What I Did On My Birthday, The World's Longest Essay About Nothing

Before I shut up about it once and for all, I would like to tell you a little bit about my birthday. First of all, if you can swing it, I highly recommend taking the day off work for your birthday, particularly if your birthday is on a Monday. This way you can stay in bed until 11am, reading your new library book (Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs, very enjoyable so far), periodically cackling to yourself with self-important glee because NO MORNING MEETING FOR YOU HAHAHA. Well, unless that morning meeting is with your bed, your library book, and a flaky pain au chocolat. High five!

(Did I just confess to spending the first few hours of my 30th birthday reading a library book? There's a punchline to a joke in there somewhere, isn't there? My 21-year-old self would be apalled.)

The next item on my agenda was to shower, dress, and go and get a mani-pedi, something I hadn't done---I recalled, as I was sitting in the weird massage chair, suddenly having jittery flashbacks---since the day before my wedding. The mani-pedi the day before my wedding was, if you remember, at the evocatively-named Nails 2 U (no, nails to you, buddy!) and I have very little memory of it aside from a) wearing some very short shorts that I would not be able to squeeze my way into these days if you greased them with a stick of butter first, and b) holding up a color to my show my sister, having her say "I'm not sure if it's very bridal," having the nail salon owner go "Oh! Who's the bride?" and subsequently experiencing a very, very, very surreal out-of-body experience that involved me saying "Whoa. Me!"

This mani-pedi, needless to say, was far less fraught with existental crises, and I left for my next stop, which was meeting Sean at The Sentinel to pick up the world's best sandwiches---they're corned beef, but please don't let that put you off; I don't like corned beef either and these are INSANE---and then eat them in Yerba Buena Gardens, along with a brownie and a cookie from Specialty's (if you're coming to San Francisco soon, I hope you're taking notes. As you can see, I like to eat.) 

After lunch, I had about a half hour to kill, so I wandered into Anthropologie, where I had a 15% off coupon they'd sent me as a reward for....being born in February, I guess? I don't know, something like that. I never shop in Anthropologie, mostly because I feel like everything is either artfully ripped or six kajillion dollars (or both), but I figured I would browse the sale racks and see if anything struck my fancy. I took a pile of dresses into the dressing room, half-heartedly considered one until I discovered that it was $128 on sale---and it wasn't anything fancy, just a cotton sundress, though I suppose the fact that it used to be $228 probably made it some warped sort of deal somehow---and then left twenty minutes later empty-handed.

Now I don't know if you've ever been to the Anthropologie in San Francisco, but it is multi-level and the changing rooms are pretty much as far from the exit as you can get: to walk from the changing rooms to the exit, in fact, you have to traverse practically the whole store, which includes a rather long climb up a staircase in the middle. This is important. Remember this for later. Because as I was making this trek from the changing rooms to the exit, I kept hearing this: "Excuse me! Excuse me!"

They can't be talking to me, I thought, and so I kept walking, and I'd just made it out of the store and onto the street, when I felt a hand clasp my shoulder. Am I about to be accused of SHOPLIFTING? I thought, my mind wandering to the many educational after-school specials I had seen on the subject (cough, Beverly Hills 90210, cough). I span around, expecting to be faced with a burly security guard and found instead a diminutive Asian girl who made an apologetic face. "I just wanted to tell you," she whispered, "that your dress is tucked into your tights at the back."

Yes, Internet, I cannot make this shit up. On my thirtieth birthday, I walked the length and breadth of Anthropologie WITH MY UNDERWEAR FULLY ON DISPLAY. Well, that's certainly a way to celebrate, isn't it?

But you know, I was mortified by this for about five seconds---I thanked the girl profusely for following me through the store to catch up with me, god knows what sort of view she must have endured to do that---but by the time I was a few blocks away from Anthropologie, I was actually chuckling quite mirthfully at the situation. Aha! I thought! This is because I am now thirty! I am mature and wise and I have ceased to care what people think of me anymore! It happened just like they said it would!

