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Notably Quoted

It’s good for an artist to try things. It’s good for an artist to be ridiculous.
Sheila Heti in How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life (p. 18)

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Main | As the World Turns »

Birthday Blackmail

So, here I am, age 70. My birthday was two days ago. As some of you may recall, in my 20s I was skeptical that I would ever live past 30. Ah, well, I have never been so wrong!

This essay is simply a little record about the 24-hour-run-up to my birthday. I really do love it when being alive is so darn fun. (And, yes, we live in very interesting times, but this report has nothing to do with a rich, orange-colored bigot who is bent on destroying our democracy.)

On the morning of August 16, I awoke to a rather unusual junk email. It was addressed to one of my legitimate, widely-known email addresses (in fact, the one associated with this blog). The author purported to be writing from Germany and was issuing a blackmail threat. He (I suppose it’s a “he”) said I had 24 hours to come up with $290 in bitcoin and deposit it in his account (a bitcoin wallet address was given). He claimed that a keystroke-logging program had been deposited on my machine, and that he knew a lot about me. So, if I did not forward the funds, the consequences would be an email message to everyone in my contacts (and everyone I was connected to via social media) containing embarrassing video of me recorded with my MacBook Pro camera. So, two things you should know: (1) my computer’s camera has been completely covered up for at least the last couple years; and (2) if you see a suspicious email from/about me, you might think twice about clicking on whatever link is provided. On the other hand, who knows how interesting it may be! (Yes, you guessed it: I have not paid him.)

Then, later in the day, while on my daily walk, on a beautiful sunny afternoon along the bikepath between the Willamette River and the Owen Rose Garden, I was approached by a woman approximately half my age, working in the world’s oldest profession. She hesitated, stopped, smiled, and asked if I “wanted a date.” All I could think of to say was “no thanks.”

Anyway, that’s a day in my life. Happy birthday to me.

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