What Do I Want For My Birthday?

Stock Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

I have a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks. So, what do I want? Obviously. a cure for ME/CFS. Duh. But failing that, I’ll settle for

  • Some really good chocolate
  • Some luxury yarn, to use for the Stephen West Mystery Knitalong
  • A nice meal out (or two or three or four)
  • David Tennant
  • Some nice booze
  • A cake

Most of this is sorted. I have a wish list at Amazon that a few people know about, where some nice chocolate and yarn brands can be found. Also graphic novels and a few other odds and ends. But to make assurance double sure, I have already bought myself some good chocolate and yarn. (Note to friends & fam: yes you can still buy me more, LOL!) The booze, well, I will probably just drink what I already have. I go through my fine whisky extremely slowly.

So, I got some choc truffles from Enigma, a relative newbie on the scene in Braddon. I can’t review them yet, I’m saving them for my birthday, but the service was outstanding. Personal delivery! Yarn is Singaporean Parkour Kitties: a wool/silk blend for the KAL and a couple of other kinds for fun. I’m planning to order a carrot cake from the Knox, when I can work out what day my afternoon crafty visitors will be allowed over.

The meals will depend on lockdown status. Even when ACT lockdown is over (which won’t be until two weeks after my birthday), when will our NSW friends be able to make it? When will the restaurants be open? I’m hoping for Les Bistronomes, Ottoman, Raku and some other more low key places.The idea is a sort of Tour de Restaurants, if you will. Catch up with old friends, some of whom I have not seen for a couple of years, in small groups so it’s not too stressful on me.

David Tennant will not be attending, sadly. Though honestly, he’s far too young and bouncy for me anyway. But my current best option for a lockdown birthday looks like a quiet night at home with the Bloke, with high class food delivery, and Tennant’s Hamlet on DVD. The Canberra Times has a piece on which fancier restaurants have delivery or takeaway in lockdown. There’s some really good options: Otis cook at home, Chairman group, Rizla, Italian & Sons and more.

So given all this uncertainty, I’ve decided that my birthday can last for a good month or two, with maybe even more to come when we finally see our Melbourne friends again. If the Queen can have multiple birthdays, then so can I!

This is quite a confronting birthday for me. It’s not the COVID. It’s not just that I’m going to be sixty, which makes me officially Old. It’s that I have now been sick for ten years. Even without COVID, I can’t even think about having a big party like I did for other big birthdays. I catered my own 21st and 30th, and hired a band for a big party with a friend for my 40th. Despite being rather ill, I still had a decent 50th at home with many choir friends – most of whom I no longer see. My social circle has shrunk a lot. Anyway, even if I could get people back for a big party, big gatherings are a lot of strain. Too much sound and stimulation, I would not be able to cope for long.

Where did my fifties go? I had intended to work for ten years more before considering retirement, enjoying my professional nerdery in public heath statistical programming. I loved my job. I was very active – taking up weight lifting, walking, doing yoga, cycling, taking dance classes. I was reviewing restaurants for the Canberra Times, though also getting rather over it. I was doing classical singing lessons and some occasional choral singing. I liked adventure travel – I’d just got back from motorcycling around Turkey, and was wondering if I could get fit enough for more energetic walking or cycling trips. (I could go forever on the flat but hills were hard.)

Instead, there was a decade of loss, as I went into a slow decline after my triggering illness in 2011, where I could work part time for a while, and travel somewhat, and resume exercise. This was, in hindsight, quite a mistake – but how was I to know? I had no diagnosis until late 2014, and even now, the Australian medical advice is hopelessly behind the times and recommends graded exercise (protip for newbs: DON’T! Unless you can find an exercise physiologist with ME/CFS expertise). I was hoping to get better from this weird post-viral fatigue thing. Instead I got worse and worse, and eventually was forced to quit my job, along with all my activities.

It wasn’t a 100% dead loss of a decade. I learned a lot. Knitting, of course, and I’ve been studying Japanese. I went to Japan early on, taking it easy while my friends did more active things. Later, I went on a knitting cruise to South America and the Antarctic, a trip to New Zealand and another knitting cruise to Tasmania and New Zealand. Also there’s been some self-discovery (oh look, there I am!), some new friends, and willy nilly, a lot about ME/CFS. I knit for therapy, creativity, and donation to refugees. I am on a reference group consultation committee for the local ME/CFS group. So, you know, I’m still alive and kicking, if somewhat feebly.

I’m even considering buying a new vehicle. This is what I got myself for my 50th. Sadly, mostly wasted money.

And for my sixtieth, maybe this. I’m not even sure if I’d use it enough to be worth it, so I’ll consider further after lockdown. Though I have rented them a couple of times when I was in Melbourne, and I found it pretty useful for enlarging my options. I had to use the trains there, you couldn’t get them on trams. But I think you can get them onto Canberra light rail, which would be awesome.

Even so, a sad exchange. How are the mighty fallen.

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