Natal Day Notions

Tomorrow is my birthday – July 22nd. And it’s not just a “garden-variety” birthday. It’s one of those big “milestone” birthdays (whatever that’s supposed to mean). On Tuesday, I will turn 40 :groan: Trust me, readers, when I tell you that I am not so hopelessly vain and insecure that I’m getting all flustered about turning 40. I swear I’m not. I was fine with it, until about a month ago, when it suddenly hit me like a brick, “I’m going to be 40 years old in a few weeks!”. It’s a crappy sounding number. “39” is cool; lively, rhythmic, still has sparks of youth. “40” just sits there; leaden, drab, cheerless, middle-ageish. Any numerologists out there? Help!

For the past few days, I’ve been asking myself, “How do I blog my birthday?”. How do I present it in such a way that doesn’t bore the hell out of my readers, come across narcissistic or whiny or self-indulgent? Or reek of maudlin sentiments like a Hallmark card.

Among my many hairbrained theories, I have a theory about birthdays, and it’s honestly helping me to cope with tomorrow’s doomsday and put things in perspective. See, it’s natural and logical to treat birthdays as an occasion for soul-searching and self-absorption, to ask ourselves all sorts of profound, introspective questions about our lives “so far”, make personal assessments, weigh our accomplishments, and rue our regrets. To hell with all that. A better alternative is my trusty theory, that birthdays should focus not on your autonomous, isolated self, but yourself in a larger context, and function as a reminder that there are things much bigger than you. And especially for our gang who turn 40 this year (that includes you Steph!), we should consider our birth year and the state of the world into which we came.

I was born in 1968. What a delightful year! Assassinations, riots, shootings, military invasions. I think all dictionaries should be altered to put “1968” as the sole definition entry for “turbulence”. It’s as if every act of political upheaval and social unrest are encased within those 12 months. I can’t even watch a PBS documentary without being reminded that some violent and horrific event took place in 1968. Sure, there were some bright spots amid all the unrest. But not many. So I invite you all to take a nostalgic stroll with me through the significant events of 1968. How uplifting it will be!

American soldiers kill 500 innocent Vietnamese civilians in the My Lai Massacre.

Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia in the “Prague Spring”.

North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive.

Lyndon Johnson announces that he will not seek Presidential re-election.

Dr. Martin Luther King is assassinated by James Earle Ray at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Paris surgeons perform the first successful heart transplant.

Football stampede in Buenos Aires leaves 74 dead and 150 injured.

Robert Kennedy is assassinated by Sirhan-Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, just hours after winning the California Democratic Presidential primary.

Saddam Hussein becomes Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Council in Iraq after a military coup.

The Beatles release The White Album.

Columbia University students stage protest, shut down the school, and and seize control of five campus buildings. Violent conflict erupts with New York police.

Pierre Trudeau becomes Canada’s 15th Prime Minister

Andy Warhol is shot, but not killed, by Valerie Solanas.

Stanley’s Kubrick’s groundbreaking film 2001: A Space Odyssey opens.

Chicago police clash with protesters at the Democratic National Convention. 100 go to emergency room, 175 arrested.

Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in debuts on NBC.

Shootout between the Black Panthers and Oakland police.

Yale University goes co-ed.

“Bloody Monday” revolt of 5000 Parisian student demonstrators fill the Latin Quarter. Riot ensues when Paris police throw gas grenades.

Medalists Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos raise black power salute during the Star-Spangled Banner at the Mexico City Olympic Games.

Frankie Lymon, lead singer of The Teenagers, is found dead of a heroin overdose.

Richard Nixon narrowly defeats Hubert Humphrey in Presidential election.

Ok, in retrospect maybe my “larger context” idea isn’t so great after all. Ugh, that was brutal! It’s a miracle that the year didn’t end with total Armageddon. I think we should all be grateful that most of those events are 40 years behind us. But thank god for The White Album! And Laugh-In πŸ™‚

Amid all the turmoil and tragedy and anarchy of 1968, on a hot day in late July, a husband and wife in New York City welcomed their second child; a daughter, who they named Claudia, a future artist’s model. I thought the best way to close this post is with a drawing by the woman who gave birth that summer night. Yesterday, I posed down at Spring Studios for the Sunday portrait drawing session. Upon my request, my mother obligingly came down to make a drawing for me, and for Museworthy! It is the most meaningful birthday present I’ve ever received. And what better way to mark my 40th year, than with my image by the hand of the woman who brought me into this world, in the midst of one of the most tumultuous years on record.

This is me, on the eve of 40, through the eyes of my mother, Elaine Hajian. Charcoal on paper. Created at Spring Studios, July 2008:

Thanks for the drawing, Mom. I love it. And thanks for everything else . . .

40 . . . here I come! πŸ™‚

17 thoughts on “Natal Day Notions

  1. lkwinter says:

    I’m doing the same thing in October. I feel rather cathartic about this actually.

