Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Monday, November 22, 2004

Party at my place

My birthday week started off rather auspiciously, in spite of the fact that it began in Cleveland (which is really a nice city, but it's so much fun to make fun of). I was there to cover the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities, which was cool because I got to meet some movers and shakers in the Jewish community and bump into some old friends from Stern and NCSY.

I didn't stay long though. Just after the opening plenary ended, and just before the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers/Cleveland Browns football game which was going on at the stadium literally across the street from the convention center (incidentally, the Steelers won), I made a dash for my car, so I could beat the post-game traffic and make the two and a half hour drive back to the Burgh in time for my own birthday party.

I share my birthday with two other good friends at my shul and this year we decided to have a joint party with music and a 1980s theme. While the party itself was fun, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped because something I had eaten in Cleveland did not agree with me, so I wasn't feeling completely well, and barely touched any of the decadent desserts I was so looking forward to eating. I also would have been more comfortable with a smaller party -- I find it awkward to be the center of attention of a large crowd. And also, the party -- out of necessity -- took place two days before our actual birthday, and I find it somewhat inauthentic to celebrate my birthday on any day but the actual day.

And then there was the music. The husband of one of the other birthday girls had decided to hire a band (and cover most of its cost). The band usually plays jazz and some klezmer. About a week before the party, we gave the lead musician a CD of 80s tunes we liked, and asked him if he would be able to play any of them. The list included classics like "Footloose," "She Bop," "Rock Me Amadeus," and "Jesse's Girl" -- great dancing music. We told the band to play whatever they could, and put the CD on during their breaks.

I was really hoping to dance a lot -- especially since I was dressed in a "Flashdance"-inspired outfit. (Trust me, it was modest -- contrasting colors and multiple layers can give one the appearance of wearing off-the-shoulder clothing without actually showing any skin. Also, we had a mehitzah. I am not afraid to bust a move, but I don't dance with men.)

Unfortunately, the band decided to attempt playing 80s songs which they were so not meant to play. Trust me when I say that having a man named Henry sing an off-key rendition of "I Will Survive" was enough to make me hope I would survive the song. Fortunately, enough of us female folks knew the words to sing them at the top of our lungs and drown out Henry.

The other highlight of the party was when, during a break, the band put on our 80s mix CD and "Thriller" came one. In a moment reminiscent of last summer's movie "13 Going on 30," a bunch of us moonwalked and gyrated like the good ol' days. A moment for the memory books.

Feeling like a party pooper, I left while lots of people were still mingling because I was not feeling well, and showed up to work late on Monday because I still felt kind of gross. Thankfully, by Tuesday, I was feeling a lot better.

My birthday itself was a regular workday -- I wore a new outfit I bought myself, and brought a cake into work (The Chronicle's policy is BYOC -- bring your own cake.) so that my coworkers would sing happy birthday for me. Someone even produced a few candles for me to blow out. And my mom sent me flowers, which was nice. In the evening, I went to a concert at the JCC, which was good, and there was even some dancing, though it was mostly me and a bunch of sixth grade girls.

Altogether, it was a good birthday, with some disappointing undertones. My mom also mailed me a small package for my birthday (a box of chocolate -- I have the best mom), which she sent Express so I would get it in time, and she signed a waiver so that I wouldn't have to sign for the package when it arrived, which was supposed to be last Shabbos. Well, the postman decided to be super diligent and not leave the package for me in case someone stole it before I picked it up. Four trips to the post office and six days later (three days after my birthday), I finally got the package, and thankfully the chocolate had not melted. I almost went postal, but thanks to an infusion of chocolate flowing through my veins, I am now at peace with the postal service.

The other disappointment this week was related to my dating life. Birthdays are always painful reminders that "I'm another year older and I'm still not married." To counteract that feeling this year, I decided to be a bit more proactive. I signed up for, and bought a plane ticket to attend, a singles Shabbaton in New Jersey. While I normally abhor such events, this one sounded like it was being carefully planned and would be worth attending. Alas, on my birthday, I got a phone call informing me that the Shabbaton had been cancelled because not enough men had expressed interest in attending.

I briefly entertained the idea of visiting friends in New York for the weekend, but eventually decided on a quiet weekend in Pittsburgh, which turned out to be a great idea. I had a nice relaxing Shabbos, and Saturday night I ate chocolate and French fries and watched part of "To Kill a Mockingbird" (one of my favorite movies) on television. It was so nice and relaxing after a hectic week of trying to celebrate, that I couldn't help thinking that this was the best birthday party of all.


  • At November 22, 2004 at 2:21 PM, Blogger Josh said…

    Sounds like a pretty fun eventful birthday. You'd rather not know how I usually spend mine - not terribly exciting to say the least.

    I'm sorry you weren't feeling well enough to enjoy the party as much as you could have, but you did spend it with some great people who went out for you.

    And you did get the chocolate in the end...

    Incidentally, "I Will Survive" was released in 1979 thus technically not an 80's song. :-)

  • At November 22, 2004 at 4:48 PM, Blogger Susan said…

    I should have known you would make that comment about "I Will Survive." I included it knowing it was a 1979 song because, in spite of its release date, it was certainly playing on the radio into the early 1980s.

  • At November 23, 2004 at 12:28 PM, Blogger Josh said…


  • At November 23, 2004 at 6:50 PM, Blogger Shayne said…

    Susan -

    Great article in the World Jewish Digest. It was cool seeing your name on the front of the paper.

    Happy Birthday!


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