20 Things Not To Do This Holiday Season

(A quick list)

Gold ornament

1. Invite hipsters to an ugly sweater party

   (They won’t know how to look for their own kind)

2. Drunk giftwrap your family’s Christmas presents

   (They will know)

3. Invest in “adorable” holiday decorations that you see at Target

   (You will never actually put them up)

4. Put that Mariah Carey song on repeat

   (Some people (AHEM your author) actually don’t like it and if they hear it one more time they might soon be driven to a murderous rage)

5. Buy a super-expensive present for someone you’ve been dating for less than a year

   (It’s weird)

6. Break up with someone

   (Come on.)

7. Get guilted into participating in gift exchanges you don’t want to be a part of

   (You will buy something stupid like a candle and everyone will hate you anyway)

8. Stress about getting “the perfect gift”

   (Does not exist)

9. Spend more time Pinning your holiday than having a holiday

   (Your 150 followers won’t miss you)

10. Attempt to explain to your mom why you aren’t dating that boy anymore after having several glasses of wine

   (You will get the story wrong four times and she will end up on his side)

11. Bitch about having to travel long distances to see family

   (At least you have one to see)

12. Be bitter toward your friends in relationships if you’re single

   (It’s not their fault)

13. Be pushy toward your single friends if you’re in a relationship

   (They don’t need your “help”)

14. Date someone in the spirit of charity

   (Actually don’t do this ever)

15. Think you are too old/cool for Charlie Brown Christmas

   (That movie rocks and you know it)

16. Hold onto grudges

   (Tell that boy you’re sorry, tell that girl you still want to be with her)

17. Forget that snow can actually be fun and isn’t just something to complain about

   (Snowball fights, HELLO)

18. Buy every food flavored with gingerbread or eggnog simply because it says “limited time only”

   (Eggnog candy corn exists and it shouldn’t)

19. Accidentally set your Christmas tree on fire

   (This happens, ok? OK?!)

20. Purposely set your Christmas tree on fire

   (Who are you?)

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The Types Of Hugs There Are

Morningside Heights

You walk quickly down the sidewalk with your hands in your coat pockets. It’s not quite cold enough for this jacket, but you want it to be so you wear it anyway. There is your best friend. She’s standing twenty yards away, and you haven’t seen her in weeks so you both run toward each other for the leaping It’s Been Forever Hug. You link arms, laughing, and go inside for an overdue coffee date. With her by your side you can’t picture any place more perfect than this crumb-covered table in the back of a downtown Panera Bread.

But she leaves, and you leave, and everywhere starts to be imperfect. Not just imperfect, but downright flawed — to the point of no redemption, so you realize you need to get out of town as soon as you can. That charming bowling alley you loved looks scummy, your favorite Thai place closed down, and the bike ride to work leaves you breathless and wanting to vomit. You’ve got to stick it out for a few more months, though, so you bide your time and go out with groups of people to this show or that bar. You get off the train in the West Loop and see your friends waiting so you walk up and begin the breezy rounds of We Are Americans So We Hug Not Kiss Hugs. You try to ignore the wind lashing your face with scraggly bits of November as you all walk to wherever it is that some band is playing.

All you’d like for one night is to dance till closing time so you can forget the complacent solitude falling over you more each day, but that one guy friend who always has one slimy eye on girls’ chests is there, and tonight he has his eye on you. You duck and dodge and plan your escape, just narrowly making it out with your dignity thanks to a Hail-Mary I Really Don’t Want You Touching Me Hug. You go home alone and think about how you can’t wait to leave this city.

A week goes by with a Thanks, Darling, Brunch Was Great Hug, an It’s My Roommate’s Birthday, Happy Birthday! Hug, and a late-night, post-study-sesh Get Home Safe Hug. They’re all nice, quick yet firm, but you forget them easily like a meal you’ve had too many times. Did someone order a soggy Roasted Vegetable Sandwich? Then another weekend arrives, and you’re on another train going to another bar to hear the same songs and watch the same guys with big glasses hit on the same girls in ripped tights. It makes you sick, but you’re bored, so bored, that you go. But this time you meet someone, and he’s weird, and you like him. You go home with him (you never do that!) and at 6 a.m. you stand outside the train station while the cold turns your lips as white as the air around you, and he’s saying “I’ll see you again soon?” and you’re thinking it’s B.S. You hear the train growling in so you both lean in for a quick, bumbling Your Tongue Was Down My Throat An Hour Ago Hug before you run up the stairs so you don’t have to wait for the next one. The last place you want to be is standing on a platform in last night’s outfit with hungry-looking pigeons stalking overhead.

