A ridiculous amount of birthday love.

Was it ridiculous to turn my birthday into a month-long event/campaign/fundraiser/whatever? Yes. I am, as they say, pushing thirty. Women of This Certain Age are not supposed to wear Burger King crowns as “tiaras” and demand an ungodly amount of attention and/or ice cream. I should be embarrassed.

Does this look like the face/outfit of someone who is easily embarrassed?

Does this look like the face/outfit of someone who is easily embarrassed?

Ahem.

First and foremost, I need to thank everyone who donated to my charity:water campaign and helped me exceed my goal of saving 28 lives. To date, we’ve raised over $600! By far the most successful fundraiser I’ve ever had – even better than the time I offered personalized limericks as an incentive (And what an incentive it was – I rhymed “schadenfreude” with “does it annoy ya?” Poetry.).

I also had a lot of fun and some good response with the social media experiment portion of my birthday project – the 28 for 28 Facebook page. I like sharing things I care about, and I care about my birthday! No, I mean, I care about ways to make the world better. Thanks to those of you who got involved with that, too.

I was determined to spend my actual birthday committing 28 Random And Not So Random Acts Of Kindness. I made lists, I set a budget, I made timetables. But because I was excited, I started two days early. And because the birthday weekend involved several Unscheduled Naps, I finished two days late. That’s me all over.

I got the idea to do this by searching online, so I’m presenting this list in no particular order to maybe inspire another internet stranger one day:

Birthday (Weekend) Acts Of Kindness

1. Bought my boss tulips. They immediately folded in half and looked incredibly pathetic. But luckily I revived them (aka cut the stems) before she saw them

2. Stuck a coffee gift card on the door of a very deserving friend

3. Drew something for a friend who needs a pick-me-up

4. Donated my hair to Locks of Love.  The entire ponytail you see up above is now on its way to Florida. Factoid: the first time I did this, I was 14, and it made the front page of my hometown newspaper. I’m just trying to get to that level of fame again.

5. Tipped the stylist of my new ‘do 28%

6. Helped a stranger move a desk (or helped a stranger rob another stranger – either way, helping!)

7. Bought a friend lunch

8. Bought a different friend a beer

9. Helped yet another friend (I don’t want to brag but I have more than two) set up a blog – check it out, especially if you’re a beer fan! Also, I would like to note I agreed to do this before I knew there was going to be a paragraph of nice things about me in it. That just made me more eager to help.

10. Bought a bunch of children’s books to donate to a program I care about

11. Bought a friend tea (I was going to buy coffee for the person in line behind us, but he turned out to be a very cantankerous man, and my friend is nicer)

12. Bought a thank-you gift for someone who was nice to me recently

13. Helped the same cantankerous old man from #11 exit a “confusing” building at the St. Paul Art Crawl

14. Recycled plastic bags and donated food at a grocery store

15. Left money at a Redbox rental machine, along with a note

16. Left a 110% tip at Caribou Coffee. I did the math so that I, like every pro athlete, can say I “gave 110%”

17. Donated books to a Little Free Library (I love those things!)

18. Left money at Nice Ride MN station. I don’t want to talk about the poorly-worded note I also left there.

19. Dropped about thirty online coupons in a basket at Target

20. Donated clothes to Goodwill

21. Gave my neighbor’s dog a treat

22. Recovered a friend’s lost phone

23. Volunteered for Feed My Starving Children at Summit Brewery  (Worlds colliding!)

24. Picked up Target gift cards for The Bridge For Youth

25. Wrote thank-you notes

26. Left money at a vending machine

27. Bid on silent auction items for local fundraisers at BiddingForGood.com

28. Left quarters in laundry room for my neighbors

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So there you go. Twenty-eight mostly small, mostly deliberate acts of kindness to celebrate twenty-eight mostly great years. Thank you, everyone, for making them worth celebrating.

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28 for 28: A birthday celebration, a social media experiment

Last year, my friend Al gave me a birthday card that said, “I love those people who are like ‘It’s my birthday week’ or ‘It’s my birthday month.’ Even Martin Luther King Jr. only gets a day. Calm down people.

I’ve had it displayed in my apartment for the past year because I enjoy missing the point. And I really enjoy my birthday/week/month.

This one is particularly IMPORTANT, however, as it’s my golden birthday. The one I’ve spent my whole life waiting for. On April 28th, I will be 28.

I think the first time I went to a golden birthday party, I was 8. So was the birthday girl. I remember balloons and a serious amount of envy as I realized I’d have to wait 20 years for my extra-special birthday party. Now that it’s here, what do I want?

