Don’t tell me why you can’t come to my party :D

Memo: from the desk of Sami

emotion-sensor-sad-pink-hairOk, I am nervous about posting this. Maybe I am a terrible person for not wanting to know you can’t come to my party because you are having a bad day (but you hope I have fun anyway). Or! Maybe! Maybe you are a terrible person for making me evaluate your excuse — AND during the tender emotional time of preparing for a kickback with friends. “That’s ok,” I text back. “Take care of yourself!” I text back. Oh, yeah, why don’t I make you feel better for ditching me? Why don’t I tell you it’s okay and we’re still besties and I still love you even though you are abandoning me in my time of need?

Ms. Manners or your mother or that pre-printed invitation you got in 3rd grade told you to RSVP, yes. But are you really all such polite little angels that you just think it’s the right thing to do, to send me a personalized regret? Or (hmmmm) do you think the party will crumple like my resolve not to eat another Reese’s Mini out of my Halloween score-bag next week, if you don’t show up? Or do you just WISH it would? Hmm hmm are you trying to SABOTAGE my party with your depressing laments??

I am NOT talking about those of you who ghost my invite, then text a day or two later with a sweet, “Sorry I never made it! I actually fell asleep lololol.” You are exemplary human beings. You get that the only humane thing to do is 1. Quietly not show up  2. Fluff me later by tricking me into thinking you rue missing my shindig (so that you could stay in bed and eat bagel bites and binge-watch the L Word). I adore you. You understand me.

And yes! Yes there are exceptions. Maybe if I wanted to bang you and you are kindly letting me know not to expect your lovely presence, I’ll miss you, xoxo, feel free to have fun without me, wink.

Or, a head-count is useful (hmmm Facebook has that covered if you just click the “can’t go” option…) if I’m serving dinner or if I’m meticulously crafting favors for each attendee. BUT THINK ABOUT IT. I have moved on from such laborious methods of revelry. I have streamlined my socializations such that I can name my theme “Messy House Party” and I don’t even have to vacuum for you fools!! HA I trick YOU into making all the crafty favors and the dinners AND YOU LOVE IT.

Ahem. The following is a generalized example that happens every single time, yet you will think it is specifically about the time you *did the thing* — because it IS this predictable:

I send out an invitation, via Facebook for once (normally I text), to 40 or so friends.

Blow #1: You post on the party wall (where everyone can see!) that there are too many parties this weekend. Implying that you won’t come to mine. Implying that you are going to a better party.

I make a joke and you make a joke so it is funny so it’s worth it. For the Sake of All Things Party, I allow this. Then my nice friend tells me I am still popular and I feel OK.

Blow to my fragile ego #2: In the tender hours post-official-start-time, while I am waiting to see if other people will arrive or I will just be drinking Popsicle & Malibus with Kevin this fine evening, I get 2-4 text messages from wont-shows. The reason is they are tired and sad, although they give me other reasons. I know you are just tired and sad. I should probably respond “Noooooooo please come my happiness depends on youuuuuuuuu!!!1!” and maybe you will rouse your butt on over…but I can’t pressure you into making good decisions; I am not your Party Mom. I am your Party Teacher. Read the blog, learn the lesson, or flunk out.

Blow #3 K.O. You text me that you can’t come to my party tonight because your dog died. Your. Dog. Died. This is the most depressing thing. I do not need to hear this right now! I am trying make Party! Now all I can think about is dead puppies and I want to get drunk in a sad way and not a fun way :( :( :(

So now I am on the floor pathetically calling for Kevin to refill my disgustingly sweet yet fabulously novel drink made of melted dessert and that one bottle of liquor that no one wants to drink. The spirit of Party is skewered. This show can’t go on…

Except, honestly, it does. Worse case scenario, I am getting drunk on Friday night with Kevin. It’s really, really, not a rough deal.

kevin-is-the-improbable-pinata

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How to go to the Creationism Museum in Santee

Wait until it is Tuesday (admission is free on Tuesdays). Obtain a beverage. A horchata is nice. I definitely did not do this, and neither should you put whiskey in your horchata, but it is surely something to think about…

horchata

Drive to the very end of Mission Gorge in Santee, where if you go much further you will be headed out to Lakeside (and there is never any reason to go there). Find the building fronted with authoritative, reflective black letters: “CREATION AND EARTH HISTORY MUSEUM.” You will also see a statue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Walk inside. Bring your horchata. It’s totally chill.

creationist-museum-santee-san-diego-dinosaur Walk briskly through the gift shop and avoid eye contact with the cashier. Snort loudly, then cover your mouth, when the first thing you see is a cheesy light toy paired with solemn Psalms 22:1. Use the change from your horchata to amuse yourself with the coin funnel that is decorated with stickers of planets. Donate a total of 31 cents.

