State of the Otis at 35

(Houston, TX)–I think I actually said “Wha?” out loud when my alarm went off at 5am today. I think I actually used a Scooby Doo voice. I was kicked out of a dream where everything was weird, but I was really happy, and that was just fine with me.

It was dark on Mt. Otis and cold enough to freeze the dew to my windshield. I showered and shaved, couldn’t find a couple things I looked for, and left after giving the family a quick peck. We’re back in the routine now. Leaving is normal again, as long as I promise to come back. I always do.

Nobody on the road at that time in the morning is especially happy to be there. I was no exception. I was leaving a cold place to go to a warm place. The kid asked if I was going to swim with the dolphins. I said, “No,” and didn’t say I wasn’t even sure if I’d see the ocean.

On this, my 35th birthday, I’m headed to a resort about half an hour from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s another poker tournament. Dozens will play, several will win, one will be a champion. I, along with a partner, will chronicle it with as much enthusiasm as we can muster. We will avoid the term “loss-leader” and look forward to the event’s end. Because I hate Christmas music and I’ll be in Mexico, I’ve vowed to drink tequila anytime a band, DJ, or Muzak plays “Feliz Navidad.”

To reach this fabulous birthday destination, I am forced to sit on a three-hour layover in Houston, Texas. Though I can’t specifically recall ever being in this terminal, it seems rather familiar to me. Nonetheless, with a Boingo account running as fast as it can, a bunch of surly travelers around me, and the Bose headphones doing their job, I figured it was as good a time as any to take some stock in my life. I wake up every morning with the feeling that I’m going to die at age 70. Either that or the mid-life crisis is hitting a little earlier than it should. If anything, at least my wife can look back at this when I turn 71 and say, “You were wrong. Told you so.”

The good: My family is beautiful, healthy, and growing. My son is smart and smarter than his old man most of the time. By this time next year, it looks like I’ll have another son. Both of these things please me very much. Because we chose (and somewhat tied ourselves to) an non-traditional working life, the recession is not affecting us the way it is most people. What could’ve been viewed as lazy financial planning five years ago has turned into a sigh of relief for us. We are not rich, but we are not broke and didn’t lose very much at all when the economy took a bath. Our dog is half-blind but otherwise healthy, even at nearly ten years old. According to the doctors, I’m largely healthy myself, despite a complete inattention to my physical well-being for the past 15 years or so. Blood pressure awesome, cholesterol kicks ass, heart looking good. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’ll take it, even if it’s a lie.

And so, that should just about do it, right? I have a perfect little family, some money in the bank, some money coming in, and my health. Just shut the hell up and move on. Fair enough.

I deleted the last six paragraphs of this post. We’ll leave the above to stand in for the State of the Otis at 35.

I’m Otis, I’m 35, and I’m going to Mexico.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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13 Responses

  1. I never turned 38. I got on a plane the day before my birthday and landed in Tokyo the day after.

  2. AgSweep says:

    Happy Birthday Otis! Turning 50 this year I spent the whole year at the most introspective I have ever been, not a state of mind I enjoy much. Conclusion, while some things move beyond our reach as we age (i.e. the six minute mile) some things move within our reach. Keep facing front and enjoy the things coming at ya.

  3. Human Head says:

    “…but we are not broke and didn’t lose very much at all when the economy took a bath.”

    You may want to re-examine this. It is not in the past, but rather Stage 1 in a much larger and all-encompassing economic destruction. We are n a small “take a deep breath, we’re about to go lower” period.

  4. Human Head says:

    Oops, hit the button too soon…Happy Birthday 🙂

  5. Dr. Chako says:

    Happy birthday! You get to be warm while I get to sit through another lecture on Cardiac Imaging in frikkin’ Chicago. Would you believe it snows here?!

    Hope to see you soon. I still have your book. When I give it back, you can consider it like a birthday present.


  6. RedxBranch says:

    How dare you delete/deprive those of us that hang on your every word of 6 paragraphs….what a waste.

    Happy B-Day

  7. Skip says:

    Otis, amigo mio, Happy Birthday. My question is: would anyone look very closely at the six deleted paragraphs and actually think you had it rough? I ask, not to minimize the things with which you’re unhappy or undersatisfied, but to remind you that it could always be worse.

    Oh, and Feliz Navidad! 😀

  8. Tim says:

    Remember, forties are the old age of youth, and fifties are the youth of old age. Fortunately, you are nowhere close to either. Happy BD, dude!


  9. Drizztdj says:

    The evil in me wants to text message someone to play Feliz Navidad with every bust out at the final table.

    But, I’ll say happy birthday instead, and look forward to seeing you next week.

  10. StB says:

    Happy Birthday. Ah to be young again.

  11. BWoP says:

    Happy Birthday!

  12. Da Goddess says:

    I love the State of the Otis at 35 post. Wonderfully done!

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