Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lucky 13?

Since I was born on the thirteenth, I have always considered thirteen my lucky number. It would follow then that 2013 should be my lucky year. Just to make things even clearer to me, the universe has arranged for my birthday this year to fall on a Friday.

"But that's an unlucky day," you claim.

"Oh, phooey!" I reply. "I don't believe in such nonsense."

True, I am not superstitious per se, and I have no solid proof the number thirteen has done anything special for me at all that, say, the number four hasn't. (I choose four because a palm reader once told me four would be an important number in my life. I'm still waiting to find out how.)

"Aha!" you say. "You visit palm readers."

"Only once," I answer. "On a lark."

Nevermind. The point is: I really need a lucky year right about now, and all signs indicate this one could be it. Er, except for the eensy weensy fact that I am already in the hole to the tune of more than $3,000, and January isn't even over yet! (More on that financial sucker punch later.)

Anyway a new year offers the chance for a fresh start, a clean slate, and the hope that one's life will improve in all the various ways that really matter. So I am grabbing onto 2013, particularly the last two digits of the number, and testing my theory about the luckiness of a baker's dozen for me.

If the past is any guide, my results will be mixed. When I turned thirteen on a Friday in 1974, I went on a church-group canoe trip for the day with my mother. As we paddled past a man fishing on the banks of the Housatonic, someone called out to him for the time. A few minutes later, the canoes entered rapids, and our boat capsized. Based on the time given by the man, the incident happened at the exact hour and minute I was born on a Wednesday in 1961. My mother and I were fine, but I lost a sweatshirt. Were we lucky not to have been hurt or worse? Yes. Was I unlucky to lose my warm clothing? Yes.

Verdict: A (river) wash. Score .5 for Lucky 13.

Many years later, in 1996, I threw a Friday the 13th party for my thirty-fifth birthday. I decorated my home with broken mirrors, a ladder, black cat, and other symbols of bad luck. I was trying to thumb my nose at the very unscientific belief that causes office buildings to be labeled as missing thirteenth floors and the Super 8 in Tilton, New Hampshire, to refrain from designating a Room #113. (Thanks, Christopher, for asking me about the latter when we stayed there nearly a month ago.) "Hahaha. You can't get me!" I taunted the God of Superstition. Sure enough, nothing terrible happened at the party.

Verdict: A success. Score 1 for Lucky 13.

My milestone 4-0 fell two days after 9/11. The whole world was in shock. I was heartbroken; likewise, my friends. They forgot about my birthday.

Verdict: Not the time to celebrate anything. Score -1 for Lucky 13.

Three months later, feeling a little gypped, I threw myself a belated party on December 13, my quarter birthday.

Verdict: A success. Score 1 for Lucky 13.

Exactly a month after my first son was born, I started dating a man whose birthday is March 13. Since our birthdays are half a year to the day from one another, I thought we might be a perfect yin/yang match. The relationship lasted three years, yet I wouldn't say it was astrologically destined.

Verdict: Score .75 for Lucky 13.

Last month I almost made a submission to a literary agent on the thirteenth. Actually, the plan had been to send in my Mad Mom memoir material via e-mail the day before, on Lucky 12/12/12. Well, things always take longer than expected, don't they? So December 12th turned into December 13th, yet that was fine with me because thirteen is my lucky number, remember?! I had two propitious days in a row to work with. BUT I hadn't planned on technical difficulties. Actually, if I'd thought about it, I would have recollected that I nearly always have computer problems whenever I am trying to send an all-important e-mail/manuscript submission to a literary agent I want to represent me. Murphy's Law every single time! Sure enough, the glitches carried over to Friday the 14th. So much for my lucky two days! Unfortunately, as we all know, the fourteenth ended up being an absolutely horrible day. After I hit "Send" in the early afternoon -- an invisible formatting kink still frustratingly embedded in the text -- I checked Facebook. Several posts from friends alluded to something tragic that had happened in the morning. Immediately, I called up AOL and was bowled over to learn about the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history: the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, my home state.

Verdict: Score -1 for Lucky 13.

I am trying to maintain high hopes for 2013, but I have gotten off to a mighty rocky start. As the clock struck 12:01 of the new year, I was already $385 in the red for not showing up for a pre-paid New Year's Eve weekend in northern New Hampshire. The issue: dangerous driving conditions due to bad weather. (See "Vacation Box of Chocolates: Franconia Fiasco Edition," 1/6/13.) Since then I have been so bogged down trying to catch up from the holidays that I have not yet been able to launch my appeal seeking a refund. What's more, just yesterday I got slammed with a $2,701.66 bill from the Toyota dealership for work to be done on my eight-year-old 4Runner, including the replacement of a leaking timing-chain cover.

Still, no matter what befalls you, you have to be optimistic in January because the year is just starting. Now is the time to set things on a positive course, even if only as an attitude adjustment.

To that end, I took my sons to Friendly's on the way home from our ill-fated trip to the north country and bought each a Vol-Cone-O. Watching them happily gobble down these unique and gigantic sundaes took me away from the frustration and stress of the weekend and steered me in a much better direction.

Verdict: Thirteen, as in 2013, is still my lucky number.

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