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Proceed through the days of creation. Find animals. Exclaim, “Oh my god there is animals here!” Wonder if the docents have heard you take the lord’s name in vain. Decide the turtle is secretly atheist, like you, but he’s not trying to make a big deal about it.

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Don’t forget, also, to stare for a long time at the mural of dead animals and dead animal parts. It is a work of art.

IMAG0199IMAG0201Listen to your friend make loud monkey noises in the other room. It is like Disneyland here. Although…a docent does emerge from a hidden hallway, after the shouting. Sip your horchata while your friends discuss topics ranging from skin color to the Tower of Babel with the docent. He will call you “secularists.”

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Don’t forget to try to put the round peg in the square hole.

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Wish you had a T-shirt of the sign that says NO RUNNING IN THE MUSEUM. It is so punk rock.

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Sit down a spell on the nice couch and listen to the man on the TV. He is in a very busy-looking room. Where is he? In front of a green screen? Chortle at a bad jump cut. You are almost done with your horchata. You are keeping it together. You are doing just fine.

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This is the part where the docent comes back and hands your friends brochures. He will give you the last one, and say, “You probably like dogs.” He is not wrong. Maybe God helps him to see these things.

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Consult your smartphone to check the spelling of “efficacy.” Wait. LOL “tratement.”

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Oh god. Oh god no…. Drop your horchata taking a picture of the fertilization sign. It will seem like it is ok at first, because it landed upright, but actually the bottom will bust open, spilling your remaining beverage in a sticky puddle. Take the horchata to the bathroom. Try to drink the rest of it over the sink, then chuck it in the trash. Wash your face. Use the toilet (it is very fancy). Look at the horchata in the trash and stomp it down with your boot. Maybe that helps? Come back to your spill with paper towels. Hear a little girl say, “Mommy, why does it smell like beer?” Oh god. God no. They know. Everyone totally knows.

IMAG0239Leave immediately. Go straight to the brewery across the street. Wish you could order something stiffer than beer (but the beer is pretty good anyway).

BNS Brewing and Distilling Co

How to Survive the California Drought

…and by “survive” I mean assuage your guilt by intelligently cutting back on water consumption. 

I’ve been waiting for word about the drought to trickle into my social media channels, but Facebook and the rest have been somewhat barren. Did you know San Diego is currently under mandatory water usage restrictions?

  • Stop or fix all leaks within 72 hours
  • Water before 10am or after 6pm only
  • Don’t water your yard “excessively” such that it drains past your property or down the gutter
  • Don’t use a hose to wash down sidewalks or driveways
  • Don’t let your pool overflow
  • Don’t wash your car with a running hose
  • etc.

^ Fail to heed warnings for those and receive citations from $100-1000 or even criminal prosecution.

The restrictions show an overwhelming concern for outdoor water use, and it’s true that California households use way more water on landscaping than anything else. Forget just turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth, the best thing to do is find alternatives to a lush green lawn. If your front yard looks like a sad, tawny shag of neglected responsibility, consider yourself the hero of this story.

You also may or may not have seen this design for a BART poster:

From FFACoalition.org, which states, “Direct use of water by consumers makes up only 4% of water consumption in California, while meat and dairy production makes up 55%.”

Holy cow.

I took FFAC’s advice and looked at the Mother Jones article which inspired the poster and learned a 6oz glass of milk takes 30 gallons to produce… and fuck fuck fuck two slices of cheese = 50 fucking gallons of precious water aaaaaaaah I hate myself. Like, 25 minutes ago I went to the fridge and just ate two slices of cheese right out of the package.

