Friday, December 9, 2022

Ok But I Personally Do Like Owls

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 4 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

What is the WORST present you’ve received?

It was submitted by:


I read an article a couple months ago that has stuck with me for awhile. It was unrelated to gifts actually and instead about weird or shocking deathbed confessions. 

One woman, near death, was surrounded by family who took the time, finally, to ask her what was the deal with owls. She had a house full of owls. Little figures and wall hangings and bigger sculptures and salt shakers and pillows... She had literally hundreds. Her answer? She didn't really like owls all that much to be honest. She'd bought one thing with an owl on it one time at a secondhand shop because she found it cute and every time she got a gift thereafter, it was an owl. For decades of her life she was surrounded by things she didn't really like all that much because she wanted the people who gave them to her to not feel bad, so she kept it to herself and displayed them over and over and over for all of her adult life. Finally on her dying breath she was free to tell the truth. She wasn't going to be there to face the hurt and bewilderment they'd feel for having not ever really bothered to get to know what she was actually into... The problem is sort of two fold here because maybe it would have been better to tell people the truth but I think the way we socialize women to be grateful for every speck of love they can grab onto, maybe she gets more of a pass than people who could have asked her at any time what she might like for a present. She was grateful for any gift. And I can understand that sentiment. We've also been taught to be grateful to be thought of at all.

I thought about writing a gothic horror about a woman being buried alive under her Nightmare Before Christmas knick knacks. I thought about writing about the few really bad gifts I've gotten like a ring from an ex as an apology for being a piece of shit, a last ditch effort at saving a relationship that he couldn't have saved without finally growing up some. Or the time my stepmom grabbed a $5 set of plastic earrings for kindergartners and gave it to me from my dad for Christmas when I was 16, for example. But I wanted to say it plainly instead of a metaphor in a story or talking about one gift because the problem is bigger than that. I see it all the time. We see one thing about a person and make it their whole personality instead of getting to know the real them. People are complex. I mean yes I do enjoy watching the Nightmare Before Christmas because Henry Selick is a fucking genius, an artist, absolutely crushingly underrated, but I also like everything else he's done. I like movies that aren't about animated skeletons or Halloween as shocking as it may be. I have a couple of very simple elephant tattoos BUT I ALSO LIKE OTHER ANIMALS which 3 cabinets of trinkets later would also shock some folks. I used to be able to have alcohol occasionally but really haven't been able to since getting sick with chronic fatigue syndrome. I've been sick for going on 7 years now and people still tag me in wine memes. I've openly talked about not being able to drink and not just once or twice...

The thing of it all... it IS nice to be thought of in any capacity but it also really fucking sucks to realize no one bothered to think of the real me only some version that they've created in their own minds so far from who I really am that it couldn't pass for my evil twin from the mirror realm. It's not like I hide what I like or who I am. A million times a month I probably share something I'd love to get myself if I had the extra money. I talk about things that are important to me. I live as authentically online as I do around people I see everyday. My family has easy access when they want to know what I'm into. It's all there online like some weird vision board for most to see. I'll answer anytime someone asks actually. Sit with me longer than 5 minutes and I will inevitably say something incredibly gay. It's all hanging out. 

I recently stopped writing a person I'd spent 4 years trying to help. Yes, a person in prison. I helped him work through some deeply wrong ideas he held about women including a specific ex girlfriend and his own mother. I got them to connect with one another about those thoughts he had and work through them together. I got him to appreciate fiction for the first time in his life. He even wrote a story! Just for fun. I had a visible impact on his life because I listened when he told me things and listened in between and we really did the work to pick it all apart. We aren't writing because he overstepped some serious boundaries but leading up to that point he sent me some things for Christmas last year that gave me a bit of a head scratch. A lot of guys at his prison crochet and sell what they make to other guys to send to family, friends, and girlfriends or whoever and he sent me an Olaf from frozen and a minion. I haven't even seen frozen. Ever. Not once. Never mentioned either movie. And like i have said a million times already yes it's nice to be thought of but it wasn't like he chose these things because he knew I'd like them. He just sent them to say he sent something and it showed all that time we'd been friends and through all the hard conversations we had and the work we did, he hadn't ever really got to know me. It wasn't really a surprise when my boundaries were violated. The version of me living in his head would fall head over heels because of a Disney plush, right? Obviously. And so then she'd totally be receptive to advances she'd spent years clearly spelling out she wouldn't cross. Great plan, right? Only I'm not that person, and the rejection made him angry, so now he's out a friend as well.

The point I want to make is to tell people. Tell them who you are loudly and lovingly. Tell them you don't want another owl. It's fine. No one should die surrounded by hundreds of trinkets they never loved that took endless amounts of work to keep clean. But more importantly, ask what the people you love are into, listen to them. Find out about the things they love no matter how silly you find it. No matter how at odds it is with the version of them you already created. Life is too short to do anything else.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

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