This Year Is Gonna Be a Good One: Birthday Diaries, 2001-2018

June 7, 2001

Today I am 10. Last night I had a sleepover and my church friends came and my school friends came and they didn’t like each other. Mommy made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast because Melissa suggested it because we didn’t have syrup. I hate pancakes without syrup. I don’t know why my friends didn’t like each other, but my church friends kept saying my school friends were boring and my school friends said my church friends were mean. I don’t think they’re mean. I think 10 will be good though, because now I’m in two digits and Isaac is still in one digits.

June 7, 2002

This is my last birthday in elementary school and we went on a field trip which was so fun. I forgot to bring a lunch and lunch money though and I cried in front of Ms. Larosa because felt embarrassed. She told me I could still have a bag lunch and we would just put it on my lunch bill. I had a cupcake party at Stay and Play and then Laura let me play on the computer for two turns instead of one.

June 7, 2003

Today we went to Bridgeport all day. When we got back, I was still on punishment because I didn’t want those stupid tickets PLUS Grandpapa smelled weird. I made me and Isaac pancakes for dinner, and we had huge pieces of cake for dessert.

June 7, 2004

Mommy is away somewhere for work so I have to stay at Aunt D’s and Kristina’s. I like spending my birthday with Mommy but she said she’d give me two cakes this year because she missed it! I hope she makes one. I love that yellow one in the box. Also, Aunt D told me she wouldn’t announce my birthday on the announcements because I didn’t want her to, but she did! [My aunt was my principal in middle school; it was as wild as you’d imagine.] Luckily it was the end of the day announcements so no one punched me.

June 7, 2005

Today was so good and now I’m so sad to leave middle school. My friends all made me a card together during visual arts, I ended up hanging out in the band room most of the day instead of going to class, and then I had two cakes again. Maybe I’ll make a new tradition.

June 7, 2006

It’s my last year before I can get my license, and it’s my last year at this awful school. I’m so glad I get to leave Capital Prep. I’m not sure where I’ll be next year, but honestly, as long as I can play lacrosse and don’t have to be around people who hate me because I care about school, then I’ll be fine. This year’s cakes: red velvet cupcakes from Fusion and a good old-fashioned chocolate box cake. I love chocolate box cake. I am such a noob.

June 7, 2007

16!!!! I told Mommy I was bisexual today. I was really scared because I didn’t want her to hate me. Instead, she told me that she basically knew and that it wasn’t a big deal. I don’t know if I believe her, but I want to. I don’t want it to be a big deal, I’ve been bisexual online for at least a year now. I thought about telling her about Lauren [my girlfriend at the time], but I think then she would want to know what I do online.

June 7, 2008

I love Saturday birthdays because they mean that next year I get a Sunday birthday, and I LOVE Sunday birthdays because people just give me the $20s in their wallets as gifts. Today me and Mom got manicures and pedicures together and then we just hung out. I love spending my birthday with my mom because she is up for anything. Whatever I want to do, she does. So we went window shopping at the mall, got some books from Borders, and then had Starbucks together. Then we all went to Bertucci’s even though Isaac wanted us to go to Outback. It’s not his fucking birthday though, so I won. Seventeen is a weird age. Next year I’m a legal adult and can vote! (I’m so mad I can’t vote for Obama!!), and I’ll hopefully be at NYU and everything will be different. I’ve been ready to move out since I was thirteen and applied to Milton. I’m excited as hell, but also a little nervous. Everything is changing so fast… I’m sure I’ll be fine though.

June 7, 2009

I can’t believe I’m 18. I can’t believe I’m alive! Everything feels weird and hard now. I’m not going to NYU anymore, even though I got in and my mom let me go to orientation, she just won’t cosign my loans. I’m so mad all the time, and I don’t know what to do. I think I might end up at AMDA, which honestly is the funniest thing ever since I have called it SCAMDA just like everyone else! But I have to go to college, right?! I can’t just not be in college! Smart girls go to college. So what if it isn’t the conservatory I want it to be, it’s a conservatory, and I can make it work. And it’s in New York City! There’s so much I can do in NYC, even if I’m not happy with the school.

18 is gonna be great. It’s gonna be full of new experiences and new friends and a new city and new learning. 19 year old me is gonna be so so happy that I didn’t kill myself when I found out I couldn’t go to NYU, you know? I’m ready. If I work hard, I can do anything!

