I would have settled for this cake. Seriously.
Alive but incredibly busy and, as of very late, in one of my famous "funks."
I must say this about myself. As my age has increased, so has my ability to handle my trademark funks - the times in my life when I feel the world is crashing down, that nobody has ever cared for me, when I wonder why I ever was placed on this earth to begin with. In fact, now the funks are few and far between, and normally, when they occur, I can usually take a long, hot bath and remind myself that this is mostly chemical and will pass. That my life is really not one big pattern of people abandoning and neglecting me. That I am blessed beyond belief but that I've developed some unhealthy habits that need to be reversed.
I tried to handle the past week this way, but I have failed. After several months of working my butt off - both as a mom and as a teacher - spending what little spare time I have trying to nurture my gratitude and serenity, this week has royally and completely kicked my ass and broken down my resolve.
I wasn't happy about my birthday to begin with. Thirty-five. Middle age, if I die at seventy. The time when, should we decide to get pregnant again, I will most likely be asked to take a battery of tests and will be at a higher risk of problems - both for myself and the baby. An age where it's even harder to lose all the fat I've accumulated, where wrinkles and gray hairs are multiplying like bunnies, where I'm routinely referred to as "lady." This is even harder to take when I realize I spent all the years I should have been young and sassy curling up into myself and feeding my "funks."
Regardless, I shook it off and told myself to be a big girl. And then, then came the middle schoolers. I'm loving my job, I feel I'm 100% where I need to be, I really love the staff and administration, but I'm still acclimating to the mood swings and occasional attitude of middle schoolers. Particularly the "mean girls" who bring back WAY too many painful memories of Sonora Middle School and the psychological raids I received.
So, I should have just shrugged it off when one of those "mean girls" sang the first part of "Happy Birthday," but finished with "you look like a monkey" and a howl of laughter. I should have just calmly written some detentions slips and then let it go while another "mean girl" joined in, pointing and cackling. I should have focused on my incredibly sweet third block class who sang "Happy Birthday" to me (the normal version) and gave me gifts like a candy cane and an apple, rather than fuming over those girls whose punishment I'd already doled out.
Instead, I loaded it onto my shoulders and into my heart, bringing it in the door with me. There was my gorgeous daughter who immediately wanted something from me and my sweet husband, consumed with his 4,000 writing assignments. No bouquet of flowers, no handmade card from Stella, nobody hugging me and shouting out how happy they were that I was born. I sagged even more into my sadness.
So much so that I couldn't really appreciate the delicious steak dinner Dave made, because I was consumed with the lack of wine and a cake to go with it.
A word about cake. I bake. I love to bake. I especially love to bake cakes. I really, especially love to bake birthday cakes. And I love to blow out candles and eat birthday cakes on my birthday. It's really the only thing I need to have a good birthday.
However, it seems that the universe has decided that is not usually in the cards for me, no matter what.
In Dave's defense, he bought ice cream and hot fudge for sundaes, but the ice cream was "off" somehow, and besides, all I ever want is cake. Cake. Just cake.
It should have gotten better the next day when I had a snow day and Dave and I had plans to go to dinner at a place I've been dying to try - Hillbilly Tea - and a show at a fringey, cool theater we've heard about. However, the weather that created my snow day also created icy roads, and we couldn't bring ourselves to ask our friend (and babysitter) to risk her life for us, nor could we handle the thought of getting in a wreck and dying, leaving Stella to fend for herself. So we ate split pea soup, sans cake, and I tried to tell myself that all would be better when I joined some local friends the next night for cocktails.
Now, I had wanted a little party - reminiscent of the ones I used to throw for myself in Brooklyn ages ago. However, this year, I stubbornly refused to plan it myself or make all the food, seeing as I'm working full time and being a mom in my off-hours. So I kept throwing out hints here and there, and those hints fluttered on up to the heavens where they shriveled up and died.
And I was too busy to keep on top of things like I should have, so, about a week and a half before my b'day, I sent out an email seeing if anyone would want to join me for a karaoke party. Only two people responded positively, so rather than book an expensive venue and have nobody come, I decided to demote my "party" to a night of cocktails with friends - an informal event where people could drop in at whim. This received a scant more positive RSVP's. (Having a birthday 10 days before Jesus's means that most of the free world is already spoken for when you so arrogantly want to celebrate the day you were forced to enter this earth.)
But, still, I was excited. I just wanted to get out at night and join the rest of the world, sipping a silly cocktail and laughing loudly and forgetting all about my responsibilities for five minutes.
However, that pesky ice remained on the road, and OOPS! We forgot to book a babysitter. So, no cocktails with friends. And still, believe it or not, no blessed cake.
So, I made backup plans to meet an old friend who lives a mile away for dinner at a nearby restaurant. At least, I thought, I can get out of my cabin-fever-diseased home and eat a bite. Maybe drink a micro-brew. MAYBE BUY MYSELF A SLICE OF CAKE. And, can you believe it, my friend stood me up. STOOD ME FUCKING UP. Excuse my language, but really? I got a text, saying an "unexpected visitor" was occupying his time. I hope to God that visitor is Barack O'fucking Bama, otherwise - there is no excuse.
So...the funk descended. I cried. I threw a couple of things (safely - in a room with no one else in it). I went to Chick-Fil-A by myself and read my book and ate a fried chicken sandwich, waffle fries, and a peppermint chocolate chip shake. I considered an alcoholic drink, but I could feel a cold coming on, so I crawled into bed.
And I awoke with a cold. Sore throat, snot, aching joints, chills. I mean, really?
Still, we had a better, more hopeful day - taking Stella to see "The Nutcracker" as performed by my old dance school - The Dance Centre of Elizabethtown. I got to see my old dance teacher, Mrs. Banard, for the first time in 17 years. As wonderful as this was, it also brought back memories of my difficult youth - a time when the beauty and grace of ballet was one of the few refuges I had against the turmoil and violence of my home and the almost non-existence of a social life at school. I was chubby, it's true, but ladies and gentlemen - I could dance.
I enjoyed time with my family, marveling, as I always do, at how much Stella adores them and how good they are to her. But my cold intensified, and although this would have been the perfect opportunity to let my precious mom shower me with affection and GET ME A FREAKING SLICE OF CAKE, all I wanted to do was wrap myself in 1,000 blankets and sleep.
So, the funk is here. I know it will pass, I just need time, but right now, I'm just kind of pissy and frustrated. It's a hard time of year to expect people to take care of me, I get that, but there were just too many unfortunate events in a row in a week where I was already emotionally raw for me to feel particularly forgiving and understanding of anyone whose name isn't Randi or Stella right now.
At least, today, I managed to get myself some cake. Red velvet cake from The Homemade Pie and Ice Cream Kitchen. And, although my cold has abducted my appetite, I ate EVERY FREAKING BITE.