I left work early yesterday and milled around Borders for a crappy gift-exchange gift for our office Christmas lunch today. I find these gift-exchange Secret Santa things kinda crappy. Basically, everybody goes out and finds some really crappy junk gifts and passes them around, and you open them, smile nicely, and then promptly go home and shuck them into the garbage can.

I promptly fulfilled my capitalist duty to buy shit nobody wants for somebody I don’t particularly care about and went home only to find that my sneaky roommate – who’d flow out to the West Coast for the holidays – had left me two very well-packaged Christmas gifts.

Have I budgeted in Christmas gifts for anyone this year? No. Arg.

Being my lovely roommate and good friend, she’d gotten me the Kameron equivalent of really good porn – an Osprey book on the Peloponnesian War (I literally swoon over this series of books at the bookstore. They’re just too damn expensive to properly stock up on), and The Art of Memory, a book that studies how people are and were able to retain vast stores of knowledge by memory.

I’m such an easy person to buy gifts for. Just tie a ribbon around a book. Any book. If it’s about war, so much the better.

Then I spent the night eating Thai food and watching movies. Because that’s what I do when my writing isn’t going well, I have no money, and I’ve got the house to myself.

I was watching Rocky III (I saw all of these when I was a kid, but they’re so much more interesting now that I have some conception of just how hard you have to work to fight like this) and thinking how much I hated the holidays and wished they were over already.

This was a really bizarre twist for me. I’ve traditionally really loved the holidays. There’s always some angst about going home, but I love the Christmas trees and stockings and music and little twinkly lights and crappy gift buying. But this year I just want it to be January. No more holiday schedule at the MA school, no more trips to interfere with my routine. No more…

Advice columns trying to make me feel pathetic. Ah, yes, thanks for that MSN advice column unmasking, Amanda.

Gosh, why do so many single women feel bad around the holidays? Gosh, could it be because everybody tells us we should feel bad and unsexy?

What bugs me the most is that it’s not just the single who get harped on. If you’ve got a boyfriend, everybody spends the holidays talking about how you should get married, if you’re married, everybody asks when you’re having kids. And let’s not forget that there’s a lot of pressure on guys about this stuff, too. I have a friend who was dreading going home for the holidays because he knew his parents were going to start harping on him again about why he and his girlfriend of 9 years still aren’t married. Give up the ghost, guys.

I’ve always suspected that people are really so interested in the social lives of others because they want validation for their own life choices. *Please* have a boyfriend. *Please* get married. *Please* have kids, and a mortgage, and a two-car garage. Please validate my choices by making the same ones.

Without all this pressure to conform to the picket-fence ideal, what sort of society would we have? Would we be happier with the lives we’ve chosen, if we weren’t always comparing them to some mythical ideal created by other people, instead of the ideal we thought up? That always interests me.

Cause there I was, watching movies, thinking, OK, this is it. I’ll start dating in May. I’ll do it. Really, I will. No! Squash those sudden feelings of intense anxiety. No! Forget that you feel a panic attack coming at the mere idea of subjecting yourself to date after sorry date with 1) boring people I don’t like 2) people I like who think I’m boring 3) people I like who like me who want to come in and stomp all over my life.

That just sounds like a swell time.

So, deep breath. Will. Not. Give. In. To. Social. Dating. Pressure.

Must live the life I want. If I bump into somebody along the way that I like who likes me, so much the better. If not, that’s why I have good friends, for company. But you know what, I want to be able to take off to New York for the weekend, or fly to Colorado for rock-climbing lessons for the weekend, or take a week-long rafting trip on the Snake River. And those are just the weekend trips that don’t include bike riding in China, hiking up to Macchu Piccu, and taking that tour of the Greek Islands. I have about a bazillion things to do, and I’m not getting any younger. I want that kind of freedom, and in my experience, welding myself to another person means less freedom, not more. It would take an amazing person to live that kind of life with me, and I’m not fooling myself into thinking those people live around every corner.

It always makes me curious, what sorts of people I’ll end up surrounding myself with in my dotage.

And you know, whenever I start to get the holiday blues, I remember all the friends I have who lust after my life. The ones who go “You went to grad school *where*? You spent *how* long in Alaska? You want to do *what* for a living? You live in *Chicago* now?” And then they look at their own perfectly good and happy lives and think, “Oh, God, what’s *wrong* with me?”

The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

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