"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Four Nineteen

Normalcy quivers, like tickled flesh, but nothing so common as that. I shrug off the chill and flip over in bed, one wary eye to the clock. 4:19 AM. I expect nothing different than to wake to these haunted numbers. The set of my alarm has little sway to the moment my eyelashes flutter their acknowledgement of numeraled ghosts. I rise, dress, and wonder….perhaps today?

Hot water strains through a French press as I check my e-mail and see the alert blinking, blinking…I have mail. Only one at 4:19 PM yesterday from my son…”Love you….” He rarely writes. I save the message as an anomaly and wonder if he'll call today.

Work is insignificant as always, and I spend the day on a spreadsheet of items. At 4:00 I crack my neck audibly, lean back in my chair and release the gas in my knuckles. I notice, only then, that the last line entered is row 419. I consider adding one more entry, or deleting the last, but there are forces at work, far beyond any remediation.

I glance to my iPod, note the song which auto shuffle has chosen for the end of my work day… The song is exactly 4 minutes and nineteen seconds long. I rub my arms as a louder disquiet settles between aging bones.

I was born a mistake. On April 19, a child was born into the world, unwanted, ill conceived in passion too large for consequence and handed off to a well intended institution. There has been a bill of lading, as yet unpaid. Perhaps tonight?

I gather my things, head home in a resigned direction as the miles click off the moments left on a declining meter. I stopped talking about the numbers after awhile. No one believed me. I want to agree it is coincidence that brings this date to life…or death. I look at the dashboard…4:19 PM as the strains of Joe Bonamassa's Had To Cry Today come through the radio...♫It's already written that today will be one to remember...♫

I stare too long.

“Mom?….I’m home…”

“She’s not here.”

“Where is she?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t been able to reach her on cell….”

“She’s usually home by 5:00.”

“Yeah. She usually is.”

(It's my birthday. The frequency with which these numerals show up in sequenced order in my life is hair raising. In habitually morbid fashion I began to wonder if the date of my birth would become the time or date of my death. Yeah....I know.... of course I'm being melodramatic, but even the world wide web has similarly macabre ideas.)

"Is April a cursed month? While there’s no scientific evidence readily available to show that a specific calendar date has any effect on human behavior, it is oddly coincidental that such a small range of dates (April 16 - 20) contains some of the darkest moments in US History." Specifically of April 19, just to name a few:

4.19.1775 - Revolution begins with the "shot heard round the world"
4.19.1861 - Lincoln orders blockage of Confederate ports, starting the Civil War
4.19.1993 - Waco
4.19.1995 - Oklahoma City Bombing
4.19.2010 - Gulf Oil Disaster


  1. Hmm... I doubt April is any more cursed than the rest of time. Filters are impressive in their ability to tint everything. Patterns are everywhere, but assigning meaning to them is a tricky business.

    So, it's your birthday. You've beaten another year! I'll drink to that and to your beating the next year too! Gambatte! : j

  2. I have too many thoughts on this post to leave a brief comment. Nothing will be strong enough, reach deep enough or soothe enough. So just know that you reached me...I am thinking of you and hoping your make this birthday happy.

  3. Holy wow, Annie.

    Happy Birthday! I for one believe the child born on April 19th, had a mysterious and beautiful soul.

    The coincidences are indeed haunting. My the coming years smile down on you dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo

  4. Happy, Happy Birthday my beautiful Annie!! I'm so glad you were born no matter what clusterfuck it took the Universe to get you here. I can't imagine a world without my Annie in it. May you find peace today.

    Love & Blessings,

  5. Ladies - I am having a good day! Wrote this like a month ago...been thinking about it for a year 'cuz the numbers really show up a creepy amount of times a day, so it was a fun excercise to take it to a dramatic end. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes!

    Marion - You crack me up! Never one to mince words are ya? The world is hanging on to me Marion....maybe just for you :)

  6. Happy Birthday, Ms. Wine and Words,,,

  7. Happy Birthday! I'm April 9. The most significant thing on that day that I've found is it's the day Lee surrendered to Grant on the Appomattox, 1865.

    Oh, and in 1945, the NFL required players to wear long stockings. That's significant. From Click for April 9 events

    At least your day is important! It's on God's calendar, while mine is simply a skip-day for Him.

    Happy Happy Birthday!

    - Eric

    PS, and on 4/19, apparently they run the Boston marathon, or used to: April 19 Events. I can't even get a sporting event!

  8. Glenn - Thanks mucho!

    Eric - Is this a pissing contest? I thought it was just a silly post. I got a feeling every day is on God's calendar. Sheesh...I sure hope so! Hey, I'm pretty sure my kids had a T-ball game on April 9th. In fact, I'm sure they did...um...15 years ago or so! Happy ten days ago birthday my friend!

