I Am Joe’s Blog:

January 9, 2005 • 4:31 PM

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 38th birthday. My father’s birthday was yesterday, January 8—the same day as Elvis (who would have been 70 this year). I, on the other hand, have the dubious honor of sharing a birthday with Richard Nixon.

This is, intentionally, one of those low-key birthdays. No party, cake, cards, or presents; maybe we’ll go out to see a movie or something, but that’s about it. Morgen and I put all our holiday/birthday efforts into the Patagonia trip instead, which is perfectly fine with me. I had a big celebration when I turned 30, and another when I turned 33 1/3—a third of a century! But these years between significant milestones don’t seem to require much fanfare.

This is a milestone of sorts, however: my official transition into my mid-late thirties. Morgen, having just turned 30, doesn’t need to say she’s in her early thirties; it’s just plain 30. In our family, we say that the “early” years of a decade are the ones ending in 1, 2, and 3; the “mid” years are 4, 5, and 6; and the “late” years are 7, 8, and 9. But then we subdivide further for clarity: the earliest year of any triplet is “early,” the middle year “mid-,” and the last year “late.” Thus a 21-year-old man would be said to be in his early early twenties; a 46-year-old woman would be in her late mid-forties, I’m in my mid-late thirties, and so on. It’s the late late years I think none of us looks forward to, but the reward just ahead is getting to use “early early” again.