the morning after a birthday can be more satisfying than the birthday itself. new reads are waiting for me - salman rushdie's fury, zadie smith's autograph man, lemony snicket: the unauthorized biography. the answering machine is full of good cheer, and it's socially acceptable to have cake for breakfast. in my thank-you note for friends who came to dinner, i get to tell valerie that my sister loves to see her, that my mother thinks grant is a catch. i wasn't very enthusiastic about turning twenty-four - i should be the great american something by now, or able to pay for my car insurance - but i woke up happy. hey.

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