Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas Wishes Revisited

Perhaps this whole asking people not to buy anything for me thing is more complicated than I thought. It's extremely counter-cultural, and maybe even selfish. I know that people want to buy me things as a sign of our relationship; there's a joy in knowing someone well enough to find a gift that would be perfect for them, and the joy in giving that gift is really a celebration of the relationship. By asking that people donate to a charity instead, I'm depriving them of the opportunity to give to me, it seems.

On the other hand, if gift-giving is supposed to be about giving the other person whatever would bring them the most joy, then undoubtedly I should feel justified in asking for people to donate to a charity, because it is genuinely what makes me the happiest. Here are my reasons why:

  • I don't need or want any more stuff except for a few little things that I'll tell my family about. I have more stuff than can fit in my dorm room now, and still another roomful of stuff back home. I appreciate that people go through the time to find things just for me, but I don't want or need any more things.
  • I go to lectures a lot. A significant portion of my time at ND so far has been spent learning about what's wrong with the world. I even took the most depressing class ever, Introduction to Social Problems. I do what I can grassroots activism-wise, but I know that money is what makes the world go round. I'm a collge student. I don't have money, or an income. This seems like my chance to give to those who really, really need it. Really. Not in a it would be nice way, but in a it will feed a child way.
  • The more I learn, the more I want to go help fix things, and the more impatient I get. I know I need to be here. So people giving money would relieve some of that tension for me and would make me feel better about my extreme affluence relative to the poverty of the world. I have been given so much; it would make me happiest if those who haven't had the privelages I've had were given something too.

If people absolutely have to get me something, then I want something that involves the gift of time, not money. I want long letters. Tell me anything- how you're doing, how your family is doing, what you want to do this year, a favorite Christmas story, a favorite recipe- anything. I never get letters any more, and I would love to get beautiful letters from those I care about.

This was written primarily in response to one person's objections to my campaign (which he has since decided were wrong). I don't know if this post is necessary, and if not, sorry for cluttering my blog with it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I finally decided on something tonight that I've been debating about for a while. For Christmas this year, I'm going to have a small wish list of things I actually need, and then ask for every other "present" to be a donation. I haven't entirely decided on the charity, I have many favorites. It won't work, of course, and I'll still end up with lots of stuff, but my parents will probably be respectful of my wishes, and hopefully my friends. I live in two closets joined together with two other people. It has become very evident to me that I don't need more stuff. I don't wear jewelry or makeup, I have plenty of clothes now, I'm set with pretty much everything. I have a to-read book pile that takes up my entire bookshelf here and more back home. I do want other things sometimes, but I don't have room for them anyway, and this is a much better use of the money. I feel a lot better having decided this.

Otherwise, I'm stressed and nearing burnout. But that's what happens when you're a week and a half from finals, I've decided. I just keep in mind that in 2.5 weeks, it will all be over. Regardless of how it turns out, it's a comfort to know that soon it won't matter.

Off to go force myself to relax and such. Peace and love and happiness :-)

Somewhat belated thanksgiving thoughts

I feel very content right now. I skipped my PE class (we get 3 legal skips a semester, I've never used one and I had no assignments due today, plus I was sick of sitting through boring lectures, so I skipped. such a rebel) and came back to my dorm, where I popped open a frappucino (my sweet tea stores from my parents having been extinguished yesterday) and proceeded to practice guitar. I LOVE that I'll actually be really prepared for my lesson on Friday. She gave us a lot to work on, which made me practice a lot more. Normally, I can not practice and get by, so even though I want to practice, other things get higher priority. It's nice to make myself make time. Now that I'm all satisfied with guitar and perked up, I feel like blogging. hurray! let the introspection begin.

I've never eaten Thanksgiving dinner in a hotel restaurant before. Cracker Barrel, yes. But that's different. It's hard for any one to look lonely in happy, bustling, noisy Cracker Barrel. (if you don't know what I'm talking about, Cracker Barrel is the epitome of homestyle comfort food). The hotel restaurant was quiet, even though it was dinner time. There were maybe twenty people spread around the fairly-sized place. The atmosphere was best described as sleek, plain, and simple. It made lonely people stick out somehow, because there was no noise or warm lighting or pleasant decorations to make everything seem ok.

Several tables were occupied by only one person, mostly women, and mostly sipping something alcoholic with their meal while staring off into space. Why were they there, alone, and not with families or loved ones? Some wore suits, and it seemed plausible that they had to be in Chicago on business. For others it was not so clear, and my mother suggested that maybe they just had no place to go.

