My birthday wish

Thursday, June 18, 2009 | |

Here's a little somethin' somethin' that I threw together for a friend's birthday last week. I think I'll work this up to something larger later, but for now, here'ya.

My birthday wish

I am the second oldest child in my family of six, and when we were younger, our great-aunt Paula would make us the most sumptuous cakes. A chef by trade and a baker by interest, she would make the largest, most exquisite cakes for me, my brothers and sisters - they were the talk of the town. Her tasty layered sponge cakes were always fashioned into a six, seven or whatever age we were turning, and tended to feature whatever we were obsessed with at the time. My space-obsessed brother Jason got rockets and stars and little marzipan astronauts for his seventh birthday. Susan got a pink Barbie-themed eight. Kelly has always played instruments and received a beautiful treble clef design for her ninth. Peter - the eldest – was the first to lose out - he turned 12 and Paula decided that creating double-digit masterpieces for those 11 and over was too much. And then there was me. Obsessed with television since the day I learned to flick on the tube, I always had TV-show themed cakes. Paula had made a beautiful Bert and Ernie ensemble for my sixth birthday, Alvin and the Chipmunks for my seventh, a Transformer for my eighth and a Fraggle for my ninth. I remember remarking ungratefully that the marzipan Fraggles looked “a little messy” on my birthday - you should see my face (and the faces belonging to the Fraggle) in the photos; it wasn’t good. My mother very calmly took me aside and told me to be kind to my Aunt, who was starting to have “senior moments” - I didn’t understand what she meant. The next year, my tenth birthday rolled around and I had all but forgotten my mother’s scolding- I told every child in school that my tenth birthday was going to be fantastic. “Paula gives everyone a big cake for their tenth, come along!” I shouted as I handed out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed invites, much to the scorn of a few jealous peers. On the day, around 40 of my school friends and family gathered around the unopened cake box, waiting in dramatic silence. I slowly opened the box, and just in time to catch my expression, the cameras started flashing. There in front of me did not sit a Ninja Turtles cake in the shape of a 1-0. No Donatello, no Leonardo. Instead, the Fraggle was back, as was the number nine. I vowed never to have a birthday party again.

By the time I got to high school, I had amassed a number of very lovely, but very geeky friends. I started college rather nerdy, but looking back I do know that I became slightly more chic, slightly more stylish and slightly more aloof than the calculus kids – even the popular kids seemed to like me. I would swan around the schoolyard with bouffant hair and perfect skin, wearing scarves and brandishing a delicious swagger - they would all wave. “He’s got that dreamy boy band look”, they’d coo. “He’s pretty cool for a geek,” they’d say. I had cast off the awkward shackles of my preteen years and had blossomed into a unique flower. So it was with horror and disgust that I found, a week out from my 15th birthday, that my friends had organised not only a surprise birthday party for me, but a surprise birthday party at a BOWLING ALLEY. Here was a party with geek written all over it. Mortified, I kept my cool and tried to avoid their advances to “just hang out on Saturday night” – their obvious ruse for getting me to that elderly-invested alley. My parents had been away for some weeks by the time the big day rolled around, and in their absence I proceeded to drink the contents of their liquor cabinet and throw it up, all before 4pm. When two friends came to the door wanting to “just take me out”, I was done with fighting and much too drunk. By the time we got to the alley I was wondering if I was going to need my stomach pumped, but due to the fact that these children had never seen a drunk person before, let alone tasted alcohol, they were blissfully unaware of my inebriation. Fitting me with shoes that hideously clashed with my outfit and handing me a very heavy ball, I was shunted to the front of the line to play the first ball. Stumbling towards the lane, I went to throw my ball but stepped too far. With all the grace of a wildebeest at a muddy watering hole, I slipped on the buff wood, letting go of the bowling ball, which fell after me, onto my foot. Later at the hospital, as they me with a giant pink cast that went right up to my knee, I vowed never to have a birthday party again.

Of course, they haven’t always been so bad. There was my 21st, when I came down with glandular fever just days before the party, and had to watch my friends eat all the wonderful catered food and drink expensive parent-sponsored liquor. There was my 23rd birthday, when I was travelling around India and spent the entire day on the toilet, doing what felt like giving birth to little balls of fire. There was my 25th birthday, when my friends decided to surprise me with a potluck dinner at my house, but left me in a very hungover state to clean up after the 35 guests the next day. And then there was last year, when my very special and very lovely Grandmother died.

So this year, I’ve had enough! I’m going to completely ignore everyone. The oven bake pizza and fries are bought and waiting in the freezer, the passionfruit cheesecake was delivered last night and is chilling in the fridge; the DVD has been collected and rests next to the television next to a large set of headphones. My phone is off, the curtains are drawn, the computer is being turned off presently – and me? I am blissful, doing what I have always wanted to do to celebrate this day. Nothing.

Inspiration, stuff and nonsense - #6

Monday, June 1, 2009 | |

It would appear that I'm all out of inspiration again.

I've been leaving my notebook at home, paying less attention to the things people do and say, getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of hours in the day and reading less and less and less. I'm 25 in three days, and I've been spending the last week drowning my inner child in recklessness, sleepless nights and alcohol. I do, however, have plenty of things to see, do, look forward to and love:

The scrawlings of others,

The joy in the eyes of little lives,

Dreamy thoughts on dewy days,

Suave companions filled with comic quips,

and reminders that true love still exists.

The funny,

The fanciful,

And the materially desired,

But most of all, the bright northern summer, which beckons me each morning from my home's frosty depths as my time to travel draws closer...

...maybe 25 won't be so bad.

This post goes out to my dear friend Karel who, after talk of eating danishes on first dates, has restored my brain's setting to pleasantly whimsical. Thank you K, I look forward to sweet treats, hot drinks and self-aware conversation with you soon.

Photos courtesy of The Satorialist, Facehunter, Lomography at Live Journal and various other places that I forgot to note down. If you would like crediting, please let me know.