Here I am, twenty-nine.
I’ve not quite moved to “social distancing” proper yet—and I likely won’t for awhile. I’d say I’m still closer to something resembling self-isolating, but given I saw a friend today, outdoors, I’d not say I’m quite there still, either.

The pandemic birthday.
Michelle in Singapore and Elisheva in Israel sent birthday greetings before midnight. On Sunday, Guide Dog Murray came back to visit, so just after midnight I took him outside and we went to bed. I woke up to Murray sniffing my face, to more texts and Facebook posts and messages and tweets (and LinkedIn messages – I love y’all but that’s a weird function of LinkedIn?), and went back to sleep after taking the pup outside.

My aunt, Linda, gave me an ice cream maker last week – she could not wait any longer to give me my birthday present as she’s had it since like January. So I got up eventually, after cuddling with Murray on the bedroom floor (prepared nicely for him with foam puzzle mats, pillows and a blanket), and made ice cream.

Then I groomed Murray and brushed his teeth and made him all fancy puppy to see his Daddyface AKA Steve. 

The people who make it special
But first, lunch with my mom, grandma and other aunt, Karen.
We took Murray for his last visit of the visit (weird?), to have Subway and Jeanne Cake squares in my grandma’s back yard. I mean, Murray wasn’t having Subway or cake. The weather was perfect, though, and despite putting Murray on his long tie down he didn’t really go anywhere except briefly getting somewhat “stuck” (confused) under a picnic table, he didn’t really wander anywhere—as he tends to if he’s on a tie down.
We visited awhile, Murray got his goodbye pats, and then we went to take him home, with a detour to pick up Steve, wearing masks in the car, and going to the park for cupcakes (for Steve and I) and coffee (for my mom and Steve). Amusingly, I handed Murray’s leash back to Steve as we headed across the park, Steve using his cane, and as soon as we sat down he handed Murray’s leash back. Hello, isn’t this dog bored of Small Fry by now?

We ate cupcakes (second cake of the day), watched the geese (note: geese are terrifying), and saw the physical distancing enforcers wandering the park in their vests once. They didn’t talk to us as we sat on either end of a bench and on a lawn chair. Eventually, we put our masks back on and got in the car to take Steve and Murray home, thankful for the visit and having Murray over for 4.5 days to shift my focus from pandemic/work/Animal Crossing to a better set of Murray/work/Animal Crossing (and I think I played less Animal Crossing, honestly – in exchange for playing with actual doggo animal?)
It was one of the most “normal” things I’ve done in the last 3 months, a lovely visit with one of my favourite people and my favourite dog—and still, so, so abnormal. So abnormal I haven’t done those things for months. That I still haven’t gone into a store. That everyone is positioned so strategically, clearly differentiating couples and families and those who don’t live together.

I got home to find a text from Kayleen confirming I was home. At 6:55 – 15 minutes ahead of schedule – a bag from Stella’s Bakery appeared at my door, containing a piece of chocolate tort and a slice of chocolate cake. There was another, yes, another cake in my future so I held off, but damn, does getting cake from a friend delivered to your door make a person feel special! (I hope we are actually able to go places with a more reliable sense of safety for Kayleen’s birthday in August – even if we still have to stay 6 feet apart).

My aunt, Linda (of the ice cream maker gift!) came over for a visit, cake and home-made ice cream. (She also left with homemade strawberry sorbet – talk about a great gift, it’s been used twice already since I got it on Monday!). Cake #3 of the day was Jeanne cake but with strawberry curls. The cake was super cute, but I’ll admit the chocolate ones taste better. Also, a few hours after this I’ve eaten a few bites of cake #4, Stella’s torte, and cake #6, Stella’s chocolate cake, but I am still very full of other cake and also pizza despite it nearing midnight.

Oh yes, while my mother put candles in the cake, there was no lighting or blowing out of candles. Because honestly, why did it take a global pandemic for us all to figure out that eating a cake someone has breathed all over is kind of weird?  

While opening some gifts from my parents, Daryl called. This led to the delightful missed call of Daryl leaving his “lounge lizard” version of Happy Birthday on my voicemail, which I will tomorrow figure out how to rescue out of my phone somehow. Daryl’s mom and I share a birthday, and this year he got to sing for me on my birthday as he did for her for many years which is super special! Of course, this little surprise on my voicemail meant my mom also got to enjoy the recording, exclaiming “You have such NICE people!!”

Yes, I sure do, don’t I?

Looking… somewhere.
So. Twenty-nine.

I’m not at all sure what I’m looking for this year, or what it will bring. I do know twenty-eight led me to many amazing people and things, including Kayleen and working with Deb and Daryl. 

Given the state of the world right now, I’m certainly looking ahead but to an unclear spot on the horizon. I don’t know what this year will bring and I’m not going to try to guess. I hope for more stability. Twenty-eight was a pretty great year, and despite its uncertainties, I hope twenty-nine is similar, bringin friends new and old, new opportunities, and new puppies.
Okay, honestly, I’d be cool with more of the same puppies… or puppy.

and i scratched these words into a black notebook…

last straw, jack’s mannequin

There are so many unexpected ironies included in those lyrics with what was to come—foreshadowing.
i’m one year older now since the last time I saw you in case you wanna know, i’m about to say what i’m up to.
first of all i’m a sluggard, moving slow in a clumsy way
some peace of mind is what i want, but that will be the day.
i’ve been going without fault for so long, and this must end
running round in circles, i’ve been so far from myself
searching for the energy, and the time to make a change
to make a change in my life, instead of watching it pass by
do something now while i’m alive
 
i’m twenty-two, don’t know what i’m supposed to do
or how to be, to get some more out of me
i’m twenty-two, so far away from all my dreams
i’m twenty-two, twenty-two–feeling blue
 
[…]
afraid that i will be weak forever
i can’t stay in this shape any longer
my life’s just another cliche
 
twenty-two, millencolin
As I did of 2013 when 2014 started, I refuse to recap my twenty-second year: It was important, it changed me, but that change did not occur through circumstances I chose. It was important to me—it still is important to me—to share those stories, to be transparent, for a variety of reasons. Among the most important, though, can be summarized concisely in my friend Jay’s words: “We cannot control our circumstances, only our responses to them”.

i’m keeping quiet until the phone stops ringing  lately it’s hard to disconnect, i just want something real i’ll find my words if i can just stop thinking the room is spinning, i have got no choice be patient, i am getting to the point… 

spinning, jack’s mannequin

I grew, I came out on top with a few more scars inside me.
you watched that poor girl waste the best years of her life and i’ll be damned if i am going out i will not go out that way.
last straw, jack’s mannequin.
I’m alive and determined to make this count.

i can’t remember when the earth turned slowly so i just waited with the lights turned out again i lost my place, but i can’t stop this story 

Tomorrow, I turn twenty-three.
i keep forgetting when the earth turned slowly so i just waited till the lights come on again i lost my place but i can’t stop this story i found my way, but until then i’m only spinning 
spinning, jack’s mannequin.