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The Top Five Things I Bought in 2018

2018 has been a weird year. I’m not talking geopolitically for the world at large (though I could be talking geopolitically for the world at large), but for me, personally. I’ve done a lot this year – got a job, moved out, realized that living in a house with eight other strangers, seven of whom were dudes, was less like the fun parts of The Real World and more like the boring and unshown parts of The Real World where the kitchen’s always too small and no one else agrees with you that keeping toilet paper (and backup rolls of toilet paper) in the house is important, moved back home, completed tons of college classes, babysat too much, petsat too much (can you really do either, though?), and generally did and experienced so much that fitting it even in this run-on disaster of a sentence is impossible.

I also, in the course of these events, did not have any time to write anything that wasn’t an academic paper, but I did need a lot and buy a lot. And since people so enjoyed reading about stuff I enjoyed last year (or, more accurately, I enjoyed writing about it), I figured why not make you all read about the favorite things I’ve bought this year? I obviously didn’t get this done in time for Christmas (see: I got a job), but let’s just pretend this was on purpose so I could look more holistically at truly all of 2018 and my purchases. Here, in no particular order, are the top five best purchases I made:

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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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