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I was born on 3 June 1976. Today, I am thirty years old.

I share 1976 with some important stuff. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak formed Apple Computer, which would inadvertently revolutionize creative technology and desktop computing. Seminal releases from the Ramones and the Damned—and a legendary television appearance by the Sex Pistols—brought punk rock’s disaffected bite into the public consciousness. We said goodbye to luminaries like Alexander Calder, Max Ernst, and Howard Hughes, and said hello to network television’s future teen idols: Candace Cameron, Melissa Joan Hart, Joey Lawrence, Fred Savage, and Jaleel White. We assumed you must have been talking to Travis Bickle, since he was the only one there.

Aging is subjective. You are, as they say, only as old as you feel. And logic suggests that for Americans, whose measurements are based on arbitrary inches, feet, miles, and degrees of Fahrenheit, the number 30 should be an insignificant supporting player to the 12s, 5280s, and 212s that we hold so dearly. Still, it’s hard not to join my countrymen in this selective ingestion of the metric Kool Aid, and regard this birthday as a milestone (pun intended). For many, it is the beginning of true, responsible, boring adulthood. It is settling for what you’ve got and will have. For me, it is the marriage of the collected experiences and observations that earned me my cynicism to a renewed exultation of the vibrant spirit of youth. This is the paradox I celebrate today, and look forward to conquering.