The Gift Guide For People Who Don’t Want Gifts – Part One : Food

You have that person in your life. You know the one – you love them and they’re great until it’s their birthday, or the holidays, or your anniversary or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or any other time of year you’d want to get them a present, and you ask them what they want.

“Oh, I don’t know,” they say.  “I don’t really need anything.”

These people are the worst.

Well, not the worst, but I do have three of them in my life (both my parents and my brother-in-law) and they make gift-giving pretty difficult. All three of them have a mixture of a few qualities, which are the same qualities that almost every person who comes to me for gift-giving advice (my favorite advice to give) says their loved or mildly tolerated one also possesses:

  1. They genuinely don’t like having a lot of stuff around.
  2. They’re picky.
  3. When they see something they like, they just buy it for themselves.

Like I said, the worst. But also, not impossible.

There are a few tricks to gifting for difficult people. I personally use the time-honored approach of putting way too much effort in, which is to say that I never, ever, stop looking for presents or noting down when someone during any point in the year says “I wish I had a ____” or expresses interest in an object or event or literally anything. I email notes to myself constantly when I hear about a new product or someone mentions this new thing that changed their life. Every time I go shopping I take pictures of labels of things, and then when I go home I look them up and put them in neatly organized bookmarks folders. Around Halloween I fire up the spreadsheets and go through that subsectioned bookmarks folder and start making my cross-indexed lists so that when Black Friday comes, I will have that list down pat and I will be ready to order for maximum savings.

But this is just me, and most people are not me and do not have what is probably a diagnosable disorder of enjoying gift-giving way too much. So for everyone else who is normal and pays more attention to things that are actually good uses of their time, like balancing their checkbook or keeping living space in a condition that isn’t a constant health violation, there’s a much, much easier solution: treat them to something useful.

Everyone eats. Everyone sleeps. Everyone gets cold in the winter and warm in the summer (or vice-versa if they live in the southern hemisphere).  Everyone needs to wear clothes and not get wet when it rains and keep their cell phone battery from dying. Most people don’t even think about these stupid little things they do every day that are annoying or inconvenient, but they love it when some magnificent angel of a person comes in and helps make doing those things easier or better or more fun.

And I am here to help you be that magnificent angel. You’re welcome.

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The Wes Anderson Gift Guide

Anyone who has known me for at least one holiday season knows that there are very few things I love more in this world than giving people gifts. It combines all of my greatest skills: remembering obscure details, empathy, consumerism without having to keep the stuff I buy, and doing things for other people as a form of self-care. Most people don’t know that I also love Wes Anderson, but when I tell them that’s usually accompanied by a groan or sigh and a reaction of “oh my god, of course you love Wes Anderson.”

I was just looking at my bank account and feeling very sorry for myself with the realization that I simply couldn’t afford to go full Santa’s Workshop (or whatever the Jewish equivalent of that is) this year when Nicole Cliffe and John Leavitt began positing what you could possibly buy Wes Anderson for his birthday if he was your friend. Nicole claimed it was impossible. John claimed it was easy. It was like they put a bat signal in the sky that said “JULIA, PLEASE ABANDON ALL OF YOUR OTHER EARTHLY DUTIES AND ATTEND TO THIS WHICH WILL COST YOU EXACTLY ZERO DOLLARS.”

And, well, I did.

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The Case For Keeping Marc-Andre Fleury (Originally for Pensburgh)

It’s generally assumed by everyone who knows anything about hockey that the Pittsburgh Penguins will be trading Marc-Andre Fleury instead of protecting him and losing goaltender Matt Murray to the expansion draft. And while I agree that losing Matt Murray for nothing would be terrible, I also feel that, if I were GM Jim Rutherford, I’d trade Matt Murray over trading Marc-Andre Fleury.

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The Smartest Girl In The Room Runs for President

Because they were boring, I remember very little of high school English classes, and even less of The Great Gatsby. Most of what I remember of that book boils down to two things: The first is that Nick has a giant, poorly-repressed homosexual boner for Jay Gatsby. The second is more enduring – it’s when Daisy says about her newborn daughter; “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

How true, I remember thinking to myself, and how sad that it almost a century later and that was still the best thing a girl could be. I wished, with a not-so-small but shameful part of myself, that I was also beautiful and foolish.

– – –

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Revelry At Griffin’s Wharf A Time For History To Come Alive

Note: For the first assignment for my summer Multimedia Journalism task I was tasked with writing a print story (and taking pictures) on an event. Though this happened over six weeks ago, now that the class is over, I get to post it.
IMG_9649Actor Kaitee Treadway is on a mission. Clad in full colonial-era garb and armed with her puppet, Samuel, she sits in a corner of the pier off the Boston Tea Party Museum. When she spots her mark – a young child looking lost – she makes her move. “Hello!” She calls out in a sing-song voice. “What’s your name?”  If the child answers, they’re asked, “have you heard about the events happening lately in Boston?” The script varies from there, but it always ends with the child and puppet brainstorming how best to protest British taxation.

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Pokemon Go and Business May Be A Perfect Match

As you may know if you follow my twitter, this summer I took a seven week intensive course at Harvard on Multimedia Journalism. My final project was to film and produce a three minute news story on any topic, and so I covered businesses using Pokemon Go as an advertising opportunity. You can view it here:

A big thank you to all the Pokemon Go players who agreed to be interviewed, especially those who showed up for the first Boston PokeWalk, Kerrin Connolly for organizing said PokeWalk, as well as One Condoms and Zipcar, both of whom were lovely and accommodating of my tight time schedule.

Revolution: A Primer

Hello friends, great first day at the Democratic National Convention, right? There sure was a lot of talk about revolutions there, which is why I think it’s a good time to sit down and have an honest chat about the historical record on revolutions, and how they actually work.

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