Birthdays are like yardsticks

Birthday Cake on the Bed

Birthdays are like yardsticks, you always find yourself measuring how far you’ve come…or fallen…in 12 months…24 months…five years…a decade. This year was a tough one for me. It started promisingly enough in a hot, dry paradise in Waikoloa Beach in Hawaii. And then continued on an up-and down seesaw ride for the remainder of the year. Every time I pressed my legs hard into the ground and began to rise towards the sky, I was slammed back down to earth.

No one’s life resembles a straight line; some of us are just better at camouflaging the zigzags than others.  But, boy do I have some good stories to tell. Like in March when I was in Switzerland at an international watch & jewelry show with the Chinese mafia…and then I was invited on board the Louis Vuitton yacht anchored on the Rhine River. The unique experience was lessened by the embarrassment I felt as I helplessly watched my company’s president lamely attempt to seduce one of the Vuitton heirs, while flashing her stocking-less legs adorned with furry, over-the-knee hooker boots. Yes, they were furry. Soon after, I discovered my male boss was sleeping with my 24-year-old colleague. This was confirmed by a picture of them making out on her iPhone screensaver. Discretion is so underrated.

After watching this media startup make investor money magically disappear with poor decision after poor decision, I spoke up. My words fell on ego-clogged ears and I jumped off their train. They had inspired me though by teaching me, “What not to do”. I chose to up my ante and increased my course load in grad school to full time. And then being Rainbow, I said “Oh, too many extra hours in the day”, and entered a full-time graduate school program at MLB.

Do not EVER attend grad school full time while working full time. I repeat, Do Not Attend Grad School Full Time While Working Full Time. I will tag this so when another unsuspecting masochist Googles the topic, they will find me. I don’t care if you’re the most efficient, smart, savvy, multi-tasker this side of the Hudson, do not go down this path. Unless of course you discover a way to never have to sleep again, but that usually entails being bitten by a Twilight vampire or becoming addicted to Adderall and winding up in rehab.

Fueled by Starbucks, Subway sandwiches and burrito bowls at Chipotle, my days began each morning at 8:30am at a very corporate Park Avenue address, followed by class from 6-9pm, three nights a week. I usually didn’t get home before 10pm. And then there was research and papers and weekly team meetings.  Cosimo began to bark at me when I walked in the door at night and J. took the role of puppy dog from him, eagerly wanting every ounce of energy I had left at the end of the day. The positive for him was I was too tired to nag him about anything. Five loads of laundry not done? Whatever. Nothing to eat for dinner? Who cares. You’re painting the bedroom black? Awesome. You invited your ex-gf to stay with us? Cool. I would have to stab my arms with my fingernails so I wouldn’t fall asleep during a movie. I kept telling him, “This is only temporary”.

With three weeks left in the semester, I hit the 20-mile wall. Something had to give. Begrudgingly, I decreased my hours at MLB and gave up my social life entirely so I could ace the rest of the semester.  And it’s done. More credits, closer to the Masters finish line. The bags under my eyes have retreated. My boyfriend and pup still love me…and are now overdosing on Rainbow time. Isn’t that how it always is — no time or too much time?

But this year cost me. I feel farther from my friends than I’ve ever felt and until the holidays I barely had a conversation with my family that consisted of more than “Uh, huh, yeah…uh huh,” getting off the phone not having heard one thing they said.

On my birthday, J. and I walked into St. Pat’s Cathedral, squeezed past a thousand tourists and sat in a pew, not remembering if we were supposed to kneel or not. I closed my eyes and thanked God for every year of my life. As they add up, I realize how fortunate I really am. God has given me time to figure it out. Sandy is behind us and I pray that the twisted spirits I’ve encountered this  year may stay on their own island, far, far away.

This new year, I will not lose sight of what’s most important, my family and friends. Rainbow is back.

P.S.   J., thank you for the trick candles — nothing makes a girl feel younger than when she’s breathlessly spitting on her own birthday cake!

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