Over the last few decades, I have become quite blasé about my date of birth. I usually saw I was born on the thirteenth day of the thirteenth month (which is true, as the months wrap around). When asked for my astrological sign, I say, “No Trespassing.”
When you’re young, you get all kinds of cake and presents. When you’re my age, you just get measurably older.
Am I any wiser? Not really, I am probably a little more tolerant maybe up two percentage points. I have definitely noticed I am getting more crabby. (Those kids had better get off my lawn, STAT, or I’ll have to reach for my flamethrower.)
After what I went through with my brain tumor more than half a century ago, I never thought I would live this long. Even as a grade school kid, I looked forward to the year 2000 and thought, “Wow, if I live to that year, I’ll be fifty-five years old!” And to an eight-year-old, that seemed really O-L-D.
My father died at the age of seventy-four; and my mother, at the age of seventy-nine. Though I am minus a few body parts (pituitary gland, left hip), I am still surprisingly healthy. The joints are getting a bit creaky, but I can still walk. As for my mind, well let us speak respectfully of the dead.
I wonder, what kind of crap will I write when I reach seventy-nine?
Today I got taken out for my upcoming birthday. I had lunch with my brother and sister-in-law, my niece Jennifer, and her boyfriend John. I didn’t expect that birthday would be remembered—in fact, I haven’t given any thought to it at all. So it came as a pleasant surprise.
We were at the Kalaveras Restaurant in Redondo Beach. I was in the mood for a plato de carnitas with the pork slightly crispy. One of my favorite Mexican meals are home-made carnitas soft tacos with guacamole, hot sauce, and fire-roasted jalapeño chiles. The carnitas at Kalaveras came with cooked plantains and the usual beans and rice.
What with the conversation and the great food, I haven’t enjoyed myself half so much since Martine and I spent a week in Honolulu in September. Martine did not join us as she is still enduring the pain of a cast on her right arm after she broke two wrist bones late in December. She has a orthopedist appointment on Tuesday, so we’re both hoping the cast comes off, or is replaced with something less painful.
I don’t usually feel good about my birthday. In fact, I usually don’t feel anything about my birthday. Somehow, this year looks to be different.
My sixtieth birthday fell on January 13, 2005. My brother Dan decided to help me celebrate the date by flying up to Portland, Oregon, with me and taking me for a $100 shopping spree at Powell’s Books, which touts itself as the world’s largest independent bookstore.
We landed at Portland International Airport on my birthday and took a Portland Streetcar from PDX to our hotel, which was located in the center of town (I forget the name of it). Unfortunately, with our arrival there was a giant ice storm which crippled vehicular traffic and made walking on the sidewalk without crampons and ice axe quite iffy. We saw the cars swirling around in the streets, and we were lucky in not breaking any bones on the icy sidewalks.
Yet we managed to get around on foot … slowly.
Powell’s Books was fabulous. The last time I had visited a multi-story bookstore was Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London in 1977, on my way back from visiting Hungary and Czechoslovakia. I could have spent days—and a fortune in purchases—at Powell’s, but I managed to stay within a $100 limit, buying such books as Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, a book about the Middle East by Freya Stark, and three or four other titles.
My only regret was that when my brother turned sixty, I was unable to return the favor in a timely way. I was working in an accounting firm, and April 5 (his birthday) comes during tax crunch time, when I had to work seven days a week to meet the April 15 deadline. Now that I am retired, I would like to find some way to return the favor, because what he did meant a lot to me.
In the wee hours of tomorrow morning, my flight leaves for Guadalajara, where I will putter around for three hours, and then take another Volaris flight to Mérida. I will drive to the airport with Martine, and Martine will drive back by herself. (She’s not coming with me because she is allergic to anti-malaria medications.)
During my absence, I will not blog. Instead I will go into experiential mode to get something to write about when I return in February.
Incidentally, today is my 75th birthday, which is a milestone for me. My father died at the age of 74, so I had always wondered whether I would outlive his span of years. It appears that I already have, so that is one less morbid imagining. To spend the time after my birthday in a place I love (Yucatán) can only lengthen my life, no?
Again I survived! Today is my 44th birthday. Before you smirk, I now measure my age strictly in the hexadecimal numbering system, which counts 0, 1, 2, 3 and on to 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F. I think you will agree that it’s a much more flattering number, until the letters of the alphabet start showing up, making people say, “Hold on thar!” Of course, I won’t get to be 4A years old for another six years. By then, I may have to find a still more flattering number system—perhaps vigesimal (to the base twenty).
If you are not a computer wonk and want to find out how old I really am now—in the decimal numbering system— you just follow these simple steps:
Take the number of Muses in Ancient Greek mythology.
Add the number of the current Baktun in the Long Count of the Mayan Calendar.
Multiply the result by the number of Theological Virtues in Catholic dogma.
Add the number of scoops of raisins in every box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal.
There, that wasn’t so very difficult, was it? Easy as pi!