Friday, December 23, 2011

Gift Giving

One of my favorite traditions my family has is when we go shopping for Christmas gifts for each other. I have seven younger siblings and we've never had much money, so a tradition we started several years ago was that we kids shop for each other at the local dollar store. That way all the kids can get and give something affordable.

When most of us were actually *little*, it was easy because we were all super excited about the cheap plastic tiaras and generic crime-fighting action figures. Now we're ages 10-25 and it really, *really* does become the thought that counts. People give each other silly or joke gifts because the amount of people who actually seriously want something from the dollar store is getting smaller. (Also, a lot of people give candy. A LOT.) It ends up being much more about the process of gift giving than the actual gifts.

All the children are allowed to pick out their own presents for everyone. This had led to some fantastically strange gifts over the years. One time, one brother bought 3-foot plastic candy canes for every one of us. Another time, my youngest brother (maybe a year old at the time) got dog toys from two of his older brothers. There was the year the dollar store stocked plastic swords that made swishing sounds whenever they moved. We ended up with three of those swords under the tree, all making noise inside their wrapping paper whenever somebody accidentally jostled the pile of presents. My father narrowly escaped getting a Pirates of the Caribbean night light a few years ago, before that brother changed his mind. As I got older and realized there was nothing really left that I actually *wanted* for Christmas, the game became, "What in the world will the little siblings get me this year?" (It might be straws. Apparently the youngest this year was debating buying packages of straws for people.)

Ahem. To my sister Rebekah, if you've randomly decided to read my blog before Christmas, stop reading here, because I'm about to talk about what I got you this year.

So, yeah. My sister Bekah. I had chosen a gift for everyone else and couldn't think of what she might like. I was discussing it in the store with two other siblings and mused out loud, "Does she want..." I trailed off, but was reminded of an inside joke in our family - a home video that shows 3-year-old Bekah alternately speaking to and speaking as her imaginary friends. "Should I sing... Jingle Bells?" she asks, speaking for someone else, and then she switches voices and responds as herself: "Not yet!" I realized that when I said, "Does she want," it was very similar in tone to Bekah's "Should I sing," so I morphed the line into that quote: "Does she want... Jingle Bells?"

"Not yet!" my siblings both responded.

So, you know what? Bekah's getting jingle bells from me this year. Or, well, a doorknob hanger with bells on it. With that quote written on the outside of the wrapping. It is a ridiculous gift, but it's connected to a silly inside joke, and it will hopefully make her laugh. And that's kind of what our Christmases end up being about anyway.

So for those of you celebrating a holiday this month that involves gift giving, I hope you get gifts that make you smile and make you thankful for your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 5, Bottom 5: Holiday Movies

This is pretty self-explanatory as far as blog features go. (I like how I keep making up blog features but don't ever actually blog. Right now I am doing a lot of deliberate nothing, thanks to Christmas break.) I use to show me what my top 5 and bottom 5 movies are in a certain genre. Mini blurbs about them all.

Today's genre, in honor of Christmas being right around the corner, is holiday movies.

Top 5:
1. Love Actually (2003, #2 on my FlickChart). This is probably the first, definitely the best of the ensemble rom-coms. Not as Christmasy as it is romancey, but it always gets to me.
2. It's a Wonderful Life (1946, #146). A really solid drama. It's a holiday classic for reason.
3. White Christmas (1954, #159). Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in one of my favorite movie musicals. Great musical numbers, a fun script, ever so Christmasy.
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965, #165). Any story about a child feeling empty and hollow at Christmastime gets my vote. My favorite Christmas movie soundtrack.
5. Amahl and the Night Visitors (1978, #223). Televised version of an opera about a crippled boy and his mother, who offer the three wise men shelter. Moving story and wonderful music.

Bottom 5:
1. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006, #1640). I could barely sit through this. I longed for a joke, any joke, that made even the tiniest bit of sense.
2. Star Wars Holiday Special (1978, #1639). A ridiculous, embarrassing holiday special that I managed to see, thanks to the Internet, though I now regret that decision.
3. The Santa Clause 2 (2002, #1623). Yeah, I really hate these movies.
4. Frosty Returns (1992, #1591). The first movie is kind of cute. The second one is terrifying and bizarre.
5. The Christmas Shoes (2002, #1586). The worst Christmas song of all time gets its own movie. How could that possibly go wrong?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Some Relationship Rules (That Are Silly)

Now that the character limit on Facebook statuses has disappeared, the terrible sappy stories and lists of cutesy sayings that used to show up in email forwards and MySpace bulletins have started reappearing. I used to mock them all the time, but then they started disappearing, and now they're back, and I'm getting oh so very tired of them. So they just might show up in my blog from time to time.

