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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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Always winter, never Christmas
galadriel doll
I've been feeling sort of sad lately, as I think I mentioned, but I don't think it's the actual clinical depression rearing its head again, nor do I think it's a medication issue. The Lamictal has actually been humming along pretty smoothly at 75 mg, so I'm thinking of trying to move up to 100--

(Okay, that was weird. The doorbell just rang, and it was a UPS guy delivering some packages for my sister--and her driver's license, which he "found on the road!" Also, he was really cheerful and cute, in a goofy kind of way. Oddness.)

--because there hasn't been any itching, existential despair, etc., this time. No, I think I'm kind of sad because it's the frickin' holidays, which so far has already included a dramatastic Thanksgiving, and we've still got two birthdays to go before Christmas. And one of them is mine. I think I feel sad for two reasons, really--one is that my sister's new relationship, a few months old now, is completely schizophrenic and goes from midnight cellphone shouting matches to public cuddling in the den--and back again--within 24 hours. And the rest of us are sort of at the mercy of that tempest. The other is that Christmas is tied with Halloween as my favorite holiday, and I finally figured out what they both have in common: a sense of mystery. Halloween's a bit more straightforward that way--ghost stories, the witching hour, and so on. But Christmas--I've said something to this effect before, but the essence of Christmas, from a fairy tale point of view, is that you're never quite sure what could happen after you get in bed. There's something slightly dark about Christmas Eve. Halloween has goblins; Christmas has elves. And they might not all be nice. I think it's The Nutcracker that's contributed a lot to this sensation, plus A Christmas Carol and that kind of thing--the idea that Christmas Eve is either some kind of reckoning, or that everything comes alive after the lights go off. It's dumb, but I love going to the mall--this would be the Riverchase Galleria in particular--during the holiday season, when the lighting is dusky and dim despite all the skylights, and the colored lights are strung all around and snatches of music are fading in and out and the carousel is turning in its red sea of poinsettia plants. It's the closest you can get to Christmas as a city of its own (and also, it's fun to windowshop). It's the same slightly spooky feeling you get from the Harry Potter theme (I think it's no coincidence the Potter books and movies always feature prominent Christmas scenes) or from Lucy's first visit to Narnia.

And I'm not feeling that this year. I don't know why. I always want to suck on the month of December like an everlasting gobstopper, and yet I can't ever make it last. And this year, it's like I don't feel there's any point in trying, and I don't understand why. I mean, it's still November; there's time.

And that's not even counting my constant pitifulness over Lucky, whose little stocking (yes, we have stockings for all the pets. With photos on them. Shut up) is going to be empty this year.

Sigh. Maybe I'll get out last year's BPAL Yule samples and roll around in those.

Re: yesterday's entry: I feel like I should note that amazon.uk has crack shipping, or at least it did when I ordered some UK-only books last Christmas. (And everyone I've talked to who ordered the book said it was shipped promptly.) It's just Amazon US that's trying to push people towards their $79-for-a-year-of-shipping or whatever cockamamie thing they're attempting--I think they're trying to make Super Saver Shipping so awful that no one will use it anymore, because Amazon is losing money on it, whereas if you pay $79 for the year (and then get all your shipping 1) free and 2) two-day thereafter), they're more likely to make a profit off you. After all, you're going to have to order a hell of a lot from Amazon in order to make $79 worth your while, so either they keep the difference, or they've gotten hugely increased business from you. This is just my theory, of course, but... it does make a certain amount of sense, doesn't it?

Report: Princes plan concert for Diana. God, will it be ten years next year? I remember so vividly when it happened because it was my first weekend at college--literally, I had just moved in, and it was my freshman year--and I woke up on Sunday morning to hear about it. I don't know if my mother called me or I turned the television on first. It was completely surreal.

Protester immolation virtually unnoticed. Warning: disturbing content.
At 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 — four days before an election caused a seismic shift in Washington politics — Ritscher, a frequent anti-war protester, stood by an off-ramp in downtown Chicago near a statue of a giant flame, set up a video camera, doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire.

Aglow for the crush of morning commuters, his flaming body was supposed to be a call to the nation, a symbol of his rage and discontent with the U.S. war in

"Here is the statement I want to make: if I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country," he wrote in his suicide note. "... If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country."

There was only one problem: No one was listening.

Indian city to outlaw rickshaw runners.

Documentary films rattle business world.

Maggie Gyllenhaal wins Stockholm honor.

