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Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Happy Birthdays
My favorite birthday presents (at least the ones I can remember...)

Lladro flamenco figurine

I've always loved Lladro figurines. I never bought myself one because I didn't want to get a figurine just because it was pretty. I wanted it to represent something, have some meaning.

On a visit to Granada one summer I went to a gypsy flamenco show. And was floored. Right then and there, the only thing I wanted to do was change my name to Carmen, run off with the gypsy guitarist, and live my life dancing. I searched for such a long time for a Lladro flamenco dancer and my heart skipped a beat when I received "Carmenita" as a present.

Tickets to an oldies show

When I was 16, my brother bought me tickets to an oldies revival at Madison Square Garden. This was at an age when my peers were listening to Sir Mix-A-Lot, Kris Kros, and freestyle was still popular. For my 16th, I spent the evening with The Ronettes, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Dion and the Belmonts.

My obsession with the oldies started when we first came to this country. It was the only English I understood. The lyrics made sense and the songs all told linear stories. Very easy for a kid like me to grasp. To actually see the performers who helped me learn my English was a very special treat.

Tickets to see "Mamma Mia"

The first time I ever left the country on a trip of my own was when I was 17. The Italian Department at my high school planned a trip to Italy and I begged and pleaded for months to be able to go. One of the greatest and most memorable trips of my life. We went from Milan down to Rome in 10 days and I felt like I would burst from happiness. What a trip for a 17 year old girl!

Anywho, when we got to Florence we went to a club. Till this day I have no idea how my friends and I managed to get into that club, the underage beings that we were. I also have no idea how we managed to get drinks. It was at that club in Florence that I had my first drink; Sex on the Beach. I had no idea what it was, didn't even know it was alcohol. Just wanted to have it because it sounded cool.

I was then dancing non-stop. And when Abba's "Dancing Queen" came on, I was in my glory. ("You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen"). It was as if the song had been written with the future me in mind.

For my birthday last year, the BF took me to see "Mamma Mia" on Broadway. I spent over a month after seeing that show listening to Abba. Or, as my brother would say, obsessed with Abba. I could not stop talking about the show, so much so that when Toots returned from a trip to London he gave me an Abba postcard as a souvenir.

Gold Snake Bracelet

This bracelet is one of the most valuable things that I own. My grandmother died exactly one month before my 20th birthday. When we started clearing out some of her stuff from the drawers, I learned that one of the bracelets she had promised to give me was gone. She was in dire need of money and was too embarrassed to ask anyone for anything, so she ended up selling a lot of her own jewelry. I was really sad. Not because I necessarily liked it. I HATE snakes. Snakes and geckos bring out the banshee in me. But it made me feel special that she wanted to give me something that belonged to her.

A few weeks later, on my birthday, my mother and my aunt handed me the bracelet. They found the shop that my grandmother had sold the bracelet to and they bought it back for me. Made my heart melt.

$100 gift certificate from Barnes and Noble

My ex wasn't a rich man. He made barely enough to keep himself afloat. But we always had amazing times with each other and always found things to do that cost no money. The $100 gift certificate meant a lot for two reasons. One, coming from a man who lives from paycheck to paycheck, it was worth a fortune. Two, he could've gotten me a gift certificate from anywhere. But he knew that I had a special love for books. (He learned that the hard way when we spent close to an hour one evening at a bookstore...) It was good to know that he was paying attention.

Sony camera

Small enough to take anywhere. Brother went out of his way that day to make sure I got a special present. He had already seen how mopey I was with the prospect of turning 30 and wanted to make a grand gesture to get me out of my slump. He took the day off of school, visited three Best Buys before he was finally able to get me the camera. It's taken a lot of pictures since.

A party at FM

French Kitty planned a great big party for me at a local bar/club for my 26th. The boyfriend and I had broken up a couple of months before and I was feeling really down. Once I got to the party, though, I couldn't stop dancing. It was then that I realized that the best antidote for depression is dancing. To merengue.

Card from my grandfather

My grandfather used to send me the greatest birthday cards. He was such a fabulous man. I keep this card in a frame and this would definitely be one of the things I grab if my house were on fire.

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Thoughts shared by Carmen at 9:29 PM
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Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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