September 26, 2013: 37 Thoughts About Turning 37

I decided decades ago that I would never deliberately lie about my age. I might forget
- 34 was the one where I had to start consciously thinking about it - but I will not intentionally be dis-truthful about it. I'm not sure why. So far, I woke up and 35 seems pretty good.

I was teaching a class, and my phone kept ringing. The same number kept coming up, over and over. My wife. So naturally I assumed that either our house must have burned down or David Sedaris dropped by unexpectedly, so I dialed her back after the 17th* call. This is a general summation of our dialogue:

Hi...everything okay?
(I asked)

- Of course. Are you teaching?
(she asked)

Uhh, yes. Lecturing at the moment about Inception, frame rates, and persistence of vision.

- Okay. Well you need to have them sing to you. Your class needs to sing Happy Birthday to you.

They did. I didn't even order them to. They did, all on their own, and it wasn't bad. They're a good group.

- But did they sing it rap style?

Umm, no. They did not sing it to me hip hop style.

- Tell them to sing it to you rap style. 

Uhh, I'll run it by them. Is that the main reason you called?

- Yep. You're welcome. 


- Sure thing. Happy birthday.


She's an odd one. However, I have been listening to an enormous amount of hip hop lately, so also, a legitimate question.

shot by Countess Becca - Laughing Planet Cafe (NE Portland)

1. 16 Candles
2. The Game
3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
4. City Slickers
5. Liar Liar

6. About Schmidt

I have heard from all my siblings on my birthday. 

All except Jamey. I haven't heard anything from him. No phone call or postcard or text or fax or billboard or surprise visit. Nothing. I suspect he has forgotten. It's okay; it'll still be a B+ kind of birthday.

I am a sharing person, and do not bear considerable animosity against those who planned their own birth on my special day. I'm talking to you, T.S. Eliot, Johnny Appleseed, Serena Williams, George Gershwin, Stephan Korner, Roger Dale Hinton Jr, Don Coleman, and Zack Paul. 

From age 13 on, what mattered was that I shared a birthday - and lifelong bond - with Linda Hamilton. A.k.a. Sarah Connor, future humanity's human defender in the war against the machines; muscle mom supreme with triceps to make Venus Williams* weep, * and reluctant hero when it seemed like there weren't too many tank top wearing, aviator shade sporting mamas with Terminator attitude and army boots to look up to. Linda/Sara. Our paths have yet to cross, but our bond is forever. Happy birthday, friend. Fight on.

*Venus does not ever weep

"Look at the sunset!"
my wife exclaimed this evening, pointing to the distance.

Our son looked up. In his
inimitable, squeaky, train engine loud voice, announced to the Western Hemisphere:
- "Hey, that's my sunset! That sunset is mine!" 

"It's my birthday,"
I said.

"It's mine."

Every birthday, I choose a word to eliminate from my vocabulary and replace with other more specific and accurate words. Words I have mostly executed so far include BORING and AWESOME, although my son has picked up the slack with the latter:

"Oh look, there's a book about dragons...that's awesome! Dragons are awesome."

"Hey Daddy, do you like chocolate...it tastes really awesome."

"When I grow up I'm going to be an awesome superhero and I'm going to fly and be a bad guy...is that awesome, Daddy?"

So I don't know what's going this year. Suggestions? The universe informs me that whatever I choose to eliminate will be enthusiastically embraced by my progeny.

The Möbius diagram of sound waves coming simultaneously from multiple rooms in our house include:

- 2 vacuums (living room, room A)
- Jeff Buckley playing on iTunes (room 
- a story about Courage playing on cassette (room C)
- John Williams' Empire Strikes Back score on vinyl (room A)
- Mates of State at maximum volume on iTouch (room A)
- one child begging to find more rooms to vacuum and wanting to know if he's a "good vacuumer" (answer: yes and no and sort of?)
- one phone ringing and ringing (mine)
- one child wanting to know if I will bring her "a little snack" before supper (answer: no).

I love music, and melody masquerading as noise. We are long, we are loud, we are legion. And can only add to the volume with the sounds of our own laughter in the mirror. Ha!

Shabbat Shalom, Universe 


I got to spend a tiny portion of time on my birthday reading some beloved stories from old Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines. This particular issue is September 1976 - the year I was born 

I grew up on Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Mr. Poirot, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler and thousands of short stories in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen anthologies. I have long loved detective stories, and short stories, and particularly short detective stories. Michael Chabon likes genre fiction and so do I.

snap: Becca Nutter Long


"WHAT!!??! I didn't want cereal for breakfast!! I was going to have ice cream!"

Despite my son's menu plan, I sadly held my ground. His shoulders slumped in defeat. Chin up kid, someday you can make yourself a giant bowl of chocolate peanut butter breakfast special. 

And maybe your old pop will join you.


1. The barista at Sisters Coffee, who was so gracious with my explanation - hours later - of how my Americano had gotten spilled. Made me a new one on the spot. With a smile. Thanks man.
2. Carrie, the lady at Redbox who randomly stopped me and asked if I could help her figure out how to use Redbox. I assisted her through the process, gave her a free rental code, and made sure she got a copy of World War Z in her hand. Big smile. Sometimes you get help, sometimes you give help. Thanks Carrie.
3. The parking attendant at the garage off 10th and Alder who was so friendly and thoughtful, in a position that probably sees its share of rude and impatient people passing though. Thanks, Mr. Sir.
4. The Japanese girl visiting Pioneer Courthouse Square in the rain who asked if she could get a picture...with our children. Your smile was contagious. Thank you.
5. Terra, the Lewis & Clark photography student outside the Grilled Cheese Grill food cart who asked to take our picture for a photo project. I laughed: "Of course! It's a little strange being on the other end of that question!" Thank you for a few quality minutes of pleasant conversation while waiting for food. 

Thank you, world, for being filled with many wonderful people.

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