Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Un-Birthdays Are All Used Up For The Year

-Alice widened her eyes so that she could see the air, particles of static, vibrating blue, yellow, and white dots. She was annoyed with Dodgson for his meticulousness...for the paper he had carried down from his rooms so neatly in a leather folder, all for her pleasure, she knew, but it embarrassed her, the trouble he had taken, the whole production. She felt uncomfortable, like it was her he was folding into small triangles. -  She Still Haunts Me by Katie Roiphe

Today is my birthday and the above quote from the book I've been reading (a novel about Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell) seems appropriate for reasons that will soon be made clear. Rather than write about all the common getting-older-vs.-getting-wiser and is-it-better-or-worse, type of birthday musings, I've decided to write about a strange quirk of mine in regards to receiving gifts.

It's no secret that writers are notoriously bad at conventional social practices that most people perform without thought. One such oddity for me has always been the opening of presents. I've never been comfortable in any situation where there is an expected reaction that I'm supposed to have. It's not that I don't like presents...I love them. It's more about behavioral expectations. Knowing your supposed to be show excitement to the point where it becomes acting, for some reason it's something that I've never been good at. 

I came across the Alice quote the other day, and I knew instantly the feeling that was being portrayed. It's exactly how I've felt in those situations. I love coming across quotes like that...that express feelings you've always had but never could articulate. 

To bring this post full circle, I didn't have to worry about this feeling today. I received three of the most amazing presents this morning from the Missus and my cats. The big present being several beautifully framed Lewis Carroll photographs of Alice Liddell. (Not originals of course. I'd have to have written Twilight for that kind of cash...but beautiful prints). Now, if someone could just give me some wall space to hang them own, it would be a present I'd appreciate.


  1. I'm so glad to not be alone in the awkwardness of gift-receiving. I don't mind giving or getting, but the opening in front of an audience is what really does me in. To the point where I tell John that he's got to make up an excuse as to why I can't open the presents his parents and siblings get me in front of them. Luckily, I spend Christmas day at my dad's, so I don't get the Masino gifts until later in the evening... when I'm "really tired from the day and should probably go home and open them tomorrow."

    Happy birthday!

  2. I know the feeling...

    Here's to hoping next year we get each other in the cousin pollyanna and can exchange gifts without worry.