On why I think my birthday sucks

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/09/27 03:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/09/27/8966847.aspx

A lot of people know I am not a big fan of celebrating my birthday.

The whole practice seems kind of silly to me.

I had nothing to do with the conception (essentially my move-in date), and the eviction nine months later (well, over nine months -- I was late because apparently I wanted to finish my standard one-year lease) was not my idea either.

So how many evictions from places you used to live do you celebrate?

Probably just the one, the one you cried about at the time like most people do.

There aren't many times in my life that I have cried that I would celebrate; they all tended to be kind un-fun. And though I really don't remember much about that first time (I think I was still really tired from the move, once they completed serving me with the eviction, too tired to deal with all of the people talking to me like I was an idiot -- how condescending is baby talk? Geez!), I imagine that I was not enjoying myself.

Or maybe the George Carlin approach is best -- if we are truly going to celebrate the anniversary of when a person doesn't put their diaphragm in, then shouldn't it be the conception date that is celebrated? Or whatever, you know what I am saying.

My only actual uncle crashed his motorcycle trying to get back to where my mother was when she was having me (there is a reason that folks in a doctor's office I used to work at called them donorcycles, clearly). He recovered, but it seems like I was not the only one having a bad day then. Why remember it at all?


So today I am 38.

I was born in the central time zone, in Creve Coeur, Missouri, so I guess I actually should have posted this two hour ago. But I was born at 3:12am, so I guess I am actually one hour and eleven minutes early.

Creve Couer is actually from French, and I think it means something like "heart breaker" which I will let you draw whatever conclusions you feel the need to.

I am not 100% positive on the French there, sorry. But when I was in third grade I was given the option: I could take Spanish and be Miguel or French and be Michel, so it is little wonder that I chose Spanish. Do teachers realize how dumb they sound when they ask questions like that?

Technically I think that my heart has been broken more times than I have broken the hearts of others, but Michaels tend to be hell-raisers by and large so I doubt I would really be able to convince anyone without enumerating both lists, which I really am not prepared to do....

I don't think I look 38, and looking younger is probably a good thing, though I often feel older (that is the MS thing, perhaps both MS things, kicking in).

Julie and Cathy tell me I am 12, though they have been telling me that for nearly eight years now which should make me 20 by their logic yet somehow does not. Perhaps Julie (who is now in management and no longer needs the math skills she had to have a dev!) and Cathy (who between her tendency to double estimates of her wine cellar contents and also to equate eight with infinity!) can be forgiven the errors in math that seem so obvious to others.

Or perhaps it is some kind of comment about maturity level, to which I will plead Nolo contendere since looking at life through the eyes of a twelve year old would have its advantages, too.

If the actuarial tables are to be believed I have already crossed the midpoint of my life (and if Edgardo Vega Yunque only made it to 72 then it is unrealistic to assume I'll make it all that much further), so celebrating it seems odd.

What comedian pointed out that birthday traditions are kind of suspect anyway?

I mean, when you are a kid you just get a few candles that you love, but if anyone ever wheeled out a cake with 38 candles on it then I would throw something at them. Something heavy if I have such an item near by.

This comedian's theory is that we would go to actuaral tables at the point of birth to get the estimate of life expectancy (an estimate which, while obviously not 100% accurate at the specific level is quite accurate generally). On your first birthday you start with that many candles and then each year you remove one candle.If you make it down to no candles then you have a REAL party because you have essentially beat the insurance companies.

Now that is a cause that anyone can get behind.

I mentioned Edgardo Vega Yunque a moment ago. I was thinking about this when I read the words his essentially daughter Suzanne Vega from her blog (the words she said at the memorial)

Over the last week and a half I have been hearing Ed Vega described in various ways like “difficult” and “cantankerous” and “feisty”. Which he was. But the way I would describe him was “angry”. That’s how I knew him, and that’s how I will remember him.

And along with that anger, there was a lot of passion, especially passion for knowledge, which is what he tried to teach us, his children.

I wonder whether that is the kind of way people will describe me when someday I'm gone. I can't help wondering on an anniversary of a birth how the death will play out. I imagine that many people will describe as angry (just the other day Jaimee was explaining why she wouldn't let me drink at a group unwinder a few weeks ago -- she thought I seemed especially angry at the time and didn't want to have alcohol added to that mix, because essentially she was worried about me. Though in retrospect I did happen to go out and get drunk that night and everyone survived so I guess it would have been okay).

But many people use those same words (angry, difficult, cantankerous, feisty, passionate) to describe me. And though I lack the talents that Ed Vega had as a writer (among other things), I have trouble imagining these qualities as being so truly negative if someone whose talents I admire so highly thinks well of someone who embodied them for so many.

I am not saying I am as good as he was. Because I know I'm not.

Though I still have a few years left to work on that....


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hdh on 27 Sep 2008 10:31 AM:

R.I.P. George Carlin

I don't celebrate my birthday either. It's just numbers that I use to fill out forms, and to remember my phone number.

From the errors, it looks like you are drunk. Pity I just emptied my bottle 2 days ago.

Selena Gomez on 7 Oct 2008 11:13 AM:

wow thats just so weird

Michael S. Kaplan on 7 Oct 2008 11:52 AM:

How so, Selena?

MK on 13 Dec 2008 7:33 PM:

I googled "why my birthday sucks" and came upon your blog. Ironically I am turning 38 on Monday and have possessed a similar perspective to the celebration of one's birth for quite some time. After all, pretty much anyone can conceive...it's one of the only "important" things for which they don't require a test, a license or a physical. I don't have any children, for I believe that the planet is already overpopulated and if we can't feed everyone who is already here then...well, I am sure you see where I am going. The wheeling out of the 38 candles might just amuse me.  

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2008/09/28 I'll start by saying לשנה טובה to everyone who understands what I just @#%&*! said

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