Last year I had friends over for mimosas, went out for breakfast, took a bus to the Twins game (which was unfortunately rained out), took a nap, grabbed a beer at my favorite local bar, and celebrated at a bonfire with a bunch of other friends lucky enough to be born at the end of April. I got a crown; I wore a crown. I woke up the next day still wearing said crown. It was pretty great.

That’s not what I want to do this year.

I’m actually giving myself the best birthday present ever – I’m taking my mom to Ireland for 10 days in April. That’s all the gift I need. But I still want to do something more.  To quote Wayne Campbell, “What I’d really like to do is something extraordinary. Something big. Something mega. Something copious. Something capacious. Something cajunga!”

I want to do something GOOD. And I want you to do something good, too.

So taking inspiration from the Birthday Project, the #26Acts of Kindness movement, GOOD.is and the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, I’m starting something. Something fun, short-term, and (hopefully) Good.

28logo

My main undertaking this month will be trying to raise enough money to save 28 lives through Charity:Water. But even if you can’t donate, I hope you’ll join me in the 28 For 28 project.

I’m aiming to do 28 Good Things in April. All I’d really like you to do – is pick one.

Join with me as I celebrate 28 good years over 28 days.

From The Archives: My Birthday Is Served

(A true story from just before my 22nd birthday.)

This doesn’t happen every day, and it doesn’t happen to everybody.  It only happens to me.

My birthday buddy and I went out for ice cream and exchanged gifts yesterday evening.  My present included silly putty, bouncy balls, a hacky sack, play dough and – my favorite – a koosh ball.  Hers is a “Happy Hour” sign and some champagne-shaped chocolates.  Guess which one of us is older.

When I got to my house, my mom was home.  I showed her my present and started playing with my koosh ball when she told me a man had been by to see me just then.

Oh?

Yes, he’d been by to see me and he’d dropped off some papers.

And what do these papers say?

Oh, just that I’m being sued for fifty thousand dollars.

...Well.

Clearly this problem cannot be solved by koosh.

Apparently, someone with my name is having some legal issues over a three-year-old car accident, and I was served her summons to appear in court.  Our legal system at work.  I read the papers and started to laugh, then said, “This isn’t funny!”  My mom laughed back and said “No, it’s not!”  Then we both laughed some more.

So tomorrow morning I have to call some lawyers and explain that I did not, in fact, cause an accident in the cities in 2002 (when I was barely able to drive out of my driveway, by the way), and I will be paying no one $50,000.  Then I will ask him how difficult the legal process is to change my name to something slightly less common.  I’m thinking Shaquana, Decadence, or Bob.  Not a lot of girl Bobs out there.  The world needs more.

But hey, I’m not bitter.  Not everyone can say, “Remember that time I went out for ice cream and got sued for fifty thousand dollars?”

This doesn’t happen every day, and it doesn’t happen to everybody.  It only happens to Bob.

24, 4, 84

I recently had a birthday (as did Becca, Dan, Jay, and Nate Richert, the actor who portrayed Harvey Kinkle on Sabrina the Teenage Witch).  It sucked.  Suffice to say I woke up at 5:30 with a raging fever and it only got worse from there.  The high point was my mother, who drove two and a half hours to take care of me (she cleaned my apartment and brought me ice cream).  I’m 24, but that doesn’t mean I can’t act 4, at least around my mother.

Anyway, I’m doing slightly better now, after taking an entire week off of work and watching everything in my DVD collection, including Kindergarten Cop.  And that was all before I got the diagnosis: pneumonia.  Looks like I was aiming for swine flu and missed.

It’s going to sound like I’m 24 going on 84, the way I follow up a health report with some cat-related emotions, but I can’t help it.  Shadow died yesterday.  She was 18.  I remember the day dad rescued her from herself, rolling around in the middle of the highway; she was tiny, and I named her Shadow because she followed my six-year-old-self everywhere.  Finally, a cat of my own; Amigo never liked me much.  Shadow never learned to meow properly, sounding more like R2D2 than a cat, and she walked into every room like it was her first time seeing the place.  She was always on the wrong side of every door; she learned to bang the screen door when she needed to get inside (“the cat’s knocking again,” we’d say, not thinking anything of it), and let no cupboard or closet stay closed for more than a few minutes.  My parents said it was like living with a ghost: you’d be trying to sleep, and suddenly all the doors in the room would open, one after another.  She never forgave me for moving out, and fell into my mother’s shadow instead.  She drank half and half every morning while my parents had coffee.  My dad buried her in a sunny patch near her favorite window.  She was the best cat of all the cats.