Birthdays are a nice reminder of how many years you’ve been alive. Or, if you’re a constant pessimist like me, they’re a way of acknowledging that you’ve got that many less years before you die.
Happy 35th birthday! You have approximately 43.8 years left until you die, based on averages for the year 2014 provided by the Division of Vital Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Having a birthday has really changed over the years. When mom would hand me the requisite $100 that I have been happily accepting every January 8 since I was 21, I have thought of all the ways I could spend it.
For the first 5 years, it invariably was spent in its entirety at a bar in Southeast Portland (most likely Pogo’s). Everyone’s first drink is on me (as long as that drink is a can of Hamms and absolutely nothing else)!
In my late 20s I would use half of it to pay for food and drinks for all the guests at a party we would throw at home, and spend the other half on something cool like concerts or a night at the coast or something young people like to do.
In my early 30s I would use it to buy something I needed (adult clothes, adult books, adult appliances), or maybe something I “needed” (homebrewing and photography gear, mostly).
This year was weird. My birthday seemed so insignificant. And at the same time it was very significant.
I turned 35 this month. But my daughter would turn 1 month old not long after.
Who the hell cares about my birthday when Lela’s around? My birthday is so trivial when you stop and think about the life you are now responsible for.
This year I did something really adult-like: I told my mom I wanted a AAA membership for me and Meghaan. I mean, we have a baby now. We can’t mess around with this kind of stuff. Can you imagine if our battery died or a tire went flat?
Life may end.
So we got a AAA membership and now I can call them up to 4 times a year and they will bring us gas, or spray some air freshener in my truck, or bring the perfect CD if I can’t decide what to listen to.
If I had to choose a soundtrack right now, I would ask for a nice 90s alt-rock CD. Start with some Eve 6, get to some Third Eye Blind, add in some Blues Traveler, and close out with a couple Counting Crows tunes. It would be a flashback to a Kyle Zimmerman party. If you went to high school with me you know what I’m talking about.
But then I decided that my birthday SHOULD matter. I AM AN IMPORTANT MAN AND I SHOULD CELEBRATE ALL OF THE IMPORTANT THINGS I HAVE DONE AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO.
I thought long and hard about what I should buy myself. In fact, I thought for exactly 2 weeks before I made up my mind. And once all the thinking was done, I decided to buy a new guitar.
Buying things for me is not an easy task. It’s so difficult that I specifically ask people not to buy clothes for me. I don’t know if I’m really picky or if I just have a misshapen body, but it is almost guaranteed that any clothing I receive as a gift will not fit me. The Goodwill in Vancouver has benefited greatly due to all of the shirts I have received that are way too big or too small or some combination of big and small. Lots of short-and-wide flannels making the rounds right now because of my donations.
Also, I want to read every single thing I can before I buy anything. All the reviews. The press releases. Anything that has anything to do with the product must be combed over. This makes buying ANYTHING a huge ordeal for me.
Once I made Meghaan wait in the Asian food aisle at Fred Meyer’s with me while I browsed a forum discussing the differences between the Huy Fong and Dragonfly brands of Sriracha. Ultimately I went with Huy Fong, but it could have gone either way.
I want to give a very special shoutout to Mark Goldsmith from Breedlove Guitars in Bend, OR. He was incredibly helpful and answered all of my questions, even giving me access to him after hours via social media. He made it super easy to buy a guitar, which I have never done except for the time I bought a classical guitar from my roommate Keith in college, the same guitar I had been playing until Friday at about noon. That old git-fiddle cost me $5 and has put me through hell as I tried to learn (and then relearn) to play.
All these years, I thought I was really awful at guitar. This weekend I discovered that I’m only sort of terrible at guitar but I was playing on a REALLY terrible instrument.
I love my new guitar, and I cannot wait to play for Lela when she stops pooping and feeding and scream crying. It’s so beautiful and it sounds amazing, and if I strum hard enough I can almost drown out the sound of my own tears falling as I realize I have to go back to school it a week.
Thanks again to Mark and the craftsmen at Breedlove. You helped me ring in the start of my 36th year in a wonderful way.