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12:05 p.m. - September 26, 2004
When Joel said he had something to send me, I thought it was the book he had mentioned before. I was mildly uncomfortable but as he pointed out, I had entrusted my address to him (hell, even my last name) a while ago and so I told myself not to worry. I can accept a gift of a book, I can be gracious and appreciative and not feel bad for being undeserving. In short, I can indulge and accept a gift that comes neither at birthday- or Christmas-time.

Joel did not send me a book; he sent me an Apple Ipod as well as another device that I haven't figured out yet. An Ipod! Joel sent me a fucking Ipod and my head is spinning. Off-the-charts extravagant, beyond doubt a luxury I would never buy for myself and never permit anybody to buy for me, one of those things you long for from the other side of the window glass and never expect to have. In addition to my head spinning, my stomach is churning and doing flip-flops, half of me saying this is not right, it was too expensive and too much of a luxury to accept, the other half tickled like a puppy presented with an oversized bone - I don't know whether to pee or dive right in. I don't know how to respond to this, to him! I called and he didn't answer and I left a most incoherent message saying thank you thank you we have to discuss this.

Surprises discombobulate me because they're surprises; gifts bother me since I become angry at myself when I become suspicous (why giving? what did you do, what do you want from me?); extravagance knocks me over because I'm unaccustomed to having a thing for no purpose other than to have and enjoy. I can justify spending money on computers (tax write-off), bottled water (convenience = more time to work), furniture (buy the ones made to last, never have to repurchase again), but can't on the frivolous and unnecessary: An Ipod, a fun vehicle, my always-planning-will-never-go trip to South America, cable internet. An Ipod was the very last thing I would ever buy for myself and Joel has given one to me. This throws everything upside down.

Processing all this, I'm again presented with that stubborn reaction when I dig in my heels and say no no no. I can't - can't what, I don't know. I don't deserve something like this - there are other people, other friends of his, - an Ipod is in the more-than-100-dollar-range - it's $299, I think. It is too much but oh, how I want it! I just left another message asking him to call me - I must thank him but I can't keep it; this is just too much. How convenient to fall back on the argument that to reject a gift denies the giver pleasure but this - this is overwhelming. I am not such a good friend to him that he should / could / would do something like this - I mean hell, I've never even met him in person. I am not a good listener - damn it, just say it: I don't deserve gifts like this, I am horribly unsure how to react. It's so long before my birthday or Christmas that I was unprepared for a gift beyond the book level, my failsafe boundary for can't-duck-gift occasions. I do not know the words of appreciation equal to an Ipod that didn't fall from the sky but was purposefully sent for no explicit reason. How do I tell him the thank you that comes from that vulnerable place, not the plain English-that-carries-no-meaning phrase, but the one that uses the eyebrows and eyes, the double-handed sign for which there is no English translation? Damn, I just signed it to myself and my eyes started to water. I'm a nutcase. Joel, Joel, what were you thinking???

I don't know how react. What if I say thank you the wrong way? I'm going to keep it! I'm going to keep it!


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