I can’t wait until the Christmas holidays. I’ll have a chance to work on projects I’ve put on hold to make time for paid work. A chance to breathe. A chance to do nothing. Some serious me time, inside my warm house, watching a movie while wrapped in blankets. Lazy maple bacon every day, hermitizing. I may even decide to go home and visit people I always mean to see when I’m in Toronto, but never have a chance to.
I’m busy with side-work until the new year, and currently not accepting new work. On the social end, I’ve come to a point where I’m not only booked, but double-booked, and find myself having to prioritize plans and decide what I’d rather do. It’s been great for keeping my brain busy, and whereas I’d normally feel overstimulated, I’m now reveling in all these awesome experiences and people I get to meet.
This doesn’t feel like a transition phase, as the transition, or whatever the hell it is, already happened weeks ago. I was at fork in the road, and now that I’ve taken the first steps, I find myself on a one-way path through a tunnel without any exits, wondering what’s on the other end.
Updated tastes for 2008. Many items from my 2006 and 2007 lists are crossed out, which is why categories like “furniture” aren’t smaller now.
I’ve been told that I’m notoriously hard to shop for. Not only am I extremely picky, I have esoteric (and expensive) tastes, and I usually buy — and so, have — the things that I want. This year, I realized that good gifts are things people want, but which they don’t buy for themselves because they can’t justify the cost. It doesn’t have to be lavish, but maybe a little overpriced, something you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself.
- Canon EOS 5D Mark II (about $2800) — Yep. This is the big one. I had the Mark I on my list back in 2006. This one is full frame, does dust cleaning, and records video now. Even though I have a camcorder already, I want this for low-light and low depth-of-field work that consumer camcorders simply can’t provide.
- Tea Forté Morehouse glass ($25) — A double-walled glass that can be used to keep tea warm (or iced tea cold). Made with a cover for the leaf on Tea Forté pyramid bags to stick out. No condensation means no coaster needed. Love the design and functionality.
- Tea Forté tea trays (×2) ($7) — For holding individual tea tags. Comes in sets of two with four colour choices, but I like bone white.
- Bodum Assam 1.5L teapot ($50) — My previous, smaller Assam teapot broke (rather easily) as I was cleaning out the filter. I can’t give up my love of Bodum products though. I already have tea makers for single servings, but I don’t have a pot for when I have guests over.
- Oxo Candela Flare (set of eight) ($130) — I’d put these on the banister that separates my hallway from the stairs. It’s pretty bland right now.
- B2C Expandable Dining Table ($699) — To replace the cheap, scratched-up dining table I have in my kitchen now. Frosted glass? More like frosted sexiness.
- Tenori-On ($1200) — I’ve been waiting for this to be available in Canada for more than a year, and it’s finally come. I’ve always wanted to get into music as another medium of creativity. I come from a musical background (as opposed to visual arts), but the Tenori-On combines both, in a simple, easy-to-use interface.
- Aromatherapy Car Diffuser ($16) — For keeping the car fresh, with refillable scent pads.
- Apple Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard ($80) — I’m hoping the next MacWorld Expo will announce an update, not a discontinuation, to the Mac Mini, which I’d get for a home theatre system (my TV is soon to be disconnected because I don’t use it enough). If this holds to be true, I’d have to buy a keyboard, which I could already use now.
- MicroFly Tiny R/C Hovering UFO ($20) — Small and easy-to-fly. Something I’d use to play with Dolly.
- Colibri Throttle Silver Plaid Lighter ($60) — Much to my dismay, the electro-quartz trigger on my old Colibri died. It was one Christie gave me for my birthday, with my name engraved on it. I’ve been looking for a lighter ever since, and this is the first one I’ve ever really considered. I’m super-picky about lighter design.
- Auto LED ($25) — Plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car, and glows blue (which would match the meters of my car). Pull it out, and it becomes a handy-dandy flashlight.
- Rez ($20) — One of the most underrated and genre-busting games of the PS2.
- Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition ($20) — DMC has always been one of those series I hear about, but never got a chance to try. The special edition adds gameplay and fixes various issues.
- Metal Slug Anthology ($20) — I love the arcady feel of Metal Slug. Something you can turn on, and play with your brain off. The entire series in one game? Yes, please.
Another Christmas with Shirley and her family, although this time Bill’s family came down as well. I spent Christmas Eve night and Christmas day at their house, partaking in the Christmas experience with those who believe in the importance of such a ritual.
We were wrapping presents (from “Santa”) until midnight on Christmas Eve. The tree must have been raised the two feet off the ground to fit everything underneath. Negotiations went on through the night as to what time to wake up, but the kids woke us up at 6:30 anyway. Looking back on the pictures of 2005, you can tell how much they’ve grown in just two years.