Good job, however, that my next stop was the spa---specifically, this spa, which, despite the fact that it plays Enya when you click on that link, was really quite delightful---because it took my mind entirely off the fact that I'd just flashed the entire clientele of Anthropologie and instead set it to far more coherent thoughts like aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh and mmmmmmmmm and ooooooh. I had a groupon, you see---have you heard of Groupon? I'm obsessed with it---so I booked a massage as a special treat, and then took advantage of the fact that it was three o'clock on a Monday afternoon and I had nowhere else to be and spent an obscene amount of time in the steam room. My god, I love the steam room. I went in, like, three separate times. My skin looked fabulous afterwards, I'm telling you. If I'm ever rich enough, I'm going to install a steam room in my house and I will conduct all business from there, except maybe not anything that requires a) paper (it'll droop) and b) me to meet publicly with anyone (I'll be sweaty), though everything else apart from that will be fair game.

Anyway, after I finally left the locker room at the spa---they had a shower with ten shower heads, which didn't so much give one the impression of showering but rather of being caught in a tropical monsoon---I did a quick spot of shopping in Union Square (found a dress and some earrings) and then returned home, where it was time for champagne, and not just champagne, but also presents. Sean gave me an Arco lamp, which I have been coveting for years---I don't have a picture of it since it's currently sitting in three pieces on our living room floor, but it looks like this (PS: how much do you want that giant globe in the corner?)---and also some Hunter wellington boots, which might sound dorky to you, but which I have also been coveting for years, though particularly strongly for the last few weeks when the rain was coming down in San Francisco like a shower with ten showerheads.

Wait, what do you mean I'm supposed to take the tag off first?

I thought this was the end of the presents---it was certainly enough for me---but he had one more surprise up his sleeve, and when I show you this next photo, I think you will quite likely be able to feel my excitement LEAPING OUT OF THE COMPUTER AND CRACKLING ONTO YOUR SKIN, that's how pumped I was about it.

Yes, my friends, that is a new camera, the first DSLR I've ever owned. I think you can see that I like it. 

The day ended with a delicious dinner at Chapeau!, which I would recommend you run to if you are ever in the San Francisco area and like steak, cheese, butter, and waiters with French accents, and I have to say, it was truly one of the most brilliant days I've had in a while.

I would also like to shut up, finally, about turning thirty, because for all my silly fretting and worrying---which your fantastic comments completely helped to eradicate, by the way---it really wasn't as huge a deal as I'd thought it would be. In fact, it really wasn't a big deal at all. Apart from that bit where I walked around with my dress tucked into my tights and my bum hanging out in a major urban retail store, of course. That part wasn't my favorite.

Lots more photos here, though thankfully none of that scene in Anthropologie. We're just going to pretend that never happened.

Feb 12, 2010

You make me smile. I'm glad you had a good birthday. Everyone should feel pampered on their birthday.

Feb 12, 2010

Yep, turning 30 was fine. It was 31 that was horrible ;)

Glad you had such a good birthday - great camera!

Feb 12, 2010

You make an excellent case for the Birthday Day Off. (Beats hiding in the printroom hoping no-one has remembered, lest there be a public serenade. Yeesh.)

Also, lovely haircut.

Feb 12, 2010

Love the 'excuse me' story, and it was great reading all the details of your 30th birthday. Sounds absolutely perfect.

Feb 12, 2010

Sounds like an absolutely amazing day, Holly, one that I want to try to recreate when it's my birthday again! Glad you had a great day!

Feb 12, 2010

Any day that starts with pain au chocolat and ends with chocolate souffle cake by way of champagne and Kir Royale is going to be good! By the way, I love how in the photo of you with the Veuve Cliquot box, Charlie is staring up at it like he's after a glass. You clearly have a cat with classy tastes.

