Happy Birthday To Me, By The Way

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.


  1. your blog came up as i did a google on ‘the observatory’ for some obscure reason. nonetheless, good job you’ve done on the blog, great writing too!

  2. Are you in England?

    I’m sorry I didn’t manage to send a card, or even text [appalling, I know]. I’m afraid I’ve been ridiculously self-absorbed this weekend.

    Will make it up to you with Grand gesture next year.

  3. heyhey… sorry i din know when ur bdae was :P oops. but hey, you’re not alone when it comes to birthday blues… i used to get it too (and i had a couple of failed bdae parties to compound it as well; “failed” coz pple simply didn’t turn up on the day itself) but eventually i realised the problem was my expectations. having read countless books where The Birthday is a *ping!* Special Event, i naturally expected everyone to make a fuss about it “if they truly cared”… guess i’ve learned better now, not to the extent of ignoring the significance of the day (hey! a beautiful, unique, fun, intellectual individual was brought into the world on that day! and that is *drumroll* YOU!! *grin*) but toning down the *BIG BANG* factor of it… quiet celebrations with family and close friends, not being shy of initiating and organising parties, outings, etc. doing something to make urself happy. (doing lots of things to make urself happy! :P if u visit my blog there’s a “list of ways to be happy” buried somewhere…)

    aniwei i guess wat i wanted to say was *patpat* and *hug*. hee. ignore the flood of words if it makes u feel worse. k? :)

    *p.s. had a moment of deja vu!! oooooh.

  4. Happy birthday!! I hope this makes you feel better. :p Although I already did that in the last message. But! If it makes you feel better, happy birthday again! (And I genuinely mean it) I kinda generally get those blues (abit) as well, but it kinda helps that my family never actually remembers my birthday, which means that some years I actually forget about it as well. ;p Haha, in which case, if say you were turning up on Sat, I promise to shower you with a small gift in appreciation of your birthday. ;p

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