Happy Birthday, Grumpy Pants

Perhaps it is because I was born blue, refusing, without intervention, to breath, causing my poor mother to vomit into her own hair.  Or maybe it was my father recanting, year after year, the story of the first time he saw me, slick with my mother’s blood and amniotic goo — a sight he was not prepared for back in the days when a father’s role was to pace and smoke in the waiting lounge, and only later, to be presented with a freshly bathed, powered and swaddled little product of his loins.  At any rate, birthdays and I do not agree.  I dread them.  They seem predestined to follow one of three recurring themes, all ending, if not in horror, at the very least like a bad ‘date’ you never want to speak of or think about again.

Theme One: Illness

Whether it be tonsillitis, tooth ache, back spasms, or cancer, one will invariably land on, or linger through, my birthday roughly every three years.  Top prize goes to my nephrectomy (removal of kidney) in 2005.  To be fair, the surgery took place four days before my birthday, but the morphine-dazed hospitalization sailed right through it.  It’s a blur.

Theme Two: Trouble in Paradise

This theme only occurs when I’m in a romantic relationship, or, as sometimes happens, wishing I were not.  Ranging anywhere between a post-argument air of lingering, low-level hostility that hovers over the birthday dinner, to a full-blown, cataclysmic break-up, culminating in night of barbed text message, crying into the phone, until finally, swollen eyed and depleted, I fall into bed, hours before midnight.  Top prize for this theme goes to my thirtieth, where not only did we have the explosive break-up, but the police had to be called in to remove the jerk, who was outside attempting to deflate all my tyres.  Thankfully over the years, my attraction to high drama romances has diminished.  Nonetheless, the uncomfortably silent dinners abide.

Theme Three: I am Forgotten

This is the one where every birthday seems to vaguely follow the plot of ‘Sixteen Candles’.  It is also the most frequent of my recurring themes.  They often start out innocently enough.  Someone will remember it’s my birthday in the morning, but then, later in the day, forget all about it.  In this instance, recalling all the earlier nose-dive birthdays, I tend to just shrug it off and not remind anyone.  Classic example: my twenty-sixth, where it was decided the night before that I would meet my friend, Millie, for breakfast in the morning, then spend the evening knocking back free drinks at a row of dive bars near her house.  It was not long after ordering my morning coffee that I knew Millie had forgotten.  Over our plates of eggs over easy, hash browns and toast (ordered on separate checks – clue one), Millie regaled me with highlights from the night before, and her plans for her upcoming holiday in New York.  She was to fly out in three days.  Tight-lipped I listened, as she went over the details of her flights, what she would pack and all the sights she planned to see.  Suddenly, she sat up straight, ‘Oh, I almost forgot…’ as she fiddled inside her handbag, producing a set of two keys and a note of some kind…. For a sliver of a second, I allowed myself to believe that it was all a wind up and my birthday festivities were about to begin.  Instead, it was a list of instructions for feeding her cat and looking after her apartment — something I’d agreed to some weeks before, and of course, her spare keys for said apartment.  At the counter, we paid our (separate) checks, I hugged her goodbye and wished her a fabulous time in New York.  I did not remind her.

Today is my birthday.  Early acknowledgements are in, so I know it’s not forgotten.  I feel quite well today, so illness is not likely to mar the day.  I am romantically involved … so there is that….  My plan so far is to take the dogs for a walk in the woods, do a bit of reading, a bit of writing, perhaps some photography, then brace myself for whatever the evening brings.  Who knows? Could be grand. . .

OK Ms. Grumpy pants!! Nobody wants to hear about your opposition to my Facebook look back video!!

images (1)For my sweet son, Ian.  Thank you for the title Eeener-Neener!

Recently, (okay, not recently, for some time), I have grown increasingly disenchanted with Facebook.  First it was the timeline format unceremoniously forced upon its users; then all the targeted adverts (my own generally pertaining to ‘mature dating’, ‘wrinkle remedies’, and ‘fashion); and now, to mark Facebook’s tenth anniversary, we have ‘a look back’, an unsolicited and indeed, intrusive, tour through our Facebook photos, posts, likes and whatnot, accompanied by an annoyingly shite soundtrack.  Where’s that ‘dislike’ button when I need it most?

And yet, and yet… as I scan through my increasingly bloated news feed, I note so many on my friends list have opted to share (thankfully there is an option) their little ‘Facebook movie’ for all to see and celebrate.

Curiosity got the better of me.  I clicked the link to view mine.  Behold!  A captivating mosaic of non-contextual posts and photos, thoughtfully chosen by whatever computer generated programme Facebook used to piece this masterpiece together.  In one minute and two seconds, seven years of my life was tidily compressed into banal highlights, excluding, of course, anything remotely ‘real’ that happened.  My seven years on Facebook, as represented by Facebook, pretty much sucked.  And so has the (insert number of years) of my friends and family – if the highlights are to be trusted.

So, what is the common denominator here?  Facebook makes our lives suck, or at least makes them seem to suck, by sucking away at our time, compressing our communication with others to soundbites and tagged photos and cluttering our news feeds with so much shit that we don’t care to know, that we tune out and miss out on important moments that are ‘real’ and that did happen to ourselves and to our friends; the bits about our lives, post Facebook, that may have sucked, but didn’t suck in that hackneyed way our Facebook amalgamated lives suck.

That’s my Grumpy pants rant over.