Birthday Observations Early in the Morning…


The author, at age five.

My birthday’s today. It’s 2:48am and I’ve got life lessons to share. Taking into account my insomnia, please permit me to convey what I’ve acquired over the past 44 years. I hope the following words benefit my readers, from Russia to Micronesia and everywhere in between.

  • Everyone yearns for respect. It greases the wheels of life to give folks consideration, whether they’re a janitor or a politician. It doesn’t cost that much, and it goes a long way in building connections in this world.
  • I have a wide variety of friends, some are very refined and some aren’t as much. However, I’ve always been fascinated by how friends who were defined as “jerks” had a tendency to be fiercely loyal when times were difficult. In every circle of friends, keep the jerks. They’re quite remarkable.
  • If someone is telling a story, don’t try to immediately tell a similar story. You may mean well, but just permit that person to enjoy their moment.
  • Quiet moments possess a certain beauty. My car rides to the farmer’s market with my grandfather were often quiet. Yet as a kid, I grew to appreciate the silence and hang on to my grandfather’s words when he spoke.
  • I have friends who are husbands; I have friends who are fathers. They’re just as fearful as wives and mothers; however, males are chastised into suppressing their fears and sorrows, by their fathers, by their bullies, by their buddies, and by their patriarchal institutions. Buried deep, it is. The thing is, this emerges like emotional fungi: creeping to the surface, tainting relationships and inner peace, in other ways. If you have a husband or a father, take note of this. Permit their vulnerability, when possible.
  • Dogs love you, but you have to work hard for it. Cats tolerate you, but you have to work for it a little less. For the record, I love them both.
  • My mother raised two daughters and four sons without a husband. She doesn’t wear a cape, but she’s my hero.
  • About 70% of my friends are female. I’ve lived in a group house of three girls in graduate school, and two live-in relationships with girlfriends. Women are talented, remarkable, strong, complex, and just as challenging as men. Kinda nice to find that commonality.
  • Mortality? It’s not bravado to say that I’ve been acquainted with death a few times in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely want to stick around and have a long life. At the same time, I notice a little more gray hair than before; I also notice my inability to party for long durations. I’ll die someday. It’s a fact. That said, it’s important that I’ve lived a fulfilled life. One aspect of that is becoming a published novelist. It’s my dream. It’s also one of my greatest endeavors.
  • Multiple drafts and thousands of words. Like climbing Everest, you have to take it one step at a time, from basecamp to basecamp, with the supplemental oxygen of mentors, beta-readers, and friends who believe in you. My laptop is my Sherpa; it carries my dream.
  • Relationship advice? I’m the last person to provide insight on this, but it is 3:39am, so I guess I should say something. Providing love is never enough. But if someone loves you back, fight like hell to preserve it. If those feelings are true, protect it. Love is a durable eggshell.
  • I was raised in a housing project for the first 12 years of my life. I lived in a working-class neighborhood for another six years before leaving for college. Some countries have caste systems based on culture and religion. The United States has a caste system based on education and income. Answer me this: when was the last time you became friends with someone not from your childhood who didn’t have a college education? A political movement can easily exploit that vulnerability.
  • Politics? I’m not gonna discuss politics. I’m drinking rum, right now.
  • Never go cheap on maple syrup, beer, or a Mother’s Day gift.
  • When it comes to Peace Corps volunteers eating in West Africa: goat tastes like gamy beef, bush rat tastes like goat, and gamy beef is often served with tongue, entrails, and spices.
  • “Godfather: Part II,” “Godfather,” “Goodfellas,” “Star Wars,” “Empire Strikes Back,” “Magnificent Seven,” “The Great Escape,” “Swingers” “Scarface,” and “Fight Club.” Any woman who can learn to quote lines from these movies would be eternally awesome (from a pop-culture perspective) to their boyfriends or husbands. Don’t say I didn’t do you any favors.
  • My three older brothers taught me the importance of foreplay. My female friends explained how to perform it correctly.
  • I believe in God. Paradoxically, I also believe in evolution and natural selection. Spirituality and science aren’t mutually exclusive.
  • I’ve visited 12 countries and I still feel like it’s not enough. Swing Out Sister said it best, It’s Better to Travel.
  • To stay informed and well-rounded, it’s best to have a range of friends. I have friends in their late 20s. I also have friends in their early 60s.
  • Watch a film from a genre you don’t understand. Eat dinner at a restaurant you aren’t accustomed to enjoying. And listen to music beyond your familiarity. It’ll expand your horizons by leaps and bounds.
  • Exercise when you can. Bike when you can. Walk when you can. And drink lots of water.
  • Be kind. Be tough. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be nice. There’s a difference.
  • Don’t cut someone a break if they’re attractive. They’ll respect you for it.
  • Have a conversation with someone 40 years older than you or 20 years younger. You’d be amazed by the results.
  • If someone hugs you, let him or her release first. If someone calls you, let him or her say goodbye first.
  • Learn at least a little bit about the principles of science, history, or literature each month. It makes you a better conversationalist.

Well, it’s 4:11am. I guess I should get some sleep. Please take my advice to heart. Not that I’m the final authority, but there’s some usefulness to apply.


Take care,


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