My (Not-So-Super) Sweet Sixteen

Lots of little girls dream about the perfect wedding – the cake, the dress, the man. I was never into wedding planning as a kid, and surprise of surprises, not much has changed on that front over the years. Instead, when I was a kid I obsessively planned my 16th birthday party.

For some reason, I had a very concise picture of the big day in my head. There would be balloons, streamers, and confetti, everything in bubblegum pink. I’d be wearing a beautiful party dress. No clue why, but in my imagination, all of the fashion at this party was straight out of the 1950’s, with crinolines making all the girls’ skirts extra-flouncy, and all the boys wearing letterman sweaters.

We’d play some games: Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven. My boyfriend (because of course I’d have a boyfriend by that ripe old age) would always be on the opposite side of the bottle when it spun. We’d also listen to records, and dance long into the night, but the best part would be when my parents gave me my own car. True to form, the car was also a 1950’s-era thing, with fins. I loved fins – still do. I believe that the car was also supposed to be bubblegum pink, but that part of the picture isn’t totally clear.

Where I got this idea of a perfect sixteenth birthday, I have absolutely no clue. Maybe it came from a movie or book, or from something Barbie-related, or maybe it just came from having a great imagination. Either way, even after I had grown to realize that no one at my party would ever be wearing crinolines, and my demographic didn’t include guys who lettered in sports, I still held on to some vestiges of the dream. Maybe I’d have a boyfriend, and of course I’d get a car. Didn’t everyone?

“1950’s Coupe at a Drive In” by Cindy Lewis

Weirdly enough, I can remember this fantasy party much more clearly than I can remember the actual day I turned sixteen. I don’t remember if I had a boyfriend, but probably so; I went through a boy a month back then. I don’t remember if I did anything special to celebrate the day, or if I was working. I only remember one thing: my parents gave me a car. It was one of the cruelest jokes anyone has ever played on me.

Around the same time I originally came up with the dream birthday scenario, my mother was driving a 1976 Chevy Nova. By the early 1990’s, the car was toast, and came to its final resting spot on the side of our driveway, up on blocks. One of the windows was broken, and various wildlife – squirrels, opossums, and even the resident cat food-stealing raccoon – eventually made the car “home,” eating the wires, nesting in the seats, and otherwise hastening the car’s return to a more natural state. When I turned 16 in the late 1990’s, the powder blue Nova was more of a rust color. Moss was growing on the insides of the windows. My parents had been talking about having it towed away for years, but that seemed unlikely. After all, no one wanted to disturb the raccoon.

My birthday arrived, as birthdays tend to. Reaching sixteen was a huge deal for me, because I was finally allowed not only to go on unchaperoned dates, but I would also now be allowed to wear makeup, and get a job. I was a junior in high school, a straight-A student, captain of the Quiz Bowl team, a member of the cadre in ROTC, and there seemed to be no end in sight to my opportunities for making out with cute boys on school trips. Sure, money was really tight at home, and we’d just gone through a major hurricane a few months before that had obliterated the first floor of our house, but overall, things were looking up. I knew that the dream for my birthday party was a no-go, but I still felt hopeful that maybe, just maybe, there would be a car in my immediate future. It’s hard to describe just how it feels to know that there’s no way you’ll be getting a car, AND feel like it’s your right to have one, so of course it’s going to happen. The teenage brain is a mysterious thing.

I knew that something was really weird when I woke up and both of my parents were awake, waiting for me at the kitchen table. I don’t remember if my mother had baked a cake for me, but there would be one by that evening – a carrot cake. She always makes me carrot cake for my birthday. I’m not much of a cake person. She was still in her peach-colored fake fur robe. I don’t know what he was wearing, but it’s always some combination of jeans, work boots, and t-shirt. Just like me 🙂

They wished me a happy birthday, and hugged and kissed me like normal, loving parents do. Then from her robe pocket, my mother produced a birthday card. The envelope bulged in a suspicious way…could this be a car key? Happiness burst through me – this was too good to be true! Sixteen AND a car!?!? I looked at them both – poker faces. But of course they were just waiting for me to tear open the envelope, right? Then they’d celebrate along with me, and we’d go out to the driveway to check out my new wheels. Everything was going so well!

