Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Ides of March (Plus One)

Spoiler Alert: I admit to fallibility in this edition of Prairie Pondering. Stop reading now if that is a problem.

Tomorrow is my 57th birthday. I've been joking that these are the last of my pre-Heinz days. I started celebrating a couple of days ago when I hit two downtown bars during happy hour with friends from work. I continued on Saturday at a wonderful dinner with Dana and Greg (b. March 15) Kellenberger. This morning, I was joined by three dozen friends and family members at Jun Bo, the town's best dim sum restuarant, for brunch. The owners' presented me with the frozen whipped cream cake pictured here in appreciation for my business generation on their behalf.

I am always grateful to reach another birthday. I never feel as old as the calendar makes me out to be. 57 used to seem ancient. Now it must be the new 37. I certainly do not feel close to retirement age, either chronologically or financially. I have survived on Earth nearly twice as long without my mother as I was blessed to live on it with her. But, as usual, my father contrasts her early passing with his youthful exuberance at 80. It was fun to watch him hold court at brunch this morning as long time friends discussed
their parents settling into the local Jewish assisted living facility. He reminded me, again, that he was never going to "end up" there, too.

There are a few indications that the new 37 is not exactly the same as the old 37. Last year, my dentist fitted me with a mouth guard so I would not grind my teeth at night. When she asked me if I was self conscious about how I looked wearing it, I just laughed. As I told her, I'm 30 pounds overweight, I'm balding, I sleep with a CPAP so I look like a scuba diver in bed, and when my sciatica acts up, I walk with a cane. No, I assured her, I was okay with a mouth guard.

My memory is probably not what it was when I hit 37 for the first time. I'm not worried about it, yet, but there are times when I'm an idiot. Last Wednesday I left the office in Minneapolis at about 4 p.m. to drive 120 miles to Brainerd. I had a meeting Thursday morning as a member of an advisory group to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and didn't want to have to drive up at 6:30 a.m. to make it on time. I made plans to have an early evening dinner with some clients to prepare for Thursday's meeting.

After driving for about 45 minutes and 40 miles, it occurred to me that I did not remember putting my overnight bag in the car when I left the house Wednesday morning. I pulled over on the freeway, looked in the back of the car, and spoke sailor. Taking the next exit, I returned to the farm on snowy, icy back roads, trusting my GPS rather than my memory, picked up my bag and headed out towards a planned shortcut to get me to my destination in a reasonable time. I forgot about the detour around the road construction on U.S. 12.

By the time I arrived in Brainerd with an extra 50 miles on the odometer, I was 80 minutes late. The clients were waiting for me in the hotel bar and we had a nice dinner. But it was not an early evening. It would have been nice to relax in the hotel's indoor pool as I did before last month's meeting, except I forgot to bring a bathing suit or shorts. Anxious to get a decent night's sleep, I plugged in the CPAP and grabbed my iPod, which I fall asleep to each night. Except that I had forgotten a component of the CPAP that I had removed to dry out, rendering it useless, and I had forgotten my headphones to use with the iPod. Without my mechanical aids, I did not get much sleep.

In the morning, I dragged myself out of bed to get ready for my meeting. I wanted to look my best, but I had forgotten my razor. I went out to the car, which, of course, had been parked outside all night. It had warmed up to -12 F by 9 a.m. The windshield was covered in frost. I needed to scrape it because I was running out of time waiting for the vehicle to heat up. I had my scraper but I had forgotten my gloves in the office.

The good news is that I have acquired wisdom from aging and don't sweat the small stuff. The world did not end by being 80 minutes late or by having to spend an extra $5 on gasoline. My hands warmed up once inside for my meeting. I slept well the
next night. I'll be more careful when leaving home next time. Until I drop some weight, it's probably best that I don't go out in public in a swimsuit. My stubble while meeting with the D.N.R. was notable only in its inadequacy. And not having headphones for the iPod Wednesday night just meant I had more podcasts to listen to on the drive home.

March 16th. A birthday I've shared for 57 years with James Madison, our similarly short 4th President, and with Jerry Lewis, our similarly bloated cultural ambassador to France. Tomorrow I turn 57 and, as I've often noted to others fretting about their age, it beats the alternative. "Thank you" to all my well-wishers. I do love celebrating birthdays, whether mine or yours, in large part because it reunites me annually with so many great friends.

From memory (mostly):

Fairy tales can come true,
It can happen to you, if you're young at heart;
For it's hard, you will find
To be narrow of mind, if you're young at heart;

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes,
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams;
And life gets more exciting with each passing day;
And love is either in your heart or on the way;

Don't you know that it's worth
Every treasure on earth to be young at heart;
For as rich as you are,
It's much better by far to be young at heart

And if you should survive to a hundred and five,
Look at all you'll derive out of being alive;
And here is the best part, you have a head start,
If you are among the very young at heart!


MN accent said...

What a great post for your birthday! And don't worry about being so forgetful as part of old age. Phil forgets things all the time, I think you guys have a personality of day dreamers. Probably one reason why a woman like Deb is a necessary component to your life. :)

I had a great time at your birthday lunch! So many fun family members!

Tessa said...

A belated Happy Birthday to you Sam and this entry made me laugh. A woman I knew who died of breast cancer about 6 years ago, told me that I must be very grateful for every single birthday and celebrate my advancing age with much happiness. All I can say is you are both right.

Elf said...

I'm enjoying reading through your wide-ranging topics. This one reminded me of our comments on Prolific tonight: I don't FEEL older! Well, mentally. Well, most of the time. Well--OK, the body doesn't behave the way it used to, but really that's just a phase it's going through and I'll be better in the morning.

Cheers. Happy birthday.

-ellen (from Prolific)