“Sometmies we must learn to ask for what we need” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Alex Sullivan by ©Emily Dozois

Alex hired me to shoot her album cover for her first CD, and we decided to shoot in a really interesting abandoned house near my town. Unfortunately, the shoot was in March, and we had to make our way through snow that was up to my hips. Ripped jeans may not have been my smartest decision that day. After we finished taking all the shots we needed for the cover, we spent some time exploring the rest of the house and taking photos as we went. This was taken in one of the bedrooms, and I loved how I captured her shy smile and the twinkle in her eyes. I knew I wanted to include it in the book. – Emily D

Image © Emily Dozois

An Interview with Alex

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. My favourite birthday memories come from my childhood. My friends and family would come over for a day filled with swimming, barbequing, games, cake, and presents. I clearly remember being about seven years old, just about to jump off the diving board and saying to myself, “this is the best day of my life.”  My parents put a lot of effort into making my childhood birthday parties special and safe. I’m very grateful for that.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. The worst was my 15th birthday. My dad suffered from ALS and was having a really hard time that night. He tried his best, but was too sick to make it through our celebratory dinner. He passed away 4 days later.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. On my 17th birthday I had made plans to go out to dinner with friends later on in the evening, but they all showed up at my house mid-afternoon.  It took me much too long to realize this was a surprise party, and not dwell on my confusion as to why they arrived so early. I know surprise parties aren’t a present per say, but the thought and organization was an awesome gift that made me overwhelmingly happy – once it sank in.

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. I wouldn’t say that I insist on eating anything specific. I do, however, try to make it well-known at all times that dessert (of the chocolate variety) is incredibly important to me.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. I think you should do something that makes you happy on your birthday. You’re alive and you’re learning. Celebrate, reflect, and be thankful in whichever way you so choose.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. Other than the classic ‘Happy Birthday’ song and cake with candles, our celebrations change with the years and go with what works at the time.