Elton John feels ill onstage in Brisbane.

reynardine, regarding Amazon's dismal customer service: "I still buy from Amazon, but only books and not during the holidays. Learned that painful lessons a couple of years ago. However, there is a helpful site that lists the contact phone numbers of Amazon.com, as well as Ebay, Paypal, Netflix, etc."

dolphin__girl happened to mention her jewelry site, Stellar Magpie (stellar_magpie), so check it out if you're looking for Christmas presents--I particularly liked Green Valinor and Always Winter and Never Christmas.

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Huh, I've actually (knock on wood) had really good luck with the free amazon.com shipping -- it's always gotten to me at least a day, sometimes several, before they said it would. I just placed two big orders on Friday, mostly with the free shipping (some was from vendors who don't do that, though), so let's help that luck holds. I've already gotten shipping emails for a few, which was pretty amazing to me, but it's still pretty early in the holiday season.

Yeah, I've had pretty good luck with it too. If you pre-order something with SSS, they usually ship it the day before it releases, and you get it two days after the release date. It does take a bit longer if you just buy something regularly, though. I did the Buy.com free shipping this weekend, so let's see how long that takes.

We have stockings for our pets too.

That protester immolation article is really depressing. :(

Although the names for all the pieces of jewelry at Stellar Magpie are really fabulous.

After all, you're going to have to order a hell of a lot from Amazon in order to make $79 worth your while, so either they keep the difference, or they've gotten hugely increased business from you. This is just my theory, of course, but... it does make a certain amount of sense, doesn't it?
It makes a lot of sense. I did the trial period, and it was pretty sweet to get free two-day shipping for that time, but I don't buy enough to make $79 worth it. Who does?? So, yes, if one got that, they would be more likely to buy from Amazon. I'm already a little more likely to buy from Amazon because I get triple points on my credit card, but I also need to stop to think that it's not really that big a deal: it's a matter of cents, really, and if you can save entire dollars by buying somewhere else...there's no reason not to.

Oh!! By the way, have you heard about this? Because it is awesome. I ordered some stuff a couple days ago. The one catch is that unlike Amazon, you have to pay sales tax if you're in one of Those States.

And while I'm recommending things to you, here is FuturePhone. I talked to a friend of mine in England on my cell phone for an hour yesterday. For free.

I don't know that I order "a hell of a lot" from Amazon, so much as I'm a bit impatient and willing to pay a little more to get stuff fast. I signed up for Prime one day because I was ordering a few semi-expensive items, I wanted them quickly, and the Prime membership was only a little more than just the expidited shipping costs would be. Since I've had it, I've come to really like getting stuff the day after I order it.

But yeah, it does seem that Amazon would prefer people didn't use Free Shipping. If it's such a pain for them, it'd probably be better (more honest) if they just stopped offering it.

And my experience with Amazon.uk was good, except that my Prime membership didn't apply. But it was still worth it to get THE BOOK. :)

Bossman has Amazon Prime, because he buys stuff all the time for research and can write it all off, so by default I have Prime ahipping as well. Which is very very nice, and really does pay for itself.

The Boulder thinks you are a lucky bitch.

I had a very similar experience with the death of Diana. I remember it was the weekend before classes started in my first year in college. I woke up early (at least for an 18-year-old on a Sunday), and went to the newspaper rack right outside the dorm. I had forgotten that it was Sunday, so I didn't bring enough change for the Sunday paper. I could see the headlines on the paper and ran back down to my dorm room to get more money. I woke my roommate up while I was getting more change and she turned on the tv while I went to get the paper.

It was very surreal.

I vivdly remember watching her funeral on TV at a pizza place downtown

Oh, God, the immolated protester brought tears of rage and shame to my eyes. Thanks for linking that -- I hadn't heard a word. Jesus.

I hadn't heard a single thing about it. And I live in the Chicago suburbs. How's that for feeling uninformed?

I really appreciate what you have to say about the spookiness of Christmas. I certainly find it to be pleasantly eery because of The Nutcracker, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, and all those 'the toys are alive' stories. The fact that so many Christmas festivities happen at night, and that they have a lot basis in pagan rituals makes the holiday very mystical and fun.

I've also been kind of blah about it this year, though. I think part of it has to do with Christmas stuff showing up in late September in some stores, so that by the time Christmas happens we're already sick of it. The commercialism really has gotten out of hand. And the 'Merry Christmas' vs. 'Happy Holidays' controversy has sucked a lot of fun out of it. Living in Texas, where winter is basically non-existant, also makes it hard to get into the spirit. I'm getting a little excited at the thought of getting a tree and decorating, but really I'm just tired of 2006 and ready for it to be over with.

Meanwhile, I know some critics have been very negative about The Fountain, but if you just forget trying to figure it out - if you just run with it - and enjoy it as a lovely sad fairy tale, then it's a fantastic movie. And no matter what you think of the characters or story, it's a feast for the eyes.

