"I can't imagine not wanting some recognition on your birthday," said my girlfriend when I told her that no one at work knew today was my birthday and I planned to keep it that way. Yet when I attended a meeting in which a proposal to announce recent birthdays was shot down because no one knew a way to legally find out whose birthday has recently occurred, I chimed in, "Well, today's my birthday, so I guess you can start with me." Later, I told my module's team lead as well. Thus, a perfect ending to a year in which I learned that I will never stop learning, whether I'm attending school or not. Today I learned to never assume that I can reject a chance at grabbing some recognition. I believe that I tried to downplay my birthday every other year as well, and wound up telling everyone so that they would wish me well. This year I learned so much about myself, from January, finally pulling off a one-night stand without falling hopelessly in love, to February, dealing with losing my apartment and living in a basement while piecing together a good enough interview to land my current job, to delicately putting together a long-distance relationship built on common ground and respect and not lust, to patiently building a new life with a new outlook and a new apartment. And the learning can only stop if I want to close my mind and stop it, and that's not something I'm interested in. I want to take every lesson that's coming to me, whether it's painful, enlightening, or whatever.
My most recent lesson before today was very painful--don't hold on to plastic bags too long. I was caught in a long line Wednesday at Walgreens behind those proverbial little old ladies from Pasadena, and I had four plastic bags of Christmas presents in my left hand. I absentmindedly let all of those bags dangle from my left ring finger, thinking that I'm going to put everything down on the counter once I got there. But getting to the counter took forever, because the ladies took forever. I felt the blood get cut off on my finger, but I didn't put the bags down because I would have had to pick everything up off the floor once it was my turn in line, and I was anticipating my turn coming any second now. My finger went numb. I didn't really think anything of it, because I've been caught in line before with bags that cut off the circulation in my hand, and it came back once I was able to get my bags together and arrange them in a way that wouldn't hurt nearly as much. Well, it's Friday, and my finger is still numb. It's just the tip, but it's still scary. At least the nurse at my job didn't think it was a very big deal. She says that it seems to be a very bad bruise and that if the feeling isn't back by Monday, then I should find a doctor. The side of my finger underneath got the feeling back this morning, but the rest of it is still dead. So the lesson: Don't ignore a limb going numb, dumbfuck, drop the bags already!
I have gifts for my girlfriend in Memphis, but instead of paying for postage and sending them down there, I figure I might as well accompany them. So next Sunday night after work I will fly down south for not my wildest New Year's ever, but my most meaningful. I had a feeling that next year would be a big year for me even before I met my girlfriend, and I can't think of a better way to start that year than with her. She has supported me fully ever since we got together, and sometimes I still can't believe I'm with her. I can't wait.
Happy holidays to all!