I made my first post on this blog on March 13, 2013. I’d moved to WordPress after retiring Objects in the Mirror, my oft-neglected blogspot site that was begun as an undergrad writing assignment that continued on for a few years after I finished that class.
It’s been a very interesting first year. This blog has been the most successful thing I’ve ever done online. There have been some interesting and insightful comments made from both dedicated readers and brief visitors alike. In fact, although I wrote up a comment policy and posted it last summer, I haven’t had to deal with trolls outside of a brief influx of MRA activists back in June and July.
That’s the aspect of this blog that I’m the most proud of. Not the MRA activists, screw those guys. I’m proud that this site and these posts have been able to create a place for discussion, however small a corner it may be in the scheme of the larger web. I debated even allowing comments when I first started. I looked at sites both large and small and saw the spam, the trolls, the general toxicity and I asked myself if it was even worth it.
Over the past year, my readers have shown me that it has been worth it unequivocally. I’ve learned more from the responses to my posts than I ever thought possible.
So rather than take this moment to look back and talk about all the things I did, I’d like to say thank you for everything that you did. I started this blog assuming that I was talking to myself. You’ve shown me that this wasn’t true and for that, I am deeply appreciative and grateful. I look forward to the second year of Cynical Idealism’s life and all the things that I’m sure to learn through your comments and discussions.
Thank you for reading.
I turned 27 about an hour ago. I should be getting some sleep so I don’t end up sleeping through my entire birthday tomorrow, but I wanted to write out a few thoughts tonight while things are quiet.
It’s inevitable when it comes up, whether just as topic for discussion or when someone happens to see your driver’s license.
“Oh, you’re a Christmas Eve baby!” the person will remark.
“I am,” I will say.
The inevitable response: “How much does that suck?”
There are different answers to that question. Some feel that having a birthday on or around Christmas sucks unequivocally. Others feel that it’s the best thing ever.
I guess it all depends on your perspective. Here’s mine:
- Good: I never had to go to school on my birthday as a kid. Say what you want about getting cookies or cupcakes in class, but I’d rather be home playing video games all day.
- Bad: I really, really, really hated going to the Christmas Vigil mass on my birthday as a kid.
- Good: Rather than getting ignored, people tend to remember my birthday more easily. I think this is because there’s already an atmosphere of gift giving in mind, so people are more likely to call/send cards/etc. Also, Christmas Eve sticks out in one’s memory a lot more than a random day in June might.
- Bad: “This is your Christmas and Birthday present” was something I did hear as a kid, although never from my parents. They were vanguards of keeping gift levels equal between myself and my brother (whose birthday is Halloween, incidentally).
- Good: Two days of presents was better than one. My birthday became sort of my own little prelude to Christmas as a kid; I’d get some cool stuff and then, instead of ending after the day was over, I would have another day and more cool stuff. This was very exciting as a kid.
- Bad: It was absolutely impossible to celebrate my birthday with friends since everybody was doing something for the holidays.
- Good: I once had the most amazing surprise party thrown for me the week after. If you’ve never had a surprise party (especially one you really, really were not expecting, I can tell you it’s awesome and heartwarming). I wasn’t expecting all my friends to be there, because like I said, everybody was always busy with the holidays.
- Bad: My 21st birthday was kind of awkward because I was hungover for Christmas.
Ultimately, when people ask me “how much does that suck” when they find out my birthday, I don’t bother giving them a straight answer; I might be sarcastic or I might be sappy, but I don’t bother to explain that it has its ups and its downs. I do think that it’s much better to have a near-Christmas birthday before the holiday rather than after; my sympathies go out to the after Christmas birthdays out there, much in the way that the rest of the world does to me.
So today is my birthday. It might not be perfect because everybody else is thinking about the holiday tomorrow, but this day is mine and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s part of me and always has been.
Also I have an absolutely heartwarming story from my birth involving a lady at the hospital and a Christmas stocking large enough to hold a newborn. Yes, I still have the stocking. How many other birthdays have that?
Today is the late author’s sixty-fourth birthday. I wasn’t familiar with Hitchens’ work while he was alive. It was only after a friend recommended his book Mortality that I became aware of Hitchens as anything other than a name that gets mentioned in the same breath as Dawkins and Harris. Mortality was an amazing book; the man faced death the same way he faced life.
Since then, I’ve moved on to the other books in Hitchens’ body of work. Currently, I’m about halfway through Arguably: Selected Essays.
I wish I’d come across this advice from “A Letter of Advice to Young Contrarians” earlier in my life, but I’m glad to know it now and be able to share it:
Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.
Words to live by and Hitchens undeniably did.