a picture of me wearing a blues shirt with the text "awesome since 1979" in white along with the picture of a unicorn head and a rainbow

45: A Birthday Post #SOL24

July 2, 2024

I turned 45 last week, which has been interesting. Am I the only person who thinks birthdays are kind of weird? I mean, yes, it’s nice to have a day to celebrate yourself but also I find them to be a lot of pressure. People constantly asking me what I want to do (I don’t know) or what I want (I also don’t know). If I say I don’t want to do anything, I get push back on that. If I say it and then don’t do anything, I get all sad and weird that I’m not actually doing anything. (For the record, the reason I usually say I don’t want to do anything is that I am constantly on the go so would like to just…not do that for one day. I also am figuring out as I’m typing this that I also hate being asked what I want to do because I’m always in charge of planning everything in my life anyway. I just want to not sometimes.)

What I really wanted to do was go to the beach, but since I am not a fan of these Pacific beaches that wouldn’t have been fun. Then, I remembered that I could get a day pass to a hotel to use their pool and kind of hang out by the water doing that. However, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to because there’s the day pass, then the parking, then the figuring out what to eat. By the time I realized that’s what I wanted to do (and what I would want to pack as a lunch), the passes were sold out. So my back up plan was to just sit on the couch and read but then people kept calling me to talk to me and wish me a happy birthday. That’s not necessarily a complaint (I did put my phone on do not disturb for a bit) but just another example of how the day didn’t quite go as planned. Anyway, I know it’s a quality problem to have people in my life who want to celebrate with me, but it is also a lot of pressure.

The other question is then what I want for my birthday which my daughter kept asking me, and I didn’t know how to respond to because what I really want is this monitor that I know she can’t afford. (I have talked about how easy this monitor would make my course prep and grading life before, so i won’t get into it again. But as a person who is actively putting together my courses for the fall, all I can say is that the desire for it becomes stronger every day). I am also a recovering people pleaser so trying to find gifts that are palatable to the people asking sometimes also gives me the equivalent of writer’s block for gift requests.

Since I was so deep in my feels, I decided to do a little reading from one of my adult child of alcoholics daily reader books and this was part of the passage on my actual birthday day:

June 26
Conflicting Feelings – Holidays
The conflicting emotional shift of any holiday can trigger a tsunami of pent-up feelings that cannot be reined in by any sentimental holiday movie, song, or festive decorations.
Sorting out our conflicted feelings and perceptions is not easy. […] [H]olidays can provide an opportunity to reevaluate our childhood experiences and how they influence us today. We find that the disappointment we felt because of our parents’ attitudes back then may have led us to trivialize present holidays to avoid our own pain and loss.

When I told my friend I was having mixed feelings about my birthday and she asked why, I said, “Childhood trauma probably.” I was being glib but the above reading did help me feel better and put things into perspective.

As for what I want, my daughter actually gave me a deadline for birthdays and holidays to get in my wishlists, which, to be fair is very helpful since I am an academic who works best when you give me a deadline. Her exact words, btw, were “I’m going to have to treat you like you treat me. You have until x day to get your list in or you’re not getting anything.” It is very effective hahaha.

Anyway, here’s what I decided I want:

  • The monitor and/or gift cards to Amazon to save up for it
  • Gift cards to StitchFix

I was also thinking about how, on Facebook, people post about charities they support and ask people to donate. Since I can’t list myself as a charity, I will also say that I want to build a small classroom library of picture books for my students since I’ve shifted my class to focus on that. More specifically:

For my composition classes, students will be studying picture book biographies. In order to show students the wide range of issues covered by picture book biographies (including nationwide book bans and censorship), students need to read contemporary and recent titles. I would love to have a classroom library available for them. However, the books are expensive, and my institution doesn’t have funding to buy supplies for individual classes. Having the classroom library would help alleviate the financial burden for students to purchase their own books (I teach at a community college). I would appreciate any support, and my students and I thank you!

You can see the full list of books here. I’m super excited about the class, which I also need to blog about at some point. The short of it is they’ll be analyzing picture books to then create their own. The long of it is much longer, so hopefully I’ll get around to that post…some day.

Also, I did figure out what to do with those two friends who asked what I wanted to do. We wound up doing a mini-game night at Guildhall, a gaming bar. That was perfect because I wanted to do something like a game night but didn’t want to host.

Finally, if I had to offer one thing I learned this past year it would be not to drastically change your hair (by which I mean taking down your locs) right before your birthday. Not having your hair look halfway decent but also wanting to take cute pics do not go together that well 😩.

I should also note that I did have a really good birthday. It just included some reflecting is all.


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  1. Juliette

    Thanks for sharing this slice. I went on the reflective journey with you. There was some humor (about hair) at the end and I’m also glad it was an enjoyable birthday.

  2. Juliette

    Thanks for sharing this slice. I went on the reflective journey with you.
    There was some humor (about hair) at the end and I’m also glad it was an enjoyable birthday.

  3. Elisabeth Ellington

    Happy birthday! I could relate to so much of this. I never know what I want for gifts or what I want to do. My birthday is July 4, and I don’t want to do the usual 4th of July things on my birthday. No parades, no picnics, no fireworks. I don’t enjoy those things the rest of the year, so why would I want to do them on my birthday? My favorite thing is finding an art museum open on July 4–no crowds because everyone is at parades and having picnics! I’m glad you had some quiet time to yourself and I love your picture book biography project and hope you’ll write more about it!


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