What Your Christmas Gift Says About Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about my frustrations and lifestyle choices. Most of them have to do with how I want to be seen by the world: thoughtful, stylish, interesting, smart… whatever. Put-together. I generally don’t feel like any of those things, so it can be a challenge. But before I end up getting off-topic (so early in the post!), I should introduce the actual topic: giving gifts, and how the things we choose to give make us appear to the giftee. (I apologize for use of the word “giftee” just now. I thought “receiver” sounded weird and “recipient” too pretentious, for some reason.)

Rarely have I done much exchanging Christmas gifts with friends, and when I have it’s never an expected part of our relationship. It’s generally been an I’ll get you something if I have money and see something you’d like/have time and energy to make something situation. So I don’t buy a lot of presents. Immediate family and one or two friends only. I would love to buy gifts for all my friends, but I don’t have enough money or energy to do so.

If you’re giving gifts en masse, it becomes impossible to give each person a thoughtful item (or collection of thoughtful items). I mean, unless you started in June… so you have to get little animal finger puppets or small boxes of chocolate for everyone and hope you don’t have any friends who hate finger puppets or chocolate. As I mentioned, this really hasn’t been a problem for me, so I’m just guessing that this is how it would go.

The people I usually shop for get good presents. Sometimes they’re really good, because I found this perfect thing, or I remembered something they really wanted. Other times it’s not quite as special but still something they’d appreciate. Occasionally, it’s something that was really given minimal effort (in terms of the actual search) because I thought for weeks and couldn’t come up with any ideas.

It’s easy to buy nice, personal gifts for people you know really well. You understand their tastes and what might actually be useful to them. You see stuff you know they’d like all the time. Often, this is because their tastes overlap with yours–but not always. Like, you don’t like the grass-scented Yankee Candle Company mini-candle, but it’s your friend’s (weird) favorite, so you get them one. However, if you’re close enough to know that they have five of these at home, that’s not what you buy them.

Often, you will have a certain gift in mind because the person has mentioned to you at least once, but more likely twice or more, that they want this thing. If they mention it more than once, there’s a good chance they haven’t bought it for themselves. So you can get this thing they’ve specifically told you they want, which means there’s a good chance they’ll like the thing, and as a bonus you’ve proved that you listen to them.

Then there are those times when you don’t have a specific thing in mind, and when you try to think of something the person will definitely appreciate, you realize you don’t know them that well after all. You know about some things they like, but you really aren’t sure what they want or need. You don’t want to get them something dumb or silly, because that’s not special. So you make do with something you know they like and hope they’ll appreciate the thought enough even if they never use the gift you get them.

When I give someone a gift, I want it to give the impression that I actually care. That I took the time to understand something about them and that I’m intuitive, creative, clever, sweet, etc. I want to give a gift that is among those gifts they’re really happy they received (at least for a few weeks. I guess if they forget about it after that, I won’t be offended). I want to impress.

If I do give you a box of chocolate, it’s not because I couldn’t think of anything better. I actually think chocolate is a great present, for someone who really likes chocolate. But unless it’s this special kind of chocolate that I had from this place once and I haven’t been able to find it since, it’s not really as personal. Almost everyone likes chocolate. You see what I mean?

I don’t know how much my gifts will impress this year. Most likely not that much. And of course I preemptively feel inadequate and selfish because of that. But I guess every year can’t be THE gift year. I can only hope the people I’m giving to can see that there was thought and love behind the choice.

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Five Things Friday: September 6, 2013

Today has been… um, yeah. None of my productivity plans happened. I probably shouldn’t be surprised. And I bought a few, fairly inexpensive things, which I kind of shouldn’t have. Having paid some of my bills and done some shopping, I’ve pretty much spent all the money I can until my next paycheck. At the end of the month. FFfffffffuuuu…

This will probably just be an admission of stupidity, but I want you to know that I tried to go to the new Cambridge Open Market today, and I could not find it. I walked around Harvard Square, didn’t see any signs pointing to any particular area or any hints of vendors. I was only a little bit annoyed, because it was a nice day and I like Harvard Square in general… even if I have to go by myself. But seriously, where the hell was the Open Market hiding? I was so confused. The directions on their site just lead to the Hvd. Sq. area–directions that I didn’t need, because everyone in Boston knows how to get there.

For the reason of just being lazy, I have no goals for the rest of the day. I probably COULD get something done, but I’m really not in the mood to try. I wish I had a good excuse, so maybe I wouldn’t feel so guilty about that. So I just figured I would go right to the blog posting, in case I go out later and am too tired when I get home.

These are just five thoughts from the week. Whatever is prominent in my mind right now.

