Dinner tonight at Shana‘s, pasta with pesto and a packet of summery vegetables from her winter Locavorious share. I had good intentions of roasting squash to bring for a salad, but time got away from me after work, and instead I brought my favorite beet salad from Plum Market, a package of spinach, and some leftover herbed goat cheese. It was such a treat to have zucchini and summer squash – and to share a meal with friends as we planned for the croquembouche.
Sometime over the holidays Olivia mentioned that she wanted to try the croquembouche, Shana expressed interest, and I offered up the occasion – my 30th birthday. Many emails have flown back and forth this week as we discussed recipes, divided up ingredients and equipment, and planned a small brunch to go with this confectionery masterpiece. Tonight we cracked eggs, whipped the pastry cream, piped small circles of pâte à choux – and drank wine and talked about food and life. I’ve missed evenings like this, and I hope that there will be many more to come as I enter my 30s.
Tomorrow is my 30th birthday, and as one is wont to do on the eve of milestone dates, I’ve been thinking a lot the past. I imagine that most people make a lot of stupid mistakes in their 20s. There’s a lot of fumbling around, and perhaps a quarterlife crisis or two, though I really hate that term. My 20s were no different, which is one reason I have no problem with the new digit at the front of my age. Many of my friends have already turned 30 and seem no less awesome than when they were in their 20s, and I see no reason why this won’t be the case for me!
Ten years ago I was living with my boyfriend and a roommate with whom I had a long and complicated relationship. I was about to leave for London, where I would, in short order, meet my favorite band, hang out with them in Amsterdam, fall in love with Spain, meet my favorite author, spend hundreds of dollars on film processing and phone cards, help my friend avoid ordering 3 #3 meals at McDonald’s in Paris, and dig deep into England’s history with the most charismatic teacher I’ve ever had. I was young, very insecure, and not at all sure what I wanted to do with my life. I remember coming back from London and writing in my journal that a huge adventure had just ended, and I didn’t know if I’d ever experience anything like that again.
In the intervening ten years, I have:
- graduated from college (English), then after a few years completed two graduate degrees (both in LIS).
- got married, divorced within a year and a half, fell in love, had my heart broken, suffered through various crushes and flirtations, decided to be single for a while, met someone pretty amazing, and am now engaged to be married (details forthcoming).
- worked as: bookseller, customer service representative (banking), online support specialist for an internet banking service, commercial teller, barista, accounts representative (healthcare), graduate assistant (instructional technology; WISE project), practical (gyne) instructor, visiting computer assisted instruction specialist, reference/technology librarian (academic library), part-time reference librarian (law library), service star (mail order food company), and digital services assistant (business library).
- gained and lost some weight, ultimately ending up about 20 pounds lighter thanks to running, biking, lifting, yoga, swimming, and discovering how much I really like walking instead of driving when I can. (related: broke my arm, but it’s long better now)
- bought a house, lost a house, moved 11 times, and lived in 3 states: Illinois, Virginia, and Michigan.
- had 5 cats and 1 rabbit.
- went through fits of crafting, accumulating a lot of supplies and a lot of crafty friends along the way.
- traveled all over the country and back to Spain and France, including walking a portion of the Camino Portugues.
- experienced a crisis of faith and a gradual rediscovery (or re-exploration) of what I believe. Also went through periods of deep depression, on and off medication, and had to get serious about my mental and emotional health in order to move forward.
- really fell in love with cooking and dramatically expanded my palate and skill set, culminating in a breakfast for 104 this fall at SELMA. Also became deeply committed to local food, supporting farmers’ markets, and making my own attempts at growing and preserving food for my family.
- listened to hundreds of hours of music, danced my ass off at dozens of concerts and festivals. Also read hundreds of books and untold millions of webpages. Also wrote a novel thanks to NaNoWriMo!
- met so many amazing people that I can’t even begin to name them all. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them.
Tomorrow I’ll celebrate #30 with Shane and new friends and a giant croquembouche that I’ll be building tonight with two friends. I’ll hopefully sleep in and cuddle some cats. Maybe I’ll go for a run. I have no idea what the next few years will bring, but looking back on where I’ve been over the last ten years, I’m confident that there will be many more adventures, heartaches, changes, and surprises to come!
I wouldn’t mind finding any of the following under my birthday tree:
- noise-canceling headphones, as my new office has several loud people who like to be loud
- a soft and warm robe for first thing in the morning when it is very cold in our house
- legwarmers that will fit my lower thighs, knees, and upper calves so that I can keep wearing skirts to work
- yaktrax for safe winter walking
- a rollerskating party with friendos
- a postcard or letter from you!
Today is my brother’s 27th birthday. Happy birthday, Mark!
This evening we attended an alumni dinner at Chef Geoff’s – really excellent food (though we both feel gross from eating too much) and a nice opportunity to meet other alums and students in the area. The evening left me terribly homesick for Champaign and my job at GSLIS.
Tomorrow the temperature’s supposed to drop and then hang out in the 70s for the rest of the week. I can’t wait.
Today is my mom’s 56th birthday. When I called to wish her a happy day, she was out to dinner with my brothers for “meltdown Monday” at the Market, which I suddenly miss a great deal. I saw Mom in Chicago in May, but haven’t seen my brother and sister since Christmas, or my dad and my other brother since March. It’s been five years since I left Rockford, and Champaign has felt like my heart’s home for almost that long, but there are still times when I’m homesick – this is one of those.
11 1/2 years ago, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer – I remember finding out between school and work, and sobbing with family friends before I went to my job at Lands’ End. I’m so thankful that she’s been in remission all this time, that there’s been no threat of recurrence. I feel so fortunate to have both of my parents in good health – and my maternal grandparents still hanging on as they enter their 90s. Grandma’s always told me to take care of myself because I’ll be stuck with this body for almost a century. Kind of amazing if you think about it.
I walked to the Metro this morning since I wasn’t in any hurry to get in – it’s not a bad walk, especially not on a beautiful morning. While commuting certainly isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world, taking the train has been relaxing this last week – being able to sit back, listen to my radio podcasts, and watch the city slip away.
Happy birthday to my very handsome dad who turns 55 today.
Happy birthday, Birthday Bee!
Happy birthday, Jenny!
Also, belated birthday wishes to Erin, Richard, and Mark!
Happy birthday, Erin! You are greatly missed in C-U.