Tuesday, December 08, 2009

On Birthdays and Snowdays

The Palisade Burrow, Monday morning

I'll admit it it upfront: I'm a birthday grinch. I'm certain it's a manifestation of my age, but I'd just as soon have the day pass completely unnoticed. Birthday? What birthday? I'm so not getting older. I still need to run 3:40 to qualify for Boston...I swear. (And I did so 4 times this year, so there, BAA!) Self-pity is terribly unattractive, so I'll not expound on my feelings about aging. Let's just say that I think birthday's are for kids.

It's with this attitude that I have allowed the last several birthdays slip by largely unnoticed by anyone but my family (who are welcome to acknowledge it with singing, cake, and large gifts, of course). At my new school, no such luxury was allowed. Elementary schools are all about birthdays. I had to report my birthday to at least a dozen people in the first week of classes. Why do they care? The kid's birthdays I can understand, but mine? I just don't get it.

Then, the week before the big, dreaded event, my students started talking about it.

"Ms. Brugman, your birthday's next week!" came the squeals.

How do they know this?

"I have it written in my homework planner, see?" (Homework planner is offered up for inspection.)

Oh God.

My husband also spent the day before pestering me, because he thinks it's terribly funny that I hate my birthday. (That's what I get for marrying a younger man, I guess.) He even set the alarm for midnight in a secret plot to wake me up and wish me happy birthday during the first minute of the day. Fortunately I noticed it after he fell asleep and foiled his devilish scheme.

Anyway, the day turned out to be pretty darn good, and I have, in large part, my students to thank. Did I mention that birthday's are for kids? Maybe that's because they know how to bring the proper enthusiasm to the task. Or maybe it's just because they're so genuinely excited about birthdays that it's hard to get mad at them for it. They planned, and executed, a surprise party for me of amazing proportions. Frankly, I was blown away. They decorated the multi-purpose room, set it up with pizzza and cupcakes, plates, balloons, presents, juice boxes -- everything a good birthday needs. They led me in there blind-folded and full of giggles (them and me) and instead of feeling slightly irritated like a good grinch should, I cried.

I am truly grateful for all of the people who love me in this world, and I know there are many of them. I got some incredibly thoughtful gifts and wishes. But there is something pretty special about being loved by kids. (Like when my nephews, ages 3 and 5, sing "Happy Birthday" into the answering machine...so cute!) The fact that a group of 10 and 11-year-olds pulled off such a feat of organization with no adult leadership whatsoever is a sure sign of love in my book.

For the weekend, I had planned my own birthday present of sorts to myself. This involved driving down to Sacramento Friday night to see my favorite band with good friends, driving home Saturday to see the same band again in Tahoe with more good friends, then leaving at 4:30 am Sunday morning (after about 3 hours of sleep) to return to Sacramento and run CIM. Crazy? Not so much. It was an amazing weekend with epic music, booty-shakin' dancing, falling in love with a new artist (Kate Gaffney rocks!) a stolen car, not a single glance at the WS lottery results, a freezing cold (and fairly slow) run through Sac, 3 amazing cups of hot chocolate, Christmas shopping, donating 13 inches of red hair to locks of love, and a 4-and-a-half hour drive up I-80 through a frigid storm.

I didn't arrive home until 6:00 Sunday night, and after all that, I blew off my school work in favor of a glass of wine and an early bed time. I was blessed Monday morning with the best gift yet - a snow day. (Dear God, I am so sorry I ever doubted your existence. I take it all back. Thank you!)

Digging out a pair of Subaru's is always better with hot coffee in hand!

And snow days are one of the special beauties of life in the mountains. It's like a bonus vacation day. Sure, you spend half the day doing snow removal, but I just consider it cross-training. I also caught up on my grading, sat around drinking coffee with my sweetie, and took the dogs cross country skiing through the snowy streets of Truckee.

I love living up here. I love the snow, and all the craziness that comes with it. And you know, I guess birthdays aren't so bad either.

Fresh tracks in the Sugar Bowl backcountry, 12-7-09. (Unfortunately, this is not me!)


  1. So, um ... Happy(?) Birthday! The weekend and day soiund like a crazy fun whirlwind. And kudos to you for donating to locks of love -one of my girls did that a couple years back too.

    You can keep the snow, though.

  2. Wow, that IS a busy weekend! Glad you had a fun and happy birthday...

  3. 13 inches! That's awesome! My hair is finally braid-able after last summer's donation.

    Don'tcha just love those open-hearted kiddies? That is teaching at it's best!

  4. I love your post. And happy birthday, regardless of how you feel about hearing it. After all, facebook TOLD me to tell you so!

    And if you haven't heard this Patton Oswald bit, I think you might appreciate it:


  5. Donald - Okay, thanks. I guess. ;) And, yes, I'll take the snow, thanks again. I mean, did you see that over-the-head pow??? Yeah, stick to the bay, kid, there's nuthin' fun going on up here.
    Also, bonus points to any girl under ten willing to donate her hair. Extra bonus points to teenage girls for the same task.

    Turi - Yep. It would have only been busier if I could have fit in that Moonlight Madness run, too!

    Amber - Yeah, after donating 15 inches less than 3 years ago, I realized that it grows back pretty darn quickly, so not such a big deal, right?

    Russ - Oh, thank you SO much for that link. I am still wiping the tears of laughter from my face. The man is genius, honestly.