Irreplaceable Me

I never fooled myself into believing that I was indispensable, but did I have to prove it so often to the world at large?

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There is a phrase one hears in recovery circles: “Pulling a geographic.” While sharing their stories about the past and the inebriated life, many addicts and alcoholics learn that they have done similar things, like move across the country because they thought that a change would do them good.

One of the things that many of us did, many times, when we were trying to exert control over life was run from it. Move. Sometimes across town and sometimes cross-country. There was nothing so bad it couldn’t be fixed without filling out a change-of-address card.
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Pass the Test

I encountered a phrase a few years ago that I think should be used more commonly. Where I saw it, though, I do not remember. It appeared to be a typo, but if it was written like this on purpose, it looked like an artful accident. The writer described a learning experience as a “learning curb.” A great word pair.

I wish I could claim credit for this one, but I can not. I wish I could credit this writer—but does he or she know that there were was this epic phrase in their post? As I said, it looked like an accident, a typo. In the context it looked like they thought they had typed “learning curve.”

Many of my learning experiences did not have gently sloping learning curves or even steep learning curves; indeed, many were “learning curbs,” on which I banged my forward progress to a sudden stop or flipped my (metaphorical) vehicle.
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Today in History: September 19

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
—John Keats, the final stanza of “To Autumn”

John Keats composed “To Autumn,” one of his masterpieces, on this date in 1819.

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It is the birthday of singer/songwriter/actor/friend of Kermit the Frog/President of ASCAP/recovery advocate Paul Williams today. He is a personal hero of mine.

Whatever one may call a 76-year-old who is still winning awards for new music, is an advocate for recovery, and also testifies before Congress on behalf of song creators, you may as well call that “Paul Williams” from now on, because that is still his day-to-day life.

Further, Mr. Williams appears to have set for himself a personal goal of speaking with (in-person or online) every human being he possibly can meet. That is the only way I can explain him saying kind things to me on my Instagram account via his Instagram account.

I am as awkward around famous people as I am around people people. Even the clunkiness of that sentence captures my general social clunkiness.

It is entirely likely that anyone within reading distance of this blog has met more famous people (and more-famous people) than I have. A well-balanced person treats the waiter like a prince and talks with royalty like they’re the next-door neighbors; I am well-balanced, but not in a good way: famous, infamous, or unknown, I usually treat everyone like he or she is a teacher who has announced a pop quiz that I have not studied for.

Social media has made it easier for people to have certain kinds of encounters with the famous among us; many celebrities and politicians personally run their online fan clubs. Many do not. This has not made these encounters any less attention-grabbing for me when they do happen. (Three of my all-time favorite writers followed my Twitter account, two of them within a week of each other; I was a six-foot-tall cliché of self-importance that week. Two of them have since “unfollowed” me. I was a six-foot-tall cliché of crushed.)

If you have not seen Stephen Kessler’s excellent documentary Paul Williams Still Alive from 2012, you ought to. It is still on Netflix. The trailer (after the jump):
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