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Strip for 8/24/2002  
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This strip is closely linked to the ongoing exercise strips. See, we have some longer running threads going through this whole thing. Nothing on the Gaiman level, but hey, I'm just a kid.

But not really. I turned 22 this past Monday. 22 really isn't an exciting birthday. I think the next big one is 25, for renting cars (which makes planning trips much easier). My birthday was uneventful, but fulfilling.

I remember two birthday parties from my youth. One was when I was 8 or 9 and I invited a bunch of my brother and sister's friends as well as my own. That must've been weird for them. Years later, I found my brother's planning notebook (he always had random notebooks lying around filled with airplane drawings and notes to himself) for this party where he laid out party marshals and things. He even wrote down pranks to play on my sister.

The other one was when I was in 7th grade. The guests were all the 7th grade guys and they all brought their bikes over and we went riding in the park. The reason I remember this so well is because my best friend gave me this tape. It was a personalized cassette with a spaceman cowboy singing, "Hey...<your name>...it's your birthday!" with my name inserted throughout. He gave it to me proudly and we listened to it but I was obviously not so enamored with the gift.

I feel really badly about this now, how materialistic I was back then. Kuwie and I had always exchanged the best gifts and I was really looking forward to his and now it was this kid's tape. Later on, a guy asked me if I was pissed about it and I gamely said, "I guess he's made up for it in other years." Then Kuwie came out with this other gift, beautifully wrapped and it was Sunset Riders for the Genesis, a game he knew I loved from playing it in the arcades with me. Boy, did I feel like shit.

Even now, typing this, I feel heelish thinking about it.

It's odd, thinking about the moments in your life that made you want to be a better person. In the end, they had the right effect, but in thinking about them, you are returned to that earlier state, feeling the shame over again.

For a bunch of years in high school and into college, Kuwie and I stopped exchanging gifts almost as proof of our best friendship, that we were sparing each other the hassle of having to get gifts. Once we started earning money independently, we picked up the responsibility again.

I give him books. I struck gold sophomore year when I got him Haruki Murakami's South of the Border, West of the Sun, which he devoured in a night and made him want to read more Murakami, which was the point of the gift. In fact, he knew about Sputnik Sweetheart before I did. I haven't done quite as well since, but I got him Barrel Fever this year as an introduction to David Sedaris (who is doing a show in Chicago in October, I'm excited) and he read it.

Yesterday, he gave me a mini booklet on SOCOM, the new PS2 Navy Seals game.

"I just got you the pamphlet," he said.

"You rock, buddy," I said, grinning.

Some things don't change.


PS. Sorry about missing Wednesday. I was in Milwaukee for longer than I planned. I could tell you the whole story here, but it'd be much easier to direct you to the new weblog: Kipworld. Spiffy, huh? It's all thanks to a program called MovableType. Which I recommend if you too are looking for a free content mangement system.