1. Today, there was a woman on the train drink what looked like chia seeds in milk (or almond milk, soy milk, something like that). Or maybe bugs. And it wasn’t a disposable cup she was using, it was a real glass (could have been plastic, I didn’t have a chance to check) like someone would use in their home or in a restaurant. Generally, I think people should just do whatever works for them, including taking a glass of chia seed bugs on the train, but it still struck me as weird.

2. I’ve been feeling nostalgic for the time I used to spend at my grandparents’ house in Connecticut. When I was little I would go spend a week there during the summer, and it was great. I ate well, I got to watch Nickelodeon and the Disney channel, and MTV (back when they used to play music videos). I would read a lot, hang out with Nina in the kitchen while she made cookies or a pie or dinner. We would walk down the streets to the tennis courts. There was only one year I actually played any tennis.

I haven’t spent much time in Bridgeport for many years now. I haven’t thought about it much, actually. But lately I miss it. Or I miss being young and having the option, even the NEED to go away for a week just to pass some more time.

3. There are eight different nail polishes out on the table by my bed. I have no idea what they’re all doing there. I’ve only used three or so of them in the past month. I really should start putting things like that away after I use them. I also have about six different lotions within arm’s reach right now. I never use more than one at a time.

4. My current read, Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, is the best book I’ve read in a long time. It’s fantastic, both in the literary sense and the I-love-this-thing sense. I’m not usually sad when I finish a book, like some people are, I guess because it doesn’t occur to them that they can re-read it whenever they want, but I think I might actually be a little disappointed when this ends. Because I’ll want more. Was that clear? I don’t mean I won’t like the ending. It’s always possible, but I doubt it.

5.  I’ve had quite a few moments recently of that strong urge to write. I need to fill up some pages! I thought. I need to tell stories!

Unfortunately it never happens when I have the time and tools in front of me. I’m serious. I know it sounds like an excuse, but it’s the truth. And you should see my computer setup. It is not a comfortable or productivity-inspiring area. If anything, it promotes just clicking on related youtube videos for hours. What am I gonna do? Almost any time I have the time to write, I’m too tired.

Bonus thought: pumpkin chai is delicious, but it’s better if you drink it before it gets cold.

Five Things Friday: August 23, 2013

My life is generally mundane, as usual, but I have learned that it’s the WAY you write about something that makes it interesting, not just the events themselves. (I may or may not have made these mundane things interesting. …Sorry?) If you’re writing about a murder in a really boring way, it’s going to be a boring story, despite the murder.

With that in mind, here are five things that happened this week.

1. I managed to go to Trader Joe’s, at long last … it’s kind of far to go there regularly, which is very unfortunate for me since I love TJ. They have so much awesome stuff there and in some cases they are actually CHEAPER than Stop and Shop, which I consider to be the cheap store (and which I hate quite strongly). I wish I could just shop at Trader Joes’ and farmers’ markets.

I got a few goods to tide me over until the weekend, when I’ll be out of town, and the remaining ingredients needed to make chili. I then ate chili for the next few days, which is fine because it was very good. It’s possible that my chili is actually just spicy bean soup, but I’m totally ok with that.

2. I went to Panera for dinner on Monday, because I wanted to use a coupon and it brought me close to Trader Joe’s (see Item 1). I started talking to two ladies who were there because they complimented the shirt I was wearing, and in the end there was talk of getting together to talk about mythology. I didn’t get any more details, but I love mythology. Where else do you meet new people, if not in a Panera while waiting for your sandwich?

3. Plans were half-formed… and left that way… and I wasted most of my free time on youtube. There was a time, not too long ago, when I barely went on youtube at all, except to find songs. Then I started a vlog, and now I spend far too much time on that site.

4. I didn’t write, as usual, because I’ve been very tired this week. But I thought about writing. See, that’s the thing… I think about writing all the time. But generally, the times when I feel like writing are not good times. At work. On the bus. Etc. When will I get my #$%! together.

5. Fun Friday dinner! I had a spicy meal at Bella Luna. Have you ever had habanero infused tequila? Me neither, before last night. And what’s better than pizza?

 

Nothing. The answer is: nothing is better than pizza.

Five Things Friday: August 16, 2013

It’s Friday. (Technically it’s Saturday, but since I haven’t gone to bed yet, it’s still Friday.) These are five things. (Technically, it’s fifteen things.)

One

Crazy, half-awake nightmare of a horror-movie spider

Two

Mixed berry applesauce spice muffins

Three

Purchase transactions – two for snacks, one for hair products and toothpaste. Gotta keep those teeth clean. I need whitening toothpaste because I drink so much coffee.