Now, I blame a lot of my deep-seated childhood issues on my parents for being busy doctors. Maybe some of that's justified, but probably not all of it. They were around sometimes on holidays, other times not. Sometime during the day on Thanksgiving, they sprung on me that this Christmas will be particularly interesting. My dad will be working at the hospital on Christmas day and in the ensuing week and my mother is handling the phone calls from all of the patients of the office while they're closed. I think she takes over hospital rounds and admissions when my dad gets off. My first reaction was CRAP, I'm going to have to find all of these families that I can bus Mark around to on Xmas day so he still has a Christmas.

Then we went to eat our turkey dinner, and it was hard not to notice the people sitting alone. And it dawned on me... at least I have a family with which to celebrate. I always know that, but sometimes I don't understand it. So this Christmas will be hard to schedule. We might celebrate on Christmas Eve instead. I will still have a family to spend time with. Maybe for some people, it's not a question of how to spend time, but whether you get to. How blessed I am, despite my kooky parents. They're great people, and they promise they love me even more than their jobs. I debate that sometimes, but really, they do. And without their crazy jobs, I wouldn't be going to Notre Dame. So. Life is good.

So that's my epiphany for the month. In other news, Indiana has stubbornly been refusing to admit it's November recently. Chicago's weather was beautiful too, 50s and 60s. Perfect for walking in, not too hot or too cold. Sadly, the crusade against winter is supposed to fail Friday; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all have predicted highs of 35 and possible snowfall at night. Parka time.

Wait no! I've had another epiphany this month. Last night I realized I don't like being flirted with. Maybe I would if it was done well, but it mostly seems to take the form of throwing as many sexual innuendos as possible into a conversation. It's awkward, I always think I'm going to say something wrong, and just generally uncomfortable. Talk to me about something intelligent and you're much more likely to win my favor. This realization didn't come from anything the Boy did, for those wondering, but from a facebook conversation going on between me and an old friend from a high school that I had a class with when I was a sophomore. Wanting to catch up is cool and all, but I'm disinclined to want to do so if you find a way to twist my every comment into being "sexy". That's not who I am, and I'm ok with that. Random guys I hardly know calling me sexy does not make me feel spicy, adultish, or beautiful... it makes me feel awkward. And I want to run the other way. It's how I am. Tell me about a book you're reading.
P.S. If the guy facebooking me actually ends up reading this- I think you're great, but dude. Stop. You're smart, I know it. Act like it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chicago Trip Reflection

First off, let me say that this trip was phenomenal. It was short enough that we could keep up a furious pace that would never have been sustainable over a week. It was enough to give us a taste of a great city, but not so much that we decided that we'd had enough of Chicago for a while. It was fast and fun and enticing. I loved it.

On Wednesday (before Thanksgiving), my parents picked me up from Notre Dame and we set off for Chicago. Lovely family bonding was somewhat cut short when I fell asleep thanks to my beautiful anti-nausea medicine. TMI, gotcha. We got to the hotel eventually, at which point I woke up and helped to move stuff into our room, which was surprisingly normal-sized, even though we were a block over from Michigan St, i.e. the Magnificent Mile. Once settled, we took the recommendation of the concierge and went to a pizza place called East Gino's for dinner, where we proceeded to stuff ourselves with absolutely fabulous food. The trend was to write one's name on some available surface in sharpie (booths, walls, chairs, etc were covered), so being a wildly independent college student, I went along with the trend. I signed my name and the date on the booth we sat in. I don't think I've ever done that before. It was fun. I don't remember much more of that night- I think we just came back to the hotel and crashed.

We woke up reasonably early on Thanksgiving in order to get a good sidewalk spot for watching the grand parade. Our progress was somewhat inhibited by my father's offer to buy me starbucks; even though there's one on campus at the end of the quad I live on, there's something special about my dad buying me coffee.. er, apple cider. Plus it was warm. We made our way down to the parade area eventually. We were next to Macy's, so while waiting I towed Mark around to look at the famous window displays, this year boasting a Mary Poppins theme. We also texted holiday greetings to important family members. The parade was a lot of fun- I have pictures up here.

