>Thanks everyone for the kind birthday wishes! I had an awesome time yesterday, first waiting 90 minutes to drop off my visa application at the Indian Consultate, then meeting Hanah for tea (I gave her a fake name in yesterday's post, but she reminded me that I wrote about her already when she lost her cat and can use her real name) although we were not able to do Japanese tea, as their website gave the wrong times. Hanah took me through the Whitney Museum and I learned at lot about modern art (she has a master's in art history) and I loved the Kiki Smith exhibit, especially the giant glass jars that look like canisters used for flour and the like, but were engraved to say semen, pus, urine, blood, vomit, and other hilariously gross things. Then we went back to the Consulate to pick up my visa and waited another hour. Later at fondue, Dr. H told me that I was lucky I went in winter because last time she went, it was the summer and the place was not air conditioned. She almost fainted from the body odor. I can only imagine....

On Saturday night, I went out with Sister, Sister’s Husband (SH), and Husband for an early birthday celebration. (Yes, I am milking this one. Festivities started with an amazing Cold Stone Creamery ice cream cake on Dec. 17 at my in-law’s house, and have taken place on and off since.) There is a very fun rock ‘n’ roll dueling piano bar in downtown Chicago, and so we headed there. Sadly, my granny’s ulcerative colitis was acting up, so she was unable to join us. (She has gone a few times in the past and is the toast of the bar, with frat boys offering to buy her drinks and asking her to dance. It’s good times!)

Usually, there is a line out the door, but it seems like Christmas weekend is not great for business at rock ‘n’ roll dueling piano bars in downtown Chicago, so we headed right in and even found a table. I noticed two things right away: Chicago is full of smoking savages and women in Chicago really are larger than women in NYC (read: they look like normal human beings who eat on a daily basis). Also, the guys were all rather short. I am very spoiled by NYC’s progressive ban against smoking anywhere except for the street and private residences, so the smoke was killing me. On the other hand, I felt much more comfortable in my own skin when not surrounded by matchstick women. After an 90 minutes, I could no longer breathe (and not because I was sucking in my gut all night as I usually do), so I suggested we head out.

At that moment, a birthday dedication that Sister and SH had put in when we arrived was announced, and I was asked to join the stage with one other woman and two guys also out for their birthdays. The piano players then played “The Hokey Pokey.” (Yes, we found that weird, too.) I got into it a bit (two diet Cokes will do that to me – ha!) but when the women were asked to put their “ta-tas” in, I was a bit stumped. Under my thick wool sweater, I didn’t have much to strut. The other woman was much more voluptuous than I and had no problem with the request. Thinking quickly, I stuck my chest out as far as it would go and tried my best. Just after “shaking it all about,” it occurred to me that I should have just lifted my shirt up. I used to do that all the time after my breast reduction surgery, and Husband always tries to fling himself in front of my to behind my honor, which is hilarious. I bet the frat boys at the table in front of me would have loved that. Too bad I didn’t think fast enough. Oh well.

Anyway, good times and thanks again to all who contributed thus far to my extended birthday celebration.