(**Birthday Post delivered three days after the fact due to alcohol and orgasm-induced hangovers and general sense of lethargy. I’m old now so I can say whatever I want.**)
So last Thursday, which incidentally marked 25 years of my terrestrial existence, I had to work. Whatever. I was born in July, which means since the age of six, when all my friends got shipped away to summer camp and were not around for My Special Day, I stopped caring about birthdays and the subsequent parties. I’m more of a Christmas person anyway.
However, on the afternoon of July 28th, a mere few hours into my 25th year of life, as I sat in the bus from the slums of Tacubaya to the towering opaque glass orgy known as Santa Fe crying hysterically onto my semi-professional outfit, I came to the conclusion that I may have been slightly dishonest with myself. It’s bad enough to have to work on your birthday. It’s even worse when the job in question doesn’t have alcohol available at all times to assuage the pain, and you have to go teach English in a freezing cold bank. I took solace in the fact that my job involves the teaching of adults, and thus I’m way younger than 96% of my students, and my English is, generally, far superior. Also helping to comfort me was the presence of the BF (love you!) and that of the titanic Centro Commercial de Santa Fe (love you too!).
The point being, I’m 25 years old! I can rent a car without getting overcharged! Accompanying this, of course, is the general assumption that at 25 you become super mature and thus an excellent driver, incapable of making stupid decisions and being childish. WHAT THE FUCK. I know that all of you third generation readers are getting huffy right about now: 25!? Those are the glory days, the halcyon years of stupidity and brilliance and exploration! The times before feet turn into bloody blistering bunions and your vag scrapes on the ground when you walk.
It’s human nature to suffer from feelings of inadequacy, regardless of how accomplished you are or how comparatively interesting your life may be. I would wager many a peso that when Nabokov turned 25 he was sucking down vodka bemoaning his stupidity; Amelia Earhart her lack of ambition.
So in an effort to conquer these thoughts and slay the demons of uncertainty and failure that are nibbling my ears and threatening to kill me slowly, I have compiled a Greatest Hits, so to speak, of the last 25 years so that the next 25 can commence with sentiments of hope and a backbone of confidence.
Age 0: Emergence from the womb. 9:18 am, July 28th, 1986. Lenox Hill Hospital on 77th and Lex.
Age 0.8: Speech. Spoke before walking. Continues to this day. Even when I’m too intoxicated to mobilize myself, I can’t shut the fuck up.
Age 1: Hung out a lot in the Village (accompanied, of course), mostly in parks and stuff.
Age 2: Deported to NYC suburbs. Second monst traumatic moment in life (first one was seeing a naked alcoholic asleep spread-eagle in the jungle of Palenque). I’ve blocked all the details.
Age 4: Learned to read. Also, got stung by a bee for the first and only time.
Age 5: Kindergarten. I recall a baby duck urinating on a student.
Age 6: Someone fell in the recycling bin and the teacher said: “We do not laugh when others get hurt.” This was obviously not taken to heart, as it’s been the thesis of my life ever since.
Age 7: Memories of rubbing cheese in dirt with a friend, and dropping it on the floor next to an unfortunate student with a propensity for consuming found comestibles, a pioneer in the dumpster diving movement but a slob in my book.
Age 8: Got sent to circus camp and learned to juggle and ride a unicycle.
Age 9: Started playing the flute. (Hand mouth coordination, as mentioned in previous blog). Also, was pretty good at horseback riding by this point.
Age 10: Middle school. Threw up during standardized testing and a song was composed about it. Also composed a song about my dire hatred for a fellow student and was taken to the principal’s office and lectured about cruelty, though I think my parody was rather brilliant.
Age 11: Got period; boobs started growing. First kiss transpired while on vacation; subject was someone I barely knew, thus setting precedent for majority of late teens and early twenties.
Age 12: Boobs stopped growing and never started back again.
Age 13: Heyday of unicycling and juggling skills. (On an aside, I was in the metro going to Polanco last Wednesday and I heard the Plate Spinning music, and then, in an astonishing though not unexpected incidence of simultaneaty, heard the X Files theme song in Centro Medico that same afternoon.)
Age 14: High school. Cigarettes. Vodka in the bedroom. I recall throwing up for the first time in my room at three in the morning; I chose the unfortunate spot of behind the radiator. I swear you can still smell the faint odor of vomit in the wintertime up there.
