Aomori and Hirosaki Castle

Today we were in the port of Aomori on the northern tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu.  The region is mostly known for its epic mountain scenery and for being inhabited since the last Ice Age some 30,000 years ago.  The modern city as it now stands was founded in 1625.  The ship arrived nice and early in spite of some challenging wind conditions (according to the bridge) and we were greeted by one very noisy troupe of local drummers and flautists. This our third trip to Aomori.  On my first visit here I took a day trip out to Lake Towada in the Towada-Hachimantai National Park and took a day cruise around the lake with Aunty Mary.  On my second visit here, I spent the day checking out the cultural highlights of the Nebuta House and the Wa-Rasse Museum, which houses all the beautiful floats that are used in the annual Nebuta Festival. Today we decided to have a nice relaxing day, hire a car and drive up to the nearby Hirosaki Castle – about 35kms from port – to hopefully see the famous cherry blossoms and have our own little hanami anniversary picnic. We picked up our rental car without incident, but the Japanese propensity for proper paperwork struck us yet again, this time in the form of needing to have an International Drivers Permit in order to be able to hire the vehicle.  We have hired cars in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Iceland, Poland, Germany, all over the place and usually have a permit, but they never really ask for it.  Here of course, they do like to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s, and luckily I still had a valid International Drivers Permit from my last trip and we were able to hire our gutless little compact Toyota for the day.

As I mentioned earlier, the drive out to the castle was only about 35kms, but the GPS was showing that it would take 1 hour and 15minutes to get there – which seemed ludicrous, but once we left Aomori proper, we discovered why.  The roads here are in an appalling state.  Major roads interconnecting major towns are often one lane only and have a speed limit of 50kmph – yes, you read that right, 50kmph!  Not only that, but there are innumerable traffic lights on these roads between cities that are operating on timers – so you can find yourself stopped at a traffic light that appear to be waiting for no one…?  After about 30 minutes of driving on a road like this we decided it must be because they have such excellent rail infrastructure that the road infrastructure feels like it has been designed as an afterthought.  Anyway, we eventually made it up to Hirosaki and found somewhere, only slightly precarious, to park the car and from there walked up to the famous Hirosaki Castle.

Hirosaki Castle sits atop a stone wall surrounded by an enormous moat.  It is a 17thC feudal castle with elegant roofs, a tower, and five different gates and the enormous gardens are filled with 2,500 cherry trees that blossom in the spring. Luckily for us – we are here at the beginning of the 130th annual Cherry Blossom Festival which attracts over a million visitors each year, and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom creating an unbelievably beautiful environment.

The very Japanese advertising posters for the event:
We entered through the famous Cherry Blossom Tunnel and were immediately overcome by the beautiful, almost surreal, atmosphere created by these ancient trees.  On either side of us as we strolled along the river banks were elegrant and graceful cherry trees that appeared to be just dripping in flowers.  The effect is hard to describe, a feeling of wonderment followed us around for our entire time here – I can only liken it to being engulfed in an enormous piece of installation art that overcomes all your senses… the beauty of the flowers, the delightfully subtle aroma of the blossoms in the air, the awed hushed and respectful tones of the people murmuring their appreciation as they moved among the trees, the gentle lapping of the nearby water, and an almost magical feeling in the air as everyone seemed entranced by this overwhelming sight.  I can only compare it to the feelings I had seeing St Peter’s in Rome for the first time, or the sense of wonder and awe that I felt at Machu Picchu… it’s hard to describe how these truly unique places can effect you.  And this was most unexpected – I mean, they’re just flowers in lots of trees, but this felt like a truly special place and a truly special sight and I felt honoured and priviledged to be here to enjoy this. And I make no apologies for all the photographs I have included in this post, they do not in any way do it justice – in my mind, these photos are a pale imitation of what this place looks like and how it made us feel. The gardens were largely filled with locals who were drawn to the park to enjoy the beautfy of the trees – you could tell they were on their lunch breaks from work, or were there with work colleagues to enjoy a hanami party – a traditional cherry blossom viewing party that typically involves picnic blankets, feast day foods, and sake on the grass under the beautfiul trees as you watch the wind rustling through the branches and the occasional petals falling from the trees like confetti. Every man and their puppy appeared to be out enjoying the gardens today… even that Dogue. 🙂 I have a feeling I am going to end up sounding completely repetitive here – but this place feels completely magical. Further into the park, towards the end of the Cherry Blossom Tunnel was the start of the Festival Markets that spring up between 20th April and May 3rd this year.  This is known as Golden Week in Japan and many domestic tourists are taking their annual holidays.  Here at the base of the castle walls, the markets were full of knickknacks and toys for children, sideshow alley type games of chance and some interesting food stalls. Chocolate coated banana-on-a-stick. Chocolate not being ‘my thing’, I did not try one.

