It's my party and I'll cry if I want to
September 8, 2010 2:06 PM   Subscribe

How should I celebrate my 50th birthday all by myself? Constraints inside.

Surviving half a century in this vale of tears calls for some sort of celebration, but Hubby won't be around at the time. We're planning to do something later (suggestions for that also welcome), but what out-of-the-ordinary fun thing can I do by myself?


1. Kinda broke.
2. No car.
3. Don't actually need anything and already have too much stuff.

Things I like: reading, cooking, sewing, museums - mostly quiet and sedentary stuff.

Things I dislike: parties, shopping, loud places.

I'm in San Francisco. Suggestions? Thanks in advance!
posted by Quietgal to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd go on a hike, a bit longer than I was accustomed to for the sense of accomplishment. Bay Area Hiker makes me wish I was in San Francisco. Make a lunch and bring a book to enjoy in a scenic area along the way.

Happy Birthday!
posted by readery at 2:15 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm also the quiet type, and hitting 40 very soon. My plans are for takeout of my favorite food (usually too expensive), a boxed set I've been wanting for ages, and the comfort of indulging in both on the sofa in comfy pyjamas.

Looking up some fabulous recipes that would normally be off the menu for expense or fuss and making an n-course decadent meal just for you to indulge in would be pretty luxurious and celebratory.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:18 PM on September 8, 2010
posted by matt_od at 2:20 PM on September 8, 2010

Bake yourself a big batch of cupcakes (or cookies, or pies, or whatever you like most) and take the bounty to a soup kitchen. (Call beforehand to make sure the one you choose accepts non-packaged food.) Birthdays require excessive desserts, and it's always nice when you can share with someone else.
posted by phunniemee at 2:20 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Happy birthday! A walk/ride to a bookstore, where you can treat yourself to a brand new book, coffee or tea, and scones.
posted by francesca too at 2:21 PM on September 8, 2010

Go to Ghirardelli Square and just order the biggest thing they've got. But choclate is kind of a thing for me.
posted by GuyZero at 2:26 PM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Part of this will depend if you have people in your life who will be bugging you if you're doing something alone. My favorite thing to do on my own is to go commune with nature and make up some sort of arbitrary goal that is fun but also easily attainable. Lately I've been working on this dorky little project where I go visit all the towns in Vermont and take photos there. I went to the most challenging town on my birthday this year [and my bf was around but I would have done it without him also] just to have a small sense of accomplishment. So if I was out near you [and I like a lot of similar things] I think I might...

- treat myself to a Mechanics Institute membership and spend the day there.
- try to visit all SFPL branches in a day on public transportation [possible? I don't know!]
- Print out the San Francisco Fifty Years Ago columns and go somewhere with a lovely view of the city to read it [maybe spend the whole day on the ferry?] perhaps the Mission Bay Library which is the closest to Pier 50.
- find a free walking tour of the city in a neighborhood I hadn't been in [other good ideas on that page]
posted by jessamyn at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2010

How much can you afford? "Kinda broke" could hopefully still include a massage.

For an in-town thing, maybe try a more traditional place. Some are more relaxing; some (particularly the Korean ones and similar) are more "crazy scrubbing with steel wool but OMG my skin looks and feels FAAAAABULOUS." I think that would be a great opportunity for you to get in some quiet time. (Note: I haven't been there, but if you're a little shy about your body, all of the accounts I've seen have said that absolutely nobody cares what you look like, and many have women-only spaces or times.)

If you're feeling a little more flush sometime, and have time with your husband or a ride up to Napa, a friend of mine in a similar situation went up to Calistoga Hot Springs and had a glorious time. Looks like the pools aren't super expensive, and the spa services, while more expensive, aren't out-of-this-world.
posted by Madamina at 2:35 PM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Treat yourself to an afternoon at Kabuki Springs, followed by going home and cooking one of your favorite things to both cook and eat.

