Thirty5 Came! And went! And I didn’t even cry once, which was amazing. Part of that is that I have been so so busy lately there hasn’t been enough time to get sad even if I wanted to try. And most of that is because I had a really, really fun birthday party.

my HK sisters

Thirty5 is a odd number (MATH JOKE) because it sounds quite serious – it divides your life in expected half, to a certain extent. I never thought I would be this old. I say that every year. About every age since I turned 21. But it’s true.

I wanted to have a cool shindig, and I love fancy dress, so I said the theme was “R” and everyone came as something that started with an R. What was really cool about this was I could NOT find a costume for my OWN party. At first I wanted to be a raisin, and wear a trash bag with duct tape, but my mom said it was my birthday and I needed to be cute. Then I thought I would be Ramen, and just cover myself in noods. There’s so many jokes there! That was also vetoed by my mom.

for a brief moment at the party, Ricky Bobby was “Rachel buying hats she doesn’t need at Clockenflap”

On my last day in the UK on a two week break, literally in the last hours, I looked through my purse and found all these pounds I had tucked away and didn’t realize I had (this also happens when I try on clothes). I wanted to spend them, but didn’t want to eat or drink or really shop. I was walking miles back to my shoddy hotel, when I looked up, and from the Heavens, literally, because I had looked for a party store for the last two weeks, WAS A PARTY STORE. Like, God is SO good.

her sign explained and also who doesnt love poo

I walked in and it was all about bachelorette parties and baby showers, so I hissed and was prepared to walk out. Because God is laughing at me. But then I was pointed to a downstairs. It was full of costumes, and an American lady with a tiny beard who was working the register let me get somewhat naked and try on costumes until I found one. Then I bought decorations with llamas and glitter and balloons. It was hilarious. I spent all my cash, charged 9 pounds on my card, and shoved it all in my carry-on. (shout out to stepdad Mark – I had saved your birthday cash to buy this!)

I think the picture they had to get was “find some recycling and make it sexy”

Of course, I had massive party anxiety leading up to the event. Like, texting my bestie saying “remind me to NEVER celebrate my birthday again. no one will come. no one loves me! why was I borned?!” and bothering my roomie with it until they were probably both ready to throw me over a ledge but they are good people and instead of throwing me over it, both managed to talk me back off it. about once a day for the whole week.

Most of my friends here are from work, and we actually were working on the Saturday of the party at some nonsense “professional development,” which meant we were even more ready to party. I couldn’t wait to see everyone’s costumes, as they were mostly secret. Raisin and Ramen being rejected, I was the “Roaring twenties” which is the decade of my life I am still mentally living in. And even though it was raining (OMG EVEN THE WEATHER WAS ON THEME! RRRRaining. I love the earth.) and we had to move from my roof to inside my house (and let me tell you, spaces in Hong Kong are not designed to hold 25 people at once), we had a blast.

I will forever laugh at this invisible bench. on point.

I love nothing more than organized fun, so my activity was to make everyone to play a photo scavenger hunt around my neighborhood, gathering pictures of 35 objects or challenges in 35 minutes! They had to find the letters R and W, the number 35, something American, a cute dog (ugly dogs accepted), video a hot guy wishing me happy birthday, sing a national anthem and part of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” take a shot in a bar, stand in a tiny space, and reenact Abbey Road! They also had to fist bump a child and do a time lapse on the escalators. It was epic. The boys drew naughty pictures on my calendar, people were playing darts indoors, and a dog came. So it was a pretty good day. And it’s a good life.

i just love cards and notes and words and things.

A nice thing about living in another time zone is that my birthday can be really long. When I wake up, it’s still the night before in California, because I could not be farther apart in time from my family and friends than I am right now. Except that as the day goes by, I remember how many thoughtful friends and friends that feel like family are all around the world, like both my sisters who texted me at midnight my time, and the slow trickle of messages that span almost 48 hours.

I just checked through the Facebook ones today, three weeks later, and there were posts from former students, people who knew me growing up in church or at family summer camp, my Chican@ studies professor from UCSB, kids I met on mission trips to Mexico, people I met backpacking Central America ten years ago, my Brazilian family, and high school and college friends that are now in China, Cyprus, Canada, Australia, and all over the United States. It was really special. My love languages are definitely words and it’s been truly lovely to hear and read some from some good friends.

“the team in a Reflection”

Before my birthday, I tried to get through my 35bythirtyfive bucket list, but sadly, there were things I wasn’t able to do. And I don’t know why? Why, in five years, was I not able to do one specific random act of kindness and buy someone a coffee behind me? Part of that is I stopped buying coffee and I make my own lunches. Which is the best money-saving advice I have to offer. But I also wasn’t able to publish a book (got lots done of it – should be there this summer) or go in a floatation tank (but going next week!) or give up restaurants for a month. In my defense, I moved to Hong Kong, which is like the foodiest of places.

never gets old

I’m still working out the details of my next list  – 40byforty. I’m not ready to understand that I will be 40 someday. My life doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I’ve done a million things I never thought I would do, but there is so much that hasn’t happened yet and I start to wonder if it ever will. But I think it’s encouraging that I didn’t cry about this birthday. Normally the tears come because I start to get the blues about being single, not having a baby, still living in rented apartments, can’t keep a cactus alive, yadda yadda. But that’s not really helpful, is it? I gave up online dating for Lent and am still going strong, and I think that’s been helping my frame of mind about the whole being single still thing. As long as I have my phone, I’m never truly alone.

So if you were so inclined as to make a list of things to accomplish in five years (not like a five year plan. I’m way too silly a person to do something like that) what would be on it? I’m open to ideas. I got about 25 ideas at the moment, which leaves left.

Dare me to do something.

I’ll do nearly anything that makes sense, and then most things that don’t.