autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Self-referential prime

“The number 47 may be a flying increment to fill allspace, to fill out the eight triangular facets of the non-allspace-filling vector equilibrium to form the allspace-filling first nuclear cube.” –  Section 1238.51 of Synergetics, R. Buckminster Fuller.

47, they say, is a Lucas prime number that closely follows yet another sequence that Lucas, himself, named – the Fibonacci sequence.

They call 47 the self-referential prime because in defining it’s sequence, it directly references itself:

2 + 1 = 3 + 4 = 7 +4 = 11 +7 = 18 + 11= 29 + 18 = 47

Or, more correctly for those of the “math bent” (which I’m not):




I know there is a group called “The 47’s” who are said to believe that all numbers equal 47. I know that this item, be it a tenacious-but-erroneous meme or merely a social experiment gone awry, began at Pomona College in the ’70’s and wound its way through Star Trek’s canon.

I suppose that’s all quite curious and perhaps interesting to some; but I have to admit it does absolutely nothing in the face of the rather daunting statement:

Tomorrow, I will be 47 years old.

I can remember when I was in grade school, calculating how old I would be in the Year 2000 and thinking, “Gosh… I’ll be ancient.” Now… well, that doesn’t seem “that old” at all. Go figure.

For that matter, I can remember when I first got my hands on a computer and had a sneaked “you can’t ever tell anyone” experience with ARPANet (1983!!) that caused me to fall “in love” with technology.

Lessee, things I remember or know about 1965 or growing up when I did:

I remember 45’s being things you listened to on one of these, rather than things you drank or shot. I remember, in fact, finding my grandmother’s 45 records and discovering such gems as a Hane’s 45 jingle for “Cantrice” panty hose (She was a merchandise buyer for Davison’s, now known as Macy’s in the ’50s). There were also some racy ones that she snatched out of my hands and hid somewhere (never again to be seen).

I know that the voting rights act passed in 1965, 18 days before I was born. (I didn’t know at the time that this piece was so much more than just an experience for its time.)

Let me just stop there and say instead, “Yikes… a lot has happened in 47 years and most of it NOT TO ME.” Heh.

Mostly, when I think about “47 years”, it’s just in the framework of my personal experiences…. people I’ve known, people who’ve passed (from my knowing and sometimes, from the world), things that happened or things that nearly did, and the weird and oft wonderful ways that, somehow, none of it kept me from being right here, right now, writing this, and feeling more than a little amazed and delighted to just… be me, here and now…. even if 47 years old.

I remember those rare occasions when I had for-real, family-type experiences with my actual, blood family (before the home and all); I remember how the “old people” and “grown ups” would sit around talking forever and I was itching for dessert, or how we’d run plumb wild in the back gardens until the street light came on (which was the universally agreed signal for ‘time to go home’ until, oh, nearly 1975).

I think about that now and I wish I hadn’t been a kid who didn’t have enough sense to sit quietly and listen.

Things I know about my long-lost family:

My great-grandfather, “H” was a master carpenter. He and his wife lived through The Depression and, from what I do remember, ran a restaurant. I never knew where and anyone who could tell me is gone.  I know that he worked as a millwright in the 30’s (as a child) and later, as a master carpenter for E.J. Wilkerson in the 40’s and 50’s. I know he retired in the mid-60’s and spent his days in his carpentry shop basement because that was always where he was when we could come to visit. I remember beating the snot out of some poor, undeserving piece of wood with a hammer and showing off my pitifully lopsided and hopelessly useless “stool” to him; he always told me it was magnificent and you know what? I believed him. After all, he was a master carpenter.

My great-grandmother, “R”, on the other hand, was and still remains a mystery. I know she cooked like a goddess, kept a neat-as-a-pin home, believed in having a formal living room (where everything was in plastic and you only got to go in and gaze in awe for seconds before she’d shoo you out), and she gave the best back rubs in the entire universe… and I’ll whup anyone who says different. I remember she had a very crooked pinky finger on her right hand and, whenever we’d ask about it, she’d just say she had an accident. It was years before I could work out that it was somehow lost and then, restored. We loved it because it flopped and she said it had no feeling in it and, well, stuff like that was just… fascinating… at 4 and 5.

My grandfather “C”, I am told, died of polio when my dad was 1 year old. I was told that he was an Air Force Pilot and that he died in service overseas. I know nothing more. I sure wish I did, but the genealogy is a brick wall without mercy.

The man I knew as my grandfather “G” was actually my grandmother’s second husband (a scandal indeed for the times as he was divorced and had kids from a previous marriage). He was  a jovial and somewhat “celebrity” looking man, for all that he drove long-haul over-the-road. I know my grandmother just loved him to pieces and I still remember how they’d exchange looks when they thought we weren’t looking.

My grandmother “A” was the younger of a set of identical twins. She was the quieter one, the calmer one, the one who didn’t let that infamous legacy of temper (associated with our Irish side, surname deliberately left off!) get the best of her. Well, usually. As I said above, she was a buyer for Davison’s and I still have her service pin for 25 years in my jewel box.

I know there is some great mystery around my real grandfather, my father, and my grandmother because there simply are no records that support the story I have as “truth”. Who knows what the real truth is? I suppose it doesn’t really matter except I wish I knew it. I know my grandmother lived with her mother (R, above) until she met and married “G” and then, they moved to East Point and lived there until my sister and I showed up (due to our parents kind of abandoning us there when I was three and “T”, my sister, was 1 & 1/2).

I know my biological father, “C jr” served in Vietnam. I hear it ruined him and based on my personal experience of him, would likely agree with that assessment. (Though, to be candid, I know people change and who knows if he’s still the same.)

I know my biological mother, “L” lived her life struggling and eventually winning over alcoholism, but remained largely discontent until she met/married a man a scant four years before she died of a brain aneurysm (2003).

I know my sister, “T” has never really recovered from the “interesting times” we lived through and, today, we are mostly estranged; there is the odd, intermittent contact but between trying to be kind and trying not to rip off my own scabs, it’s just… awkward. I really miss the feeling we were close, I miss the feeling we could be close, and in it’s absence, I kind of don’t know what to do at all…. so I don’t do anything because I don’t want to make things worse.

As you can see, not much family history, really; nine paragraphs that hold everything I know about “my blood family”. Frankly, when I think of “my family”, I think of Mom and Dad Zetty, Bill, my daughter, and J, my love. That’s my “family”. These are the people who have always cared, always loved, always remained, even when – stars above – it would have been SO MUCH EASIER not to do so… and that is what family is – people who make a point of keeping themselves in your world because they love you.  I tried to include my son, but he doesn’t want inclusion. So I don’t…. well, except of course, in my heart. Sorry, “D”, that’s just how it is, even if you never change your mind. (When you have kids, you’ll understand… and I’m sorry for using that tired old line, but it’s just… so true.)

Anyway… life is change, isn’t it? When I think about it, somehow, I feel as if the world should have changed more by now. Sometimes, I kind of wish (in direct contradiction to myself) that it had changed less. But mostly, I find that when I think about “life” at all, I tend more often than not to think about that big, slowly blinking question mark that is just a little bit closer than it was a year ago. Not quite morbid thoughts, but something of a bittersweet acknowledgement… “Yes, yes, I know you’re there. Now I’m going to deliberately not think about you for as long as I can manage it.”

I’m oddly more comfortable with it than I used to be (but for the occasional spasm, of course).

So… anyway… happy birthday to me, eh? This year I’m a self-referential prime. Wonder what I’ll be next year?

No great thing, birthdays;
Mostly just marks on the path…
Made by my walking