(My past birthday was intended to be reading in the park followed by a half dozen oysters, a bottle of champagne, seared scallops over polenta with a vegetable I cannot remember, with an orange almond olive oil cake dessert. Through a series of wonderful friends and bizarre misadventures, I ended up polishing vintage Italian motorcycles and going riding (and crashing) in the dirt instead of reading in the park. It was awesome. Be open to things changing at the last minute.)
posted by mollymayhem at 2:35 PM on September 8, 2010

Congratulations. I had this same dilemma earlier this year, and I ended up deciding to do one of my favorite things - cook - just for someone I don't often get to cater to - me. I slept late, dawdled in the market perusing various exotic ingredients, spent the afternoon preparing everything, and served it to myself using our best china and a really nice bottle of champagne. It was indulgent and self-convratulating, but I figured, I've made it FIFTY YEARS without killing myself or anyone else despite perpetual provocation, so I DESERVE it.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 2:44 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing Kabuki Springs. I had to look it up to make sure it was the same place I visited while in SF, and oh, yeah, it was. Not expensive--and take it from me, I'm skint--and so very relaxing. They have men's days and women's days, so check ahead. Calistoga is nice, but no car means some cost in time & money to get there--Kubuki is on the bus line.
posted by beelzbubba at 2:55 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Take the N Judah to Cole st. and get off.
Grab a coffee or tea at Reverie.
Walk down to Golden Gate Park via Cole st. and then Waller or Haight.
Walk through the park to the deYoung Museum.
Visit the museum, but particularly the free observation tower. Admire your city.
Walk to Strybing Arboretum and enjoy the plants. The bulletin board at the entrance lists what is currently in bloom. They recently started charging admission but it's still free for SF residents.
Walk down to 19th ave. and head up to Irving street.
Get a bowl of Pho from PPQ between 19th and 20th on Irving. Ten bucks, tops.
Walk back to the park, and head towards the beach. The park is quieter on this end. If you like, visit the police horses at the stables near the polo fields, or the model boat club near Spreckels Lake (if it's open), or the Bison in their paddock.
Keep walking down towards the beach.
When you get to the beach, admire the ocean and watch the surfers.
Turn around and go to the Beach Chalet and look at the WPA murals. Also, you can grab a beer or glass of wine, or treat yourself to dinner with a view.
When you are done at the Beach Chalet, go back to the beach and walk down a few blocks to Judah st., where you can catch the N back to wherever you live.
If the N isn't waiting for you you can grab a coffee at Java Beach while you wait.
posted by gyusan at 4:05 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you've not yet seen the Maira Kalman show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and if your birthday is before October 26th, allow me to recommend that option. Her work is thoughtful, joyous and contemplative, and you can buy yourself a copy of her book "The Principles of Uncertainty" (from her lovely NYTimes blog of the same name) as a gift to spend the rest of the day (& really, the rest of your big milestone year!) savoring.
posted by judith at 4:10 PM on September 8, 2010

A nice walk in the park always works for me. For any occasion.
posted by ovvl at 4:19 PM on September 8, 2010

I might take the opportunity to write down something momentous that happened for each year, either personal or worldly, just for my own entertainment. Happy birthday, in advance.
posted by maloon at 7:16 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Holy cow, Kabuki Springs sounds awesome! I didn't realize you could go without getting some kind of pricey spa package. Massages and beauty treatments aren't my thing, but I can loll around in warm water like a champ. (Now all I need is a waterproof book...) My actual birthday falls on a men-only day, so this will be a 2-day affair:

Day 1: beat self up on long hike or walk around the city
Day 2: soak out aches and pains in hot pool

The other ideas sound great, too - I could go on all week! Thanks, MeFites!
posted by Quietgal at 7:37 PM on September 8, 2010

If you can, adopt a rescue pup and name him something that makes you happy whenever you say it. You will remember this milestone birthday for long time to come!
posted by thinkpiece at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

"My actual birthday falls on a men-only day, so this will be a 2-day affair"

For my 40th, I decided to have 40 birthdays - I celebrated for something like a week, then keep having birthday days whenever the opportunity arose.

(Come to think of it, I don't think I've used them all up, yet.)

So my suggestion would be to make those the first 2 days of the 50 days of your birthday!

Happy birthdays!
posted by kristi at 3:54 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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