So my birthday was exhausting, but there was cake.
It was ice-cream cake, and it was really good. Oh my goodness, that was some good cake. The only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been more cake and less ice cream. It had two heavy layers of ice cream, vanilla and chocolate, with a thin layer of cake between them. But it’s a slight complaint.
We started the day by going to the zoo, which was a bit of a letdown. They’ve closed off most of the special areas, like where you mingle with the macaws, and the petting zoo, and the indoor penguin play area, and so forth. It was disappointing as I really like the petting zoo and the birds. It felt like we were having a half-baked zoo visit. To compensate, the zoo was decorated with huge, life-sized lanterns of animals. They were gorgeous. About halfway through the zoo I saw a sign saying not to touch them, and I was like, “Oops. I’ve been bad.”
Then we went to the local crystal shop that’s right around the corner from here. I got this with some of my birthday money:
What could bring me more happiness than a glass rainbow star? Can you believe it only cost $24? It’s stunning, and by hanging it from my light I don’t have to put a candle or LED light inside it. (It has a holder.)
I’m completely in love with it. But the whole time we were at the shop my dad kept touching everything despite the signs saying not to touch anything. I was afraid we’d get yelled at. (I guess “no touching” was yesterday’s theme.)
Then I took a nap, and when I awoke we went out to dinner at a restaurant my dad wanted to show me. Bad idea. First off, his driving was terrifying me before we even got there. He was flying through highly congested areas like a madman with no concern for life nor limb. Then he veered his car into a bad part of town. That’s where the restaurant was.
Here’s the thing: it’s not a bad part of town in a crime sense. I don’t like it because it feels sort of… rundown, as if no one’s bothered to spruce it up. Atmosphere is a huge deal to me, and a bad atmosphere can trigger my paranoia. Not in a sense of like, “they’re out to get me,” but more in a sense of like, “I’ve been abducted by aliens.”
Whenever my environment is foreign to me (not enough color, not enough bling, not enough tidyness or pizzazz, unkempt, rundown, and/or otherwise unfamiliar in a bad way), I feel like I’ve been abducted by aliens. I don’t fear the “aliens”, but I’m trapped with a horrific sense of otherworldliness where it’s like I don’t–or I can’t–belong. I’d liken it to how a “normal” person might feel if they were taken aboard an alien craft and deposited into a snot chamber. It’s that feeling of total foreignness of place. That’s how I felt at the restaurant.
I had a job once right after I graduated from college. At the job, the white walls of the workplace were terrifying to me and made me feel as if I were abroad and suffering from extreme culture shock. I just wanted to go home. So once I got home, I quit the job after that first day. No one understood, and people yelled at me for quitting. (Not my parents. Their attitude was, “Oh well, that was the wrong job for you. Keep looking!” The people who yelled were the people at Bellarmine who helped me find the job in the first place.) And there was no way I had the vocabulary or understanding to explain it to anyone, so I wound up internalizing a huge sense of failure and an even huger sense of doom. How could I ever find a job that felt right?
That worked out when I became employed by the reading center. Anytime you’ve got a place that’s tailored to kids, there will be colorful decor. That was nice. But ultimately that job didn’t work out either. I swear, my employers from that job could see into my soul and they magically knew that I’m mentally ill. Or I just couldn’t hide it. I’m not sure what the case was, but they were always looking inside of me as though they hoped to find a more competent reading teacher in there. I had the sense that I wasn’t good enough for them. Granted, I think they made everyone feel that way. They had impossibly high standards for all of us.
Anyway, oh, right! Dinner. My dad introduced me to his friend, the man who’s the owner of the restaurant. He sized me up and said, “I’ve heard wonderful things about you. You look normal!”
My first thought was, oh, hell, no, he didn’t. But I just raised an eyebrow. Did my dad tell him I’m schizophrenic?
“I mean, considering how ugly your dad is, I expected you to be a dog!” he continued. “Your mother must be a beautiful woman.”
Ah. I see. Okay, I’m on board now. But I had no clue how to react because no one’s ever called me or my mother beautiful. We’re not an attractive family. My dad is rather ugly, too. He looks like a grizzled war veteran. I never stood a chance at being attractive. And if you could see how both of my parents have humongous ears… I was destined to inherit them.
Gee, Meg, which direction are you taking this blog post in?
My parents also both have short legs, so even though I’m 5’8″ tall, I wear petite-inseamed pants and have a super-tall torso. I’m no ballerina.
I tried to master some small talk, but I was shutting down. In retrospect, I think he may have been coming onto me. Seeing as no one’s ever called me beautiful before (even in an implied instance such as this), how was I to know?! Men never go for me. So I wasn’t positioned to reciprocate. I sort of regret that now.
The young woman who took our orders answered the phone before my dad could pay her. “Fish house,” she said. Several seconds passed. “FISH HOUSE!” she screeched. “HELLO!”
I shuddered and recoiled.
The owner showed us where to get drinks and cocktail sauce, and then my dad and I sat at a table. I shut down completely and became unable to talk. My eyes were open wide with fright. When our food came I had no ability to even make eye contact with the young woman (a different one) who brought it. Then I was also rendered unable to eat. My dad ate about half of his meal before he gave up on me and got us some carryout boxes. I slunk outside.
“He didn’t mean anything by it,” my dad explained in the parking lot. “He was making a joke.”
I got in the car and didn’t reply. My body felt frozen. But after we got home I told him that that wasn’t the problem. I’d understood the joke. I ate my food and found it to be good but a bit greasy. Then I ate more cake.
I felt sad and empty somehow, as if something was missing from my life. But what? What could be missing?
I decided to go upstairs and check my email. But before I could get there, I found a dead lizard on the landing. A rather mischievous kitty was peering at me from atop the stairs. Ah. At least there was no longer a sense of something missing from my life. The dead lizard made my life and my birthday complete. “Thanks, Mr. Kitty,” I mumbled as I tossed it into the trashcan. “You’re a nice little cat.”
“Yeah, you’re a fearsome predator,” I assured him as I climbed the stairs. “I’m impressed.”
So that was my birthday.
The canned food diet is still going great (and I’m back on it today after my birthday) except that I can’t quit sneaking into my dad’s room to pilfer his Oreos. How on earth can I get myself to quit doing this?! I’ve eaten nine Oreos so far today. So not healthy! But I’m not having any other issues with the diet.
I haven’t been to the gym yet today because I feel exhausted and hungover. My car’s back from the shop and my dad paid to have it repaired, which was nice. I’m glad to have my car back.
I’m sure that being 44 will be fun!