Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Forty Days: Pt 38 (Birthday Penumbra)

Last day of my thirties! My Birthday Penumbra (B's invention, meaning people have to be lovely to you in the days before and after your birthday as well as on the day and any attempt to make you do anything sub-optimal can be halted by holding up an imperious hand and shrieking "BIRTHDAY PENUMBRA") is well underway. I feel quite relaxed about the whole business. Whatever. Some baking definitely went on here this evening (well, secrecy, a smell of cooking and a lot of icing sugar), so I'm already excited about that. Let's see how I feel tomorrow. 

I don't have a big conclusion tonight and I doubt I'll have one tomorrow or indeed on day 40 which is the day after my birthday since I am a fucking idiot. I have enjoyed doing this a great deal, though, even though I did not actually have any big or particularly interesting thoughts about anything. My main conclusion is that I am delighted to hear about people's ponies and twin babies, bad accountants, fictional capybara theme parks and the intolerable domestic habits of their loved ones. This is what I always loved - and still love - about blogging. I will not just vanish for months on end again if I can possibly help it, because I miss you, and it. But the reason I blog less is because I am not bored out of my skull doing law all day every day and desperate for distraction and that in and of itself is surely a huge improvement over the last six years? Progress! Slow, halting progress, frequently obstructed by my own stupidity, but progress nonetheless. 

Kath asked what was on my wish list. As you all know I am an ascetic and a holy hermit and have no material desires and my gaze is turned solely towards spiritual fulfilment and self-sacrifice BUT, if I were obliged to conjure up a few trifles: 

Supersoak, obviously

Some really amazing brogues - Church's or Grenson or similar

Replacement for broken Rob Ryan mug (not the American football player)

Pretty much anything my friend Nathalie makes. 

A box of Sadaharu Aoki petits fours.

A piece of alarming taxidermy. 

I am not even asking for a horse this year. I think that's maturity, right there. Even though this woman has her own SLOTH and she is only 29 and she also has a kangaroo and several sugar gliders. I am so reasonable. 

If your Tuesday is trying and several of my friends have had a very trying Tuesday indeed, this, about Phnom Penh's last working elephant retiring, is really lovely. I presume, because you are all internet types, you have all already seen Arthur the Endurance Race dog, and tears have leaked from your eyes as they leaked from mine.  

I am going to stop now so I have time to wash my "hair" before I turn 40, because standards. Maybe I will even remember to cut this one enormous gnarled Father Jack style fingerclaw that escaped my recent pruning attempts too. Tell me about your birthdays. Do you like or hate them? Get over-excited and then slump, or pre-emptively dread and quite enjoy? Can you remember your worst (thirty was pretty much a fucker for me)?  


alphabet soup said...

All birthdays are a bonus for me these days, this has everything to do with being almost double your age young Waffle.

In case I miss the Big Day I can only wish all the usual goings-on in your day. Especially anything connected with superior patisseries and I'm sticking around to see what comes your way in the shape of alarming taxidermy.

Ms Soup

ganching said...

Happy birthday for tomorrow or today as it probably is already. It has been a real pleasure reading your posts every day and I continue to be awestruck at the quality of posts you produce every day and I speak as who knows how hard this is to do.

On my 21st birthday a stranger opened the door of my own flat and told me that I couldn't come in as there were too many people already at the party. I have some vague memory of a head and an oven but the details are fuzzy. Most of the many, many birthdays I have had since those distant days have been either slightly boring and non-eventful.

I have a feeling you will love your 40s. Have a fantastic day.

RH said...

Many happy returns! I don't comment often (mostly, I start comments, and two sentences in I realize I'm boring myself and skulk off.) But I've enjoyed the last 40-ish days of regular posts - thank you!

Alas, 40 was my birthday nadir (definitely better since!) But birthdays have never been a big thing for me, either way - I think many of them were spent doing problem sets while in school, and later, late work nights. Oy.

blackbird said...

I am wishing you the happiest of birthdays.
I've enjoyed these posts so much - truly.

Oh, and, I dislike my birthdays.

Dee said...

It's my birthday tomorrow, too, although because of international date lines and such, mine is the 27th. I am well into my late 40's now, and struck by a quandary- if I say I am younger than I am, then potentially I will look as if I have had a much rougher time of it than I actually have. But if I say I am older than I am, so that I get that gratifying 'oooh, but you look so young', I have to SAY I'm older, which sticks in my craw, so it does. But if I actually say how old I really am, then I am internally begging for compliments, which I may or may not get, and then I feel pathetic for wanting.

I am, as my mother used to say, surrounded by the devil and the deep blue sea.

I would like a Victoria sponge with jam and cream and strawberries for my birthday cake. And if I could have anything in the whole world I would like to not have to speak for an entire year. I think I am getting gift vouchers, and that's ok, too.

