this raggedy half-tree is the perfect metaphor for everything that has ever happened in my miserable, godforsaken life. last weekend i woke up to the sound of these kittens who live here that i most certainly do not like playing thunderdome in the hall outside the bedroom, then was informed that i needed to hurry up and get some pants on because we needed to hurry up and get to the tree farm (what) so we could "cut down our own christmas tree." IS THAT EVEN A REAL SENTENCE. there are a lot of things i don't miss about the former casa sam: the ceiling that fell in twice in two different locations, the gentleman in the apartment next door who routinely fell asleep on the threadbare strip of carpeting in the narrow hallway between our doors, chicago's brazen-ass rats; but what i do miss is never having to do anything domestic because i'm dead inside and don't give a shit about joy. i've never had a box marked "halloween window clings" or "grandma's keepsake ornaments" tucked away in my closet and that's fine. but now i live in a whimsical holiday placemat house so i'm forced to care about shit like handmade valentines and picking out a goddamned tree.
we rolled up to the tree farm bright and early, the faded obama sticker on the back of the car twinkling under the cold winter sun. i scanned the lot for other faces of color and, upon encountering none, announced that i was going to remain in the car. lumberjacks carrying all manner of ax and saw milled past us, peeking curiously in the windows at the fish out of water gasping for air as mavis informed me that not only was i expected to carry the tree but i also had to help cut the fucking thing down. "ARE THESE MEN JUST HERE FOR DECORATION?" i demanded, gesturing toward a young gentleman dusted liberally with wood chips and pine needles. apparently yes. i'll spare you the horrifying details, save this one: if you inadvertently select a hybrid freak of a tree that has two trunks and fail to notice this as you are lying on the frozen ground sweating to death while attempting to cut it down with a dull, child-sized saw, you are still financially responsible for that tree even if it is missing its entire back half. so we bagged up this skinny little charlie brown looking motherfucker, knocked off a third of its remaining branches going through the drive thru at culver's, and now it's sitting in a corner of the living room molting and making a mockery of us all. ho ho horrible!
holidays are the pits. there's no better way to feel unloved and misunderstood than to open unfunny gifts you'll never use that have nothing to do with your actual likes or personality while someone you don't like very much waits expectantly for a heartfelt thank you. for example, this writer has a lot of journals. a whole bunch of them. like, the kind you write in with a pen whose stiff, unyielding spines make it nearly impossible to write legibly at the end of any sentence on a left side page. those things are both useless and impractical, but they seem like a good gift to someone who doesn't understand that i don't have any deep, introspective thoughts worthy of being written out longhand. this time of year is so painful, ugh. i'm 137 years old and earnest holiday television programming is embarrassing to me while toy commercials serve no purpose other than reminding me that i didn't get a skip-it until two weeks after christmas was already over because my father was the actual grinch. i don't know how to knit stockings or bring tidings and eggnog gives me diarrhea. WHY CAN'T IT JUST BE JANUARY 15.
anyway, a holiday survival guide:
cook some things.
winter is a good time for us to get comfortable in our disgusting bodies and make tons of excuses for why it's too cold to work out. i know you're about to double-tap a bunch of thinspiration infographics come january 2, but how about until then you and your cheese pants eat a lot of trash and make yourself feel better by 1 i don't know, pretending you care by buying organic? and 2 making that trash with your own two hands. when i'm home i do a lot of the food preparation around because LOL MY JOB IS WRITING IS THAT A JOKE, and my favorite thing to do is take an inordinate amount of time cutting up vegetables while watching old seasons of top chef. i'm eating meat again because of my bleeding nightmare, but because you're not really living unless you are depriving yourself of something delicious i am trying to take it easy on carbs. i have a lot of cookbooks, even ones that have the audacity to expect someone who didn't go to culinary school to attempt sous vide prime rib on an average tuesday night, but i wish i could find one that was hella basic. like "this is the way you make perfect rice in a regular-ass pot you bought at target" basic. i mean, i know that you should toast the rice in a little bit of clear oil before adding the water but shouldn't someone put that shit in a book!?
how to cook a pack of chicken, by sam.
1 pack of bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, on sale
preheat the oven to 425.
1 WASH AND PAT THAT CHICKEN DRY.
2 go to the bathroom and grab that coconut oil you keep next to the shower for moisturizing your twist out.
3 season both sides of each thigh with: granulated garlic, lemon pepper, black pepper, and lawry's. these are things you should have in your house at all times so hopefully you don't need to run back out to the store.
4 heat a tablespoon (maybe two?) of oil in a deep pan, then add the chicken.
5 cook for five minutes without touching them, then flip them over and cook for five more minutes. guard your forearms against unsightly grease burns.
6 squeeze the lemon over the chicken, then cut it into thin slices and put them into a large tumbler filled with vodka and ice.