June 7, 2010

Nothing worked out the way I expected it to while I was 18, and it was still such a good year. I got to nanny Christian, Shalea, CJ, and Savannah in the fall, and then in the Spring, I got to live with Granny and work for AmeriCorps. All of my friends spent their first year out of high school in college, I went to AMDA for 3 weeks and then dropped out, got drunk with Thao and Nigel, and cried in Thao’s backyard. But then, everything worked out. I made my own money for the first real time, I got to hang out with Granny, I took voice lessons and piano lessons, I got to teach math, and I hung out with my favorite babies (well, technically Christian is in Kindergarten, which… I don’t even know how that’s real!?). I think maybe I’m learning how to be a person who doesn’t completely lose it when I don’t get my way, which maybe means I’m learning how to not be spoiled. I never thought I was spoiled, but honestly, I think I might be! Here’s to NINETEEN, the last year of teenagerhood, the first year of my college career (where I’m getting a classical voice degree? ME?! I can’t believe it, but I’m so excited), and the first year of my life living away from my family. North Carolina, I cannot wait to get all up in you and your honors dorm. Fingers crossed that means it’s not only new but big [reader, it was small and old].

June 7, 2011

I’m twenty! I’m in my twenties! This birthday honestly feels useless because like, what’s the point other than being excited about being 20? I can’t drink yet and it’s not a voting year. I never thought I’d say this, but I do miss Greensboring right now. Being home is okay.  Mom got me two cakes, we got mani/pedis, and we went to the mall — the usual suburban birthday fun. But I can’t go anywhere without a car or a ride, and my mom is kinda treating me like Isaac?? Like, I’m twenty! I don’t live here! Let me go where I want! Anyway, happy 20th to me. Also, I had my birthday physical today and uh… I need to stop seeing a pediatrician! I asked her about sex and she ignored me basically lol!

June 7, 2012

I got wasted last night with Thao, Nigel, Sam, and Chelsea. Then we walked to Walgreens. Then we came back and drank more?! And then I spilled nail polish all over my mom’s carpet. I can’t believe I had a 21st birthday sleepover instead of like, going to the club, but honestly, what’s better than getting drunk at home and then waking up to your mom making you waffles? Nothing that’s what. Plus I hate going out. The beginning of adulthood is very good. I love my CT friends, I love my GSO friends, I love my life.

June 7, 2013

I woke up today and told Holden I wanted to have steak for my birthday. So we went to Wal-Mart and stole two t-bone steaks and a dozen eggs. We just… stole it. I do not feel bad because Wal-Mart has a theft budget of like $10 million I read. I’m just helping them meet their budget!

Twenty-two will be good, any year that starts with steak and eggs is bound to be good.

June 7, 2014

Jordan Year. Today I took a walk, and honestly, that was it because that’s all I wanted and needed to do. Everything’s weird right now, but my birthday is always good. I’m happy to be alive.

June 7, 2015

I think I’m ready to go back to school. I’ve been out for a year, I hung out at the behavioral health hospital for a bit, and I think I’m ready. I’m afraid though, and historically when I’m afraid, I take a nap, but I don’t just want to sleep away my life because I’m afraid. I want to thrive, I want to live. Maybe 24 is the year that I come alive again. I’ll get back in therapy, get back in school, and take down these walls I’ve built. I am capable of hard things. Life is hard, but I can do this. I want to do this. Happy birthday Alaina, you didn’t die, and I’m so, so, so, proud of you.

June 7, 2016

So today I’m twenty-five. I never thought I’d make it here because you know life is hard and suicidal ideation is real but like, here the hell I am. and I’m generally pretty happy. I am beginning a promising future/career. I have a cat family (and human family) that I love and who loves me. I am writing things every day that I want to be writing. I have amazing tattoos. I am loved. This is the first year that I don’t feel like I haven’t done “enough.” This is the first year I am happy with who I am at the age I am at the stage I am in my life. This is due to a lot of personal work, but also due to all of my friends and family. Thanks to them for sustaining me, for loving me, for kicking me in the ass, for offering me their children to watch and love and grow and laugh with. I would not be 25 without them.

Today I am a quarter of a century old and I feel good. I feel weird because I can’t remember the last time I said that and meant it, but damn. I feel good.

June 7, 2017

“We wasn’t s’posed to make it past 25, jokes on you we still alive.” – Kanye West

“Guide my feet while I run this race, so I don’t run this race in vain.” – Spiritual

I never thought I’d be here. I never thought I’d be 26. I thought I’d kill myself before I got here. My twenties have been fucking wild. I went to college, I had a breakup that fucked me up way more than I anticipated, I dropped out of college, I checked myself into a behavioral health hospital, I started writing for Autostraddle, I discovered I can have seven orgasms before I need to tap out, I got Anya and Alexei instead of a puppy, Anya and Alexei got pregnant and now I also have Buffy, whose birth I got to experience, I came back to school, I got three majors, graduated, got into grad school, and now I’m halfway through a Master’s degree. HOW?! I’m proud of myself. I’m broke as fuck, but I’m alive! And I’m getting a Ph fucking D! Right before I graduated, Ms. Monica told me at church one Sunday that God had a lot in store for me, but would block it until I stopped being gay. Unfortunately for her, I kept having gay gay gay sex and have only become gayer with age. Fortunately for me, I’m blessed. I’m so blessed. I have so much good in my life. It’s very hard, yes, but it is also a good, good life.