    Sarah McLachlan and Gillian Anderson hit the forty mark as well this year.

    My story is a little different than yours, in that, sometime in February of ’68, a couple kids got wasted and did the flower people boink-badda-dang, and along I came. She must’ve got nervous because she had me at a Catholic Church, and left the building without me. I still don’t know who she is.

    Anyway, I saw your post, and I could relate, so just do this…Have an absolutely fantastic birthday and live life to the fullest Ms. Beautiful Art Model!

  2. Josefin says:


    ~~~~~~ Claudia ~~~~~~

    **Wishing you a Happy Birthday**

    ~ From Josefin


  3. Ron says:

    Happy Birthday Claudia! 40 ain’t so bad. I think I can even remember it.

  4. Stephanie says:

    The way I look at it, 40 is way better than 39 — it’s the start of something, rather than the end of something.

    The drawing by your mom is beautiful, as are you. Have a fabulous 40th birthday, dear Claudia, and a wonderful year!


  5. Bob says:

    Happy Birthday again, I hope you are having a great day. I remember all of the events that happened 40 years ago, but never thought of them happening all in the same year.

  6. artmodel says:

    Thank you all for your sweet birthday wishes!!!! I enjoyed reading them so much!

    Ikwinter, that is an unbelievable story. But you sound like you have quite the healthy attitude about your 40th in October. All the best to you, and thanks for commenting on Museworthy! I hope you do again.

    Josefin, Ron, and Bob, thanks for your good wishes and lovely sentiments.

    And Stephanie, I should have known that you would put such an intelligent and philosophical spin on this auspicious milestone. What a great way to look at it. And I appreciate your compliment of my mother’s drawing. She read it, and was very touched by it.

    Again, thanks to you all for the birthday wishes . .


  7. dougrogers says:

    Heppi Birtdee miss. 40? There’s more on the other side. 40? must be why you’re so interesting.

  8. artmodel says:

    Doug, thank you honey!!!

    Yes, there’s more on the other side. There better be! I’ll see to it πŸ˜‰

    You calling me “interesting” made me feel so good. And it made me smile. Thanks for that. You rock.


  9. Late on the scene as usual; happy birthday Claudia. Over here they say 60 is the new 40; so where does that put you? 25!

  10. artmodel says:

    Robert, I am moving to England PRONTO!! I like the way you guys think about age! Excellent πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the birthday wishes!!


  11. Brian says:


    From someone who knows…You’re still beautiful after all these years!

    Happy 40th Birthday!


  12. artmodel says:


    I’m at a loss for words . . . hearing from you. I know who you are, and I am so touched and moved by your words, and pleasantly surprised! It’s been ages! And after so many years, it warms my heart to receive communication from you of any kind. Isn’t Google great??

    Please write to me directly if you want. Or can i write to you? I have your email in my blog info.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, Brian. Your generous comment means a lot from a guy who knew me when i was 19! I’m so, so glad you wrote.

    Claudia πŸ™‚

  13. Brian says:


    I was a wonderful surprise to find you this way. Check your email when you get the chance.


  14. Derek says:

    I love this sketch of you that Elaine did
    I have to say that she is a very talented artist she should put some of her pieces on exhibtion. She has a great muse of a lovely daughter
    I have to say that you are her greatest accomplishment biologically , artistically emotionally and spiritually.

    I think its lovely that she is able to share her talent with us readers
    and she illustrates the love for her child and how grown up she turned out. The illsutration shows grace, beauty and soul .

    Elaine if you are reading this you did a great job as an illustrator
    capturing something great and I also recommend that you should put some pieces of your lovely daughter. From what I read she has been
    a great artistic muse and knows how to create art with her soul.

  15. I refused to turn sixty, because I can’t even mouth the word. I even had a hard time typing it. I don’t feel sixty, I’ve been told I don’t look sixty and I certainly don’t act sixty.

    I was great with fifty-eight, was fine with fifty-nine, but sixty? Instead, I turned fifty-ten and next year i’ll be fifty-eleven.

    Problem solved! And you must be thirty-seventeen by now…

    • artmodel says:


      I don’t know about “thirty- seventeen’, but I’d give just about anything to be 37 again. You have no idea! I wish we could state our age in accordance to how we ‘feel’. Does that count to the rest of the world? For us women, I’m not so sure.

      Thanks for your comments!


      • When my well-loved, intelligent. pragmatic paternal Grandmother was 93, someone asked her how old she felt. She said “Eighteen”.

        Her body had aged,of course, and she had some medical issues, but she didn’t dwell on either. She had the enthusiasm for life that I hope I resonate. I remember flying her from Chicago to Indianapolis in her 90’s, to visit extended family. She jumped right in and looked forward to enjoying the adventure.

        As should we all.

        Forget your age.

        All the Best,


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