I eagerly ripped open the envelope, glanced at the front of the birthday card (“Blah, blah, blah, you’re turning sixteen, beautiful girl, we love you, blah”), and opened it. I was right: A KEY! A key to a car! A key to a car that looked really familiar, somehow. A key to a…Chevy Nova that was up on blocks and infested with rodents of varying sizes. My parents started laughing. At me. On my big day. I didn’t start crying then, but I definitely cried on the bus on the way to school.

This story doesn’t end on a sour note; I was a pretty well-adjusted kid, after all. I got over the seemingly crushing disappointment of receiving a wildlife refuge for my birthday. It wouldn’t be long before my amazing grandfather gifted me with a real car of my own. The Nova was eventually towed away to make room for my 1984 Ford Escort station wagon. I’ve never figured out if my parents thought the joke was a funny one that I’d “get,” or if they really thought that giving me the Nova was an act of kindness. I do know that I never shared my ideal sixteenth birthday with them, so they couldn’t have known that they were stepping on something fragile and pure on that birthday morning. I’d still love to have a birthday in crinolines, and a car with fins. Maybe for my 40th…

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Watering pots | Vintage Photography
  2. My Floating Musings
  3. Bert Was A Thief (short fiction) | The Jittery Goat
  4. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Under the Monkey Tree
  5. Daily Prompt: Sixteen « Vicariously Poetic
  6. Insert End of an Era Cliché Here | AS I PLEASE
  7. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | The Wandering Poet
  8. Inspiration of a Sixteen-year Old — A Haiku: Monday, January 20, 2014 |
  9. Sweet Sixteen | Geek Ergo Sum
  10. Not so Sweet Sixteen | Dance with the Rain
  11. Sixteen Candles and One Surprise Party | meanderedwanderings
  12. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  13. It’s been an extremely long time since I was sixteen | thoughtsofrkh
  14. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Vagabond
  15. Inside left blank for your own message | Kate Murray
  16. Sweet Sixteen – Quizmania | L5GN
  17. [M.M.X.I.V. 20] Hawai’i shirts | Never A Worry
  18. And this is why I lose my memories… | Rob’s Surf Report
  19. POEM: Sweet NOT Sixteen | Poetry by Nowelle
  20. 17 Again | Processing the life
  21. Was Hitler sweet at sixteen? | Mishe en Place
  22. Old and Wise… | Haiku By Ku
  23. Na segunda metade dos 15 | Sonhos desencontrados
  24. Sixteen Birthday | Flowers and Breezes
  25. Daily Prompt: Being Sixteen! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
  26. DP Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Sabethville
  27. Some Girls Got Mustangs/Daily Prompt | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  28. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  29. Not so sweet sixteen | A mom’s blog
  30. Daily Prompt – Sweet Sixteen – You can always have fun | storyofmylife1993
  31. | all my likes
  32. Opening the Doors of Perception | The Silver Leaf Journal
  33. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Poetry
  34. Sweet Sixteen | The Story of a Guy
  35. Sweet Sixteen – A letter to my 16 year old self | Stephen Chapman
  36. I’d Rather Remember My 39th Birthday
  37. Sweet sixteen | Sue’s Trifles
  38. The 5 worst pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten about high school | Never Stationary
  39. A Good Day to Celebrate | LenzExperiments
  40. Sweet Sixteen | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  41. Sweet sixteen, have you ever….. | bagofbuttons
  42. Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen | Winging it

Various Drivel + Birthday Plans

Blowing out my birthday candle in Vienna on my 23rd birthday, 2004. KT bought me this amazing birthday tart (and of course champagne - birthdays MUST have champagne).

