Birthday Wishes

Today is my husband’s 50th birthday, and like many of you, we are mourning our big plans. He’s not a let’s-have-a-big-party-kind-of-guy, but we do like small gatherings of people. We like restaurants and coffee shops. We love libraries and bookstores. I had purchased tickets to go see Supercross at Qwest Field in Seattle because he loves dirt bikes, and I love the pure spectacle of hanging out with people who are so different from me. We always play a game to find the drunkest girl and guy at Supercross. We play “Who’s not gonna make it to see the 450 Main?” It’s a blast. I usually find my winner in the ladies bathroom during the last chance qualifier.

I love singing the national anthem and singing “God Bless America” with people I have nothing in common with once a year. I know all the words to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and the first Supercross where I belted out those lyrics, my Mister looked at me like I had turned into a new person, “How the actual fuck do you know that song?” he asked.

I lived in Georgia for nine years, y’all! I replied in my Southern Girl accent.

I was going to celebrate Seattle, a city I love, because I like to see the good in things. I love a good time. I can hold contradictions. I can hold complicated truths. I can forgive most horrifying things, but this president of mine, I will never forgive. And all the monsters who cling to the evil. And all of the people who are not taking this seriously.

But. Not. This. Now.

One more thing about Supercross.

I once went to Supercross race after an educational leadership workshop where we talked about “Body Wisdom,” authentic assessments, and embodied knowledge. I made a strategic plan to scale faculty professional development system-wide that would be openly-licensed. Two hours later I was howling with the Monster Girls wearing leather mini-skirts aiming flame throwers at the crowd. Wooohoooo!

What can I say? I love a good contradiction. The yin and the yang that make/made this life interesting. This life that has gotten so complicated because of people in leadership who have endangered people’s lives because of political parties, corruption, greed, and ignorance. When David Bowie sang about being afraid of Americans, I had no idea how fearful I could become until now.

But let’s pause from all this. My cup of rage, anxiety, and sadness overfloweths, so let me sip from a little flute of bubbly happiness. Fizzy pop style since I broke up with champagne.

A big birthday is here. For my best friend!

What am I going to do while we shelter-in-place?

I’m going to bake him a cake, put on my wedding dress, and I’m going to read him this list below. I’m going to do my hair (for the first time in two weeks), put on jewelry, and get a little fucking fancy with some bracelets that I don’t wear that often. Put on some bitching shoes because that’s make The Gurl. And I’m going make his fucking special day happy, bitches.

A friend of mine who just celebrated her anniversary and the Persian New Year put on her wedding dress and made a cake for her husband in Morocco. Inspiration and connection that I witnessed via Instagram. She celebrated her fiftieth birthday a few years ago by going on a trip to Morocco and landed a musician love, and he has a smile that makes me think I’d love him. I hope to dance with Idris someday.

I’m going to share the fifty things I love about my Mister because it made me laugh to type this up.

And maybe you need a laugh.

These little bits of humor feel a bit like violins on the Titanic, but I need to find the life rafts. I need hope.

So I’m going to laugh. And I am going to write. And I’m going to have fun wearing that special little black dress.

Here goes.

1. I love that you read books that are way more complicated than the ones I read these days, and that you know more about modern day Feminisms than I do because it all exhausts me. I gave up on Theory with a capital T years ago, and I love it when you say, “What would Baudrillard say?

2. I love the way you say, at least once a day, everyday, “Does the Pope shit in the woods?” when I ask if you want a coffee or more mustard on your sandwich or if you have laundry that I can add to my load or if you want to go on a dog walk (before this).

3. I love the way you say I’m going on adventures and that you’re going walk the Earth when I ask what you’re up to today. So you decided to be a bum? is the reply I’m going to start using. We’ll spice it up.

4. I love that you have written most of my best sentences and titles, and that you always see my success as our success.

5. I love that you helped me see that I really needed to stop drinking by telling me that you loved me and that you were worried about my health. You were so patient with me for so long, friend. [We’ll cheers a glass of fizzy water here].

6. I love how you always one up me with dirty jokes. Always. Your back of the house restaurant humor always slays me. To this day. There have been many times you’ve had to explain some things which makes you laugh harder.

7. I love how you’ll relay all the horrors of America from the things you read online, in academic journals, and blogs. And that you never know most of the Interwebz humor that I swim in each day. I’m the meme-by-the-moment-laptop living with the slow-contemplative-typewriter.

