Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
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or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Friday, December 30, 2011  
...but not all of my family are mean, immature, unaware, hypocritical, shallow, narrow-minded, judgmental jerks.

Some of my family are actually really nice, funny, intelligent people. Most of them are senior citizens, and unfortunately they're dying at a fast pace.

We lost another one right before Christmas.

The recent death was a sad one for me. She was one of my few remaining Canadian relatives, a tough old broad raised in the Highlands who fled to the "tropical paradise" of rural Ontario, Canada.

She didn't want a funeral or memorial service. Her husband died several years ago. But. Her kids wanted to do something for her, or, more appropriately, for us, the remaining living family. Celebrate her life and spirit. All that.

Yadda yadda yadda off we went to a memorial "get together" for "Lynne."

But we went with some trepidation. Not because the memorial being was being held against the deceased's wishes, but because of the venue.

The venue chosen for the memorial is infamous in our family's history. It was the scene of an intestinal massacre that nearly wiped out our entire extended family one fateful summer evening when I was a kid.

My parents (and most of the other adults in the family) were never crazy about the restaurant. It was one of those overly-adorned sea-themed restaurants. Entrance festooned with buoys and a rope railing along a planked walkway, walls adorned with dusty fake seagulls and pelicans perched around nets filled with dusty shells hanging from the ceiling, and lobster traps spilling out dusty, faded fake lobsters and crabs. Some brass portholes and a large ship's wheel, lots of driftwood, starfish and broken shells. The female staff dressed like wenches and the male staff dressed, oddly, like gondoliers. The menu  had sections like "Reel 'em In" "Shell Game" and "For Land lubbers" and featured entrees with quaint seafaring names like "Flounderin' Around," "Call Me Calamari," and "Feelin' Crabby."

When I was a really young kid there was a special children's menu. Kids who ordered special selections were given a plastic dubloon or piece of eight at the end of their meal. The fake coins were taken to the front of the restaurant where there was a treasure chest full of small toys and candy. The fake coins could be traded for one treasure from the treasure chest. It was the highlight of the night even though the candy was old and flavorless (I recall a lot of those rootbeer barrel candies so old that the plastic wrapper stuck to them so tightly you couldn't peel it off the candy) and the small toys were even weirder and cheaper than cereal box toys. My brother contends that many of the toys were cereal box toys that were repurposed by the owner for the treasure chest.

The last time we were dragged to my relatives took us to the restaurant I was only 6 but I had a bad feeling about the place as soon as we entered. The treasure chest was empty except for some ornamental life preservers and a couple of oars sticking out of it. When we were seated I was not given a special kid's menu. Our waitwench told my parents the children's menu was discontinued but there was a children's selection area on the regular menu. Yes. The "treasure for the wee tots" gimmick was abandoned. I was disappointed. Shiver me timbers indeed. Little did we know those ornamental life preservers in the treasure chest were a scary foreboding metaphor of what was to come later that evening.

The more enthusiastic members of my family happily partook of Clammy Chowder, Hush Those Puppies, Call Me Calamari, Shrimpy the Cocktail and various sea animal entrees. I was going through my era of food enlightenment - I was starting to connect the dots between the food on my plate and the living animals the food on my plate used to be. I was also enthralled with an ornately illustrated and heavily tamed-down children's version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea wherein the sea creatures were cute, friendly, talkative and helpful. There was no way I was going to ingest anything on that menu other than a grilled cheese sandwich.

Turns out my early anthropomorphism/vegetarian inclinations spared me the fate that befell the rest of my family.

In the car on the way back to my relatives' house my dad and brother's stomachs started making funny noises. My sister's face turned a strange shade of green. My mother was sweating profusely. By the time we got to my relatives' house another car full of relatives had already arrived and there was a waiting line for the two bathrooms in the house. You might think a "women and children first" mentality would prevail, what with the seafaring theme of the evening, but no. It was every man, woman and child from themselves. My brother and cousin couldn't wait and got sick in the bushes on the side of the house. The mothers tried to aid their ailing children and husbands, but in the end they, too, were too ill to help anyone. Eventually Pepto Bismuth and cold cloths were administered to one and all, and the entire family, all 8 adults and seven children, were bunked on various beds, couches, chairs and air mattresses.

