I had one of those birthdays with a zero in it yesterday. I don't do a lot of celebrating on birthdays. Every day for me is pretty much like every other day, and that's not a complaint. My days are stellar.
The only birthday I ever had that bothered me was my seventeenth. I thought you couldn't be a prodigy after the age of sixteen, and that's what I thought I should have been, so I felt officially washed up. I must've been quite the snot. I'm not sure what it was I was thinking to have accomplished by age sixteen; probably a novel or something. I always had it in mind that I would excel at writing even though there was nothing, trust me, absolutely nothing in the way of evidence to support that. At the time I was specializing in precious poetry with a lot of internal rhyme that sounded cool but didn't make any sense at all. I don't know what any of it means now, and I didn't know then either. I soldiered away at the craft like I was driving a wheelbarrow through the mud and finally buried the wheel in what I called Writer's Block at about age eighteen. It was writer's block, and only real writers can have that, right? I now credit my writer's block with being something of a truth-teller. I think it's one of my healthier qualities: I can only fake it so long, and then I bog down. And I was totally faking it. I wanted to be a writer, not write. You should always write what you know, and I didn't know anything. I'd have done just as well trying to grow a Walt Whitman beard.
It's hard to know how to celebrate when every day's a blessing. I just got another essay accepted to The Christian Science Monitor and Dave said "we should celebrate!" Yes! What should we do that would be better than what we were going to do anyway, which was have a beer and then a nice dinner that he cooks? "We could have a really good beer!" Yes! We could! Dave hunts in the fridge. "Looks like we just have our regular good beer," he says. "I love that!" I say. We have that. We clink glasses.
I've had this weird thing since I was a real little kid. Whenever I picture a number, I see it floating in