The Birthday Paradox

It took me 12 years to realize I’m worth celebrating — even if my birthday’s not

Ben Breier
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readJun 11, 2019


My sweet tooth in my mid-thirties is just the same as it was on my sixth birthday. Photos: Ben Breier

EEach spring of my childhood, I practiced tornado safety drills with my classmates. These drills would always happen near the end of March when Ohio would run a statewide test of its emergency warning system.

The midsized automotive city where I grew up is anchored right at the summit of Tornado Alley. These annual, pertinent exercises provided me with the faculties I would need to protect myself from gale-force winds and haphazardly flung objects, such as Chevy Cavaliers, and rogue tire swings.

These drills were a CliffsNotes version of the real-world experience. As instructed, we would duck and cover under our desks, clasping our hands over our occipital lobes in dead silence.

For some strange reason, no talking was permitted during these exercises. This seemed funny, because the last time I checked, tornados don’t pursue victims based on whether or not they chuckled during a moment of danger. Tornados are not velociraptors.

Things in the real world unfolded differently.

Cue shrill, military-grade sirens.

Run to the basement. Keep away from the windows; shattering glass will fracture and blind you.

Grab the FM radio and make sure it’s stuffed to the gills with D batteries; the kind that are never around when you need them.

Don’t open the fridge or else the milk will go bad.

"Don’t go upstairs, the cats will be fine. You are irreplaceable," Mom would say.

"But please stop trying to plug your Game Boy into the goddamn generator."

For me, every April still begins with sirens. It doesn’t matter that Ohio hasn’t been my home for more than 12 years.

The sirens still come.

More than half of my friends are Taureans. We share a lot of the same qualities: known for our fidelity, but also known for being insufferably stubborn.

My friend Kodi — the Hodor to my Bran — is a veritable giant, full of Dad jokes and possessing a deep fondness for Scandinavian metal. He has given me several adult piggyback rides. He was…



Ben Breier
Human Parts

@misterdisco everywhere // political journalist turned disco DJ turned strategist // OH -> DC -> NYC // opinions are mine, just like my sailor venus tattoo.