Age 15: Watched “Igby Goes Down” 834 times. General malaise and hatred of most fellow students. Didn’t yet realize innate superiority. Wrote bitter articles, first American Idol. Was generally surly and rude in classes, especially to young female teachers with no backbone or sense of style. Believe this is why my current students tell me I am extremely strict. Also why I buy nice, overpriced clothes to wear to work.
Age 16: Learned to drive. Was forced to take driver’s test in the Bronx. Best day of my life. Tons of coffee at Slave to the Grind ensued. Various mix tapes on repeat. Tons of ranting. Brilliant.
Age 17: Smoked pot for the first time during lunch right before gym class. Whoever says you don’t get high the first time is an idiot. The six-minute run took a year and a half that day. Went to France. Decided to go to Hunter College.
Age 18: Started college. Ingested a disturbing quantity of cocaine and ecstasy, and drank a few beers. Had to voluntarily withdraw self from program under duress from administration. Had a boyfriend, and episode which unfortunately continued for way too many months. Went to Barcelona.
Age 19: Brooklyn. Worked at the 5th Avenue Abercrombie and Fitch. Talk about desperation.
Age 20: Broke up with BF, went to Paris. Magical, made fabulous friends. Traveled in Europe and did many shameless things involving lack of condoms and excess of liquor (and hash, in some instances). Magically still have liver and do not have five year old child. Christmas in Amsterdam, mushrooms, gay porn, and thirty cigarettes in as many minutes stand out. Madrid. Brussels. Mont St. Michel. London, Cote D’Azur, Cassis, Loire Valley, Barcelona, Valencia. Paris. Had a boyfriend, nicer than the other one, though not wholly adequate.
Age 21: Brooklyn, again, and legally allowed to drink in my own country. Believe that drug use among teenagers would diminish severely were the drinking age lowered, as it’s easier to get an eight ball than a forty anywhere in the city. A&F again, stockroom this time around, as seeing Europeans on a daily basis depressed me. Moved back to the suburbs and commuted to save dough to move back to Paris, got broken up with in an email. London, and the month that resulted in our teacher using our actions to clarify the meaning of debauchery to an honors class. Graduated college. Started working as a waitress in hometown.
Age 22: Accepted and then rejected by Peace Corps for lack of medical history. Three month US tour, Miami, Cali, Texas, Tijuana, back to NY, Paris, Morocco, Aix en Provence, New York for Christmas and rang in the New Year in a white tuxedo serving cocktails in a Cipriani’s off Gramercy Park. Many martinis in my bedroom. Lot of double shifts. Took Arabic and writing classes, a la Buster Bluth. Many drugs ingested, many sleepless weeks. Europe: Spain, Holland, France. Hours upon hours in restaurant.
Age 23: Miami, Costa Rica, a blended cacophony of crashing plates and smoke and sweat and screams. Not all bad. Grad school for a semester at City College, MFA in Creative Writing. Lived in Washington Heights.
Age 24: Rang in birthday with an endless celebration with beer and bachata and confused hours and dance moves. Mexico. Puebla, specifically, but DF, Oaxaca, Morelos, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, and Chiapas as well. Lotta love of the super important variety. CELTA. Mexico City.
I remember being in Barcelona in 2007. I had been getting wasted on a street corner in Barceloneta with an Iraq veteran from Oklahoma and a couple of other people, and after too much booze and too little self-control, I ended up nude in the Mediterranean, cheating on my boyfriend at the time, ultimately losing a bathing suit top he’d bought for me and spending the entire next day running from Las Ramblas to Paseo de Gracia to every H&M looking for another. I ultimately said the cleaning lady took it, as though a hostel with 24 beds in one room has a fucking cleaning lady. My point being, even the most exciting and enjoyable places are rendered nothing more than a crossed point of latitude and longitude if you’re not being honest and exerting yourself in the best possible way. A New York City covered in cocaine is as valuable as a hick town in Arkansas, and a shitty NYC suburb is a heaven on earth if you get to work for almost three years with your best friends. So yeah, I’ve been around, both physically and metaphorically. And luckily I’ve got some kick-ass friends and family, and a fabulous boyfriend. I’ve written and talked a lot of shit for the last quarter of a century; I guess now I’ve got to put it all together.
So here’s to not having any more nervous breakdowns until I’m 30. To New York, and Mexico, and being magical.