Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I'm not sure when the transformation took place, but it's gotten to the point where celebrating my birthday isn't much of a deal for me anymore. When I was a kid, I looked forward to celebrating my birthday like it was the coming of the Lord.

     Parties! Presents! Cake! Ice cream! ME ME ME!

But now, not so grandiose. It's become just another day, and I'm quite content with that.

I guess that's one way you can tell you're happy with where you are in life. Presents and celebrating, although fun, are not priorities. Instead, you can't think of a better way to spend your birthday than lounging on the couch chowing down on pizza with your wife. I was quite pleased and happy with myself.

However, Nathalie felt otherwise. Every so often she would look at me with a sad face. Not only did I happen to be on call on my birthday, we couldn't even go out to a fancy restaurant for dinner because I might get called into the ER at any moment for some surgical emergency. So she sat there feeling sorry for me.

I tried to explain to her that previous paragraph up there and how satisfied I was feeling with myself to dissipate her needless sympathy, but it had about as much impact as telling someone to feel better because their dead pet is now in Pet Heaven.

Then I remembered a wish that I had made 6 months ago: It was the third day after Hurricane Katrina had demolished New Orleans. Nathalie and I, along with 5 of my other resident buddies, were camped out in one of the rooms of the hospital. We had no power, cellphones and phonelines were down, the city was flooding, and as far as we knew, everything we owned was gone.

On top of that, it was humid, it was hot, it was cramped, it was scary, it was sad, it was exhausting... it was a lot of things. And to make matters worse, we had nothing to eat other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and we were just sick of eating them.

Try 3 days of peanut butter and jelly for every meal. By the end of the second day, you start dreaming of all sorts of delectable alternatives. Sometimes, we would pass the time talking about all the other kinds of food that we wished we had.

At one point I remember wishing for a large pepperoni pizza. And just how good it would taste. And for that moment, all I wanted was to sit in a comfortable air-conditioned room, eating a freshly baked pepperoni pizza with Nathalie.

And the other day, on my birthday, that wish was fulfilled.