Another Year Older

One day shortly before Christmas I got in the elevator at my job and in that weirdly lit mirrored space, I noticed something unusual sprouting out of the front of my hairline. I looked at myself closely in one of the mirrored walls. ‘Is that…a grey hair…?’ It was kind of hard to tell. After years of dying my hair different shades of copper, I’d dyed it brown in the fall with the aim letting my light brown/dark blonde hair grow in and not dying it anymore (or at the very least, not for a very long time). But my natural shade is cool toned and I had mistaken strands of my roots for grey in the past, so I wasn’t sure if this was an early morning hallucination or the real deal. I didn’t dwell on it too much.

But one morning a few weeks later when I stood back up after leaning over the sink to wash my face the bathroom light hit my hair a certain way and there was no mistaking it — I had a grey hair. I often hear my coworkers complaining about their grey hairs, but I felt an odd little spark of excitement. It felt like a weird validation and proof of the struggles I’ve experienced.

Plus, I was kind of hoping to develop a cool grey streak like Claire Saffitz from Bon Appetit! (If her streak is somehow not real, please do not burst my bubble, lol.)

My single grey hair showed up at quite a timely point as well, just before my 28th birthday at the end of January. Some people might feel quite bad about getting close to 30 and in some senses I do, but mainly just because I don’t feel like I’m as far along in my so-called adult life as I think I should be. (For instance, if this is your first time here, I still live with my mom.) As far as the actual process of my body aging, who gives a damn?

This year my birthday lasted for basically a whole week! The party was kicked off the Sunday before with a little gathering with my friends. We had pizza and cake and watched the bluray I bought a while ago of the Takarazuka Revue’s most recent production of the musical Elisabeth, which is based on the life of an Austrian empress popularly known as Sisi. It’s in Japanese with no English subtitles, but I know Sisi’s real life history and found translations of the songs so I was able to explain what was happening as we went along. It honestly felt like the most selfish, self indulgent thing I had ever asked from my friends (“for my birthday I want you to listen to me talk about history and this weird musical for 2.5 hours”). But my friends said they enjoyed it so that made me feel better! I wish I could post a clip, but Takarazuka have mysteriously taken all the promo clips for it down from their YouTube channel unfortunately. 

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Friendly’s grocery store ice cream cake is required birthday food, even in the dead of winter, true story!

My family’s tradition is to stick three candles in birthday cakes, so I was surprised when my friend put in eight (because I’m 28). The HAP on the cake is partly a “the cake was too small to write much” joke and also an inside joke based on our school district’s name for its Gifted and Talented program, which most of us were in back in the day. (Aka: most of us have some kind of self-esteem issue because of it, lol.)

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My cubicle is right next to this little snack area. Please do not ask how many doughnuts I ate on this day.

My birthday continued into my work week. My office has six people born in January so the other secretaries decided to combine mine with someone born the previous week — they set it on Monday to kind of split the difference between me and the other birthday person. Whenever it’s someone’s birthday people bring in snacks to share, and we had a pretty nice spread! It’s Valentine’s season, so the the doughnuts were heart shaped, which I thought was really cute!

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My office is a fan of Bavarian creme doughnuts if you can’t tell from the fact that four are in this box (and I think there were even more before I snapped this).

My coworkers jokingly wished me happy birthday until my actual birthday rolled around on Thursday. And our newest secretary gave me a little gift!  No one’s ever given me a gift for my birthday at work before. She only started at the beginning of January and we really don’t know each other well yet, so this little angel coin was a sweet surprise. I’m not really religious, but I can appreciate the vibe of something like this.

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Thursday was my actual birthday. Often in the past my family winds up having pizza or something at home on the person’s actual birthday and then all the same people go out to dinner on Friday evening. But this year I told my mom I didn’t want that. I said that we only needed to celebrate my birthday once, because it would be back to back and also because it just makes me feel a little weird to be the center of prolonged attention. Maybe it’s a middle child thing? So anyway, I didn’t expect much of anything on my actual birthday, but my mom made macaroni and cheese and a cherry crumble and it was very nice.

Also on my birthday my goods from inki-drop’s Starwhal Kickstarter unexpectedly arrived! It was kind of like a gift from the universe. Everything is very cute, and the soft things (Mama Starwhal and the pouch) are exceptionally soft! I’ve already incorporated the pins into my pin frames!

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This is a pouch that a whole PS Vita can fit inside!

So then on Friday, to wrap up my birthday week, we went out to our favorite local Italian restaurant. My aunt stopped by our house beforehand and lemme tell ya, she is the queen of birthday cards. She always finds the loudest, most hilarious ones. 

