“Unto Death?!” Well, this is going to be an interesting year…

And now, the number 42 is not only the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (according to Douglas Adams, anyway), but also my new age. I can’t say I’m too fond of it: turning 40 was hard enough, and each additional year just feels like adding insult to injury. Plus, in the Japanese culture, 42 is considered an unlucky number because when you pronounce the numerals separately, “shi ni” (four two) sounds very much like the phrase “unto death.” Boy, isn’t that cheery!?

We’ve all got to contend with birthdays though, and there is no escaping the fact that yesterday was mine. At least I don’t look my age (and heaven knows I don’t act it!). This runs in the family – neither of my parents look like they’re in their mid-60s, either. It’s as if we were all blessed with a gene that makes us look a good 5-10 years younger. If I could figure out how to replicate it and sell it, I’d be a rich man. Forget about that Botox crap.

"Shi ni." This spells doom for me! (Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)

As far as birthdays go, this one neither astounded nor disappointed. I had the kids, so that meant the usual multiple runs to and from school, compounded by the fact that Wednesdays are early release days for Audrey. I got a long-overdue oil change on my car. Took a break from any job-seeking or writing activities. Went out for a celebratory dinner at the Olive Garden with the kids. Didn’t have a birthday cake, but was too full for one, anyway. While it certainly didn’t live up to the best birthday ever – one that involved German chocolate cake, a skirt with nothing on underneath, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and peanut shells (how I’d love to elaborate, but I’m ever mindful of the fact that I have relatives reading and there are some indecencies best left under wraps…just know that I was not the one wearing the skirt) – it was definitely a far cry from my worst birthday ever (which occurred one year prior to the best and was punctuated by a figurative stab to the heart). I guess you could say 42 just was.

By the way, the Pork Milanese I ordered from the O.G. was literally the best pork Milanese I’ve ever eaten.

Tonight’s dinner is going to pale in comparison. Once a week when the kids are here I declare it “sandwich night,” which is nothing more than an excuse to allow me to take a break from cooking for one evening. We all just make our own sandwiches, usually accompanied by Top Ramen or Campbell’s soup. I can’t say I ever look forward to sandwich night – other than the not-having-to-cook part – but for some reason, Rusty thinks it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (of course, technically it is sliced bread). He gets super excited whenever I announce it’s sandwich night, and usually pumps his fist in the air and exclaims, “yessss!” Which inevitably makes me wonder why I go to the trouble of fixing homemade, hearty, delicious meals the rest of the week when he’s perfectly fine with PB&J and ramen noodles. “I could eat this every night,” he says, as if to drive the point home.

Teenagers are weird. But whatever…as long as I get a break from kitchen duty one night.

I have a friend I met here who was questioning whether she should continue blogging or not, and a lot of the comments she received seconded the notion that maybe blogging is too time-consuming, isn’t “real” writing, takes away from other pursuits, turns us into attention-seeking stats monkeys, etc. I was a little surprised by how many sort of questioned the value of this whole pursuit, but I guess it all depends on what you’re hoping to get out of the experience. For me, I blog because I have to. Writing is as essential to me as breathing, and it’s got to be more than penning articles…I need a creative outlet. The idea that anybody will actually pay attention to my words is almost secondary to me. For the first nine months I blogged here, I had almost no readers, and I suppose I could have continued that way indefinitely, but I made a concerted effort to grow my blog, mostly because I consider it a very important piece in my Master Plan. I am essentially building a brand in the hope that one day I’ll be a published author.

That is why I ditched the pseudonym and am now using my real name throughout the blogosphere. For the longest time I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this, but then I read a post by another blogging buddy, Jess Witkins, that talked about utilizing social media to achieve your goals, and part of that was devoted to the idea that, as a writer, your name is your brand. This made sense to me. On the one hand, I would like to protect certain elements of my privacy – the kids’ real names, for instance – but on the other, establishing yourself as a brand can only help when it comes time to getting published. Besides, all anybody had to do was click on a link or two on this blog and they’d uncover my true identity. I kind of felt like Superman “disguised” as Clark Kent. How can nobody figure out who he really is? The disguise takes pretty much no effort to uncover! 

I’m not saying this approach will work for everybody, but for me, it’s perfect. And also explains my sudden, renewed interest in Twitter. We’ll see how that goes.

