There’s a great line in David Sedaris’s Barrel Fever – “If you’re looking for sympathy you can find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.” I’m not looking for sympathy; at least, not here. It’s just that I seem to be going through an odd mental blogging block, which I think will only clear once I’ve written something down about the strange phenomenon that afflicts me every year on March 17 and its surrounding days. Snarks will point out that such writing need only reside on my hard drive, but what would be the fun in that?
This week basically reeked of desperation. Moot research and team meetings were used as a smokescreen to justify why I wasn’t spending any time celebrating. Social outings were eagerly pursued to avoid the loneliness of sitting at home alone the weekend of my birthday, even though none of them actually involved any celebration of it at all. A pair of Levi’s 593s were purchased as a birthday present to myself, because there weren’t any others to be had. (In my family’s defence, a digital camera is planned. I just haven’t had time to choose one yet.)
If this is looking like I have a major hangup about birthdays, it’s because I do. For 364 days of the year I’m one of the most well-adjusted people I know. For this one, I probably confound even the people I normally play shrink to. So if you’re thinking less of me while reading this, rest assured that you’re not alone.
Having said all this, I must clarify that I haven’t been completely submerged in the mulch of self-pity. Every year, there are always some people who manage to haul me out of it. Pei Ee dropped by on Monday with flowers and a big heart-shaped cookie. My moot teammates continue to be some of the very few reasons I will not dismiss this year in NUS as a complete waste of time. John remembered, as he always does (and I never do). Russ listened to over two hours of whining about a situation he had nothing to do with, and totally made my day by saying he thought I had a great ass for those low-slung Levi’s jeans. (This last one doesn’t really make sense without further explanation, but let’s just say it’s about what I needed to hear, and when I needed to hear it.) Other friends, who know who they are, called/emailed/textmessaged, all of which were appreciated by me far more than they know.
I’ll be the first person to admit that I am far from a shining example when it comes to remembering people’s birthdays, due to my general disorganization. I have no real defence, except to say that I beat myself up about it severely and try to make it up to them in other ways, and I completely understand why people would feel disappointed in me for forgetting. So it would be hypocritical to gripe about disappointed expectations here, although it would be a lie to say they didn’t feature in my recent low spirits. (In case anyone’s wondering, the expectations I’m talking about here aren’t even particularly high, given that they’re mostly held in relation to close friends, especially if they already know about this birthday hang-up. Actually remembering is the basic one. Bothering to communicate this to me in a way that suggests you give a shit is the next. Not acting like a jerk to me when you already know I’m not feeling on top of the world is the third.)
I know the problem I write about here is entirely my own. I know the solution to it must be entirely my own. Part of it is to stop forgetting people’s birthdays myself, so that I can at least say I’m practising what I preach. But for the rest of it, the only way I can think of is to stop giving a shit about the day I was born, so it won’t bother me when no one else does, even those close to me. And you know what? I don’t see myself as a particularly self-absorbed or selfish person, but I find that conclusion pretty fucking depressing.