Category Archives: Uncategorized

Making Your Gerbil Your Best Friend (And Valentine) (Originally for the American Gerbil Society)

One of the comments I get from people, and by “people” I mean both people who own gerbils and people who don’t, is how tame and human my two gerbils seem. “They really think you’re a gerbil,” they’ll say in surprise. “I didn’t know gerbils acted like that!”

Until I started being more involved with the American Gerbil Society, I genuinely thought all gerbils did act like that and people either didn’t know much about gerbils or were flattering me. But when I joined and still had people messaging me going “I know someone who wants to have a relationship with their gerbils like you do, can I give them your contact info?” I realized I might have a tendency to raise unusually friendly gerbils.

For this Valentine’s Day and Tutorial Tuesday, I’ll be sharing with you my rules of socializing gerbils. As a disclaimer, though, I should say this – there is no single right way to socialize your gerbils. Gerbils are significantly less complicated to raise than dogs or children, but like dogs and children, they do have distinct personalities, and those personalities mean that what works on won’t necessarily work on another. If you raise gerbils the way I suggest, you will end up with unnaturally friendly gerbils, but they will also be much, much more needy and reliant on you. If part of what you prize about your gerbils is their independence, socializing gerbils the way I socialize gerbils is not for you. But if you want a gerbil who is deeply bonded to you, here are my rules for how to get there:

(Read more…)


The Gift Guide For People Who Don’t Want Gifts – Part Three: Everything Else

Don’t look at me like that. I know it’s too late. Do you think I wanted to be finding a proctor for my stats final and then taking it while trying to figure out how to turn off push notifications AND silence my phone without silencing-silencing it because some random fact I tweeted about elephants went supernova mega viral? I will tell you what, dear reader, I did not want to be doing that, and having a viral tweet is a decidedly unpleasant experience when you are a deeply introverted introvert who has a lot of anxiety specifically centered around other human beings paying too much attention to you (ie: almost any attention, specifically for something you don’t feel you did anything to merit getting attention for) – though I’ve had a pretty pleasant go of it, as far as internet attention goes. Nor did I want Photoshop to decide to crash three times, meaning this is my second go-round on this post because after the first luckily I got smart, defeated my hubris, and started saving versions as I went.

On the other hand, getting gifts on Christmas morning is not something I know about, having never done it myself, but I do know from birthdays that the anticipation of a gift is much, much more fun than actually getting a gift. Once you get a gift it’s just – it’s there. And you have a whole 364 days until you’re going to get another gift, and oh dang it, you just thought of this one thing you really, really need. This is why I suggest doing what my mom does when it’s present time and something hasn’t arrived yet, which is the following:

  1. Print out a picture of the thing she bought
  2. Put it inside a box with a lot of tissue paper (so you can’t tell it’s just a printed out picture)
  3. Act like she has just done something terrible by not having your present right there that second when in fact she has given you two gifts: the present, and the gift of anticipating the mail

And boy, do I love waiting for the mail. I would bet other people would love it more if they were also waiting for presents, and not just a forest’s worth of charity solicitations, usually and ironically from environmental protection groups. I love waiting for the mail even when I know that all I’m getting is charity solicitations, because – and I hate to reveal my true identity – but while it is true that I have red hair and glasses, this is what I really look like, without Instagram filters:

I’m sorry. But I feel the holiday season is a time for honesty. So here are some honestly great gifts you can either go out and pick up last minute or tell people to wait for in the dead time betwixt ye olde Yule and New Year’s when they need something to look forward to besides the eventual murder they are plotting on the family members they have spent entirely too much time with. (If you’re missing them, here’s part one on food gifts and part two on book gifts.)

Continue reading

The Gift Guide For People Who Don’t Want Gifts – Part Two: Books

I’m going to start by saying this – you have every right to be mad at me. Here I was promising you so many holiday gift ideas, and then disappearing for two weeks after only telling you about a third of them. In my defense, I really would have rathered be writing a blog post, but instead I was spending pretty much all of my waking hours under mountains of Statistics homework and yelling about z-values. I, too, have suffered.

Anyway, the next set of suggestions is all Books. Glorious, glorious books for people like me who spent their entire life dreaming of doing this:

Or that someday we’d meet our true love, who we would know was our true love because they would give us a library like this:

Books are great gifts. For everyone. Even people who didn’t share my Disney-fueled dreams. Yes, you read that right, you can get books for people who don’t like to read.  Walk with me, would you?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

PopCircle: The Next Frontier

PopCircle-Logo-Trans201x42I know lately I’ve been focusing on art more than my TV blogging, but just because I’ve neglected it lately doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. In fact, it’s time for me to share something I’ve been sitting on a while that I briefly mentioned on tumblr – I’m part of a pretty cool start-up!

PopCircle is a site where you get to make collections of recommendations and share them with everyone. They can be collections of anything – books, TV, movies, songs – and you can even add little reviews.  Want to make a list of recommendations for people who like Harry Potter, or Sherlock Holmes? Congrats, you can do that on PopCircle.

I’m on board as a TV Expert, meaning that I make collections of TV shows to recommend (you can see my first few here) and they appear as a fancy expert recommendation that’s for the whole community. Right now PopCircle is still in beta mode for mostly experts, but as an expert I can invite a select number of people to start beta-testing if they’re interested. It’s first come, first served, so leave a comment with your e-mail address if you are so I can send you a fancy referral link, and I look forward to seeing you all there!

Sitcom Superlatives: Best, worst, and wedded bliss (Originally for CliqueClack)


Best Wedding – Liz and Criss, 30 Rock
If I had to choose a favorite TV wedding, I should probably say that my favorite is Monica and Chandler’s, or Jim and Pam’s, or Marshall and Lily’s. But as I’ve mentioned before, my stance on weddings is, to put it lightly, highly atypical. And my wedding, should I ever have one, is going to resemble Liz and Criss’ on this week’s 30 Rock far more than anyone in my life probably feels comfortable with.

Look, I’m with Liz (shocker) — the wedding-industrial complex is nuts and I have no desire to have a big party where I have to be nice to people I never wanted to invite and look the most like I a beautiful princess I have ever looked in my life. Weddings, in my opinion, should ideally reflect the couple and the kind of life they want to share with each other. And maybe some people want to share a perfect fairytale life, but that sounds like a lot of pressure to me. Give me a small, personally significant, completely ridiculous and goofy wedding any day, because life is never going to be a perfect fairytale. But if you’re lucky, it will be a fun, silly gathering of close friends who love you, and of course, a few who don’t but are just there for the ride. And let’s be real, who wants to be Cinderella when you can be Princess Leia? No one I want to hang out with, that’s who.

(Read more…)

A Thank You Note to America

Voting in 2008 and in 2012

Dear America,

Thank you.

When I woke up yesterday morning, it was seven AM. My mother, who was the Democratic Ward Captain, was on her cell phone and, I think, the house phone with the local congressional office. There was some sort of confusion about where people from each ward lined up, which ward they were in, and if ward maps existed that could be passed around the line. I had woken up to all this noise with radiating jaw pain from clenching my teeth in my sleep and a horrible stress headache, which was how I had woken up for the last three or four days in a row. I took double the amount of Xanax I usually take every morning. I was terrified that I would go to sleep that night in a country where Barack Obama would no longer be my president.

Continue reading