Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pity Party for One

I'm about to whinge, big style. Sorry. But I would like some advice, so please bear with me.

It's my birthday tomorrow, and I'm trying to think of something to do to celebrate it. I got quite depressed earlier this afternoon when I realised that not only don't I have any plans, but I haven't got any friends local enough to make spontaneous plans with, and above all I don't have anyone in my life who will make spontaneous or surprise plans for me.

I have a grand total of nothing planned. I might meet up with a friend for lunch or a drink after work, but we've been meaning to do this for a while so I suggested tomorrow to remove the embarrasment of not doing anything on my birthday and to justify a bit of indulgence. And anyway, I suspect that work may now force the cancellation of those plans, as I have a 1.30 conference call which rules out a lingering lunch, and which may well go on all afternoon, beyond the time at which my friend will need to go back home to York. I had considered drinks with another friend, but she has a housewarming party on Saturday so I'll see her then anyway... except that it's the night before a half marathon so I'll probably turn up for an hour or two and not drink. Rock and roll, baby! I have the excitement of a single present from my sister to open, because my grandparents usually deal in cold hard cash for these events and I was with my mother when she bought me a present from her (perfume).

I'm not blaming anyone. I know that I've made choices in my life that have steered me away from my family (by staying in the UK) and my friends (by focussing on healthy, worthy things rather than sheer hedonism). For the most part I'm happy with those choices, and I wouldn't want to change who I am. But if I can't rustle up a bit of fun and festivity on my birthday, when can I? And I start feeling a bit down that my life is just so dull. I do things that lead to goals, like running and Spanish. I don't just let my hair down and have fun for the sheer sake of it.

Someone mentioned to me the other day about all those goals I never treated myself for. I had all sorts of grand plans about personal shoppers and fab haircuts and new bikes when I got to goal, but my priorities changed, and I didn't have the money, and I didn't treat myself. And I worry that tomorrow will be the same.

The past two years I've been on holiday for my birthday. That's allowed me to take my mind off the gaping holes in my social life at home. Being alone on holiday is fine, but sitting on the sofa alone, in front of the tv on the birthday really brings it home to me how alone I am sometimes. Events like birthdays are when I really do miss having, for want of a better word, a partner, or really close friends and family who live nearby.

So I want some ideas on how to treat myself. I don't want to spend a huge amount of money. I'm not the sort of person who thinks that a good time can be bought by throwing money at it. Spending ridiculous amounts of money on beauty treatments is more likely to make me feel poor than indulged. I'm not saying that I want to do something completely free, but I don't want to waste my money either. Something that's a reasonable amount of money, but not blow the weekly food budget expensive.

This is where I put a call out for ideas of something creative or unusual I could do that's single girl on her birthday friendly. To strike off the easy ideas first, I've checked the cinema and theatre listings and there's nothing I fancy on.

I could treat myself to some indulgent food. I could go up to Betty's in Harrogate, or to Harvey Nicks, or to the highly recommended vegetarian curry place. But indulgent food and wine are better shared, particularly when you're eating out. Plus I don't want to get into the old rut of rewarding and treating myself with food all the time. The same with a post work cocktail or three. Is it really fun to sit there on your own, particularly when I have such fab food at home every other night of the week?

I could buy a dvd or a book and some music, or rent something, or see if there's anything on pay per view, but I get easily distracted at home and I'm not sure that I'd either stick it out til the end or feel like it was anything special.

The idea that's winning in my head at the moment is to get some of the lovely looking picnic type food I've seen in M&S recently, maybe a small amount of sparkling wine and a rug and head off to the park for an indulgent picnic overlooking the lake (I have a spot in my mind). Maybe with a walk first to burn a bit of it off. And maybe popping into the pub on the way there or the way back. I could take a book and some music on my iPod. But having a picnic on your own is just a little sad, no? And even if it wasn't, the way the weather's been recently it's not a sure bet that I'd be able to do it. I've checked the weather forecast and it doesn't predict rain, but it's not a great deal warmer than today either, and I wouldn't be sitting outside this evening. But if it's looking nice tomorrow afternoon that's an idea I might just try. Another idea if the weather's nice and I get out of work early is to travel a bit further afield, to somewhere like Brimham Rocks or Ilkley Moor and do the same thing - bit of a walk, bit of a picnic (but without the wine, if I'm driving).

I could go to yoga for the first time in weeks and hopefully get rid of some tension. But again, I'm not sure that would feel overly special. I could go shopping, but expensive jeans and running gear aside there's nothing I really want to buy at the moment. I could go to late night opening at the running shop, but that really is taking my running obsession too far!

