25 October 2006

Wren at 50

I don’t often toot my own horn. Your Wren is a quiet type, content to stay mostly in the background, puttering around, doing her own thing.

But I turned 50 today.

I’ve done a lot of things in my life up to this day. I’m an artist and a writer, and professionally, a graphic designer and a journalist.

I’ve married twice, given birth to and raised a daughter, I’m a wife and companion and I’ve cleaned countless toilets and washed more loads of dirty laundry than I care to remember.

I’ve backpacked high into the Sierras, I’ve fallen headfirst off horses and I’ve flown a two-seater plane. I’ve directed fighter jets by radio and radar as they broke the speed of sound. I’ve qualified with an M-16 rifle and once, fired a sniper’s rifle. I hit the target, too, a slip of paper on a tree way off in the distance. I’ve fired a .357 Magnum as well, but I missed that time.

I’ve hit the dirt, camera and notebook flying as tanker aircraft dropped chemical fire retardant all around me – and all over me -- during a roaring California wildfire. I’ve participated in swiftwater rescue training and tramped around with soldiers and covered my ears with my hands with them as they blew up Claymore mines. I’ve ridden in an ambulance with a grievously burned young soldier, the victim of a training exercise gone wrong, and learned why he’d joined the Army and what he faced in a future that was shaping up, tragically, to be much, much different than he’d expected.

I’ve drawn a bath in a plastic wading pool for a bald eagle (while he waited, watching impatiently three feet away) and been knocked over by a friendly Roosevelt elk, who then gave me a big, wet kiss. I’ve held a great blue heron, the victim of some irritated fisherman’s .22, as it died in my arms. I’ve raised chickens and grown vegetables and made big pots of hot, savory soup for my family and friends.

I’ve lived and traveled in Europe. I’ve been to Hitler’s Wolf Lair, chased circus elephants through an international shipping harbor and talked to the pilots who flew in the Red Baron’s squadron. I’ve skied – badly – in the Austrian Alps and lived to tell about it. I’ve taken the wrong train. I’ve been to a German concentration camp and to abandoned submarine pens on the north coast of Germany, and I’ve felt the spirits of the unquiet dead in both places.

And I’ve learned what it means to have severe, chronic rheumatoid arthritis – and carry on, anyway.

As the months passed, leading up to this quiet but special day in my life, I found a new activism growing inside me. I wasn’t content to keep my opinions to myself anymore; after living in Germany and getting to know the subdued but vital descendents of those who supported the Nazis, and also after talking to some who had been their victims, I just couldn’t stay quiet while watching my own country fall blindly into the same sort of trap. I just couldn’t.

So I started blogging. I’m learning my way around opinion writing, discovering the pitfalls and traps of assumptions and less-than-thorough research, and I’m expanding my mind and my views. Some days my posts soar, others they fall flat. I often go to bed at night with my head feeling like it’s about to burst, but it’s a curiously wonderful feeling.

I owe thanks for much of what I’ve learned to you, my readers, who I can’t help but think of as friends. And as I move forward from today, my 50th anniversary of life on this incredible Earth, I know I’m embarking on yet another adventure.


roxtar said...

Wheee! Happy birthday! I'm 2 years away from my 50th birthday...and next year, I'll be 3 years away from it! (Badum ching!)

I have a trial coming up next week (Possession of marijuana with intent to deliver) against a 20-something prosecutor who has never seen actual marijuana before!

So embrace every year of those wonderful experiences. At risk of falling into old fart mode, most of these kids will never have the same set of life-shaping exposures to the wild, the weird and the wonderful. And anyway, 50 is the new 30, or so I'm told.

Wil Morat said...

Best wishes...on your next 50!

Anonymous said...

best wishes on your 50th... i love your blog, its compassion, its humor, its honesty, keep on keepin' on - may the wren fly high

Will Divide said...

Yo, Wren, happy day. Yrs. Trly. hits five two on 1/1.

And me? I can lick my weight in wild caterpillars.

The News Writer said...

Happy birthday to a new friend in the Blogosphere. Don't let the bastards get you down.

Kevin Wolf said...

I'm three years out from that milestone. And it really is one, I guess.

I've done much less than you but I'm still here and still trying.

But, hey, this is not about me: Happy Birthday (a day late)! Best Wishes. I hope you enjoyed your special day.

Steve Kuusisto said...

Dear Wren,

Congratulations on your 50th! I hear 50 is the new 21 so have a Schnapps. That's what I did.