I was the only one who didn't get sick. Except for being grossed out by what I witnessed, heard and smelled, I was fine. Which was the first clue that "it" was food poisoning.

Yes. Initially some of the adults tried to rationalize that it was just a coincidence that the entire family came down with stomach flu at the same time. "There's a nasty 24 hour bug going around the kids' school..."

My father and uncle kept squashing the flu theories. "No way. It was that [expletive] [expletiving] flounder/lobster/crab!" They groaned and turned odd colors as they said the name of the food. The evidence was mounting. Either I was the only one who was somehow freakishly immune to the alleged stomach flu strain or the seafood was tainted. Finally almost all the adults admitted that it was food poisoning.

Some of the adults wistfully said, "Well, at least the child was spared..." 

Just to be safe, my mother isolated me from the rest of the family. Just in case it was stomach flu and I didn't catch it my mother wanted to spare me the pain and suffering. While the rest of the family was in gastrointestinal distress elsewhere in the house, I was camped out on an air mattress in the den, tucked in with a blanket and an old black and white television. Later that night, in the wee hours of the morning, my brother crept into the den. He was feeling a little better and feeling a lot dehydrated. He came into the den gingerly sipping water. I'm not sure what woke me - the creak of the door or my brother's stench. He dropped into the comfy chair and grabbed a blanket.

Even though he smelled really bad, I was excited that my brother was going to camp out with me. My relatives' house was old and kind of creepy, the den was on the first floor and the window didn't have curtains so the moon cast weird shadows and the black and white television didn't offer a lot of comfort. My 6-year-old imagination and too many reruns of the Twilight Zone were getting the best of me. I was glad my brother was there. Plus I was still young enough to idolize my brother and I delighted in any second of time that he chose to spend with me.

It's also an oddly pivotal moment in my life. It was the first time I remember feeling like I was legitimized by my brother, that I wasn't just some little pipsqueak, I actually had cerebral merit.

As only teenaged boys can, my brother, in a deadpan sardonic tone, started mocking through his misery, making fun of the entree names. "Flush Puppies," "Feelin' Crappy," "Caustic Calamari," "Dysentery Dungeoness Crab" "Lobster Shits." I joined in the fun, and soon we were making up grossed-out names for food that wasn't even on the menu. It was probably my brother's weakened physical state that lowered his resolve to ridicule me, but I thought I'd finally grown up enough to be taken seriously when it came to mockery.

Buoyed by my new found acceptance and gift of food mockery, I departed from entree names and started renaming restaurants. It was a risk, but it paid off. My brother joined in and we made up a legion of disgusting restaurant names. And then it happened. I attained the apex of mockery. I arrived. I was not a little kid anymore, I was a viable mocking entity. 

Because, in a moment of serendipitous symbiosis, we simultaneously blurted out the name the restaurant would henceforth be known as in my family. By the next afternoon, even the more genteel female members of the family, even my mother, started calling the restaurant by our nickname.

The name of the restaurant was Cap'n Pat's.

But after that night it was forever known as Crappin' Pants.

No subsequent family gathering was complete without a joke about Crappin' Pants. And every time someone said Crappin' Pants I felt a tingle of pride. I came up with that. All by myself. My brother came up with it, too, but we hit upon it independently at the same time. So I felt righteous for originating the name that would go down in family history. And at such a young and tender age, too.

After a few laughs about Crappin' Pants and some "oh, what a horrible night that was" comments, a couple of my relatives would try to defend it. "Lynne" (who recently died) was quick to admonish the jokes and say, "Oh, come now, it was just the one time..."

Others would say, "Just the one time? Botulism only needs the one time. 'Cap'n Pat,' if that is his real name, nearly killed the entire family and you're defending him?" 

"Lynne" would continue to defend Cap'n Pat, "You know how it is with seafood. It can turn on you like that. Can happen to anyone."

Almost everyone involved refused to ever step foot in Crappin' Pants again, but we were all pretty sure one couple returned to the scene of the crime and ate there on a regular basis.  We were all pretty sure "Lynne" and her husband continued to dine there.

So it was no real surprise that "Lynne's" memorial was held at Crappin' Pants.

But during the entire drive to the memorial my mother muttered and sputtered, "I cannot believe they're having the memorial at Crappin' Pants."  Every time she said Crappin' Pants I giggled. All these years later it's still funny to hear my mother say Crappin' Pants. And even funnier in the context of a memorial service.

Crappin' Pants was scarily untouched by time. The layer of dust was a lot thicker and the sea themed tchothckes were more faded, the waitstaff wears jeans and Cap'n Pat's emblazoned t-shirts instead of wench and gondolier outfits, but other than that it was mostly unchanged. The treasure chest with life preservers and oars was still there and the menu still has "cute" entree names.

We sent "Lynne" off with a memorial she didn't want. But I'm pretty sure she'd be okay with the low key affair in the Longboat Room of Crappin' Pants. Many of the survivors of the original Crappin' Pants massacre were in attendance. Once again, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. Because I was the only one infamously unscathed in the original disaster, several people took my lead. Our waitperson was clearly displeased and confused by the preponderance of grilled cheese orders. Whatever. Dine at your own risk. The intestine you save may be your own. There were many comments along the lines of, "Go ahead! Order the Lobster Bisque and Hush Puppies! After all, it was just the one time the entire family was nearly wiped out from them!"

Poor old Cap'n Pat. With "Lynne" gone there's no one left to defend him, at least not mockingly. And poor us. "Lynne" was like that with everyone, not just Cap'n Pat. She never carried a grudge and always let bygones be bygones, and always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Even if it involved serving tainted food.


12:15 AM

Monday, December 26, 2011  
Well, it's official: I have been named the Bitch Who Stole Christmas. Yay me.

A family member we'll call "Snark" sent me an eVite for an Eve-Before-Christmas-Eve party - the day before the party. The eVite was to me and my mother. The party was at a locale an hour away and my mother didn't feel up to attending and I'm not exactly feeling festive and didn't want to spend two hours driving to and from a party, leaving my mother home alone. Everyone involved knows my mother is recuperating from heart surgery and that I'm unemployed and in foreclosure. So I didn't think declining the invitation was a big deal, especially since the invitation was only extended the day prior to the event. Apparently I was wrong.

"Snark" forwarded my politely worded decline to her eVite to several (pretty much all) of my family and added her comments about me. Unfavorable comments. Another family member then joined in the fun and added comments about me (mostly unfavorable) and forwarded those comments to three family members. One of those family members added more unfavorable comments about me and hit reply all. All included everyone who received any of the emails in the thread. All included me because the original email was from me to "Snark."


Merry fucking swutting Christmas.

This year I received a very special gift, a gift that money can't buy. Insight into what my family really thinks about me.

I am The Bitch Who Stole Christmas.

I'm okay with that. I know I'm not quite myself. I try to hide the negative moods, I try to at least put on my party face around other people. When I can't snap out of a funk I avoid other people until I can fake a smile or two. I have made it my mission to not be Debbie Downer during the past two years. (Excluding the blog - which is my escape. Sorry. But you choose to be here, you know what you're in for when you come here.) And there are a few people who have valid reasons to make some unfavorable comments about me.


"Snark" is not one of them.


I would like to note a few facts about "Snark." (This is the part of the blog where I self-indulgently vent out an "after all I've done for you?!" rant. Sorry. It's been a difficult couple of days and I need to get this out of my system without, you know, making matters worse in real life. It's my blog and I'll rant if I want to. You might want to just skip ahead.

