the day before my birthday

Happy birthday to me!

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m 29 this year. That number sounds incredible to me because, on a good day, I feel 17 and on a bad day I feel 2… just completely immature and childish. I guess, if I have to, I can act like an adult. Only if I have to. 🙂

Last year I barely noticed my birthday. I just wasn’t in a frame of mind to enjoy it. It’s sad, really, that I can’t even remember what I got last year or what I did. It was just that unremarkable, completely forgettable. In fact, a lot of things that were going on in my life about this time last year were not too great. My job search was going nowhere, I was car-less, I was poor poor poor and getting worse, etc., etc., etc. This year is so much better. starting with my birthday.

My number one freelance web client, Amalia, has an assistant I’ve gotten to know pretty well. Lucy is an aspiring architect, very artistic, very nice, and very likeable. She’s from Indonesia, has my birthday, and is one year older than I am. In the course of the past six or seven months, we’ve talked a lot. Amalia is a very interesting person, but not the easiest to keep up with. We’re talking about a successful architect, a woman who’s been on the local best-dressed list more than once, someone who one day decided that she wanted to be in new media and proceeded to get herself a radio show and hire me to do the Web site. Amalia makes things happen by sheer force of wanting it. It’s very daunting. Lucy has the impressive job of taking Amalia’s ideas and making them coordinated, organized and understandable to us mere mortals. She’s very good at following up on the small details Amalia overlooks or simply assumes will be dealt with. They work well together.

Lucy and I made plans over a month ago to celebrate our birthday together. All we knew was that we were going to take Friday afternoon off, the day before our birthday, and do something. Somewhere along the last few weeks we decided to do a late lunch in Kemah and take in a movie. Kemah is a little town outside Houston, on the way to Galveston, which has a boardwalk, restaurants facing the water and other attractions. Kemah is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the area, even better than Galveston, so we figured it would be a good idea.

This is the part where I tell you that this week was hell. There were no major catastrophes, but everything seemed to land on my desk and everything was due the day before I got it. Budget cycle ended. School starts Monday. I had a retreat on Thursday for which I was responsible. There was a departmental party on Wednesday I helped coordinate. I had a job interview moved up a week, never mind that I wasn’t ready for it. When noon dragged around, I was drained, exhausted, tired and ready for a break. Kemah couldn’t come soon enough. I told my office that they were not to beep me even if the school caught fire and went up in a blaze. I had had enough.

Amalia ended up joining the party, which was good since she picked up the tab. We went to the Kemah Crab House and had their seafood buffet. I kid you not, we were there 4 hours and made at least 4 trips to the buffet each. And proceeded to have desert, yummy Oreo custard for me and key lime pie for the others. We sat outside, watched the boats sail by, and talked and talked and talked. And ate and ate and ate. There was an older couple sitting at a table near us; when they left the man teased us that he had “never seen 3 little girls eat so much.” We thought it was hysterical. Our poor waiter looked at us like we were crazy. But I have to admit that by the time we left I was as relaxed as I was ever gonna get.

There was something almost therapeutic about the combination of sitting outside in the shade, the salt air, the non-stop chatter, and the girlfriend atmosphere. We talked about our families, our childhoods, men, money, health, girlfriends and boyfriends and just friends, careers and hopes and wants and dreams. We talked about politics, and disagreed loudly, and smiled and laughed and damn near cried a few times. Other than the nice older couple for an hour or so, we had the balcony to ourselves, so there was no one to bother. It was just us and the cute 18-year-old waiter and the boats sailing by. It was nice. Memorable.

Lucy and I went to see The Cell. I hated it, she liked it. Then Lucy took me home and we talked some more on the drive there. All in all, the day before my birthday went really well.

chronicles from flu city

I was out of the office last week with the flu. I started feeling ‘off’ on Sunday, but went in to work anyway the next day. Of course, going into Monday I started to feel like crap (and that is the technical term for it). By lunchtime it was painfully obvious that I wasn’t going to make it through the day. And I went home early. And I let my boss know that that should expect me to come in the next day.

I always prefer having a cold to having the flu. A cold leaves me sick but functional. I can still go to work and do my stuff and keep up. It’s unpleasant, sure, but that’s about it. Having the flu wipes me out. Besides the fever, which can never be a good thing in Houston in July, there’s the whole “I feel weak” thing that attacks without warning. With the flu I’m literally too weak to get out of bed. And that’s something that is not a good thing.

I don’t even have the benefit of being ‘mothered’ by my mother. When one of her children is sick, my mother basically informs us that we’re sick, tells us that we need to take something for it and really should go to the doctor, stays out of our way and asks us how we’re feeling sometime in the next few days. When it’s my brother, the only difference is that she tells him that if he doesn’t start to feel better she’ll take him to the doctor and she asks him at least once a day if he’s feeling better, until she’s pretty sure that he is.

I’m sure that if I focus for a moment I can recall my mother babying me at one point in my life. Maybe when I was very small and always sick. Or maybe that’s when she started to let me be independent. I was a sickly child. My tonsils were always acting up. I was under doctor’s orders to avoid going barefoot, having wet hair, going swimming and other water and/or cold-related activities that might aggravate me. From the time I was five to several years later – when I finally got the tonsils taken out – I was always taking medicine, going to the doctor’s office, visiting hospitals and having tests done. And no, it wasn’t just the tonsillitis, but that made the other things worse. And I eventually ended up taking my bike and going by myself to the doctor’s office to get my shots and stuff. And I developed this I-hate-doctors attitude that doesn’t make my life easy.

I’d like to get pampered every once in a while, even if just because I’m sick. But my migraines get me a lecture on the consequences of caffeine and my sleeplessness get me a lecture on my sleeping habits and getting the flu or a cold gets me isolation until the contagious stage is over. I’m not likely to get coddled anytime soon.

It’s a good thing I recover fast.

you know you’re in Texas when

{…another email list of jokes I thought was funny enough to include because I live in Texas…}

You no longer associate bridges (or rivers) with water.

You can say 110 degrees without fainting.

You eat hot chilies to cool your mouth off.

You can make instant sun tea.

You learn that a seat belt makes a pretty good branding iron.

The temperature drops below 95, you feel a bit chilly.

You discover that in July, it takes only 2 fingers to drive your car.

You discover that you can get a sunburn through your car window.

You notice the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.

Hot water now comes out of both taps.

It’s noon in July, kids are on summer vacation, and not one person is out on the streets.

You actually burn your hand opening the car door.

You break a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m. before work.

No one would dream of putting vinyl upholstery in a car or not having air conditioning.

Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, “What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?”

You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.

The potatoes cook underground, and all you have to do to have lunch is to pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.

Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.

it’s so dry in Texas

{…email list of jokes… I thought this was funny enough to include… mostly because I live in Texas…}

The cows are giving evaporated milk.

The trees are whistling for the dogs.

A sad Texan once prayed, “I wish it would rain – not so much for me, cuz I’ve seen it — but for my 7-year-old.”

A visitor to Texas once asked, “Does it ever rain out here?” A rancher quickly answered “Yes, it does. Do you remember that part in the Bible where it rained for 40 days and 40 nights?” The visitor replied, “Yes, I’m familiar with Noah’s flood.” “Well,” the rancher puffed up, “we got about two and a half inches of that.”