Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To The Birthday Wallers

Ima go a bit off topic today. That is, this is a personal musing, and only tangentially related to writing or my books. Not that I expect anyone will have a problem with this, just figured I'd preface it. As an author, I enjoy a good preface. Not as cool as a preamble, but those are a bit classy for me.

Anyway, today is my birthday. *Confetti*

I've found there are two schools of thought about birthdays. There are the folks that think it should be a special day and want to throw you a party. Then, there are the folks that treat them pretty much like every other other day (with perhaps some well wishes). Unfortunately, I'm a member of the latter, even including my own day.

Maybe it's sad, but I don't really feel any different on my birthday. Perhaps a bit older, but after you gain the ability to legally drink (21 is a big age in the US. Not sure how other folks might feel) there's not a whole lot to look forward to. I passed the "rental car milestone" a couple years ago. Its uphill until 40. Then, what? Senior discount age? Woo boy.

That's really depressing, isn't it? My apologies. Birthdays can be great fun, and I don't mean to to be so blue. I actually wish I were more like the first group, but it's something I never really could convince myself of. Don't get me wrong, when it's your birthday, I'll totally throw a few back with you. I'll even buy the beer. Then again, I'd probably buy you a beer today if you asked nicely. I'm that kind of guy. (Plus, you know, buying beer is still pretty cool... see the aforementioned 21 y/o milestone.)

One of the newer traditions I've noticed is what I'll call the Birthday Wall. It happens on Facebook. People you may not have even met somehow are alerted to your day, and magically show up on your wall, wishing you a swell aging process. Don't ask me how this happens. I'm guessing a lot of these people are of the "special day" group. It's important, then, that they stop by and throw out a greeting. And it does make me smile. Who doesn't like being wished well? So mischief managed, you Birthday Wallers, you. I appreciate the thought, no matter how brief.

Yet, the cynical part of me wants to be a bit uncouth. Before you judge, though, follow my logic. I dislike my day job. We don't really get along. I'm rapidly discovering I'm not a day job kind of guy. It's part of my drive behind this whole writing gig. 9-5 just rubs me wrong. I work in fits and starts. Creative bursts of energy. Not steadily over 8 hours. (Incidentally, if/when I make it to a point where I can drop the day job, I still plan to try to spend 8 hours a day on my writing career. I already treat it like a second job, logging hours daily... but I'm much better at harnessing my own finicky productive time than any manager could ever hope to be.)

Point being, when it's your birthday, people often ask what you want, sometimes without any intent of actually getting it for you. (Like, if I said I wanted a golden toilet seat, I'd hope no one is going to shell out for that... it's silly, and not worth it.) What I really want, though, is to not do this day job thingy. Actually, I'm taking tomorrow off as a gift to myself (tomorrow worked out better).

So, when I see the Birthday Wall Phenomenon (BWP), what I want to do is say: Okay, all you folks who are stopping by, what you need to do now is take out an envelope, find a dollar bill, and slip it in there. Then, mail it to... but that's not cool, right? How I was raised, it was considered a bit tacky to ask for money. It was okay if someone asked your mother: "What does Matt want for his birthday? Oh, just get him money. He's unimaginative like that." But if you asked for it, that was rude.

Here's the rub: who doesn't like getting money for their birthday? Honestly, now. Please. Stand up. No one?

The richest I ever felt as a kid was always the day after my birthday. I used to make plans all year, and then BAM... birthday money.  As an adult, with a "real" job, people don't really give you money anymore. It's just another perk of getting older (right up there with the rental cars). You can provide for yourself. It should be about the wishes, right? RIGHT? (Don't lie, you'd still take $1 if grandma was sending it in a card... and probably not even read the card! You jerk.)

Is it any surprise that I want to say: thanks, love you too, gimme a dollar? But since that's rude, I decided to be creative. What I should say, instead, is: give me five dollars. Still sounds rude, I know... so I'm going to cloak it: I'll trade you a book for $5.

See what I did there? My book is only $5, and - what's more - you get something out of it, too. To be fair, a lot of the Wallers have probably already bought my book. That's okay, I can be even more creative. If that's your situation... buy the book and then GIVE IT AS A GIFT TO THE NEXT POOR SOD. See? Everyone's a winner! Two birds with one stone!

Okay, okay. I'm just playing around here. I don't want to be rude. You don't have to buy anything. I'm just pleased as punch to have people that care enough to stop by and wall me. But if you want to know what I want this year? Ditch the day job. Write full time. That's what I want. Probably won't happen this year. I've got a ways to go yet, but damn would that be a good gift, and every little bit helps. Is it weird to ask for a career change for your birthday?


Elizabeth Anne Mitchell said...

It's odd how we are reluctant to give even our closest friends and relatives something they really want--especially if it is the uncouth cash.

I can relate so much to your wanting to dump the day job. I struggled with looking for a new day job or taking the plunge; I'm way behind you on the publication curve, so I had to stay gainfully employed, but I hope to have found a better day job. I do have some "poor sods" in mind to gift with your books, so I'm doing my part to free you from your day job.

Hang in there. I fully believe you'll be self-employed soon. And happy belated birthday!

Matt said...

Thanks for chipping in!

My struggles with altering my day job situation were one of the big driving factors behind this writing adventure. It was like, if I can't find a "proper" job, might as well chase after the dream one.

I got a lot of encouragement from this article for my birthday... that is worth more than the dollars. :-)

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