When I turned 14, I had a party in my backyard. I got a volleyball as a present, so my brother acted as the volleyball net.

When I turned 16, I kept thinking I was going to get a surprise party, since no one in my family mentioned my birthday. No, it was simply forgotten.

When I turned 18, the day before college, I registered to vote.

When I turned 20, I listened to a tape my sister made for me and celebrated not being married with a child, like my parents were at that age.

When I turned 21, I went to Ciral’s House of Tiki with Mulhern and ordered flaming shish kebabs. The waitress put the plate down on the table behind me, lit the flame, and turned around as it was dying.

When I turned 30, I was pregnant with #1. When I turned 35, I was pregnant with #2.

When I turned 40, I held a karaoke party and got a little bit too looped on Grasshoppers.

When I turned 47, the year my dad died, I set out to feed 47 people in a series of dinner parties all year long. I fed 18, and it was good.

When I turned 48, my dog had just died. So I held a party and burned stuff in the backyard until my family repressed me.

I’m celebrating my 50th birthday by performing my first burlesque act, in public, for friends, family, and whoever else buys a ticket.

I’m also celebrating by letting go of fear. Except for fear that actually protects me, like from tigers and dangerous road conditions.

This is party time.