October 9, 1987: My first birthday party together with people other than my immediate family, held at McDonald’s. The cake had hard sugary characters of Ronald McDonald and friends on top. I still have the small, white teddy bear from David, on whom I had a big crush.
October 9, 1988: My birthday fell on Columbus Day weekend, and my mom had a dental seminar in Washington, DC. I was bored in some kids’ seminar/activity session and pulled out one of my teeth (it was already loose). That was fun to lose a tooth at a dental seminar.
October 9, 1989: I don’t remember celebrating the actual day, which would have been a Sunday, with my family. My class sang happy birthday to me at school the next day, but it was kind of lame. It was kind of a crappy day-after-birthday, until dinnertime, when the birthday cake my parents presented to me was round and frosted to look like the largest hamburger ever. I don’t know why they picked a hamburger… I wasn’t a huge hamburger fan or anything (I’m thinking of Wimpy, from Popeye, as the biggest iconic hamburger fan). Actually, I think that’s the birthday that I received my Skip-it, the toy that slips around one ankle and you spin it around and skip over it with the other foot. It had a counter.
October 9, 1995: My mom picked me up from school in the middle of the day to go take my driver’s license test. I drove our stick shift Saturn SL2 and I passed. I returned to class in 6th period, I think, and showed off my new license to my "pod" in English class, which included my good friends John, Danielle and who-knew-he’d-be-my-future-husband Ben. Ben couldn’t believe that I skipped school to get my driver’s license. I guess he got over it.
October 9, 1996: My host parents in Norway gave me some beautiful, scratchy wool mittens that were (machine-)knitted in a traditional Selbu star pattern, as well as pressed wool slippers that I still wear now when a chill sets in. They are amazing slippers. My new friends at school lit a match and stuck it in a sweet roll at lunch.
October 9, 1997: In my first year at Miami University, I couldn’t believe that it was warm enough that I had to wear shorts on my birthday. I had missed El Nino while in Scandinavia but was feeling the effects of La Nina, plus it was the first year I lived below 40 degrees latitude.
October 9, 2000: Another Monday birthday. I feel like I’ve had more than my share. I went to class, then Ben drove up from Cincinnati to go out with me and a couple of my over-21 friends. The first over-21 bar we went to that evening didn’t card me, but I made the bouncer look at my license anyway. Then later, at Mac and Joe’s, Riggy bought me a Smurf shot, which was okay. Then Scotty brought me two shots and told me to put them in my mouth at the same time, and to get the full flavor, he told me make chomping motions while my lips were closed. I did, and suddenly felt chunks in my mouth that I didn’t put there… and of course Scotty was dying laughing. It’s called a "cement mixer" and is made of two shots: lime juice and Bailey’s. I swallowed mine, but Scotty said that it’s quite normal for the victim to spray it all over when the coagulation starts. I got home quite late that evening, not totally drunk, but threw up because of alcohol for the first time. Maybe I wouldn’t have thrown up if I hadn’t had a Smurf followed by a cement mixer.
October 9, 2002: I had the day off from my job as hotel front desk manager, but I decided to come in for the weekly Wednesday managers’ meeting because I knew they’d have cake. I was running errands in my first new car, which was only one-month-old Subaru Impreza, and gas was low. The only car I’d driven regularly was the same stick-shift Saturn SL2 in which I’d learned how to drive, and the needle would dip below "E" before the low gas light came on. I ran out of gas in my new car about a half-mile away from the hotel, right off the freeway exit, but luckily the maintenance staff kept a couple gallons of gas on hand for whatever reason and I was rescued. I walked into the meeting late and was thoroughly (and deservedly) harrassed for my stupidity while eating cake.
October 9, 2007: Ben brought a mug of coffee to me after my alarm went off and said happy birthday. I arrived late to work to discover that my cubicle had been decorated with balloons and streamers, and sitting on my desk was a bottle of OJ, a large cinnamon roll (from a delicious local bakery in Provo called Shirley’s), and a happy birthday post-it note from my boss friend. There was also a small from my friend and co-worker Laura with Hiro on the front!
She used "funnest" because that’s one of my biggest grammar pet peeves, and many people on the sales and marketing team use it regularly. They don’t know that you should say "most fun" instead, and once they learn that it gives me an eye tick when I hear it, they use it whenever possible. Except I’ve never told the CEO, whom I see occasionally, and I’ve still heard him use it. Oh, Utah. I’m the official grammar police at work.
Anyway, that’s some background as to why my department gave me this card at the end of the day. They even spelled birthday with a u! Inside, my darling coworkers did their best to write in a way that would make my insides turn out, both from horror and laughter. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received! I’ll post the inside comments in my next blog entry.
Everyone who walked by my cubicle said happy birthday and chatted for a little while, which I enjoyed but also came to be a little annoying. So I left work in a good mood and came home to find the kitchen and dining room quite clean, and fresh fall air blowing in through the windows. Ben had come home early, and I knew something was up when I saw the gallon of milk in the fridge… we’re both pretty lactose intolerant, and when we buy milk, it’s usually only a half gallon. Sure enough, our friends and their kids (who are big milk drinkers) came over to wish me a happy birthday and share the yummy frosted brownies that Ben made. I didn’t even smell the evidence because all of the windows had been open!
Ben gave me a sweet, funny card and a couple things from my Amazon.com wishlist, and my mom sent me a generous gift certificate from Amazon.com (see a pattern?). My dad said he wanted to take me and Ben out to dinner this weekend. I received phone calls at work from my sister, my long-distance friend Liz, and my family in Norway. I received email greetings from a few other extended family members.
Overall, I really have to say that my birthday was totally awesome this year. I’m not used to receiving so much attention, and it really made me reflect how much love there is in my life from many sources. In the year that follows, when I’m feeling depressed and unloved, I will think about this day.
I care less and less about material birthday gifts, probably because I’ve been working long enough where I can generally afford the things I really want. But it’s an invigorating, joyful experience to have one day in which the people you love make a point of remembering you, even if it’s just emailing to say hello. Do I do the same for the people I love? I feel like the world would be a better place if everyone had a day or two every year like I had on this birthday. I think that a really good day can make up for a long string of crappy ones.