Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Scenes from a birthday week

Filed under : Life in general
On October 8, 2010
At 5:00 pm
Comments : 12

So the big birthday came and went and because I wasn’t sure what to do, I did everything. That is, I celebrated all week. Here were some of my thoughts over the Big Birthday Week.

I went to see West Side Story, the Broadway show, on my birthday eve. If you haven’t kept up with the blog, it’s my favorite musical and possibly my favorite movie of all time. However, I am not a theater person so there was a bit of a risk there. If you really love a movie, it’s always hard reading the book after or seeing a remake and noting all the differences. I tried hard not to do this and just to enjoy it being performed in front of me but there were some places that I think they really messed up. For starters, they rearranged things so that Officer Krupke was after the rumble scene. I don’t know about you, but I kind of think jokey songs are out of place after a big death scene. Also, it was hard to have Riff sing it after he was dead.

The worst thing was Tony, though. The actor who played him and also the rearrangement of some of the lines made him seem like a guy who had left gang life because he felt the Jets were has-beens, not because he had grown up and moved on. Tony’s essential goodness is what makes you root for him and the reason you believe Maria fell for him across a crowded room. This Tony seems like he just wanted to get into Maria’s pants. That really changed it for me. But I loved the music and the dancing; that made it worth it. And Bernardo and Anita were both wonderful.

Almost everyone I know has seen WSS or at least knows the story (hint: it’s nearly the same story as Romeo & Juliet). We were probably the only New Yorkers in the theater. WSS has been there a long time and it’s not Wicked or The Producers. It was obvious lots of people were from other countries where maybe it’s not as big? It was nice to see their reactions. There was an audible gasp when Chino shoots Tony… wow! I’ve never seen that happen, even when seeing it in the movie theater.


I went to work on my birthday day and I didn’t tell them it was my birthday. I don’t really know them and didn’t want to share my day with anyone there. While I was at my desk, thanks to someone’s tweet, I found a site which streams old airtapes from WLIR, my station of choice in the 80’s and early 90’s. It was pretty nifty listening to the “radio” exactly as I did then, with the old DJ’s and music. It didn’t feel sentimental, it felt like I could see my life as a continuum from then till now. I’m the same person, after all. The funniest part was that when they’d play a song I really liked, I’d get that familiar tingle of, “they’re playing my favorite song on the radio!” But, of course, it was just a recording and if I played it again, they’d be playing my song again. But you can’t help that feeling.


I like to celebrate other people’s birthdays via Facebook, because it saves you a lot of effort in writing an e-mail or sending a card or making a call. I’m just that lazy. But it pays off like a chain letter on your own day. It was lovely to get pinged on my phone every few minutes that someone had posted on my wall. On the other hand, it’s weird when people you know from your childhood say things that are then read by people you know now. And more than a little embarrassing, sometimes. People, that was for cards, not my public wall.


Just as I was going to dinner before the theater, I got an e-mail from someone whose blog was on my blogroll to tell me that no, really, his blog is actually dead. I had left it there after the purge anyway, because I like him and hoped he would bring it back. But he wrote some kind things about this blog in the note and that was a great birthday present. Maybe the best. If you are him, I will write you back soon, and I removed the link, per request.


I never go to Starbucks anymore. It’s too expensive and frivolous for someone who had their first overdraft on their birthday (more on this in a moment). Back when I was at Big Wealthy Record Company, my boss bought us Starbucks every day. Now, I get Seattle’s Best coffee for $1.25 including tax at my school cafeteria. But I did have a Starbucks tradition on my birthday where I would get the fanciest drink they had on the day. It usually cost $6 and had 1600 calories. This year, I got a Chai Tea latte, formerly an any day drink for me. While I was on my way to Starbucks, I ran into a friend from my job last year and we went together. Naturally, I told her it was my birthday, because I am a birthday person. That is, I like people saying, “happy birthday!” in that way that acknowledges, “this day is about you!” She insisted on buying me my drink, which was really kind of her, since she doesn’t make much either. But that’s the great thing about birthdays: it’s OK to admit for one day that it’s all about you.


In case you think KP and I have abandoned our tradition of going out for cupcakes in the week between our birthdays, you would be wrong! But only partially. We had brunch, instead. You can’t really have dessert with brunch. But it was OK, biscuit with strawberry butter is an awesome alternative.


The day before my birthday, at work, I played phone tag with the help desk about a system I couldn’t get into. My password was supposed to involve the last 4 digits of my SSN but it never worked. The help desk kept saying, “it works for us!” That really put the “help” in help desk. Finally, five minutes before I was to leave for dinner and the theater, they called me and said, “So…… it seems there are two Becca Jewballs in the system. Are you the one who was born in 1970 or the one who was born in 1980?” This is really the question everyone wants to be asked on the eve of a big, round numbered birthday, isn’t it? Needless to say, they had figured me for the other one.


