There is an old proverb: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The meaning, of course, is that lemons are naturally quite sour, and that lemonade is usually sweetened. Luckily, I tend to like my lemonade on the sour side anyway. These days, trendy restaurants are adding rosemary to their lemonade, which I personally like; but then again, I like Wendy (“hot and juicy”) and Little Debbie (“unwrap a smile!”)
Career con Carne, with Flaming Lemon Disappointment Sauce – History may be written by the victors, but not my employment history. My career path is more of a downward spiral, going from a job that required some skill and education to a job in retail, where being polite to rude people is priority one. After leaving the air force in 1982, I continued my electronics training at a two year vocational school. No. Not ITT Technical Institute. The Commodore 64 was the cutting edge in home computers, and companies like Texas Instruments and GTE were still hiring Americans. It only took one move too many across the country to end my technical career. While living in Auburn, Maine, I got a job at a new Michaels’ Arts & Crafts. I was hired as a custom picture framer, which included training. Out of all my various jobs, I think I enjoyed picture framing the most. I got to use my creativity and build a project from start to finish. There was satisfaction in that. By the time I left the Berkshires, I had been employed as a bookseller at The Bookloft in Great Barrington for about four years. I returned to Seattle and was employed by Third Place Books within a week of my return. I’ve been working in the bookstore business ever since. So, in other words, I’m still poor.
Lemon Marriage Pie – If one falls off a horse – as the old adage goes – they should get right back on. Similarly with riding bikes. When falling off, it’s always best to get right back on. Apparently, I also apply that same advice to marriages. When one fails, I just go out and marry another fish from the sea. (Sorry, Charlie) I married too young the first time. The second marriage involved sharing custody of my wonderful son at its demise. I couldn’t have asked for a bigger bucket of lemonade than having my son in my life.
After my second marriage, I said never again, but, like Sean Connery with James Bond, I learned to Never Say Never Again. I am almost five years into my third marriage to a wonderful woman, who will have the honor of being my third and last wife. (Dude! Never say never!) My own parents have been married forever! It’s somewhere over sixty years now. They have always seemed like best friends, and I rarely saw them fight. I think that was mainly because of my mom’s amazing self-control. Marriage is about commitment and promises. Insurance and mutual debts. Compromise and commiserating. In-jokes and staycations.
Upside Down Smile Cake with Dour Lemon Frosting – Before I even knew what to call it, I have suffered from depression. Thanks to my DNA and upbringing, I’m predisposed to be depressed. Shortly before turning thirty years old, I was arrested for drunk driving. It was a teachable moment, or rather a teachable night in jail. After my DWI debacle, I decided to seek counseling on my own. Those sessions with Dallas Alice (a pseudonym) resulted in my finding my birth mother. Shortly after that, my first wife and I moved to the west coast -- Olympia, Washington, to be specific. There ended marriage number one, but my depression stuck around like a bad best friend. I saw a counselor out here in Washington for quite a few years, but she moved back to Michigan. These days I take my anti-depressants, cry when necessary and spend a lot of time on my deck, stargazing and imbibing organic cannabis. Once in a while, I dip below the surface and flail about for a bit, but for the most part, I’m able to keep my head above water. I’ve never been the best swimmer in this big social ocean of ours. I’d rather find a spot in the dunes, and bury myself in a book. I try my best to channel my angst and frustration into my writing. Better art through suffering, I've always said.
Now, if you're lucky enough that life gives you grapes, well then make some friggin' wine!