|Hippo Birdie, Two Ewes!
||[Aug. 2nd, 2011|08:53 am]
Right. So, I made it through my birthday. Which normally is no big deal. But this year, for some reason, fraught with more tension than usual. Just too much stress overall. Plus, I looked at the calendar, did some math and concluded that my ovaries may well have fired their last shot, which okay, on the one hand is fine with me. On the other, it is an inescapable sign of having some serious years on me. And the side effects that really I just don’t feel like dealing with. Like my very first night sweat...the night OF my birthday. Oh, and happy birthday to YOU, Mother Nature. You Expletive. (That should be pronounced in a Derek & Clive kind of way)|
Admittedly, I am far more traumatized by my old lady elbows than by any end to my potential fertility. Seriously, I got a glimpse in the mirror as I walked away and thought “ah, god, long sleeves for the rest of my life!” Thankfully, I have a short attention span and can manage to forget about them a lot. Although today, I got to work, looked in the mirror and thought, Christ on a Tea Cozy, you look like you ripped a page out of the Bea Arthur Fashionbook!
But here’s the thing – my family never makes a huge thing about birthdays – oh, party, cake, presents – but that rarely happens on your actual birthday. A card with breakfast maybe. But we celebrate on a day that is CONVENIENT. And really, it’s like any other family weekend gathering, except that dessert will have someone’s name on it, there will be a very poorly yet enthusiastic round of singing, and some presents. Otherwise we tend to fly under the radar. No one in my family takes the day off work, or spends the whole day pampering themselves. We don’t get that. We also don’t understand adults who whine that other people aren’t making enough fuss over them on their birthdays. That in-laws don’t remember to send you a card. That your spouse didn’t throw you a party. That because your birthday is near a holiday, no one even notices.
I dunno – is it a Yankee thing? I mean, you were BORN. Whip-de-doo. (Send flowers to your MOM, if you want to celebrate THAT.) Oooh, you’ve been alive for a whole ‘nother year. Well, lucky you. Maybe it’s our deadly combination of English-German-Yankee, because “just be glad you’re alive still, isn’t that present enough?” seems to rise to my mind like some cream of killjoy. Whatever. You’re an adult, throw your own party. Be responsible for your own damn joy. But maybe it’s not a cultural thing, attributed to where we live, our ancestry. Maybe it’s just US.
We’d always thought my Dad hated celebrating birthdays because his mother tended to forget them when he was a child and now he just doesn’t like to be reminded. But thanks to Faceborg, after having what felt like a million people send me birthday wishes (each one a tiny little arrow of guilt, knowing that I will NEVER return the favor, because I can’t handle the larger guilt of remembering some people, but not others, so I refuse to acknowledge anyone’s) and then all day at work, a constant stream of happy birthdays from co-workers and you would think I could be a little gracious, grateful that so many people made an effort…
But I was just uncomfortable. Arrows of guilt of course, but also – all day long I wanted to holler “stop paying attention to me!” Which is odd, right? It’s not like I’m some wallflower, afraid to take the stage, afraid to be in the spotlight!
Ah – but for WHAT? Being born? Making it through another year? Attention because I’m doing something noteworthy, that’s fine. Attention for just…BEING? Not so much.
Birthdays for me are an excuse to be slightly self-indulgent. Moving some music and books that have been sitting onto my Amazon wishlist to the cart in a little splurge. Buying Belgian Waffles at the farmer’s market – one for right then and then ANOTHER one for the next day. I’ll have the BIG container of garlic half-sours, Mr. Pickleman, it’s my birthday and $9 for pickles is OK with me. (For the record, that’s not a metaphor, there actually is a pickle vendor at the farmer’s market…although I do not call him Mr. Pickleman to his face and would NEVER mention my birthday to a complete stranger.) And I’m going to pick out food and drinks that make ME happy and everyone else can just DEAL. And an ice cream cake for my birthday dessert because it’s kitchsy and I don’t care. And, I’m going to let myself buy either a new sofa or a new freezer for the basement, neither of which is as important as getting a new hot water heater…but either of which will make me happier. And because it’s my birthday, I can let loose the reins of sensibility!
Yep, painted the town RED. Albeit in an uptight, Germanic-WASP Yankee kind of way. And gained five pounds doing it. So now I can feel bad about enjoying myself. Perfect.