Between work and dinner on my birthday, I went to class. I had told my professor that I might not come, or that I might take it online (several people do) in the hopes that the Yankees would play at home and I could spend my birthday evening at the first play-off game. But the Yankees failed me in that one respect and so I had to make other plans. But my plans still involved taking the class online so I could leave from home and arrive on time. I didn’t mention my birthday, despite my previous story, because there didn’t seem a place to work it into the discussion of education and change. At the end of class, the professor said, “what a great class! Good discussion today.” To which I couldn’t help myself, and said jokingly, “I’m so glad it was a great class because it’s my birthday and I almost didn’t come.” Everyone, and this is really hard to do via webcam hookup, spontaneously broke into “Happy Birthday.” That was pretty kick ass.


On my last round-numbered birthday, I did an amazing thing and right on that day, I clicked the button on my bank’s website to make the final payment on a debt that had sometimes been as high as nearly $20k. Anyone from my youth will tell you that I was a frugal spendthrift. That is, I bought decently-priced things, but way more of them than I could afford. I really like to buy new things and thought I could never change. But one day, I did. I set up a spreadsheet in Excel and was horrified to see things as they really were. Through that spreadsheet and a good budget, I was able to change my ways, though. I have never since carried a credit card balance and was able to buy a home.

This year (and last), as I’ve said many times, things are different. I have little income but the same expenses. Rather than showing a paycheck on my spreadsheet, the majority of my income comes from savings, and I move it over bit by bit as needed so as to maximize interest in the other account. I mistimed my transfers, though, and when I went to take out cash from the ATM on my birthday, it said, “balance exceeded” and wouldn’t give me any. That was unsettling.

But today I found out that my transfer came in later that day and I incurred no fees after all. Still, I heartily wish you never get that message from the ATM on your birthday. Or any other day.


I spent a long time, probably too long, thinking about what I wanted to do on the day and who I would do it with. In the end, though, I settled on the birthday week idea. But once the Yankees had settled on Minnesota as their destination, I still had to come up with something to do that evening that involved the game in a way that made me look forward to it all day. I decided to go to my favorite restaurant downtown with my dear friend, The Appliance Guy. I knew we had done that many years during the play-offs, because I can recall seeing many of those games out of the corner of my eye while eating there. So we did. While at dinner, The Appliance Guy said, “you know, they always lose while we’re here.” Oops, I had not remembered that. At the time we left the restaurant, it was 3-0 Minnesota. By the time I got home, it was 3-1 Minnesota. Within ten minutes it was 4-3 Yankees. The Yankees ended up winning 6-4. I may rethink my plans for next year.


When I walked out of the restaurant into Times Square, it felt magical and great, and I was listening to magical and great music on my iPod, Simple Minds. Listening to the line, “she would like to make a wish!” while feeling great and high on your birthday surrounded by the lights and people of Times Square you just have to…. tweet. So I did. The picture ended up being, basically, of a large Dunkin’ Donuts sign. They may have to work on that whole “ability to share magical moments” thing.


Are you noticing something missing from all these stories? Yes! Cake! Where was my birthday cake? It didn’t arrive until yesterday when Brother1 took me out to Butterflake for a slab of layer cake. I got Apple-Walnut with cream cheese frosting. I am eating the leftovers right now (when I said a slab, I meant a slab). When the last crumb is gone, I think the week will be over.

Simple Minds – Speed Your Love To Me (YouTube)


12 Comments for this post

  1. KP says:

    YaY for the birthday girls!

    I also indulged in some of that fantasmic banana pudding nilla wafer dessert thingy on my way home. I love a town that has dessert in virtually every building.

  2. Julie says:

    Happy Belated Birthday! It sounds fabulous, like yourself!

  3. JF says:


  4. sarpon says:

    Happy Birthday week! It’s still your birthday week, right?

  5. kylydia says:

    It sound like an EXCELLENT birthday week!

  6. Becca says:

    Thanks, all!

    And yes, I was wrong, one of my favorite readers bought me dinner last night and so it was extended.

    But now I think it is over.

  7. Elena says:

    That sounds like such a fun week, Becca. Hard to believe you are so old! You don’t look a day over 10 years younger than that. I am envious of all your fun and cake and West Side Story. I have not seen that in person, but would love to. Best live musicals I’ve seen were Fiddler [wth Topol as Tevye] and Damn Yankees. Baseball+musical=perfection.
    I didn’t tell the people at work it was my birthday this year. I had been traded to another dept. for a few months and was working there under duress, so I didn’t want to share any happiness with them. Cutting off my nose to spite my face, but it worked for me.
    Have a good birth month!

  8. Cathy says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves her birthday. I stopped expecting people to guess what I want though and just make sure to get a little of everything I love into MY day:)

  9. Becca says:

    I think that’s part of why I’m OK with being older, Elena. Because I feel great and I think I look as young as I feel. πŸ˜€ But thank you for that.

    And yes, that was exactly the feeling; I didn’t want to share my happiness with them, and it worked for me too. I hope your department got a good prospect for you, though.

    Cathy, birthday lovers unite! Everybody needs a day that is THEIRS.*

    *I know that was grammatically WRONG.

  10. Elena says:

    It was a player to be named later, Becca. And we’re still waiting πŸ™‚

  11. Happy Belated, Becca! Sounds like you had a wonderful celebration of you. Thumbs up!

  12. Becca says:

    Elena, ha!

    Thanks, Ima. I don’t know if it was a celebration of me but I sure had a good time. πŸ™‚

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