Today is the first day of my Birthday Week. It's a concept I first learned about from my German friend Anna. We live in the age of entitlement and just one special day a year is inadequate for our psychological well-being. Thus we stretch birthdays into Birthday Weeks.
(My attempt to launch Birthday Month didn't take.)
It's not really about getting more presents - it's more that I can spoil myself and demand that my friends do whatever I want.
But the first birthday swag has come in, from Anna herself. Some luxury chai tea powder! Score!
I made myself a mugful after work, at about 7pm. Took a swig. Pulled a surprised face. "Pretty damn good!"
Jen looked worried. "But it's got matcha."
"It's like amphetamine. Drinking that is like mainlining speed. You know the way your fingers twitch when you're watching me struggle to use my laptop? Your whole body will be like that."
"Waah!" I knew I shouldn't have trusted anything with the words 'just add soy' on the front.
More swag - a cool bluetooth earphone set from Jen.
|Plantronics Backbeat 2|
The really nice part was that I'd made an off-the-cuff remark about wireless earphones about four months earlier and then forgot all about it. So that was very thoughtful of her.
But the best part of getting the present was Jen repeatedly telling me about one important feature of this particular model.
"I chose those ones because they are sweatproof." Significant pause. "Sweatproof."
Another happy thing - a friend who I'll call 'The English Bill Gates' had used some of his fortune to pay for my birthday dinner - all organised in secret.
It's the World Cup soon, and as ever it will be a carnival of cheating, skulduggery, and graft.
But even football still has the capacity to bring a smile to one's face. Today I saw that fans of Bari (an Italian team) were defying the heat to line up and buy tickets for the decisive match of their season.
The players took time away from their busy schedules (getting tattoos and posting gibberish on twitter) to bring croissants and drinks to the people who pay their wages.
I thought that was Bari nice of them.
In accidental tribute to my birthday week, an entire class of students didn't turn up.
"What joy it was to be alive, but to be paid to do nothing was very heaven."
There's a documentary on Youtube called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It is about a fat dude who drank green smoothies 4 times a day for 60 days instead of eating. He lost tons of weight and was able to come off all his medication.
A less cynical person would call it 'inspirational' - but anyway, I thought it would do me good to have green smoothies a few times a week (to balance the pizzas and tubs of ice-cream).
Green smoothies are lots of vegetables (and some fruit to improve the taste) smithereened by an expensive blender. Jen's mum went on holiday today, so we could borrow hers (a premium model) and try it for a week.
The results look horrible. Look at that stuff. "Would sir care for a starter of green slime?" Seriously. But when you make it yourself it's not bad. I think it's something to do with being sure what's in it. We made one with apples and lettuce and while it wasn't what I'd choose for my last meal, it was palatable.
So not exactly a high point of happiness, but as I learned last week, it's hard to be happy when you're unwell. I'm quietly confident that with all the fruit and veg I'm ingesting in smoothie form, I will never get sick ever again.
One way I treat myself is to take a bath. Sometimes I'll take an entire dinner in there - main course, dessert, cold beers. If happiness had a logo, it'd be a man in a bath with a cold can.
While today's bath was running I gave Jen her instructions: "In about twenty minutes I'll need a fresh beer from the fridge."
"I'm doing my taxes."
When I went back into the bathroom, things were amiss.
Perhaps I had used too much bubble bath, or perhaps it was just an extra-potent batch. I got in and tried to make the best of it, but there were just too many damn bubbles.
"What?" she yelled. "It's only been five minutes."
I heard her mumble "Jesus," then listened as her tiny feet pattered closer. "What?" She looked at the bubbles and said, with a different tone of voice, "What!"
"Jen there's too many bubbles. I need you to help me pop them."
"There's no way I'm-"
A heatwave struck, turning the end of my glorious Birthday Week into a sweaty, sleepless dungheap. I spent most of the day cursing the sun - literally poking my head out of the window and yelling at it - joylessly waiting for summer to be over.
Still, the point of this happiness project is to find something good every day, and some of my research suggests that helping other people is predictive of personal happiness. So I tried doing nice things for other people:
- Ordered a new bathroom for my tenant
- Lent more money to my Microfinance charity
- Bought a nice football poster for one of my cousins
- Bravely agreed to leave the flat to help Jen with one of her projects
- Rescued some video game characters from monsters
The football poster is a celebration of Manchester United's 13 Premier League titles, featuring iconic moments from that time. Whichever cousin 'likes' the link I post on Facebook can have it. Game on! (Except Mark, because he's a City fan and will burn it, or worse.)
Progress after 42 days:
Mood: Being melted from the inside
Compliments: "So how old are you? 33?"
Optimism: It's too hot for that.