Feb 12, 2010

You are amazing! You have already discovered the secret to aging gracefully and you did it in only one day!

Remember the good, forget the bad.


Feb 12, 2010

What an awesome post.

I’m going to keep this and use it as a template for my 30th birthday. Even the knicker flashing bit. I’m bound to do something shameful, it might just as well be that!

Happy Birthday.

Feb 12, 2010

at least you did have the tights on!

Home Sweet Sarah
Feb 12, 2010

This is exactly like my birthday (which is today), except that the sound of rustling wrapping paper caused me to get up before 6AM, not 11AM. Either way, though, the mani-pedi and the massage? Right there with ya.

Feb 12, 2010

You are going to love your Rebel.
I have had mine for several years now and it is, hands down, the best present my husband ever gave me and, he gave me two beautiful children so, yeah...LOVE the Rebel.
P.S. It sounds like your birthday was perfect and you really will love your thirties :)

Feb 12, 2010

of course now i'm dying to know which nail colors are bridal and which are not.
my aunt once ran down a busy street after a woman who had her skirt tucked into her panties. the woman was so grateful, she almost kissed my aunt's feet.

Feb 12, 2010

I can never afford anything in Anthropologie, nor am I ever 100% sure I want to. Like yeah, that top is *kind* of cute and *maybe* I could pull it off. Oh, what's that you say? It's $75 and in no way work-appropriate so essentially I could only wear it on the weekend and when it's at least 80 degrees out? Alright then, that's a no.

Feb 12, 2010

Sounds like a lovely day, all around! (And I agree with you on Anthropologie. The quality never seems to live up to the price, which annoys me greatly about that store.)

Feb 12, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday! What a hilarious story. Better the undies showing then, say, something like toilet paper hanging out. (Which happened to someone I know) Yikes!

Amy --- Just A Titch
Feb 12, 2010

What a lovely birthday! Glad it was so wonderful.

P.S. I tucked my dress into my tights last week...except I was at work. And a co-worker had to tell me. At least I didn't walk into my classroom of 35 13-year-olds with my underwear showing. BUT STILL.

Feb 12, 2010

Ooooh...the Rebel. I bought myself the same camera last year for my 38th b-day and now every gift giving event is filled with ..oooh, I'd really love this lens or oooh, I need a new bag

HIp Hip Gin Gin
Feb 12, 2010

Sounds like you had a perfect birthday! I hope my 30th is that fabulous. Right down to the wellington boots which by the way are totally not dorky I have been coveting them forever as well since every time it rains in New England there is some sort of flood.
And hey, if flashing a bit of bum is the price one has to pay for the rest of the day being so fantastic, then sign my bum up!!

Feb 12, 2010

Firstly Happy Birthday(!), and I am glad you're not dwelling on that unfortunate dress-stuck-in-tights incident. And secondly- oh MAN am I jealous of your Rebel. That is what I have been coveting for years. YEARS. Enjoy!

Feb 12, 2010

You've set a very high Birthday Bar that I'll aim for next year. Although Birthday Bar also sounds like the great name of a place that only serves desserts with candles while people sing to you.

Nothing But Bonfires
Feb 12, 2010

Jennie, I think you've just had a million dollar business idea.

Feb 12, 2010

1. Happy birthday! What a lovely post.
2. Have you had a sandwich at Ike's yet? They're insane. Onion rings, mozzarella sticks—on a sandwich? And oh, his dirty sauce! (Wait, that sounded extra dirty.) The lines are crazy but the wait is SO worth it.
3. The boots! I wanted the silver pair until I saw them live (a little too Tinman) so now I covet the red. And have you seen the sock inserts? Fabulous!

Feb 12, 2010

That's the same camera I got for my 39th birthday...er, over a year ago. I'm old. The camera is great-you'll love it! notmartha.com had a lot of great things to say about it too.

