Holiday Shopping

If something is oversized, you want to think it over. That’s the first rule for holiday shopping. It’s a two pound ball in a deep red dress, smiling at me and begging me to take it. So my heart takes a little leap and I give in. A two pound pomegranate reminds me of my ten year old self, sitting in my grandma’s place, listening to the subtropical rain pounding the thin wooden roof so loud you wouldn’t hear yourself screaming, hands red in pomegranate juice while making a mess of the dining table with all the discarded sacs and membranes. However I’m not ten anymore and calories matter even more than the size. So I checked. A two pound pomegranate has 800 calories, more than a meal, more than what a two hour exercise can burn. Now the size looks more like a liability.

Too good to be true. Rule number two is to be careful about things that are too good to be true. I have this on and off, love and hate relationship with woks, even though I’ve never known how to pronounce “wok”. What’s the difference between “work”, “wok”, “woke”, pronunciation-wise? That’s a typical question non-native speakers like me would ask, but that’s a topic for another day. Actually my life is measured by the come and go of woks through my kitchen. Iron, copper, aluminum, non-stick, different diameters from 9 to 12 inches, varied shapes of the bottom–I’ve tried them all. I see this “frontier cast iron” wok in the store which claims to be scratch safe, rust resistant, non-stick, metal utensil safe. That sounds too good to be true and I have to get it, although it has a suspicious Italian brand name and says “Italian Style” on the label. Do Italians use wok? I really don’t think so. I don’t think they use wok at all, let alone developing a style. That should have warned me off, but it didn’t. So I carry it home and alas, it is very very sticky. It sticks so much that a ten-minute scrubbing is not enough to get it off. I have to say a wok is like a lover, who often cannot score a passing grade in a test.

Don’t scream if your favorite item is gone. I’m really shocked that the New Yorker cartoon day-to-day calendar is gone from the Barnes & Noble here in Edison. How can that happen? In the past, it would always be there waiting for me. Looking around, there are piles of coffee table books about past wars, guns, and biographies of radio or TV hosts which are waiting to be picked up by Republican families. I don’t understand this particular B&N. Doesn’t it know that it is located in Central Jersey, the Democrat stronghold? I know B&N is depressed right now that it is losing its battle with Amazon, but still that doesn’t mean it should lose its mind. Or on second thought, I think it does this just to mess with the Democrats living around here.

The nice and helpful shop assistant is the reason why I bought the North Face jacket in Nordstrom last Christmas. I’ve never worn it even once. The problem is that under the mysterious lighting of Nordstrom, I looked like a movie star. Well, not those stunning ones, but rather the nerdy sister who doesn’t get much attention. Still she’s somebody worthy of a spot in a movie. However when I got home, in the crude light of my living room devoid of aesthetic potentials, it looks awful. Actually it even makes me look fat. I thought about going back to return it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The shop assistant would be devastated and I would feel too guilty afterwards.

Trader Joe’s is beyond the shopping rules. Whenever I step into it, I just lose my mind. It’s like going to Atlantic City–I mean in the past, not recently. I read books on blackjacks, video poker, and Texas Hold’em for weeks and become quite complacent about my knowledge. However as soon as I step into the heavily carpeted room, everything I learned just disappears. So the same thing happens with Trader Joe’s. You break all your shopping rules and buy things that you just can’t imagine yourself buying–a bar soap for hair, tea tree oil, weird juice blend, sauce with unknown ingredients labeled with country names you never heard of.

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