2004 – my first trip to Vienna, Austria to visit KT. Here I am on my 23rd birthday, blowing out the “birthday candle” on a delicious fruit tart.

Man, drivel is a difficult word to spell if you pretty much never use it 🙂

So I have this feeling that my life is going to change in a big way tomorrow. I’m excited and scared, and maybe I’m putting all of my eggs in one basket, I dunno. Either way, I think that a great adventure is just around the corner, and I’m so ready to get started!

Also, did I tell you guys that I got my birthday plans all figured out? I’m soooo psyched; the last few birthdays have been a letdown, so I’m really happy to know that this one is going to be exactly what I want. Maybe it’s all my fault for getting it in my head that birthdays were made for big adventures (eg. trips to Europe), but The Man and I have birthdays within a week of each other, with his being the day after Halloween, so we pretty much always end up celebrating Halloween/his birthday and not mine. Now that I think about it, I can only recall us doing something cool for my birthday twice in the last seven years, and both times were completely left up to me to plan and arrange, which definitely kills part of the experience. This year he kept saying that we were going to go somewhere or do something, but he never got around to it so I decided it wasn’t worth waiting to be disappointed. Even though I had to plan my own birthday again, this time I’m doing 100% exactly what I want with no exceptions, meaning that it’s gonna be 100% awesome!

My birthday cake (and my friend Al) in 2005, during my evacuation to Chicago. It's a vegan mocha raspberry cake, baked by yours truly...and to this date, the most delicious thing I've ever baked.

2005 – my first hookah experience, on my 24th birthday. This is my friend Al & (to date) the best thing I’ve ever baked, an ugly-but-delicious vegan mocha cake with raspberry filling.

First off, I’m going to Austin. My bf Trin lives there with her immediate and extended family, and I love soaking up time with them any time possible. Trin’s parents always treat me like I’m just another of their kids, and I really dig spending time with her sisters and visiting family friends (there always seem to be a lot of us, like butterflies drawn to the brightest, most beautiful flowers in the garden).

In 2006, KT took me to see Aguntum, an ancient Roman town in Austria, for my birthday (among other treats).

2006 – my first visit to a Roman town. I was in Austria again to be with KT on my 25th birthday, and during this trip she took me to Aguntum in Tirol, AND treated me to a ride on the Riesenrad, my favorite ferris wheel, back in Vienna.

Back in college when Trin and I were roommates, we got into the habit of spending our birthdays together. Since 1999, I’ve spent almost every birthday either with her or with my other bf/college roomie KT, and the ones spent alone were definitely the lamest. I don’t care if we just sat around and ate vegan meatloaf, being with a best friend on your birthday is an automatic level-up to the birthday experience. If I can’t spend my birthday with either of them, I try to spend Trin’s birthday with her somehow. KT’s is a little hard to pull off, since she lives in Europe and travelling overseas in February isn’t exactly the smartest way to spend thousands of dollars. Maybe one day we’ll live closer.

In 2010, I took a few of my best friends to see the circus in Chicago.

2010 – My first visit to the “real” circus since kindergarten, on my 29th birthday.

To make things cooler, there’s also the whole deal about being in Austin for my birthday. I love that town, though I haven’t gotten to see half as much of it as I’d like. This time I’ll be attending a three-day yoga & music festival (I told you a tiny bit about this in an earlier post), and getting my inner yogi on! It’s going to be so much fun – the festival has tons of classes and workshops, musical performances, and even a little market. I signed up pretty early, so I had my choice of three classes a day in yoga, meditation or health, and I scored some really cool ones. One of them is aerial yoga, which I’ve been really interested in trying out. There’s a hula hooping class, and I’m even going to get to attend a kirtan, which my soul has been crying out for lately – they’re really hard to find around here, unfortunately. If you don’t know what kirtan is, and you 1) love yoga and 2) love to sing, drop everything you’re doing and find one. It’s a beautiful way to meditate while getting in touch with your breath and singing harmoniously with a roomful of people. It’s a lovely experience.

