So I turned 39 on Sunday, and it was fabulous.
Birthdays used to depress me. I’d look at my receding hairline, my occasionally stalled sportswriting career, and realize time was slipping away in that great hourglass of life (now having written that, I’m thinking of the “Days of Our Lives” opening, a soap opera I once loved. Go ahead, judge me.).
But now birthdays do the opposite for me: I’m generally excited when they arrive, as I feel lucky I’ve made it through another year. Sure, this year’s birthday lead-up was a little stressful, with the last-minute preparations to our apartment for our impending baby going on, and me realizing last week while flipping through the channels and finding “City Slickers” on that I’m now the exact same age as Billy Crystal’s character when he starts his mid-life crisis and goes to the cattle drive. (What a freaking great movie that still is; I still laugh out loud when Daniel Stern yells to his wife, “I hate you more! If hate were people, I’d be China!”)
But I just had a fantastic birthday weekend, filled with all kinds of life events: Saturday we went to a family friend’s house on Long Island to celebrate the baby naming ceremony of their daughter’s triplets. Triplets, my God, I can’t even imagine. All three babies were super-well behaved for being only seven months old, though one of the boys fell asleep during his baby-naming ceremony (hey, he was entitled, it was hot out).
Then we had a surprise 70th birthday party for my stepmother, who put new meaning into the word “surprise.” Seriously, she was as shocked as I’ve ever seen someone at a surprise party. My father deserves major kudos for keeping it such a secret, and the food was outstanding.
Sunday my wife and I used our joint birthday presents to each other (her born-on date was last Sunday) and got massages, hers a pre-natal one, of course.
Never, ever a bad idea to get a massage. My new favorite person Gina de-stressed my back and shoulders completely, and made me laugh when I asked her if new fathers come in a lot.
“Yeah,” she replied, “and they usually fall asleep within the first five minutes.”
Spent the rest of Sunday relaxing, doing one of my annual birthday traditions, corny though it is (I re-read “Life’s Little Instruction Book,” every year, and love it every time. My favorite maxim is No. 68: “Be Brave. Even if you’re not, pretend t be. No one can tell the difference.”), and we had a super dinner out at Atlantic Grill, one of my favorite NYC restaurants.
So yeah, 39 is pretty good so far. It’s going to be a year different than all the others, filled with sleep deprivation, diaper changes galore, and a new “roommate” who will require constant attention and be completely dependent on us.
**Just when it looked like things were finally calming down in Ferguson, Mo. Just when it looked like the police had stopped using tear gas indiscriminately, arresting journalists for no apparent reason, and the town was no longer a tinder box of violence as thousands peacefully protested the shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American named Michael Brown.
But no, Sunday night, hell broke loose again. A full three hours before the town-mandated curfew, police fired a shitload of tear-gas on protesters. Journalists like Robert Klemko of SI.com were arrested. There were reports of gunshots, and Molotov cocktails being fired at the police as tear gas rained down (the police said that, at least).
Absolutely like nothing I’ve seen in America since the Rodney King riots in L.A. back in 1992.
Just horrifying. How can this continue? Do the police feel like they just have free rein to do whatever the hell they want? If there are protesters being violent and threatening police, then they should be arrested.
But from the video and pictures I’ve seen, it just looks like massive, overwhelming police force against citizens.
The world is watching. And this is how an American police force reacts.
Awful, awful, awful.