8. I love all your stories of being a young punk rocker where one of your friends spray painted “Eat The Rich” on the Memorial Bridge that spans the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. You asked me to marry you in the park just below this bridge because you knew it would always be there. That place. Prescott Park. Nobody is going to tear it down to build a Starbucks.

Your memoir of that era is something we’ll all need After This. After This. And I want you to write it. I can’t be the only person who knows the story of you talking to a detention officer about your “Suicidal Tendencies.” Other people need to hear how you went to your room, got an album, and tried to show the Reagan Era Tough Love Talker, that it was just a band. Just a band. You were drawing the logo of the band not crying for help.

9. I love how your taste in music is on point, and how you always make fun of mine. And I love our stereo in our dream van. It’s what we’ve always dreamed and loud as fuck. Maybe we can go to the driveway later and sit in it for awhile. Hot date!

10. I love how you handled our trip to see our parents this spring. It was not an easy trip for you to see your family, and en route to see mine, you got to witness my fear of cockroaches as we sat along the Savannah River. Holyshit, you said, you were right. I felt seen at that moment, as the kiddies say. Cockroaches are big part of why I live in northern climates.

11. I love that we debated over the lyrics of “London Calling” for hours while camping off the grid, and two days later, when I had forgotten all about it, you did research and pointed out that we were both right. You cited where in the song you were right, and where I had it right.

12. I love how you handled the DNFs that cost you the CX series overall this past season. Really bad luck, man. Just shitty luck. You’re so unlucky in some ways, but really lucky with finding a great woman, amirite? [I’ll say hashtag-humble-brag and he won’t know what the hell I’m talking about here.]

13. I love how you say dirty inside jokes or heckle the crap out of me while I’m racing cyclocross. More than a few women, who don’t me or you, have said, “What was that guy’s deal?” To which, I have to reply, “Oh, him? That’s my husband.” The race where you cheered at me by yelling “Go Sporty Nuts” was most confusing for a few women. That was a quote that sent us over the edge where we had to stop the movie because we were laughing so hard. Mediocre movie with a brilliant quote.

14. I love how you taught me to mountain bike. Like really mountain bike. Not the double-track, gravel road to single track stuff I knew before you. You’ve probably spent two full months of your life standing and waiting for me to catch up to you. Hours.

15. I love that you encouraged me to race and find lady friends who ride bikes. I was super-intimated by those women, and you kept saying, “Every woman I’ve ever know who rides wants to meet more women who rip.” Yes. You were right. So right. Yes.

16. I love that you were totally down with me as a prospect for the future when I was driving a car with a steak knife as the turn signal handle on my steering wheel. The handle had broken off, and I didn’t have a screw driver or money to fix it, so I used a steak knife that I bought at the Goodwill. It worked! You saw me driving that piece of shit car, and you were like, “Her. Yep. That’s the one.”

17. You didn’t laugh at me when I asked you what kind of bike you were riding on one of our first dates. “Cyclocross,” you said, and you explained how it was different than a road bike. One month later, we drove to Gregg’s Bike Shop in Greenlake to purchase my first road bike.

18. You thought it was a great idea to hide the fact that I was living with you from your landlord to save us $100 a month to pay for that road bike.

19. I love the way you say, “Goddamn, Jimmy! This is some serious gourmet shit.” and you remind me that you would have been fine with some Taster’s Choice every time I make us lattes.

20. I love how you adore dirt bikes, dirt bike racing, and that entire culture. At the race in Washougal, WA when some dude gave me beer for hiking up Horsepower Hill, you were like “Hell yeah! That’s my woman!” when most men might have been jealous and weird.

21. I love how you’ve taught me words like “Fucko” and “Fuckstick” and “Fuckenay” and “Wicked Pissah.” And that you always remind me that you aren’t a Mainer because you weren’t born there. I’m so glad we were born on the same side of tracks, but whoa, your story was so much harder than mine. So much harder.

22. I love how you consistently point out that I don’t know the difference between tires and wheels. When I say, who really gives a shit, you say, “Words mean things.”

22. I love how forgiving you were when my former boss didn’t hire you back as an adjunct when I quit my administrator job. You were an online teacher, for fuck’s sake, and she didn’t even ask you if you wanted/needed to work from Vermont. She just let you go. Without an email. Nothing. Ah, higher education, but I won’t pick that scab right now. I love you for the way you handled it. I would not have been so gracious.

23. I love how you’re always game to go out to restaurants where “somebody else can cook our food and wash our dishes.” Let’s go! (I wish.) And you always pay the tip in cash in solidarity.

24. I love how you always moan like Homer Simpson when certain foods appear on TV and movies. At home. Never at the theatre.

