“I don’t remember anyone’s birthday” i said.
“You will remember mine.” Hawina replied almost 20 years ago now.
And as usual, she was right.
While i dont put much stock in this particular celebration, many people and the community think these things matter. It especially matters when you turn 50 and start getting pension hours. This slightly recklessly designed system is one of the more clever things about Twin Oaks (which Acorn sadly does not mimic). For those who tuned in late, I live in an egalitarian community, where we dont work for money. Instead we work a quota of 42 hours a week and in exchange for this the community covers almost all our costs. Including but not limited to food, clothing, housing, some education, some entertainment, full medical and dental coverage and most transportation. Your quota starts to go down an hour a year when you reach age 50 (as Hawina did this year). i am now 55 and will soon be getting my 7th pension hour (dropping my quota to 35 hours a week, when i am at Twin Oaks only). Making quota is not a problem for me, i am generally over quota and i often operate within labor collectives. But i care about it in the context of whether others can live here and how we take care of our aging population.
Hawina is an expert in designing the birthday parties she wants. This year was no exception. We played games, especially her group game favorite Werewolves (aka Mafia). And it is the super powered players which make this game interesting. There is a “curious girl” who can peak and see who everyone is, but if she were revealed the werewolves would try to get her right away. There are lovers who’s lives are linked and in one game the lovers won, despite the fact that one was a werewolf and the other not.
Similarly, Willow redesigned capture the flag for his most recent birthday, by adding super powers and special zones. He has taken Games and Strategies classes at his Cville based home schooling group for several semesters now and wants to control the playing field (just as i generally do). Of course, as a funologist, i am all over this. I even got the kids to do a funological review of the game immediately after it in which they suggested some great changes to the rules to improve the game (including: alternating sides of the asymetric field, moving bases in from the edges to avoid boundary breakers from repeated jail breaks and running out of the boundary to avoid capture, and adding a time limit to how long you can be in the safe zones).
It is my son’s birthday, but this is my present.
“Are you really going to delete her birthday greeting to you?” Maya asked watching in mild disapproval of my actions.
It surely seemed unfair that i had not even warned people that i would start deleting their facebook “happy birthday” greetings before i started doing it. All of these digital media’s i treat more like graffiti walls than the Akashic Record. That is i blow it away at the slightest displeasure, if i control the thread.
i see all these super clever people wishing simple “Happy Birthday” to all these people who there is so much more interesting stuff to talk about and it throws me into a dwarf rage. So instead of complaining about it, i pull out my mouse and start cleaning up. This charming Romanian activists greeting – gone. This beautiful model i was involved with briefly – zap. Numerous people who are facebook friends, but little else – they will never hear from FB that their well wishing has been fried, but should they come back to look for it they will detect its absence, But does anyone come to look and see if their “happy birthday” message is still on someones wall? i dont think so.
Of course Aubby totally parodied me with this entry:
I don’t care that it is your birthday. Birthday’s don’t matter. What matters is how alive you are. The fact that people matter to you and the way you dance with them. The stories you collect and the ease with which you share them. The fact that when looking a beautiful woman in the eye, you suffer no hesitation in telling her about your observation. Any fool can watch a clock tick. You make the time matter. ;)Love you, Archie.
Which is similar to dozens of anti-birthday messages i have written to others.
Part of what is going on for me is that these simple short messages are all lost opportunities for love letters. And short clever love letters at that – the most important kind. If the authors thought for just a few seconds longer, they would be able to come up with something much more meaningful. But like commuters charging into rush hour traffic day after day to sit their alone in their car complaining about not being able to move and doing absolutely nothing about it, we sing the same stupid song, we make the same vapid FB greeting, we tick it off our to do list and we add nothing to the world.
i want better than that.