Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday.

I have nothing funny or particularly interesting to say about it, and most of you knew this already. I'm also not trying to elicit happy birthdays and whatnot, since most of you already did wish me such on Facebook or email.

Simply, birthdays make me think. What has been going on since my last birthday, what have I been doing, how do I feel; these sorts of things. Taking stock, I suppose. Perhaps it's because my birthday is also close to New Year's--especially this year, in Vietnam, when the lunar New Year happened to fall on Feb. 3rd--I also look at the world as a whole, and the slice of it my family and friends occupy.

Without going into detail, 2009 was the worst year of my life. 2010 was much, much better. 2011 will be, I hope, incredible, one of the best years of my life, as it has proven to be so far...I owe it to my family and friends, to those who helped me get through that year from Hell.

Instead of wanting birthday wishes, I want to say birthday thank-yous.

Thank you, Mom. I lack the words to convey how grateful I am, so I will have to hope that these three words will serve as a substitute until I can find some more effective way of communicating my gratitude and appreciation: I love you.

Thank you, Dad and Mary. Thank you, Marcella, Rob, and Fred. Thank you Brian, and Christine. Thank you, Fran and Laura. Newton famously said that if he'd seen far, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants. If I am capable of finding happiness, success, and a way of giving back, it is because I have leaned on my family, and you have held me up more than I deserved.

Thank you, Grandma. We all need unconditional love. I get this from Grandma, as well as one other source.

Thank you to my other source of unconditional love--my nephew Karl. You're too young to read this, but I hope your Papa will remind you how much I love you and miss you. To you, I'm not a flawed human being--not yet--but a source of love and fun. Family, as it should be. Being your uncle has made me a better person. The hardest part of leaving California was knowing that I would not be seeing you for a long time.

A special thank you here to Dave, who both motivated me to get to Vietnam, and helped me accomplish it. I wasn't stagnating in Willits--it was a crucial time of rest and retrenchment for me, but it was also not where I wanted to be in the long run. Whether or not Saigon turns out to be that place, I undertook the biggest and giddiest move of my life in large part because of you.

Thank you, Bri. Family encompasses also those who are not bound by blood, but by mutual respect, friendship, and love. You've shown me all of those things, even when I did not feel as though I deserved them. Perhaps that is what friendship is, ultimately: a grace we can never hope to truly earn, but only to reciprocate.

Thank you to Christine, Geoff, Bryn, Jenny; all my friends, near and far. In small ways or large, you have helped me and I have been blessed--there's no other word for it--with your friendship.

Thank you to all my Clarion West friends--you're family, too. You helped me stay connected to the world outside my own head, as well as to better times, when I needed it most. Special thanks to Douglas, and Chris and Maggie. Your guys rock. I can't wait to see you all.

Thank you to Codi, Dick, and Gina. Your friendship also meant a tremendous amount to me, and kept Willits from stifling me. The opportunities I discovered through you also made my leap across the Pacific financially possible.

Thank you, Sherwood School: Shauna, Luna, the children and their families. What we give, we also may receive. I found that I like teaching, and kids, for that matter, because of the months I spent there. If all goes according to plan, I will be back for a visit later this year.

And it may sound corny, but I also need to thank the dogs: Cheza, Zak, Norton, Bogart. Simple companionship is what dogs do best. They take us out of ourselves, or perhaps take us to parts of ourselves we rarely visit on our own. I wish I could send 'em all soup bones, or take 'em for a long walk. Ah, well--next October.

So, yeah. The things I wanted most for my birthday I found I already possessed. I hope you all will come and visit me here. I love you all. I miss you all.


  1. Happy belated, O. It has always been my pleasure to be your buddy.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, O. Your friendship has meant an incredible amount to me throughout my lifetime, and I'm really very glad things have gotten so much better for you over the last couple years. I hope they continue to do so, and that I continue to be a part of it.

    Also, I like the idea for this post; birthday thank-yous make a lot more sense then birthday wishes.

  3. O- I may be posting twice- you know me and computers!! I just want to say- tho only thanks I want is your continued well being. It truly was a gift to have you for those months.

  4. We miss you, too. But October will come soon enough :).