Takoyaki ladies were industriously making snacks for the masses – one baby octopus for each takoyaki ball. Another man and his puppy…not only are visitors required to pick up after their dogs here, but there are signs indicating that dogs must be carried in the grounds. Needless to say, we did not see any German shepherds or Rotweillers being ferried about. The Dogue from earlier had his own pram! We walked further around the moat towards the entrance of the Castle and found several beautfiful ponds surrounded by ever more cherry trees – the stillness of the water reflecting the elegance of the blossom laden branches.  Just gorgeous! The entire complex has hundreds of lanterns placed in among the trees – I imagine it must look spectacular all lit up of an evening… Hirosaki Castle is an epic fortress that at one time was six stories tall – lightening hit it in 1627, blowing up the tower that once housed stores of gunpowder.  In 1944, the Imperial Army stripped all the bronze tiles and artifacts from the Castle to be repurposed into creating munitions for WW2 efforts.  It is still quite an imposing edifice and so prettily situated in among the cherry trees. More of the locals enjoying hanami parties. Today, it was our plan to come up to the Castle, hopefully see some cherry blossoms (little did we know what to expect!) and have some lunch under the trees to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary… we did not know that the Cherry Blossom Festival was going to be like the international food on-a-stick festival, but as a result we ate very well – with tempura sweetcorn on-a-stick, chicken on-a-stick, pork on-a-stick, scallops on-a-stick, beers, and all good things for lunch at our picnic.
We found a nice quiet spot to lay out our (borrowed from the ship picnic) blanket and settled in for nearly two hours, watching the world go by, the petals floating down from the trees whenever the wind picked up and listening to a nearby musician playing a shamisen.  I have read many books on Japanese history and culture and in my mind’s eye, it doesn’t get more Japanese than this. I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like here before WW2 when the grounds would have been graced by families in traditional summer yakutas with children eating crushed iced treats, and ornately dressed maiko and geisha entertaining business men under the cherry blossoms… Looking up from our picnic blanket… After lunch we continued to wander the gardens and at every turn were greeted by yet more and more beautiful vistas surrounded by the cherry blossoms.

I know it looks like there is hardly anyone here in most of these pictures, but I am a very patient photographer and am only too happy to wait for all the selfie stick weilding bastards… err, I mean tourists to get out of my shot so I can get an unspoiled view.  🙂 I fucking love this place… And, I fucking love this man.

Mr K, you and I have spent an amazing and challenging 20 years together.  Some of the trials we faced seemed insurmountable… many relationships would have crumbled under the pressure of seven years of IVF failures, and a decade of living with someone with chronic pain and other chronic illnessness.  You have been my dearest friend and my most unwavering supporter.  You have cheered me when I have been sad or depressed, you have encouraged me when I have been frustrated or overwhelmed, you have loved me when I have been at my absolute worst.  I am sure I don’t deserve you, but I am awfully glad you haven’t figured that out (yet!).  I love you more and more every day, and I look forward to the joys the next 20 years may bring.  <3