Here is one that I've seen three times over the past week and a half. Original is in bold, my comments are in... um... not bold.

I used to wonder if when I was actually in a relationship, I'd become less snarky about these forwards and start thinking, "Aww, that's actually pretty sweet." Answer: Nope. Not at all. Good to know.

‎(written by a girl)

(critiqued by a girl)

There, mine has the same amount of credibility now.

Guys, when she pulls away pull her back.

See, right away, we have a problem. I suppose I'm kind of okay with that as an occasional jokey thing, but if that became a regular thing, that would seriously tick me off. If I'm pulling away from someone, it's because I want/need to be away from them. For whatever reason. And I'd rather that person respect that. And, admittedly, I'm a little touchy about physical boundaries, but so are a lot of girls I know, so offering this as general romance statement is a really bad idea.

This will turn out to be a regular theme throughout this list of advice - assuming all girls think and act the same way leads to really awkward moments with real life people who, surprise, may have different responses to things.

When you see her start crying hold her and don't say a word.

Now that's probably better advice for most people, but, once again, this is the danger of pretending generic relationship advice is applicable for everyone: I don't generally like to be touched when I'm crying, and I like to be talked to. So this is pretty much the opposite of what would be encouraging for me.

When you see her walking sneak up and hug her waist from behind.

Again, I'm not the only one I know who would not care for that. Not all of us like surprise hug attacks.

When she steals your favorite hoodie let her wear it.

Uh, OK. I mean, I'm not planning on ever stealing my boyfriend's favorite hoodie, but I suppose if I did and he snarled at me that I couldn't wear it, that might be a problem? This is just a really specific one that assumes that this is the kind of thing I do all the time, and I'm really having trouble imagining it ever being something I run into.

When she says she loves you she really does mean it.

This one isn't bad, except for one that it's contrasted with later. But I'll get to that one when it comes up.

When she grabs your hands hold hers and play with her fingers.

*shrug* This is OK, I guess... but all I have is mental images of a girl going, "STOP! No! Stop playing with my fingers! Just let me HOLD YOUR HAND, DANG IT!"

When she tells you a secret keep it safe and untold.

Safe and untold. Not just one or the other. (Obviously I agree, though, keeping secrets is a good thing unless they're secrets that are going to hurt other people.)

Make sure she knows your hers and no one elses.

OK, I think that's supposed to come across as an "I love you more than everyone else, let me be the main person in your life" kind of thing but it just comes across as "You're my property, I will possess you" and makes it a little creepy. There's a fine line there.

When she looks at you in your eyes dont look away until she does.

No, no, no. That's one of those ridiculous cutesy things that I would deliberately avoid doing. It's right up there with, "You hang up first." "No, YOU hang up first."

When she's mad hug her tight and don't let go.


Anybody who did this to me would immediately lose so much of my respect. It would mean they had absolutely no sense of who I was as a person and what was important to me. I've already ranted on this blog about people who think it's cute or endearing to hug me after I've politely asked them not to. If I want a hug, I'll ask for or initiate a hug. If I don't, I won't. And if you try to hug me when I'm upset, and, worse yet, don't let me go, that is just going to redirect my frustration right back at you. There are people in my life I no longer share actual feelings with because they react this way. My significant other should not be one of them.

When she says she's okay don't believe it.

This one makes me mad (I can say that because none of you blog readers are able to hold me and not let me go while reading this). This especially makes me mad in contrast to the last one about believing the girl - the message here is that girls always tell the truth about their boyfriends, but always lie about themselves? What?

Sometimes people do lie about how they're doing, and say they're OK when they're not... but sometimes they are OK, and they say they're OK, and people don't believe them, and that is awful. It's very annoying when people assume that I'm either lying to them or that I don't know myself well enough to know if I'm really okay.

And, honestly, if I'm lying about how I'm doing, it'll be for one of two reasons: either I don't trust you enough yet to be honest about my feelings (in which case your prying is going to make it even more difficult for me to do so), or I'm frustrated/scared/sad/whatever but know if I talk about it, it'll just make it worse, so it's safer to dismiss it until I can properly deal with it (in which case your prying is unhelpfully dredging up something I'm trying to get past).

This assumes that girls are all either stupid about their own emotions or like to play mind games with you. And neither is true of me, or of most of the girls I am close friends with. Not all of us are crazy like that.

Call her at 12:00am on her birthday just to tell her you love her.

