I can be so full of shit sometimes.
After throwing myself a rather successful birthday party at the Beverly Hilton last year (poolside bar, customized playlist, free room on the fifth floor), I had pledged to keep 2008 low-key and intimate, the guest list small, perhaps some grown-up cake and cocktails at my comfy apartment.
Who was I kidding?
At the beginning of the month I decided to go big once again, eyeing the Stone Rose Lounge at the Sofitel for my annual soiree. I discovered a connection at the concierge desk via a coworker and promptly sent out an email introducing myself and describing the kind of blowout I wanted to host. More than a week after that email, I received a voicemail from one of the bar's event managers. In the message the words "bottle service" and "requirements" were thrown around, and all that meant to me was more stress and hassle, especially since I am now one of the co-hosts and promoters for Hot Mix, a series of monthly cocktail parties thrown at different venues throughout the city of Los Angeles (for those of you who just joined us, I never shy away from a plug every now and then). Enough energy was being put into that, so why not try a low-key birthday? No lines. No pretense. No bar guarantee.
In other words, get toasted at home.
Birthday Watch 2008 kicked off Saturday night with 30 of my closest peeps at the apartment - cake, cocktails and a little Super Mario action on my old-school Nintendo. The wonderful, thoughtful, fantastic Jennifer got me a cake to resemble my First Echo banner, my own personalized red carpet complete with velvet rope (seen above). My bedroom was transformed into the game room where guests revisited Excitebike and got reacquainted with Level 2-1 of Super Mario (third brick in, 8 coins collected). In Matt's room a life-size, blow-up donkey, left over from past celebrations, waited for the blindfolded to pin some tails on its ass.
It was very 1988.
To celebrate the actual momentous day in history, last night I had a table reserved at the Spanish Kitchen in West Hollywood. Bring on the mojitos and enchiladas. I also made a conscious effort to take a Pepcid AC tablet before I left the house (does anyone know if they're looking for a spokesman?).
And now, dear readers, this is the part where I indulge in some obligatory, birthdaytime self-reflection...
At the risk of sounding trite, while I tread in the Sea of the Late 20s I look around and start to notice a new wave of youngin's making their way into L.A., a town famous for obsessing with the New, and they're filling up the lowly positions I once claimed not so long ago. Alas, I feel frickin' old - and a little worried. This new generation is moving in, and I feel the need to move to a better spot. The Born-in-1986ers are quickly catching up and entering the "real world," armed and ready to dominate every nook and cranny of this industry. I'm starting to hear and feel the rumbling of a major shift in the universe. And it's a little unsettling, I'm not gonna lie to you.
It can be easy befriending these fresh faces, their naive hopes both contagious and cute, but then there's the risk of being trapped, left behind while the rest of your class graduates, and you suddenly become Sean from Felicity, the loser 31-year-old hanging out with friends nearly a decade younger than him. But then again, you can become the teacher, guiding these newbies through the muck and telling them that it will all get better in time. That shitty starter job you dread every morning, scooping coffee grinds for some prick in a suit while muttering under your breath that this is not what your college degree was for? It'll get less shitty - instead of a prick in a suit, you'll be answering to a passive-aggressive higher-up who's going through a mid-life crisis.
And of course there's the option of getting older friends. They make you feel younger, and you make them feel younger. Win-win.
Slight panic can accompany late-twentydom. There's the expectation to make a certain annual salary before the big 3-0 hits. There's the expectation to settle down with a significant someone (the term "partner," in my opinion, has become overused and overly PC nowadays). There's the upsetting realization that parents are not the able caregivers they once were; mortality is suddenly a grim reality as more candles pile up on the cake.
To the fortysomething-and-above crowd, pardon the banality of our worries. But with the rate at which societal pressures seem to seep into the mindsets of younger age groups, I wouldn't be surprised if psychiatrists, twenty years from now, coin the term "kindergarten-life crisis" to describe the emotional upheavals of 5-year-olds...
Where was I? Oh, yes...
Thank you once again to everyone who showed me some lovin' during these past three days, from the hysterical e-cards and happy wishes written on my Facebook wall to the complimentary wine and calorie binges. I feel ridiculously lucky to know all of you, and I am throwing some big love right back at ya.
And let's all give thanks and praise to those who matter most: Tatsuya and Sandy Mitsuzuka, for there never would have been so many memorable celebrations, there never would have been so many cherished friendships, there never would have been a First Echo, had they not delivered one spectacular bundle of joy 28 years ago.
Forever a Toys 'R Us Kid,