practical gifts you can get for yourself

happy holidays, you asshole!

wassail and a merry christmas to you, i am spending this lovely holiday recovering from surgery on my gross and deteriorating jaw! i’m flummoxed by this recent turn of events inside my face, as i was a very good girl and did everything i was supposed to do six years ago, i.e. took a course of gut-ravaging antibiotics then got several very expensive root canals then put crowns on all of my gnarly little tooth stumps then routinely brushed all of my fake teeth, but did you know a root canal can fucking fail? that you could gofundyour extensive dental surgeries and still the doctor could have missed the branch of a root and seal in a pocket of bacteria that from 2013-last week could aggressively fight for space in your head with your maxilla until it overpowers it, eating away at it for years until finally your face explodes in the middle of an ann taylor loft in lansing, michigan?

literally what is the point then? why take care of yourself? why even try?! may as well just eat all the candy you want and never floss then smash your teeth out with a brick and keep it pushing!

i don’t mind the holidays, because i enjoy sitting creepily in a dark room lit only by the multicolored lights on a christmas tree. i also love eggnog (no booze) and spruce-y, pine-y candles and handsoaps. yes, it’s me, your aunt judy whose downstairs bathroom looks like the holiday clearance aisle at cost plus world market. no, i didn’t get you airpods, i got you this tasseled southwestern throw blanket that doesn’t go with anything in your apartment plus is too heavy and/or unwieldy for you to safely take home on the train! please, have another slice of my famous prune cake!

christmas is hard as a mean old lady mostly because “receiving gifts” is in the top five humiliating things that can ever happen to you while other people are watching, especially because whatever you want you probably already bought as soon as your direct deposit hit. i mean, i already have a bluetooth speaker, man! and i read that book already! i wish people would just give me a gift card to whatever chain restaurant is closest to my house and not force me to spend twenty confusing minutes wondering what about my personality made them think i would appreciate a fucking tuning fork. does that happen to you? do you ever receive a gift and have to do a complete inventory of what you might have said or done to make that person give you such a weird ass gift? don’t put any thought into me, please. just grab me that chili’s gift card next to the register at walgreens and one afternoon six months from now i will raise my third stay-cay ‘rita in your honor.

here are some things on my nice list today:
1 dressing the cats up in xmas costumes without getting scratched
2 watching the long kiss goodnight, which is technically a christmas movie
3 mel torme’s christmas album
4 a cosmology of monsters which i just finished and WOW HOLY SHIT
5 these kohls pajamas that are now on sale for like 13 bucks???
6 alcohol-free mouth rinse
7 looking at and appreciating people’s lovely holiday stuff on social media without having to talk to them
8 this spotify playlist called “jazz for sleep” which is also nice for being awake yet catatonic

books
it’s still early but unless i go to bed and somehow completely alter my DNA i don’t think there is a chance in hell that i could pull together a “best of 2019” list, even if someone else did all the work for me. plus, what the fuck do i know about what is the best? i can maybe remember most of what i started and/or finished, but how those things compare to everything else that was published this year? bitch i have a 12th grade education!! i have been doing some audiobook listening during my convalescence, if for no other reason than so that i can sit real still with headphones on looking pained while people bring me motrin. okay here are some things i’ve listened to because it hurts too much to focus my eyes:

1 too fat too slutty too loud by anne helen petersen my autobiography? BITCH, YOU WISH. no this is an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an "acceptable" woman. narrated by anne, who has a very pleasant voice. find it here!

2 super pumped (the battle for uber) by mike isaac a new york times technology correspondent presents the dramatic story of uber, the silicon valley startup at the center of one of the great venture capital power struggles of our time. find it here!

3 what doesn’t kill you makes you blacker by damon young okay so i fucking know damon and i read an early copy of this before it came out, BUT: i downloaded the audiobook before driving to chicago to interview him with the intention of listening to it on the road to get myself pumped up, but the only rental car enterprise had available had neither a bluetooth nor a usb connect, so i was stuck listening to christian soft rock hits until i got close enough to the city to pick up wgci. anyway i finally listened to it this week and his voice is very deep and sexy and soothing, he could be talking about astrophysics and i’d be onboard. find it here!

4 bad blood by john carreyrou i’m obsessed with this story and the book is as good as everyone says just listen to it already! here’s a link!

5 antisocial (online extremists, techno-utopians, and the hijacking of the american conversation) by andrew marantz i haven’t started this yet but i downloaded it because kara swisher talked about it and she’s so smart about business and tech and i will do anything she says? anyway this feels like the kind of book that will terrify me because i understand that we are powerless against the internet and i am not savvy enough to protect myself from whatever the robots and the russians have in store for us. anyway it’s here, listen if you dare!

