Tag: Birthday

Birthday Reflections At 51

October 5th, 2020: My 51st Birthday.

This is my eighth entry in this series of birthday posts. Something I started shortly after I began my writing journey in the fall of 2011. 

To be honest, especially with everything that’s happened over the course of the last twelve months, I didn’t feel like posting one at all. But instead of rehashing all the gloom and doom about viruses, failed leadership and elections, I’ll try to remain upbeat about it. So here goes:

Birthdays are the one day where we, collectively, celebrate the individual. And by that I mean we don’t use the day as a reason to inundate social media with over the hill jokes, pay for lavish lunches, or give someone a number of spankings equivalent to their new age, plus an extra one to grow on–although I do remember that was the best part about attending birthday parties as a kid in the 1970s, so long as you weren’t the one on the receiving end.

No, the real reason people blow out candles, consume large quantities of cake, receive greeting cards (hopefully, with a few greenbacks in them) and open whimsical presents is to commemorate the day you arrived on Earth.

You’re alive, and that’s reason enough to celebrate.

For me, it seems like it was only yesterday that I was a youthful teenager; driving me and my buddies around in a beat-up, 1972 Toyota Corona (honest, I’m not talking about the virus. There really was a car called a Corona). Going to the mall on Friday nights after school, pouring my hard-earned, summer lawn mowing earnings into video game cabinets and drinking gallons of Orange Julius. Wishing I could somehow muster the courage to go over and talk to the cute girl who stood with her friends outside the Listening Booth record store. Ah, youth.

Wasn’t I the one who was able to go to rock concerts and stay up til the wee hours of the morning? Sitting in some dingy diner; smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee while talking to friends about what would happen when we took on the world and made all of our dreams came true? Now, I’m lucky if I can stay up til 10 p.m. most nights.

There’s an odd sense of immortality you have when you’re young that makes you believe time will always stand still and that you’ll never be as old as your parents. But then, one day, you take a nap and wake up in their role.

I promised I would keep things upbeat for this post so I won’t rehash the past. Instead, I’ll talk about the future. In addition to continuing to do interviews, I’m also heavily in the writing process of my next book. Something that has been put off for quite a while but something I am extremely excited about. I am giving myself to the end of the year to finish. More on that in the months ahead.

I’ve also been dabbling a lot in watercolor painting. Not only has it been a great stress reliever but it’s something you can do that doesn’t cost a lot of money and where you can literally see your progress every day:

I called this one “The Road Beyond 50.” If you visualize yourself in it, the painting is a metaphor for life. You can’t see where you’ve been (the past) or the scars that you carry. All you can see is where you’re standing now and the road to what lies ahead of you. As in life, there is beauty all around us and a brave new world just waiting to be explored. 

I hope my next trip around the sun, and walk down this path, brings us all a sense of hope, peace and love. 


Birthday Reflections at 50

October 5th, 2019 – My 50th Birthday.

I’m sitting here in a daze, trying to comprehend what I’ve just written. It can’t be true, can it? A whole f#cking half century? WOW!

I liken it to the same feeling I had twenty years ago, when the calendar was getting ready to change over to the year 2000 and the eventual dawning of a new millenium. I vividly remember, when I was growing up, that year seemed like it was a lifetime away. I’m talking futuristic, meet George Jetson style distance. And yet, not only have we reached that year, but we’ve now gone almost twenty years beyond it.

The past 365 days have been some of the best and absolute worst days of my entire life. It started in January when my very first interview, with Dan Donegan from Disturbed, was posted in the pages of Guitar World magazine. I will NEVER forget the day I walked into the shopping center on a misty gray afternoon and saw the new issue sitting on the shelves. It was like when Indiana Jones first saw the golden idol in “Raiders of The Lost Ark.” Or the feeling I had when I opened it up and fumbled through its crisp white pages and saw that my name had been printed under “Contributing Writers.”  Knowing that this magazine would be in stores all over the world was surreal. Thinking about it now still gives me chills. I went on to do three more interviews this year – one with Jim Heath (Reverand Horton Heat), one with Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, Dio) and another with Alan Parsons.

Another monumental event that took place this year was my daughter’s high school graduation this past June. One that, when I think about it now, really puts the big FIVE-OH into perspective. I still remember putting her on the school bus for her very first day back in 2006. Back then, I was on the cusp of turning 37 and thought to myself, “Wow! She will graduate the same year I turn 50. That’s so far away.”

And now here we are.

Still makes me think about my own tenure in the hallowed halls of education and the day I received my first student ID card. This was wayyyy back in 1980. I looked at the reverse side of that card and saw “Year Grad – 1987” printed and thought THAT was a lifetime away. Realizing that by this time next year the card will be 40 years old is simply unbelievable to me.

This past year was also the one where I had to say goodbye to the best dog I’ve ever had — just three days before this monumental birthday. To say that I was devastated is an understatement, but a wonderful tribe of family and friends have made the burden a little bit easier.