In 2011, The Man was away on assignment during my birthday, so he sent me flowers. (Shown here with a curious Munky.)

In 2011, The Man was away on assignment during my 30th birthday, so he sent me flowers. (Shown here with a curious Munky.)

So all of this sounds amazing, yes? But wait! You haven’t heard the best part! Even though I’m visiting Trin, and could probably stay with her, since I feel like this birthday is a bit of a big one I wanted to do something to make it really special. I decided maybe I’d get a hotel room, but then all the hotel rooms I checked out were just ugly and/or way too expensive. I wanted something beautiful and spa-like, but close to my friend’s house, and with some panache. On a whim I decided to check out the offerings at Air B&B, and by complete accident I found the coolest thing ever – my very own refurbished 1953 Airstream camper (also known as a caravan to those of you on the other side of the pond). How incredibly awesome is that?!?!

Not the trailer I'll be staying in, but the real thing looks a lot like this. Click through to check out this gorgeous 1954 Spartanette!

2013 – my first stay in a vintage camper! Not the trailer I’ll be staying in, but the real thing looks a lot like this. Click through to check out this gorgeous vacation caravan.

A Day Of Good Things!

Oooh, so many cool things going on today, I don’t know where to start!

Austin Wanderlust

First off, I bought my ticket to go to Wanderlust Austin over my birthday weekend. I’ll get to spend the entire weekend doing yoga, meditating, and even taking a trail run, along with eating healthy food and getting to jam out to great tunes. This will be the best birthday treat I’ve had in a long time! What’s even better, since I’ll be in Austin, I get to do yoga during the day then hang out with my amazing friend Trinity at night. Plus, I sent word to my cousin Amy to see if she might be able to make it. If she could, that would be a crazy good weekend!


Secondly, I bought tickets to see mc chris next Thursday night! I’m super excited about that one, since I’ve somehow managed to miss every show he’s had in whatever city I was in over the last few years. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, don’t feel too bad. He’s a nerdcore rapper, comedian and voice actor with a pretty loyal following, but hasn’t really hit “mainstream” yet. I hope he never does, because he’s amazing. I first heard him rapping in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, then started really listening to the lyrics of his songs and fell in love – so many geeky references! His voice is really high, something that turns some people off, but it’s also one of the most interesting things about his sound. Anyway, I’m pretty psyched.

And then, after months of (ha) hemming and hawing, I bit the bullet and signed up with Stitch Fix. It’s probably a bad idea, but we’ll see. Basically, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that takes your measurements and style preferences, then sends you a box of five hand-picked items of clothing, jewelry and/or accessories that you might like. You can try them on at home, then either buy the ones you like or send them all back. I kept seeing bloggers writing about their Stitch Fix packages, and since I have such trouble breaking out of the box, fashion-wise, it seemed like a fun thing to try. It’s not a subscription service or anything, so there’s no contract or commitment, other than the $20 you pay to have them send you a box (which can go towards any of the items in the box). So we’ll see. Have any of you guys tried Stitch Fix before?

The Big 3-0

I’m 30 today. Technically I won’t be 30 until around 11:27pm ET, but we’ll just let that drop and say I’m there already. Doesn’t feel that much different, except for my exasperation with myself for not taking the day off of work, and for overpaying some bills I really didn’t have to, which means that I could have spent the day shopping, but instead I’m broke and working on some boring PR details. Meh.

Today’s Weight: A glorious 155.2 lbs. I’m not kidding you guys; 155 is about as far away from 160 as Greece is from Siberia. I feel gorgeous. My tummy’s not as poochy, my chin is a little sharper, my eyes look more seductive, and in general I feel saucy and extremely attractive. There are issues, as always – my arms hold a lot of fat, and that weird spot between my breasts and armpits is still grossing me out – but that’s just fat. It can be worked off, like the rest of this weight, and it will in time.