6 in the dream house by carmen maria machado i was listening to the cut’s podcast the other day and carmen was on it and whenever i hear a writer’s voice i think “oh shit! i should listen to their book!” and so, because i always have an audible credit just waiting for me because i can’t be bothered to unsubscribe, i got it here.

ok in this same vein i listen to a lot of podcasts and i’m just gonna run through a few (conveniently and painstakingly linked, so you literally have to expend zero effort to have your world opened and expanded) and hope that there’s a new and interesting one you decide to check out during your family road trip or whatever:
-the read
-call your girlfriend
-pivot
-who? weekly
-it’s been a minute
-foxy browns
-hey, cool life!
-highly enthused
-keep it!
-yo, is this racist?
-the maris review
-forever 35
-the dream
-still processing
-las culturistas
-drag her
-ctrl alt delete
-gee thanks, just bought it
-hysteria
-sentimental garbage
-pop culture happy hour
-waiting to x-hale
-teen creeps

anything i know, seriously any facts or cultural references that are currently playing on a loop in my brain, come from either skimmed vulture articles or podcasts that i listen to on the toilet or in the shower or while sitting in the car with the a/c blasting, waiting for kirsten to finish up inside the “make your own kombucha” store. i went from not understanding what a podcast is to still not actually understanding them but subscribing to several. more than several, this is actually kind of absurd. i didn’t even include the news-y ones because this letter is supposed to be fun and not depressing!

snacks
i cooked a lot of things for thanksgiving and you know what? it’s thankless fucking work. (i wrote an essay about being ill-prepared to host my first thanksgiving for heated, which you can read here unless you have turkey-related ptsd!) plus, after you spend days chopping and stirring and grating and peeling the last thing you want to do is eat. i finished day two of prep and was like “fuck this, get me a pizza.” it’s so taxing! and preparing a lot of foods always makes it seem gross, like i don’t want to feel all that celery i just washed and diced and touched on my tongue. look, you eat this dressing, and i’ll go to subway.

lucky for me i can’t eat anything that hasn’t been boiled unrecognizable and then strained through a sieve. also lucky for me i can make potatoes like this:
-buy a bunch of those little waxy yellow potatoes you don’t have to peel and boil them in liberally salted water until they are tender enough to mash
-while they’re boiling take a bunch of smashed garlic cloves and cook them in a little cream, just bring it to a gentle simmer and add some pepper and chicken bouillon
-drain the potatoes, mash them with a masher, then with the pot on medium heat slowly pour a little cream in while stirring until it reaches your desired consistency
-mix it well and sprinkle in a little dried basil to taste; you probably won’t need salt if you used bouillon but listen do what you need to do
-eat gingerly using only the right side of your mouth, making sure your teeth don’t touch and send an incandescent shockwave of pain rocketing through your skull while also avoiding your many sutures
-immediately lie down from the exertion

softcore
it’s winter so i’ve upped my cozy game to expert levels. this year i have taken to wearing a sweatercoat inside the house over my pajamas as real clothes and i am incredibly happy with this decision. i don’t even know how to wear real clothes anymore. the other day it took me twenty minutes to unzip my jacket! i love this time of year, because i am a person who enjoys being excessively clothed. early winter is when i really hit my goddamn stride.

i’m in the writers guild now because i worked on a tv show one time, and in exchange for a percentage of every time i even breathe near los angeles i got a bunch of DVD screeners of awards season movies, many of which i could’ve watched weeks ago on the subscription services i already pay for. still, it felt special to be included, especially the on day i was forced to sign for an envelope with hustlers in it while juggling the ice pack i was supposed to be holding against my face as the UPS man watched me with embarrassment. ah, the magic of hollywood. anyway, some brief reviews:
dolemite is my name: hilarious, would die for mike epps
uncut gems: stressful, didn’t get it?
bombshell: gold star for charlize’s prosthetics
richard jewell: JON HAMM
marriage story: i liked it but twitter made me think i’m not supposed to
parasite: i have to say i liked it right
the report: ok adam driver i see u
knives out: CHRIS EVANS

i usually only send long, rambling newsletters to those of you who pay for the pleasure, but i just wanted to say thank you, sincerely, to everyone of you who signed up for slash occasionally opens and reads these letters, especially those of you who continue to read my daily dispatches from syndicated television hell. those recaps bring me so much joy, and writing them keeps the bacteria-riddled blood moving sluggishly through my weary veins. anyway, thank you for allowing me in your inboxes (mostly) every day. i hope you are having a nice week and that no one is loudly bothering you. love, sam!