Victoria and the Royals Game

Today was designated Cousins Day – which meant we were off over the Malahat to Victoria to meet up with all Mr K’s cousins.  We arrived around midday and decided to got to a nice seafood restaurant for a bite of lunch before Mr K and his sister had to take care of some business in town.  We both hit and missed on the ‘nice seafood restaurant’ bit.  We went to a place called Nautical Nellies right on Wharf Street, with you guessed it, views over Victoria’s waterfront and wharf areas, and were shown to a lovely table by the waterfront.  Nautical Nellies has an extensive menu with lots of appealing options, so we all decided to try some appetisers as well as main meals so we could taste a bit of everything – crab cakes, oysters, salt and pepper calamari, seafood pad thai, seared Atlantic salmon, and the ‘most popular dish in the restaurant’, the seafood stockpot pie.  Yup.  We had completely forgotten about North American portion sizes and had way too much food! Anyway, long story short – my lunch (salmon) was delightful, but I have it on good authority that the ‘most popular dish in the restaurant’ is foul and the contents of said stockpot pie tasted like they come out of a can!  :/  So yeah… if you are in the area, avoid the place, our waiter Cal gave us a bum-steer on that one.

After lunch we went for a wander around the waterfront to see what we could see.  Naturally, boats in the harbour, a couple of old buildings, like the Empress Hotel, and we made our way around to the Parliament Buildings.
The Knowledge Totem at the Victoria Parliament buildings. I like the frog.British Columbia Parliament Buildings – very traditional English style of architecture which is not surprising at all given the Neo-Baroque style of the late 1890s design and the statue of Queen Victoria out front. The Empress Hotel and a statue of a lady with a book that I couldn’t find any information on… she has a monkey on her back too, weird. Scratch that – “The monument features a seated Emily Carr with her sketchpad. Emily’s Javanese monkey ‘Woo’ perches on her shoulder and her dog ‘Billie’ stands nearby. The statue was erected along Victoria’s Harbourfront on the grounds of the Fairmount Empress Hotel. It is fitting that the ‘Our Emily’ statue was unveiled during Women’s History Month in Canada, on October 13th, 2010.”  Yeah, read that whole ‘monkey on her back’ thing as a bit more meaningful.  😛

After wandering around the waterfront for a bit, we went off to meet the cousins for beer and pizza and … a hockey game!  Woo!   Victorian Royals vs the other team.  Dunno, think they were from Calgary.  The Royals are a junior league – which apparently means the players are all under 20 or so and are basically on watch for the NFL.

The team mascot is Marty the Marmot, which is a small fuzzy rodent loosely related to squirrels – though this guy looked more otter-like than squirrel-like. Beer in convenient sippy cups…  Ice-hockeying… I do like the Royal’s goalkeeper.  His name is Outhouse.

And at the end of the first period, out came the entertainment in the form of these little league guys taking the ice.  They were so cute!  And every single one of them at probably 5-6 years old, can skate way better than I can!

We ended cousin night with cocktails, buffalo wings and the biggest platter of nachos you’ve ever seen at a place called 1550 (because it was open!).  A great night was had by all.  Invitations have been extended for all the cousins to come visit us Down Under, and hopefully one day they will… Julie, I promise there are no spiders in Australia.  Also, we promise to force an Aussie Rules football game on you all – I’ll even deign to go too.

Twenty years later…

Time seems to pass so quickly and this all feels like it happened just last year, but this story unfurled a little over twenty years ago… starting around the middle of 1996, maybe???  I had been single for while, I mean, not very long in the big scheme of things, but I was lamenting the lack of intelligent and refined young gentlemen in my general circle of acquaintance to a friend of mine, Peter.  It was a typical, “Where have all the good men gone?” conversation – I was sick of meeting guys who couldn’t hold up their end in a meaty conversation, guys who didn’t know or care about anything outside their own small world, guys who wanted to get you into bed but who had nothing of any substance to offer you over breakfast.  Peter offered me a some very good advice: ‘You need to separate the wheat from the chaff.’ said Pete, ‘What you need is a good pick up line…’  I had no idea where he was going with this, but he then said to me, ‘Next time you meet someone, ask them what they think of the Chinese Government disbanding the Hong Kong legislature.’  I laughed in his face – Oh right… how is that going to help me meet an interesting guy?!

