Remember in grade school, you come back from Christmas break wearing the new sweater or jeans or sneakers, all full of details for a nice game of ‘Guess what I got?’
Most people probably outgrow that. At least they become adult about it and learn how to offhandedly mention the highlights. “Yeah, the wife bought me a power boat. I was completely surprised!”
Sure you were; you recorded a tape of subliminal messages to play her in her sleep, and moved the down payment into your joint checking account in October.
I had a very happy year, present-wise. Beyond undefinable beautiful surprises, my favorite thing to receive is a good book. And I got a bundle. Some books I wanted, and some I’d never heard of but they look good. I also got something unique and awesome from my brother, but I’ll save that for last. Here’s a look at the books I received this Christmas. Feel free to reciprocate and boast about your loot. I’m always curious.
K, a slight explanation here. I was changing my sheet because Shit-breath (the cat) keeps jumping on my bed and I’m a little allergic to dander. So after stripping the covers off, and wandering back in to do the sheets, guess what? I came back to discover Shit-breath (she’s not my favorite) curled up smugly on my sheet. She’s getting older and seems to forget that we don’t talk. I stare her right in the eyes (universal cat sign for deep hostility) and remind her, “We don’t like eachother, remember? We’re not friends.” No dice. Gracie stubbornly appears again and again, right where I threw her off from the last time. I don’t believe in drop-kicking cats, but this attitude may be up for review.
Anyway, you go with the flow. I decide a nice crazy cat’n’book picture would firm up my cosmic destiny as a cat-lady. But as soon as I rearrange the books around the sitting cat all pretty, she lays down on them. Stupid cat. I really don’t know why I felt the need to take a picture, but if you look closely, you’ll notice the center book has the word ‘Dickin’ showing. That was an accident. Serendipity, I guess you could say. It’s a lovely book of poetry by Emily Dickinson, and not a smut advisory catalog- ‘Dick In!’ , but Gracie totally missed the joke and thought poetry would make a nice pillow.
I’ll put the titles and stuff at the bottom. You hafta be conscientious with literature, you never know when an author will show up for a little ego-stroke, and end up sending you well-composed hate mail cus you talked about your retarded cat for three paragraphs instead of their mind-bending work of verbal brilliance.
(Actually, I wish that would happen. I rarely receive hate mail, and when I do, it isn’t what you’d call well-composed. )
Here’s what I got from my brother… it’s from Ecuador. He and his girlfriend spent a couple of months down there having adventures and making me jealous.
What do you mean what is it? It’s obviously half a cuttingboard…duh.
No, it’s a chess-set, you sea monkey. A hand carved, hand-painted portable chess-set with the pieces inside. Better yet, it’s a politcally incorrect chess set. It pits the natives against the Spaniards, brown guys against white. Come on, you know that’s funny.
Why a chess set? Well, I kinda have a collection. Not unlike my father’s carved elephant collection which was everyone’s idea but his, (what do you get for Daddy Warbucks, the only man I know who gets Christmas cards from Ikea? In the absence of a materialistic hobby to feed mindlessly, we created one for him) my chess set collection happened accidentally.
When I worked for Americorps, we had to have a leadership project. I chose to start the Yaquina Elementary Chess team up again, which had gone defunct 8 years previously. I coached it for two years, and took 15 kids (the maximum) to regionals two years running where they did incredibly well, beating everyone except Garibaldi. Garibaldi has a couple of excellent chess coaches. I should really send them Shit-breath as a mascot.
So the 2nd year I was doing that, everyone got the same idea at Christmas. This is my 4th specialized set, not counting the battered Staunton-in-a-bag set I dragged around to teach the little thugs how the game is played. You gotta have heavy standard size pieces to teach with. When they launch them at their opponents, it’s gotta leave a bruise so their parents cant challenge your authority when their little angel gets thrown in detention for a week.
You learn these things as you go.
Anyway, now I’ve got an African animal set, the Wizard of Oz, an aerie-faerie crystal adventure set and this… my politically incorrect portable Ecuadorian war set.
Geeks, bow before me. You’ve met your match. Hya!
The Book List:
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore
The Magicians Assistant by Ann Patchett
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Wild Mind; Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson
The Anxiety of Everyday Objects by Aurelie Sheehan
High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver (my old copy had it)
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards