I had a birthday recently and decided to take myself to go see “Barbie”. I was hoping for some fun escapism. Well… it was entertaining but it was also a story of a major existential crisis. So I’m conflicted. Not sure I liked it. But Ryan Gosling was excellent as Ken.
I can be conflicted about birthdays in general. Some good, some bad. Some have associations I don’t care for. Some happy occasions.
My mother writes about the menu for my second birthday: hunks of cheese, slices of bananas with peanut butter dabs all on a toothpick, tiny buns filled with ground spam, graham crackers with honey butter, and then cupcakes with a candle on each, coffee and Koolade.
Sounds like an exotic ‘50s meal, doesn’t it?
My fifth birthday was memorable because the family had just survived a plane crash and landed at our final destination two weeks late – on my birthday. Another memorable one was in Lagos, Nigeria when my mother and I marked the occasion by opening a small tinned chocolate cake. They probably don’t make such a thing anymore…
In 1999, the last year of the millennium, I spent my birthday in France.
We stayed with friends in the suburbs who had a house and small yard and a son our son, Noah’s age. They were about a ten minute walk from the train in a nice little village with a pretty chateau. The first day was spent getting our new visas organized and trying to do some shopping. On Saturday we wandered around the left bank and then the four adults went out to dinner at a very nice kind of ‘new’ French restaurant. It was my birthday so we had champagne and wine and great food. Sunday was the boat ride on the Seine with the boys and then a walk through the Tuileries garden where there just happened to be some rides and of course Noah had to go on them.
We rented a car and on Tuesday left for Metz and the eclipse. Metz is a very pretty town right on the river. We scoped out the area on Tuesday and early Wednesday morning we headed out with the telescope, video camera and other cameras. We set up our camp in the middle of the Esplanade which is a nice park right by the river. The town had organized a big festival around the eclipse and so there were parades, music, etc. going on all day long. It was cloudy. During the first half of the eclipse we were able to see it off and on. But about 20 minutes before total eclipse it started to rain. We could tell when the total was, though, because it was completely dark. It was really cool. All the flowers closed up and all the lights came on and it was really night. Then during the second half it cleared up a bit and we were able to see more. Noah kept looking at the “moon” through his glasses. Nicholas got some good shots through his telescope. And I got a new umbrella. When we got back to Paris our friends who had gone 25 minutes north of Paris on the train said they had seen the whole thing perfectly.
From Metz we drove into Lorraine and the Vosges area. We stopped at the Haut Konningburg castle which is a huge restored castle on top of a mountain in the middle of the forest. You can see forever from it. It is really cool with a moat and drawbridge and inner yard. It would be very hard to penetrate it.
From there we wound our way around down to La Bresse which is in the heart of a big ski area and lots of mountains and forest. Really beautiful. Our hotel was very nice with a good restaurant. We drove all around the area and went hiking around a glacial pool where Noah spent the better part of an hour throwing rocks into it.
On Sunday (the day before Noah’s birthday) we took the boys to the Bois de Bologne to the big amusement park there and I think they went on about 20 rides. They had a lot of fun.
Our last day in Paris we had lunch up at Montmartre with all the tourists in town. It was kind of fun.