Thursday, November 21, 2013

Turning 40

This past week I celebrated my 40th birthday.  Strangely, where 35 freaked me out, this year's slow tick of the death-clock didn't seem to affect me much.  I'm guessing that the big-freak at 35 was because I didn't really even start my official career until age 30 and hadn't settled in for the long haul yet.  I'll also admit that since then I have gathered a fair number of friends who are older than me, and seeing them remaining cool and fun makes me feel like there is hope!  I worry a bit about becoming behind the times, but so far I can still talk video games, books, and music with the young folks.  I still have no comprehension of Twitter and hate songs with auto-tuning, so maybe this is the start of the drift to irrelevancy... Or perhaps just maintaining good taste! 

For my birthday week we did a lot of fun things to celebrate, and with all this fantastic stuff to look forward to I really had a great time! 

The festivities began on Tuesday with a Tyranena beer dinner at The Happy Gnome.  This is a small Wisconsin brewery that was ahead of the big craft beer boom curve, but that I've not really paid much attention to recently.  I did try their Painted Ladies pumpkin beer as part of my pumpkin beer blogging experiment, but that may be the only beer of theirs that I've had in 2 years.  I was pleased overall with the beer quality, and the well balanced drinkability of all of them.  The Sheep Shagger was one of the best Scotch ales I've had in a while...though the label design's shepherd with a lamb on his lap looks way too melancholy...  As usual we had a great time hanging out with our frequent-flyer beer dinner friends, as well as the wonderful staff of The Gnome.  The food was amazing as always!

On Wednesday, (my actual birthday) Sj had a meeting in the evening and my plans were to sit at home moping alone with a beer and my PS3.  My friends did not agree with this plan!  Mike Lebben, as well as Bryce and Elise came over to share beers and keep me company.  They all brought some cool beers for me, and I took this opportunity to crack a couple of rare beers that have been languishing in my cellar.  We had the incredibly tart and complex Cantillon Kriek, as well as a 2012 Black Tuesday to celebrate!  Lucky for Sj, I saved some of both for her tardy return!  It was fun just hanging out with friends on a school-night.

Saturday I went over to Andrew's place and we played Shadowrun, a game I haven't played since I was about 15 years old.  Its a roleplaying game from the 1980's in which the futuristic world is run by evil competing corporations who hire players for espionage, extortion, and various other misdeeds.  So the dystopian future of the 80's is really just the 2000's?  Though in the game, magic has returned to the world including elves, dwarves and trolls... I'm still waiting for that to happen!  This was a fun way to spend an afternoon--basking in the old-school geek glory of sitting around a table and rolling dice to kill things.

During this summer's CONvergence in Bloomington Sj and I donated money to Fearless Comedy Productions at a level that allowed for Courtney McLean and The Dirty Curls to play our event.  What event?  Well, why not have a 40th birthday party for me?  This was the ball that started rolling down the mountain, soon to become an avalanche ending in an amazing and crazy birthday bash.  Dan and John from Enki Brewing in Victoria kindly rented out their brewery for my nefarious deeds.  We had food catered through Chipotle, which seemed to be a big hit. 

Since the party was on a Sunday, and draconian Minnesota liquor laws don't allow taprooms to sell beer then, we were unable to drink Enki beer at the event.  I was able to furnish my own brews though and had six on tap using the JAB jockey-box.  The crowd favorites seemed to be the Mild Mannered, the JAB de Garde and the ill-fated Pumpacolypse Brau.  I managed to empty three kegs to make room for upcoming brews! 

Later in the evening, the band arrived and performed two sets of their deliciously raunchy music for our entertainment.  If you have not heard of them, you should check out their website here.  Watch a video and prepare to have your mind blown.  I'm amazed at how a group of (mostly) gals can sing such disturbing lyrics whilst maintaining a straight face!  I was a bit concerned that my friends and family would be horrified, but I think the band was a hit.  They sang one naughty serenade to Andrew and Janelle's 17 month old boy, who stood in rapt attention for the entire song.  They sang me a wonderful new birthday song that reminded me of the disturbing fact that my parents once had sex, and congratulated me on not being aborted!  Watching the crowd's reactions was almost as good as watching the band--I know I had tears running down my face from laughing so hard.

We're with the band...

The party turned out amazingly and I thank the band, the guys from Enki, and everyone who came to share the fun.  Special thanks to my best friend since Kindergarten, Bryan Keehl, who drove all the way from Chicago to take part.  Bryan gave a great speech that got both of us choked up and rivaled the one he gave at my wedding!  He also acted as my beer mule--bringing me some awesome Three Floyds beer from our field trip out there last month.  Thanks to all those who brought gifts (you really didn't need to, but I appreciate them) and cards.  My friend Marty the blacksmith forged me a heavy bottle opener in the shape of battle-axe that I carried around like a jaded king's scepter most of the night.

Both still ticking!

The point of this story you ask?  As I hit age 40 I find myself in the enviable position of having everything that I really want out of life.  I'm married to a wonderful woman who loves me and keeps me on track.  I have a busy job that I really love to do, and that provides me with the money to not worry about the little things as much.  I have a ton of great friends and a healthy family.  My hobbies of homebrewing and beer-blogging are an outlet for my creative side.  Now that I've reached this stage, I find that (for me) life is really about the experience.  Life is a series of experiences, some good, some bad, but all lead you along the road that becomes your history and your future.  Why do I love beer so much?  Each beer I have is an experience.  It will never be the same again, that special combination of company, location, food, etc.  Beer is meant to be shared--as are all great experiences like concerts, theater, sporting events, and even birthday parties.  The company and the event means more than the liquid in the glass.  This is the reason I continue my long-winded babbling about beer and beer events--I'm attempting to put into inadequate words the feeling that these things engender.  This is also a journal and remembrance of a series of (mostly) enjoyable events that make up the current chapter of my life.

To all my friends, family and other readers: Stop and enjoy those moments that make up your life.  Here's to another chapter and the next 40 years!

1 comment:

Brady said...

Great read Eric, Sorry I missed the Shindig/Hootanany as it sounded like a BLAST! Happy Belated Bday and Cheers!