1) "Snark" is a very vocal Buddhist who berates, bashes and makes fun of Christianity and Judaism and all who follow those faiths. "Snark" does this on Facebook, in emails and especially at family functions where most in attendance are Christian or Jewish.  Including my mother. (I know. I know.) "Snark's" judgmental mindset, intolerance and lack of respect for other religious and spiritual views is obviously not very Buddhist. And the hostility in "Snark's" venom-laden remarks about Christianity is bordering on an anger management issue. And yet..."Snark" eagerly accepts Christmas presents and hosts an annual large Eve Before Christmas Eve party. And "Snark" is offended when people, family members, me, politely decline the invitation to the Eve Before Christmas Eve party. Even when well-known and valid reasons for not attending are cited.

2) "Snark" was born when I was 17. I have attended: Baby showers for "Snark." Pre-school, Kindergarten, Fifth grade, eighth grade, high school and college graduations for "Snark." And all the dance recitals, scouting events, bake sales, craft fairs, choir concerts, school plays, soccer games, track meets in-between. I have bought raffle tickets, wrapping paper, baked goods, magazine subscriptions, an countless donations from or for "Snark." I gave "Snark's" class art lessons so they could make a huge mural for their class civic project. I took "Snark" and "Snark's" friends, to see Weezer, Garbage, Slipknot, Incubus, and Marilyn Manson when they were in high school and the parents didn't want to go - but didn't want the kids to attend unchaperoned. I even left them alone so they could pretend they didn't have a chaperone. Get this: I even took them to see Insane Clown Posse. Which was literally my worst nightmare come to life. Yes. I, who am horrified of clowns, took a car full of high school kids to see Insane Clown Posse because their own parents wouldn't attend or allow them to attend without an adult. I'm still not emotionally solvent from that experience. If that's not sincere love and devotion...

3) When "Snark" was prepping for the SAT some shortcomings in "Snark's" education became apparent and the test-prep class offered little tutelage in certain areas. Guess who helped raise "Snark's" verbal SAT score?

4) Once in college, there was some, um, "trouble" that included alcohol, a party and the law. Guess who "Snark" called for help?

5) Here's what really gets me, though. There were some years when "Snark" was young and "Snark's" parents were going through a very, very nasty divorce and "Snark's" mother had very little money. "Snark's" mother had a rum-soaked mini-breakdown at the family Christmas Eve party - she was upset her kids (including "Snark") wouldn't have much from Santa but she was embarrassed to ask anyone for help. I took Snark's mother and my credit card and made a mad-last-minute-dash through three stores on Christmas Eve. Santa came through for "Snark" that year (and a couple more years) when there was  no way "Snark's" mother could have managed to buy many, if any, presents for "Snark" and "Snark's" siblings. I'm pretty sure "Snark" doesn't know that Santa was me (and my parents) during those years, and I don't want "Snark" to know this. But. I know this.

And so, coming from "Snark," (of all people) the unfavorable comments about me are particularly hurtful.

And so, I'm left wondering if I am the Bitch Who Stole Christmas, if I am as awful as "Snark" and the other taunters said I am in their emails. 

And so, this is Christmas.

I always console myself that, even as good friends dwindle and fade, no matter how craptacular my life gets, no matter what, hey, I have family who loves me and believes in me. 

Now...well...apparently I can't console myself with that, either.

Oh sure, my mother loves me and believes in me. But. She's somewhat biased. Her judgment is clouded by the fact that she pushed me out of her vagina.

I'm fairly certain the Trill-bashing emails didn't stem solely because I declined a last minute party eVite. I'm pretty sure events of the past few months built up to the free-for-all Trill-bashing email hootenanny.

You how I've been unemployed for two years? And you know how I'm in foreclosure? And have about 30¢ to my name? Yeah. Well. Back in September a family member (not "Snark") brought up that buying holiday gifts was going to put a strain on the budget and that "we" should talk to other family members about cutting back on the gift-giving, maybe draw names or just forgo holiday gifts this year. I concurred and said, "Yes, 'we' should have a talk with the others..." That family member talked to another family member who also agreed that scaling back on gifts would be a welcomed financial relief. So, I talked to a few others who also agreed that money is tight and an agreement to cut back on holiday gifts, the exception being the children. The word was spreading and the Gift Reduction Plan was gaining momentum.