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I’m already in holiday mode. Sure, I have one day of work left — Monday — but my brain has checked out. I even took the day off yesterday and made it a long weekend because I have extra vacation days left, and they can’t be carried forward.
This is how I spend most of my time nowadays: on my new chaise lounge from EQ3, with a mug of tea by my side, in a generally unkempt manner. Unshaven, with the flourish of a cowlick in my hair.
Last year, in which I declared that Christmas is dead, I stayed home out of spite, not directed at anyone but myself. This year, I’ve decided to go to Shirley’s for Christmas Eve and Christmas, and Pat and Jen’s for New Year’s.
But there’s a stretch of a several days in between in which I have no plans. Even though it’ll be a chance for me to do some extra writing, work on my photo projects, maybe even relax a bit, part of me wishes I was busy like everyone else.
I know I don’t have anything to complain about. I’m lucky enough to be spending the “important” days with friends who are important to me. I’m even lucky enough to have a choice of where to go. But I know that during the stretch, when other people has somewhere to be, somewhere to go, I’ll feel somewhat forlorn. They’ll have a place where they belong.
Maybe I’ll belong here, at home alone, on this wonderful chaise.
A look into my current tastes, updated for 2007. This list is somewhat shorter than last years because the ones I haven’t checked off still apply, and I’ve been guilty of some spending this month; The first two seasons of Robson Arms on DVD (which I desperately waited two years for), season six of Trailer Park Boys, my mittens, a RAZR 2 (the cell phone I’ve had for five years died), an electric toothbrush, and various gifts.
- Bogen / Manfrotto Background Support System 314 ($280) — To quickly set up different coloured backgrounds in my photography room.
Bought it on sale, which was still $260.
- Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 Ballhead ($475) — My current tripod isn’t strong enough to hold most of my lenses in place, and the locking mechanism is extremely chintzy. Very frustrating when working with dark shots. A ballhead would give me tremendous flexibility.
- Gitzo GT3530LSV Mountaineer 6x Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs ($625) — Carbon fiber tubing makes for an extremely light and portable set of tripod legs. Packed with all the important little features like an anti-leg rotation system, the Gitzo leg locking system, and removable rubber feet.
- Rubix Cube Ottoman ($129) — A black, two-toned square ottoman to go with my leather couch.
Bodum Assam 2-Cup Tea Press ($25) — I have one of these at home, but it would be great to have one at work too, so I can make more than one cup of tea at a time.
Julie bought me a Stokes gourmet Formosa tea infuser for Christmas 2008. A little chamber for loose leaves dangles from the top, as opposed to a press, which can create bitterness in tea.
- Braun Impression WK 600 Kettle ($90) — A large kettle for my tea. Right now, I have to boil water in two cup intervals, which takes a while when guests are over.
Andrew and Alex bought me a similar model for my birthday, and it’s SWEET.
- Tingler Head Massager ($15) — On Jason’s recommendation on my recent post about manual stimulation. The reviews say that it helps put you to sleep, and that can never be a bad thing.
Found a cheep one at Zone for five dollars! Doesn’t vibrate or anything but still pretty good. Next is finding someone to use it on me.
- Orange Box ($50) — A nostalgic trip back to the days of my favourite game ever: Team Fortress Classic for Half-Life. I hear the gameplay has changed a lot, but I don’t care. We’ll probably be playing this at the next LAN.
- Odin Sphere ($40) — A side-scrolling fantasy RPG for the PS2 that I don’t want to miss.
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure OVA ($52) — My favourite anime of all time: a combination of fascinating universe, and very intelligent action. I currently have a copy in Japanese with French subtitles. While this helps me learn more French, I also don’t understand much the phrases.
Found a copy of this for download.
- Reno 911 seasons 2–5 ($90) — An hilarious, original look at law enforcement. Trailer Park Boys from the other side of the law. I have the first season (thank you Music World for going out of business and giving me 20% off), but I’d love to get the rest, along with the movie.
Bought all of these on a lark. Did not regret the decision.
On Christmas day, I felt like doing something low-key, without the large gatherings usually associated with this time of year, so I decided to spend it with Joel’s family. Hanukkah had already passed for them; it was just another day. Charlotte, who learns from Nigella Lawson, cooked a tremendous meal of roast beef, beans, and secret potatoes. Even the dessert was a fancy form of chocolate pot mousse, made from 70% cocoa Lindt and allspice.
We settled down with a little Gamecube, and I taught them Dutch Blitz, which we played well into the night. By the time I left, my spirits were up again.
It was a nice mixture of young and mature. A place where I could shut off my brain and be a kid, but have a thoughtful conversation too. They really made me feel like I was one of the family.
I arrived with handshakes and hellos, but left with hugs and kisses.