She also gives scratchcards to everyone on their birthdays and on my birthday last year I became the family record holder, winning $40. This year all I got was a new ticket.

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I have a funny story from dinner that I already shared on my Twitter, but I want to immortalize it here as well. The restaurant was having two parties that night, so they put us in this upstairs room that allows them to do regular dinner service for people when they’re also having multiple parties. We had just ordered and were chatting when suddenly from downstairs came the sound of bagpipes! It only lasted about a minute and stopped as abruptly as it had started. My family naturally burst into laughter and started joking about how they should have the piper come up and play me happy birthday! We asked our waitress what was happening and it turned out it was a police officer’s retirement party. Regardless, it’s a birthday memory that I’m unlikely to forget, lol!

I was lucky to receive some neat gifts from my friends and family (tabletop games! a Dragon Age lore book! a cute reusable shopping bag, Pusheen magnets, and a book about pins! and more!). I’d like to close this post off by sharing a just one gift photo — I present to you, a ceramic Harry Potter goblet!

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One might jokingly refer to this as a pimp cup, lol. This was a find of my aunt’s. I could probably use it for drinking, but I’m too afraid to break it. The dragon makes displaying anything inside of it kind of awkward. I tried to put a small Ron plush I have inside and it just didn’t work. But in the alternate universe where I make enough money to move out on my own, I think this could be good for placing next to the door so I can put my keys in it! For now, I’m displaying it on top of my dresser.

And that’s all I have to say about my birthday week!

I hope you’re all doing well. I’ll be back with another post soon!

27

Somehow it never really feels like the year has actually started until my birthday comes around at the end of January. And I mean the very end – I was born 1/31/1991, which sort of rolls off the tongue in a fun way. Just for kicks, here’s my birth announcement — I randomly found it in my house years ago and took it for myself, lol.

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I’m still feeling residual anxiety and hopelessness from 2017, but I’ve already talked at length about that so I won’t rehash it. You can, however, read about it here, if you’re feeling so inclined.

So after putting aside the notion of writing more about how shitty 26 was, I was trying to think of a direction for talking about starting 27. And then somehow my brain looked back 10 years to Krys-at-17. What was she up to? How does her life compare to mine now?

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Age 17. Driving a Duck on my first ever visit to Boston (an overnight trip with the school band).

The answer is, as much as I didn’t hate high school, I definitely wouldn’t want to relive my junior year. For instance, Junior Krys had a boyfriend who didn’t respect her boundaries and neither the voice to convince him to stop nor the confidence to just leave him. She spent a lot of time worrying about getting top grades in her full slate of high level classes, while her mother told her, “as long as you pass it doesn’t matter.” Driving gave her extreme anxiety so she didn’t get her license when she turned 17 and as a result didn’t have much of a social life outside of school.

When I think back to that school year I don’t remember being a constantly unhappy little cloud moping about (for instance, I did get to go on the cool overnight school trip pictured above), but I do vaguely remember writing on my Xanga blog about taking a mental health day. How many 17 year olds in 2008 even knew what a mental health day was?

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Actual picture taken with my webcam on my 22nd birthday. Was trying to show my whole outfit without cutting off my head, and somehow thought this pose was okay, lol.

And then I thought back just five years, to Krys-at-22. It was the start of 2013. She’d graduated from college just before Christmas, was beginning her search for her first adult job, and was nervous, but cautiously optimistic about what life would be like going forward.

2013 turned out to be one of the worst years of my entire fucking life. I was plagued by multiple forms of rejection, plunged into a very deep depression, and spent most of the year unemployed. It was only in September when I got part time work helping kids not so different from Krys-at-17 prepare for the SATs that I started to feel alright again. So, no, I would not want to go back five years’ time either.

So while, yes, I’m not starting out 27 with things in my life exactly the way I’d like them to be, I’m glad for the life experience I’ve gained. I’ve managed to survive all of the garbage of my life so far (including things I haven’t covered in blog form yet, obviously), and while I’m probably not the absolute strongest person I know, I’m not a weakling anymore either.

If someone isn’t treating me well and I’m in a position to get them out of my life (ie: not at my job), I do it (although usually silently, because I’m still usually not strong enough to tell people off). I’ve been shown multiple times that a lot of times I can get by in life with minimum effort, and that I don’t have to worry about being perfect so much. When rejection of any kind happens (by jobs, men, etc.) it’s because it wasn’t meant to be in the first place (although that doesn’t mean it doesn’t always sting a little). Driving is one of my absolute favorite things.

And if life is disappointing me now, that just means I’ve got better things ahead, right? (Hopefully?) (Soon?) (Please?)

Anyway, wherever you are, Reader, I hope you’re having the best week you can! Hang in there. ❤

–Krys