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Friday, March 11, 2011

The Earth-Shaking Events of March

As a former substitute teacher, I always have plenty to say about most everything, but even I was surprised at all the vital events associated with this very special month. For example, who knew National Noodle Month and National Craft Month coincided with National Frozen Food Month? They do! Really. Perhaps you were already aware of that, but being the devilishly curious sort I am, I needed to know if more earth-shattering events lined up in March like a rare alignment of planets!

I frantically Googled…and then looked up wide-eyed from the vivid colors on my computer screen, gazing across the peaceful snow-covered limestone formations out my back window and over the serenity of the lake beyond. My mouth dropped agape in near shock. There are more, many more, and I was awed by the plethora of incredibly important March events that scrolled up on my screen!

Just considering the critically important individual days of March nearly made me swoon. Did you know that March 1st is National Pig Day? I suspect not! It’s simply amazing that most people completely ignore it, as well as National Pound Cake Day on the 4th; Multiple Personality Day on the 5th; Barbie’s birthday on March 9th; Buzzard Day on March 13th, an important carry-over from the Great Hinkley Varmint Hunt of December 24, 1818, that has unfairly taken a backseat to the beginning of daylight savings time; Potato Chip day on the 14th; Submarine Day and the birthday of the rubber band on March 17th, both of which have somehow been overshadowed by St. Patrick’s Day; Sparky the Fire Dog’s birthday on the 18th, again unfairly overcome by Johnny Appleseed Day; National Teenagers Day on the 21st, which, let’s be real, no one celebrates except with a headache; National Goof Off Day on the 22nd, which everyone seems to celebrate every day; National Toast day on the 22nd, which is generally eclipsed by National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day on the 24th; Something on a Stick Day on the 28th (really); and let’s not forget, Tater Day on the 31st.

Why, the opportunities to party down simply boggle the mind. However, beyond these vital important days of note, and ignoring that the second week of March coincides with both National Bubble Gum Week and National Crochet Week, I was shaken to the core to realize that today, March 9, 2011, is…National Panic Day! Trust me, I would not kid you about something so serious. On this day, everything you know—everything I know—could simply disappear. Poof, it’s all gone! You must restrain yourself in light of this new knowledge, and try not to press the panic button until the day is over. But then, if the day reaches a peaceful conclusion, you might not need to press the panic button at all. Not knowing what could happen, here are some suggestions to help you through the day:

a. The fetal position. Try it. It’s very comforting, especially when properly robed in a ‘Snuggie’ and accompanied by new age music and aroma therapy. By the way, did you know that new age music played backwards sounds like new age music?

b. Use a pillow. Fold one over your face and scream into it, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!’ To be most effective, you must scream at least ten times or until your voice fades, whichever comes last, but don’t hold the pillow over your face while breathing—only while screaming.

c. Watch violent movies. I recommend the Steven Segal series because the sound of other people’s bones breaking can be quite comforting, especially if you are in the midst of a nasty divorce.

d. Blitzed. This is a good state to be in if everything goes “POOF!”

e. Adopt a cat. Cat ownership will make you feel so insignificant you won’t care if it all ends.

f. Pierce your eyebrows. It will make you even less relevant than owning a cat. Two piercings and people won’t even know you’re in the room.

g. Deep breathing in a paper bag helps in most all panic situations, if you can find one. Plastic bags aren’t recommended.

h. Finally, better living through chemistry. Try Prozac.

March is also well-known for both people and events. Who can forget the astrologer who warned Caesar to be on guard on March 15th, 44 BC? Caesar greeted him smugly on the way to the Senate, feeling quite self-assured that dire forecasts of bodily harm were completely off base, ‘The Ides of March has come’, and the seer responded with sadness, ‘Aye, Caesar, but not gone.’ Yes, March is truly a noble month, where pleasantries are exchanges in all circumstances.

Of course, ‘Near Miss Day’ is a day that simply can’t be missed. The day is so named because 4581 Asclepius, a small asteroid of the Apollo group, passed within 680,000 km of Earth on March 22, 1989. Unfamiliar with it’s name? You might remember it by it’s alternate designation, “B 1989 FC Category Apollo asteroid Orbital elements C Epoch November 26, 2005 JD 2453700. 5 Eccentricity”. Asclepius is named after the Greek demigod of medicine and healing, not for its potential for destruction, but it received special note because it passed through the exact position of Earth only six hours earlier, a close call on the cosmic scale of things. A tiny deviation in orbital mechanics, and Asclepius would have punched our lights out, releasing energy equivalent to a 600 megaton atomic bomb, which itself is the equivalent of one Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb detonating every second for 50 days. Clearly, ‘Near Miss Day’ is a day to be celebrated with the whole family.

And let’s not forget my personal favorite, the vernal equinox, or as my people call it, Ostara—the day of equal darkness, ‘equinox’ literally meaning “equal night”. That event occurs between March 19 and March 21, and starts the clock for Easter, which falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. As I indicated in my book, The Substitute, Lucifer still claims he got a bad wrap for that one, but Lilith settled that score once and for all!

