On Birthday Donuts, Trivia, and Re-Evaluating Adulthood

If you’d rather skip ahead to my quick story about birthday donuts and trivia, go for it.

The last year of my 20s. And what have I accomplished?

But that’s not really important, is it? When I turned 25, I was riddled with an anxiety—a kind of FOMO if you will—that I wasn’t hitting the societal, age-based “benchmarks” of success. I would see my high school and college peers doing amazing things at the ripe-ol’ age of 25-ish. Journalism careers flourishing at notable papers and broadcast channels. Traveling everywhere. Making a name for themselves with non-profit organizations. Starting businesses. Me? The tl;dr version: I was flailing around.

Okay, that’s not a very fair description of what’s happening with me. That’s more a meme-version of me. But in the age of incessant images and messaging by our peers and society about what the “acceptable norms” of success are, it’s easy to feel like you’ve accomplished nothing.

I was older than most of my undergraduate peers. I had a very small network of professional colleagues and peers. I worked in retail for a bit, then left that to start an internship at a newspaper. Despite these feelings of inadequacy, I discovered some new interests that brought social issues and journalism together.

From intern to staff, after a while the restlessness kicked in. I wanted something more. But what? I didn’t have the extensive writing experience needed to land other journalism jobs. What do I do? What were my interests? What was I excited about?

I switched gears and went to grad school. Three semesters into my MA in sociology, an exam scheduled for later this month, and Ph.D. applications submitted, things are a little different as a just-turned-29-year-old.

Adulthood—whatever that actually is—seems to come about very slowly. For some of us, anyway. There’s an inherent assumption of perceiving “students” as children, yet not everyone participating in an institution that labels them “students” are children. Graduate school is a good example of this.

It’s probably because I’m on the cusp of turning 30. Or I’m under chaotic stress about this MA exam. Or I’m having a “real talk” moment with myself about the child/adult dichotomy and the messages we receive about what one or the other is.

One of my favorite lines from people who hate bike people: bikes are for children, are you a child?

The same could be leveled against grad students, maybe: school is for children, are you a child?

Maybe it’s differences in generational ideologies, but after this most recent semester ended, I realized that being a student doesn’t make me a child. I’m undertaking a process of specialized learning that’s training me for a specific career path.

I’m an adult. Holy shit.

Birthdays. They can be fun, but like my anxiety over NYE plans, I don’t particularly revel in the extremes of celebration. I like low-key things, and this year wasn’t any different, except it was. But only a little bit. It happen to fall on a Wednesday and Wednesdays are Trivia nights.

With another semester under my belt and Ph.D. applications completed, I thought Trivia would be a nice small break between all of that and the massive study session that’s currently ongoing. It also gave me an excuse to get myself some birthday donuts.

You read right. D-O-N-U-T-S.

I had a hankering for donuts, so the adventure began with a walk to the subway, towards some sweet, delicious donuts. I explored Yelp to see what bakeries were around but I didn’t want cookies or cakes or cupcakes or muffins. I wanted a donut.

Cookies are tasty, yes, but you can’t just have one. They’re almost unsatisfying. Cakes are okay, but you’re not eating it for the body. You’re going for the icing, which just leaves you in a sugar shock. Cupcakes and muffins are kind of like cakes but smaller. They’re also not all that fun to eat.

Donuts though… its shape is fun and the denseness of it is satiating. You could eat more than one, but you’re quite satisfied with just one. And depending on the topping, it could cover the entire donut, or just lump it all on one side. Every bite is a explosion of taste (so long as the donut is good).

Yelp was a fail, so I opted for my go-to: Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC. Three donuts were purchased. A Samoa, a mocha chocolate crumble, and old timey vanilla sprinkles. M had the sprinkles. I ate the Samoa. We shared the mocha. Best birthday donuts ever.

Then off we paraded to Dempsey’s for a night of trivia. Donut euphoria lasted almost all night, until I made the mistake of eating their cheese nachos. It’s quite filling, but not in a satisfying way. I may stick with their kale salad and a side of fries from now on. At least their salad is good.

We won the Team Name spirit award. Our prize: The Ploughman by Kim Zupan. Can’t really tell you much about that book, but I can tell you that it’s always exciting to win books at trivia. You never know what you’re going to get.

And that was that.

Photo: Brooklyn Bridge/Looking out on Manhattan – Author


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