For a truly creepy Christmas, nothing beats the Krampus.

The thing I liked about Amazon Prime is that it's the person who pays the fee and their "family" who get the benefits. I'm a family member on a plan with several others and I know combined we probably saved more than triple the $79 fee on shipping last year so it's well worth it if you've got a family group who all shop on-line.

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But weight puts pressure on the wheels, making them have to strain to turn which makes the wagon more difficult to pull than it would if the cart was empty. (Example being, if you put a child in a wagon and run, there's resistance, if you take the child out there's none.) Plus, you're dealing with a wagon that's going to be heavy on it's own and adding human weight to it, then pulling it while running. Horses tire out pulling wagons that are only a bit larger, much less humans.

'Sides, it can't be very healthy as all rickshaw runners I've seen (in pictures, of course) are indeed as emaciated as the article states. Most can't afford to eat much and then what they do eat is burned off immediately doing their (low-paying) job.

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I can empathize with missing a beloved pet. My dog just died - the day before Thanksgiving. That kinda shot the holiday all to hell. His birthday is coming up, too. December 23. Everytime I look at a clock now it seems to read 12:23.

I know what you mean about the mystical aspects of Christmas. I love to be outside, alone, in the wee hours - especially if there are Christmas lights twinkling. In the stillness I just feel so...connected.

There's something slightly dark about Christmas Eve.... Christmas has elves. And they might not all be nice.

That makes me feel better. One year on Christmas Eve, I think I was around 8, I remember lying in bed in the wee hours of the morning and hearing noises outside my door and being absolutely terrified thinking it was Santa and that he was Coming To Get Me. There was nothing in particular that brought about this fear of Santa that year, and it has never happened since, but for that one night I was convinced I would die if Santa opened my bedroom door, pony or no pony.

I didn't get the pony, btw.

I agree about the slight spookiness of Christmas Eve. There has always been a British tradition of ghost stories on Christmas Eve, when the spookiness seems to be focused. It is the very darkest part of the year (or at least the solstice night is). The belief is pretty old, too - there's a bit in Hamlet (I think) about how now ghost or evil spirit has any power on Christmas Eve, because it is such a holy time - so maybe that's why people felt they could tell spooky stories safely, without Calling Anything Up. Come to think of it, Dickens did a lot of other Christmas ghost stories besides A Christmas Carol, so it must have been a Victorian tradition, too.

For many years when I was child, the BBC used to do show excellent good adaptations of Victorian ghost stories (mostly M R James) late on Christmas night. They showed the whole collection around Christmas last year, plus a new one, just as good, so I'm hoping they do it again next year.

Yeah, it's in Hamlet:
It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

I remember you saying that before, about sitting at the mall, and it reminding you of the Harry Potter theme/the magic of Christmas, etc... I thought that was a beautiful and vivid image. I know exactly what you mean by the Harry Potter, Lucy in Narnia, magic Christmas feeling. Or, at least I have a similar response to them.

Having been raised in places where I'm used to snow this time of year, I'm always bummed when none arrives now that I'm living in the valley.

This year is particularly difficult because every day I wonder if this will be my mom's last Christmas, so I'm buying her all the beautiful things I can including these really expensive guardian angel figurines. I want her to really enjoy it, and I want more than anything for her cancer to go away, and stay away. That would be the best Christmas present in the world (that, and meeting Ewan McGregor :p).

RE: Online shopping. I know you are wonderful enough to post the links to the hunger site, breast cancer site etc...I was wondering if you realized those sites have excellent stores? Once I happened upon the rainforest site, and animalrescue site I couldn't help but buy stuff. They have beautiful decorations, clothes, gifts, earrings, necklaces. I recently bought a pair of earrings that preserved 1145 sq. feet of rainforest, and look rather stunning. The more you buy, the more you save. It's an amazing network. I got my mom some neat angel decorations from there.

I hope you have a great Christmas. I hope we all do. I'm off to listen to the Harry Potter theme now. ^_^


Oh my God, the Christmas Blah has me by the short hairs and I am SO dreading the horrible Baking Of Cookies that I give every year as gifts I'm tempted to buy everyone Oreos and call it a day.

And the Christmas Carding? I'm going to feel like an ass if everyone sends me cards and I send nothing, but I don't really feel like bringing up the topic on my LJ being flooded with requests and whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. I have friends and I'm grateful for that, I'm just filled with ennui at the thought of having to do Christmas Things.

I would, however, like to come see your Mall of Narnia (and its most popular store, the Gap of Rohan). Perhaps one of these years.