Four

Times when I berated myself for being so scattered in the brain today. I think I got thirty pages of editing done all day (I did some more at home later).

Five

Different ideas for what I might write about this Friday. It’s harder than I originally thought it would be. If I carried around a journal to take notes throughout the week (which I’m sure wouldn’t be such a terrible thing for a writer to do), I could look over it on Friday nights and make up a much more poignant, observations-of-life, thoughtful thing. But I don’t have a journal like that, so I’m always having to come up with things as I go along. It’s hard to feel like anything I think of would be worth writing down.

You try it. Tell me how hard you found it.

Wandering

Hello there blogworld. I haven’t had any good ideas for flashes lately, and I haven’t done any other writing either. So. I feel like talking about things I’ve done recently instead.

I was thinking of titling this post Adventures in Loneliness, but then that seemed depressing.

I’ll start with Friday, since I don’t remember doing anything interesting before that. Friday is, in a normal week, my weekday off, since I’m not employed full time. I made a haircut appointment at a really quirky salon in Porter Square. I was probably overdue for a haircut. I usually am. I headed over a little early. My excuse for getting a pumpkin spice latte was that I wanted change to tip my hairdresser. Fun fact: Panera is yet another place that does it better than Starbucks. I don’t like the Starbucks pumpkin spice. Too sugary.

The person who did my hair was an older guy, who I’m 95% sure was gay (you never know, but he did talk about Ru Paul’s Drag Race). He was nice, and did a good job with my hair. I do not like my hair. It doesn’t cooperate. I wish it was thicker, and shinier, and redder. I want to dye it again soon.

After I got my hair done I had planned to walk around Porter Square a little, then go home. But I was meeting a friend in Harvard Square later on, and going all the way home only to have to make the same trip again later… so I opted to walk around Cambridge for 5 hours instead. First I took Groupon over to Nomad for some discounted merchandise, which is one of my favorite things ever. I got some gemstone earrings to wear with my fancy steampunk necklace, and postcard with vegetable people on it. After Nomad, where everything is cool but too expensive, I walked to Harvard Square, went to Anthropologie and did NOT spend all my money. That’s an accomplishment. There was a guy playing an upright piano on the sidewalk. I didn’t have any bills left for his donation basket and I felt bad.

I walked to Inman Square after that via Central. Inman square is a pretty cool place. I don’t remember seeing anything but restaurants. Walked by a pizza place that smelled so good, I almost stopped there. I was on my way to Bom Cafe (for more discounted stuff), but it turned out it had just closed for the day. Very frustrating. Back to Central, went to Life Alive and had a smoothie for dinner. It was called Eros Alive.

At that point I headed back to Harvard Square. One more stop, couldn’t help myself – went to Newbury Comics, just to browse. Some kid said to his friend “Have you heard of Massive Attack?” just as I was moving on from looking at the Massive Attack cds. I was amused whether it was intentional or not. I ended up buying another David Bowie cd. Wanted Aladdin Sane. Will get it eventually. Walking by Sweet, couldn’t help stepping inside, and then of course HAD to get a pumpkin pie cupcake. I was compelled. After about an hour in The Coop, browsing fiction (I want that Miranda July book – I think that was her name, anyway), I finally went to Peet’s, where I was meeting my friend. Very tired at that point. Walking around for 5 hours is tiring. Especially by yourself.

Saturday was mostly uneventful. I had a talk or something. I can’t remember actually doing anything.

Sunday I went to SOWA open market for their last Sunday of the year. They were holding the Market of the Living Dead. It was the very beginning of Sandy. It started raining a little while I was out. It was kind of cold – my fingers suffered a little. I didn’t really see a lot of living dead. Almost no one was in costume aside from the vendors. I was wearing my skeleton t-shirt, so that was my costume. I tried not to spend much. Got like 6 business cards, should have taken more. The picture below was a nice highlight.

The Zombie Percent

 

Now this post is getting really long. Next day, Monday, was hurricane day. I didn’t try to go to work (and it turns out they weren’t expecting me to). It was very windy and rainy. I considered stepping outside but I wanted to just be cozy indoors. Nature in Boston? :/. I spent a lot of time watching Netflix with headphones so I could hear it. Finally saw Mirror Mirror. Wasn’t overly impressed with the acting, but the cinematography and storytelling were cool. The animation bit in the beginning was pretty awesome. Guessed the twist ending long before they revealed it. I thought I should lay around and read instead, but I felt too tired. Reading’s not lazy enough.

Today was an average Tuesday. Tomorrow is Halloween. As a young-ish person in America I know I’m supposed to get excited about putting on a cool/creative/sexy costume and doing some kind of partying, but I have absolutely no enthusiasm for Halloween. Wish I did.