Lesley's (Birthday) List: I LIKE BEING EXCITED ABOUT THINGS!!!

Publish date:
January 10, 2014
television, shoes, tea, dr martens, nerd stuff, birthdays

HEY GUYS. It's been awhile since I made a list of stuff, huh? Presented in no particular order.

Fancy Robot Hot-Water-Maker For Excellent Tea

It’s just possible that this Zojirushi "Water Boiler" is the single most ridiculous small appliance I have ever brought into my kitchen, and that is more of a dramatic statement than any of you can possibly know, because it’s hardly a secret that I love me some over-specific kitchen gadgetry. I mean, I own three blenders. But THEY ARE ALL FOR DIFFERENT PURPOSES.

This, however, is an appliance that boils water. It boils water. It accomplishes something that humans have managed to do just fine since before electricity existed. SINCE BEFORE HOUSES EXISTED. CAVEPERSONS could boil water. I have an appliance.

I’ve had a water-boiling appliance for ages, admittedly, in the form of a Russell Hobbs electric kettle that has provided me with over a decade of committed service, but which has recently suffered some kind of appliance-coma from which no amount of pleading, sobbing and gently stroking its power cord have been able to wake it. I drink a lot of tea -- a LOT of tea -- during the day and old-school stove-top whistling pots make me homicidal. Seriously though, that sound.

So I got a birthday upgrade. I mean, obviously this is something I could only accept as a gift. But it has all these awesome advantages! Like I can set the water temperature, which nerdy tea-drinkers like me know is extra awesome, and it'll maintain that temperature for HOURS. Also it has a timer function so I can wake up to hot water instead of waiting around five minutes for the kettle to boil like a peasant. And, um, it plays a little song when it’s ready?

I’m embarrassed now. Let’s move on.

New Episodes of Survivorman and Antiques Roadshow !!!

I haven’t seen either of these yet, because I am the literal worst at remembering when shows are on. At least I used to be good about setting the DVR but these days I can’t even be arsed to remember that. NEVERTHELESS I AM REALLY EXCITED.

Antiques Roadshow, at least, I can watch online, because universe bless public television. Interesting fact: the Roadshow is actually produced by WGBH, which is the local PBS station here in Boston, also responsible for producing the Masterpiece series (i.e. thank them for Downton Abbey), NOVA, and This Old House. I went to their really cool studios once to do an NPR interview about fat people on TV and was all SO THIS IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS awestruck the entire time.

Someday, when I am aged out of public writing about my dumb life, it is my dream to go work for WGBH and finally reach my full nerd potential.

The new Survivorman episodes now airing on Science Channel in the US were originally aired in Canada in 2012, so I’ve been a little grabby about them for awhile now. My particular love for this series is a mystery even to myself -- part of it is just that Les Stroud is so freaking likeable, but I am also forever enthralled with the fact that this is a dude who allows himself to get dumped alone in a wilderness with !ridiculous number of pounds of camera equipment, and not only does he NOT DIE, he also films the whole experience himself, and makes it entertaining as hell.

It’s true that occasionally while hiking I’ve idly thought, “I bet I could totally last, like, FIVE HOURS in these woods if I got lost, no problem, thanks to SURVIVORMAN!” -- in general I enjoy watching someone else demonstrate skills I will never, ever have myself. Kind of like watching ice skating, or Julia Child.

I also like it when he cooks and eats something weird and says it's good.

Chunky T-Bar Shoes Like I Had In High School

In the 90s, I had so many big chunky shoes. So many. Some were oxfords, some were mary janes, some were t-straps, most were Dr. Martens.

I actually blame Sassy for inspiring this obsession in the first place -- the first time I saw anyone wearing huge orthopedic-looking black shoes as a fashion statement was in Sassy, and it was a sufficiently influential moment that I remember the particular spread pretty exactly. I also remember looking at a model in a pair of thick-soled t-straps and a flimsy ditsy-printed dress and thinking, “Yes, that. I want to look like THAT.”

In the intervening adult years, I never strayed far from the Doctor, although in time I came to stick with the more timeless 1460 boots, and I gave away or sold all my old 90s-esque shoes. I never had cause to regret this until recently, when all this annoying/WONDERFUL 90s nostalgia happening right now made me ache for my clompy-shoe past.

These Aggy T-Bar shoes only existed on Dr. Martens’ UK website for the longest time, where I had stared at them longingly from across the sea, watching them slowly go out of stock, because I didn’t want to pay UK prices and shipping. But then, as if magical shoe fairies had heard my sobs of t-strap-flavored anguish, these shoes happened to appear on the US site, on sale, at precisely the moment I was idly perusing the clearance section in search of an affordable birthday gift to myself. (They have since vanished again! But you can also find them on eBay.)

Yeah, they look somewhat demure online but trust me, they are huge and awkward and clompy, with a blocky heel and a heavy air-cushioned sole, just like OLD TIMES.


For a long time I didn’t really make much of a deal over my birthday. Being so soon after the holidays, it always seemed kind of an afterthought.

Like when I was in high school and we had this student-run mylar balloon-delivery service that I guess was supposed to teach the kids that worked on it about running a business or whatever, but it really just turned into a heavily symbolic social ordeal, as the number of balloons people sent you on your birthday represented how popular/beloved you were. The ideal was to have SO many balloons to carry around all day that you could barely fit down the hall. I mean, this happened to cheerleaders and no one else. And it was primarily a girl thing -- boys were not so much into walking around school with a ton of shiny silver “YOU’RE SPECIAL!” balloons in tow.

But then there was the birthday that I got one. One balloon. Which was actually worse than getting zero balloons, because it drew attention to the fact that it was my birthday, whereas with zero balloons I could have pretended it was just a regular day. I remember struggling mightily with a desperate desire to pop the balloon and hide the evidence, which I didn’t do because that would have been shitty to do to the friend who DID send me a balloon (I actually don’t remember who it even was now, so no hard feelings, high school friends).

I had forgotten this entirely until recently, and I’m not even sure what made me think of it. Frankly, the whole balloon-delivery thing was kind of a horrible idea in retrospect. Anyway, point being, my friends didn’t intentionally snub my birthday -- they honestly forgot, and I didn’t tell them, and frankly my birthday sneaks up on ME a lot of the time even now, so I can understand it.

But now I also make a lot of noise about my birthday. I tell people the day and date, sometimes more than once. Not because I expect presents -- I don’t -- but because then at least I don’t feel sad if nobody remembers. Why doesn’t everyone do this? Now that I’m big on yelling about my birthday I can’t understand why this is considered gauche.

TELL PEOPLE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY. TELL THEM. You’re allowed to be happy and excited about it! I don’t care how old you are. I’m turning 37, which seems like a nice fun number.

My plans for my birthday -- WHICH IS TOMORROW -- are to drag my husband through some antique shops on the north shore and maybe a museum (taking full advantage of the only day all year long that he will willingly do these things with me without complaining) and then to go eat masses of delicious sushi. And CAKE. I will also eat cake.


Have a marvelous life-affirming weekend, everyone!