After that day you start unlocking categories of hugs you didn’t know existed: the Jumping Up And Down Because It’s Cold And You’re Waiting For The Walk Signal Hug, the This Bar Is So Crowded, I Almost Lost You Hug, and the Work Sucked Today, It’s Good To See You Hug. These hugs take time. Months pass. The air gets lighter, the sun less shy, and the back porch becomes your sacred temple because you can drink homemade beer together and pretend to watch the sun set (you can’t really watch it because you’re stuck in the urban-apartment gridlock, but you don’t care).

Soon August rolls in with a bath of sticky days and nights that make you want to peel off your skin just so your bones can cool off a little. You go to work, you go home, you cook, you kiss, and you fall asleep. You are so busy trying to take in oxygen in this suffocating mass of city air that you barely believe it when it’s time for another new hug: The Last Hug. Months ago you said you would leave, so you made arrangements you can’t un-make, and now it’s time to follow through. You stand in front of the train, longer this time, just looking because it’s not quite real. You reach up as he reaches down, and you both hold on, heads bent, eyes closed. Then you release and step back to say “Be well” before walking the opposite direction.

Words I Made Up To Use This Autumn

Through the trees

Bicaffeinate (v): To order a coffee drink such aship a Pumpkin Latte and forget there is actual caffeine in it so you follow it with plain coffee or extra shots resulting in an unexpected caffeine high. Bicaffeinated (adj): unable to relate to non-caffeinated humans in conversation or interaction

Ex: I accidentally bicaffeinated before my philosophy class and ended up choking the girl next to me because she said YOLO in our discussion about Horace.

Flannelsham (n): Seeing a male in the distance wearing a flannel button-up and believing he is handsome/cute/bang-able and then realizing when he gets closer that he is old/homeless/a lumberjack. Flannelshammed (adj): Having been the victim of such a ruse

Ex: I was totally flannelshammed last night at the bar when I was giving the sexy eye to that Joseph Gordon-Leavitt-looking dude who turned out to be the tamale-cart guy from the corner.

Drunkle (v): Drinking in excess in a chilly setting followed by the uncontrollable urge to cuddle with someone under a blanket or near a fire.

Ex: After three Caramel Appletinis all I wanted to do was drunkle with the next person I saw.

Related form: Friendrunkle (v): drinking in excess with your best friends until you find yourselves involved in a group cuddle

Harvestite (n): A sudden appetite for all foods you believe are currently being harvested, even if you don’t know how to make them edible. Common examples are beets, Belgian endive, chicories, squash (all types), and kohlrabi.

Ex: Looking at this recipe for Roasted Acorns on a bed of Garlic Kale is giving me such a harvestite!

Farmtasy (n): The somewhat irrational obsession with meeting the love of your life between the months of September and November at a farmer’s market, orchard, or community vegetable garden. Often prompts clothing decisions like sweaters with moose graphics, knit caps, feathers, straw hats, and ironic overalls.

Ex: If he had a little more facial hair and different glasses he would look just like the boy in my farmtasy.

Hyperaudiation (n): The extreme pressure felt by some to create the perfect playlist on Spotify/iTunes/Pandora to listen to while reading in a cozy chair at the library or walking down leaf-covered sidewalks. Note: these playlists will all contain at least one Sufjan Stevens track. There are no exceptions.

Ex: I can’t talk/text/respond right now because I’ve got some serious hyperaudiation going on here.

Bootsomnia (n): The inability to sleep do to a fixation with a pair of boots (riding, winter, or otherwise) that you are convinced you must own. This is sometimes accompanied by the acute panic that someone has just bought the last pair in your size and can only be alleviated by the actual purchase of desired item.

Ex: My work performance has suffered because ever since I saw those knee-high Derek Lams in the window I have had the worst case of bootsomnia.

Shrizzle (n): a substance coming from the sky that is somewhere between a light rain and a faint snow. Not to be confused with “shizzle,” an utterance commonly used by the hip-hop artist Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg.

Ex: If I look out the window tomorrow and see shrizzle I am just not leaving my apartment at all.

Bonsire (n): an intense desire to sit around a bonfire while drinking brandy cider or pumpkin ale, often accompanied by a craving to smell burning leaves. While experiencing bonsire it is common for urban-dwelling individuals to mistake cigarette smoke or bus exhaust for an actual bonfire. Bonsirous (adj): the quality of having bonsire

Ex: Last week I had such a bonsire that I hung out in that weird guy’s apartment all night just because he had a fake fireplace.

Fashurious (adj): anger caused by the fashion world’s insistence on putting pictures of spring clothes in magazines when all you want to look at are chunky knit sweaters and layers upon layers of scarves.

Ex: If I pick up the November Vogue and see even one model in a swimsuit (you know who you are, Raquel Zimmerman) then I will personally march up to Anna Wintour’s desk and slap the sunglasses right off her face.