Preeclampsia, Fatherhood and Reflections on a First Birthday

One year ago, I unexpectedly became a father earlier than I thought I would be — my wife was due toward the end of January and the weather was looking more and more brutal every day. A few days before she gave birth, Elizabeth started complaining about really bad headaches and her doctor had her come in for some tests. It turned out that she had preeclampsia and it was preventing proper growth in the womb. The doctors were undecided whether to induce labor or not but when it became clear that the yet unnamed baby was in danger (We decided, in the spirit of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, not to find out the gender of the baby — it was good enough for generation after generation and it was good enough for us!)

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Elvis Presley Sings the Memphis Blues

Today is Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday and instead of celebrating him, we instead must deal with our woe in missing him, and in coping with what he left behind, and we’re left this way because of his his selfishness in drug addiction.

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On Turning 31

It occurred to me early on in the month that I was going to be turning thirty-one. More specifically, it occurred to me on the first day of the month because both my brother and mother called me to wish me a happy birth month. This happens to be a custom that goes back so many years that I don’t remember when it started; either that, or it is so new that I just don’t realize that it only has started within the last few years. Maybe turning thirty-one has done something to my memory.

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On Turning Thirty

I think I can pinpoint the moment the madness began. It was about six or seven years ago in my mother’s family room, and I was watching an episode of Ally McBeal. It was the episode where Ally was freaking out because she was turning thirty and she was really upset because she felt like she hadn’t accomplished a lot of the goals she had set for herself at that age.

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Happy Birthday Granny

It has been nearly four years since my grandmother fell due to a stroke that has caused her to live under supervised care around the clock since then. Despite having difficulties in communicating and sometimes wondering if she fully understanding what I am saying, I could hear in her voice the happiness she felt as I wished her a happy ninety-fifth birthday. It brought back a delightful flood of memories for me.

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Birthday Thoughts

In a mere eight days (half a day away from being 8 1/2, one of the greatest films of all time and in any case on my personal top ten list) I will reach another milestone in my life, turning twenty-seven.

Milestones
There are ever so many birthday milestones one faces. There’s the traditional bris, which happened a mere eight days after I was born – sixteen days from now, in other words, minus twenty seven years. A big one for me was turning thirteen and having my bar mitzvah. The months and months preparing for it were quite intense, and climaxed with the event itself, wherein my dear friend at the time, Omar R., kept on trying to make me laugh while I was in front of everyone attempting to be quite serious.

The next age of importance, traditionally, is that of eighteen. I remember specifically writing in a journal that I had at the time that it was the age of cigarettes, the military, and porn. I find it quite amusing that there is a way to connect the three. One is old enough to choose the President, but not old enough to choose to have a whiskey and cola mixed drink in a public bar. I commemorated being able to vote in 1996 when I tossed my vote (quite possibly in the literal sense) to Ralph Nader. Had I known his feelings towards Israel, I probably would not have voted for him then and in 2000. How lovely ignorance is.

Speaking of twenty-one, I went to Atlantic City for the occasion of my twenty-first birthday. Every time I would put in the “VIP” card in the slot machine (which they gave to anyone who applied for one at the front desk of the casino) it would wish me a happy birthday. I celebrated my birthday by drinking, smoking, and gambling to the tune of twenty dollars – which I somehow managed to double, two days in a row. That is to say, I would enter the casino with $20 in my wallet and walk out with $40 two days in a row. This was before I was religiously observant, so I took full advantage of the cheap buffet style restaurants. For some reason, one thing I learned from my father that has always stuck in my mind is that at buffet style restaurants, the more expensive food comes at the end of the line. This is how they “get” you – because you stock up on cheap carb heavy foods and don’t get as much of the more expensive meaty foods.

Car rental was next – at the age of twenty-five. I have never rented a car in my life, and as I loathe driving (four years after I wrote this article, I can safely say that I really do hate driving), I hope I never have to. My mother also told me that twenty-five is the age for men at which the metabolism begins to slow down. I responded to this by taking the stairs more often. People would think me strange at the law school where I worked, as I would walk up and down the five flights of stairs on a somewhat regular basis. This has of course carried over to this day, as I have a gym membership that I make good use of.

Now What?
This leaves just one problem – what happens next? What are the big milestones that come after one turns twenty-five? Well, for me, this is one – turning twenty-seven. Actually, the next few years are going to be milestones on their own, as they will be one year closer to the ever-dreaded thirty. I don’t know how long I have been saying it, but I have said for a long time that if I woke up on my thirtieth birthday and I were not married, I would have to have a good long cry. One that would most likely last the whole day through.

There are some things that I am unhappy about, now that I am turning twenty-seven. It seems quite clear that my novel, which I had hoped to finish by the end of the month, will most likely not be finished by the end of the month. It will mark just about three and a half years since I started working on the novel. Granted, there have been many months during which I have not written at all, but this should not be an excuse for me taking so long with this novel. When I had the idea for this series of novels, it was that I would write just about one novel per year, perhaps more if possible. The novels are all going to be connected through the characters. In a way, I was hoping (and still hope) to write the American version of Balzac’s “Human Comedy.” It will be considerably more difficult to do this if it takes me so long to write even one novel. Of course, my employment probably has something to do with this.

The Job Situation
At the present moment, things are not exactly their most ideal in terms of the job situation. I don’t even know if the ideal is realistically possible, being that the ideal would be for me to live in an apartment by myself on Central Park West and to have nothing to do during the day but to write. That would be great. In reality, however, I work about forty hours per week for my own web design company, including much work that has absolutely nothing to do with web design. There is some envelope stuffing to be done as well. I have been toying with the idea of getting a part time position at Starbucks as it would be more affordable than paying for health insurance, and it would involve Starbucks, which I apparently am quite fond of. I got an employer identification number in the mail today, because apparently it is important to have one of these if one wishes to be a Limited Liability Company in good standing with the IRS, or something along those lines. I got to add the word “limited” to my company’s name. Though it hasn’t brought me much business, I have handed out my business card to quite a number of people. Despite all of this, what I really want to do is just to write.

I certainly hope the day will come when writing is all I do – and other creative endeavors as well. How I would love to direct the play I wrote….

Conclusion
There are other things to be considered when one turns twenty-seven. Do I play video games too often for a twenty-seven year old? Is it wrong that I have this many plush animals sitting on my bed? How did I manage to get a subscription to Nintendo Power and the Ayn Rand Newsletter? Have I really written fifty articles for Go Inside Magazine over the last four years? (I have, it seems – not counting Kate, the serial novel experiment.) How curious life is. Only three more years until I hit the big 3-0.