Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Best 30th Birthday Ever, Part 1: The Challenge

My 30th birthday is now less than 2 months away.

Excuse me for a moment while I breathe into this paper bag...

Okay, I'm back.

As I was saying, my 30th birthday is less than 2 months away. It falls on a Monday, which I plan to take off work. That also means that it follows a weekend, which provides an excellent opportunity for celebratory antics. Unfortunately, I still don't know what those antics will look like. I do know that I'm dragging the celebration out for the entire weekend.

I briefly considered renting out my favorite cafe/wine bar for the evening, until I found out what it would cost me. I do not have that kind of money to lavish on a single night, even if it is going to be The Best 30th Birthday Ever.

Then I started thinking about just having a regular party. When I was married, I told my ex-husband that it was his responsibility to throw me a big bash. Now that I'm single, I don't have anyone to bully into it. And while I know I have a few friends who would do it for me, I'm not presumptuous enough to actually ask them to. That just seems rude.

So, I'm throwing my own party. One problem: I don't have a lot of space to do it in. My house is nice enough, but it's a 1984 tract house that measures just under 1400 square feet. Once you subtract the three bedrooms and the galley kitchen (which really can't accommodate more than one person at a time without inducing homicidal urges), and you're left with the front room and the dining room. We're talking about a combined total of less than 400 square feet, before you factor in furniture. That's not a lot of space for a party. The only solution: outdoor space.

Now, I've done a pretty good job with my front yard. I built a raised planting bed out of limestone blocks and landscaped with drought-tolerant plants. I have an assortment of potted plants on the front stoop ("porch" would be an overstatement). Sure, the lawn usually needs mowing and the tree needs to be trimmed, but overall it looks pretty decent (bordering on "good" if you compare it to the other houses on my block). But it's the front yard - in other words, it's not a good place for a party.

The backyard is another story entirely. I built a raised planting bed off the kitchen for my veggies and herbs, and while it's functional, it's not exactly visually appealing. Built of two rows of cinderblocks, it's located right next to the air conditioner. Plus, it's a vegetable garden. Not exactly party central.

This leaves me with the small concrete patio off the dining room and the rest of the backyard. When we bought the house, it was dead grass and weeds. Today, it is a thriving wildlife habitat composed of small patches of live grass interspersed among large swathes of weeds. Depending on whether or not it has rained recently, it may be brown, green or somewhere in between. It is, in a single word, ugly. It is also entirely unsuitable for hosting guests, unless I want them to go home with fire ant and chigger bites and a very low opinion of me.

Case in point:

The space is about 17 1/2 feet wide by 31 feet long.

See that tree leaning against the fence? It was dead so I cut it down and then I tore up the stump. All by myself. I'm a badass like that.
If I'm going to have my 30th birthday party here, I'm going to have to turn the backyard into some kind of usable space (Yes, I know I'm ignoring the fact that it could be pouring rain in mid-November. It could also be a lovely, crisp evening. I'm gonna have to go with it.). I've been talking about doing this for a long time, but I've been lazy. This is just the swift kick in the ass I need. And to hold myself accountable, I'm going to blog about it here. I expect you all to nag me (politely, of course) on my progress if you haven't seen any in a while.

The next steps are to kill all the grass and weeds and come up with a design. I'm an ace at plant killing, so the first part shouldn't be too hard. I'm aiming to have a design for you to "ooh" and "aah" over next week.


fortunecookiejunkie said...

Again, I'm offering to host a party for you. I have guest bedrooms. And an already landscaped backyard. Just sayin'.

Julie said...

I'd host the party for you, but that would beg the assumption that I'm invited. Plus, I live out in the country. And we have an annoying ass rooster who is mean as all get out. And that just doesn't make for a Best 30th Birthday Party Ever.

Now, do you really want me to gently nag you? Because I will. I only want the best for you, even if it is my nagging. I'm a mom after all, we are hella good at it.

It will be wondermous. Perfect backyard or not.

Katherine said...

I'm no stranger to manual labor if you need another set of muscles to help with the preparations. Presumptuous and rude? Whatever. That's what friends are for. You never know until you ask, and the worst one one might say is "no." I want to see your idea board! Unless you go w Alison's place, in which case I want to help string lights and cook!

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