"In the coming year," she said, hoisting her blindingly clean and gleaming glass into the air, "may half of all your dreams come true."
"Mom," I said to her, "isn't that kind of pathetic?"
"Well, it's realistic."
It's her thirty-sixth birthday, and she really thought things would be different this year—that she'd have figured out men and how to get along with her narcissistic parents enough to survive a birthday celebration. But nothing's changed. Her disappointing day is capped off by the delivery of a huge bouquet of flowers from Carl, with whom she has recently, and bitterly, split. A gesture of reconciliation? Of passive aggression? She's too unhinged to tell.
It's My F---ing Birthday unfolds in seven state-of-my-life addresses this hapless high school art teacher writes to herself on consecutive birthdays, as she is determined to break the patterns of behavior that are keeping her down. Her objective: to avoid making the same mistakes over and over and start making some new ones. Through seven outrageously funny years of needling parents, self-absorbed boyfriends, riots, O.J., and Monica—and bigger and bigger bouquets from Carl—she navigates a circuitous (and ultimately successful) route to happiness in a world where everything seems to conspire to the contrary.
What I Learned This Year That I Need to Remember
1. No more taking the bait from Mom. Even if the fight becomes about not taking the bait.
2. No more dwelling in the past.
3. Try much harder to continue being a vegetarian. This will limit the restaurants the folks can take me to.
4. No more trying to decode the flowers from Carl. If he sends them again, just think of them as a fun, free thing, like a little sample box of cereal or detergent that suddenly appears in the mailbox.
5. Don't make a big deal out of the fact that there were no guys this year. Perhaps that's a better thing than continuing to get involved with guys who exhibit behavior from the beginning that indicates the whole thing is completely hopeless. So try to remember the above as a coping strategy when I am so crazed with horniness that I want to throw myself off a building.
6. No more mumbo jumbo. This means no more calling 900 astrology numbers listed at the end of horoscopes in women's magazines to find out my love forecast. And no more going to psychics, no matter how dicey things get.