But over the next few months, I found Pete’s pick up line was extremely useful: I would be out with the girls at a bar, and a guy would offer to buy me a drink or we’d be playing pool or something, and I’d pull out my conversation starter, ‘So… what do you think of the Chinese Government disbanding the Hong Kong legislature?’  I got a lot of blank looks, a lot of ‘Huh?’ responses.  I got one, ‘Are you drunk?’, and one guy who literally just turned and walked away.  It turned out that Pete’s one liner was a huge success at getting rid of repetitive conversations about cars or surfing, etc.  So I kept it. And used it to good effect.

Several months after I started applying my pick up line to my all and sundry social interactions at the Alex Hills and Colmslie Taverns, (Yes, I know, in hindsight, there was my problem, right there!), my sister came home from her first Rowany Festival (a large medieval camping event that is held annually near Sydney).  She was full of enthusiastic stories about the tavern, the wars, the wonderful people she’d met, and all the general merrymaking and shenanigans she’d experienced.  She showed me a whole pile of photographs of armoured fighters all decked out for war, and medieval campsites, and costumed people playing games on the green… it all looked like a lot of fun.  She showed me one picture of herself with some friends, and I said to her, ‘Who’s he?’

She replied that his name was ‘William the Admirer’, but that she didn’t know his real name, and then she related a story where ‘William’ was engaged in a flattery competition that involved several guys who were engaged in offering delicate sentiments to compliment the Princess at the time, and how ‘William’ had declared to all that he would henceforth change his name to ‘William the Admirer’ in honour of the Princess and her beauty and accomplishments… or something like that.  I laughed, but at the same time was quite taken by the idea of a young man who could pull off something like that in a social situation, and told my sister that she should invite him to a party that we were hosting soon, so that I could meet him… and so she did.  Several times apparently.  Each time she saw him, she apparently reiterated the invitation and he had promised he would come so that I could meet him.

The party in question was one of our then, annual Tequila Parties (complete with sombreros, ponchos, heavily laced sangria, nachos galore and a pinata filled with alcohol minis and condoms!), and when the night in question rolled around, I kept an eye out to see if the young man in question was going to turn up… but alas, he never did.  So I did what every sensible young woman does when being stood up by a man who didn’t know he had a date – got blind rotten drunk to the point where I was doing tequila shots and thinking, ‘This tequila tastes strange…’ only to double check the bottle and find it was vodka!  After that, I pretty much forgot all about ‘William the Admirer’.

About a month passed, and my sister informed me that she was going to a housewarming party in Annerley and would I like to come? At the time, I wasn’t really all that keen on going a party where I wouldn’t know anyone, so I declined the invitation… and then she said to me, ‘That guy from the photo is going to be there.’  Oh well, in that case, I decided ‘What the hell.’, I’d go.

We went to the party and I met a lot of new people and engaged in a lot of small talk – as you do when you are surrounded by people who know each other very well, but who you know not at all.  They were all laughing and telling stories and I was politely watching the party warm up.  Several hours and several vodkas later, it was obvious that the elusive ‘William the Admirer’ was not going to be making an appearance – yet again.  So much for that!  Unbeknownst to me, he was on a date (Which was going disastrously – that’s what you get for letting your mother set you up on a blind date!), and he was probably delivering his unfortunate date home around the time I was rounding on my sixth or seventh drink*! (*important plot point)

I was sitting outside under the patio when I saw him enter the dining room and thought to myself, ‘Hey there’s that guy from the photo! Finally, I’ll get to meet him!’ This much I do remember… from there though, things get a little hazy and versions of the story start to differ.  🙂  Apparently, while I am thinking this, he claims to have been thinking, ‘Who is that short blonde girl in the pink jumper, outside?’ (Yes, somethings never change).  I’m not sure how we actually met, though I am confident no one made an actual introduction, but HE claims that he was standing in the dining room, talking to Stefano and that *I* came up to him in a very familiar manner and said, ‘Hello’, and put my hand in his pocket!  What a brazen hussy!  As I said, it was getting late, I had more than a few drinks, and my recollection is pretty sketchy but… it is possible that this occurred in this manner. I guess?!  :/  Stefano looks at him, he looks at Stefano, and they go, ‘Okay then.’

