Tomorrow is my birthday--the first birthday I will celebrate in the US in four years (and first in New Jersey in six).
My first birthday in China was full of small surprises. I had been in China three weeks and the school hadn't fixed my phone, so my parents couldn't call me. All the school had to do was pay the China Telecom bill because the phone line had not been in use for almost a year. They didn't figure this out until I told my boss what I'd do with the phone if another repairman entered my apartment without actually fixing anything. My phone finally worked the week after my birthday.
Jia (before we were dating) surprised me with a decorative pu'er tea disc that had the character 羊 with a ram's head for the top of the character. It was a very thoughtful gift as it was specific for my Chinese zodiac. I later had to ask her mother's permission to allow her to come out on a Friday night to help celebrate my birthday, which was extremely difficult because her mother didn't speak any English and I had only learned about ten words of Chinese.
It turned out to be a very quiet but enjoyable birthday at our favorite local restaurant with some beer. The next day, a few of the teachers took me to Shekou (my first trip outside of Bao'an district) for dinner at the Indian restaurant that was destroyed in the flood of Sea World a few years ago. They then dragged me down Chicken Street to the one legitimate bar.