5 Gifts to Give Yourself

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I’m a giver. Ask anyone, they’ll say the same thing: “Chloe is that girl who gives too much.” Just yesterday at the local orphanage, I barely had time to swaddle and feed a wee mother-less bairn in arms before dashing off to collect alms. Next, I wrapped my permanently furrowed brow with a sensible shawl and bludgeoned together some donated lumber for my latest totally uninhabitable habitat for humanity home. Soaked in sawdust, sweat, and lead based paint, I trudged toward the cardboard shanty I call home (out of solidarity), sipped a few potentially toxic tablespoons of California rainwater, and fell asleep in a warm cocoon of half-knitted onesies for the aforementioned orphans. “The children are our future,” that’s what I always say, and what could be more rewarding than making my entire identity about nourishing the identity of others?

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In this blessed time of giving, I shall temporarily hang my halo and turn my endless fount of nurturing energy to a girl who really deserves it: me. I urge all you similarly self-less (or even flagrantly self-serving) to do the same and award yourself these five affordable and rewarding prezzies.

1. A TV in your bedroom

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Watching television in bed is a simple luxury, a first world indulgence, an utterly unproductive way to unwind. My parents don’t believe in television (they believe television makes you stupider, which is almost certainly correct), and so I grew up in a bleak household, devoid of screens but rotten with reading material. If having a television was a sign of mental mediocrity, a TV above the bed would be unspeakably crass. Like tattoos and public intoxication.

I got my first ink at 18, then scampered off to New Orleans (land of open containers and lax laws) for four gloriously unfettered years of inebriation at Tulane (school of skilled slackers), but never lost my family’s ingrained disdain for bedroom televisions. Up until last month, the only TV in my apartment was an enormous, ancient grey monstrosity dropped by a friend for free. Then, one drunken black Friday, I decided to treat myself to a shiny black flatscreen, and my bedroom became a den of high definition, Netflix-driven delight.

I know, I know: I’ve heard the stern warnings that “a TV in the bedroom will kill your sex life.” If you’re single and invite a girl over, you’d both have to be incredibly lazy/not into each other to stop fucking just because there’s a screen present. In fact, I think suggesting, “Let’s watch a movie in my bed” is a fabulously casual way to get a girl into your bed. Previously, we’d watch a movie on the couch and then do all sorts of weird couch sex aerobics and either have to stop hooking up long enough to say “let’s go to the bedroom”, then go to the bedroom, then get back in the mood. This didn’t kill our lady boners, but it def broke focus. Or, more commonly, we’d just end up hooking up on the couch and/or floor, and someone ends up with a stiff neck and/or face to face with a dust bunny.

If you’re in a relationship and worry that a television in the bedroom might kill your sex life, might I point out that being in a committed lesbian relationship tends to have a similar sex life strangling effect. If lesbian bed death is coming for you, it’s coming for you whether or not you’re watching Hulu Plus.

2. Fancy Sweatpants

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Stretchy, comfy, stylish sweats are the gift that keep on giving to your ass… and the world. Unlike the unflattering, generic, and often tragic sweatpants of yesteryear (2001), today’s sweatpant no longer wails “I’ve given up.” Fancy sweatpants are just as diverse as their fan base, ranging from the drop crotch jogger (for the lesbian who wants to look like Justin Bieber) to the ass lifting yoga pant (for the lesbian who wants to look like Gwyneth Paltrow). Lululemon has built a veritable empire on fancy yoga pants, and ultra hip LA label DimePiece (of Ain’t no Wifey notoriety) blasts my inbox weekly with breathless updates on Rihanna’s latest spotting in their badass sweat suits.

Now that LA weather has dropped to non-short weather, I’m all about the fancy sweat. Soft enough to sleep (or pass out drunk) in, flattering enough to be seen in, and flexible enough to be worn in a myriad of manners, the fancy sweat is truly the little black dress of our generation. Vive le fancy sweat! Vive le slob!