Again, this one is so specific. It's a nice idea, I guess, but there are so many factors involved. Is she going to be up that late? Does she like talking on the phone? Would she much rather be told this in person? Does she like celebrating her birthday? If you just say you love her, would she want you to say happy birthday instead? Would a text or Facebook message be more meaningful? It just doesn't seem to belong in a list along with things like "Don't tell other people her secrets," which is obvious common sense advice for everyone all the time.

(My answers: Yes, no, yes, sometimes, maybe, maybe.)

Treat her like she's all that matters to you.

Nope, I don't like this one either. I don't want me to be the only thing that matters to someone. For one, from a Christian standpoint, I'd like God to matter to him. I'd also like his friends to matter to him. And his family. And his work. And his hobbies. I do not want to be the sole thing responsible for happiness and meaning in his life. That's a lot of pressure, and it can't be a healthy way to function. Besides, if that's how he treats me, how am I ever going to get introvert alone time?

Watch her favorite movies with her even if you think they are stupid.

Actually, I'm quite comfortable watching movies on my own, and I get self-conscious when people watch movies with me that I like but think they'll probably dislike, and I can't enjoy it anymore. If you don't want to watch a movie with me, don't, and just let me do it by myself. We'll find a movie we both like later and we can watch that together and have a much better shared experience.

Don't talk about other girls around her.

Uh, in what capacity? I'm perfectly comfortable talking about close opposite-sex friends with my boyfriend. This message might be specifically referring to comments like, "Your best friend is super hot," which would indeed be a really awkward comment and shouldn't be said. Or maybe discussion of exes or something. I don't know. This is one of the few that isn't specific enough.

Kiss her in the pouring rain.

A nice gesture, but couldn't that be done without the pouring rain part?

Make her know she's loved and wanted.

Yup, I completely agree with that one. That's 2 out of 18.

When she reposts this bulletin she wants you to read it.

Does snarking it on my blog count as reposting this? Because that is so not why I'm doing it.

Guys; repost this if you'd do it. Girls; repost this if you would love a guy like this.♥

Would I love a guy who paid absolutely no attention to my personal preferences, assumed that all girls functioned the way they do in movies and TV shows, and was always trying to get past the sneaky mind games I'm not actually playing?

Yeeeeah, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.

(I'm wondering now if Edward Cullen fits all the criteria... Probably not the crying one. I mean, he likes to watch sad movies so he can watch Bella cry. If he was holding her, he wouldn't be able to do that.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Movies

It's December, holy cow. What happened in November? Let's see... we opened and closed our production of Once Upon a Mattress, which went wonderfully well, and now we're opening our Christmas revue 'Tis the Season tomorrow. I finished my education practicum with the local high school. I had Thanksgiving break. I finished NaNo, but then you all saw that.

And I saw six movies. I only saw six movies in October, too, so at least I'm not slowing down any further. Can't wait until Christmas break when I can go crazy and watch movies ALL THE TIME.

So here are the movies I watched.

Maurice (1987). Based on the E.M. Forster novel, a story about homosexuality in early 20th century England. It's far less interesting than I expected, though. It's mostly rambly and bland with no interesting characters. 2/5.

Mickey Blue Eyes (1999). Hugh Grant plays a man who finds out his fiancee's father is connected to the mafia. This could have been a pleasantly fun movie if the plot made any sense at all. As it was, it's complete nonsense and all the jokes get lost in the mush. 1/5.

Small Time Crooks (2000). Woody Allen movie about a group of bumbling criminals. That basic premise has been done much better in Take the Money and Run, and while there are a few good moments in this one, it's pretty bland overall. 2.5/5.

Soultaker (1990). A group of teenagers are supposed to die in a car crash and have their souls taken, but two of them... er... survive? Their souls are thrown from their bodies or something so their bodies are in a coma but their souls are wandering around. Watched the MST3K version of this one, and that's the only reason to watch it, really. 1/5.

Paul (2011). Two nerds on their way back from Comic-Con take a road trip to visit famous alien crash sites and meet an actual alien along the way. Full of great comedic actors and homages to classic sci-fi movies. Some truly funny moments. This is well worth the watch for people who consider themselves slightly nerdy/geeky. 4/5.

28 Days Later... (2002). Cillian Murphy wakes up a hospital to find himself in a post-apocalyptic England. Extremely solid horror thriller with an amazing sense of atmosphere. Danny Boyle remains one of my favorite directors. 4/5.

So, some pretty good ones and some pretty crappy ones. Who knows what December holds as far as moviedom, but here's hoping I watch more than six of them.