Thursday, January 08, 2009

On Optimism & Adulthood


Gert thinks I don't like birthdays. I guess she extrapolated my low key response and my difficulty with Christmas to mean that I'm anti-celebration. I'm really not. Promise.

In truth I kind of love birthdays. The ease of focusing on one person's big day and really celebrating them is a treat for the black & white, straight lines part of me. It's not terribly fashionable to love them, though, so I try to use my inside voice when I talk about my own birthday. I know a lot of people who like to spend their birthdays entirely alone, not even answering the phone, sometimes leaving town to make sure no one can ambush them. I think that's sort of melodramatic but I honor it because if the day is about them then it's about them, doesn't matter how I want to use it.

Big birthdays, like the one I'm having tomorrow, make me reflective, though. It's so huge, how do you mark that? When I was maybe 10 I saw this musical called Barnum about, not surprisingly, P.T. Barnum - you know, the guy with the circus. He led a roller coaster of a life from the get go, bilking people and running scams and living on the edge. At one point, though, he met a plain, ordinary girl next door and fell in love. One of her conditions for marriage was that he take to the straight and narrow path. Quite surprisingly, he agreed.

In the musical the entire production goes to shades of black and white when Barnum (played by Jim Dale) agrees. There's a peppy number that shows him living a pre-suburbia suburban life, and illustrates how, even reined in, his charisma drew people to him. He winds up in politics and the song has a break in the middle of his work to be elected to office. He begs his wife (played by Glenn Close), "You gotta let me bring a little color into this campaign or they're gonna beat me!" She's standing center stage in a staid, gray dress, holding a white handkerchief in one hand and she says, "Very well, Taylor, go ahead!" as she pulls the handkerchief through her fist. The hanky turns red and the whole stage is thrown into technicolor in that one moment. Knowing what I know now I guess it was a lighting effect but back then it was pure magic. Like she'd waved a wand and brought the excitement back. Still, every time I hear Close say those words on the soundtrack I well up a little. (Probably doesn't help that she fades offstage in her gray dress and we see her perhaps one more time before her character kicks the bucket, very quietly disappearing.)

Call it melodramatic on my part, if you want, but I feel like these big birthdays should be like that. We are crossing a line, making a leap, stepping into a new zone and it should be really obvious in a beautiful way. I'm well aware that this is not usually the case. For instance the first birthday I remember being really special is my 4th. My 17th birthday was far better than my supposedly sweet sixteen. Then again my 30th birthday was just the right kind of thing. I was making my living by acting (ok, seriously it was more like "acting" but still), spent the day in the movies, headed home and my wonderful friends had made a huge themed party for me and then we went to karaoke (and then I drank Jaegermeister so it wasn't a total win, but the scales did tip heavily to the good). That might be the first surprise party I've ever been thrown. Maybe not but I think so.

This year I can't get a particular quote out of my head. I don't know if Gert had it up or Gypsy or maybe Zelda or someone else but it was, "The way you live your day is the way you live your life." That has, of course, created so much pressure in my little brain that I have no idea how I'm going to spend my day tomorrow. "How do I want to spend my year? My life?!?! AUUUUGH!" I might write, I might get my hair cut, I might take myself to breakfast, I might process a bunch of photos, I might take myself to the movies, I might watch movies at home. I will certainly sleep in a bit. Pony Express and I are planning to have dinner. There will be champagne, you can count on it. Then some time before midnight (I fervently hope) I will trip across the Manhattan Bridge to the Chinatown Bus Zone to pick up MamaKizz, SoDivine and their courageous chaperone, Queen Bee.

Saturday is planned within an inch of its life to be exactly how I want to spend my life. I'll be hanging near the homefront with people I love and like. We'll be making cakes and setting up for the party and buying champagne and walking the dog. Then more people I love (and like!) will come to my house to drink the champagne and eat the goodies and talk and laugh. A couple of hours later we'll walk a few blocks down the road to a local cafe for warm drinks and performances by some of the aforementioned lovable, likable folks. (MAB, Chrome, Seth, Audio Girl, Alex [Ask MAB how much he loves me. He asked what I wanted to hear and the three songs I said absolutely had to occur were ones he hasn't performed in years. One of them he's never performed solo and at least a couple of them he usually plays bass on, not guitar. Let's not even get into what I've done to Audio Girl. Troopers all of them]) We'll eat cake and toast those who are absent and it's possible that I'll cry, which is just as it should be.

Given how the last day of my 30s has gone I'd say someone's trying to send me into my 40s at a dead run. I took half a day off work to grind away at the vet's office until a medical professional would speak to me. I got so frustrated I cried and apologized which, of course, brought swifter service. (I hate being that woman. I hate that that woman gets better service than the calmly rational, efficient one.) Then I ran around on public transportation getting medication before walking the dog and heading to work. So much for the errands I was planning to run on my lunch hour. I'm holding out for tomorow. Then Saturday will be in technicolor and it will launch me into my new decade with chocolate, a brass band and confetti and I cannot wait for it!

13 comments:

  1. Well that was a beautiful post... tears streaming. And I;m so glad to be wrong. And it wasn't me who quoted that... the way you live your life... holy moly. I'm in trouble because I spend birthdays quietly alone and that IS NOT what I want my life to be.
    You nailed the blog though... for the lat thirty something post... right out of the park!
    And see right there... you inspire me! So brave. And I would love to be the calm and rational woman too. But I am so not either.
    But one can hope.
    And I hope that you have the most wonderful or birthdays and that is in live and living color!
    Really beautiful!
    Atta girl.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is absolutely KILLING me that I likely won't be there. I love you like crazy and I'm hoping with all the energy I can vibe that your birthday is spectacular, and that 40 is the best year yet.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, that is a shitty way to spend the last day of your 30s. Is Emily okay?

    We are looking forward to the celebration on Sat!

    ReplyDelete
  4. so long 30's!!! AAAAAAAAND stay out! You're beautiful. You're fabulous. You are the most Ridiculous and Generous and Brilliant of us all.

    I'm with Chili. I'd give ANYTHING to just be there with you this weekend. However, you have a shiny tiara on it's way to you. wear it in rememberance of me.

    MUAH!

    ReplyDelete
  5. so long 30's!!! AAAAAAAAND stay out! You're beautiful. You're fabulous. You are the most Ridiculous and Generous and Brilliant of us all.

    I'm with Chili. I'd give ANYTHING to just be there with you this weekend. However, you have a shiny tiara on it's way to you. wear it in rememberance of me.

    MUAH!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Happy birthday. I come here every day to get my dose of you. And every day it's worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow. What a great reflection on your birthday. I like the sentiment of living each day as you live your life.

    And how funny you know about "Barnum" - I don't think I ever met anyone else who knew about that show!

    Many happy returns for a wonderful birthday celebration!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Happy Birthday, Kizz! I hope your weekend is all that.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Happy, Happy Birthday! IT sounds like you are celebrating well.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays!

    Also, that quote wasn't me. I can feel the pressure of it from here. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. nhfalcon3:36 PM

    Happy Birthday!

    I loved Jim Dale in "Pete's Dragon" and "Hot Lead & Cold Feet."

    ReplyDelete
  12. Today it's your birthday and I'm taking a minute to say thank you for being my friend. My life is MOST CERTAINLY a brighter place because you are in it. Happy birthday, babe.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm here visiting from Chili's blog and just wanted to say that I hope you have a wonderful birthday celebration with your loved ones!

    Best wishes :)

    ReplyDelete