. We just have to make this new reality the best we possibly can.

Like I said, I could go back to my 19th birthday, exactly half my life ago, and try a thousand different permutations of my life and still possibly wind up in this same relative position in every one. This is what I have to hang my hat on. Accepting that my baseline for happiness is lower and I likely couldn’t have done any better. I’ve tricked myself before and I can do it again. As long as I can get through this week every year. This damn, dreaded week with nothing on it.

But maybe I will. Maybe I will find enough happiness in being a father and husband. Maybe this writing thing will work out to a place that I can be happy about. Maybe if I start to make some more phone calls, I’ll start getting more phone calls. Maybe the sky isn’t falling. Maybe it’s just this fucking week. Shit, I bought a house and had a child this past year. Thanks, Jenn, for reminding me. As the doctor taught us, “unslumping yourself is not easily done.”

Nobody likes getting older. It’s just this rapid descent into nothing that scares the hell out of me. Once we get that new calendar up on the fridge, with all the new dates and possibilities, maybe then I’ll feel something. Hope. That’s what a blank calendar is. Hope. But I remember writing this same thing last year. And three years ago. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to write about something other than hope. Happy New Year.

A Rose is a Thorny, Offensive Rose: The Eleventh Day of Giftmas 2012

panamaIt has come to my attention that not everyone accepts the term “Giftmas” in the fun-loving manner in which I think it should be taken. In an effort not to start any holy wars merely for the sake of creative freedom, I will be changing the name of my recent three-year tradition of “The 12 Days of Giftmas” if I bother doing this again next year. But to what? Good question. Here are some thoughts.

The 12 Days of Festivus: Yes, it’s less offensive than transposing the word “Gift” for the word “Christ” in the already existing holiday, but it doesn’t have that assonance to it that gives the term an upper-level parody-type atmosphere. Instead, it just makes me look like more of a Seinfeld fan than I actually am. But I could change it easily to “The 7 Days of Festivus” since I’m going off the grid anyway, which would make my job almost twice as easy. Or even just “The 2 Days of Festivus” if I’m feeling particularly worthless next year.

The 12 Days of Quotemas: This is what it was originally called back when I first gave it a run in 2006. Of course, then I was writing “The Quote of the Day” and it is now no longer a quote of the day. So that would just be a salute to the history of what the blog used to be. Which is fine, seeing as how I like to live in the past, but also misleading to the two or three people that actually read it. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure that replacing the word “Christ” with “Quote” is not nearly as offensive to Christmas enthusiasts.

The 12 Days of Isthmus: This title may also be a little deceiving for what I’m trying to do. Or maybe I could just post pictures of the best narrow strips of land that connect two bigger land masses for the better part of two weeks. SPOILER ALERT: Panama is going to be in the Top 5.

The 12 Blogs of Christmas: Maybe I’ll embrace the fact that I actually celebrate Christmas next year. I’m sure at least one post will be a nod to how more than just Christians celebrate Christmas, but that’s what it is, so why fight it? Because it’s not funny, that’s why. Or maybe I’ll call it The 12 Blogs of Christmas*, complete with the asterisk. But that may offend some people too. Which brings me back to…

The 12 Days of Giftmas: It wasn’t meant to be offensive. I think most people still know that. The fact that I even aspire to do this for the limited readership in the very limited time I have is a personal goal I don’t need to burden myself with every year. But it’s something that helps me be creative that I enjoy doing, so what the hell?

The Kindness of Strangers: The Tenth Day of Giftmas

For the 10th Day of Giftmas, I’m going over to my other site, DaddyNeedsANap.com to tell the story of how I got my car towed from the streets of Baltimore as I was walking my daughter back to the car. SPOILER ALERT: I was not cool under pressure. Here’s a piece of it.

The Kindness of Strangers


“I can’t. I already have it hooked up to the truck.”

This is one of the most bullshit phrases that Americans still use today. Which is exactly what I was thinking as I was now sprinting the stroller with my very sleepy and hungry baby in it back to my wife’s slightly inclined car.

Not only did I learn back in kindergarten that what goes up must also come down, but the eyeball test would indicate that there currently weren’t any other cars on the back of the tow truck and common sense would dictate that they went somewhere and the most likely scenario is that they were put back down. So yes, jerkwad who has now seen the panicked look of a father with his infant child seeing his only way home from Baltimore being towed away, you CAN put the car back down. You just WON’T put it back down.

For the rest of the story, click this out!

Twas the Week Before Playoffs: The Ninth Day of Giftmas


Twas the week before Christmas and all through the league,
The playoffs were looming, the fans were intrigued.
The good teams were prepping their final two games
While Sanchez and Rex just took turns taking blame.

Seven teams can breathe now; they’re into the show,
Including the Ravens with three L’s in a row.
Joining Bill and his hoodie; Jim Harbaugh and his crap
While Andy Reid settles for a long winter nap.

When out in the East, came a new kind of song,
So I sprang to the standings to see what was wrong.
Miami was woeful; Buffalo too
And the Jets were still sucking so that wasn’t new.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the Skins and the Cowboys competing this year!
The NFC East is completely reversed
With these two avid losers competing for first.

The playoff sleigh still had room for five more.
Even the Rams still had their foot in the door.
So Roger Goodell, with his hand on the reigns,
Called his reindeer who had some familiar names.

“Now, Brady! Now, Peyton! Now Flacco and Eli!
On Ryan! On Kapernick. Wait, who the hell’s that guy?
Not you, Brees. Let go!” and with a turn of his head,
He left Brees in the cold, peeing on his sled.

For the rest, click over to SoMuchSports.com, the sports site where this was originally published.

“Honey, It’s Time”: The Eighth Day of Giftmas

Six months ago, my wife gave me the best gift I’ve ever gotten, and that includes the year I got two Back to the Future DVD Box Sets. Today, Mabel celebrated her 1/2 year birthday by contracting mommy’s fever and crying uncontrollably all day except for the hour we were at the doctor’s office. “I swear it was just making the noise on the way here. Try startin’ her up again, doc.” Apparently, a 102.5 fever is uncomfortable but it’s not the end of the world. 🙂

I was fortunate enough to gather together enough moments of clarity to write an 8-minute performance and got work-release to be able to perform it back in September. When you get a minute (actually, when you get 8 of them), check out “Honey, It’s Time” and live through the panicked fumblings of having to pack a go-bag in 25 seconds, manage an argument between Google Maps and Tomtom and witness the hospital staff perplexed by the most complicated cervix ever. I knew that last part would get you.

Dustin Fisher tells true story at SpeakeasyDC – September 2012 from SpeakeasyDC on Vimeo.