Sunday, March 20, 2022

89th Anniversary of Myself

The person I once was is still me.

                                    Helen Bevington

Don’t make a fuss. It’s only a number and the wrong one at that. What we call our birthday is not our day of birth but rather the anniversary of that occasion. Furthermore, if mindless men in red states prevail, we will suddenly become nine months older than we thought we were. Happy fetus.

I have total recall of my days as a fish-like substance in that embryonic sea. I sensed there was trouble ahead during the last six months of 1932 and first three of ’33. The thought of eating apple sauce out of a  Dust Bowl was not appealing at all. Eleven days before my first breath I announced myself.

Peggy was soon to turn twelve. She lived in Manhattan but came to stay here in L.A. with her uncle just in time for the Long Beach earthquake of 6.4 on March 10th. That was me getting ready for the big swim down the canal. We always regarded that day as an omen though it took almost five decades till we felt the earth move together.

Birthdays are a fiction of the calendar. I suppose I do contain each of my eight-nine years, some a bit more than others. The chronology doesn’t always behave. At age nineteen I was thirty and at forty-eight I was finally, nineteen. My preference now is to be of no age which is to say, every age. The twenty-first of March used to be the first day of spring but the vernal equinox seems to have undergone a celestial makeover along the way .

Peggy never learned how to act her age and I hope to refuse also. When she was my age she was half as old, still in her prime at the century mark. Is that possible? Yes, it is. Here's what I have come to know. The best times are those outside of time when hours fly by unrecorded. Creativity and loving defy all measure of the clock. 

As for infirmities, I can't think of anything more boring to talk about. So I won't. I never realized how many body parts I have and they're all out of warranty. 

Did I ever tell you about the time I… Yes, you did, now be quiet. When all my stories have been told and shamelessly embellished it may be time to look out the window and marvel at this bush I have scrupulously overlooked now bursting with clusters of rhododendrons or that stump across the street the result of overzealous pruning. The coral tree has lit eleven red candles which I shall not blow out.

As a blogger I babble along with the proverbial brook though now and then I feel more aligned with the hush of it all. I have already told the world what to do and did they listen? No, they did not.

Celebration seems uncalled for as long as new wasteland is being created every day by unconscionable acts. Russian protestors are being hauled away for carrying signs that say nothing. Some silences are louder than words.

I have now lived longer than Mozart, Keats and Stephen Crane combined proving there is no divine plan in the allotment of years. My footprint barely registers but perhaps it’s O.K. not to succeed as long as one does it with an open heart.

I'm taking comfort in the words of A.K. RamanujanYou can count all the oranges on a tree but never all the trees in a single orange. Who knows what juice still remains under the rind?


  1. Beautifully said Norm. “Creativity and loving defy all measure of the clock.” You have participated in both with great passion. Have a very happy birthday. Your foot print will register more than you can imagine. How many smiles have you given? More than you can remember. How many lives have you touched? More than you know

  2. Thanks so much, Gillian. How sweet of you. We did have some memorable lunches didn't we? Love from afar.

  3. Joyful thanks for this joyful celebration of life as it comes!

  4. Belated happy birthday dear Norm. I often think of you and Peggy sitting on your couch and reading The Magic Mountain to each other, and then I wonder how you had the time to do so much else in your time together. Thanks for being an inspiration for kind and generous relationships, and much else.

  5. Hi David and thanks for those good words. As a sweet mystery to my birthday I opened the mailbox that evening and there was a poem of Peggy's on page 100 in the Wallace Stevens Journal. It had been accept about 2-3 years ago.