After the parade, we headed for food and a bench at the nearby open-air German marketplace, curiously featuring many items from Ecuador and Peru. But they had brats and cocoa and potato pancakes, so we were a happy crew. After a bit of window shopping, we headed towards the Field Museum, where we had tickets to the fabulous King Tut exhibit. The walk was somewhat longer than anticipated, but I enjoyed it, as we got to see more of the city, such as the landmark sculpture known as the Bean. At the Field Museum, we spent the rest of the day slowly taking in the King Tut exhibit, then more quickly walking through other exhibits. It was all very interesting and well-represented. Being somewhat pooped, we also took advantage of over-priced drinks and cookies at the museum cafe. After closing down the museum, we caught a bus back to the hotel (we're so urban... that is, until I touristly took pictures of us in the bus). We ate a huge turkey dinner at the hotel, including splitting five slices of various cakes and pies among my mom, my dad, and I* . It was goood. I reached just the right level of happy fullness. Then we watched movies upstairs, I called the boy, and my family went to bed while I worked on homework (I know, I'm so dedicated...not really).

*blog entry about thanksgiving reflections themselves will hopefully be forthcoming

On Friday, we let ourselves sleep in a bit, because Thursday had been such a big, long, active day. We eventually headed out to Navy Pier, but sadly not much was open there, including the huge ferris wheel that Dad and I had looked forward to riding. We walked out to the end and took pictures, though. Then we went to the Hancock Tower. This was probably my least favorite part of the trip, as it involved long waits for a predictable view of the city that one could have seen on a postcard. (subject for another blog entry- why do I not appreciate the real? when in the king tut exhibit, I had to explain to myself that the artifacts were interesting because they're actually from ancient Egypt. I had to explain to myself that the view of Chicago was interesting because it was me actually looking at it, not through a picture. Hmm). Maybe I was just hungry and impatient. Anyway, after the tower, we decided to head to Lincoln Park Zoo and get late lunch/ early dinner on the way. As luck would have it, our route took us on a scenic beachside sidewalk and then through a large park, but never involved a restaurant. Such is life. It was cool to see Lake Michigan up close, and I have a thing for parks. We ended up getting food at the zoo, which was expensive, but there's no admission price to get into the zoo, so I justified it that way. The zoo was doing this nighttime Zoo Lights thing, featuring lots of Christmas lights, activities, and the animals at night. Some obviously went to bed at nightfall, but some were really active, which was cool to see. The penguin/puffin exhibit was naturally my favorite. After Mark just couldn't take anymore, we took a bus back to the hotel. Mom and I toyed with the idea of evening shopping on Michigan, but Dad wouldn't hear of his girls out on the town at night. Probably for the best. We picked up ice cream from a corner grocery store instead and played a board game back at the hotel. Good times.

Mom and I, determined to get our shopping done, got up Saturday morning, packed what we could, and set out together to hit Old Navy. I ended up going in the Gap first, but I only found a sweater there. We did much more damage at Old Navy. Basically, I need all of the warm clothes I can get, and my mom agrees. We shop well together. We were thrifty, too, because the sales were still going on. Yay us. On the way back to the hotel, we passed a Daughters of St. Paul bookstore. They were my favorite order back when I thought I wanted to be a nun. Of course, we had to go in and browse. I ended up with Christmas cards and a CD. Mom and I had already been running behind when we said we'd get back, so we hoofed it back to the hotel. Go us. It was nice to get to just talk to my mom for a while. Back at the hotel, Dad had thrown everything into the van and was awaiting our final approval of his packing job so we could check out. After a bit of rearranging, we all got in the van and headed back to Notre Dame.

All in all, a great trip. Maybe Mark didn't think so, yet, but at least three out of four of us were happy campers. We'll get him yet :-)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I have all these awesome pictures from our trip to Chicago and all these awesome comments about them and stories to tell, but I can't find a good way of uploading said pictures. Blogger's uploading thing bothers me to no end. I decided heck with that, I'll start a flickr account and post them there. So I went through all the effort of making a new yahoo ID, making a flickr account to go with it, and uploading my first six photos. This took about an hour. Then I find out that I've already used 61% of my bandwith capacity for the month. If I want my other photos up, I either have to shell out $ for a pro account or size down my pictures before I upload them. I love my Mac, but I have no photo-editing software, and so no way of sizing down pictures.

That was an hour and a half well spent. I will get around to writing about the trip later, but it might be sadly without my beautiful photos. :-(

EDIT: HA! I beat the system! Actually, I just downloaded some shareware that makes the whole uploading & resizing process from a Mac about 10000x easier. It's called PictureSync, and it's awesome. It resizes my photos as I upload them, so a Flickr account can hold them. So go see my pictures, already.