Feb 12, 2010

De-lurking to ask if anyone ever asks you if they want your life? Because I do. You have a lovely, beautiful life. And you seem very happy. All the best, from this rambling de-lurker!

Feb 12, 2010

Yep, been to that Anthropologie and agree, it's huge and set up badly. I never get anything there either.

I love Specialty's HUGE chocolate chip cookies! Although where I work we order food from there constantly, so it can be very dangerous to have those cookies around me all the time.

Love the DSLR, perfect gift! I just bought myself (as a Christmas present to me) the Canon T1i and love it!

Feb 12, 2010

Not sure if they would come in handy in San Fran, but did you know they also make fleece liner socks for the Hunter boots? I live in the midwest and got some so that I could wear my Hunter's in the snow without getting frostbite on my toes and they work great!

Feb 13, 2010

My sister once walked 10 blocks through downtown Chicago before someone told her that her skirt was tucked into the back of her waistband. San Franciscans must be very friendly!

Feb 14, 2010

Your day sounds delightful. I love reading about your life, even if I'm slightly jealous.

Sarah Ashley
Feb 16, 2010

Holly, I can't believe you are 30! You are in great shape & look younger than you really are. (I'm told the same too. I really think it will pay off one day when we're older) Where did you find those lovely earnings?

Feb 16, 2010

Sometimes I think "man, these crazy things only happen to me!" (see: crazy biker chasing me into a salon.)

And then I read your post and it's like straight out of a YM Say Anything column and then I realize that it is why I love you! Because you tell the internet these things! And crazy things happen to you too!

So happy you had a wonderful birthday my friend!

Feb 16, 2010

Thank you, Sarah Ashley! Earrings are just H&M.

Feb 21, 2010

Reading this belatedly but I have to share: just a few days after your bday I had to take a towel to my daughter who had just finished her swim lesson at the community center pool. To do this I had to weave my way through the small crowd of parents on the bleacher things, descend the stairs to the pool area, walk the length of the pool, all this in front of the glass-wall observation deck above, and then all the way back again. My husband was bug-eyed when I got back, said, "Turn around, but don't do it obviously." (Wha??) So I did, and he calmly informed me I had a length of toilet paper flapping out the top of my jeans. Lovely.

Happy belated birthday, and congrats on finally crossing the perceived hurdle of turning 30.

Feb 22, 2010

ONE: The last time I was in that anthropologie in the city I was nine months pregnant. OH YES I DO remember the walk from the fitting rooms to the entrance. I had to sit down and take a break half way. And then another break on the stairs.

TWO: When my husband and I were in Rome on our honeymoon we were eating dinner at this little cafe in the piazza navona. After using the (oh so tiny) restroom I was walking back outside when the old man bartender and the old men coffee drinkers kept saying to me "signorina! signorina!" which I simply ignored because I was on my HONEYMOON and I didn't care to deal with old italian men being, well, old italian men. A few minutes after sitting back down at our table it hit me: that bathroom was REALLY small. I was wearing A LOT of layers. There was a log of WIGGLING involved in getting said layers back in their proper place. Already knowing what I was going to find, I took my hand reached back to the waist of my jeans. Yup. A toilet paper tail. Lovely.

Apr 12, 2010

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you LOVE your Rebel? I want to splurge and get one, but can only do so in good conscience if I know it's a 9 or a 10 :)

Jul 01, 2010

Good luck with your work and keep it up.

serving dish | vanity table

Mar 08, 2011

I honestly always wanted to get something like this for my birthday, but it seems I haven't reached that level of being so luck as you are.

However, I'm working hard to get there ;)


Ben Dover
Apr 17, 2012

kill yoursef before your next birthday please

Dec 17, 2014


Nov 04, 2015

you wasted 10 minites of my time you fucking retard

Your mom
Nov 04, 2015

I suck star wars dildos

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

Just to make sure you have a pulse
Enter the characters (without spaces) shown in the image.