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3. Mind-altering substances

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Minds are meant to be altered. Have you met a baby? Their pristine, unaltered brains are basically jello. Mental clarity is highly overrated, particularly in one’s free time. Contrary to the inspirational quotes over sunset images your less intelligent friends find deeply moving/easily sharable, life is actually very long. You reach adulthood, look around, and wonder, “Is this it?” It is it. You can either a. throw yourself into the rat race with grim earnestness or b. take a bit of time to fuck around. If you select option a., bon voyage, see you in the suburbs over my dead body. If you select option b., you are well on your way to becoming an artist/innovator/average Josephine. You never know. That’s the fun of of option b.

Everyone needs a vice; they keep your mind malleable and head out of the oven. Methamphetamine and opiates are not “vices,” they are “horrifying brain/complexion melters” and should not be lumped with fun and totally life-appropriate vices such as alcohol and weed. Life can fuck you up unless you make a point to chill, be present, and laugh at the daily little bullshits that build into a festering pile of emotional baggage.

Alcohol helps you live longer, think clearly, release creativity, interact socially, and get turned on. Booze helps prevent diabetes, heart disease, dementia, gallstones, and even the common cold. Drinking is literally, actually, totally good for you. If you cannot use mind altering substances (for a very good reason), a codependent relationship will have similar mind warping effects.

4. Notebook

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Notebooks are only boring in the hands of boring people. Somewhere along the line, notebooks became a go-to gift for acquaintances and family members we don’t know terribly well. Anthropologie has an entire shelf devoted to whimsical notebooks to be given, admired, and promptly forgotten. Just contemplating the vast numbers of crisp, unmarked notebooks  languishing unloved in apartments across America sends me into mild depression. Notebooks are like baby animals; they flourish only with love and regular attention.

Buy yourself a beautiful notebook. Whether it’s leather bound, embroidered, or super serious monochromatic, buy a notebook that is beautiful as well as lined.

If you don’t know what to write in a notebook, DO NOT start by making grocery lists. A notebook begun with mundane chores will never shed dreary undertones. Instead, plot out a few enjoyable and rewarding exercises.

Some of my favorites:

  1. an imaginary hit list
  2. daily accomplishments
  3. interesting tidbits about intriguing people
  4. wry observations
  5. story ideas
  6. existential listicles

5. Long gaze into the abyss

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Christmas is my time of quiet contemplation, if only because one more second of mindless smalltalk about tea with my family and I will blow my fucking brains out. Silence rings golden when the alternative is rehashing family drama or providing mother with an outline of my finances. Silence seems a bit unnatural in this day and age; noise is the status quo, dripping through our most prized possessions. Noise is easy; silence is difficult. This gift will be difficult.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” That’s the full quote, a rather pretentious finale to a Christmas-themed listicle, but still a valid (and free) prezzie you deserve, if you dare. Life is filled with monsters large and small, power struggles and internal strife and the occasional serious smack. Life is a battle, whether you accept it or not, and battle brings out the worst as well as the best. Every day, you go into the world and fight for survival, acceptance, approval, attention, money, power, love, resources, whatever: It’s all stuff that everyone wants but not everyone gets.

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I think it’s healthy to acknowledge our dark crooks and crannies. I think pretending our potential for cruelty, neglect, and disdain just leaves room for those innate infections to fester and spread. I think that people who never give serious thought to what they—nor their favorite character, not their church, not their family, not their community, THEM INDIVIDUALLY—consider right and wrong are less likely to stick to any code of conduct at all. The high-minded Nietzsche quote that concludes this listicle means (roughly) that good people fighting for good things are capable—even likely—to do bad things and eventually become bad people. However, if you spend too much time dwelling on the bad (or staring into that black abyss), the bad will take hold on you.

So take a long, hard gaze into the abyss. Examine yourself, examine the people you love, examine the people you hate. Ask yourself what motivates you, particularly in areas of turmoil or moments of dispute. Take stock of casual cruelty, polite exclusion, misplaced anger and fetid resentment. Acknowledge the bad you’ve done, or thought, or wanted. Then forgiving yourself and promising to be better—if only a little—next time.  tumblr_nh1lhihr8V1qf0usxo1_1280

*special thanks to to Keegan for the beautiful images. 

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