Lunar Observer

Are you dreaming of escape?

Harry Houdini’s birthday was March 24.

Lunar Observer

Are you dreaming of escape?

Harry Houdini’s birthday was March 24.
Lunar Observer

Are you dreaming of escape?

Harry Houdini’s birthday was March 24.

Lunar Observer records upcoming dates of interest: holidays, birthdays, best day to cut hair.

Does your house have drafty windows? Do you cover them in that clear plastic window insulation to try and keep the drafts out? And more to the point, did you take the plastic off your windows yet?

Personally, I like to wait until March 24 to take the window plastic off. In New England, where I am as of this writing, it still might (it will) get cold again between now and summer, but sometimes you just have to draw a line and celebrate it. March 24 is a few days past the equinox, putting our arbitrary line in a place that’s respectful of the chaotic aspect of spring or at least not too thirsty for spring. Moreover, it’s Harry Houdini’s birthday — that’s significant. It’s a great day to take the plastic off the windows and let the smells out and the drafts in, and think about escape.

If you are reading this and you don’t have drafty windows, I recognize your experience as valuable and your part in the song of humanity as essential, but I’m having a hard time picturing what that’s like. If you simply live in a warm climate, so it doesn’t matter how drafty the windows are, then congratulations. If you used to live somewhere cold, let’s say New England, and you moved somewhere warmer, let’s say L.A., then hello, I miss you. I’m taking the plastic off the windows and thinking of escape. Maybe you’re thinking of escape too. I would bet that’s an enduring legacy of the development of human consciousness.

Houdini was an expert on escape, in a very non-metaphorical way, and he was born on March 24, like I said. But he always said he was born on April 6, for reasons no scholar can discern. Maybe he wanted to take control of his horoscope or protect himself from wizards schooled in astrology. Maybe he wanted to escape the circumstance of his birth, that used to be an American obsession. Maybe he put his birthday closer to Easter to remind us of Christ’s escape from a bricked-up tomb. In any event, I choose March 24 as the day to celebrate him and, like I said, to take the plastic off the windows.

Houdini always said he was born on April 6, for reasons no scholar can discern.

If you live in a cold climate but have non-drafty windows, that’s another situation that I can’t identify with, but maybe you can try to imagine me, drafty in a rented room somewhere, and pretend that feeling is universal for a few more sentences. At the very least, it’s universal in the same way that Odysseus’s experience of being tied to a mast while witches sing at him is universal — both are members of the vast set of bullshit one does to get by, and the particulars don’t much matter.

Houdini’s methods of escape were many and varied, and would and have filled many a fine book. But the seed of his greatest escapes is frequently the same — he had a key to the lock in advance or a cleverly hidden pick. I’m sorry if this is mostly useless advice, but if you feel trapped right now in some situation, see if you already have a key. If you’re upset that the weather has been bad lately, check to see if it is actually getting a little better.

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Jacob Khepler is the main writer and publisher of Mothers News. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.