Usually, a person celebrates their birthday on only one day. But this year, I get six days, so for today I am writing about some good fortune.
1 of 6: In late November, a friend sent a gift. It was totally unexpected, but so very appreciated.
2 of 6: On December 1, my mother sent my birthday gift. This gift, combined with the previous one, will contribute to the 6th day.
3 of 6: A friend who lives on the other side of the world sent me an e-card, which arrived here on December 2. That was really nice, and so thoughtful.
4 of 6: Today is December 3, my actual birthday. I don’t know what will happen today, if anything, but I’ll be present and aware of it, so it counts.
5 of 6: This hasn’t happened yet, but a friend I’ve had for almost 30 years will typically write or call on the 4th and say, “Happy Afterbirth!” I always get a laugh out of that, and it might be the only joke that never gets old, and yet it signifies when I do get old.
6 of 6: This one also has not happened yet, and the date has not been set. My roommate Catherine’s birthday was 3 weeks before mine, and due to our schedules and money being tight, we could not really do any serious celebrating. So we will go out, probably sometime middle of next week, and celebrate both of our birthdays.
WHAT MAKES THIS A GREAT FORTUNE?
During the past 7 years in particular, my depression has dictated how I will feel, what I will feel, and when I will feel it. And most of it was NOT positive or good in any way.
This year, it seems that I’ve made some great progress with regard to dealing with my Major Depressive Disorder. My doctor is working with me to get things where I think they should be. It’s a case of art meeting science, because no two cases are precisely alike.
What makes all of this a great fortune for me is merely the fact that I have the ability to acknowledge it, and then appreciate it.
THINGS I MISS AND DO NOT MISS ABOUT BIRTHDAYS PAST
I never had a birthday party as a kid, except one time. My brother’s birthday is less than two weeks before mine. Both occur in the winter in the Midwest, which is NOT the time for people to venture out for things like birthday parties. Plus, it would have to be indoors, and that would be a nightmare.
My sister, conversely, had big bonfire birthday extravaganzas when we lived on a farm and had the space. Her birthday was in June, so that was perfect.
One time, our parents threw a special bonfire party for my brother and I to share for our birthday. It went fine enough, but he and I both decided that once was enough for THAT kind of thing.
I miss seeing my grandparents on my birthday. They passed away in the 90s. I’ll always think of them.
I DO NOT miss the idea of, “Happy birthday, and this counts for Christmas, too.” I mean, I understood it sometimes. For example, in this photo, I’m holding a Santana skateboard. For some reason, this skateboard had a price tag of around $400. So I understood it in this case, and viewed it as an opportunity to have a gift upgrade of sorts.
What was annoying was that relative I wasn’t close with who’d pull this move with a bag of new socks. Sorry, that doesn’t work.
I must say that the cake is something that I do miss. My mother had a side-hustle of making birthday cakes, event cakes, and even 7-tier wedding cakes. She made the frosting from scratch, and it was so sugary that we kids got sick of it after a while.
I also miss my old Valvoline hat, which I found in a gas station parking lot. That’s where all of my best ball caps come from. I find it, wash it, and then wear it for a while. Recycle!
Most of all, I think that I miss the idea of my birthday being some kind of life milestone. I remember how I couldn’t wait to turn 13, because then I’d be a teenager. Then it was 16, so I could drive. Then 18, which meant I was an adult. Then 21, which meant I could drink. Then 25, which meant a major discount in the cost of my auto insurance.
But then 30 came along and reminded me that I’d gotten nowhere in my life, and that I probably wasn’t going to get anywhere, at least with regard to my dream of becoming a working musician. Not a rich-and-famous musician, but just a working musician.
That was probably the WORST birthday of my entire life. But at the same time, there was a positive element to it.
THE TURNING 30 STORY
1994 was a crazy year. My ex threw me out in the middle of the night, just 3 days after the Northridge Earthquake. Imagine driving around in the dark, looking for a place to live, and one piece of major shopping criteria is that the building must not be on fire or knocked down.
She and I had a “farewell” trip to Yosemite. This is where holes got poked in my condoms, and where I got forced into fatherhood against my will. That’s another story for another time. But when this happened, I moved back in with the ex and let her know that I’d be there for our son’s birth.
That’s the set-up to the day that things fell apart.
October 31, 1994 was the day that Megadeth had their album release party for “Youthanasia.” I was invited to this part, with a plus one, so I took my ex to the party. It was at a castle in the Hollywood hills. The press was there, record executives were there, and other people as well.
At one point in this party, I started to get a sinking sensation in my stomach. In roughly one month, I was going to turn 30. I had no major success, didn’t own a home, didn’t have a new car [I’ve NEVER had a new car], didn’t own a home [have never done that, either], had no significant savings, and had no career.
And I was going to turn 30.
So I had a MAJOR panic attack that caused me to run from the castle, into a bunch of bushes at the perimeter. My hope was to hang out in the bushes and try to work it out. This was the first panic attack that I’d had about my age, and I’ve not had such an event since.
But I’d not be alone in the bushes for very long. Nick Menza, the drummer in the band at the time, had been a friend of mine for a few years at that point. I was introduced to him by his mother, Rose, with whom I worked.
He asked me what was going on, and I told him. He listened intently, and responded sincerely.
“Dude, your age is meaningless. It’s just the number of times you’ve been around the sun. Don’t sweat that bullshit, dude.”
Had anyone else said this to me, it probably wouldn’t have worked. But because it was Nick, and I could tell he was sincere, I was able to pull myself together and join the party.
What also helped was the fact that Nick was only six months older than me. We’re approaching the 7th anniversary of his passing, and I still miss my drumming bud. RIP Nick.
If I had any advice to give on this, it would be to have your panic attack BEFORE your 30th birthday, so that you can enjoy the actual day a little bit.
A BIRTHDAY SONG I CO-WROTE
This was in late 1986 or early 1987. I had moved to LA to pursue my dream of being a working musician, when I met a musician named Otis. Otis was a really good guy. My mom liked him, and I thought that he was a really good dude.
We wrote a song together called “Happy Birthday, My Dear.” It was a slow song, with only two chords in the verse and two separate chords in the chorus. I don’t have any decent recordings of it, and it was never formally released, but I do remember the lyrics.
If you want to imagine music, then conjure up a slow love song, and imagine it’s by Morris Day & The Time.
Happy Birthday, My Dear
Another year has gone by
Another year has touched the sky
Another wish that you may wish
And how I wish that you were mine
So happy birthday, my dear
Many happy returns in the following year
Happy birthday, my dear
Many happy returns in the following year
That’s the song. It has more lyrics than Happy Birthday. w000!
IN THE END
Today, I am grateful for the positive people who are in my life. At the same time, I am grateful that I currently have no active future enemies in my life who might turn around and cause some trouble.
The positive people who have stuck around mean a great deal to me, as I recognize how difficult my hard times were for everyone around me, as well as for me. At the time, I didn’t have the bandwidth to think of others.
But now that I do, I can acknowledge those people who didn’t run away, which sometimes seems to be the logical thing to do. My depression has cost me friends, as well as opportunities, so I am grateful that it has no power here today.
There is other good news, such as my A1C dropping from 7.3 to 6.5, as well as my weight loss, from 248 to 228. Things seem to be headed in a positive direction with regard to my health. The doctor says I might live TEN more years. I can’t imagine what that might look like.
Then again, I could never have imagined today, not even a year ago.
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