12 Things I did for My Birthday: 2017
Today is my birthday, which is normally a pretty big deal. However, I have been very busy lately. As such, celebrating my birthday feels a little more like a chore this year. It is just one more thing to add to my “to do” list. Yet, I really want to push myself to celebrate. I feel that I have been in a black hole of work and activism, so taking time to celebrate is a very important “to do” list for the month of February. With that said, here are some of the things that I did this weekend for my birthday. Of course, my birthday celebrations usually last the entire month of February, so this is just a sample of what the month has in store for me. Why bother? Well, I happen to like being alive. I won’t always be alive…so I best enjoy it while I can! I won’t lie, this year’s birthday weekend was a little less fabulous than most years. But, I did my best to make the most of it.
Ten hours of my birthday consisted of working. This isn’t the most fun way to spend a birthday. Work has been a little stressful this weekend. I can’t go into details, but I work at a domestic violence shelter and things can get a little stressful at work. So, yep, there you go, I spent a good portion of my birthday working.
2. Felt Sick to my Stomach
I worked on Saturday night, but felt sort of bloated and gross. My stomach discomfort continued on Sunday. I could not sleep well. The howling wind outside of my window and my heavy stomach kept me awake. I could hear the crows cawing in the creaking trees outside. I even had a dream that there was a giant crow in my bedroom window. In the dream, I debated if it was a crow or a raven. The thicker beak and wedge shaped tale told my dream brain that it was actually a raven. In any event, I had planned on going to a Darwin Day celebration hosted by the Lake Superior Freethinkers. That was supposed to be the highlight of my actual birthday. However, my stomach felt unhappy, so I decided to stay in bed. I actually called in sick to work because I felt that if I moved around too much, I might become sicker. I try not to call in sick, but I figured that I didn’t have to push myself through a shift on my birthday. Thus, aside from working, I spent a good portion of my birthday in bed. Thankfully, my stomach eventually felt less icky (after 12 hours in bed).
“Caw, caw, wake up! Wake up! Will you throw up? Is it just diarrhea? Caw, caw!”
3. Drank Tea:
Wow, who would have known that February 12th is Hot Tea Appreciation Day?! At least it has been hot tea appreciation day since it was established in 2016. I certainly appreciate tea. It is my caffeinated drink of choice. While working on Saturday night, I took time to drink some Bhakti brand Fiery Masala Chai tea while at work (I really like the flavor of this tea, which we actually have for residents). Well, whoopee I drank some tea. Still, sometimes having hot tea is like a bubble bath for my innards. It is the little things in life.
I’ve been pretty good about reading lately. On Friday, I finished a really interesting book about the environment history of Russia. Saturday, I started on a very short book. It is Anton’ Treuer’s Ojibwe in Minnesota. The book is a very quick read that offers a basic overview of Ojibwe history in Minnesota. Here are a few interesting facts: 1. The 1898 Battle of Sugar Point at Leech Lake was the last conflict between a U.S. tribe and the military. 2. Ponemah on the Red Lake Reservation has never held a Christian funeral. 3. The Ojibwe and Dakota formed an alliance, wherein they shared territory and were at peace for 57 years- before the better known conflicts after 1736.
5. Full Moon Snow Shoe Hike:
On Friday, in celebration of my birthday weekend, I went on a full moon snowshoe hike with UWS’ outdoor adventure program. I signed up at the last minute and wasn’t sure if I wanted to attend a three hour snowshoeing excursion before working a 10 hour shift. I went anyway. The night was lovely. At the beginning of the trip, the sky was clear and the temperature was about 35 degrees F. The outing offered me a good view of the full moon (which was experiencing a partial eclipse) as well as some wintry constellations like Orion, canis major, Taurus, Gemini, etc. Because the moon was slightly dimmed by the eclipse, the constellations were easier to spot than during a regular full moon. The snowshoe hike itself was along Lake Superior on Wisconsin Point. We clambered up the ice hill along the lake and continued that precarious path for about an hour before turning around and heading back. I imagined that I was walking along a glacier or ice cap in Greenland as I carefully trod across the small mound of snow and ice. It was fun, but it wore me out! Thankfully, I survived my night shift on Friday night.