So, what’s in store for this next journey around the sun? Well, I’m hard at work on two new books. The first is a prequel to “Neapolitan Sky,” which takes place thirty years before the events of that story. The other is another thriller based on the whole ancestry concept. There is a lot of life left to live, art to create, books to write, interviews to be done and most importantly, love to give freely.

This song always makes me stop in my tracks whenever I hear it. Does it do the same for you?

There’s an odd sense of immortality you have when you’re young that makes you believe time will always stand still, and that you’ll never be as old as your parents (my father died at the age of 51)… but then you take a nap and wake up to find yourself in that role.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few days of my 40’s is that it’s no longer about the years left in your life. It’s about the life left in your years.

Birthday Reflections at 48

BirthdayCakeOctober 5th, 2017. My 48th birthday.

Hey! Wait a minute…. You mean to say that I’m 48-years old young today? Impossible. I’m a Count Chocula connoisseur. An Ultraman geek. A comic book nerd. A PS4 dork. I couldn’t possibly be someone with the big Five-Oh on the horizon.

And yet, I’ve grown accustomed to listening to the creaks and cracks of getting out of bed every morning and the inevitable gray or missing hairs I see whenever I look into the mirror. Reading glasses have become the norm for me now and summers are often spent resisting the urge to tell young children to get off my lawn.

Seriously, wasn’t it just yesterday that I was the youthful teenager driving my beat-up, old Toyota to the mall on Friday nights after school? Pouring my lawn mowing allowance into video game cabinets at the arcade while drinking gallons of Orange Julius and wishing I could muster up the courage to go talk to the cute girl who stood with her friends in the Listening Booth record store?

Wasn’t I the one who could go to rock concerts and then stay up to the wee hours of the morning talking to his friends about what would happen when we took on the world and made our dreams came true?

This song always makes me stop in my tracks whenever I hear it.

As we’ve seen with the hurricanes and Las Vegas tragedy along with the untimely death of one of my idols, Tom Petty, we’re only given a certain amount of time on this bouncing ball. My goal now is to try to make every moment count.

But I’m not here to bum you out on my birthday. Because in addition to being the one who drove to the mall and went to rock concerts, I was also the one who consistently laughed at his parents for being in their 40’s while I reveled in teenage glory.

There’s an odd sense of immortality you have when you’re young that makes you believe time will always stand still and that you’ll never be as old as your parents. But then you take a nap and wake up in that role.

What was it they said about karma?

Birthday Reflections At 44

BirthdayCakeToday is October 5th, 2013: My 44th birthday.

Truth be told, it’s sometimes hard to believe that I’ve made it this far. Especially when you consider the fact that it was only yesterday when I was the youthful teenager laughing hysterically at my parents for being in their 40’s.

I suppose there’s a certain sense of immortality you have when you’re younger that lets you make fun of your elder’s age without fear of retribution (or karma ever catching up with you).

Little did I know.

When we’re young, the whole world seems to be filled with endless possibility, and I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait for the chance to break free and start my future. The only problem was, that future always seemed like it would never get here.

Last night, I stumbled upon my 1980 Easton Area Middle School ID Badge under a pile of old memories and immediately recalled the day I first received it. Although I didn’t care much for the goofy grinning picture of myself on the front, I do remember it was what was printed on the back of the worn, laminated card that really caught my attention.

For the first time, I saw the words “YR GRAD-87” and believed that the year of my high school graduation (1987) was so very far away. To this shy, cheesy-grinned, eleven-year old boy, seven years seemed like seventy and the idea of me one day living in the year 2000 was equivalent to being in a Star Wars movie. It was impossible for me to even comprehend it ever happening.


Fast forward, and here I am celebrating a birthday twenty-six years post graduation and nearly fourteen years beyond 2000. A brand new century. When did I close my eyes and wake up a middle-aged man? Back in 1980, it seemed like all I had was time and now, it sometimes feels like time is running out. Why just the other day, I was given the sad news about a high school classmate who had unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 43.

doodlecIf what you’ve read so far sounds a bit depressing or makes you feel old, I apologize. This post wasn’t meant to bum you out.

On the contrary, 2013 has actually been one of the best years of my life. In just these last few months I’ve been able to accomplish something I’ve always wanted to do with a dear friend – write and publish my very first book.

In addition to that, I’ve had the opportunity to interview and write articles with many of the artists and performers I admire most. A pipe dream for the little boy you see in the above picture.

I’ve also made a conscious decision to start doing something different for my birthday every year. Beginning this October, I’ll be using my age number as a benchmark to do something to help others in some way. This year, I decided to use the equivalent of my age (44) in dollars and use it to hopefully put a smile on a sick child’s face.

Who knows, maybe next year I’ll take the “45” and divide it up into hours; donating my time over the course of the month to volunteering or raising money for charity. Then maybe at “46” I’ll donate forty-six signed copies of my #1 New York Times Bestseller (hey, it could happen) to a charity auction. Nothing is too small and anything is something.