Hope you have a lovely day, Waffle dear. :-)

Anonymous said...

Just before you leave your thirties read this insane Cosmopolitan article about what you should have in your closet by age 30. No, it is not aboout actual clothes but includes tips as "... organize your t-shirts in a drawer in a filing system so every t-shirt is visible when you open the drawer."

Thank you for commenting on my previous comments about capybara parks, if I was not too shy and embarrassed I would be happy to be an internet friend.

Anonymous said...

Forgot the insane article link:http://www.cosmopolitan.com/home/news/a33597/things-you-should-have-in-your-closet-by-30/
Please consider write a corresponding one for facegoop!

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday, dear Waffle! Best wishes to you.
And thank you for all of the blogging you do.

Your writing is heartfelt and funny and charming,
You've moved us to tears, your candor's disarming.

Prog Rock, Tetanus Manor, Ponies, Capybara,
Uccle, Facegoop's search for the perfect mascara...

Scandinavian crime, Chinese lessons, Weepette!
Cake (of course) and that owl cam really was neat.

Thank you for all of the stories you've told,
Taking us on your journey as we ALL get old.

I know 40's a big one, but keep this in mind:
There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.

In conclusion, I hope you forgive all this prattle.
Kind regards from a reader out here in Seattle.

Ellie said...

Cheers to Lara Kratz from a fellow fan who grew up in Seattle! Sorry to have introduced you to Rob Ryan The American Football Coach-- I assume it was on some sort of pain-sharing principle, but I take it back.

I will be so sorry when this regular spate of posts comes to an end. On the other hand, I have heard that the forties are the start of the good times-- from people I revere and respect, even (also from people I scorn, but we leave them to one side). May your forties inaugurate what you've been waiting for, and please, even if comments get sparse, don't give up blogging, unless you find it very unpleasant. I often don't comment but every time I see in my reader that you've got a new one it's a delightful feeling. I save it for last, like dessert, and I am never disappointed. I read you because I just like who you are and how you write. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Shanners said...

I hope you have a superlative birthday! May I steal the birthday penumbra idea, please?! (I could keep THAT going for ages!!)

Also. Arthur! *weeps* Though the sheer loveliness of Mikael was heart-warming. People who like animals are good people.

Enjoy turning 40. Seriously, it's a lot of fun :)

cruella said...

Best of Waffles, I tend to cheat when it comes to birthday celebrations since I suffer from performance anxiety and do not really want to be the center of attention. I've so far met expectations half way by inviting people for cake and coffee in the afternoon church gathering style (30) and brunch with mimosas (40).

I celebrated 50 this summer on the island of Miyajima off Hiroshima coast. An absolutely bright and beautiful day spent a la randonnée up and down the mountains with numerous temples and then ending up on an empty beach where we hade a swim in the nude (even though of course I started thinking about the fact that nobody else was there and how that could have to do with radiation and in that case, why no signs? Yeah, I know.) and then we walked back to the village for tea in a delightful half-hidden place where they also sold vintage kimonos and I bought one.

Having a party next weekend, all jumped up for that but of course also wildly anxious. How bad can it be, eh?

You have a good one!

Sally said...

Happy Birthday Waffly Belgian person!! May your birthday be filled with sloths, cashmere blankets, breakfast in bed and huge cups of tea. Picture of fat pony on it's way. Keep writing - you REALLY make me laugh up here in windy, cold Northumberland.

Xtreme English said...

Happy Birthday!! Doing this 40 days of blogging-without-a-break was such a wonderful idea. Hope you get something truly fabulous for your big day. Can't wait to see the cake? (whatever was baking....) Thank you for all the opened windows into your most excruciating, entertaining world.

BTW, 30 was my hardest birthday, too. UGH. THE END of my youth. Not the end of life, though. That manages to go on and bring surprises as it goes. You'll see....Cheers!!

Anonymous said...

A Huge Happy Birthday, dear Waffle! I tend to dread and hate birthdays until the day and then I secretly enjoy the attention, presents and all the heart-felt hugs and kisses. You reaching 40 a month before me is perfect - I get to see how it should be done and the fear of the unknown is extinguished ;o). Cakes, extortionately priced cashmere and crack-den-esque supersoak sound perfectly reasonable expectations! Here’s to you today, Waffle - thank you so much for your 40ish daily posts and for your blog - genius, honest and always affecting. Have fun today!
Ash :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
Having turned the feared 40 corner this summer on a windswept scrap of land way up in the North Atlantic and lived to tell the tale (in my case, more of the same old story as 39, except with a bit more existential angst thrown in), I'd like to wish you a really brilliant 40th birthday.

May lots of good things make their way to your corner of the universe and may your 40-days be better than your 39-days and so on and so forth forever.

