Skip to main content

50 is the New Black

So where ever you are, whenever you see this, glass in hand or no, please join me in saying, "Thank you Lillie Mae for this moment your effort has brought into being."
Despite thinking last year I might want to approach birthdays differently, and this being one of those milestone years, I found myself responding to my roommate asking, "what do you want to do for your birthday?" with "oh shit, that's soon." A high school friend has been doing a "50 days to 50" thread on Facebook, essentially 50 days of gratitude.  My initial wish that I had thought of something similar was met with, "seriously dude? Do you even know who you are?" Aside from actually feeling like a huge number the most significant thing about turning 50 is that I will remember my age this year consistently without doing any math. Periodically I think it's fair to ask myself if I'm in denial, in some way, about aging, about where I am in my life, its composition. This isn't the life I'd have planned for myself 20 years ago. The one thing I anticipated was being a father. As far as I know, that hasn't happened. I'm a little surprised sometimes at how ok I am with that fact. Rather than being in denial about my age, having ruptured my Achille's tendon in the fall by taking a slightly faster than walking step, I'm very conscious of the process of aging right now. The easier to remember number remains somewhat arbitrary.

The one personal birthday tradition I continued this year was thanking my mother for it. The labor was all hers. I've been thinking about my mother a lot this year. Her birthday is my great-nephew's half birthday. My niece frequently shares videos of him. Since she commented on the timing of their birthdays I can't see video of him without connecting it to my mother. My birthday is exactly half a year from my brother's. My mother's, brother's, my and now my youngest great-nephew's birthdays all fall on the 10th of our respective months. In my childhood home it felt like we were a special trinity, the number ten a kind of totem. If I were more into numerology and astrology I'd have done more exploration, but recognize that the only real significance is emotional. My great-nephew's birthday feels evocative of that relationship both to the familial and to the way that personal totems lead to memories cascading, unfolding, one from another. I feel like I was given an opportunity to truly know my mother, or more accurately, truly know her again when she became a grandmother. It was, in a way, a glimpse into my childhood. It's difficult to track where the changes in our relationship were the result of my growth and changing awareness, the pressures from outside our relationship, or the difficulty of being a single parent. Regardless, it became clear how much more expressive her love was when not also combined with a mother's fear for her child. I think this is why I'm so ok with being childless. I'm not sure that there is a level of security that would leave me unafraid for my children with our current climate trajectory. If staving off the end of human civilization in 30 years requires drastic concentrated action in the present my DNA combined with that of another would cease to exist not long after I did. Much more macabre than I intended for my reflection on my birthday. Obviously, it's an age thing.


Popular posts from this blog

Anti-racism - Class = Status Quo: The Neoliberal Argument Against Coalition

I was approached a few months ago around the idea of collaborating to make the progressive case for reparations. I've said before that while the idea of reparations is morally appealing I don't believe in them as an immediate political project. It's not clear to me that it's possible to build a coalition around a reparative justice focused on just 13% of the population. Encouraged by a recent Twitter conversation that included economists Sandy Darrity and Darrick Hamilton where they suggested that saying reparations will never happen is cynical I've begun trying to think of them as an eventuality and lay out the steps to reaching them. Doing this has made clear that our understanding of reparations as a form of compensation to the descendants of the enslaved is not the reparative justice that we think it to be. If we were living with the kind of understanding of justice that made reparations possible we would not be a nation where war, healthcare, education, and cr

Is Cynicism More Disqualifying Than Ignorance?

I was somewhat reluctant at the time to ascribe any specific intent to Elizabeth Warren's DNA stunt, just focusing on what it said about her political instincts. In retrospect, because of subsequent choices, I see it as craven cynicism. I get that, "I have a plan for that!" is supposed to be her new brand, but obviously, a working plan isn't a central part of that. Her brand should actually be "Pandering Cynic". I now find myself wondering if even she thinks the policy she offers will do what she says it's intended to do. I've been saying in my head that I feel irrational anger towards her, but it's actually quite rational and specific. My posting schedule has been off because I've been playing with the idea of submitting pieces for publication. I've been thinking a lot about how we talk about disparities and how the conversation is used as a cudgel against universal policy. The closest to a good faith version of this argument is

If You Love Your People, Set It Free (or How an Identitarian Came To Prefer Universal Policy Over Identity Politics)

This post is late because I was in LA last week, where I made a point of walking as much as possible to enjoy my audiobook. Although I still have 20/20 vision I have been slow to accept that aging has made it more difficult to read, making it feel increasingly like a chore. In fully embracing this I've finally started looking for audiobooks I might find engaging enough to not be constantly distracted. For my trip I chose Mehrsa Baradaran's The Color of Money , which looks at the persistence of the racial wealth gap in the US.  It was incredibly striking and depressing listening to  The Color of Money while accidentally walking through encampments of the unhoused, watching new encampments sprout up in the short time that I was there. This is who we've always been. If you have any doubt, the history recounted in  The Color of Money  makes it clear that capitalism has always been about extracting wealth from Black people and keeping poor people poor. On checking into Twitter