Oh, pardon, I digress. The Vernal Equinox sets the date for Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday as I always called it when Mrs. Wansworth was present. Mardi Gras was a personal party time favorite of mine when I lived, and it was extremely reliable, always being exactly forty-six days before Easter. But the Vernal Equinox has been around much longer than Easter. In fact, since the Earth began turning. Even early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on that day.

The Vernal Equinox is also the day when Wiccans and Neopagans gather in a circle around a fire to celebrate, some ‘star clad’, which is a fun topic in itself. When a bell rings thrice, a parchment is passed from person to person. Each writes what they want most, thus affirming their heart’s desire and helping them to attain it. The leader then takes the parchment to the altar and lights it, allowing the ashes to fall into a soil-lined bowl before mixing the ashes and soil with a special knife. The participants dance around the circle, hugging and kissing each other in a time of merriment, drinking and feasting. Ah, yes, fond memories celebrating fertility, a topic I can go on and on about, but my time is up.

It’s been most extraordinary being with you today, but before I go I’d like to push my book, The Substitute. I, Miss Havana, am the star of that novel, but my public persona is far from the truth because, in my capacity as substitute teacher, the small community where I lived knew me as the breathtakingly beautiful young woman who demanded every student learn (the fools), but in my private life, ostensibly caring for aging parents in Chicago, I raced through the lives of powerful men, leaving a wake of destruction…and a deep desire for revenge. Little did I realize my conflicted life would end in a chaotic a death at an early age, and to eternal conflict with the devil. The Substitute is clever and witty, your really should get a copy from or, and I promise you won’t guess the conclusion until the final paragraph!

Excerpt from The Substitute told from Lucifers POV during his first day on the surface for some time:

The extremely dark sunglasses I take from Fred tone down the sun’s glare and make me look cool, but from my bus stop vantage point, things appear to have changed a lot since my last visit here, especially the quantity of people and the complexity of everything around me. However, I suspect people remain essentially the same as I knew them in the distant past, even though they’ve replaced their stinking camels with stinking automobiles.

A large brown delivery truck whizzes by, oblivious to everything but the green light ahead, and splashes water from a gutter puddle onto an old lady nearby. Not that I care about the old lady. I don’t in the slightest, but it seems a call to irony if I’ve ever seen one, as well as an opportunity to disrupt the orderly flow of things. I change the oncoming light to green with a single thought and another large truck carrying sugar races through the intersection to meet the first squarely in the middle. Both spill their cargo onto the ground, blocking the intersection completely. Ah, chaos. Before I amble on, I ensure every ant in the vicinity rushes in to check out the free meal spread across the ground.

I stretch my arms and crack my knuckles, feeling smug that I’ve still “got it”, and briskly step out toward Burger Town, but few people notice me. That will have to change. I’ve grown to expect far more adoration over eternity—or at least a little fear. I will demand it here as well after I rid myself of the black-and-yellow checkered shirt provided by my employer. Although, in my not so delicately modified condition, I suspect the fawning of women will be wasted on me. Waldo is in for some very rough times when we return to my home.

Burger Town is a beehive of activity as I enter fashionably late. I casually pick up an apron and hair net on my way through the kitchen, trying to look as much like the other toiling fools as possible. Taking time to enjoy the refreshing moist heat and smell of searing meat, a touch of home to be sure, I note with interest the smoking rancid oil would be a nice aroma therapy addition to my own d├ęcor.

A young man removes frozen meat patties from the freezer as I wander aimlessly toward the back of the establishment. I can’t resist picking one up and taking a bite, like having a refreshing Popsicle on a hot day. He looks at me with an absolutely blank expression, apparently having checked his emotions when he came to work, takes the partially eaten patty and throws it on the grill. “Look, dude, you’re not all that new here. You don’t eat ‘em, you fry ‘em…right there.”

Ah, sarcasm! If everyone is like this, I can see how Miss Havana learned to be so irritating. I begin frying the pile, but change things up a bit by adding a layer of flies between patties. I also concoct a touch of botulism for each slice of meat, knowing I’m doing everyone who will eat here today a big favor. While burgers generally cause considerable weight gain, these particular ones won’t. I snicker just thinking of the rampant diarrhea that will fill the customers’ evenings for the next few weeks, assuming they survive.

By eleven I’ve grown weary of playing with the meat patties. This job, unlike eternal judgment, has no requirement for creative expression whatsoever. I hand my yellow-and-black checkered shirt to my nearest neighbor, the guy handling the buns and cheese, and I walk out of the kitchen with the tune of “Take This Job and Shove It” playing in my mind, just as the lunch crowd is beginning to gather. Finally, recognition! But the boos and jeers of my co-workers, as I leave them short-handed, are somehow less satisfying than those from my normal gallery. In fact, many encourage my premature return to my home.

Thank you all for reading!

Miss Havana

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