  9. Happy Morbid Birthday, Annie! LOL!

    Fantastic post, very chilling story and very well written. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

    So numbers follow you around, eh? I have a poem that follows me around. I like to think that it's less of a warning and more that the universe is being whimsical. :)

    I hope you have a wonderful day, numbers or not.

  10. annie, i think there's more reason for you being here than you can imagine. or if no reason beforehand than as a consequence - your kids. always at least them. and they are infinite.

    but i agree. it's too weird to be arbitrary. and that makes me wonder wtf?

    happy birthday. um, sweet cake!

    (glad to see you back.)


  11. Happy Birthday four hundred and nineteen times!

  12. well, i am gonna set my clock alarm (on my book shelf) for 4:19. That point in time will universally belong to you. I will look at 4:19 as a positive thing..HB agin, ms Wine.

  13. I call it synchronicity, Annie. Like I see dragonflies every-damn-where I go. LOL! Ray said to tell you he's glad you're here, too. He's still talking about getting lost in the woods with you and the motorcycle ride y'all took. You made his year. :-)

    I'm so glad you're having a good day!!


  14. Tracy - I love it. Happy Morbid Birthday. You've put me in a proper nutshell! Good way to look at the universe Ms. Pollyanna....whimsical. I like it :) Better than anything I would term it *wink*

    Erin - I'm with you...not sure I believe anything is arbitrary. Not even me. Sweet cakes I'll take :)

    Ayon - You are the first to wish me Happy B-day so many times. Takes all the negative out of four nineteen!

    Glnroz - If that just ain't the sweetest dern thang! Cheers!

    Marion - Every-damn-where. It's a thing. It's our thing. Every-damn-where. Hug to Ray. He is the bomb-diggity, even if he's got no sense of direction!

  15. Happy Birthday Annie!!!!!!

  16. and then there is me...sad because i don't see the patterns. i don't have things that follow me around in my life so i try to create them but they don't stick. and i am a firm believer that mistake babies are the chosen ones. (perhaps it is because both my three year old and my pregnant belly are "mistakes" - immune to birth control.) the mistake babies are the ones with the answers. you're one of em, annie. powerful position to be in, i say. and i think you're in pretty good company.
    and happy birthday...arbitrary set of numbers or not.

  17. I know I’m late getting here. Your day is almost over. Happy birthday. I hope you had a wonderful day.
    Liked the post. Numbers can so easily start one wondering… The only time I was ever fired was in the middle of April. I turned around the next day and started a firm of my own that became very successful.

  18. Travis - Thanks :)

    Krista - I love your spin on it. Immune to birth control eh? Wonder how many children you will actually have? You could be the next reality show :) Thank you!

    Anthony - From lemons...lemonaid. You have the right attitude. I've never been into numerology and such, but it does make you wonder....

  19. I have every reason in the world to love 19/4. Every reason.

    T'is a bit weird though isn't it. Marion made me laugh out loud yet again with her comments.

    Ummm I'd better tell you I have absolutely no sense of direction. If ever we go for a walk in the woods there's a better than even chance we'll walk in circles for hours. Could be worse I suppose ... Hope you had a lovely day Annie.

    xx Jos

  20. Jos - And from our circles, wells...from which we'll drink, satisfied and full. One day we'll do it :)

  21. Blog to blog, Annie, if you sang as I beat, it might be a beautiful thing. Nobody would understand it, of course, because it would probably be like watching Animal drum for Jewel, but, you know, it'd be beautiful in its absolute absurdity.


    - Eric

  22. Eric - Beautiful absurdity. I like it! We could call the band, Pearls Before Swine :) Although I think I could rock it. Not much for Jewel, or pearls. Absurdity I got in spades.

  23. Number are weird ... places ... times ...

    It's over now, but once long ago, I met a girl in a book store in Japan and it wasn't till a few weeks later we learned we had the same birthday -- same year, and probably ancestors from the same town in Poland ...

    And then there's Dallas ... a long story ... but I avoid Dallas. One September after my mother had died, flying home to Japan, I called up and had my layover changed from Dallas to Atlanta. I was told I'd have to leave on the 11th though instead of the 10th. That's fine. I don't want to have to go through Dallas, it brings back memories.

    Then, of course, on 9/11/2001 the plane had to land in Dallas. Emergency Landing.

    ... and I was there ... what was it, a week? I can't remember. But so it goes.

    And in September nonetheless. Numbers, days, times ...

    They'll drive you crazy if you let them ... so we just press on.

  24. I forgot to say Happy Birthday!

    Happy Birthday!

  25. Haha! But I stand by my statement... any wisdom from me is always an accident. ;)


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