I’m currently lying in bed with Anya lying on my chest, Alexei doing his weird suckling thing on my shirt, and Buffy staring at us from the cat tree. I have friends who love me, I’m building my own family, and I want to live. I want to be 36 and have a wife and too many foster kids running around my house one day. I want to grow old and be the person in the queer retirement village having the most sex. I don’t know if I’ll be successful, but I feel like I can live, and that’s new and exciting. Okay mid-to-late-twenties, let’s go.

June 7, 2018

I feel like I’m so far past my expiration date, that every birthday I’m just like “I’M [INSERT AGE HERE?!]?” That’s how I feel now. TWENTY-SEVEN? I remember my 13th birthday party at laser tag where GG came as if it was yesterday. She’s been dead for at least 13 years now years. It’s weird that I can say “seventeen years ago” and be talking about when I was 10, or the way that ten years ago feels like three years ago. Do you know 2009 is almost TEN years ago?! It’s almost time for me to have a 10-year high school anniversary!  Time is fake and cruel.

I spent today with [redacted] and it was fine, I guess. I don’t like birthday plans, I like just doing what feels good when it feels good, and she really wanted me to have plans I think. I like her a lot more than she likes me, or at least I like her in a more committed way than she likes me. I’m happy we spent today together because I like being around people on my birthday, but I also wish that today was… just different. But maybe that’s the lesson of my mid-to-late twenties: I don’t always get what I want, and I need to find the joy in that. I made myself the Magnolia Bakery chocolate cake, and tomorrow I’m gonna make a peach cake from Smitten Kitchen with a cream cheese frosting that I’m really excited about.

I’m nervous/excited for this year. It’s the first year of real Ph.D. work, and I feel like I’m so close to being Dr. Al(aina) LaRae Monts that I can taste it. I also feel like that person will never be real, and that I’ll be a hermit with no doctorate living in rural Massachusetts within 10 years. Tbh, both would be fine, but I really, really want this. I don’t want to be so afraid this year. I don’t want to be afraid that I’ll fail and do absolutely nothing in response to that fear. I want to be more open and vulnerable and willing to just TRY.

Also, I’m going on my first real vacation this year: to Portland. I guess it’s time to see if I’m the kind of queer who could live there. Happy birthday, Al. You fucking made it. Again and again and again. So excited for this new year. 🎈

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. This is incredible. I’m impressed by how many (different types of) cakes you got but that’s maybe beside the point. I love the clarity of this: “Tbh, both would be fine, but I really, really want this.”

    And it would be awesome to read about your life at 36 with all your foster kids one day.

  2. I very much appreciated this! Thank you for sharing something so personal and intimate.

    It’s a refreshing reminder that, so often, what we want and what sustains us aren’t the same. That the journey of simply existing in this world can be incredibly painful and, at the same time, marked with fleeting moments of happiness.

    • Oops I hit submit and then immediately wanted to add:
      I wish you many more years of self discovery.

  3. WOW i am maybe crying at my desk at work?? These are so sweet and sometimes hard and so so so familiar. Aging is weird and being alive is beautiful. thanks, Alaina.

  4. i’m a huge fan of journal entries & this is a really gorgeous one! so many good reminders about healing not being linear.

    also i can’t get over how much i felt “I’ve been bisexual online for at least a year now” myself in 2006

    and i’m pretty sure i got those 13 and 18 year old cards too?

  5. Hard same on wanting to vote for Obama. That note made me realize I’m 3 months and 18 days younger than you, which feels kinda cool :)

    This is a really neat piece. Thanks for sharing!

  6. “I’ve been bisexual online for at least a year now” really is the universal 2000’s queer experience !!

    This is so lovely and personal and hopeful, thank you <3

  7. “I want to grow old and be the person in the queer retirement village having the most sex. I don’t know if I’ll be successful, but I feel like I can live…” yes yes yes. What a roller coaster this article is, I loved it. Congrats on figuring out how to live, for not sleeping through your life (I want to do that too, sometimes). Lemme know which retirement community you end up in, we should hang, look for AARP discounts together, early bird specials etc. See you then.

  8. I feel bad this is the thing I’m picking out from this really great article but … oof “I like her in a more committed way than she likes me” real got me…

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