Various nice…

Various nice birthday-nesses already. Karina called me yesterday, for my Australian birthday, and we got to chat for a while (and she cheered me up about my book anxiety). Kevin gave me my 'Australian birthday' present (because the ones Karina sent hadn't arrived) -- the first season of Battlestar Galactica, woohoo! Now I can make my friends here watch it and get hooked too. :-) I tried to stay up until it was my birthday, but fell asleep at 11:45; the last thing I remember was Kevin telling me that if I only stayed up another fifteen minutes, it would be my birthday. No luck there. But I woke up to find that my reading for today is featured on the front page of The Chicago Reader, which is very nice. Someone there likes me. :-) Birthday e-mails have started to come in -- notes from Jed and Marissa (the latter of whom shares a birthday with me, and hence is unlikely to forget it), virtual greeting cards, which I find ridiculously charming. It's nothing, really -- just a bit of electronic silliness! But it makes you happy anyway! The latest one I opened had La Bamba in the background, in a tinny electronic version that nonetheless makes me want to get up and dance... :-)

I love birthdays. :-)

I'm still sort of waiting for the birthday that will stress me out. Various of my friends, on hitting thirty, or thirty-five, or forty, have gotten pretty unhappy. Impending death, body falling apart, lack of professional success, difficulties with their love lives -- somehow all of these get triggered by birthdays for them. So far, that hasn't happened for me. Oh, I am just as capable as the next person of panicking because my body is falling apart and I can't do half the things I used to be able to do, or freaking out because I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be more financially stable and career-secure at this age than I actually am, or even, classically for women in their mid-thirties, wondering whether choosing not to have kids up until this point is something that I'm going to really regret sometime down the road. I can and do have fine old freakouts about those sorts of things, and get upset and weepy and panicked and occasionally raging at the universe.

But somehow, it's never actually on my birthday that this happens. My brain apparently thinks birthdays are not about freaking out. My brain thinks birthdays are for cake and ice cream and presents and e-mails from friends and relative strangers and as many people as possible making a very nice fuss about how happy they are that I'm on the planet. They're about laughter and music and being surrounded by people who think I'm great. :-)

And if I *must* think about impending death, I'm generally just grateful that I'm not dead yet. Perhaps this is where all those fantasy novels (and bits of history I picked up here and there) come in handy; I have a real sense that I'm lucky to be alive. That if I'd been born a few generations earlier, or even now, in a different place, chances are that I'd be dead by now, or close to it. Carried off by disease, by childbirth, by war or crime or simple old age. My grandparents all died in their mid-sixties; there's a part of me that thinks I'm more than halfway through my life already. Of course, given modern medicine and the like, I'm probably only about a third through, but regardless, the thing is, I'm generally just grateful for every day at this point. It feels like a gift to be alive. And birthdays, birthdays are just the perfect way of celebrating and commemorating that gift. With lots and lots of cake! :-)

12 thoughts on “Various nice…”

  1. Happy birthday again, this time in real time! I also have never freaked out on any of my birthdays. I don’t quite grasp the feeling that many people report.

  2. My brain apparently thinks birthdays are not about freaking out. My brain thinks birthdays are for cake and ice cream and presents and e-mails from friends and relative strangers and as many people as possible making a very nice fuss about how happy they are that I’m on the planet.

    Your brain is smart. (We already knew that, didn’t we?)

  3. Happy, Happy Birthday, Mary Anne :)!!!

    I get the feeling that this has been a pretty magical year for you–here’s wishing you many many more!!

    Do you have any readings planned for NYC? I’d love to actually be able to attend one. Rachel Kramel Bussel (previously of Clean Sheets) is having a series of erotica readings…

  4. Happy Birthday, Mary Anne!

    I absolutely love your outlook on Birthdays. They should be happy and stress free (and remind me of that next year when I turn 30, will ya?).

    Hope you continue to have a happy day, a happy week and happy year with many, many more to come!

    Tenille

  5. I hope your birthday is wonderful, and I think you’ve accomplished much more by 35 than most of us manage.

  6. Happy Birthday Mary Anne. Birthdays are the best–no need to lament on the day that’s all yours (well, and Marissa’s too).

  7. Thanks, everyone for all the lovely birthday wishes. It’s so nice, seeing a comment thread fill up like this — it’s a present in itself. 🙂

    Maya, I’m afraid I don’t have any trips to NY scheduled right now — but since my parents live in CT, I do usually get to NY a few times a year, so I’m sure there’ll be one soon.

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