25. I love how you just finished your dissertation. All these years. You’re almost there. Just one more draft? So much is unknown there, but you can look that 18 year old version of yourself and say that you did it. A week before everything fell apart with the world and life as we know it, you had the focus.

26. I love that you always gun it for the holeshot with style and grace. Snappy muscles. Twitch pedal effort for that first turn. It terrifies me every time, but it’s awesome when you get it.

27. I love you for always asking if “I’m upset about the assholes on Twitter again.” And how you never quite seem to understand but you remind me that I’m getting shit done while they write about it. It helps.

28. I love how you aren’t much of a phone talker, but when I travelled for work and I got homesick, I’d call and ask, “What are you up to?” and you’d say, “Well me and The Cheese (our dog) are Bro-ing down before the hookers get here with the cocaine. Gonna be a long night.”

29. I love how pleased  you are with yourself when you post something political on Instagram. It’s your art. 

30. I love that you once came home from teaching, and reported that a student asked you this question about your weekend of snowboarding at Mt. Baker: “Did you totally charge the gnar, Mr. Barr?” That Snowbetty gave us a phrase that we’ve used for over a decade. 

31. I love that you taught me to snowboard at Whistler. That we both love Beautiful British Columbia.

32. I love that you have said, more than a few times, while we were snowboarding, “I didn’t expect that cliff to be such a drop. I was in the air longer than I anticipated.” You know totally normal.

33. I love that you call me Brah. 

34. I love that you call my parents B & B and that my mom writes that on cards now. 

35. I love how you can remind me to dial back my forked tongue and pessimism by purring “Duuuuuude” while simultaneously making your eyes huge. Very effective targeted feedback, as we say at my gig.

36. I love how you remind me at least quarterly that “ever since I found educational technology my commitment to the cinema has been questionable at best.” I’ll commit to more movie watching now.

37. I love how you bond with one of my best friends about The Manson Family. And truly, “No sense makes sense” now. And that we agree that Jeremy Davies made the most convincing menacing Charlie for the screen.

38. I love how when I’ve struggled with my job, you’ve been quick to say, “The life of an Instructional Designer is always intense.” And then we usually divert into talking about the Repo Man. I never get sick of it. I’m sad you’re allergic to shrimp, so you know, we can’t eat a plate shrimp together.

39 I love that you call our dog Brah too.

40. I love how you consistently make fun of me when I read fantasy books by asking me if “there is a working class wizard in it.” You are one of the few people that I know who is not a Harry Potter fan.

41. I love how you deal with the shit I hate to do in our household, and when I say thank you, it’s always an opportunity to remind me that I would’ve half-assed it anyway, so you might as well have done it right. Very true.

42. I love how you spend hours. I mean hours upon hours working on bikes. I have lost count how many bikes you’ve built over the years, and it’s really your yoga. A bike mechanic is about to become an essential skill. Truly fucking extraordinary times these days.

43. I love how you you yell “Weak!” when I don’t ride something. When we’re mountain biking there is usually some random person has said to me on various mountains, “I can’t believe how fast he rode that.” 

44. I love that when I finally met some of your childhood friends they confirmed your stories. Stephan, in particular, looked me in the eye and said, “Scott was just fearless in a way. He just rode shit that the rest of us thought was crazy.”

45. To quote Jay Z, you wuz who you wuz bfore you got here. My favorite example of remixing, this Danger Mouse. And I loved the day we discovered this record on Capital Hill in Seattle. 100 years ago, it’ seems.

Okay, the last five are just for us.

And I hope these stories made you laugh. I put some links if you didn’t get my references. Some are generational. Some are region-specific. Some may be inappropriate, but damn, that was fun to write. I recommend you do the same. I mean, maybe not the part about rocking your wedding dress, but taking the time to tell somebody why you love them. People are facing extraordinary stress and pressures.

I wish something special for you at your house, and please, stay the fuck home. Even if your dots are as big as the dots where I live, stay home until we know more. Start organizing locally if that’s a skillset. I’ve put some helpful links in my Twitter Bio, but I’m leaving Twitter for a bit. I’m also deleting my Facebook account, so connect with me on other channels. I’m easy to find.

I want to celebrate 51 with a group of friends. And don’t worry, he won’t see this before I read it. He doesn’t read my blog or most of what I put out there.

He told somebody once, “I live pretty close to the first draft.”

A Memoir.

About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, #OER, professional development, adult education & writing. Travels to talk about Open Education during the workweek. Advocates for more girls on bikes during the weekend. Bike racer w/ @queensofdirt A Memoir.
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