Yesterday I called up a local swimming school to see when I could start taking lessons. I can’t swim, never have been able to, even though I took classes when I was little. I wasn’t scared of water then, but I am mildly so now. I hate not being able to touch the bottom, and I can’t float or dog paddle. It’s time to learn, and now that I’m 30 I’m really too old to not be able to save a drowning child if the need arises. Plus, I’m thinking that swimming will be amazing for toning my arms, assuming I can find enough muscle in there to swim, in the first place. We’ll see.

Not doing anything really special tonight. I’m heading to Zumba in the late afternoon, like every Tuesday. I love to dance, though, so it’s an excellent way to welcome in my big day. Also, a bartender friend of mine (and fellow geek) is having his birthday today, and he’s planning on throwing a party at his bar, since he’s working. There will be movies, and there’s a restaurant associated with the bar that has amazing menu items. I’m planning on riding my bike over there and hanging out with him, eating dinner, having a couple of glasses of wine, then probably making it a quiet night at home with the cats, doing craft projects.

Hurray for the 30 Year Old Cat Lady! Whoop Whoop!

Measurements as of 11/8/11
Waist: 27.5" (down 1.25" since 9/26/11)
Hips: 38" (down 2" since 9/26/11)
Belly: 33.5" (down 2.5" since 9/26/11)
Thighs: 22.5" (down 1/2" since 9/26/11)
Upper Arm: 11" (down 1" since 9/26/11)

Day 26

Today’s Weight: 157.6 lbs.

Yesterday was tough. The hydration station (sauna-like pod that I’ve been sitting in once a day) was out of order at my local Planet Beach, so I couldn’t go do any laid back sweating. I was also really bored with everything I had to eat in the house, so the temptation was high to order in some Chinese. On top of that, the thought of going to the gym again for the third day in the row was unbearable. What’s a girl to do on an off day like that?

The answer yesterday was to get the hell out of the house as soon as my work day ended. I decided to take a bike ride to the beautiful Audubon Park in Uptown, then run the 1.8 mile track, and ride back. In all it was a little over 10 miles on the bike, plus the 1.8 mile run, which had me working out for about an hour and 45 minutes straight (I’m a slow biker and runner :-). By the time I got home, I was drenched in sweat and feeling really proud of myself, so I made a slightly larger dinner than I’d intended.

Yesterday’s meals included yogurt & honey for breakfast, a cup of fresh carrot/apple/parsley juice as a snack, sauteed mushrooms on toast with a cup of soup for lunch, and another cup of soup with a fried egg, toast, and a fake sausage patty for dinner. I also had a serving of PopChips and a Red Stripe Light. Today I won’t eat quite so many solid and processed things – I’m going to stick to more veggies and at least two glasses of fresh juice, if not more. It would be great to hit 155 by Sunday.

My boyfriend is away again, and I won’t see him until Thursday. It would be great if I could be under 155 the next time I see him, and even better if I could be 152, which would put me at 10 lbs lost since he left town. I’d be so proud of myself. It’s amazing what just a few pounds does to my figure – you can see the outside lines of my abs now, my face looks thinner, and I just feel so much more attractive and graceful. Probably all in my mind, but I don’t mind keeping it there if I can keep feeling beautiful.

27 Days and Counting

Today’s Weight: 158.6 lbs.

I haven’t been measuring, but I will next Monday. I’m losing weight pretty rapidly now as a result of doing all of the things I’ve been too lazy to do since I moved to New Orleans: restrict my carbs, no snacks (but I eat 4+ meals), no cheese, no alcohol, drink lots of fresh juices, run at least 2 miles a day, go to one gym class a day, use contouring oils & creams, and sit in a 115 degree sauna every day for 20 minutes. It’s time consuming and really not that fun, but even if I’m not going to be 140 in 27 days, like hell am I going to be 160. Today the only class they’re offering at the gym is an abs workout, so I might up my run to 3 miles.

Time to get back to work.

