Yesterday was my birthday, and in the spirit of Ice Cube’s song (quoted from above), I’d like to record for posterity an enjoyable time.
I awoke around 8:30am to the sound of our cat, Ruthie, meowing outside the door. After I let her in and got back in bed, she jumped up onto my chest for her usual session of purring and kneading with her claws.
Over a series of espressos (half decaf), I spent much of the morning playing around on Shutterfly.com with different configurations for a photo-book of assorted travel pictures I’m making. I’ve already had the little books made for my Japan and Britain trips. It’s really fun how you can collect snapshots into a bound book that seems more or less professional. I often daydream of coming out with photography books, so this is an enjoyable way to play around with the concept.
Around 12:30, with weather sunny and, somewhat ominously for me, already in the 70s, I rode my bike downtown to meet my friend Ned. We lunched at The Red Coach, a longtime favorite of mine. It’s been around since 1954 and has red vinyl booths as well as some of my favorite burgers in Portland. I went with the ‘Double Karl’s Special’, a wondrously decadent double-patty concoction. At the Red Coach the waitresses also walk around with pitchers of Coke for free refills.
There’s nothing like a birthday to prompt impromptu spending. For a couple years I’ve had this pair of brown slip-on boots in a kind of Swinging London style from Banana Republic that I love. But brown doesn’t go with everything, so I gave myself a birthday gift of a matching black pair.
As if the burgers and fries weren’t enough, Ned had a hankering for a cookie afterward, so when he stopped in a cookie shop on the way back to his office, I couldn’t resist. But instead of my usual chocolate chip, I decided to live dangerously and go with white chocolate chip.
In the afternoon there was actual work to be done on various writing assignments in different stages of completion, and I also began the final proofread on my Oregon Ducks book, which comes out in July. Last week I received the bound proofs in the mail, with the photos and graphics all laid out. I’d been very worried about how it would look, because I wasn’t a big fan of the publisher’s graphic design on previous titles. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how Tales From the Oregon Ducks Sideline will look.
Because my birthday was on a Monday, we decided to delay my birthday dinner until Saturday, when we’ve got reservations at Fenouil, this yummy-sounding Pearl District restaurant. So for my literal birthday dinner last night, we got take-out from La Serinita, this terrific hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Sellwood. I was more than satiated by a burrito, a taco, half of Valarie’s enchilada and lots of chips with guacamole. But then there was birthday cake to be had, a delicious chocolate-on-chocolate number courtesy of Valarie with an assist from Betty Crocker.
To wind down the evening, we watched about a half-hour sequence of The Empire Strikes Back from Luke and Han’s rescue through the Empire’s invasion of Hoth and our heroes’ escape by Millennium Falcon and X-Wing, respectively. Those AT-AT walkers are so cool after all these viewings and years, although it’s equally satisfying when Luke, his snow speeder crashed, hoists himself with a grappling hook (which I ordered away for as a kid to go with my Star Wars Luke action figure) to the walker’s underbelly, throws a grenade, falls down into the snow, and watches the massive thing tip over in explosion. The original Star Wars trilogy in particular is so brilliant at portraying those kinds of David-and-Goliath situations with those most armed and powerful tripped up by small but ingenius and motivated adversaries. The only weird thing about it now, though, is that the exact same thing is being done to the United States. Are we the Empire?
Luckily such dour existential/political questions didn’t dog me as the birthday wound to a close. Aside from being uncomfortably full, emboldened by the birthday I was for once able to slip away from the pressures of everyday reality like a Calgon bubble bath and allow for a moment of contentment.