Which got me to thinking, what if every one of us did something similar? How about instead of just receiving well wishes and birthday cards for making it through another year, what if every person used their own special day as an opportunity to do something for the greater good? Instead of making it a day all about ourselves, what if we made part of our day about helping someone else? One day set aside that you’ll always remember (I mean, how could you forget? After all, it IS your birthday). What better feeling can there possibly be than knowing you made this world a better place, and did it on the day you were born!

Here are some ideas of things you can do to really “celebrate” your birthday:

1. Volunteer a few hours of your time at a local food bank/soup kitchen/animal shelter.

2. Walk (or run) in a marathon to raise money for research.

3. Spend part of your day gathering up unused clothing to donate to a needy family.

According to my calculations, most good work would be done on September 16th (the most common birthday) and the least, February 29th (leap year).

As for me? Well, you can add candle #44 to that birthday cake. This year, I’d like us all to imagine a world where someone is doing something to help someone else, every single day of the year.

Impossible? Maybe. But then again, that’s what I used to think about 1987 and 2000 too.

Birthday Reflections at 43

October 5th, 2012: My 43rd birthday.

Don’t you wish birthdays as an adult were the same as when you were a child? I have to admit there are times when I really do miss those innocent days of childhood and the buildup and unexpected joy I had as October 5th slowly arrived every year.

We all have events in our lives that are worthy of celebration. The day you graduate high school for example, or the day you get married. Perhaps it’s the day you get a big job promotion or the day you finally pay off the mortgage. But birthdays themselves are way better.

Consider this:

Birthdays are the one day each year where we as a society celebrate the individual. And we don’t inundate social networking websites with salutations, pay for lunches or give a number of spankings equivalent to your age (plus one to grow on) for some milestone achievement that you’ve made.

No, the real reason people blow out candles, consume large quantities of cake, give greeting cards (hopefully with a few greenbacks in them) and freely give presents is just to commemorate the day you arrived on Earth. You’re alive, and that’s reason enough to celebrate.

As a child, I suppose nothing could quite compare to the day you receive the absolute best birthday present. I can still remember mine.

Bear with me now as to the details; it’s been almost thirty years and my memory may not be as sharp as it used to be. I do know that it was October 5th, 1983, and I had just gotten off of the school bus and started my  monumental two-block walk home from school. I’m sure there must have been a bit of a chill in the air and the leaves were no doubt falling from the trees in the early October afternoon; but I wouldn’t have noticed. About the only thing I recall from that walk home was the sense of anticipation that was running through my soul.

I walked into the house and quickly spotted my Mom and Grandmother sitting at the kitchen table with the largest wrapped present I had ever seen. The smile on their faces as I walked through the door was infectious. It was almost as if they had been anticipating this moment all day long. I’m sure they had.

As a child, I can not remember a single time that I was more excited. What could possibly be wrapped inside?

“Happy Birthday!!” they both yelled.

When you’re young, the feeling you get after receiving a gift along with a  ‘Happy Birthday’ salutation is equivalent to your first kiss. Your heart flutters and for a second, you can’t even breathe due to all the excitement.

I tore open the paper wrapping in earnest, all the while still wondering what could possibly lie beneath. As the last piece of wrapping paper fell to the floor, I recall just standing in awe as the contents were finally revealed. Amidst the torn paper, my family’s glee and my own surprise was the mother load of all presents:

The Atari 2600. Something that at best might be gifted as a Christmas present for the entire family. But, for ME? On my birthday?


I know what you’re thinking. Compared to the state of the art, high-tech devices we have today I’d be laughed to scorn by even the youngest of children. But I’ll never forget that day, or the hundreds of others that followed playing games like Haunted House, Combat and Pitfall.

When you’re through laughing please continue reading….

Today, I am celebrating my forty third year of existence on this planet. Although still a child at heart, my role has changed significantly. I wasn’t walking home from school, but was actually coming downstairs to get ready for work. I was immediately greeted by my eleven-year old daughter, who had gotten up extra early and was quick to be the first to yell:

“Happy Birthday Dad!”

What I saw on the counter wasn’t anything equivalent to an Atari 2600 but something that was just as special and once again gave me that same fluttered heart feeling. It was a huge colorful card that she had made herself which, when opened revealed a beautiful butterfly drawing. As I hugged her, the good times I had growing up all came back. I thought about Mom, my Grandmother and the wide-eyed boy who walked into the kitchen thirty years ago.

So tonight, when all 44 candles are lit on my cake (43, plus one to grow on) someone will inevitably ask me to make a wish. At that moment, I’ll remember all of those birthdays that have come and gone and all of the well wishes I’ll have received from friends and family on Facebook. But I don’t think I’ll have a need to wish for an X-Box, a car or even a million dollars.

My wish already came true.

Because just for a moment, I got all of those care free days of youth back. And I’m grateful to be alive for another October 5th.