Go read the article right now so you can also hate yourself and we can commiserate. You’re not going to like the one about butter.

From depressing infographic on MotherJones.com

From depressing infographic on MotherJones.com

Don’t think you can get away with switching to almond milk, either.

water-it-takes-produce-almond-milk-california-drought

From MotherJones.com

What about beer? Beer never hurt anyone. 

If you want to trust NPR’s numbers (though they seem low, breweries around the world have been striving to reduce beer’s water footprint since at least 2011) a 1:4 beer-to-water ratio means I don’t feel like I’m destroying the planet. 

beer

Using the MotherJones.com impractical standard measuring unit of 6oz, a stupidly small glass of beer will use about 1/5 of a gallon of water. 

Again, with the NPR ratios and the Mother Jones serving sizes, 6oz of hard liquor costs ya the guilt of almost 2 gallons. Still way less than cheese.

Oh god why didn't I just use apple juice for this photo shoot

Oh god why didn’t I just use apple juice for this photo shoot it is Tuesday and I am going to get nothing done

Therefore, to save the world, quit dairy and drink beer.

dairy-drought-takes-a-lot-of-water-to-make-happy-cow

Get drunk for the drought!

I Need A Man

Edit: I forgot to mention that I was inspired to share this personal story after the North Park attacks on women made me start thinking critically about my own safety. It was a depressing reminder that it’s easy to get lulled into a sense of false safety, but that horrible things happen to women even in my own neighborhoods.

You catch those predators, San Diego, and you work hard to make this an environment where such things happen less and less and hopefully, someday, never.

——————

I am brazen, compared to most. I am not afraid to say mean things, when mean things need to be said. I am also a skilled diplomat, disguising my vitriol as obliviousness, couching my barbs in pseudo-flirtation. I ended up using the latter strategy for this party.

A good friend of mine, along with two female friends of his, wanted to find a darker, couch-ier place to pass around a bottle of whip-cream vodka. We did find a couch, in a dark room, with very loud music and an open dance floor, though no dancers. I’m noticing a trend at these burner types of parties that alcohol is scarce; perhaps we’re all skilled consumers, and by the midnight hour the beer is gone. So, when my good friend left (me with the bottle in my lap) to go to the bathroom, a man immediately approached to take his place in the center of the couch. I will call this man “Caveman.”

I don’t know if I was protective of the bottle only at this point, or the women already, but I defended my place. “I’m saving this spot for my friend,” I shrugged with a grin. I clutched the bottle.

“Oh, so you’re going to be 2nd grade about this?” Caveman said.

“Yeah,” I was.

He sat at the end instead, by who I will call “Blotted” — as she was. The way he stroked her arms made me uncomfortable. She periodically flailed them, proclaiming, “Everything is so nice.” I was not sure if she evaded his grasp or celebrated it, but at least my good friend came back and we passed the whip-cream bottle for awhile.

Between dizzy swigs I peered at Blotted. My good friend noticed my glances and began to share my uneasy expression. I leaned over to my good friend, “I think I’m going to diffuse the situation a little.” It was Blotted’s first time partying with the burner community and I wanted to make sure she felt safe and happy. She was also only 21, and not so experienced with being so blotted.

I pulled Caveman away from the couch. He was easily led. “It’s Blotted’s first time at a party like this,” I said over the music.

“She’s beautiful.”

“Yes.” I nodded.

“But you, you are even more beautiful.”

Instead of retorting in my head like I might normally, I said these words aloud, “That’s a terrible compliment.” After all, I looked fierce as fuck in a half-undone Spyro the Dragon Kigurumi and a black sports bra, so why hold back?

“What?”

“I like women. I don’t want you to put them down to raise me up. A better compliment would be…. you are also beautiful.”

As we talked, I bobbed and danced around him so his hands could never quite land on me. He seemed to, at least, understand that much — that I didn’t want him to touch me.

“What’s his secret?” he said.

“Who, him?” I looked over at my good friend where he still sat on the couch with his friends. “We’re not intimate. I’m gay. He’s my really good friend.”

“No. You’re not gay. Like all the way gay?”

