As the clock makes its push to midnight and to the arrival of another St. Patrick's Day and another birthday, I'm back here, sporting an Old Navy St. Patrick's Day 2003 t-shirt, a slight chill in the apartment and the sounds of Donald Fagen's newest solo album, "Morph The Cat."
These facts, as I've laid them out, are indisputable, but their relation to one another is, clearly, open to interpretation.
As my 36th birthday is mere minutes away, however, it struck me as oddly poetic that I got this album, this new set of cryptic puzzles and mysteries to unlock, set to icy-cool jazz-rock beats. It's highly recommended, by the way; it's not representative of the singular genius that made Steely Dan one of my favorite musical acts, but it's got that elusive feel that sort of captures the gritty-uberkewl that is New York, sort of like one huge blue neon light, replete with the occasional flicker and a lot of ancillary buzz.
Meanwhile, another aspect of the solo, pre-birthday listening party that hit me is the whole notion of how Mr. Fagen, now approaching 60, wrestled with quite a few varied themes on this latest release. Most notably, there's the track "Brite Nitegown," which is a euphemism for the Grim Reaper. In the lyrics, it's clear -- as much as can be said of any Fagen lyrics -- that he's facing his own mortality. Granted, turning 36 isn't quite 60, but it's definitely a time to mark and acknowledge the passage of time within my own life.
The last few years have moved at once excruciatingly slowly and with incredible speed. It's almost as if I've watched the periods of my life, at least since 2004, move from one crisis to another. And yet, here I sit, amazed and extremely grateful how things are and have turned out. With all that we've faced as a family, and all that I've accomplished with Kaia, I, sadly, cannot hope or regret things didn't occur differently. I think, at some point, I realized that life is a journey which is interwoven into your being in pieces. Some you wish you didn't accrue, but all are part of the overall fabric of who you are and what you are -- and as we get older, I think we learn to appreciate the good with the bad. And, again, I am happy to say that I've been fortunate -- believe it or not -- to know enough to appreciate all of it, and especially the good.
The only aspect of my incoming birthday that doesn't jazz me is Kaia being in Cali. Since we've both been inundated with work, we agreed she'd postpone her trip to NYC until next week. She sent me a big care package to go with a bunch of cards and e-mails I've got waiting for me tomorrow morning, but I think the only thing I really want -- and that which I won't get for another week -- is her here with me. Still, I'm counting the days like a giddy student awaiting summer vacation, and even if our visits are reality-based -- hours and days between work schedules, projects and external committments -- I continue to be amazed at how she manages to keep a smile on my face, no matter what emergency is upcoming or what whirlwind we've just endured. So this semi-subdued celebration -- which will include hanging with friends and my family over the weekend -- will not quite be complete until she and I are together. So as much as I am quietly and tiredly anticipating my birthday, I'm holding out for her and what I really want this year, and from now on.
The first day of the rest of my life...or something like that :)