Saturday, June 24, 2006

Today I Turn 50

Yes, today is my 50th birthday. I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, on June 24, 1956, at 4:49 in the anti-matter, at what was then known as Madison General Hospital. I am told it was hot all that June until the day I was born, when the heat broke and it was never so unreasonably hot again the rest of the summer.

Fifty years ago. Five decades. Half a century.

Turning 50 I feel at ease, almost serene. Of course it helps that in recent years I find myself living a quiet and usually tranquil life; I'm doing work I love, living among people I love; I'm in good health; and I live on a gravel road far out into the countryside, far from the madding crowd of city life.

Turning 40, by contrast, was for me quite an ordeal. Several months into being flat broke, massively in debt, radically underemployed, and with no light at the end of the tunnel. It's a long story, let me tell you. I did that midlife crisis thing: pulled a Kerouac, ran away 2000 miles across the continent to Seattle for six weeks, and when that predictably failed, I plunged back to earth like Icarus who had flown too close to the sun. Hopeless. Months of quiet hopelessness ensued. And in the midst of that quiet hopelessness, I became a very different person than I had always been— slower, mellower, more easygoing: a lasting transformation that has stood me in good stead these past ten years.

Turning 50 feels easy by comparison. Like I say, almost serene.

Saturday is usually my most reliably busy day of the week, in some ways even more of a marathon than Sunday morning. But this week I got things done early, and so I plan to spend today quietly relaxing. May head out somewhere, may just sit around.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Deb said...

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, June 24, 2006 8:56:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa W. said...

Happy Birthday from Eastern Canada!

Saturday, June 24, 2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Mrs_Who said...

CalTechGirl sent me over...Happy Birthday...I could sing the birthday song to you (as long as you don't have any dogs around, because they would start howling and you couldn't hear my singing!!).

Saturday, June 24, 2006 3:13:00 PM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

Happy birthday!

I'd like to say that it was in your honor of your birthday that I mentioned Richelieu at peirce-l today, but that honor was already in the works.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 5:03:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Your blog-mom CTG sent me over too!

Happy birthday! I'm turning 40 this year and I plan to ignore it. I think I'll opt for "serene," ten years early. Here's to 50-plus more!

Saturday, June 24, 2006 9:52:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Thank you, all! I had a good "50 year old" birthday yesterday: drove down to Waukon, had a sandwich at Mulligan's Grill Pub, found some shirts on sale (50% off) at Pamida, and got groceries at the new supermarket which opened just a couple of weeks ago.

BTW, when we call Richelieu French in a different sense than calling him Canadian, I think what we mean by calling Richelieu French is actually that Richelieu is Kerguélenois. Though very well disguised. ;-)

Sunday, June 25, 2006 8:00:00 AM  
Blogger The Tetrast said...

Richelieu, the Kerguélenois, sign classification, all the threads will be united...eventually...um, when I think of a way...

Monday, June 26, 2006 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Sorry, I'm a bit behind the times, but belated Happy Birthday! I also came here from Caltechgirl. :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 4:40:00 AM  
Blogger Richmond said...

I'm late, but I wanted to wish you a very Happy Birthday anyway! :)

Saturday, July 01, 2006 8:26:00 AM  

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