So, the original family member who brought up the idea in the first place suggested I draft an email and "we" would send it out to all the gift-related family members. I combined and encapsulated the accumulated suggestions and drafted an email.

It went something like this,
"We've been talking...and it seems some of us are thinking perhaps this would be a good year to scale back on the holiday gifts. Many of us don't need or want anything (except health and jobs, natch!) and others of us can't afford to spend much on gifts and feel awkward when when we receive more lavish gifts than we can afford to give. Others who live in far-flung locales are finding it increasingly difficult to know what gifts would be most appreciated. Whatever the personal reasons, most of us agree that it's time to scale back on gifts.

We also agree, though, that we all have to agree on this plan. A few ideas that have been suggested are:
1) Secret Santa! Adults will draw a name and buy only one gift for whomever they draw.
2) Price fixing! Set an agreed upon price limit on gifts for adults and children. Note: It's crucial that everyone adheres to the price limit.
3) Give of ourselves! Instead of an item, give of ourselves, a real gift of spirit, give a service, like babysitting or photography or teaching a useful skill.
4) Regift! Not a white elephant! For instance, if you know 15-year-old Billy covets your Joy Division LP, difficult as it might be to part with it, maybe it's time to pass it on to a new generation. If Margie always comments on how much she adores your pink pearl earrings and you rarely wear them, why not give them to Margie? You have two Dremels and Mike doesn't have one and you know he could really use one, voila! gift. Or, somehow, ahem, you ended up with a couple serving pieces of Great Aunt Clara's silver and cousin Sue has the rest of the silver service, how about a silver family reunion?
5) Donations! If you really want to spend money on family gifts, how about donating the money you'd spend on a gift to each person's favorite charity?

Thoughts? Ideas? Let's try to reach an agreement in the next few weeks. If you've already started your holiday shopping, perhaps we can cut back this year and fully implement a new holiday gift agreement for next year."

Okay. So, the family members who were in on the discussion thought the email sounded good, signed off on it and 'we' sent it to all the family.

As you can probably guess, the response was almost immediate and immediately split the family into two sides. Side 1) Those who were tremendously relieved that finally, someone had the guts to speak up and suggest cutting back on the holiday gifts. And Side 2) Those who were tremendously offended and/or angry at even thinking about imposing standards on holiday gifts.

The responses were almost unanimously either (verbatim), "Oh, thank God someone finally suggested this! I'm still paying off the credit card I used for gifts last year." Or. "I'll give whatever I damn well please to whomever I damn well please!"

Ultimately it was left to each person to decide what they wanted to "do" about gifts this year and we'd reconvene and revisit the issue for next year.

So, I sent an email speaking only for myself.

"Hi, me again. Okay, now that we've sort of figured out this year's gift plan and will continue the discussion in early 2012, I'm requesting that you all keep me off your gift shopping lists this year. As you know, the past couple years have been difficult for me and most of my possessions are packed and in storage - in a storage unit that is stuffed to capacity. There's truly nothing I need or want (other than a job, har har!) and I would honestly love for you to spend the money on the children or yourselves instead. I can't afford to shop for gifts and I'll be embarrassed if I can't reciprocate your (albeit well-intentioned) gifts. 

Also, as you know, my mother has been going through a lot of health issues and she has not been feeling well enough to shop for gifts. She also asks that you scale back on gifts for her this year."

Okay, so, it's not exactly the cheeriest pre-holiday greeting, but I kind of had to say something, right?

Well, as you probably also guessed, "Snark" and the other Trillian-bashers were the ones who a) fell into the "offended by the mere suggestion of a gift reduction plan" side, and b) assumed there wasn't actually a group of us who who wanted to cut back, that it was only me behind the gift reduction plan.

