On the occasion of my thirty-sixth birthday…

Woke at 6am to bottle feed two four-week-old kittens. Their brother died on Sunday. I buried him with a tiny stuffed kangaroo so he wouldn’t be lonely.

Woke again at eleven. Saw interweb well-wishing. Received two rejections on my work. Longed for hand-written letters and skin touching skin. Ben sang to me, got in the shower. Desmond, the Border Collie, made wookie noises and gave me face kisses. I opened my office door where my seven-month-old kittens greet me like soft, licking madmen.

I bottle fed kittens again, fixed myself a cup of coffee after, drank it fast because Ben was impatient for me to open presents.

He had to run out on “official birthday business.” I read Lady Lazarus aloud to my animals and felt all was right and good with the world, and in my head I said, “Fuck yeah, mother fucker.” I guess I’m not much of a lady, but who gives a damn. I read a few pages of Light in the Attic, thought of those massive headphones and the tiny station at the back of Ms. Moore’s classroom where you could listen to poetry during certain parts of the day. Yes, I think. Today, I need poetry.

Got mail with cards and checks and happy sentiments.

Bought the new Elizabeth Strout, an autographed copy of Ron Rash’s story collection, and an anthology called Grit Lit. Talked to the shop worker about Powell’s–their amazing indie press and lit mag section, and Khaled Hosseini.

 I gulped down a mimosa with slightly undercooked eggs and perfect grits.

My mother called for a brief, awkward conversation about nice weather and dresses in the wind.

Ben drove me home so I could bottle feed the kittens again. They wrestle and fatten and push their warm noses into my cheeks.

Digging through the bins at Lunchbox records, we make a purchase pile. While we do this, my Dad calls and we talk about moonshine. Turns out, I have a relative, you know, who may or may not be in the business. I played at her chilled stone house and in her creek as a girl and suddenly it all makes sense. I can’t force an image of her into my mind. We laugh about my Uncle John and fishing with white lightning

We go home to feed kittens and our older critters and get ready for our dinner date. I never even have time to look in the mirror and like most mothers of humans, I hope I don’t have formula or poop on me when I leave the house.

Ben says, “You’re beautiful.”

I listen to Ben’s parents sing me a sincere and adorable happy birthday on voicemail. 

We eat and drink to excess.

We come home to snuggle and listen to records.


It may not be conventional or what a sixteen-year-old me would have expected, but I would not have spent my birthday in any other way.

So much has changed since last year, I barely even recognize myself, but I am not without gratitude for all those brief, but important moments. 

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