Oh fuck you, too, Caveman. Just question me immediately — it’s not like I don’t get that reaction every time. “Ummm…. Welllllllll. Yes.” All the way gay, it is. He did not deserve a nuanced explanation of my complicated sexuality.

I spun and I stomped to the beat, and then said to Caveman, “His secret is he knows how to interact with women non-sexually. So I can feel comfortable with him, and they can feel comfortable with him. Your problem is that you exude sexual intent. I’m immune of course.”

“No, no you’re not. I can tell you have a heart.” Caveman. I don’t have a heart if it doesn’t beat for you/your penis? You’re killing me, Caveman.

“Yes, yes I am.” 100% immune and heartless.

I think introductions finally happened here. I think a half-naked gal started to walk up to us for some group dancin’ but smelled his desperation and pivoted away. Then he said:

“How old do you think I am?”

Looked 42, so I guessed 38. He was 50.

After his dismissal of my sexuality and this tidbit, I came to a swift conclusion: this man is a predator. He goes to parties, he finds young, inebriated things (I’m 24, but look younger, and of course Blotted is 21), and he eases himself into grope-central. Like, age is just a number but he wasn’t staring into her old soul through her young eyes. She didn’t even know his name and he was kissing her whenever her face was pointing in the right direction.

“Can I ask you something?”  This is, of course, an omen that something offensive is about to come out of someone’s mouth. “And if you want you can break my heart, you can stab me right through the solar plexus….”

Warning. Trap: I am going to confess my undying love/lust for you and if you don’t like it, it will cost your guilt and discomfort as I throw myself on the sword. He trailed off before completing his sentence and his emotional trap, unable to finish his thought, so transfixed was he by my fierce sports bra.

“I’m up here.” I actually fucking said it. I actually fucking said those words for the first fucking time in my flat-chested, itty-bitty-titty-committee fucking life. If this dude was going to be old school, this dude was going to get some old school sass to make him understand I am a human being, not a walking sex doll.

He sputtered, probably some excuse but I missed a lot of what he said due to the loud music and my blind-white shock that a guy like him got into a party like that (a very cool party, btw), and was still bothering me.

Actually, actually I remember now, at some point he told me his name was Pan. This is obviously his burner/community name, but still, he could be recognized. I don’t care at all. Hey Pan, this girl talkin’ shit over here on her blog about you. Take that in your solar plexus.

I was beginning to feel like I needed a diffusion, myself. I’m at a party to have fun, not explain to men like Pan that lesbians are actually lesbians and quit staring at my chest. I went back to the couch. He resumed his post next to Blotted.

Through an unfortunate miscommunication, I was left by my good friend and our other friend to be Blotted’s babysitter for the rest of the foreseeable night. Normally I would be happy to let her wander around in such a community on her own, and perhaps that is what my good friend expected, too. This particular crowd is very loving and enlightened and take good care of fucked-up 21-year-olds. Nevertheless, I could not bear to leave her alone on the couch with Pan.

“Want to go on an adventure?” I tried to suggest as she struggled to figure out which way was up, let alone how to end Pan’s creepy kisses. She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her. Perhaps she couldn’t process my invitation for an escape or perhaps she really didn’t mind, because she said, “Uhmmm…… I don’t know. I’m okay.”

Lucky break, he had to pee. Not a moment later I said, “Want to go on an adventure?” She agreed immediately. This, and, the fact that she never once asked, “Hey where’s that guy I was making out with earlier?” makes me certain she wasn’t interested in making out with that guy.

I was very happy to tote her along for a bit. She’s sweet and played fun blotted party games, like let’s gather a circle of people and give them new names because I can’t remember their names anyway. They smiled, like, “isn’t she adorable?” when she named them Jason, and Richard, and Amazon. I got Dory, “like that fish from Finding Nemo.”

After awhile I became uneasy, because I wanted to go in the hot tub with Katelyn and I couldn’t leave poor Blotted alone, not when Pan was still lurking. I looked and looked for my good friend to relieve me from my babysitting shift, but it seemed like he was never coming back to find me, from wherever he went.

