today marks my 29th year of life.

believe me, i'm just as surprised as you are. came straight out of nowhere, this whole aging thing. i guess nobody escapes it, but boy, it sure happened quick.

i can't help but to think of my 28th birthday last year. that was a fun day, and i use "fun" in that sarcastic way that i sometimes abuse the english language with. i had to work late that day for a delivery, so it was kind of stressful. my coworkers threw me a little birthday bash, balloons, flowers, cake, but my mood was so wrapped up around work that i couldn't really enjoy it. only when the delivery was made later that night, when everyone had already gone home, was i finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. 4 months later i was laid off. funny how life sometimes work.

this birthday, my 29th, was a lot less hooplah. besides my family, only a handful of people knew about it. klea sent me an e-card last night (her birthday is just two days after mine, so it's easy for us to remember each other's birthday), manny e-mailed to see if i wanted to do wings tonight (i think he knew it was my birthday, i wasn't sure), then later eliza jones called from a bar before her class, and my norwegian friend frances aim'ed me before she went to bed.

i never advertise my birthday. i think the whole point is to see if people remember, like a birthday is some kind of litmus test to see how much people really care about you. based on the overwhelming response, looks like i need a little bit more work in the remembrance department. i've known people who weeks before their birthday start dropping hints left and right. i never want to be like that.

this day started off very quiet, too quiet. normally i'd be stirred out of bed by a telemarketer (though not entirely true, i've learned to ignore them, but it wakes me up nevertheless, i just don't get out of bed to answer), but the phone was silent this morning. turns out my phone service was cancelled, as i had requested two days ago. it was kind of scary at first. i think we're trained to panic when the phone is dead, because that's a sign something is wrong, our connection to the outside world, to help, severed. i looked at my cellphone, my only phone link to the outside world, as if to say, "well cellphone, looks like it's just you and me."

lunch, tom yum guy soup from a can. any good? a cheap substitute, nowhere near thai restaurant quality tom yum guy soup. unfulfilled, i cooked up the rest of my sweet italian sausages in the toaster oven. besides filling my house with the smell of fried sausages, it also splatter-coated the inside of my toaster oven with oil, which i'll have a fun time cleaning later whenever i get around to it. the sausages however were really good, i'm going to hit the supermarket tomorrow to get some more while they're still on sale.

in the afternoon, i cleaned up my place, vacuumed up all the dust bunnies (even as far as crawling underneath my bed to make sure i got all the dust), then got on my hands and knees to clean the toilet. the irony of the situation didn't escape me. it's my birthday, and i'm cleaning toilets. funny how life sometimes work.

when the mail arrived, i was surprised to see that the city of cambridge gave me a birthday present in the form of a second visitor's parking permit free of charge. i had requested one 2 weeks ago when i got my visitor's parking permit renewed, but i totally wasn't expecting to hear from them, or the fact that i'd actually get another permit for free. hmmm, city government maybe not that bad after all.

i can always count on my family to remember my birthday, which was the case when my mother and sister came by in the late afternoon bringing a cake with them (my father was working at the time so couldn't come). we each had a slice (chestnut filling), my sister gave me some presents (banana republic clothes), and then they left.

in the evening, renata dropped by after her class to hang out but it became a dinner when i heard she hadn't eaten yet (so haven't i). i had all the necessary ingredients to make a raisin and nut pilaf, with some side dishes my mother had left behind (a piece of pork chop and a container of seaweed salad). despite telling her not to bring anything, renata once again brought over some materials for making a salad. she was also happy to inform me that tonight she was super-layered with clothes because she knew how i like to keep my place really cold. it wasn't necessary, because 30 minutes before she arrived, i'd jacked the heat up to a blistering 68 degrees (sarcasm). because it was kind of late and i was pretty hungry (i'm sure renata was too), there was no time for idle chitchat and it was straight to the kitchen to make dinner. while i assembled the pilaf, renata was creating the salad, which seems to be one of her special skills. i also told renata that today was my special day, and she was incredulous that i didn't tell her before she came. our conversations also touched up michael jackson (he's the topic du jour for many people these days) and she got me to admit that i like aliens (specifically, in the form of t'pol, vulcan science officer on enterprise). there was a mini-crisis when there wasn't any vinegar in my house to make a dressing, and the paul newman dressing renata had left behind the last time she was over for dinner was left unrefigerated in one of my cabinets and renata was afraid to touch it for fear of spoilage. we settled for a nearly empty bottle of italian dressing i found in my refrigerator. while we waited for the basmati rice to cook, we put the couch to some good use, renata browsing one of my food books, me channel surfing like my life depended on it.

when the timer sounded (after a few more minutes of simmering), it was time to eat. the verdict: the pilaf was slightly soggy but not burnt (which was what happened the last time i made it, too little water), the chicken broth made the rice salty so i couldn't add the salted sunflower seeds, so it was just raisins instead. i think it was a moderate success, i certainly learned from my earlier mistakes making the pilaf. renata stayed for a little bit more after dinner, even having a slice of birthday cake with me, before the fact that she had to wake up tomorrow morning at 6am caught up with her. we said our good byes, i wished her a lousy time (sarcasm) in san francisco visiting her boyfriend, and then she left. minutes later i got a phone call saying she had lost an earring, but after searching my house and walking around outside, i couldn't find it.

so that was my 29th birthday. next stop, 30ville. it's mostly downhill from here, not even sure i'd really been going uphill all that much. funny how life sometimes work.