A Half-Birthday Tale
I’m a winter baby. I was born at the end of a terrible snowstorm during which my great-aunt died because they couldn’t get her to the hospital fast enough in all the snow. February 13.
When I was about a year old, I developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that made me a cranky baby. And, as time went on, a cranky kid.
The disease causes the immune system to attack the joints, which can cause excruciating pain. But, growing up with the condition, my brain performed a weird sort of miracle. It learned to block the pain from my conscious mind. So, when I was having a flare, I didn’t experience much pain in my ankles, knees, hips, wrists, or elbows—all the places where the disease was active. Instead of hurting, I’d get quiet and kind of mean. Then I’d hide away from people, lose my appetite, and, according to my mother, get extremely pale except for two bright red, sickly-looking cheeks.
Any stress on my mind or body could cause me to go into a flare. And winter was hard on my body.
So, every year when the dead of winter hit…right at my birthday…I would be miserable. I remember when I turned 4 and my parents invited family and friends to a party. There was cake and food and presents, but I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. And I absolutely did not want to eat. My dad crouched down and explained to me that this was all for me. Didn’t I want to open my presents? My mom turned a hot dog into a little dude with legs and arms cut in, and ketchup for a face.
I hated all of it. I just wanted to go sit in my room and be left alone.
At this time, back in the nineteen hundreds, the only thing that doctors could prescribe to a tiny child like myself was aspirin. I was too young to swallow pills whole, so I had to chew them up. And because it was hard on my stomach, I couldn’t really take much more when I was in a flare. Nor could they make me chew up more of that nasty stuff even if they wanted to.
So birthdays were just awful for my first few years of life.
But, here’s the other weird miracle: My mother’s birthday is exactly six months away from mine. Her birthday is my half-birthday!
So, when I was too sick to enjoy my birthday, we would postpone it until her birthday, and we’d celebrate together. I was usually in much better health then, so I’d enjoy the cake, friends, family, and presents much more.
So, here’s the point:
The pandemic has sent me back into half-birthday mode. This February, my Valentine’s Day weekend birthday was spent at home, quietly, while feeling less than great. I was hoping to have a big half-birthday celebration, but the Delta variant is ruining it.
So, instead, THIS half-birthday, I’m here to demand that you celebrate for me!
What I Want for My Half-Birthday:
1. Kickstarter Success!
Success for my comic book series on Kickstarter! It’s about dogs who fight crime in a gentrifying neighborhood, and it’s pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
Check out the sweet video we made about the project, and then go back it at this handy link right here. Or, if you can’t back, no worries! Just leave an encouraging comment on the page, then go tell the world about it with a social media share. It all helps!
2. Vaccinations for Everyone!
If you haven’t already gotten the shot, but you have access—get yourself vaccinated against COVID. This is a present for yourself, because it will hopefully keep you from, you know, dying. But it’s also a present for me! Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which means that in order to keep my immune system from attacking my body all the time, I have to be kept on immunosuppressant medications. That means that, although I’m vaccinated, I’m still at heightened risk of falling prey to COVID.
Folks, it is freaking summer now. And I still can’t go out safely. And I’m pissed. Because a bunch of yahoos who have no freaking idea what they’re talking about decided that health and safety aren’t important to them. And because they did that, now the Delta variant is all over the damn place, making it dangerous for me to leave my house. AGAIN. I’m so frustrated!
Also, I’ve just been reading that immune compromised people like myself who catch COVID can end up incubating it in their systems. Which gives the virus a really comfy place to mutate even more. Which could lead to MORE variants that will mean the pandemic lasts LONGER. So, trust me, you do NOT want me to get COVID.
I want to go out for my half-birthday. I told everybody I’d celebrate my half-birthday last year, but it was too dangerous then. And it’s still too dangerous now. That’s two real birthdays and two half-birthdays I don’t get to do what I want because of this stupid virus. Make it stop!
So get me a shot in your arm! DO IT! For people in the US, it’s easy as hell and it’s FREE. Just go here, find a location, and go for fuck’s sake!
3. Plant a Damn Tree!
Not into comics? Already been vaccinated? Then do the next most important thing and plant some trees.
No, I’m not kidding.
Maybe you haven’t noticed that the world is in a fucking climate crisis, but I’m here to tell you—this shit is happening. It’s been smoky here in Missoula for over a month now due to wildfires. My girlfriend’s parents’ house nearly burned down last night in a fire so massive her entire hometown has been evacuated.
Wildfires on the prairie are nothing new. But massive, out-of-control wildfires that destroy hundreds of thousands of acres are. This is due to droughts that have been worsening every year for decades, coupled with high temperatures and winds. Extreme weather events driven by human-caused climate change.
You know how we can combat that climate change? By sequestering more carbon.
You know what’s a brilliantly engineered, gorgeously designed, living carbon-sequestering machine?
So get out there and plant some damn trees. There are about a zillion ways to do it, even if you can’t plant one with your own hands.
A short list of options:
- 8 Billion Trees
- One Tree Planted
- The Woodland Trust (my druidic order works with them)
- The National Forest
- Plant a Tree Foundation
Pick one! Go! Do it!
Or, if you don’t have money to donate, just switch from your current search engine to Ecosia! It’s a simple browser extension that keeps track of your searches…and plants approximately 1 tree per 45 searches! It’s free, and it gives you great search results. I’ve been using it almost exclusively for about two years, and I’ve probably helped them plant about 70 trees. Badass, right?
Just. Get a tree planted. Okay? For my half-birthday.
Bonus: Little Lynsey, when she was less sick and more limber in the summer, spent about 50% of her time with trees. I still spend as much time as I can with them—with less climbing. I’m a druid. I love trees. So more trees = happy Lynsey.
Do you enjoy “titillating, winking bawdiness”? Then subscribe to my newsletter and peek inside my smexy graphic novel…followed by updates every month!