402: non-verbal sass

Every year on my birthday I wish for the exact same thing: to be taller. Though this wish never comes true, I never stop making it. It was the last thing I said to myself the night before when I went to bed, and the first thing I thought when I woke up. I stumble out of bed, stand in front of my full-length mirror, and look. Before I put my contacts in, I always feel like maybe my legs are little longer, but alas, they are not. Once I can properly see, after I’ve showered and moisturized and gotten dressed and stuff, I know that I am still just a hair under 5’6″ and it pisses me off.

Still, I manage to enjoy my birthday. I got the feeling that the mock despair people are supposed to feel when turning 30 was just around the corner, that it would creep up on me when I remembered that I’d gained back some (okay, most) of the weight I did manage to keep off last year. That I am one year older and not that much closer to my goal of writing for a living. That I am one year older and I’m still third-wheeling it when I go out with my couple friends. But then I remember that I’m alive, I’m managing my shit, and my sense of humor is intact. Which is, really, more than anybody could ever ask for. Well, that and a pair of Christian Louboutins, in case you were asking.

So in case you were wondering:

1. “What did you do for your birthday?”

Well, I did several things to celebrate my birthday. I went to work, as per usual, and replied to the lovely pile of “Happy Birthday” e-mails waiting in my inbox. I hugged Jacalyn and thanked her for decorating my cubicle with pink and white crepe paper streamers. She also took three 10s out of my pink deck of cards and affixed them to the back of my chair. I took a picture which I’ve yet to post to my Flickr photostream. I was taken out to brunch at Orange by a small group of co-workers, a group that, sadly, did not include Perry. This sin of omission may not be forgiven until I can produce a conciliatory blueberry pie.

Later that evening, I went to Blackbird for Andrew and Rozi. Jacinda e-mailed me all sorts of funny anecdotes about the snooty folks who eat there, so I expected a dining experience which would veer on the absurd. I am almost disappointed to say that it did not — dinner was lovely. Blackbird is tiny, a small white cube filled with people whose outfits ranged from casually expensive (this woman came in with her hair pulled into an immaculate chignon and a cashmere wrap coat with its labels flipped up just so) to not so expensive but just as casual (I believe I saw a woman come in wearing a sweatshirt, carrying a Dooney & Bourke handbag, and wearing those light blue jeans that scream ‘early 90s’). I myself was wearing a blue viscose twinset, a black circle skirt, and black mock crocodile cork wedge sandals. Sounds a little funny but I assure you it was sufficiently charming. Dinner was, as expected, delicious. I had the veal. I thought for a second that it would probably be the more ethical thing to have the wild striped bass, or to eat the garbure, but then I said “Fuck it, I have nobody but myself to diet for” and went for the veal. Kidding — about the “fuck it”, but not about the veal. This was preceded by the charcuturie plate, followed by the chocolate mousse pave, and accompanied by a nice big glass of cabernet. The waiters wore Joseph Abboud suits — no, I don’t know the look of the collection, the wardrobe information was printed on the card. Our waiter, Ivar, was adorable. Rozi and Andrew are ideal dinner companions — they are always funny and adorable without being saccharine. I said I considered myself lucky because I have good friends such as they, which they countered by saying that I had worked to keep my relationships, so my friendships were based not so much on luck but on the energy into which I put them. So yes, it was really nice of them to say. Thankfully, I did not embarass myself or anyone else by bursting into tears right then and there, but I did get a little verklempt. But then all pretense was gone when Ivar brought out dessert and there, affixed to the edge of the oversized plate carrying my very delicious chocolate mousse pave with cinnamon ice cream, candied kumquats, and vinaigrette, sat a blue and white striped candle. Before I blew it out, Andrew and Rozi sang “Happy Birthday” to me, Andrew silly and crossing his eyes and conducting the air a bit while Rozi managed to look just a tiny bit mortified while she was laughing and singing. I had to laugh, which is always the case with these two.

The following night, I went to Rodan with a pile of folks. The place was bonkers — a bunch of waiters called in sick, people were running late to this hipster hippodrome of Asian-Latin fusion cuisine. It was pretty tasty, though I have to object the pairing of their cornish hen adobo with potatoes. Potatoes! I so wanted a little mound of white rice (or even brown rice) over which to pour my broth and then to gobble while I had my lychee royale (champange with lychee nectar). Dan and I split a few small bites, like a plate of cigarette rolls (which are basically lumpia only smaller), some shrimp, wings, and the signature wasabi tempura fries. I tuck into chicken, Jacinda on left smacking on fish and chips, Helen on my right digging into fish and chips also, and Molly eating some sort of delicious-looking curry. As the night wears on, the place gets louder and more crowded. Fun, certainly, but I want to be able to talk to people at the far end of the table without having to abandon my neighbors or resort to using elaborate hand gestures when I get tired of yelling. I scooched down to the far end to visit with Thom, Adrienne, Thomas, and Jalissa. Jeff and his new boyfriend had just come in to join us for a drink, while Dan’s friend Isobel chatted with Molly’s friend Ira. Joe and Oscar talked about worky stuff. I got a little yawny then I realized I wanted some air, and then I wanted to go to a divey bar.

