Thursday, January 19, 2006

Dispatches from the Front

Yeah, I know. I haven't exactly been a writing machine of late. Truth be told, I haven't been feeling massively creative lately. (With the exception of trying to craft the perfect "sex weasel" image. Oh, and don't look up the phrase "sex weasel" on Google. There are some seriously screwed up people out there.) I think that nasty bug I had a wee bit back really put a cramp in my style. I'm better now, but still feeling a little wussy.

Plus, I've been dealing with Matters Financial when I'm not at work, and when I'm at work, I'm just pretty dang busy. (But in a very good way.) I get home and I just want to crash and burn. I jump in the shower, brush and floss, and then, I'm all about the shut-eye. I'm aiming for some additional sack time on Saturday which I hope will help rejuvenate me.

Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed.

Today is my brother Ed's birthday. He's 53. His health isn't great, and he spent his birthday in the hospital, hooked up to all sorts of unpleasant devices. I felt really, really horrible that his day was spent without any of us being able to be around him, if just for a few minutes. The hospital staff sang "Happy Birthday" to him, but that's not really the same thing, is it?

I was feeling a little melancholy on my birthday this past year. It's not that I expected a big surprise party or some huge, great gift, but I felt like it was a milestone that really wasn't marked in any significant way. I went out for dinner with a friend. He gave me a new cd. I went home. I probably put too much emphasis on birthdays, but at heart, I'm someone for whom the symbolism of milestones and birthdays is important. I am, sometimes, a very primitive being with an emotional, small brain, and I've seen too many TV shows and Lifetime movies with those big, boisterous 40th birthday parties, with tons of people cheering on the birthday girl/guy. And I guess, selfishly, I just wanted my 40th birthday to be a Big Deal for someone. Anyone, other than myself. Marked with something out of the ordinary - a wee fuss on my behalf. I was, frankly, having a really crappy year, and I wanted to feel special in some way. Is that so abnormal or churlish?

And yet, now, I feel like a cad for ever thinking so self-centeredly.

And besides, how can I possibly complain?

I had the company of one of the finest friends I will ever have in my life. A wonderful person. That, in of itself, is a tremendous thing, with a value beyond gems. In a lifetime, many people will not have a single friend whom they truly cherish. I am lucky. I am blessed.

And my greedy retrospection seems so shallow when my brother spent his birthday alone, hooked to machines to aid his failing kidneys. Makes me feel pretty damn low and childish.

All of my petty gripes and wants diminish in light of the fragility of another life. Despite being stretched thin over the past year, my life still has some elasticity left, while my brother's has grown brittle and delicate. And I would trade any fine gift to grant him fresh life.

But I don't think, short of a deal with that imaginary bastard, the Devil, I can do that.

So, instead, I'll sing "Happy Birthday" a second time into my brother's answering machine and just think every good thought I can. And then go to sleep and hope tomorrow to hear a voice a thousand miles away again.

Good night.


suze said...


i understand the milestones and the importance placed on them. and unfortunately, those around us don't always feel the same way. i'm struggling with the sense of disappointment that the man with whom i live and share my life didn't make a bigger deal about 30 for me this year and the accompanying feelings of guilt of selfishness those thoughts produce.

but looking at how he marked 30 for me and how i would mark 30 for him, this was a big disappointment.

i'm sorry your brother was all alone on his birthday. i'm sure he knows you were thinking of him and would have been there if you could.

Merujo said...

Well, we'll meet up at some point and have a late 30th and 40th bash for ourselves, eh?

I understand the guilt and selfishness issue. My friend who took me to dinner and gave me a lovely gift could not have been more generous or sweet.

It's so stupid, yet, you want to feel special. And then, you find yourself thinking, well, I guess I'm not really that special, and I should just get over yourself. Then, you hear from a friend how a spouse or an S.O. put together some great gathering with a bunch of friends.

One of my problems is, I don't have that many friends here in DC. (But those I have, I really treasure. And without them, I would have faded away last year.)

I wish I could have been out there for my brother's birthday. I haven't been home in a very long time now. I need to take a couple of leave days at some point and either fly out or drive out to the Midwest. Just a little reality check...

Washington Cube said...

Birthdays are milestones. Some are blessed with big broohaha's, and others get minimal to none. I was born just before Christmas, so you KNOW the story of my birthday life, even from my own relatives. It's amazing how easily the excuse "I'm so busy right now" trips from the tongue at that time of year. I wish I could report that I've gotten used to it, but I haven't. It's human nature to see that as "our day" and to want a little more out of the day, isn't it? I'm not sure anyone ever outgrows that need.

Merujo said...

Oy vey! When I was really little, kids didn't really want to go to my birthday party because it was the day after Halloween. Who wants cake when you have a pillowcase full of mini candy bars?!?

But a birthday around Christmas - now that a lifetime bummer/challenge from the celebratory standpoint.

In Russia, it's the responsibility of the birthday girl/guy to arrange/hold the celebration. People invite you to join in their fun. Perhaps, had I not been scraping the bottom of the money barrel, I should have done that myself. But still, you kinda hope that your friends will get together and do something for you as a group. Maybe this speaks more to me being somewhat antisocial. I dunno.

(Happy late birthday to you, too, Cube.) :-)

Claire said...

I sincerely hope your brother is feeling better, but I also totally understand your feelings about your own birthday. For me, it's compounded by the fact that I'm the one who remembers everyone else's birthday while having to remind them of mine if I want to hear from them.

In the greater scheme, my 30th was fine, good at times even, but it still seems lame compared to the surprise weekend getaway bash with 20 or so people a dear friend of mine had a few months before mine. And everyone else over 30 seemed to have some great story for theirs as well.

I just try to remember they don't think of bdays the same way I do. Of course, someone always seems to be taking care of theirs...