Eventually I found one of the party hosts, a genial, tall and wiry man with a great smile. I explained my predicament, that I didn’t want to leave her unattended only because I wasn’t sure just how predatory this other guy was. The host offered a confrontation session, but honestly even if we could have found Pan (and I hadn’t remembered his name yet) I wouldn’t have wanted to talk to him for another second. The host incorporated Blotted into a circle of new friends and I felt like she was safe again.

I had a good night, a very good night, and before I left I saw Pan again. I had since remembered his name, but I wanted to call out to him just to be sure I got it right. I would say, “Pan?” I would see his head turn, and say, “Nevermind.” But in that twisted staircase, even though all the lights were on, my mind was as blank and foreboding as his big, bare chest and I coudn’t say a thing at all. I knew nothing was going to happen to me, not realistically, but I still felt something like fear. I don’t know what kind of confused glare I gave him as I tried to memorize his features — to know if they were really his, all the while the gut of panic behind my eyes knowing, yes, it is him. There’s sirens blaring in your head that it is him.

And after that overwhelming moment in the staircase, I thought, “I can’t do it. I can’t speak up. I can’t rely on myself.” I remember feeling helpless — that even after all the empowerment I’ve experienced as a woman, I can still be held to the flames of fear. That to be safe, I need to call on the help of others, even when I would rather stand strong on my own. That to be safe, I needed a man.

Related:
Women Hurt Women, Too
Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too

A Primer on Concealable Flasks and 2 Alternatives

height-profile-alternatives-to-classic-concealable-flask-liquor-alcohol-shots

Disclaimer: I’m not really one to let moralism get in the way of partying, but I do have to say that if you can’t afford to buy a couple drinks at your local bars (and tip!) then, please, stay home on facebook and “like” pictures of all the people you wish would have sex with you.

On the other hand, I am not going to wager $20 cover on an event of dubious potential, expensive drinks, and no-reentry.  If the music sucks, at least let me spike your weak fucking $9 cocktails with the whiskey I hid in my socks. Bonus for you, my sweet venue: if I look like I’m having fun, maybe other people will be tricked into thinking they are also having fun.

Anyway.

classic-flask

First, we have our classic bootleggers flask. This one has been vandalized with a sticker. If you are wearing actual boots, and I mean big, badass boots with buckles and shit, you may be able to get away with this one. Most likely, however, you will be caught and this will be confiscated, and you will be sad because it is made of actual metal and you probably paid some dollars for it.

disposa-flask-disposable-plastic-flask

The next logical step is the plastic flask. This one is black, so it can hide in a very dark corner of your purse. It is a little bit smaller, perhaps because the makers know you want to hide it. The advertising on the front claims it can hold 5 shots.

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However, the makers of DisposaFlask are lying liars or else they are in cahoots with the people who pour weak fucking cocktails, because I’m counting a shot as a plastic liquor mini bottle, and it don’t add up. Technically, a shot in this country is measured at 44ml, but it’s much easier to divide by 50. The DisposaFlask is not labeled in ml or even oz so I did a quick science for you:

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I’m rounding down to 150ml as a penalty for lying liar behavior. Also, and I’m just throwing this out there: look at that meniscus. (I just wanted to say meniscus in my head. Meniscus.)

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That gives us 3 shots. This explains why I always finish off this flask feeling vaguely not drunk enough.

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An 8oz flask does in fact hold nearly 5 shots.

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Now, neither of the hardbody flasks are easy to hide on us squishy-body people, which is why the makers of Pocket Shot invented this delightful little packet.

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The Pocket Shot is exactly the size of a regulation liquor mini, and it is definitely squishy. It will snuggle up to your skin and/or skivvies in all sorts of places. Squirrel away a few of these, and if security finds the one in your shoe at least they won’t find your nut-stash. P.S. they are fun for hookup partners to discover in your bra (true story).

The downside is that these guys are a little expensive, and of limited variety. I mean, I’m not against putting a plastic-encased mystery “W H I S K E Y” in my body, but you might want a flavor you can trust.

And so that brings us to… the DIY disposable concealable flask

infantino-squeeze-pouch-for-babies-freshly-squeezed-feeding-line

What is that? Why, it’s a squeeze pouch. For babies.

