Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Birthday Plans

I came into the office to find a HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner hanging from a wall in my cubicle and a chocolate cupcake that read Happy Birthday on my desk. It was tempting to eat it as a second breakfast but my self-control is holding strong as it sits off to the side of my paperwork still.

My birthday is actually tomorrow, but Jon and I are escaping our jobs for the remainder of the week to celebrate, take a couple of mental health days, and to take a trip to Pittsburgh.

You see, I have a little obsession with IKEA, I love the place, but the closest store is 90 miles away in good ole Pennsylvania, so any trip there becomes an all day long hoopla.

I also like the city itself. Of course, three years ago today I caught my first glimpse of a homeless man sleeping in a doorway on 5th Avenue. Not a momentous occasion, but it was at that moment I realized what a sheltered life I had lived. Seeing this man curled up into the fetal position with his dirty pillow and ratty sleeping bag was much different from walking by the man who plays a saxophone on the corner of E 9th Street and Carnegie Avenue, in downtown Cleveland, with his trunk lying open, begging for change. I always had my illusions of the saxophone player collecting his change and belongings, and catching the next RTA bus to East Cleveland where he would sit down to dinner with his family and tell his wife of all the pretentious, spoiled people who couldn't spare him a glance tonight.

My first reaction to the man sleeping in Pittsburgh was turning to Jon and asking, "People actually live like that? It's not just in movies and New York City?" Sad. I know. But that day I learned to stop looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, and I noticed that evidence of homelessness was all over the place, even in Akron, if I just opened my eyes to it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the rest of this week, as I am lucky to have a job, and fortunate to be able to take paid vacation. I'm also lucky to have this chocolate birthday cupcake that I can eat in 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 38 seconds.

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