41 thoughts on 41 (it’s my birthday).

I am 41 today. Here is what I know, off the top of my head, to the extent it’s helpful. Happy birthday to you all.

1. Listen to The Walkmen at least four times a year. They released seven albums. At least six of them are well worth repeated listenings.

2. What does every home need, besides love and loud music? Very little, aside from rope swings, functioning toilets, and door knobs.

3. Could I have had a successful career in the NFL, especially considering the fact that I did not play in college? I don’t know. Maybe not, but probably so.

4. Could I have had a successful four years playing Division 1 college football, especially considering the fact that I did not play in high school? I don’t know. Maybe not, but probably so.

5. There are three times in my life I almost drowned, not counting the times in a swimming pool. I didn’t though. I love the water. I was never a lifeguard. In another life, I would either be a hip hop artist or in the Coast Guard. I like this life a lot too.

6. Movie franchises I secretly love, part I: Resident Evil.

7. If you are the son of a dentist, don’t rebel in college by not flossing. How dumb can you get?

8. Are Apple products overhyped and overpriced? I’m not going to argue with you about it. Good design is good design, but do what works for you. And on the topic, read David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries.

9. Public libraries, NPR, and Malcolm Gladwell generally have my undying love, as long as I’m alive.

10. Have I mastered unicycling, juggling, or the accordion? No, not yet. But I’ve dabbled in at least one of them (am practicing on a two-wheeled unicycle) and fully expect to Miyagi myself to maestro status in all three disciplines over the upcoming four decades.

11. I will not give out a bunch of advice, although I have forty-one years saved up when you’re ready, but let me advise that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to start drinking 32 ounces of hot lemon water every morning. Seriously.

12. Is Donald Trump the least competent President of all time? I honestly don’t know. Of the last ninety years? Definitely.

13. Movie franchises I secretly love, part II: Underworld

14. I don’t really ever listen to metal, besides Soulfly, Judas Priest, Deafheaven, Killer Be Killed, Deftones, Halford, System of a Down, and Run the Jewels. My wife is so awesome and works hard sometimes to appreciate them too. Sometimes the effort is what’s important.

15. I love Avril Lavigne’s rendition of O Holy Night.

16. Classical music five mornings a week serves a body and mind well. Three can’t miss delicious options to blast at 6:15am. Haydn’s Symphony in G minor, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor , Vivaldi’s Concerto in E-major (Summer - and the whole seasons suite), Rachmaninov’s Prelude in C-Sharp Minor. Yum. Loud.

17. Cursive and coding should both be taught in every school.

18. I think childhood is necessary at most ages.

19. I am moderately interested in Augmented Reality, as opposed to fairly disinterested in Virtual Reality. In this respect, I fancy I might be considered normal.

20. One Sunday in grad school, I started watching the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with my wife. One of the best six-hour viewing experiences I’ve ever had. Also, time to watch Stephen King’s The Stand again.

21. Books you should read: Sophie’s World, anything by Malcolm Gladwell, the newspapers that print news and refuse to bow to bullies in power.

22. I am not always a good example, but I am trying to get better at humbleness and humility. I want to at least be better than our children at it. I’m tired of children getting better than me at stuff. Should be illegal. I’d like to be really good at something again. Something I can really hang my hat on.

23. If I could bring back an archaic tradition, it would be that of men wearing cool hats. Not to make a statement, just because that’s what you did. At least that’s the impression I get from watching old Jimmy Stewart films, which, by the way, you should re-watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I don’t think James Stewart, Henry Fonda, or Johnny Cash would make it into the current Administration’s Cabinet.

24. I write in pen. But when I write in pencil, I don’t erase.

25. Am I Banksy? You’d like to know for sure, one way or another, wouldn’t you? But that’s not something I’m prepared to address on my 41st birthday.

26. I would still very much like to dig a hole someday to another country, or at least to a neighbor’s house. And I love love love so much Arcade Fire’s 2003 Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels). Goosebumps.

27. Keep your chainsaw blade sharp.

28. If possible, try to become friends with someone who owns large machinery, in the event you ever need it, or if there’s an apocalyptic event in which a Prius wouldn’t cut it. And season 7 of The Walking Dead is in a world of its own. #negan

29. I go through stages of drawing a lot, and then not. I’m going to draw more in my 40s.

30. I honestly don’t understand why anyone would use Pandora over Spotify. Also, I have two turntables and a typewriter to fix. How did people fix stuff before YouTube?

31. Quitting is an underrated skill, virtue, and talent that gets a bad rap. There’s a time to persevere, and there’s a time to quit, regardless of what Kevin Costner might have to say in Tin Cup. Speaking of Mr. Costner, as far as I’m concerned, he has appeared in exactly one horrible film in his entire career.

32. I like the gritty aesthetic of chalkboards, but whiteboards are so much easier to work with.

33. I’m less and less interested in re-watching and re-reading films or books I’ve already experienced. The same is not true for music, which is why I love music. See: The Walkmen.

34. How do you know who to trust? I can’t tell you who to trust. But look at their history and their pattern of truth telling. Or not. Do I trust President Trump with anything? No. He has a pattern of not only lying but doing so without apology, without retraction, without remorse, and perhaps most disturbingly, weaponizing false information that serves his agenda, and after a half-year+ on the job, I am convinced that the number one agenda he serves is that of himself. Not serve his country. Serve himself. Full stop. Does the New York Times ever lie? Perhaps and possibly; more accurately they sometimes make mistakes. And generally own up to them, for whatever ethical, legal, or pragmatic motivations. They don’t double down on a lie because it would be ridiculous to. Institutions and people such as the Washington Post, Senator John McCain, Bob Woodward, and Malcolm Gladwell have earned my respect because of PATTERNS of truth telling, serving the public good, asking questions, and doggedly searching for answers to the complicated ones.

35. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a famous musician. First, I need to be a musician. The rest will follow.

36. Would I follow my six siblings into battle? Of course! It would be much more dangerous at the front.

37. People say I walk fast. I don’t know. I just walk.

38. I love teaching. I would love to teach again. I think if you want to become a multimillionaire that the teaching profession is not the swiftest path to getting there.

39. It’s definitely a good idea to sleep the proper amount. Smart people have said that, and studies back that idea up. Definitely going to put some thought into that idea.

40. I’d really like either a boat or a plane by the time I’m 50, preferably whichever one works better on water.

41. I am happy for the many varied and nuanced friendships I have. That includes the virtual ones.

Thank you. And I accept your well wishes for the upcoming weeks. Use today well. Be kind, be curious, and balance your life between standing tall for what is right and kneeling in humble strength and support for what must change.

Happy birthday, everyone. I’m sharing it with you.