with slight aging comes slight changes in taste

I turned 30 this week. Woohoo! In celebration I made 750 Christmas cookies.

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I ate my share.

It was a rockin’ party. Too rockin’ actually, since I didn’t have time to run around taking pictures of people while I was shoveling food out of the kitchen (food that my mother made… but I still had to serve it up!). I also severely overestimated the amount of alcohol I had to buy. I’m kind of disappointed in my guests, actually. On the plus side, I have an unopened handle of rum and a ludicrous amount of economy sangria with my name on it.

I feel like I’m supposed to do some sort of navel-gazing about hitting a milestone age, but life feels the same as it did last week (i.e. I still accidentally say I’m 28), so how about I give you a list of vague evolutions regarding superficial interests instead. THRILL as I settle into early adulthood and begin to wonder if maybe I do need a retirement plan.

Things I Used to Hate and Now I Don’t Love Exactly, but I Certainly Don’t Hate Anymore:

  • Soup. I was once renowned for my hatred of liquid food, so it’s a betrayal of my teenage self to admit that actually, there are a lot of good soups out there. It turns out that I only really hate chicken noodle soup. Love yourselves, people. Pasta is meant to be served al dente, not all sogged up in a can of chicken stock! Instead enjoy a hearty pureed vegetable or something with red pepper and gouda.
  • Socks. Is there anything worse than hot feet? What’s that, you say? There are very many things worse than hot feet? Well I have matured on this topic. In fact, I am wearing fuzzy socks at this very moment. I’m so cold. Send help.
  • Physical exertion. Okay I’ll never love working out but I think I could stand to own a stationary bike or something of that nature, and I’m no longer writing essays on the pointlessness of P.E.
  • Coffee. Ignore the section title: this one is a transformation from hatred to undying love. Once you acquire coffee it is tough to turn back. Stay with me on my darkest days, oh roasted bean of the heavens.

And on the flip side:

Things I Used to Love and Now I Don’t Hate Exactly, but I Certainly Don’t Love Anymore:

  • Eminem. I was 16, dammit and not inclined to analyze lyrics! Oh god don’t look at me, stop looking at me, let’s never mention this again!
  • Johnny Depp. You were once the main man on Hunk Island but you have been voted off the island, sir. Unanimously. What happened?
  • Urban fantasy. Again, I don’t hate it, and there are still a couple series on my Buy list, but wow did the tropes pile up in this genre. I wrote some embarrassingly derivative fiction in my tender post-pubescence (you know the type: full of romance by a writer who’s never been past second base), but now I see right through you, Strong Female Characters.
  • Malt beverages. Oh the dark days of Smirnoff Ice and wine coolers. AKA the “I want to drink alcohol now but eww I have not developed the taste for it” phase. My current drinks of choice are: white wines, Long Islands, rum-based anythings. Come back in another ten years and I suppose I’ll be into red wine and whiskey.

And finally:

Things I Tolerate Because I Am An Adult Now and I Have No Choice:

  • Phone calls. Yeah I guess I will make my own doctor’s appointment since the alternative is hastened death.
  • Going to the bank. Not sure why this is still a necessity but fine, I don’t want to lose the money rudely sent to me via check.
  • Carefully planned grocery trips. It really is so much cheaper than picking up dinner on the fly all the time, but god as my witness I will not become a coupon clipper.

So there you have it. Thirty years old and I’m basically still the same person except that now I’m a parent and a homeowner and an archivist and I drink wine with my book club and go to bed at 9 pm.

Happy Holidays and may your chests burst with seasonal joy!

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one more birthday post

Lest my previous post imply that I don’t appreciate the efforts of others on my birthday, never fear! I want to take a moment to describe my absolute favorite birthday memory, and why it is so important to me.

Hands down: December 2008. I graduated from college the prior summer, and promptly moved back in with my mom. I was broke, had minimal job prospects, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life now that I was out of school. A common tale!

It was a massively full house (I think we peaked at a dozen people including my baby sister, baby niece, somebody’s friend living in the garage at any given time, various significant others), and my old room was now occupied by my older sister and her boyfriend. Everyone was struggling financially, so were all piled together to make ends meet. Sort of a, “None of us is doing great but you’ll always have a place to stay” mentality. I mean, OH BOY, we had some serious 12-people-in-a-house blowups that I won’t get into here, but now that we are all scattered it just means there are multiple couches available to crash on in hard times. And, at the time, we were very lucky to still have a house.

I lived in the dining room.

getting comfy

I was surrounded by books, it actually wasn’t that bad.

So, to get to the point. My birthday rolled around and I wasn’t expecting anything. If I recall correctly, this was the first year of the Secret Santa, born of the desire for everyone to get at least one thoughtful present, if we couldn’t do anything else.

My mother, brother, and sisters chipped in for a pile of little presents, just to show they hadn’t forgotten my birthday. A couple of books, some chocolates, some amazingly fuzzy socks, a tiny baby monkey toy that coos and waves its arms, handmade cards. Things that wouldn’t be particularly special, except that nobody could afford a thing and it was a gesture to show they cared.

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I still have that bowl. And the books. And the monkey. Those chocolates are long gone though.

I love getting things off my wish list (obviously I put them on there because I can’t justify splurging on myself!). And I love anything that is thoughtful and shows the gifter knows me well enough to know what I like. But I will always have a fond memory of this damn birthday bowl, because it encapsulates the bright spot that was my family in what turned out, for many reasons, to be the worst year of my life. I love you guys!!

christmas babies unite

Phew! Missed my usual Sunday posting due to a whirlwind week-and-a-half of birthday celebrations, early Christmas celebrations, and working overtime to wrap up my second job. When I return from the holidays I will be working… only one job!! It’s a Christmas miracle.

This year the craziness of December got me thinking about the experience of being a holiday baby. Growing up I was the only December baby in the family, though now I have married into a family that is bursting with them. My birthday was simultaneously kind of special (take that, back-to-back summer babies!) but also decidedly not special (well, you’ll all get presents next week anyway).

I am actually pretty fond of this. My birthday has always been associated with a time of year when I spend extra time thinking about my friends and family, planning ways to make other people happy. In recent years my family has switched to a Secret Santa exchange for the adults, but there is a new generation of kidlets to take care of (aaaand I try to sneak in something silly for everyone else anyway).

As a shiftless, freeloading elementary school student with no job of my own, the early years of Christmas giving relied on my superior craft-making skills.

superior crafting

Take my word for it.

The later years relied on my allowance. I’ll have to ask my mom what it was… but surely not more than a dollar or two a week, because I remember the wonderment of accumulating $50 for the first time. I was an obsessive little saver, and I would stack up my dollars throughout the year for the purpose of buying Christmas gifts.

What a dork!

I would then splurge on cheap, crappy trinkets. Cheap, crappy trinkets for everyone! I have a particularly vivid memory of some kind of Fall craft fair at my school, a cornucopia of weird home-crafted items that only cost a couple of dollars apiece. For everyone!

When I was old enough to get legit birthday money and not just dolls ($20 from Nonna, hollaaaa) this became a holiday windfall that fueled my ability to buy a slightly advanced level of weird crap. My birthday was a tool by which I could buy things for other people. It still kind of is! Know that if you give me birthday cash instead of gifts or even gift cards, you are subsidizing your own presents. Actually… when you put it like that it sounds like a scam.

There isn’t a moral to this post. I’m just feeling particularly affectionate because every year as my birthday approaches it sparks the associated thought, “Oh man, what would everyone else like?” and whether it is individual gifts or a group gift, I start brainstorming ways to make my loved ones laugh. Awwww!