Enough! enough! enough!
Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams,
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.
-- Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"
Tomorrow my two greatest neuroses (aging and eating) converge on what is, for me, traditionally the most miserable day of the year: my birthday. I don't mean to imply that I'm ungrateful for my life. In fact, I love my life fiercely almost every day except my birthday, the one 24-hour span per annum I am most guaranteed to be legitimately insane and railing against the heart-wrenchingly confusing fact of existence itself. My breakdowns are no joke. Example: I was so stupified with the abject horror of turning 24 I didn't (or maybe couldn't) speak for two solid weeks.
To be pathetically honest, I can't count the birthdays past I have flashed back to my glory days as a competitive eater and, burned out from trying not to hyperventilate or drop to the floor in inexplicable sadness after a night spent with friends, had a midnight fit of semi-narcoleptic despair face down in a huge vegan cake, bought lovingly by my mother *
A well-meaning-yet-delusional relative (the same one who insisted on buying me a tv "in case of emergencies" after four years of blissful existence without one, immediately causing me to spiral into unproductive co-obsessions with "Oprah" and "Lost") who knows I can't handle birthdays recently sent me a care package consisting of a simple white ceramic crucifix to hang over my bed and 140 Oxycontin tablets enclosed with a hand-made card that said:
"Just in case, sweetie! Happy Birthday!".
Awesome. Well, at least I'll have the option of dulling the terrible waves of existential dread in my brain with drugs and religion (none of my relative are particularly religious, so they do their best to accommodate me, hence the crucifix) instead of locking myself in this unused spare-bedroom closet in my home I have been eyeing (I don't really cry, usually, so the best I can do is hide away in a small, darkened space. Just kidding. Pretty much.) :
Actually, since I don't ever take recreational drugs, I'll probably just throw them away or maybe give them to a friend and forget about closets without resorting to any medicine stronger than a nap or two.
Sometimes I invent lame excuses about why I can't bear to see anyone on my birthday, but I can never manage to deliver them with a straight face.
"I gave up my birthday celebration for Lent. It's a pretty paltry sacrifice compared to fasting for 40 days and nights, though... haha, just kidding, I actually just need some private time to have my annual nervous breakdown, but ya never know, this year might be smooth sailing, I have high hopes."
Every ten years my birthday falls on Easter, which was especially helpful when, a newly minted tea-totaler, I turned 21. My friends still thought I was just kidding about not drinking anymore, and were pretty determined to see me drink my weight in tequila just like the good ol' days.
Friend on phone: "Yeah! Let's get you drunk tonight!"
Me: "No way! You're such a heathen, do you think I'm getting smashed on the day we celebrate the miracle of Christ's resurrection? Fuck you!" (phone slam.)
Then I snickered and read Harry Potter books to my 8-year old brother for four hours the way I'd wanted to all along. Bars stay open just fine without me, I've found, and my friends know I love them sober.
Anyway, since Saturday my phone has been randomly erasing my unread texts, which I consider an act of blessed Providence. If I don't read the friendly yet psychologically devastating early birthday "sup!"(s) my opinion is they don't officially exist. Besides me, who really cares if I freak out on my birthday and avoid social contact, anyhow? It's my (perceived) loss, right? I'm grateful people care at all, believe me, but it doesn't help assuage the sting of aging. I'll tell them so.... after *IT* is safely over.
Who knows, tomorrow I may be able to follow through with some of the kind invitations to meet up with friends etc. I have been lucky enough, despite myself, to have received, or I may just sleep all day, half comatose with grief over my emerging crow's feet, white hairs and the paralyzing fact of my creative stasis.
* Why can't I stop eating cake in bed this week? I spilled an entire teapot of constant comment on my favorite duvet, and now, despite my best efforts, I have to replace it. I also recently discovered chocolate-raspberry ganache stains on my sheets. How bestial! I'm not so far gone that I can't--at the very least!--sit upright at a table while I'm binge-eating like a civilized human being...
PS I'd make a lot of money if I went to work tomorrow. Today some of my soon-to-be-regulars shelled out for extra lap dances, bonus! when I told them I'd soon be turning 21 or 19 or 23 (hahaha)-- but I probably should have just worked tomorrow instead-- everybody loves a stripper on her birthday, it seems. Ra.
PS2 It's not facing up to my mortality which makes me so crazy. Death-shmeth, I have a much more significant fear of crumbling into useless decay. Luckily I have a strong feeling that I may die young, which makes me feel a little bit better, believe it or not.
PS3 Getting a Pomeranian puppy would instantly make all this horror disappear, I'm convinced.
PS4 Or maybe I'll be able to behave in a reasonable, sensible manner on my birthday. Finally.