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Birthday week

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Wednesday will be my birthday.

As I've noted now and then in the past, birthdays are important to me, though you wouldn't think it from my general inability to do more than post brief "happy birthday" notes to people (and sometimes not even that). But some part of me feels that things automatically ought to go well for someone on their birthday; that it's particularly unfair when something bad or stressful or unhappy happens to someone on the day that's supposed to be all about celebrating them.

Unfortunately, that feeling applies to me as well as to others; on my birthday, I want people to be extra-nice to me, and I get unhappy when things don't go well. Even on ordinary days, I don't deal well with changes of plan and with things not going as I'd expected, but I'm particularly unhappy about such things on my birthday.

But I keep setting myself up for failure.

I go out to dinner with friends, but I pick a restaurant I'm unfamiliar with, or a dish I've never had before, and it turns out I hate it. (I'm reminded of the time--I think this was a birthday dinner, some years back--when some of us went to Max's, which I knew I liked, but I ordered their fettucine alfredo, not quite understanding that it was a low-fat version that essentially consisted of skim milk poured over noodles.)

I go to a concert by a group whose music I don't know well, and it turns out I don't like it much and we leave halfway through.

I go someplace special outdoors, only it turns out I'm not quite sure how to get there, and it's a chilly overcast day, and the ground is all muddy from recent rain.

And so on. All of these are perfectly ordinary things, things that might happen at any time, and though I wouldn't be thrilled about them happening on an ordinary day, I would probably cope. But I get very sulky when they happen on my birthday.

So it seems clear that the answer is not to convince the Universe to change for me on one particular day; instead, I've been working on not setting my expectations so high.

A couple of friends have recently talked about giving themselves a "birthday week" rather than just one day; that lets them spread the festivities out, and it means they don't have to find a way to do everything special they want to do on one day, and I think for me it would soften the intensity (in a good way), put less pressure on that one day to be perfect. I'm sort of trying that this week, with yesterday's lovely tall ships expedition, about which I'll write more later.

Another thing that I think will help will be not over-planning. I don't want the day to be just an ordinary day, but I think getting some Indian food at a place I like, and then seeing Kam that night (after her class ends), will be sufficient; I'm not going to try to plan a big birthday dinner or other event. (Sadly, I hear that Pasand, which was my favorite South Bay Indian restaurant, has closed. But there are other options.)

I'm always waffly about parties; I like the idea of having birthday parties, but they take a fair bit of planning and they're often unsatisfactory in various small ways. This year, I considered having a party, but didn't get my act together in time, and anyway the house is not quite ready for a party. But soon I hope to have patio furniture and maybe a dishwasher, and then there'll be a party for sure.

Sadly, I'll have to spend a fair bit of this week doing magazine stuff, as I've fallen behind again on both reading and editing. But I've scheduled some alone-time for myself, and ended up with more of it unexpectedly tonight, so I'm making some good progress.

As another present to myself, I just wrote a check to pay off the last of my equity (second mortgage) loan for my condo. (It's a present to myself because I hate owing anyone money, and having one less loan will make me a little less tense every month.) I still owe quite a lot of money on the main (first mortgage) loan, but I've paid off about a third of the total amount (of both combined) in the past three and a half years, which is pretty good considering that it was supposed to a be a thirty-year loan.

And I've been reading Le Guin, and eating banana bread and girl scout cookies. And we saw the season closer of BSG last night (OMGWTF!!!), about which I hope to say more sometime soon. (Ended up not going to see firespinning in SF on Sunday night, alas, because I had too much work to do.)

Oh, and on Saturday Twig showed me a bunch of patio furniture at the Cow Palace (moo!), specifically the flower and garden show there, and then we had dinner and then I went and saw Arthur & Pam and kidlets (whom I hadn't seen in a while) and special guest Jessica E (whom I hadn't seen in a very long while), whose birthday will also be Wednesday. So that was nice too.

Also, instead of my usual hope that people will telepathically recognize that it's my birthday and say nice things to me, I'm taking the unusual step of mentioning the upcoming birthday slightly in advance.

So, all in all, the birthday week's going fairly well so far. We'll see how the birthday itself goes.

10 Comments

Jed, I hope you have a very pleasant rest of your birthday week, and congrats on paying off the loan. I'm debt-averse too, and I know how good something like that can feel.

A friend of mine tends to go to a restaurant she knows on her birthday and have a dish she knows she likes, so she won't be disappointed. Me, I usually have pretty good luck picking something good off any menu (my mom used to count on it), but I also like staying at home and cooking for a few friends.


Happy day-before-birthday, mister Jed! May you have a splendid year.


I gave myself a birthday week this year, and it may have been my best birthday celebration ever. Every little treat and card and birthday email or comment in my journal seemed to accumulate until I'd built up a big pile of birthday happiness.

So, Happy Birthday Week, Jed! Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!


Ooo! Birthday!

May I suggest two things that I've tried on my birthday, which worked really well for me? (Mileage may vary.)

I get rid of the expectations problem by engineering a day where I have none. I used to ask a friend to do this for me, now it's my husband. I say, "I don't want to make any decisions today." This includes ordering at dinner. The thing is, it's small scale stuff and I've entrusted someone who knows me really well. So, I get to try things I wouldn't order on my own, but its all within the range of things that I like. I've had a very good success rate.

I also, just this year, invited a giant group of my friends to meet me at a Chinese restaurant and ordered family style food. It was loads of fun and zero pressure.


Happy birthday, Jed!

I wish I had suggestions; I hate my b-day unreservedly.

I hope yours is grand, though.


Lest I forget in the rumble and mumble, Happy Birthday!!! I'm so glad to hear that you've adopted the birthday week, next thing you know you'll be progressing to the birthday month philosophy that I prescribe to;-) Would love to get to see you sometime. *hugs*


Happy Birthday, Jed!

Also, afaik, Pasand has more ben renamed than closed. There was apparently some noteriety they were trying to shrug off :-) (I think they're "Bombay Garden" now.)


My birthday is in the beginning of June. One year, just around that time, I drove by a frat house that had a big sign out front. I was sure it said, "Debby Days." I thought, that's right. It turns out the frat boys were celebrating the Kentucky Derby, but never mind. Happy Jed Days!


Happy Birthday, My Brother!

Sadly, the one month every year that you're "only one year" older than me is rapidly drawing to a close. ;)

Have a great birthday!


Happy Birthday, Jed! I hope you have a 'true' birthday week, where all goes as it should.

And congratulations on paying off your second mortgage. Our first house was totally paid off, which is an incredible feeling. It didn't last long 'cuz we moved to another country, with higher house prices, but we're happily hacking away at the mortgage again...


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