After-dinner drinks were at The Corner, formerly Rich’s First One Today. The bar was exactly the same — same bartender, decor, prices. Well, now there was a gorgeous old timey Miller High Life sign behind the bar. Also, the owner’s cocker spaniel and an adorable pug romped and scampered and occasionally sat on their own barstools. The pug would follow the ladies to the ladies’ room, while the cocker spaniel would wait at the mens’ room door when it was occupied. There was some extra money put in at dinner, so we used it for drinks. We talked some more, laughed, drank, petted dogs, yawned a bit, and then it was closing time and we all went home. When I crawled up the stairs, I found a bouquet of flowers waiting for me:

    Happy Birthday! Dear Jasmine,

    Today we celebrate your beauty with this pale comparison.
    Enjoy! Happy 30th!

    Love, Jacinda & Joe

At which point, upon being reminded that I have the best friends in the world, I let myself cry a little before I fell asleep.

2. “What did you get?”

I try not to focus too much on presents, because I truly do believe that it’s the thought that counts. But I got some really lovely gifts this year. Some of which I mentioned, but others I did not include: a free massage, an offer to host a game night (which is tentatively scheduled for April 28), a scary card of a cat with googly eyes, a bottle of champagne, handmade earrings, a gorgeous coaster printed with images of jasmine flowers, and a beautiful pair of green shoes. A subscription to Giant Robot magazine, and a DVD of my favorite “teenage girls coming of age in Norway and finding they may be gay while they listen to Swedish pop star Robyn”. Oh, and today a bouquet of pink flowers served (no, really) in an oversized margarita glass.

Also: loads of e-mails and text messages. A few phone calls. Lovely lovely lovely.

3. “So what does it feel like it to be 30?”

So far, just like 29. And 28 before that. I’d have to check my notes on previous years. I never really had that complex about how becoming 30 is, like, supposed to mean that you are old. Which, if it were actually true, I wouldn’t really care too much anyway. I mean, if there is anything that I am it is a late bloomer (ha ha) and deadlines and milestones that are grounded in presumed standards of maturity and growth struck me as being somewhat arbitrary.

Not that I’m cranky or anything.

4. “So now what — will the flip front be all about your newly found growth and maturity? Will you be doing anything new?”

Um, no. Okay, that’s actually not true. I will moisturize every night before I go to bed.

5. “Did you learn anything when you turned 30?”

Yes — you should moisturize every night when you go to bed.

7. “Did you do anything else this weekend?”

Yes — I bought sport gauchos. That’s right, sport gauchos. I couldn’t find my trusty yoga pants, the ones I wear when I work out, as I needed to wear them for the Shamrock Shuffle Sunday morning. I bought the gauchos without trying them on. And for my trouble I must now return to the fat girl store to return them. I ended up wearing blue sweatpants instead.

I met Christine at the Gene Siskel film center to watch some short films. The Asian-American film festival is going on right now, so go see stuff before the festival ends on April 13. Um, ran into Carly at the show (she was with her mom and her man). Ate a chocolate and peanut butter cupcake. Then went home so I could watch cable and go to bed early for Sunday morning, when I did the 5k walk for the Shamrock Shuffle.

The day before I had picked up my race packet at the fitness expo on Navy Pier. The same hale and hearty runners and bicyclists who had gnawed on Clif bars while pricing fleece balaclavas were now stretching all over Grant Park in running tights, waiting for the 9:30 start. Me and the other walkers — the chubby, the elderly, the possibly lazy — sauntered to the start for the 5k walk. This all felt slightly remedial — bitchy, I know, but when you see all the skinny folks sprinting off into the brisk morning while you could swear that one of your fellow walkers is wearing high heels, well, then you know where you stand. Or step, anyway. It’s like, if the 8k run is Norstrom, then the 5k walk is like Marshall’s. I shouldn’t talk like this but I’m still smarting from the sight of all these women, pushing ginormous strollers, passing me by as I huffed my way towards the halfway mark where I knew they’re be water. I finished the race, it started to rain, and so I took off for breakfast with Theresa and Mary Ann, eschewing the opportunity to drink my free beer at the official post-race party while Cracker played in the background. After breakfast, I went home and lay on the couch, drifting in and out of sleep, curled up underneath a down blanket. Turning 30 is an exhausting enterprise. Though I’m pretty sure the 5k didn’t help, either.

Very truly yours,

Jay-Z – 99 Problems; Outkast – The Way You Move; Missy Elliott – Gossip Folks; Kylie Minogue – I Feel For You



~ by Jasmine on April 4, 2006.

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