So, that's been brewing since September. And apparently my eVite decline was the carte blanche to bash they were waiting for and they wasted no time bashing me like an ugly Piñata.

I was already feeling low about a lot of holiday issues.

No money for gifts.

No job = no office parties or colleague holiday get-together. Which sounds like a good thing, but oddly enough, I miss those professional obligations. They speak to a level of professionalism. Job = professionalism. Professionalism = career. Career = obligations. Obligations = sense of security.

Last year I got creative with gift-giving. I offered my services to family and friends. I taught digital photography basics, PhotoShop basics, gave babysitting services and offered to archive and organize digital photos and music. It seemed to be appreciated. I know some people were just being polite, but, I know others have put what I taught them to good use and appreciate what I gave them. And they also mentioned that they liked "having an excuse" to get together after the holidays.

Unfortunately I've kind of exhausted my skills-set and recipients who would appreciate my skills.

So, when a family member made the "not a White-elephant regift" idea, I thought it might be a good idea. And let's face it, my remaining possessions are all I have to offer. So, as I packed up my condo I kept out items that thought family members would like. Instead of selling LPs, jewelry and books, I set some aside for family and friends who I knew would enjoy and appreciate them. And, in the case of a few family heirlooms, I decided it's time to pass them along to a younger generation. I'm obviously not going to have children, these things need to stay in the family, so, instead of storing them or hanging onto them, I decided to give them to other people in family.

That aforementioned Joy Division LP? Yeah. I have an ultra-rare edition. When I sold some CDs and LPs to a local record dealer he offered me a handsome price for that LP (and a few others). I opted to hang onto it and few others, and in the back of my mind I thought, "I know a couple people who would really enjoy these, I'd rather give them the albums than sell them..." "Snark's" spouse is one of the people I had in mind when I thought that thought. I had "Snark" in mind for my grandmother's crystal. A pair of sapphire in platinum earrings that were my aunts' were wrapped for a family member whom I know thought was going to inherit them. Some of my best-loved (and in good shape) childhood books were wrapped and given to four-year-old twins who have exhausted the supply of four-year-old kid books at their local library.

It did cross my mind that it might seem kind of, you know, macabre for the recipients to receive "gifts" of my possessions. It might feel like pillaging through a dead person's belongings...before they die. And I was struggling with that. I didn't want to make anyone feel weird or awkward or embarrassed.

And of course I know that, technically, it's tacky. It is a really tacky thing to do. These are not new gifts. They are used personal possessions or heirlooms that I didn't pay for in the first place. I know this.

But, I can't buy gifts and since "we" couldn't agree to discontinue the family gift-giving tradition, I was left with no choices.

So, I wrapped up my possessions for family and friends. If I knew someone really liked a particular item of mine, I wrapped it up with a note that said, "You have mentioned how much you like this, I've had it a while, it's time for someone else to enjoy it, so, enjoy!"

The people who I thought might be the most sensitive about my situation and would be upset about me giving away my possessions as gifts received something else: Air miles. I have an insane amount of air miles. Enough domestic round-trip tickets to give a lot of people a trip anywhere they'd like to go in the continental United States. (I also used some of those miles as donations to charities that I normally support with money. You do know you can donate your air miles to charity, right?)

I wasn't exactly "happy" about my gift choices, I'd rather have a job and a home and money to buy presents for family and friends. But. Life + Lemons = Lemonade.

By the time the week before Christmas rolled around and I trekked off to UPS to send gifts to far-flung relatives and to my mother's house for the holiday parties, I was feeling okay it. I even convinced myself that they were heartfelt gifts and therefore would be well-received. I had faith in my family. Because, I have a family who loves me and believes in me.

"Think about it, Trill" I told myself schlepping back from UPS in an icy December downpour, "[a close family member] buys the same thing for everyone for Christmas. No thought, no personalized sentiment, just a generic one-gift-fits-all gift."