I posted a rambling update about the delinquent accountant story about a week ago, but I think it got lost in the ether as sometimes happens when posting from "my eye"phone. In any case, the lady who supposedly called me out of the blue in the capacity of a newly-hired Quality Control Manager at the accountant's office to enquire why I was no longer a customer (and then gave me every assurance that she would look into the matter and be sure it was righted without delay and that I received an immediate refund for six months of services not provided) must have been a hoax or an outright cynic, because she has not been in touch again. There is also the slight possibility that she might have been a figment of my overactive imagination as I was frantically racing to meet a deadline that morning, but I'm more inclined to think she failed to notice the black dot beside my name or that it is just another indication of said office's incompetence, as they don't even brief their new staff on their monumental fuck-ups. Another fine from the tax people arrived this week. I have paid them all dutifully and failed to sue the accountant to get that money back so that probably makes me a complete fool rather than a partial one. My aversion to conflict knows no bounds, it seems.
In any case, although you say you like to hear about bad accountants, I'll stop there and go back to wishing you a Happy Birthday.
Your almost 40 posts have been wonderful.

Little one said...

Happy Birthday Waffle! I am one of those lurker types that rarely comments on things, but I think your writing is just brill - comforting, warming like a cup of tea beside an aga, moving at times, very funny at others in a brill dry british way, and honest. I have loved the daily updates and will be v.sad once they are no more. Wishing you a birthday full of excellent pastries, lovingly made cakes, cashmere, and sturdy shetland ponies.

Anonymous said...

Birthday breakfast and cake are amazing, your boys are lovely! :)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to you! I hope it is lovely and not disappointing :)

Like all of your readers I have really enjoyed these posts, which I happened upon only last week as I have been home on maternity leave and rather busy with the bundle up until now.

My birthdays generally dawn with an air of excitement and quickly fizzle due to people not planning ahead and/or cards featuring fart jokes. The last birthday found me hugely pregnant just days from my due date. My husband got me an IOU for underwear which has yet to materialize, and the driest carrot cake I have ever had. One brother texted me, the other forgot it altogether. Mom got around to me a few days later, which sort of didn't count by then. Boo!

All my best, Candace in Reno, NV

Flora Fauna Dinner said...

'the reason I blog less is because I am not bored out of my skull doing law all day every day and desperate for distraction and that in and of itself is surely a huge improvement' < this! Yes! (Although never law for me, obvs, but other tedium.)

I gave birth on my 21st birthday, meaning I have spent the past 18 organising children's parties. Well, the past 12. After that my house would just fill up with teenagers. This year I was told to vacate my own property as hiding in my bedroom was no longer sufficient. Sod all that next year though, BECAUSE FORTY!

Happy birthday! x x x x x

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Waffle! Hope you're having a lovely day. This is brief because the Internet ate my last attempt & I've just escaped from under the babies. Grosses bises (though that always sounds somehow a bit grubby to my English ears), Amy

MargotLeadbetter said...

Happy Birthday! You share your birthday penumbra with my son, whose celebrations started with a Sport & Splash party on Sunday and are continuing towards a crescendo on Saturday (his actual 8th birthday), with one present per day being opened until then (because I am weak). Gifts have included zombie hand creation kit, bouncing putty, slime lab, fizzy explosions set, and numerous cans of silly string. Quality all the way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these daily posts - they are a delight. Hoping your birthday has been filled with all you would wish.

Anonymous said...

Happy happy birthday, Waffle! I hope you are in the midst of having yourself a time. Thank you so much for these posts - they've taught me loads: birthday penumbras, and Serge Lutens, and reading nests, and much more. Also, "cannot be arsed to do sth" is such a useful phrase.
Have a wonderful year!
XX, Annette

LS said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMMA! You are a beautiful & generous soul to be celebrating your birthday by giving all your readers 40 presents. Wishing you a wonderful day and many more of your new chapter xxx

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday to you, and a year full of delightful surprises. It's a commentary on the state of the world that I thought the price for those divine cashmere blankets was quite reasonable in spite of the fact that they are completely and utterly our of the range of anything I might consider buying. Middle class sliding into the abyss, I suppose. Still, thanks for the aspiration.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday! You are my favourite on the internet and I've read most of it. Xx

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday dear Waffle!
When 40 loomed up for me, I and my two friends realised we were all born in the same year (an important fact that had evaded us until then).
Based on the theory of safety in numbers, and the fact that we have many other friends in common, we decided to have a big group party! It was a bit of work, but a lot of fun. We hired a hall, decorated in red, white & blue (the colours of all the flags that mattered in our various heritages), invited everyone we could think of, had a DJ to play our favourite music (mostly 60s, 70s, 80s), cut and ate three cakes and drank enough wine and danced enough to ignore the raging cold storm outside.
We needed another decade to recover before doing it all again at 50!
I'm glad you've enjoyed your own birthday with a bit of help from all your friends too.
Heather (NZ)

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