Over the next hour or so, I sobered up a quite a bit as we are exchanging pleasantries, and I think to myself, ‘I like him. A lot. He seems smart.’.  Still a little tipsy, I asked him a very important question, ‘So… what do you think of the Chinese Government disbanding the Hong Kong legislature?’ He looks at me for a moment, and then launches into a full-on dissertation on the political climate in China, and how the residents of Hong Kong are going to be affected by the move from English to Chinese rule and… I stop him right there, and confess that I don’t care, but I am won.  He knew what I was talking about and that was more than good enough for me.  🙂

We talked and canoodled until 5am, and three weeks later he declared he was going to marry me – to which I smiled incredulously and verbally patted him on the head by saying, ‘Ahuh, sure.’  But he proved me wrong and two years later we were married.

Mr K, I hunted you down from a photograph, and I am so very glad I did.  Sometimes the last twenty years feel as though they have been filled with more trials than triumphs, but the one constant has been us, and I am so looking forward to the next twenty years  <3

*and doubly glad that your date that night crashed and burned!  😉

yaleman

Ten years ago today, I found myself fronting up to start the first full time job I had had for nearly a decade working for a company I didn’t even remotely try to hide by calling it ‘Goliath’ on this blog.

Something like this is not ordinarily remarkable, but it coincided with a very difficult moment in my life… my father had just passed away from Motor Neurone Disease, and by ‘just’ I mean, yesterday – the day before I started this job, and my entire family was upset and stressed as all fuck.  There are posts about how conflicted I felt about taking the job in light of my father having just died, and how I didn’t want people to think I was a heartless baggage for going to work the very day after he passed away, but I also felt quite strongly that Dad would not really have applauded me for sitting around crying and passing up a job opportunity, when we were three years expecting his death…  As I said, It was a messy, emotional, stressful and fucked up week.

So on the Monday morning that I was starting that job, January 22nd 2007, I fronted up to a high-rise building in Roma Street for the start of four weeks of orientation/training . There were lots of geeky looking guys in my training group, who all seemed to know way more about what we were supposed to be doing there that I did.  I, on the other hand, was hired for my ‘customer service skills’, they figured (rightly or wrongly?!) that they could teach me the technical shit.  So there I am in orientation, feeling guilty about being at work and not at home with my family who were all still crying their eyes out, feeling a bit dazed after having spent all the previous day calling friends and relatives to let them know that my father had passed away, and feeling somewhat overwhelmed as a lot of the technical stuff they were teaching us was going over my head in my ridiculously stressed state.

On our morning tea break, I had to tell the instructors that I was going to need some time off on Tuesday afternoon to go to the funeral home, and the whole of Thursday off to go to the funeral, and they both looked at me like I had sprouted a second head and asked if I should even be there… unbeknownst to me, as soon as I walked away from that conversation they put bets on that I would go home that evening and never come back.

But come back I did, and I persevered through what was an extremely difficult week – both on the home front and the new work front.  After a few days, it became apparent to me that there was a stupidly tall guy with a deep voice and enormous hands, who had a slightly familiar look about him that I couldn’t quite place, who really seemed to know what he was doing.  I mean, the trainers were giving us information and then confirming with this guy that the information was correct.  ‘yaleman’ was his name, and I couldn’t understand how one of the ‘newbies’ knew what the hell they were talking about or why the subject matter experts, who were teaching us all these systems were deferring to him on their own training materials, but self preservation kicked in pretty quick and I decided I needed to be get to know him, because I knew I was going to need someone knowledgeable once we hit the floor and were dealing with customers!  It was a semi-calculated and mercenary move on my part… but I knew I needed all the help I could get if I wasn’t going to sink completely!