Later Edit: OK, so I measured right after posting this, and OMG!!! I updated on the side widget, but whoo-hoo, looks like I’m doing something right. Gonna keep going…

Running Out of Time

Wow, I’ve really been sucking lately.  I’ve got 44 days until my 30th birthday, and I haven’t weighed myself since the day of my last post.  Pretty sure I haven’t lost any weight – in fact, given my diet over the last week, I’ve probably added on a few pounds.  That’s no big deal, though, because I have a plan.  I spent half of the day today logging in a very detailed plan for every day of the next month, including exercise, work, and play.  From now on this is all about getting into the best shape of my adult life, as well as starting to train to run again, finishing a few projects I’ve had in the works for WAY too long, and building a social life while I’m at this.

Also, this week I bought some products that I wasn’t going to use at first, but now that I’m thinking about it I feel like I deserve to splurge on.  I’m going to be trying out the Bliss FatGirl Treatment Set, something that I’ve always been a little reluctant to try mostly because of the name (so demeaning), but have also heard great reviews on.  Despite the name, they’re not actually ‘fat’ treatments, they’re for diminishing cellulite and firming skin, two things I’d love to see happen in my massive butt region.  I had heard great things about the different products in the kit – Fat Girl Slim, Fat Girl Scrub, and Fat Girl Sleep.  I’ve abstained from buying them for a few years because they’re pretty expensive, and also lately I’ve been trying to go all organic with my body care products.  However, since gotten healthier with my skincare routine, my skin has never felt more slack or sad.  Maybe that’s all about diet and exercise (probably), but since I’m getting old and feeling icky, I feel like I’d rather take the chance on toxins and feel pretty for a little while.  I know, so shallow, but so be it.  Combining a product regimen like this with intense exercise and a good diet will make me more intent to follow all three routes religiously, so I can see the best results, and it would be great to have a 25 year old butt again in time for my 30th birthday!

Besides those products, I also splurged on a bottle of Bliss Love Handler, which is probably a big waste of time but sounded like a fun thing to try.  It’s supposed to be specially formulated to firm skin and improve tone and contour of your tummy, with an 8-hour release of caffeine and creatine.  Probably all snake oil, but hell, why not, right?  All of this stuff should be showing up in the mail this week, along with the new shower curtain I spent way too much money on but am totally and irrevocably in love with…

I’m over the moon about that fabulous octopus, and it’s the first shower curtain in a long line of shower curtains (I’m practically a chronic bathroom redecorator) that my boyfriend was actually enthusiastic about me purchasing.  I take that as a great sign for my life going forward, lol.

AND, on top of all this weirdness/goodness, I worked out a schedule today that I think will be a lot of fun for me if I can get my butt in gear and keep it there.  I’m going to start running again in the mornings, just a mile to start, followed by EDGE training.  When I get home, I’ll have an hour and a half of writing time to work on my book.  Then most afternoons I’ll be taking a class like Spin or Zumba, and if I’m feeling the funk this week, I’m going to start going to a Hip Hop dance class once a week, too.  I’ve wanted to take Hip Hop for a long time, and even though I’m not very graceful or coordinated, I figure it’ll be a great way to start feeling more feminine and having more fun with my body.  I’d like to start taking horseback riding lessons soon, as well, but I’m going to hold off on that until I’m sure I can trust myself with this schedule, and then move on from there.  I also signed up to volunteer at a couple of local festivals that should be super fun, and hopefully will also give me the chance to meet new friends and make new marketing contacts so I can get my copywriting business up and running over the course of the next year.

Tomorrow’s the first day of this grand new effort.  I’m a little embarrassed to go back to EDGE after only making it to one session last week, but I need to just suck it up and show up.  That’s the best I can do, and all I can do after that is make it to one class at a time.  The more I show up, the more I’ll feel like showing up again the next day.  Duh, right?

OK, wish me luck.  I’ll see you tomorrow, with my weight, measurements, and caloric intake.