Just for fun, and to make this whole experience a little more interactive, I’m going to throw a poll out there and ask you what topics you’d like me to write about more often.

Alas, there is no “German chocolate cake, skirt without anything underneath, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, peanut shells” option. Nice try, though…


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

25 thoughts on ““Unto Death?!” Well, this is going to be an interesting year…

  1. Mark–first of all, start wearing skirts with nothing on underneath–I imagine it would change your life.

    Secondly, happy birthday–not the best and not the worst, but the heart, it’s a tickin’, and that’s good.

    Third…I was surprised at all the comments on my site yesterday, too…but I didn’t find most of them to question blogging so much as have us consider how we spend our time, and if it brings us closer to our goals…

    needful thinking, for me…and, no, I am not ditching the blog, in no small part because of your 57 comments that you left for me.


    happy birthday, Superman.



  2. Thanks for the shout out, Mark! You’ve really been making some strides in your platforming recently, so I hope it treats you well!

    I am abstaining from your vote because there is no All of the Above option. I will read everything you write, so just deal with it!


  3. Most birthdays after a certain point (for me, around 25 or so) have been… “just OK.” I love my friends, I love my family, but it feels like such a non-event really. Like, “Birthdays? Really? What am I, 10?”

    I’d have to say that 42 isn’t too bad, despite the ominous sounding translation. At least, not so far. I’ll have a more definitive take on it later this year. 😉


  4. Happy Late Birthday Mark!!! Yeah it blows to turn another year older but just think….the older you get, the more you get away with…after all, they will just think you’re a silly ol’ man…like my hubby!

    I agree teenagers are weird…glad I don’t have any! Adult children can be weird too…just ask the girl!!

    As far as the poll? All of the above, of course!!


  5. Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday dear Mark!
    Happy Birthday tooooooooo yooooooooou!

    Hip-hip hooray!!!!!

    I kinda felt the same way turning 40, but I gotta tell ya….it just keeps getting better. I truly love getting older because there’s a certain amount of freedom you develope over the years. The freedom to speak your mind, say what you feel, and not care what people think.

    I’m with you, I have to blog because it’s my space to be creative. I’ve learned more about writing, web design and photography through blogging than anything else. Plus, I’ve met some of the greatest people who I’ve met in person and have become close friends with.

    And I’m glad to have met you, Mark!

    Cheers to a great 42nd year!


    1. Oh, I know, and I appreciate it! I wasn’t complaining about the lack of cake on my actual b-day. I could have gotten some from the Olive Garden, but I was much too full after dinner.


  6. Birthday blessings, Mark! I’ve got more than a decade on you, and so far, I’m enjoying it (except, of course, for the current unemployed-and-no-money part). Like you, I also write because I need the outlet. My blog has a very small readership (except, of course [another one] for the week an illustration from Google Images I’d used got linked to a Google Doodle celebration of the anniversary of the ice cream sundae). I’m in my second year and there are a few more readers than before, but so far my efforts to grow it have not borne much fruit. It is still a joy and a comfort — and a great source of support from my small but loyal band.
    I couldn’t get your survey to let me indicate more than one thing or I’d’ve clicked both “Writing” and “Daily Life.”


  7. Happy Birthday, Mark. Better late than never, I suppose. I turned 49 last month, and I’m afraid I’m beginning to look. Let me know if you figure out how to bottle that gene of yours!


  8. 1. Happy b-day, bloggy buddy!

    2. I’d feign disgust at your best birthday ever, but I have to admit that my best birthday ever sounds remarkably like yours. I’ll just leave it at that, as I’ve erased this comment muliple times already while trying to elaborate without sounding plain seedy…and there just doesn’t seem to be a way to make it work! 😉

    3. My son explained to the checker at Raley’s not too long ago that I’m the best mom EVER because I fed him Top Ramen for Christmas last year. “NOT TRUE!” I shouted and blushed, but the damage was done: I’m now the mom whose Christmas dinner consists of 17-cent ramen. What is wrong with these children and their obsession with processed foods, anyhow? And btw, I fed him Top Ramen for lunch on Christmas EVE day. It was the first and only time, so the memory stuck, I guess…



  9. Ha! I’ve been wondering about the kid’s names. I was starting to question whether I was just remembering them wrong.


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