My Mother’s Day

My mother taught me to read when I was so young that I do not have a active memory of it. My memory device (I think it is referred to in medical texts as a “brain”) started to record life when I was two-and-a-half, and in my recollections of moments spent with my mom and with books, I am an active participant in the task at hand: our endless laughter at the very idea of eating green eggs and ham (the “and ham” was my favorite part), our (re-)discovery of the Cat in the Hat’s many hijinks.

Mother’s Day, the annual holiday, is one whose date I annually forget. It is perhaps because it is celebrated on different dates in different nations and I have online friends in some of those different nations that “Happy Mother’s Day” Facebook posts make a weekly appearance in the spring. I think that I have sent my own (American) mom a Happy Mother’s Day note twice in one year thanks to this phenomenon.

Today is not Mother’s Day; it is my mom’s birthday, my own Mother’s Day.
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James Joyce Celebrates His Birthday

February 2, 2017, is the 135th anniversary of the birth of James Joyce (above).

In his huge biography, Richard Ellmann notes in several places that Joyce found his own birthday to be a topic most fascinating (he made certain that his novel Ulysses was published on his 40th, in 1922) and he tells how this affected his relationship with another writer, James Stephens.
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Today in History: Birthday Edition

At 6:37 p.m. EST on this date in 1968, I arrived. (Thank you, mom.) At that hour, I was a little late for dinner, which soon became a habit I cultivated through my teen years. Gary Sheffield, Owen Wilson, quite a few others, and I turn 48 today.

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Steamboat Willie, an animated short film by Walt Disney Animation Studios, premiered at Universal’s Colony Theater (now The Broadway Theatre) in New York City on this date in 1928.

It was Disney’s first animated short that featured fully synchronized sound, so it was an enormous success, and it also introduced two new characters: Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Both Mickey and Minnie are 88 today. The film (after the jump):
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Today is a day unlike the other 364 days (and every four years, 365 days), as today is the 47th anniversary of an important day in my life. Perhaps the only important day in my life. On this date 47 years ago, it became possible for me to do, well, everything, which is not the same as everything well. I became a human being at 6:37 p.m. (just in time for dinner) on November 18, 1968. Thank you, mom.

Age is a statistic, and mine are these (for your own numbers, feel free to play with the age calculator that I linked to): As of today, I have been here for 17,167 days (counting today), which is also more than 412,000 hours and approximately 370,801,080 breaths, and 1,779,845,184 heart beats since I was born.
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Upside Down

For a year I lived with a diagnosis of Friedreich’s ataxia, a genetic, neuromuscular disease whose symptoms are quite close to mine.

My symptoms: Since 2005 I have been aware, at first dimly, of a mobility disorder developing in me; today, in 2015, I walk with a cane or impressive walking stick, stiffly, like I am wearing very tight jeans; I have little sensation in my lower legs and even have moments of “body confusion” in which I think I am moving my right leg but my left leg moves. I sway when I stand and fall/walk into walls and my sense of not knowing where I am in the world contributes moments of comedy to my day. I was in my mid-30s when the symptoms began to attract my attention, which means the symptoms began to appear several years earlier.

Instead, it is very likely that I have a disease called spinal muscular atrophy, but I am grateful for that year in which I thought I had Friedreich’s ataxia. This is because all that I knew upon learning my diagnosis was my diagnosis—Dr. M, my neurologst, did not even hand me a tri-fold pamphlet, “So You Have a Potentially Life-Shortening Condition,” if such an item is even available—but there were online groups ready to embrace someone like me.
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