Although my last post was ripe with self-pity ("Woe is me, my kid is sick on my birthday"), I think the moment of change started there, and that it had everything to do with my cake.
See, usually on your birthday, you have to eat dinner before you have your cake. You have to add 20 minutes for digestion before someone presents you with a cake lit with candles. Then you have to wait for someone or a group of people to sing to you. Clap, clap.
Next, you blow out the candles and the cake is whisked away to be cut and re-presented to you in a square (depending on how many people are at your gathering, this could take two to 30 minutes). If you have children, there's dissent about who got the biggest piece, who got the first piece, etc. Finally, if your cake is missing silverware, you need to find a fork. And if you have a toddler, he or she will have inhaled his or her piece and be begging you to share yours just as you're about to dig in.
That's like two hours of prep time and waiting for a piece of cake — precious time spent at the hands of others. In a nutshell: There's cake protocol, and you're not in charge of any of it even though it's supposed to be YOUR day.
This year, though, I got astride that cake and rode it like a cowgirl. Dinner first? Nope. Singing to me? Nope. Clapping? Not a peep. Candles? Not a one. I didn't want anyone spitting their germs on it. Waiting? Nope. Cutting? Hell yah, I sliced into that bad boy and shoveled it into my mouth. In fact, over the course of the next few days, I ate the entire cake without sharing a damn crumb with anyone.
I cut through — pun intended — all the pomp and circumstance and took what I wanted and I swear, things have been different ever since.
For one, I started a new freelance job. The best part is that they had to postpone their holiday party to early January, so I got to attend and meet the whole crew. The people are fantastic. I haven't been to a cheery office holiday party in like 20 years. Morale was so low at Mulletville Corp, I'd forgotten what it felt like to be around a functional group of celebratory people. Bonus: There was more cake.
We finally knocked down walls in our home. We're five people in a 1,400 square foot house, plus a large dog and plump cat. After seven years of living here, I can finally open the refrigerator during dinner without having to ask someone to slide their chair over. Ditto for opening the oven.
We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, Mass., for the weekend because after being sick, dealing with the gray of winter, and sanding and taping walls everyone needed a dose of fun. It was expensive as fuck, even after Groupon and coupons, but my middle kid wore his water park bracelet for two weeks after we got home. (I'll post more about it later.)
Finally — and this is the most important part of how this year is different — I started writing a book. I'm 56,000 words into it, which is the farthest I've ever gotten (and a big reason why I haven't been on here as much). I've been procrastinating about this for decades. No more.
So there you have it. This year is different. Yee-fucking-haw. If you've been wishing for the same I highly recommend that on your birthday, you have someone buy you a cake (for some reason, it's not the same if you buy the cake yourself) and then, when no one's looking, you dive into that mother effer. Screw protocol. Screw waiting. Life is short. Just eat your damn cake.
*No, that is not the actual title of the book I am currently working on, but I really kind of like it.