Thank You for the Birthday Gifts

Just when you all thought you were done hearing about my birthday, you were wrong. There are just a few acknowledgments I need to make before officially moving on to my 29th year. I want to thank the people who helped me celebrate my birthday last week, but in particular, the people who gave me stuff.

Zucchini bread

Thank you, Ben, for bringing me that slice of zucchini bread that your wife made. Tell her it was pretty good.

A birthday voicemail

Thank you, Melissa and Jack from 103.7 Play, for calling me while I was at lunch with my mom and wishing me a happy birthday. I have absolutely no idea how you got my phone number or how you knew that it was my birthday, but it was really nice of you to say something. And it made for a great story that all of my friends enjoyed hearing over and over.

A card with a bunch of money in it

Thank you, Dad, for giving up years ago on trying to buy me something I might like, and switching to straight up cash.

A happy birthday email

Thank you, River Lofts, for not only providing me a place to live for the past three years but also sending me an email with a small birthday cake graphic, acknowledging my special day. That was really above and beyond.

The offer of a free croissant

Thank you, Alex and Greta of Lecker Baking Company for offering me a free birthday croissant, that I do one day intend to redeem.

A bike that I bought for myself

Thank you, Rachel, for buying me that bike. I know I’m really going to get a lot of use out of it. That was super thoughtful and literally, exactly what I wanted.

A gift card to Union Market

Thank you, Sarah, for fueling my already excessive habit of frequenting this Church Hill establishment. I’ll use it wisely (on beer).

A book about going to strangers’ houses and documenting their lives

Thank you, Josh, for the book that you wrapped and brought to me at work. So far it has provided me hour of entertainment.

Tickets to the Book of Mormon

Thank you, James, for combining two of my favorite things: theater and organized religion. Oh and for wrapping the tickets in that box of chocolates that you got as a Christmas gift from your company. I know you didn’t actually intend to give that part to me, but you let me take it anyway. That was really nice.

An iced coffee refill

Thank you, Katelyn from Urban Farmhouse, for refilling my iced coffee for free after I told you it was my birthday, even though technically you were supposed to charge me a dollar. Birthdays are important, coffee is important, and now I consider you important.

Some books

Thank you, Mom, for those books you gave me. I can’t wait to read them.

Oh, and also thank you for giving me life all those years ago, etc.

A virgin Mary candle with Amy Poehler’s face on it

Thank you, Brittany, for always knowing what I need even before I knew I needed it.

A beer

Thank you, everyone who bought me a beer the night of my birthday. I totally forget who the heck did, but gosh I know I appreciated it.



Madame Zola’s Spirit Room

Just a few days ago, my twin brothers took the plunge into official adulthood and turned 30.

My mom, always one to acknowledge big events, secretly invited our whole family to Richmond to surprise my brothers on their birthday. But she wanted to come up with something more exciting than the usual dinner and gifts and cake and ice cream.

So she came up with the idea to try an “Escape Room.” They’ve been popping up everywhere, and who better to try it with than your highly intelligent family?

(Completely unrelated sidenote: they read this blog).

We all met at the Martin’s next to Ravenchase Adventures to surprise the new 30-year-olds. Once they finally arrived and the “Oh, what! I had no idea you would be here!” was over, we all shuttled next door to our Escape Room destination.

We checked in and waited in the lounge for our room to be ready. The room we selected was called Madame Zola’s Spirit Room. Back in the 1892, Madame Zola, communicator of the dead, summoned a spirit of great evil to kill her lover’s mistress. The spirit, however, possessed great power and ended up killing them both. It became our job to free both Madame Zola and the mistress’s souls from the confines of the chamber.

So you know, just another Saturday.

Once we got there, they ushered us into the Room and gave instructions. Basically: try to find an alternative exit other than the one you came through, and don’t destroy our props. Also, there is a Ouija board in the middle of the room commanded by Madame Zola’s spirit that will answer your questions.

Okay good luck!

First, of course, we asked the Ouija board where to find the alternative exit. Tired of the same joke I’m sure, the person controlling the magnetic dial under the table (er, I mean, the spirit of Madam Zola) told us to search for the clues (you idiots).

So we set off. Throughout the allotted hour (which actually only took us 45 minutes because my family is incredibly smart), we solved puzzles, picked up keys, and put together word clues. We discovered that we needed to find five voodoo dolls to put on Satan’s altar (as you do). So we all worked in small teams or individually, unearthing keys to locked boxes and codes to safes to find our voodoo dolls.

Finally, with very little help from Madame Zola (listen, lady, we know that the clues are important), the secret passageway opened up and we were able to get out. My family members, if I haven’t mentioned it before, are very intellectually gifted (just a quick reminder to the aunts and uncles out there, Christmas is not that far away) and we were able to figure it out in a short amount of time.

They said our particular room has a 48% success rate. To be honest, I have a very hard time believing that only 48% of groups were able to decode all of the clues and puzzles that were not-so-secretly hidden. Unless the other 52% imbibed harder on the free cans of Yuengling than we did. Otherwise, I have to admit I think the company may be trying to make people feel smarter than other Escape Room consumers (which, by the way, my family is).

Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns of the Escape Room and would definitely go back. It’s great for families, groups of friends, corporate events, or to show off how smart you are. And they even have rooms suited for double dates (or just four people who enjoy each other’s company platonically).

And the best part is, you don’t have to be as amazingly cunning and clever as my family. Although it certainly helps.