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Birthday After-Action Report

My use of the phrase "after-action report" is always an exaggeration, but it's an even more gross exaggeration than usual in this case. My 54th birthday yesterday was one of the most uneventful I'd had in a long time. But there were a few moments that made it worth writing about.

I had written a facebook message to my brother and sister and asked them, in lieu of birthday gifts, to give a donation to FRAXA. My brother responded and said he would do that. I never got a response from my sister. I guess she must not have seen the message because when I came home Thursday night there was a big package from Amazon on my doorstep. 

I had enough discipline to wait for my birthday to open it. Sure enough, my sister had gotten me six books from my Amazon wish list. I probably should have sent her an email or called her to make sure she got the message not to buy me any gifts. And I probably will never feel as bad as I should about not making sure she didn't get the message.

I am not going to say anything to her about it. I am not altruistic enough to chastise someone for getting me a birthday present. Anyone who is should be forced at gunpoint to read Atlas Shrugged. In one sitting.

As I suggested above, I didn't do much on my birthday and didn't have any get-togethers with friends. But there were a few interactions that made it meaningful.

Of course I checked my facebook page. I had about 40 birthday wishes. Facebook birthday wishes can be impersonal, but a lot of the ones I got were really heartfelt. Some people wrote me haiku. I particularly liked this one:

You were born today
This has cultural value
For some damn reason

It's a very well-written haiku. It is also the most honest and insightful thing anyone  has ever said to me that didn't hurt my feelings.

My friend Beth offered the following interesting variation on haiku:

roses are radish
violets are syllabic nightmares
when it comes to haiku
to say happy birthday.
Happy Birthday! I reinvented Haiku for you!!!!!

That evening I got a phone call. My brother and his family sang happy birthday. That was nice, but it wasn't the best part of the day. The best part was conversing with my niece Andi afterwards. We talked about all sorts of things, much of it involving her school. She had recently taken a history test covering World War II. I quizzed her about what treaty ended World War I and she correctly answered Versailles. We talked about the economic consequences of the war. She understood most of it pretty well, but called it a depression. Good Austrian that I am, I filled her in on the Weimar hyperinflation. Maybe someday I can introduce her to Albert Jay Nock's take on the subject. Except that her daddy would probably kill me if I got her to reading Nock.

We also talked about less weighty things. She told me about a boy in her class who has ADHD with, in her words,  "a lot of the H part". They call him "monkey boy" because he likes to make monkey noises and jump on people. It sounded like her circle of friends is almost as colorful as my own!

It was a delightful conversation for a delightful birthday. I said at the beginning it was a relatively uneventful birthday. And it was, but it was very far from a lonely one. After recalling the day in more detail, I feel very loved.