I actually used the whole, ‘You look familiar’, line on him, saying ‘Haven’t I seen you at a party at Blokenstein or somewhere?’ to which he replied in the negative, but I swear he seemed really familiar – it turns out that yes, I probably had seen him before, and potentially as much as eight years before, when I was a patient at the IVF clinic that his mother worked in… he used to come in after school and then commute home with his mother, and it is entirely possible that I saw him there in the waiting room on a number of occasions as I often had late afternoon appointments – but we didn’t figure out that connection for several months.

In the meantime, we were all let loose on the unsuspecting public, and I really felt sorry for some of the people who got me on the end of the phone – I sometimes took twice as long to solve their problems; issues that any self respecting IT geek could pick up in minutes would elude me completely, resulting in an hour long call (why the hell does Internet Explorer have a ‘Work Offline’ option anyway?!), but I was seriously thankful that I had yale on Dbabble (the inter-office chat platform) to help me with my curly questions.  I was constantly asking him how to do this, how to do that, how to use this program, what does this error mean… I still understood very little of how the whole shebang worked, but thanks to yale I learned the best place to start and the most effective order in which to work through each problem, and eventually got into the rhythm of the place.

All the while we were forming a friendship.  Him, being a typical IT geek had no idea whatsoever how to talk to women… Instead, he would ‘poke’ me as I walked past, making me start, and once sending my neck into spasms as I whipped around. I put an end to that poking nonsense pretty quick (mind you he still does it to other women he fancies that he has no idea how to talk to!).  We ended up working the same shifts quite often… this was not an accident, as my ‘phone a friend’ on the floor, I asked Rachel, who set our rosters, to put me on at the same time as him, telling her we commuted to work together.  We’d quite often do the 3pm-11pm shift and after that it’s hard to just go home, switch off and go to sleep, so we ended up hanging out after the late shift – he’d drive me home or I’d drive him home, even though we lived on opposite sides of the city, just for some company and a chance to unwind.

We’d sit and chat quite a lot and got to know each other fairly well.  Then came the crisis of yale’s flatmate moving in with his girlfriend, leaving him with no where to live.  I asked my Mum, who was still living in the granny flat under our house since Dad passed away, if she wanted a lodger for a few months while he got himself sorted… I think it was good for her to move back upstairs into the house proper, but little did I know he would stay for the next seven years!

Our friendship turned pretty quickly into something more, as we grew closer – until one night when I was dropping him home, he got out of the car and tried to say an affectionate, ‘Goodbye’ that came out, ‘I love you’.  I teased him mercilessly for the Freudian slip and he tried to claim that all his friends said that to one another but it was true.  We were forming a loving relationship based on friendship, attraction, respect, and his vast IT knowledge!  😉

Those early days were so much fun – that amazing time of getting to really know someone can be very heady, but also be pretty nuts. The few times we disagreed on things, yale would get all emotional and irrational and throw these unproductive tantrums, and I couldn’t stand it.  If he had his way, it would be raised voices, punched walls, slammed doors, and roaring off in the car up the street, followed by the silent treatment and a waiting for one party or the other to apologise.  The first time this happened, he got as far as the front yard when I told him that if he got in the car and left, then he should stay gone as he would not be welcome back.  If he wanted to continue to be in a relationship, then he had best come back inside, calm down and talk the issue through (I have no idea what the issue was). For all his high IQ, amazing capacity for knowledge and extreme proficiency at work, his inability to handle confrontation, and his non-existent conflict resolution and interpersonal skills were infuriating!  In his defence though, even Mr K who has crazy good communication and interpersonal skills, says I am very difficult to debate… Seriously, I don’t understand why these men don’t recognise irrefutable logic when they see it, and just damn well do things my way without an arguement – but so be it! 😉

We have since been through a lot together, in particular a serious car accident that turned us both upside down for several years, fucking with both, our ability to work and landing us with chronic whiplash problems… well, more problems in my case.  We have taken up shooting as a sport, and even though I will never ever be able to shoot as well as he does, I really love it and enjoy our trips to the range.  We’ve been going to the SCA together and my friends are now all his friends too.  yale has taken over the IT management of my house and I have no idea how to access my own router anymore, because I just haven’t needed to do it. He reaches high things, and lifts heavy things for me and I analyse work politics and translate what women say, for him.