Infantino makes a squeeze pouch “feeding line” (are they children or are they livestock??) so that yuppie parents can package up custom applesauces, vegetable purrée, and other goo for their toddlers to quaff. It will set you back about $15 for a box of 50 pouches. I will demonstrate in pictures how to alter this fine product to smuggle liquor in your underwear.

photo-grid-concealable-flask-diy

Wow. This photo grid is exciting. Isn’t it just ready to go up on a Pinterest board? This is How I Spend My Summer. But the branch clipper photo kind of says it all:

turn-infantino-squeeze-pouch-into-concealable-disposable-flask

The elegant minimalism. The textures: pristine factory plastic, rusty blade, raw clipped edges. So much narrative implied in one photograph, and yet, the mystery. Congratulations, parents; I’m using my art degree to teach my friends and internet strangers how to repurpose baby products to get drunk cheaply at concerts.

infantino-squeeze-pouch-for-babies-holds-2-shots

Your DIY concealable disposable flask holds two minis. My confidential expert consultant says she can hide 4 of them in the crotch of her jean shorts. Impressive.

alternatives-to-classic-concealable-flask-liquor-alcohol-shotsA final photo for your comparison. Enjoy.

 

6 Party Coping Mechanisms

So…if you’re my friend on snapchat, you may have gotten this picture:

Snapchat-20140417115114As I sat on the floor, pants recently removed, and flung my flabbergasted hands at my lacerated shin, Katie Siebert said frankly, “You are such a beautiful sad creature.”

“Beautiful sad creature, where did you pick that up?”

It turns out she got the phrase from me, but I’d forgotten. Back when I consoled her over a terrifyingly serious ear infection (read the whole story on her blog here) I had texted over a “wealth of coping mechanisms” that I’ve gained from the hilarious combination of having a sluggish immune system (born premature) and a creative/anxious mind.

sad-beautiful-creature

I would never diminish the suffering of others, but I understand my own weakness for melodrama. I have to laugh at myself or else I’ll just spend the night intermittently sweating with a pillow over my head and snatching my phone up again for some more WebMD torture.

If it's possibly cancer: whatever, you always wanted to be interesting

Turns out if there’s a lump sticking out of my shin a terrifying extra 1-inch, my reaction is mostly jovial. This is a battle wound. Also, I had taken 3 Ibuprofen before the concert in anticipation of wearing my improbable shoes.

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Packing priorities: 50% necessities, 50% shoes

Also, I was still drunk. Still, the benefit of having physical injury over a communicable disease is I get a lot less crap from my doctor. Every time I get strep (like this time & this time) she acts like it’s my fault for being irresponsible with my health. But cut off part of my finger washing dishes? Now that was just an accident! Poor baby!

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If I go to a concert and fall down the stairs (twice) the only person who is going to be mad at me is my daddy. “Wear sensible shoes!” he says sternly every time I show him the progress of my bruises. I think they look pretty cool.

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I rely on my coping mechanisms when life’s got me bruised or battered, whether at parties or otherwise. Here are some more:

1. In general: Become a writer or an artist so that every bad experience is fodder for your craft. Like when you got drunk on labor day weekend and someone stole your wallet — Blog post!

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2. If you’re stuck having a conversation you don’t want to have: Opportunity to practice conveying boredom true and pure through your every molecule. Can you do it? Can you do boredom justice?

maybe-theyll-give-me-the-fun-drugs2

3. Girl, if some guy is bothering you: Enjoy the anger. Feel the rage. Let it build into a feminist fury. Launch into a diatribe he is ill-equipped to understand but that you felt impressive for saying anyway. Then let that on-top-of-a-mountain feeling carry you for the rest of your night of revelry.

4. If you lost your friends: Sweet, no one can judge me while I play 2048 in this corner over here.

because-im-gay

5. If no one is dancing with/except you: People who dance by themselves are fundamentally interesting. At their worst they are a little socially inept, but they could also be unhinged, weird, carefree. Even a total dweeb, if he’s truly lost in dancing and not checking for his peers’ approval, becomes legendary when he dances alone, silent, inexplicably powerful (think Napoleon Dynamite). People who dance by themselves are Fun people.

