Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Birthday Travels and Wishes

First, on the subject of birthdays: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!! You’re awesome, and I love you very much. I am always glad to have you as both my mother and my friend.

Anyway. Now all about me!

My birthday is coming up and, coincidentally, one of my friends from high school is getting married that weekend, in Portland, OR. I’m going to fly out for the wedding, have a fun time, spend birthday there, then fly home, with a short detour on the way.

I’m getting into Portland mid-morning on the 15th, going to the wedding during the day on the 16th, and flying out early in the morning on the 18th. The 17th is my birthday– note there is no travel scheduled for that day.

When I was a teenager, I spent my 18th birthday on an airplane. I had flown to Berkeley to visit my aunt and uncle and cousin (who is a year younger than me). I was supposed to go a week earlier, but my cousin managed to catch chicken pox while he was in Australia, and his trip home was delayed due to quarantine. I was going out to visit them before heading off to Hampshire College (I only know this because I remember the movie that was on the airplane and could look it up on IMDB.com). A year later, I would fly out again, this time with 5 bags and a registration slip for Cabrillo College, transferring out of Hampshire and into sanity.

I flew home on my birthday. I must say, flying on one’s birthday is pretty suck-tastic. They don’t even give you a cupcake. But also, and perhaps more importantly, there was a lot of turbulence, and I was absolutely convinced I was going to die.

The trope of dying on my birthday has been with me my whole life. I wouldn’t call it a fear– it is more like a certainty, and throughout my life, I’ve always noticed when people died on their birthdays. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

When I’m 95, if I haven’t “checked out” yet, I’ll make sure my suicide-by-cop plan is initiated on my birthday.

In any case: Portland. Birthday. Not going to die.

For my Portland friends, I hope you’ll all be around that afternoon. I’m thinking a nice little celebration at a coffee shop would be in order. I’d love to see everyone, and getting together into one room so I don’t have to run all over town trying to make it to six different meetups… well, that would be the best birthday present ever.

Anyone else feeling compelled to purchase a gift is invited to give a Gift of Hope. Otherwise, your good thoughts and wishes will be more than welcome (and pack easily!)

5 Low-Impact Birthday Gifts

GiftIt’s birthday season around here. My mom’s birthday is today, and mine is coming up in a couple of weeks. I look around my little house-on-wheels and think “gee, what do I want for my birthday?”

I know what I don’t want: more stuff! There’s no room for the Stuff we have right now! But, like everyone who has everything they possibly could need, there are still a few things that I want. In no particular order, I bring you a short, handy list of gifts and guidelines for someone who has no space for anything, or who is trying to live a simple life:

  • Make the world a better place. Make a donation in their honor to a charity they care about. Most importantly, though, make this donation over the phone and be extremely explicit in telling the person taking the donation information that you do not want the recipient to receive newsletters, solicitations, ads, or follow-up mailings. If possible, ask to receive the thank you card at your own address and forward it to the recipient. It’s not a good gift if it comes with 3 years of headaches and junk mail.
  • Gift the gift of entertainment. Find out what kind of entertainment (be it books, music, movies, or TV) that the recipient enjoys, and give them a gift that is weightless or re-giftable. If they have an iPod and know how to use it, an audiobook download from audible.com is a great one for book lovers with no space. Only give digital gifts to those who already know how to use them. If you have to spend 30 minutes explaining how to use it, it’s a bad gift.
  • Share a legacy. Have a favorite family recipe? Share that with a friend. Have some funny stories from your grandparents? Write them down and give them to your folks. It’s all right to re-gift a family tradition.
  • Enjoy some time together. This one’s only useful if you live nearby, but it’s pretty common and acceptable for friends to buy each other a round of drinks or coffee for birthdays. Watching your pennies? Bring a picnic lunch to your friend or host a double date at home. Time with friends reduces stress and increases lifespan. Time well spent leads to more time.
  • Give a service. This is an old, old tip from Dear Abby, but it’s still somewhat true today. Now, while Dear Abby suggested gifts for older friends and family that included trips to the hairdresser, the fact is that some people might consider that to be a not-too-subtle “hint” about one’s hygiene. Instead, find out if there’s something your recipient wants or needs– a website, a blog, some writing, a logo, their yard weedwhacked, and offer to do it for them. The problem I’ve always had with this gift is that I love to give my loved ones my time– but only on my terms. So, I’ll happily set up a web site, then spend no time updating it, and of course, the recipient has no idea how to do so, either. Tailor your gift to what the recipient wants, not what you think they need.

Come to think of it, these are good tips for birthdays, holidays, and business proposals as well. I’ll have to keep that in mind this week as I spend some quality time drafting some quality proposals.

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Originally posted to Life on the Road.

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