Probably every six months or so, I would remind him not to get too attached and would prod him to really consider if he wants a ‘proper’ relationship with diamonds, and white picket fences, and children and happily ever after because I can’t offer him those things.  And every six months or so, he would tell me that he is truly happy and he doesn’t think he wants those things. I worry that I have given him unrealistic expectations of what intimate relationships are like, and now other women seem frivolous, jealous, unpredictable, and annoying or even disingenuous.  I don’t play games, and now he has no time for them either.

I never would have guessed that ten years later we would still be together.  It certainly wasn’t conscious planned and I have to acknowledge that all our lives would be a lot less complicated if we were all living a more traditional lifestyle!  I know some people don’t understand our choices and worse, understand them but don’t approve.  But I feel so fortunate to have yale in my life these last ten years… to have his love, his friendship, his support and acceptance.  He has taught me as much about myself, as I have taught him.  We have laughed, and cried, and encouraged and commiserated together.  It is an amazing privilege to be loved by him, he is a truly amazing person, full of generosity, warmth, strength and compassion.

yale, I know you will be reading this at some point… I think you know that you and Mr K are my rocks.  It is no exaggeration to say that I would not be here without you guys.  Some people never find one real love in their entire lives, and I am literally at a loss for words to describe how fortunate I feel to have found you both.  <3

Happy Birthday to Me

Getting older is inevitable I guess, and having birthdays is a good thing… especially compared to the alternative.  But some milestone birthdays throw us more than others.  I didn’t mind turning 30 the way some women do.  I didn’t even mind finding 35 or 40… but 45?  Hang on a minute, that is way too close to 50 for comfort!

It feels like it’s all crept up on me while I wasn’t watching.  The years have been flying past so quick they’re starting to blend in together.  Every time I find myself saying something happened ’last year’, I end up doing a double check and realising it was actually the year before. I remember as a kid, just a summer would drag on interminably… now Christmas seems to follow Christmas with indecent haste and you barely get a breather in-between!

We had the most fabulous night, and I think this was in part due to the fact there were no wasteful and unnecessary gifts that I was required to be all, ‘Oh, that’s lovely. Thank you’, while thinking ‘Why are you giving me this thing? Have you ever met me?’.  There was no awful cake ritual, with accompanying dirge of a Happy Birthday song; a practice I have always absolutely abhorred!  Actually I’ve never been big on the whole cake thing. I don’t know why we stop a fun social gathering, force someone to be the centre of attention while they proceed to blow germs all over everyone’s food with onlookers singing a dreadfully repetitive song that is anything but celebratory.  The whole thing is beyond my understanding.

Anyway, we had a bit of a Bon Voyage/Birthday party last night at a cool little wine and tapas bar in Wynnum, called Tide.  Mr K invited about 40 people and we booked out half the restaurant.  It was a glorious (if hot) day and Tide is built out over the water on a jetty, which meant lovely sea breezes and a beautiful view over all the yachts in the marina with their clanging ropes and masts.  Food was plentiful and the champagne was flowing… I think in spite of the fact that around half of us were driving, and many were drinking beer or cider, we knocked off about five bottles of champagne before heading back to our house to kick on.

It was supposed to be just a quiet afternoon of drinks by the bay, but once home, there was more champagne, a hastily thrown together cheese platter and music and good friends.  Before I knew it, several of us were dancing around the kitchen to Sisters of Mercy at 1am, more than a little tipsy, and having a grand old time on a school night!  Forty five?  Forty Schmive!

“And the devil in black dress watches over
My guardian angel walks away
Life is short and love is always over in the morning
Black wind come carry me far away…”

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that my headache this morning was well earned and well deserved…  and I’ve discovered, I’m not 25 anymore; so probably shouldn’t try and act like it!