-Carly, re: my birthday wishes
Apparently, I turn 26 today. Perhaps Facebook, MySpace or Haviland told you about this. I'm being a weirdo about it this year; it's highly uncharacteristic. I mean, I write a blog, so clearly I enjoy heaps of unjustified attention lavished upon me at all times, and consequently I've always enjoyed birthday parties -- though, falling as they do in mid-September [prime-time for "life-changing events" such as starting new schools, living situations, jobs, various phases of self-destructive behavior], my birthday celebrations often attract a haphazard assortment of celebrants AND I'm often blessed by having my birthday coincide with Yom Kippur. In the past, when I was a better Jew, this meant I spent the day in temple starving and atoning for my sins when I should've been eating ice cream cake.
I've always been that girl who writes her birthday in your planner in marker with circles and stars. But this year ... it just seems kinda overwhelming -- I mean, it's awesome for people to call me and mail/send me things, OBVS . But the idea of having some sort of live in-person celebration is too much for me to handle ... feels inappropriate, feels like a lie ... I've mos defo become a Totes Weirdo, Solid Hermit, or The Bell Jar. Or I'm just going through a Phase. Or, as my therapist suggested, becoming agoraphobic like Emily Dickinson, my hero. I just wanna be alone. Like, maybe go somewhere and write my book or something.
See the thing is I'm supposed to be writing this book. And I've sort of let it fall to the wayside because it became a relatively significant aspect of my relationship and I needed to step back from it right afterwards, and now "right afterwards" is over, and I still haven't opened a single doc in the "Some of my Parts" folder (holla, Jenny Schecter!) since erum, June. And my agent is going to slaughter me with a machete.
OK are you ready for my thesis statement? Yeah you are! "This post attempts to do two things; one, reignite the author's interest in her own boring life and consequently fuel the fire of her "book," two, explore the 26 birthdays before this birthday in an effort to understand how we got here. Three, provide an easy reference point/timeline for readers to understand the ridic tangents that the author tends to go off on, often."
That's a trick thesis statement, because just "exploring" something is totes not enough, FYIez. You need more than that. But luckily this is my blog so I can do whatever I want. Even rehash my entire life via birthday celebrations, much to your total amusement I'm sure. I actually have my entire life journaled, which is useful for the book. But I can't find all the journals right now and I think some of them are still in Michigan. So I'm working with limited tools here.
Birth: 1981. Fetus, Illinois- I think I spent the day crying, probs. Good start.
One: Baybay, Illinois- Again, no memory of this. Probs: cried, ate something pureed like smashed up apricots or applesauce, was likely dressed up in a wig and/or ridiculous party hat by my father and then subjected to multiple photographs.
Two: Baybay, Michigan-I'd imagine somewhat similar to "one," but perhaps by then we had acquired Wig #2, The Blonde Wig, to compliment Wig #1, the black-curly-haired wig, offering additional sources of baby dress-up amusement.
Three: Baybay, Michigan- By this point, I was eating solid foods, right? I don't even know what three-year-olds look like. I hope when I have my own kids, they can give me a heads-up about these things so I don't have to look it up myself. "Mom, totes ready for solid food now, rock."
Four: Toddler, Michigan- Defo eating solid foods and reading. Also my brother was alive and probs still eating smushed-up foods.
Five: Eberwhite School, Michigan- I turned five in kindergarten 'cause I started when I was four. So I could read pretty much anything. That's all I got. Perhaps I received some books. To read.
Six: Eberwhite School, Michigan
Seven: Eberwhite School, Michigan-Urm. I think this may've been when I got the Bangles cassette, 'Walk like an Egyptian'? Went to Bill Knapps maybe?
Eight: Emerson School, Michigan- THIS IS THE YEAR I GOT THE SAMANTHA DOLL!!!!!
Nine: Thoreau School, Concord, Massachusetts- Probs went to Walden Pond or something. I got Paula Abdul's "Shut Up and Dance" cassette, that was exciting. I probs didn't have very many friends yet.
Ten: Emerson School, Michigan- We went to Flint for the weekend. Seriously, Flint. Like, Roger & Me Flint. My three best friends and I; stayed in a hotel and went to a restaurant with a big buffet, because I fucking LOVED BUFFETS, and then museums the next day because I LOVED MUSEUMS and we got astronaut ice cream, it melted in our mouths.
I'd just had my Bat Mitzvah so the b-day party itself was low-key. In the photos I'm wearing overalls, we're eating chocolate cake with our hands, there's green frosting. I feel like we went to Major Magics. God, I fucking LOVED THOSE OVERALLS.
Fourteen: Pioneer High School, MI- Before the advent of competition-style product tie-in reality television programs, it was still possible for someone to totally rock your socks simply by having a limousine parked outside your house on your birthday. Now we know that scene ("Oh my God! A PRIUS!"), but then it was perfect, and lovely, I was 14, my Dad told me my b-day was a surprise but wouldn't give details, I couldn't guess, it drove me crazy.
