Thursday, February 25, 2010


Today is my 30th birthday. It's been a quiet day, but eventful in its own right -- a slow day at work, a trip down to L's office to surprise her at her baby shower, and a lovely taco night at home, punctuated by messages and phone calls from people I love. I always find that the fact of my birthday becomes a secret burden to shoulder. On the subway, at work, in meetings, on the street, you want to tell everybody, "It's my birthday!" But this is not something you can do in polite conversation. No one ever asks a question where the direct answer is, "It's my birthday!" It's not like people go around saying, "Is there a reason today is special for you in particular?" But that's ok. Carrying that secret is part of the fun.

This morning L gave me my birthday gift, and it's a doozy. She compiled all of the blog entries I've posted here, from January 2005 through December 2009, and had them bound as a hardback book: "Clarity," by MKD. She had a bunch of our friends and relatives write blurbs about the blog that she posted at the front of the book. She had a little "About the Author" section at the end. She meticulously formatted the book, and selected a cover image, and the right font, and she produced a book of my blog entries that's approximately 700 pages.

I was floored when I realized what she had done. At first I thought she had gotten me some random book called "Clarity" because it had the same title as this blog. Then I saw my own name on the dust jacket and just couldn't believe what I was holding. I took the book to the office this morning (wrapped in bubble wrap to protect it) and spent a lot of time today rereading the words I wrote back in 2005, before I was in law school, back when L was just my girlfriend, two apartments ago.

To be honest, it made me proud to read all those old entries in a book, continuously, one after the next. I could see some themes and common ideas emerge that I hadn't noticed previously. It helped me understand what I'm trying to write about. Although I was nervous to read my old stuff I was pleasantly surprised -- there were some good turns of phrase, and some old memories which were suddenly cast in high relief. It almost felt like a real, standard memoir -- maybe with just a little work to bridge some of the gaps, you could really have something. I've read it up to March 2006 and I'm excited to follow that old trail back to the here and now. I find myself stupidly excited to read about old trips, or the marathon, or fun times with L. Like I told my parents tonight, I find the book to be a real page-turner.

One of my colleagues at work today said that L had given me the best gift anyone ever could, because she had given me my memories. This is very true. I am astounded by my wife. I am so thankful for her and for the opportunity to look back and reflect on the last few years -- it seems like a good use of a birthday. It made me almost giddy to hold this thick old book of my own words, my own report of the last five years of my life.

As I mentioned earlier, L composed a brief little "About the Author" at the end of the book. She told me she had been very thoughtful about what she said and how she said it. She wrote:

MKD is a writer. He was born and raised in Virginia and educated at the University of Virginia, Columbia University and Fordham Law School. Michael lives in New York City with his wife and daughter. This is his first collection of writings.

When I read that I felt a pang of anguish and happiness and love in my heart. I thought: What a life ... To live that life!

P.S. By the way, if anyone is interested in purchasing their own copy of this ridiculous book you can order it online for about $28 (to cover production costs). Let me know and I can send you the link.

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