Thoughts on Turning Thirty-Two

(The birthday was yesterday. Ate sushi, saw Batman Begins. Good job, even if the action sequences dragged on. Nice to see the elements they brought in from Batman: Year One. The comic was still a good deal better, especially in its parallel stories of Gordon and Batman, and in its lack of a superbaddie full of talk about purging civilization. Liked Christian Bale. Thought Katie Holmes looked like she was wincing around the mouth every time she got emotional.)

This came to me in the shower: Thirty-two. Even though I feel like an old man – longtime married, house, kids, job, heart condition, etc. – there’s still eons of time (provided I get the standard 75 years) in which to fail.

How’s that for pessimism? And that’s after a lovely, lovely weekend spent with various friends and colleagues… The sky? Falling.


  1. antiaphrodite says

    belated happy birthday! does this add to your pessimism? 🙂

  2. Rachel Swenson Balducci says

    Happy Birthday! I’ve got you by a year. Oddly I usually feel just the opposite: like I’m still 17. I caught sight of myself driving my Suburban yesterday and thought “who is that young child driving that enormous vehicle.”
    Hope the year is good!

  3. Alex Vitus says

    belated happy birthday.

  4. AnotherCoward says

    if you’re over 30, you’re old.

    …being the youngest (and 27) in my circle of friends, I take cruel pleasure in saying this…

    hope you had a good’un. when is mid-life crisis suppose to kick in? …I think I may have had one at the beginning of the year…

  5. Matthew Lickona says

    Thanks, all. I am indeed old.

  6. Anonymous says


    Here I thought you were going to be incommunicado for the whole week.

    I haven’t sent out promised gift yet – the long lost brother-in-law is coming to Wisconsin – many plans and many frettings et al – but it will come.

    Please look at your email for an extended explanation/exploration of this theme…

    30 is the age one reaches when one feels one slipping off the bubble in the spirit level (to borrow from Seamus Heaney’s famous image). One’s not quite off, but one is getting there – still, take heart, I look forward to 40 – a meager four years away – as a sharper attack on that same bubble (notice how three nestles so nicely against the zero like they’re lovers, or husband and pregnant wife – and the four looks like a hand brandishing a pin ready to pop the bubble… (Now: there’s an image mixing the morbid and erotic for you!))

    Have a drink or 30 for me – and I will return the favor shortly…

    fantastic and fanatic,


    p.s. Now I GOTTA get me one of these blog things – you, 30 years old, and women sending you pictures of themselves! You charming bastard you!

  7. According to J.R.R. Tolkien you are now at the end of your “tween” years – those not-quite-ready-for-prime-time years from 20 thru 32. Next year, at age 33, you will finally come of age.

    Happy birthday!

    Joe @ On Nothing

  8. antiaphrodite says

    thirty is old? but i’ll be thirty in a few years…that means i’m almost old! when did this happen?!

  9. Anonymous says

    The thirties are a very difficult stage. The only hope I have found is adoration. Started two months ago with once a week. I’m up to twice now. Began reading a little spiritual tome called “Light and Peace” from TAN books. It distilss a lot of wisdom from the saints. It has helped.


  10. Susan Peterson says

    I have to say that from 55, angst over anything in the 30’s is sort of amusing. I think I was too busy in my 30’s to contemplate how old I was or wasn’t. (I had my 5th child at 30, my 6th at 32…my 7th at 34, my 8th at 35, 9th at 39). Believe me, 32 is YOUNG.
    I suspect 55 will look young from 75. Right now I am working on getting used to the idea of 60 so it doesn’t floor me when it comes.

    75 years in which to fail? All hopes don’t come to fruition, some possibilities are always lost. But if one is on the road to heaven one isn’t failing..and if one ever has taken a wrong turn off that road, there are always exits back to the right road, readily available.

    Right, Matthew?

    Heart condition? What heart condition?

    Susan Peterson

  11. Mike Morrell says

    Happy birthday! I agree, Batman: Year One is better, but this movie “gets it.” (You like comics? me too.) Ras has a more convincing persona in the comics too, as an eco-terrorist rather than some nebulous purging for “justice.” That makes about as much sense as the Iraq war. Oops…

  12. Perry Lorenzo says

    A very happy birthday . . .Feast of St Irenaeus, eh?

    I wonder who amongst the saints and whatnots of Church history might be your patrons? St Jerome certainly had a satirical side. St Philip Neri could banter wittily. Perhaps if Voltaire had been a believer?

  13. Matthew Lickona says

    I always thought June 27 was the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help… but then, I suppose it’s not limited to that.
    Good gravy – I’m much more of a half-wit than a wit. But I’ll happily take Jerome – a man who had to beat himself with rocks to combat his sins…

  14. Deep Furrows says

    Happy birthday. This is the last year you will be younger than Jesus.

  15. I recently wrote on my blog about turning 35. Somehow I wasn’t at all upset by being half way to 70.

    I found your blog through Whispers in the Loggia. Happy to have found it.

    FYI – After I clicked on your name to view your Blogger profile, I wasn’t able to get to your site using the link to your website. There’s an extra “t” in the URL for “matthew.”

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