Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me.

Today's my birthday. And here ends a weekend of constant partying. Some of the parties were more raucous than others, but they were all celebrations of a sort. I've already mentioned Thursday and Friday. Saturday we went to Mankato for Cinco . . . er, Doce de Mayo. Diana knows how to lay out some food and beverages. It's too bad it's such a drive and I'm so old. I feel like I have to leave waaaaay too early, and I hate not opening and closing the party.

Then we did Mother's Day brunch at my brother's place and had huge omelets with my Mom, Jam, and Brigadoon. And their menagerie, which I like, because animals are fun. Last night we went to the In-laws' and Michele made a Greek chicken-and-pasta combination, with fudge-and caramel-sauce-covered chocolate cake for dessert. Mmmm. We played "basketball" with the Demon Nephew. He's a funny kid.

So we've gotten to my birthday. 37. That's an ugly number. It occurred to me that when I was still 36 that was kind of like 35 and I could convince myself I was in my mid-thirties still. Now I'm definitely hitting the end of the 30s and on to 40. Ugly. I still feel like I'm 25. Probably because I act like I'm 12. Michele and Mom visited me at work for lunch today and they brought me egg salad sandwiches, malts from Dairy Queen, and brownies with a candle I blew out. It was a nice surprise.

As for it being my birthday--I guess I'm pretty ambivalent. I don't like getting gifts, and I don't like getting attention (especially for merely not having died in the last year). And my birthday has been marked by negativity in the past. When I was nine I had chicken pox on my birthday. Happy birthday--don't scratch that.

The worst birthday I've ever had, though, was ten years ago today. That was the day I served as pallbearer at my grandfather's funeral. He was survived by my grandmother, the matriarch of the Beneshes. My grandmother--Gram--was an awesome woman. Tiny and always smiling, she had this charming Norwegian lilt to her speech, and still rolled her "r"s from a childhood (ninety years in the past) of speaking Norwegian almost exclusively. She was like Yoda--wise and hunched over. Except her syntax never twisted like the Jedi Master's, and she was much less green.

I emphasize Gram for a few reasons. Like I said, she was the unquestioned authority in the family, the matriarch. And her husband of sixty-nine years just died on Mother's Day. When she saw me she said, "Happy birthday!" and for a moment I'm positive that's all she was thinking of. One of my favorite people ever, and this is my last concrete memory of her. She died on Halloween, 2000. She was done. When Gramps died, she considered her work done. Her children were grown (and two of five had been buried). The grandchildren were all grown, and the great-grandkids were reaching adulthood.

I don't remember the rest of Gramps's funeral too clearly. We carried Gramps out of the little church where Gram had been baptized eight decades earlier and we put his coffin on the stand at the grave forty feet from the building. The wind blew the shelter and the coffin skirts, whipped them like it wanted them gone. We went to the church basement and smiled weakly over thin coffee and nineteen different Norwegian church-lady hotdishes.

Happy birthday to me. This year is much better.

10 comments:

Anskov said...

Hey Jason:

Happy Birthday. I'm gonna be turning 37 this year too - you're right, it's not a nice number. But for me it's not nice, not because of its proximity to 40, but because they both just always look strange to me together - 27 looked nice, but 37 - me no like.

Carol said...

Happy Birthday!!! And sounds like you had a nice time...well birthdays are always special days for us and best enjoyed in the company of dear ones!!!

Diana said...

Jason, we should talk. I turn 37 in July, and this number, more than any other, has really been bugging me. I think I'm in the midst of an existential crisis.

Boo fucking hoo.

Lovely seeing you and Michele at Doce de Mayo!!!

dchmielewski said...

Did you really give Heather her name from a musical, or even more appropriately from the song "Heather on the Hill". If so, can I get a nickname from "Spinal Tap". Maybe "Mudflaps", "Codpiece", "The Glove" or "Lick my Love pump". OK, how about "Eleven" I think that is much better than "The big pollack". Although, I know that I would not want my wife and future child's nick names to come from the same movie. I don't think I could explain to her that she is known on Jason's blog "Big Bottom".

Anyway. 37 is coming up for me this year in September. Kim didn't like 37 last year and i don't blame her. I am not sure if having a child will make me feel younger or older, but I am sure it is making Kim feel older about now.

I guess the best we can do is enjoy the parties. Happy 37th!

Jerry said...

Interestingly enough Dave, that is the actual source of her name. It is only fitting I suppose that her nickname is derived from it as well.

Jerry said...

Oh btw, hope you had a good birthday bro.

Mike said...

Dave...I can think of no better nickname for you than Codpiece, it's subtle yet accurate. Jason..best wishes on the birthday and welcome to the 37 Y.O. club..it's much like the 36 Y.O. club just with more wrinkles..less hair...oh and more back pain. Oh wait..maybe that was just me.

dchmielewski said...

Mike,

I realize that I walked into this one, but does this mean that you believe the best nickname for me is the equivalent of "Big, Fake, Dick"? ;-)

Just checkin'

Mike said...

Absolutely!!!!!

Jason said...

Matt:
I understand your near-OCDness on the number thing. We'll have to hang out and talk about it. There must be some decent thing to explore around Burnsville.

Carol:
No sale. But thanks.

Diana:
I haven't had this kind of breakdown since I turned 31. We will need to talk more.

Big Polack: I'm willing to go for a different nomenclature for you and yours. I'll come up with a way to make it fun.

Jam:
Of course, I had a good birthday. I did not die.

Hammer:
I'll leave the hair loss and back pain to you, brah. I'm good with the occasional forgetfulness and constant flatulence. Hey, where's Michele?

BP: You definitely walked into that.