My diary: "Daddy gave me the best birthday party ever. He rented a limousine and me and my friends rode around for a while and went on a scavenger hunt. Everyone wanted to get in."
He took photos. But when he died about seven weeks later they hadn't been developed yet, and we never figured out what happened to that film, like so many things we never found after that.
Sixteen: Interlochen/boarding school- Diary, 9/23/97: "Today was my b-day. At first it was kinda sad, but things picked up. Ryan switched into 8th hour, which rocks. Then, when I got back to my dorm, I had all these packages, including one from Magali & Becky. I got so much FOOD yum! Then me and this girl Carly went and filmed stuff, that was kewl. She just got a new camera. Then I got to talk to my friends on the phone. Ryan is having an emotional crisis."
Seventeen: Interlochen/boarding school- Ryan was my best friend--my "soulmate"-- my everything. He'd just started college, I was starting my senior year at Interlochen. On the 22nd, I told Ryan about John and then Ryan yelled, I cried. He said scathing fatal things to me, stuff I never expected, but I guess I didn't really understand, yet, what he was going through.
The next day--my birthday--I couldn't make it out of bed or to class and my friends took turns visiting me on their off-hours. "There's no way Ryan can live without you," Krista assured me. No one believed that Ryan was honestly going to cut me out, but he did, for six weeks. It was like having my heart removed.
My friends dragged me to the cafeteria that night--the tables were covered in construction paper, a gigantic birthday card for me, and they blared Puff Daddy on Sheetal's boom box and sang to me until it was confiscated. Everyone was so sweet and so patient. The next day John asked me to be his girlfriend. I had to say yes -- I'd just lost Ryan over him, after all -- and I did. We were together all year.
Everyone gave me cookies and cakes. Girls I'd just met made me sweet cards, I wrote in my diary: "I can't believe they love me so much. Why?" Ryan showered me with gifts, as was his way, including the stuffed dog named after him that I still sleep with, and took me to Chez Es Saada in the East Village; it's underground, the descending stairwell's littered with rose petals. Afterwards, we met up w/Meg at Madame X, and got served.
Then that weekend I hosted an 18th Birthday Cocktail Party. I needed all my high school friends in the same room. We mailed invitations -- remember that? When you actually had to MAIL invitations? Formal dress required. Since all of us, including our bartender, were underage and living in dorms, I got a hotel suite on the Upper West for the night using my savings from working that summer. Everyone came. It was perfect, except we wanted McFlurries at like, one a.m., and they'd turned off the machine already for some lame reason.
Twenty: U of Michigan/living with friends- Fancy-pants brunch with my Mom and brother, Colliders [frozen yogurt & candy smash up delight] w/my boys. Mejiers [it's like Wal Mart] with Natalie: we stole handfuls of bulk candy and I listened to voice mails and waited for this boy to call. Eventually, he did, and we went out. I can't tell you what we did, it's too embarassing.
a) My life is fun and games.
b) My life is in shambles.
Reading tonight, gym tonight, birthday, homework, sex blah blah blah. Meanwhile, America is declaring war and people are buried in rubble in New York. Fuckin' A. I do no work. I sicken myself.
Twenty-One: U of Michigan/living with boyfriend off-campus- I'll tell you how it ended; dark blue-ish light, CT & I's bedroom. Screaming, crying. "I'm leaving!" I wasn't nearly drunk enough for my 21st, but my mind was everywhere and therefore crazy -- it was with Another Boy I'd Just Met, it was with my friends who loved me, it was with my mother, it was with myself, and I'd lost myself by this point, so that was a really far-away place for my mind to be.
My Mom wanted to buy me my first drink [ha!], so I met her at The Earle. In the dark reddish light, she told me more about her divorce than I'd ever been privy to before ... how there comes a time ... and CT, as if on cue, called cranky for directions to the restaurant we were meeting up w/my friends at.
I gave him just-barely-incorrect directions to Champion House; he used this as an excuse to show up in a rotten mood, pout all through dinner and refuse to speak to my friends: Natalie, Becky, Jessie, Bobby, Lauren. Also he'd done bad on a test or something, I don't remember. He clearly wasn't good at sucking it up.
We tried to let conversation fly around him. He responded to my friends' inquires about his state of being with "I've been better." His justification: "You know not getting directions right is my pet peeve." Which isn't even the correct usage of "pet peeve" and literally I was one block off, he coulda seen the place from where I'd accidentally led him. It's not like, the Labyrinth. It's Ann Arbor.
On our way to the car after dinner, he started in bitching about how he couldn't talk to my friends because they went to Michigan and he went to Eastern, he was poor and they were rich. I'd never thought before then that money mattered so much. I said maybe if he'd talked to my friends, he would've known that in fact they were not rich. I wondered how he could know anything about them when he never listened to me, and, after nearly a year of us dating, still hadn't read a single piece of my writing.