Yes. A teenaged snowboarding, punk loving boy gets the same gift as a middle-aged mom whose passion is crocheting toys that look like food with googly eyes. "Where's the heartfelt thought in that?" I reasoned, "why bother giving a gift just for the sake of giving a gift? If you can't spend 10 minutes thinking about the recipient and what they're like and what they enjoy and a figure out a gift that speaks to their personality and likes, should you even be giving them a gift?!"

Really getting on a roll, I further delved into my self-consolation and gift-puffery. "And what about [another family member] who gives cash or VISA gift cards? I mean, seriously! Sheesh! Talk about inconsiderate and putting zero effort into the holiday spirit. 'Here's $15, go buy yourself something. I couldn't be bothered to spend any time or effort to buy you a gift, so you do it.'" Yeah!! My gifts, my possessions shared and thoughtfully meted out among my family and friends say, "I remember how much you liked this" or "I know how much you enjoy this" and "I'm selflessly giving you something of mine, something I know you like, too." I talked myself into believing that I would be a living example of how we could move forward, as a family, with our holiday gift-giving traditions.

Or so I thought until I got that fateful email chain with all the mocking and bashing.

And all my self-pep talk evaporated into the dark recesses of my psyche from whence they came. 

By the time I received the email many of the gifts were already sent and either opened or under trees in far-flung locales waiting to be opened. There was nothing I could do except hope that one day I'll get a job that offers limitless psychotherapy as part of their healthcare plan.

I don't have regrets. I really don't. Regrets are useless. Hindsight can be helpful. But regrets are useless wastes of emotional energy.


After I read the insults, jokes and nasty comments my family wrote about me I was (am): Angry. Embarrassed. Hurt. And regretful.

I could have sold that Joy Division LP for a lot of money. I could have sold those sapphire in platinum earrings for almost a month of mortgage and utility payments. I could have used those air miles to fly a lot of places. I could have given my grandmother's crystal to a friend who, ironically, inherited a very similar set but with far fewer pieces and spends weekends haunting flea markets trying to find more pieces. Those books were my childhood friends, I loved them, I learned how to read with those books and consequently they opened up the world and my imagination. But no. I opted to give these things, my things, to family members who didn't want to give up the family gift-giving tradition. And now there they were making fun of me and insulting me.

It was like some sick mean girls version of the Gift of the Magi.

After that accidental reply-all email no one said or emailed or texted anything. My family members' Facebook walls became eerily silent.

I allowed myself a good pout and a few tears and made myself get over it then and there. Some of the presents hadn't been opened, and some of them were still in my control. I could withhold them.

Or, I could just continue as planned, give the gifts, say nothing about the email, and paste the warmest, charmingest smile on my face at the holiday get-together.

Which was, of course, the "best" plan of action. Kill 'em with kindness. Let them think and say whatever they want about me. Rise above. Lead by example, not react by insult. Eventually I'll devolve into the eccentric old spinster of the family and this year will serve as a benchmark, the year they first started noticing "odd" things about Trillian.


Regardless of what the rest of my family decides to "do" about holiday gifts next year, the only person who will receive a gift from me is my mother. And not just because she pushed me out of her vagina. She's the one who taught me that grace, dignity and emotional maturity matter and that spite never feels as good as you think it will.

However, as far as gifts for next year are concerned,  if I'm to be given the title Bitch Who Stole Christmas, then I might as well live up to it. And, it feels kind of liberating. Or, at least I'm choosing to feel liberated. Insight into your relatives' opinions is hurtful and upsetting, but, it can also be helpful. The blind devotion and respect we often give our family members, simply because they're family, isn't always deserved. That doesn't mean a tit-for-tat game is appropriate. My mother's right, spite never feels as good as you think it will. Retaliation rarely satisfies. But knowing your family doesn't respect or care about you or your feelings means you don't have to do all the things, give all the gifts or attend all the events.

Meanwhile, I hope you have a nice holiday and wish you well for 2012.

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12:04 AM

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