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Birthday Post, 37 Years Old

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ROCHESTER, New York- Every year I publish a birthday post on this blog. It’s really just something to mark the passing year and to take note of where I stand and where I’m going.

I woke up and walked downstairs. Meili and my dad were making a carrot cake.

“Why are you making a cake, Meili?”

“Because I feel like it.”

I saw a card that Petra made the night before wishing me a “happy Bills birthday.” I placed it under a DVD case so they wouldn’t know I saw it.

I had a Bills birthday. The house was covered in red and blue streamers. The kids made me a poster wishing me happy birthday with al kinds of Bills related sayings and jokes on it. Everybody wore Bills shirts. Petra wore my dad’s Bills shirt. It went down to her knees.

I worked upstairs while they prepared the house. I wrote an article about land reclamation in Penang. Then Hannah and I took a nap.
Then I was called downstairs and the party began.  My dad played the shout song on his phone and we danced.

We played games. We ate a roast that my parents cooked all day. We ate carrot cake. I got presents. I got a tripod, some money to bet with at the horse track, a gift card, some film to see if an old Polaroid camera that I found works, and Petra gave me a potato. She always gives me a potato for my birthday. She thinks it’s funny.

Then we went outside and played football in the yard.

Then we went inside and smashed a football shaped pinata. It was full of Bills pins, Bills pencils, and temporary Bills tattoos.

My beautiful wife.

In these birthday posts I usually do a review of the past year and then evaluate it to see if I’m on the path that I want to be on. This year I’m going to skip it. Who cares? It feels like I’m riding down a fast moving river. I have no control over where I’m going so what’s the point of looking downstream?

There’s disruption in my work — the primary place where I publish articles is undergoing massive structural changes (they decided they’d rather try to make billionaires happy than do journalism); there’s disruptions in my marriage — not getting into that here; there’s disruptions in my career as an author — there’s just no time to finish the book when I need to do other writing all day long to support myself and my family; and in a week from now I will be taking care of my two daughters all day long on my own as my wife goes to school … along with doing my normal load of work to make money … along with trying to finish the book.

Where this river is going isn’t very pretty, so I’m just going to lean back, look at the wildflowers on the bank, the hills rolling away into the distance, and pretend I have no idea where I’m heading.

Birthday post 2007

Birthday post 2008

Another birthday post from 2008

Birthday post 2009

Birthday post 2010

Birthday post 2011

Birthday post 2012

Birthday post 2016

I guess I’ve been blogging for a really long time.


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Filed under: Family, New York

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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