Blue Notes #2: My Gift Guide
Something for every part of your soul
I know you're reading a lot of gift guides right now, so maybe you've found the perfect stocking stuffer for your teenage nephew or the ideal Secret Santa gift for your impossible coworker or a slam-dunk Winter Solstice present for the rabbit-sitter.
Must be nice!
But...have you thought about what to get your SOUL this season? Or your LOCAL BUGS? Or your NOSE?
Didn't think so!
With those dilemmas in mind, I've created a gift guide for your full self and the world around you. As a bonus, it's year-round! Use these suggestions any time to become a superstar gift-giver to, uh, you…
For your body
The body wants to listen to bangers. A banger has a primal ability to make the body erupt in movement, even one with limited range! I’ve seen stunningly stiff movers transform into dance machines when Whitney Houston comes on, and I swear Don't Stop Til You Get Enough worked its healing magic and inspired me to bust a move even when I was still mostly paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
Last week I was writing at my favorite bagel shop (a gift for your mouth!) and a playlist full of bangers came on. It was as if the store completely lit up; people were wiggling and swaying and singing to every chorus.
The body wants this! Give it a thrill! I made a playlist of absolute bangers if you need assistance.
For your work flow
Most my work this year was brought to you by Yasmin Williams. I don't play guitar, but I've heard guitarists say that she makes them want to forget everything they've learned. She's a self-taught musician and perhaps it would be more accurate to say she uses the guitar rather than plays it. Her style is like a joyful experiment but still creates beautiful, cohesive songs, perfect for getting in that ever-elusive email-responding flow.
For getting into more weird/creative flow this year, I turned to Billie Eilish's 2022 album, perhaps my favorite of the year. I'm forever grateful for whatever substance we have to thank for the creation of Oxytocin. (For a two minutes of pure delight, watch Ajay's reaction to the song.)
For your tear ducts
I endeavored to expand my movie horizons this year, first by hopping around BFI's Greatest Films list, then by remembering recommendations given to me long ago (oops!). The ones that stood out happened to be the super sad ones:
The saddest movie of all time, according to my dad, was Imitation of Life (1959). I finally got around to watching it this year, though I didn’t cry until the gorgeous Mahalia Jackson solo at the end. My mom still remembers sobbing out of the theatre after seeing La Strada (1954), so I watched that and it successfully ruined my week. But if you want to give your tear ducts the ultimate workout, check out Japanese animated war tragedy Grave of the Fireflies (1988). Saw it last spring and haven’t slept since!
For your wonder
My book list this year revolved mostly around the natural world, animals, and the human life cycle. Here are the ones which sparked my sense of wonder aflame: