To Have a Great Birthday, Do These Five Things

1. Have a big accomplishment right before your birthday

Sinking of the Lusitania, May 15, 1915.
The sinking of the Lusitania is not the big accomplishment I’m referring to.

Load your schedule in such a way that you’ll be done with a big project right before your big day. I turned in this semester’s last packet of writing for my creative writing graduate program and I had an article published on Slate about my great-grandmother’s experiences on board the Lusitania when it was torpedoed by German U-Boats 100 years ago.  Being a productive person not only feels good, but it also makes you feel like you earned a celebration and a little more cheese than the normal copious amounts.

2. Get a new toy


Turns out this secret for having a good birthday from when you were a kid holds true. Mr. Dame in Spain bought me my wish-list item, the Canon Rebel T5 (remember how taking better pictures was one of my New Year’s goals?) and every day since it arrived, I’ve woken up excited to play with it.

 3. Have perfect weather


Make sure your birthday falls on a day with clear skies, low humidity, and plenty of warm sunshine. Then go for a jog or a long walk in that weather. (But wear plenty of sunscreen because you’re old now).

4. Buy a new dressnewdress

Wear that dress out and be like “Not too shabby 31, not too shabby at all.”

5. Blow out your candles in the presence of friends, your romantic life partner, and a few drinks


Order a margarita from what may be the best Mexican restaurant in Madrid. Then order a beer. And a white wine. Eat lots of melted cheese wrapped in warm carbs. Then graciously accept the complimentary tequila shot, which happens to pair nicely with the tres leches cake. Blow out those candles. Happiness. My cup runneth over. Or my margarita glass. All of it.

To having the happiest of birthdays,

The Dame in Spain



  1. Emily, I googled your article regarding your great-grandmothers experience aboard the Luisitania and I enjoyed it immensely. Very excited for you! Looking to more articles to be published!

  2. One question: When you received the camera, did you jump up and down and squeal with delight like you did on your fifth birthday after receiving your “Sunny Surprise” doll?

    1. No, Mom. The sad reality is that no gift will ever come close to bringing me the joy of Sunny Surprise. I mean, her hair grew and turned pink in the sun. What could possibly compete with that?

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