7 put the chicken in the oven for half an hour, during which you can drink your vodka and watch clips of gordon ramsey's fine ass on your phone while you wait. then eat your dinner in your pajamas while filling out the application to be on masterchef because you're so good at cooking duh.
buy your own gifts.
exchanging presents is so goddamn embarrassing. and fuck that "it's the thought that counts" shaming of my very reasonable disappointment at having been presented with some cheap piece of garbage i don't want that i can't use and am now forced to sheepishly foist on some other unsuspecting secret santa victim next year. because i'm not a monster, it fucking feels bad to throw a useless yet new item in relatively undamaged packaging out with the coffee grounds and egg shells. WHY HAVE YOU PUT ME IN THIS AWKWARD AND UNNECESSARY POSITION, PERSON I THOUGHT WAS MY FRIEND. i don't want this beatles lego set: i am an adult. i also will have no use for this ariana grande perfume and powder puff set, and there's no good place to display that snow globe with a cat in it. was there not a single bottle of prosecco between wherever you came from and wherever i'm at!? why does anyone buy anything that isn't on a registered list of items the recipient might actually want to receive? who perpetuated this myth that one must appear grateful for a literal piece of trash purchased on a whim at the grocery store and presented with the expectation of adulation and praise!? SOME ASSHOLE WHO BUYS SHITTY GIFTS, THAT'S WHO. every december i find myself struggling to find words as i poke holes in the plastic bag used to wrap a bottle of UTI-scented bubble bath someone decided to unload on me and it's wholly unnecessary because i never wanted to be caught between this chia pet and a hard place to begin with.
and it's not just the gift, it's the "who do i give a gift to and if someone who hasn't yet achieved gift status in my life gets me something am i an asshole for not giving something back or is it worse because his gift is gonna be late and he'll know he wasn't on my original nice list and got him a pity present or whatever." i had to take an ativan just to write that. i am not built for this, the parsing of relationships to determine whom to purchase an inoffensive yet vaguely meaningful under $25 gift for. if we're gonna play this game, i'd rather you tell me what you need so i can just get it and we can both die happy. WHAT IS WORSE THAN BLINDLY PICKING OUT A GIFT FOR SOMEONE: NOTHING. your humidifier is broken? you ran out of nail polish remover? you've been dying for an earwax removal kit!? great!! amazon has that and there will be a box in the lobby of your building in two days. guessing games are the worst please don't make me do it. i will pay for a laundry service or hire a dog walker or stand in line to get your plan B, just for the love of eight-pound baby jesus tell me that's what you want. i buy my own presents because i don't need to hear any plebeian editorializing about my expensive taste, but if someone asks what i want i tell them "unscented dove deodorant. multivitamins. AA batteries. those long lighters that you use for candles. a lip balm for the pockets of each of my jackets." because then they can feel good with minimal money and effort, and i get a year's supply of vitamin C and chapstick.
skip the holiday party.
hey dude, forced merriment in the company of people who question your decisions and undermine your authority five days a week for 50+ weeks a year should qualify as a hate crime. i mean, okay sure: "thank you boss for buying well drinks and room-temperature snacks for everyone but if i gotta eat them in the party room of the only bar still taking reservations when you finally got around to it on december 21 while overhearing a third-tier assistant prattling on about what hair dryer she should ask santa for i'm going to kill myself." and if your neighbors invite you over to theirs? YOU AIN'T GOTTA GO TO THAT, EITHER. one of these days i really am going to write a whole list of the dozens of ways living in a charming old farmhouse is worse than living in a glamorous shoebox (what is installation? oh wait, it's "insulation?" why do i have an attic? and why the fuck does it need that!?) but let's start here: 1 even if you put the car in the goddamned garage and turn off the porch light, people always know when your ass is at home. someone knocks on our door every single fucking day. milkman, mailman, dog catcher, mister rogers, big bird: every day i die a little while one of these well-meaning neighbors rings the doorbell no fewer than three times as i hold my breath in the bathroom waiting for them to go away. then i have to tiptoe around making sure that no one spots me through one of our many windows. it's exhausting. so order your pizza before the party starts just in case their awkward, loner son is watching your house, gather all the provisions you need for the evening while it's still light out, then bathe in the blue light of the tv until you pass out surrounded by beer cans and a half-eaten fruitcake.
go see a movie.
you already know i don't care about things like "leaving the house," especially when i might accidentally overhear conversations between regular people talking about things that are interesting to them, but i do make a weekly exception to go to the movie theater. i love going to the fucking movies. and i'm the perfect moviegoer: i never make noise or get out my phone, i never move unless i am in danger of a pants-pooping emergency, and i never see the twist coming and therefore respond to every single one with a childlike sense of awe and wonder. i was the only asshole in the theater who didn't realize that bruce willis was dead in the sixth sense according to the informal poll i conducted in the lobby after the movie. i never know who the murderer is, or what the aliens want. i also love a movie full of loud shooting and good punching but if there are a lot of bad guys or the plot involves complicated military tactics or complex mathematical strategery then i tap right out. i mean i'm not dumb, but i saw arrival twice and next time you see me if you want a laugh please ask me to explain "non-linear time."
samantha irby's top four shooting, kicking, and punching movies of 2016
1 the accountant
4 hell or high water
this small town robbed me of seeing both lion and miss sloane, but i did get to helplessly cry through moonlight so that's something. and sure, you could just wait two months and watch all this shit on the couch on your pajamas, but microwave popcorn < movie theater popcorn. less likely to murder your heart, for sure, but also way less delicious.
these are tough days for a lot of people. don't feel bad if you can't suck it up and put a smile on to make other people feel better at that ugly sweater party you didn't even want to go to. it is perfectly acceptable to sit in bed watching hulu on your laptop enjoying an extra day off work rather than putting real pants on to fake holiday cheer at your aunt's house or wherever. not everyone is a goddamned teacher, sometimes that one precious day off from retail misery is the only light at the end of the year tunnel. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO RUIN THAT SPECIAL DAY LISTENING TO YOUR BOYFRIEND'S PARENTS ARGUING THAT IS OKAY. and don't let anyone tell you that hanging colored lights from your coatrack isn't as good as the real fucking thing. it's yours, goddammit. and at least you didn't have to cut it down yourself while hillbillies gawked and pointed at you. bah humbug.
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