I could have an indulgent bath, and some home beauty treatments, but my bathroom is a bit scummy so it never feels quite as decadent as it should, and spending an age cleaning it beforehand isn't my idea of a treat! Likewise the garden, it needs some work before I could consider spending an evening relaxing in it!

I appreciate I've ruled out a lot of options here, but if anyone has any ideas of what I can do to make my birthday feel just that bit more special than usual, leave me a comment! Or bully me into doing something I've ruled out by making a good case for it. I'm not looking for the most memorable evening of my life, and I don't know whether I'll be able to do much depending on work, but I just want something a bit different to cheer me up and get out of pity party mood.


Blogger einalem said...

How about getting a massage? Good Health Centre on Street Lane has a sports massage guy who is great - will get out any knots etc - although it's not exactly relaxing - more invigorating. Or head over to Headingley to U4EA - they have ample options and are open late. I'd recommend shiatsu with Kiran, but they also do Reiki, reflexology and all manner of new age stuff if you're willing to go for something 'out there'. I'm also a sucker for beauty treatments - Pretty Woman at Oakwood is open late and I can recommend the E'Spa facial for pampering. Or pedicure/manicure?

7:22 PM  
Blogger Xena said...

Ooh, massage - that is a terrific idea!!! I think you should also buy yourself some gorgeous flowers - maybe one for each year? ;-) Who cares what people think about your "obsession" - I was actually going to suggest a runner's museum, if there is such a thing? A picnic sounds lovely, even if you are alone. I'm sending birthday hugs across the ocean to you - you're certainly not alone in cyberspace. Happy Birthday!!!!!

7:55 PM  
Blogger Shauna said...

the picnic idea sounds tops... especially if the weather keeps going the way it has!

this would be too late for your b'day but maybe you could treat yourself to a cooking class? might tie in with your growing interest in food and a great way to meet like-minded folks. i've been reading about your cooking lately and totally drooling, it all sounds so fab. maybe a thai cooking class or sushi school or a baking class, something like that. here in edinburgh a shop does gourmet chocolate tasting nights with exotic chocs from all over the world and fancy wines.

hmm... i am all out of ideas, except for popping up to edinburgh and us edinburgh bloggers could take you out on the town! :)

i hope you have a lovely day, whatever you decide to do. a verrrrrrry happy birthday to you!!!

9:04 PM  
Blogger ~Moody said...

It might sound crazy but I would go for a run ('cause you seem to love doing that - and it's your birthday, you have to do what you love to do). Followed by something extra to spoil yourself like with a relaxing sauna. Or indeed, a massage. *I like that idea*

I would just do what you really love to do on a normal day AND something extra (sauna, massage, new haircut, ...)

9:10 PM  
Blogger kathrynoh said...

I don't have any ideas but happy birthday :) I've spent birthdays alone and it really isn't much fun. I hope you find something special to do. Personally, I'd go with the massage!

10:14 PM  
Blogger M@rla said...

One thing I like to do when I have an unexpected weekday holiday is play tourist in my own town. We have a great art museum with free daily tours, also excellent local history and natural sciences museums. Admission is either free or only a few dollars, and it's the kind of thing you can easily do alone. Preferably alone, even, because you don't have to consider whether your friend is interested in staring at the same exhibit for ten minutes. I also like to walk around downtown where the big buildings are - sorry I don't know whether you're already in town and consider that boring, but for me I rarely go in to the city, and the architecture is fascinating. All those little details you never see driving by. Oooh that's another idea: your city might have guided walking tours of historical areas. Or tours of the government buildings, that sort of thing.

I think we all have different priorities at different times in our lives, and sometimes personal development takes precendence over inter-personal relationships. You don't sound freaked out about the current lack of readily available mates, but I still want to offer reassurance that there's nothing weird or wrong about that situation.


1:41 PM  
Blogger Tamara said...

These smart ladies have given you great suggestions. I hope whatever you do, your birthday is divine. Happy b-day!

3:56 PM  
Blogger Isabelle said...

This maybe sounds terribly pious, but - since you don't seem terribly enthusiastic about most of the usual treat-oneself sort of things - I wonder if you could maybe do something to help someone else? Like - maybe - starting to sponsor a child in one of those charitable schemes, or giving some cash to a homeless project, or Oxfam.

I'm not suggesting that you're a mean person who never helps others, and I know this possibly doesn't seem very birthday-ish, but might a warm glow of generosity make you feel good?

This doesn't preclude the massage (or whatever) as well. And Dietgirl's idea of an Edinburgh trip is excellent too. You would indeed have some Central Belt blog chums to meet up with. (Bring an umbrella, though...)

Happy birthday, anyway.

6:59 PM  

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