succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Evolution of a birthday

Sudiptya, very lovingly, posted this today (yesterday) to which I feel the need to respond

At least in my own head, I feel like I have a reputation for being greedy and petulant on my birthday. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to fill my life with the sorts of friends who rise to such an occasion. But a little history lesson first. I, of course, blame this center-of-the-universe attitude on my upbringing. My parents (perhaps more accurately, my Mom) love to throw a party, so I remember that I had to pick my birthday idea/theme by November. There were lots of excellent, memorable parties - horseback riding, ice skating, my sweet sixteen at the local YMCA, etc. Initially, I was sort of bummed about celebrating my birthday away at college, since I was used to being spoiled by my family. But I rapidly came to realize that college birthdays were as good as/better than at-home birthdays. For one, birthdays in college (and, apparently, grad school) seem to last for a week or more. People call you, send e-mails, offer to take you out to breakfast, lunch, coffee, etc. for several days on either day of your actual birthday. In undergrad Mom set up a deal with the local coffee house (where I spent most of my time) so that my friends and I could spend a few hours gorging on coffee and pastries and they would send her the bill. Much as I genuinely appreciated that, I suspect that she enjoyed being able to throw me some sort of 'party' nearly as much.

This year Kathy decorated my office with balloons and streamers and signs, so my entire department kept popping their head in, laughing a bit, and wishing me a happy birthday. Tonight I invited my closest friends over, to (allegedly) sit still a bit and enjoy each others' company. There wasn't all that much stillness, but there was lots of laughing and teasing and enjoyment. There was also a fair amount of comparison of ages. Much as I joke about being old (parts of my body are already requiring physical therapy) I really don't feel 27*. There was talk tonight about dissertations and defenses and funding and jobs and all sorts of other real-world types of things. And I realize that out in the real world 27 is well on the way to being a full-fledged adult, but in my little grad school bubble I'm going to keep clinging to crappy tv and ridiculous sleeping patterns and hooded sweatshirts and inappropriate t-shirts and all the other trappings of childhood. I've got plenty of time to grow up.

*last week I was completely convinced that I was turning 28 today. It's not that I'm in a hurry to grow up, just that, apparently, grad school is making me dumber, or less able to do math, or something.

**I know, there's no ** to which this links. But I was just thinking how fucking lucky I am. I've been to Bonnaroo three times. I have the sorts of friends who decorate my office and take me out for brunch and stay up until 3am laughing with me. I have parents who are proud of me and call me and like to talk to me and I like talking to them. I have an advisor who believes in me and actually thinks I need to slow down a bit rather than working harder and faster. I have the sort of job where I can take the day off, sleep in, and go shopping. Just because I want to. Really, honestly, life is good.


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