We went to his frat house and once we got there, I ditched him to hang out with boys who were nice to me. Then we got home and yelled at each other and I told him I would leave him. He said I was too drunk to drive.
He said we're so different, my friends and him.
I said, How's this for different? Let's sleep in different beds. Live in different apartments. Let me leave. Let me leave you. But he wouldn't. And we went on. I wanted to love him, was used to him -- was dying, was dead. Four months later, I ran after my life.
The night before, SD begged to see me though I'd refused: "I don't want you to ruin my birthday." He promised he wouldn't, just needed to deliver a letter. He did. I thought it meant he had feelings that he wanted to do something about so I was hopeful (but actually it was just that he had feelings).The next morning, I wrote in my diary: "There's this dream I keep having about SD where he comes to me and tells me everything -- how much he loves me, how much I mean to him, that he knows that he did an undefendable thing and that he's sorry and he knows he doesn't deserve my apology." [NAME THAT TELEVISION SHOW REFERENCE!!]
My Mom came over in the afternoon with presents, told me "Marie, sometimes you've gotta just know when to cut your losses." Dinner @ The Macaroni Grill (my place of employment), where they'd ripped out the USA Today Crossword puzzle and put it on my chair, and we all got drunk and ate heaping plates of gooey pasta. I felt very blessed to have all these wonderful people in my life when I felt I'd neglected them so recently to chase this true mean love.
Twenty-Three: New York City/living with Krista in Sparlem- JH told me he was Really Good at Birthdays. I obvs did not believe him, but he was totes right. He took me, Krista and Ingrid to dinner at Atlantic Grill, got me a Tiffany's bracelet 'cause I'd joked to him that a Tiffany's bracelet is "Every Jewish girl's dream." "Rent" tickets, books -- dreamboat. Obvs on his birthday I had to do even better: a weekend in D.C., tickets to see Steve Nash play there, a hotel. That weekend was almost foiled when they refused to rent me a car because of my "moving violations" and him "not having a drivers license" but then we found a FLIGHT that was super-cheap and fast, and that's when JH said one of my most favorite things he ever said:
I'd dropped a "fuck" in my language and he goes: "Marie, do not use foul language in the Regan International Airport." Like how some people would shush you in church? Because Regan was his favorite president!! Can you believe it?
Twenty-Four: New York City/living with Krista in Sparlem- The end of the summer of my sweet romance with drugs and general trashwhoriness. Everything felt unstable then, everything, except the brief momentary but overwhelming sensation of that particular inhalation, that particular hand darting into the darkness and underneath. Of girls, and what I took to handle that. Ryan emailed me that day after months of non-communication. I worked; I believe there was a cake and some ceremony of sorts at the lit agency. Krista and I went to Cafe Mozart and shared everything, ate sweet food and talked about Who I Was Before Ryan, and who I Was With Ryan -- how crazy it is, how far we'd come since then, how long since I last saw him. For a moment the room was blurry as I almost cried, stabbed my salad. How far we'd come since then?
To: All my friendsI won't subject you to another recap. But if you so desire, I obvs blogged about it.
From: Haviland Stillwell
Subject: And at the end of the day she'll be another day older ....
And that hot barely-there shirt on her back won't be keepin' out the HEAT...(10 points to whoever gets that reference)
SATURDAY IS THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIRTH OF MARIE (AKA RIESE) LYN BERNARD!!!
we are going to a girl on girl establishment and riese has one task and one task only!! --
******TO KISS 25 GIRLS ON HER 25TH BDAY BEFORE THE NIGHT IS OVER******
Of course, I'll be piggy backing off of the cause, when I feel it's warranted...
If you are available and up to having mind blowing amounts of ass-kicking fun, email me back and i'll coordinate the details.
So -- the theme of this -- no matter who I am or where I am or what's going on or how I feel I've failed or exceeded expectations, I've been consistently blessed with generous and kind friends who always rally together to celebrate that somehow I've managed to defy death for one additional year.
I can tell you about the birthday parties of all my friends from those missing years but not my own. Because I suppose it was theirs I really anticipated, because it was a chance to direct my focus onto someone other than myself, because "myself" didn't seem to be a very productive place to focus.
One day, I will grow old. Until then, there are stars to ride, invitations to consider. Today, I guess, I'm 26. That's how old my Mom was at my 2nd birthday. Crazy, right? Crazy.
Tomorrow I'm going to go for some long strategic walks. I have a lot of thinking to do.
And lose track of where I'm going
and then lose track of how to get going again
feel myself slowing down/feel myself turning round
is this taken/when I feel like this
I get so sick/Tell myself, where are you going now
-Tegan and Sara
On the topic of having short hair that I play with all the time now--
Me: Hey what if I did like, 26 hairstyles for my 26th birthday? For my blog?
Carly: That would be AMAZING.
Right now I'm eating Chocolate Covered bananas from an Edible Creations Bouquet -o- Birthday Magic, so I can't really complain.