6. If there’s not enough alcohol at the party: Actually, this is truly devastating. This is not a time for Coping. This is a time to Do Something. My favorite is Pretend I’m going to Rescue the Party and Get Alcohol but Actually Abandon the Party for a Better One. If you don’t have parties double-stacked for that night, you could actually rescue the party, anoint yourself beer czar, and make people do stupid shit to get at your monopoly of booze.

 

 

Party planning: then and now

 

I’ve taken joy in planning parties since I was young. Whether I go the extra mile staying up ’til 2am the night previous building an obstacle course in the back yard to just thinking up a clever event title for Facebook, my prep efforts are always rewarded. Nowadays I plot everything on our fav’ social sharing site, but I used to write list after list in my diary.

Themes

Then:Party-planning-theme-big-kids-18th

 

Theme planning took up at least one whole page in my journal, if not several. Ideal themes lent themselves to a slew of activities, decoration ideas, and costume suggestions, though I frequently chose them by my own whimsy. Did I want my mother to make the carousel cake I saw in American Girl magazine, with animal crackers frosting-glued to straws and a big paper canopy? Time for a circus theme party. Did I want an excuse to build a giant furniture fort in the living room? I’ll make it look like a ship and have a pirate party.

Candyland was the obvious choice for my “Sweet Sixteen” but I have to admit I was most excited about making giant lollipops out of balloons and cellophane.

I read a lot more craft books when I was a kid.

Now:

This part of party planning hasn’t changed much for me. Unless the party is last minute, I put a lot of effort into the theme, as evidenced by the theme notes below. I planned to make buttons that said “I went pinky up for Sami’s 21st.” (Yeah, that didn’t happen. I wasn’t really prepared for how booze can interfere with one’s ability to execute a party. And yes I didn’t really start drinking ’till I was 21.)

Party-planning-theme-British-21stWhat has changed is that I’m less interested in forcing my guests to comply with my bizarre fantasy worlds (though a murder mystery party where I gave guests 7 pages of pre-party prep notes turned out fun) than finding a theme that’s exciting enough for people to actually show up. That’s a lot harder now. Back then I’d invite 15 of my closest friends and all but one of them would make it.

Which brings us to…

Inviting Guests

All guests received a theme-appropriate physical invitation. Jungle Party invites were written with green marker on a cut-out leaf, folded in half with the stem pushed through a slit to close. Casino Royale invites included fake money and confetti. Big Kid Party: Crayon.

Furthermore, guest selection meant creating highly sophisticated and intently coded lists for the most balanced party. Spaces were scarce – my mom had a rule I could only invite as many friends as my age number (though she allowed a couple extras as I got older). I analyzed the potential for groups to form, making sure that no guest would stand alone. I drew lines between guests to represent relationships & friendships. I drew unhappy faces for guests with ongoing fights. See that question mark, John Q? You almost weren’t invited.

Party-planning-guest-list

 

Now:

Click all the faces! But not him because he can’t hold his liquor. And not her because she probably would think it’s weird if I invited her because we’re not really friends in real life although we are facebook friends fuckit she’s cool and attractive I’ll invite her. Ah shoot I better go back around through the faces and make sure I didn’t miss anyone or else I have to awkwardly invite them late to the party. Do you think they’ll notice 20 people are already attending and it’s obvious I forgot them in the first round? Because now almost a week’s gone by and that definitely happened.

Great. I’ve invited 80 people. At least 30 are bound to show, right?

Budget

Then:

Party-planning-inventoryMy mom has a couple hundred bucks to spend! I’m going to get table cloths, crepe streamers, cups, matching napkins, food for everyone, soda, prizes, games, decorations….

Now:

I have a couple hundred bucks to spend! I’m going to get Jameson, Kahlua, vodka, ancient age, Pacifico, wine….

Party Activities

Then:

Party-planning-activities

I scoured the internet / books for inventive party games and adapted them to the party’s theme. For my sweet 16 I wrote strictly types of candy for a game of “heads up charades” (though we didn’t call it that, we called it that one game where you write things on name tags and put it on your forehead/back and try to guess what it is) and enjoyed my friends saying things to each other like, “Am I sticky?” “Do I taste good with chocolate?” Apparently 15-or-16-year-olds will play this game for like 3 hours.

Now:

Drinking!