My birthday is just around the corner, and it will involve the digits 2 and 9. I think I’m turning into an old lady.
It’s okay, really, because I plan to be a really funny old lady. I’ve been practicing my old lady act for a long time, so it doesn’t pain me not to be associated with youth. I think I look pretty good, despite my advanced age, and I certainly feel I have something to show for my twenties, like my fabulous collection of recipes and my impeccable taste in peanut butter. It’s hard to ask for much more than what I already have. The other night, I was laying in bed, thinking about Matt’s then-upcoming visit, and I realized that I already have so much more than one person could possibly deserve. So much love, so much fun, so much abundance. I have a good life, even though I’m constantly stressed out. But even that is manageable most days. I run, I bike, I do yoga, and I take deep breaths. I tell myself, Yes, you can do this even when my brain is shrieking, No, I can’t do this!
We never really “earn” all the gifts we receive, whether that gift is love, support, friendship, a good belly laugh, or a big bear hug when you need it most. This is why I say that I find it hard to believe that I deserve all the good things my life has come to hold. It’s also why I find it such a challenge to answer that question that pops up every single year around this time: “What do you want for your birthday?” I never know what to say. Right now, what I really want to say is, “I want the next year of my life to be just as good as the last year. It could be neither better nor worse, and that would be fine with me.” Because this past year, even with all its lumps and bumps, was pretty damn good, and I’d do it all over again if I could.
But knowing that one can’t gift-wrap the things that I really want from this next year, I hit the next best thing: Amazon. My sister had suggested I set up a wish list so that shopping for me wouldn’t be so darn difficult. At first, I found this exercise to be too challenging—I couldn’t come up with more than one item, which just would not suffice. With a little time and thought, however, I came up with a more respectable list and thought it would be fun to share my birthday wish list with you.
Before I launch into the specifics, I must confess something terribly unflattering about myself. Making the wish list has had a strange effect on me, which is that it induced an intense desire to buy everything on my own wish list RIGHT NOW. This is the trouble with wish lists! I’m usually a pretty laid-back shopper; delayed gratification doesn’t tease me too often. I told my brother about how I feel like I cannot wait for birthday presents to arrive, and he said, “Geez, you sound so greedy!” To which I replied, “I know! It’s ridiculous!” So now I know that the wish list is actually really dangerous and must be handled with care, lest I empty my piggy-bank buying cookbooks and CDs from Amazon.
I’m happy to report that so far, I have resisted purchasing any of the items on my wish list. Starting with kitchen goodies, my list includes:
* In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark. This cookbook sounds deliciously homey to me. I like the kitchen, and I have a good appetite.
* So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger. I bought a copy of this cookbook for a friend last Christmas. I flipped through it and desperately wanted my own copy because the recipes sounded mouthwateringly delicious. I love any cookbook that gives me more ideas for what to cook on weekdays, which are always the toughest dinners to produce. Hunger levels are high, time is short, and it’s too easy to fall back on old standbys. It takes some courage, and some good recipes, to break out of the weekday rut. I’m hoping this book will give me more ideas on how to do that.
* Mesquite bean flour. I have wanted mesquite flour for years now. In The Cornbread Gospels, Crescent Dragonwagon has two recipes that call for mesquite flour, Sonoran Skillet Cornbread with Mesquite Meal and Sweet-Hot Aztec Two-Steps (a muffin recipe), both of which sound tasty and perfect for cooler days. Also, in the Pantry section of her book, Crescent mentions using mesquite meal to replace some of the wheat flour in baked goods—I’m already dreaming about chocolate chip cookies made with mesquite flour. Mmm…
* To provide musical accompaniment in the kitchen, I’m hoping someone will buy this Iron & Wine CD for me, Around the Well. When we were cruising around town in his car, Matt had Iron & Wine in rotation on the CD player, and the songs made me feel all soft and weepy. Dating a man who listens to Iron & Wine also makes me feel soft and weepy.
* Finally, I’m hoping to ditch the turtleshell-like backpack in which I carry around my laptop if this gorgeous messenger bag arrives in my mailbox. I admit that I waffled about buying a bag with pink and flowers on it because it may be seen as a sign of frivolity in my science life, but then I thought, Forget it! I like the girly bag, dammit, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise just to make myself seem less feminine than I am. So pink and flowers it is—because it’s my birthday.
That’s the best I could do—five items, chosen carefully. I think my sister is a little dismayed that my list isn’t longer, but the truth is that I feel like I have everything I need already. My birthday is already full of the gifts that matter the most.