A person I know just celebrated their 34th birthday.

When I was that age I was living off-grid, sleeping in a tiny 5th-wheel, and waking on winter mornings with blankets frozen to the wall. I’d just met the man I would marry, and that was also the year we not only wed, but moved to the ‘city’. A house with electricity, although the only source of heat was a wood stove. And the ‘city’ had a population of 157.

Lisa & Art North Fork bridge

Okay, so have to admit we look really young here

We were on the fire department. I’d just been certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. I was working in a mental health agency, in grant-funded birth-to-three programs.

Of course, I was writing. That was the year I got brave enough to send out my very first manuscript for professional editing and then off to agents. Thanks to the encouragement of my husband.

Art Hitler Lookout Point

Two years later, at 36, we had our son. There were concerns during the pregnancy about my ‘advanced age’.

I felt rather old at those comments.

Arthur Lookout Pt 4

Lookout Point just like his dad

Now I’m a few weeks away from sixty.

And suddenly, thirty-four sounds so very young.

I wonder, if I make it to one hundred, if I will write a blog about how very young sixty sounds.

When young, it was important to my mother to celebrate birthdays, but it’s never been a big deal for me. I feel no need to celebrate sixty, either. Matter of fact, I kind of want to ignore it. Except that I also kind of want to go to Vegas and get a tattoo.

19th birthday 1979

19th birthday. And see Spot? The dog down there waiting for cake to fall? Dogs, always.

All this makes me think of a poem by Mary Oliver that ends with this line.

‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

Sixty years old. There’s still plenty of time to decide. Although I don’t think I have valued enough just how wild and precious and rare and short-lived life actually is. Too many years spent being too hard on myself, living obligations instead of life, worrying about doing the right thing, whatever the ‘right’ thing actually is. Too worried about disappointing others, or letting others down. Having to be the ‘good’ one.

That tattoo and Vegas is sounding better and better.

Vegas sisters

The last Vegas trip with sisters…and yes, tattoos were involved

8 thoughts on “Birthdays

    • We found this great tattoo parlor in Vegas, but not on the strip, called ‘Black Omen Tattoo’. We were there for a family reunion and our son’s 21st birthday, so a whole bunch of us descended on the tattoo parlor, and the guys there were wonderful. Ah the twenties…fond memories. Here’s a quote for you by Jesse Houston: ‘Now is the time when we must renew ourselves and live as if we and all of life is sacred and as if everything we do makes a difference’.


  1. I guess you’ve had your birthday by now so Happy Birthday! I’m staring down at a major milestone myself this April. Like you, I was at that “advanced maternal age”. What a horrible thing to say to a woman. I saw it on my chart, “High Risk Pregnancy due to Advanced Maternal Age”. Time has flown by since then and I look back at how I didn’t feel old until someone told me I was. Funny how that works. Well I wonder if you got that tattoo… I’ve never felt the urge to get one but I’m always fascinated to look at other peoples. I guess because it’s art and… well you know…


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