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Happy Birthday To Myself

i gifted myself a day off

You already know what I didn’t do on my birthday – I didn’t finish my third column and send it out. Here is what I did instead:

  • prepared the online shop for a brand I am managing! I was involved in setting up and styling the shoot of the products, I wrote the names, descriptions, and all the boring bits on the website like policies and FAQs. The designer, Nassim Samma, had flown to Amsterdam with this beautiful collection to show at the event we had planned in March. Like everything else, we had to postpone and Samma flew back to Burundi before their lockdown began. This means we’ve had her collection in our showroom since we’ve been allowed back at work, and I’ve been fortunate enough to get acquainted with each piece and be inspired by Samma’s creativity.
  • took a deliciously long time getting ready, even though I was going nowhere. I draped myself in items I purchased from amazing women, including a deep red lipstick. And I did a mini photoshoot for myself, knowing the result would make me feel beautiful.
  • binge-watched the second season of The Umbrella Academy. It was cute – amazing music of course, but the story wasn’t as developed and deep as the first season. There is nothing in the show itself that wasn’t in the trailer, so I can’t really spoil you. They go back in time to a few days before the Kennedy assassination. Because the ’60s is an under-represented decade in our current media. I also want to know why portrayals of racism in the 1960s are so common while similar treatment of racism in the 2010s is rare.
  • drank a bottle of prosecco. Not all at once. Over about 12 hours, mixed with orange juice. All-day mimosas!

Yes, I had a busy birthday all by myself. It was glorious.

An Overdramatic Reenactment

Because this is my birthday column, and because I turned (gasp) 35, I am now going to give you my summary of the Sex and the City episode in which Carrie turns 35. I haven’t seen that episode in a few years but I think I remember it well, so let’s see how I do…

(Somewhere along the way I stopped being the same age as the Friends and started being the same age the Sex and the City ladies, how did that happen?)

Carrie is turning 35 and she is low-key freaked out so she tells the girls she doesn’t want to make a big deal. They talk her into a group dinner at Il Cantinori. She hums and haws over inviting Mr. Big, and of course, she does invite him with an awkward answering machine message.

Carrie goes full Carrie Glam which includes a massive, stuffed headband and a full, red poodle skirt. She arrives at the restaurant first and orders cosmo after cosmo waiting for her friends. At one point someone holding a cake walks in singing Happy Birthday but it’s for another table where a woman cries out, “25?! GOD I’M OLD!”

Of course, this makes Carrie feel like shit so she leaves after having to pay for her own cake that had been arranged. Once home she hears all her friend’s messages on her machine about traffic and how there is another Il Cantinori that is on the other side of town. Whilst crying in the shower Carrie is interrupted by Charlotte who has come to escort her to exactly what she wanted in the first place: a quiet dinner with the girls.

There is a coda to the main plot where Big shows up with balloons outside her brownstone and they talk about age brackets on forms, 23-34, 35-45, etc… Making sure that viewers are fucking clear on how OLD the show’s main character is.

Here is what I am NOT going to talentedly thieve from this episode of SatC: all the internalised ageism and sexism!

It is an ok storyline to have Carrie’s birthday fall apart as it did. But the writer seemed to get way too much pleasure pointing out how ridiculous it is for a 35-year-old woman to get dressed up for her birthday, how ridiculous it is for her to have that kind of optimism at her age. The episode goes out of its way to bully Carrie into being humble about being too old for her lifestyle.

In my memory, the next time Carrie’s age is such a prominent storyline is the episode when she and Baryshnikov are talking about not having kids. The writers use Bary’s Russianness as a shield for pretty much saying outright, “you are too old to have kids.” She was 38 in that episode.

Yikes. Did the Sex and the City writers hate women?


Of course, I have to address Taylor Swift’s surprise quarantine album folklore.

If you have Spotify go listen to the song ‘mirrorball’ and then come back here.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s discuss.

The entire album, as I heard it, is Taylor Swift’s declaration of independence from men’s bullshit. Not just in her love life, but her professional life as well. And ‘mirrorball’ is the sharpest version of that theme.

I’m a mirrorball
I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight

The song itself sounds dreamy, like a high school dance in a gym with a giant mirrorball hanging from the ceiling. Funny, that the music evokes one of the first times in a girl’s life that she can reflect back onto society what she has learned about being A Girl.

I’m a mirrorball
I can change everything about me to fit in

And in the bridge she uses the words ‘tightrope’ and ‘trapeze’ to blatantly describe how women have to navigate through society.

I’m still trying everything to keep you looking at me
Because I’m a mirrorball

Perhaps Taylor is feeling all of her 30 years of life because here she is addressing how the older you get – as a woman– the less interested society is in you. How there is no breathing room between being in the societal spotlight and being shoved into storage.

Another amazing, strong woman I follow, called Glennon Doyle, summed up my feelings about Taylor Swift and folklore in the perfect way when her daughter came to her crying about how sad Taylor sounded:

“Baby, Taylor isn’t sad. She’s mad. And creative. Mad, creative women change the world.”

I had a marvelous time ruining everything.

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