6. Watched Documentaries:
Since I took Sunday night off of work, I had some free time for some sedentary activity. I filled this time by watching documentaries and videos about the “stan” countries on YouTube. I am planning on traveling to several of the “stan” countries this summer, so I have been reading about them lately. I read a book about the Great Game in January and finished a book about early communist policies regarding the stans earlier this month. I read a book about the Silk Road in December. I am slowly increasing my knowledge of the stans, which I will meet in person in June. Anyway, on Sunday night I watched a BBC travel series about the “stans.” I also watched a short video about Turkmenbashi, the former dictator of Turkmenistan and another short news video about upcoming elections in Turkmenistan. I have enjoyed learning about this region of the world. Nevertheless, like always, I have some anxiety about the upcoming trip. I worry the most about health, but also the conditions of travel. This trip will involve overland travel and camping. The camping conditions will be more rustic and challenging than my previous trip to southern Africa. Am I up to the challenge? On the bright side, I will probably get to see part of the Aral Sea and the giant gas crater in Turkmenistan.
7. Fed the Squirrels:
After finishing work on Sunday morning, I decided to head to the grocery store to pick up a few items. I decided to pick up some hazelnuts and leave them out for the squirrels in my yard. I know that Flappy’s favorite food was hazelnuts. Thus, the nuts were a little Valentine’s treat for my squirrel friends. I love squirrels. Happy Valentine’s Day to my favorite rodents!
8. Went for a Walk:
I went for a walk with Dan in the Superior Municipal Forest on Saturday evening. I didn’t actually want to walk, as my stomach was already starting to feel a little iffy. But, it was nice to be outside and I felt better once I was walking. I chalked the iffy stomach up to nerves or stress from a busy weekend at work. Perhaps that is all it was? Perhaps it was just a very mild bug? Who knows.
9. Ate Mexican Food:
After taking a walk on Saturday, Dan and I went to Guadalajara Restaurant. I really like Mexican food. After eating, I felt bloated and that feeling didn’t go away for about 24 hours. I don’t think that this is what made me feel ill today, but probably added to my uneasy stomach. Oh well, it was worth it since I really do like Mexican food…
10. Drank Lime La Croix:
So, two of my twelve activities involve drinking. While most people probably have a drink on their birthday, it probably isn’t tea and lime sparkling water. Well, I am a teetotaler. I have never drank an alcoholic beverage in my life. Oddly enough, I have not smoked a cigarette or tried an illegal drug. I am not against these things and don’t look down upon people who do these things, but when you haven’t done them there is a certain momentum to maintaining the identity of a teetotaler. And, I have plenty of other vices…such as junk food. However, my drinks of choice remain unsweetened tea and lime La Croix. I was very happy to find 100 cans of La Croix in the kitchen when I finally rolled out of bed today! Thanks Adam. February 12th should also be Lime La Croix appreciation day.
11. Booked a Trip to a Sloth Sanctuary
Next November, Dan and I are going on a trip. We haven’t been anywhere together for about seven years. He rarely gets time off of work and really isn’t that interested in travel. Thus, for the most part, I travel alone. However, in November 2017, he was able to take some time off of work, so we are going to go on a cruise. While this trip is a long while away, I booked a trip to visit a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica today. I thought it would be a small way to prepare for that trip and brighten my mood about being sick. I am more of a squirrel person and Dan’s favorite animals are toads. Still, sloths are really cute. And, my bloated, slow digesting stomach…coupled with my lack of energy….certainly makes me feel like a sloth today.
12. Wrote a Blog Post
Last year I wrote a blog post about 12 things I did for my birthday. I didn’t work on my birthday last year…and I wasn’t sick, so I had a bit more time/ability to do fun things. Despite it all, I think I successfully managed to squeeze some birthday fun out of my weekend. Perhaps it isn’t the most fun I’ve had for my birthday, but the month isn’t over!