Birthdays Ain’t What They Used to Be


“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”-Alice Walker

61 years ago today, I was born in Brooklyn to a stay-at-home mom and a working dad. We lived in a 2-family attached brick house downstairs from my grandparents and shared an alley. How glorious to leave our kitchen through a door and race up 2 flights to my Bubbie and Zadie and just hang out with them. Mom returned to college when I was about 7 and dad, hurt both physically and emotionally during WW II was sick on and off with heart attacks at a young age and a bad back; he retired early. Dad would do the shopping and the chauffeuring. Mom also learned how to drive so that when dad couldn’t, she could get him to doctor appts.  I had a brother who was 4 and a half years older; a beautiful child; looked like a model! He had a rough relationship with my dad and probably a whole host of other problems that weren’t surfaced enough for us to see. We shared a love of reading and music. He got caught up in drugs for many years, Heroin… and even though he was recovering, he died nearly 21 years ago from AIDS. Dad died 23 years ago. Mom retired after dad died, took care of my brother in her home and after he died,  sold the house in Brooklyn and came out to the suburbs to be close to me and my family. I continue to miss my dad and my brother and I’m glad they knew my children and my children remember them. We used to have birthday celebrations with the whole family, but, at 61, both my husband and I like quiet celebrations and don’t stand on ceremony. Today I’ll see mom in the morning as usual; I’ll talk to my daughter on the phone; perhaps I’ll talk with my son in India and my husband and I will enjoy the chicken currently brining in the fridge overnight. Today is also the birthday of Carole King (72) and Alice Walker (70). I remember buying “Tapestry” in 1971. We still listen to it.  I’m in great, great company!!!!!

Before I Leave The Stage by Alice Walker


Before I leave the stage

I will sing the only song

I was meant truly to sing.

It is the song

of I AM.

Yes: I am Me




I love Us with every drop

of our blood

every atom of our cells

our waving particles

-undaunted flags of our Being-

neither here nor there.














22 thoughts on “Birthdays Ain’t What They Used to Be

  1. I too bought Tapestry and still have it. My turntable gave out but the cassette tape still works. I’m a little older (a decade) than you, but resonated with your family story. Detroit was my venue and the history reads pretty much the same. Thanks and happy birthday

    • John, thanks so much!!!! You know, my husband and I also listen to vinyl and my husband just told me that 45 lps are available…not the small 45s we used to listen to…long-playing 45s!!!!

  2. Hi Ilene, I hope you enjoy your day which will surely at some point contain your impeccable taste in wonderful music. I hope the snow and ice rain is being kinder, spring is just round the corner…. it’s just a really big corner unfortunately.
    Take care.

  3. Ah yes … somehow, birthdays are never the same once you have to bake your own cake. Happy day, Ilene. I’m ready for birthday sabbaticals myself, but no one lets that happen … my stepdaughter’s girlies still give me spankings — to be good on, and I tell them I need all the help I can get in that respect. At least they can’t drag me to Chuck E Cheese … I’d prefer root canal, any day! – Linda

  4. Warmest birthday greeting to you Ilene!! You do share this day with a couple of other incredible woman. Thanks for sharing this writing by Alice Walker, as I hadn’t seen this before. Wishing you cheerful laughter, warm embraces, and bright blessings today and the whole year through. WIth love, Gina

    • Thanks, Matt…for some reason, I’m taking a day off here and there and not posting everyday, but I’m glad you enjoy the postings!!!!! Listened to some great jazz yesterday, a saxophonist from the 50s: Art Pepper. We have him on vinyl.

      • I realise you don’t post everyday, but I look forward to seeing something from you everyday I log in. I’ll have to you tube, ‘Art Pepper’. Btw I posted a review of Inside Llewyn Davis on my blog. But be careful if you haven’t seen the flic because my post has some spoilers. Cheers Ilene.

  5. Ilene, happy belated birthday! Its amazing that my wife and I while waiting in our car at our daughters college, listened to that exact Carole King Album, we love her music and always will! God bless thanks for sharing! Hope your birthday was so very beautiful!

    • Thanks so much, Wendell!!! Yes, bought that album when it iwas released in ’71 and it’s still great. Listened to some great jazz the other day as well, Art Pepper, from the 50s. Have a very nice day!!!!

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