Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gift bags . . .

Gift bags are more ubiquitous than wrapping paper, and for good reason, all you have to do with a gift sack is insert the gift(s) and maybe some tissue paper, whereas wrapping paper requires a flat surface, scissors, tape, and a bit of patience, time, and pride in your work to get the gift bundled neatly up. (I, for one, prefer that the edges of the paper are folded under for a crisper look.)

So, for the giver, gift bags are convenient, time-saving, and satisfying. But for the receiver, it's not always such a positive experience, and it's often even embarrassing. Here's why: when someone receives a gift in a gift bag, that person can't be sure if the one gift she's removed from the sack is the only gift or if there are more hidden in the caves and crevices created by the tissue paper. Even when the tissue paper is removed, sometimes the bottom flap of the gift sack looks like an envelope, and if the receiver tries to remove it, it provides an awkward moment for both giver and receiver. Wrapping paper, on the other hand, is straight forward. When the paper is removed, the present is sitting there for all to see.

My advice when using gift sacks is two-fold:

1. If you are the giver of the gift(s) in the gift sack, don't require that the sack is opened in your presence. In other words, drop the gift off. But don't watch the receiver open the gift. This way, the receiver can rummage through the empty sack without experiencing humiliation.

2. If you are the receiver of the gift(s) in a gift sack and the giver is watching you open the gift, flip the sack on the side and slide out all of the contents, tissue and all. Then, proceed to unwrap the insides much like you would open a wrapping paper gift.

And if you don't want to worry about the above methodology, just relax. It's okay if you look a little greedy because you're digging through a present-less sack. It's okay if you didn't buy your friend five little side gifts to go along with the one main gift. It's all okay. Really.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Things that make me smile . . .

1. little silver skull buttons, one positioned on each arm about 3 inches from the shirt's elbow so that when you bend your arm the little guy looks up at you. (The shirt is a happy shirt--a plaid of reds and whites with cool domed white buttons--and it's made happier by the skulls.)

2. fake chrome dragon stuck to the back of my car. A just-because-I-saw-it-and-it-made-me-want-it-even-though-it-makes-no-sense purchase.

3. Halloween-colored peanut butter M&Ms. They could inspire a party. I hope they inspire many parties somewhere out there in the universe.

4. unexpected, bizarre happenings. A while back, I boiled some eggs, and like usual, one of the eggs decided to leak. Only you couldn't tell which egg it was, because the egg wasn't really attached to it, there was just a hole. When I cracked the egg, it was almost completely hollowed out, the white part forming the shape of a tumbler. I might have to break down and post a picture of this, because I'm having a hard time explaining it through words.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tainted colors . . .

I've had several arguments about the color of things:

Years ago
Olive: The stripe in your shirt is green.
Tree-hugger: No it isn't, it's gray!
Olive: Green.
Tree-hugger: It's gray!

This year
Olive: Your shirt is lavender.
Betty: No, it's pink.
Olive: It's not pink at all; it's purplish.

Olive: What color is that?
Amb: It's blue.
Olive: It's blue? Are you sure it isn't purple?
Amb: It's blue.
Olive: I see it as purple. Maybe I am color challenged . . . but don't let Tree-hugger know that.

Today, while talking to Amb, I came up with my theory of color. We have three primary pigment colors--blue, red, and yellow--and when any one of those primary colors gets tainted by another primary color, I see it as becoming a secondary color: purple, orange, or green. Most people that I've met, I now realize, are more generous about how long they'll let a color be called by its primary name. For me, once blue has a hint of red in it, it's purple (or purplish); once yellow has a drop of blue in it, it's green (sure it's a light green, maybe a lemon-lime green with the emphasis on the lemon part, but it's still green).

I learned once that some people see more colors due to the number of cones in their eyes. I used to tease Tree-hugger that I could see more color, that I physically had more capacity. Now, I wonder if it's more a philosophical difference--a way of seeing the world--that makes me see color the way that I do.

But hey, wouldn't it be great if I turned out to be a tetrachromat? I think I'd like that very much.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Same . . . Different . . .

Today, I attempted to take the bus to work. However, the platform was empty: I was alone at the stop and it was quite obvious that I had missed the bus. A young man came over, figured he had missed the bus too, called bus information, and then informed me that the next bus wouldn't come again for another hour. (They had changed the times of the routes.)

I stood there trying to figure out what to do. I didn't need to be to work for a while, but I didn't really want to sit and wait for a bus. And I could tell that this guy was a little nervous about having missed the bus. So, that's when I decided to offer him a ride. He accepted. And on the walk to my car, he asked me if I had a parking pass for the university that he attended, his assumption was that I was a student too.

It seems pretty strange, I think, that someone would mistake me for a college student, until you look at the facts: 1) I look younger than older (my head isn't completely gray); 2) I was standing at an express stop that many students use; 3) I look somewhat like people who go to college look. In other words, this stranger surveyed me and the situation--subconsciously, I'm guessing--and concluded that I was more the same than different, and therefore I must be a fellow student at his same school.

I think we do this a lot. If someone appears to match up with us in some ways, we mentally classify them as THE SAME and then we ascribe a lot of our own attributes, experiences, and activities to the person. If someone appears quite different from us--like they have a tattoo covering half their face--we label them as DIFFERENT and we figure we're incompatible. I think we tend to trust THE SAME people (that's what let's us offer rides to strangers) and we are wary of THE DIFFERENT people.

It's sort of funny, though, the way we think we can pin ourselves--what we think, how we feel, our experience, our perspective, our philosophy, our school affiliation--on people we barely know and on good friends, too. Why must similarity equal SAMENESS? And how can it possibly equal that ever anyway?

I'm too tired to explore this more, but it's interesting, right? I think so.