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A Gift Horse of a Different Color

This week is my sister’s birthday and American Thanksgiving - Hooray! In honor of these holidays, as well as the upcoming winter holiday season, I want to talk about gift giving and how we can improve it.

There’s a book that you’ve probably heard of called ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman. The book outlines five ways that Gary believes people like to show and receive affection for each other: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. While I’m sure there are other cases and circumstances outside of these five options, for the most part his theory seems to make a lot of sense. You can take the quiz for yourself if you’d like.

Presents under a Christmas tree from Wiki Commons

Presents under a Christmas tree from Wiki Commons

The main reason I’m mentioning this book is because as the year winds down and we get closer to a lot of gift-giving holidays, particularly Christmas, I think a lot of people focus only on the “Receiving Gifts” aspect of showing affection, however, most people (including you) probably would love any of the other four options just as much.

Consider that even if everyone was spread out so that one of the five love languages was their top favorite equally, then only 1/5th of people would really prefer “Receiving Gifts” over some of the other options. For instance, my sister prefers Quality Time, so while she still enjoys gifts, spending time with her going a hike is something she loves even more.

By considering other things they might like that aren’t traditional “gifts” - doing yard work for them, going to a festival together, volunteering at a local shelter, creating a booklet of all the reasons you care about them - you really open yourself up to more unique options that they might like even better, while also saving you money. (Pinterest is a great place to find nontraditional gift ideas like these if you want more examples.)

This is especially important since not all of us have enough money to go buy something for all the people we care about that they may or may not like. And not to mention, not everyone we care about will even want gifts. One of my relatives, for example, is really against what they feel is the ‘mandatory gift giving’ that happens every year around Christmas. If they see something nice for someone they will buy it for them any time of the year, but they don’t want to have to buy something just to buy something.

If you are dead set on getting someone a more traditional gift whether it’s because it’s what is expected or you just happen to know that this is really what they want, that’s completely fine. My family still gives gifts every Christmas with a $20 gift limit, but that’s just us. Do what you feel is right for your situation and the people you care about. They will appreciate anything you do for them as long as it comes with your kind thoughts and good intentions.

Hopefully this opens your’s and other’s eyes to different ways of showing someone you care about them, as well as learning something new about yourself.

Had you heard of this book before? What’s your top Love Languages? Are you surprised at what your family members’ are?

Until next time,

Caitlin

The Summer of the Teal Hair

Not too long ago, I dyed my hair teal for the summer. It was something I had always wanted to do but it never seemed like the right time, so I just decided to make it the right time.

Hiking through nature with my teal hair

Hiking through nature with my teal hair

I'm not sure what I had expected, but I didn't really feel any different after dyeing it. In fact, since I keep my hair short, I couldn't even really tell it had changed unless I was looking in a mirror.

Everyone else noticed though.

I got a lot of strange reactions. Generally people would just stare at me when they thought I wasn't looking, but I got plenty of comments as well.

"Oh no! Your hair is tarnishing!"

"Hmmm, something's different about you... I think it's your lipstick. Hahaha!"

"That looks really nice. It brings out your eyes!" They then turned to their child and said, "Don't you ever do that."

Mainly though, people would walk up to me and ask me questions (usually about my hair), even when I was clearly not the person to be asking. For instance, while walking with my cousin around a college campus for a tour, we noticed some other visitors were trailing us. They later admitted they had been following us because my bright hair made us an easy marker to follow.

My hair seemed to be a magnet drawing attention to me; making me appear more approachable. People would walk up, start a conversation with me, as if my hair was somehow an invitation to a discussion.

And don't get me wrong, I'm a rather extroverted person, so I enjoy a good conversation while waiting in the check-out line at Food Lion. My main issue was that these conversations tended to have little to do with how I felt about my hair. Instead, they centered on how they felt about my hair. No matter what I said, everyone else would give me their two cents on what having dyed hair meant to them.

Close-up of my hair color

Close-up of my hair color

My hair being dyed teal had had almost no affect on how I acted, but a large affect on how people acted towards me.

People became either friendlier or more skeptical. They felt so passionate towards my hair that they didn't want me to get rid of it, even if they said they would never dye theirs. My hair became a beacon for them to look at and feel they understood me better. It seems that having teal hair made me easier to stereotype and place in a box than someone with brown hair.

It didn't matter what I did: talk a lot or a little, agree or disagree, etc. people would draw their own conclusions about me based on their assumptions from my hair color.

But the crazy thing is, its just hair.

Its a fuzzy hat that you wear around everyday, like a favorite shirt. It shouldn't have any affect on how people act towards you and yet the difference between a Star Wars graphic tee and a white button down can be the difference between a lot of things. Even if it shouldn't be.

(Again, this was all based on my short, few months of having colorful hair, so there are bound to be some differences between my experience and other peoples'.)

What has been your experience with colored hair? Would you ever color your hair if you haven't?

Until next time,

Caitlin

How to Bake Like a Pro

In high school I owned my own cupcake business along with a friend of mine. We loved baking for fun and figured we might as well get paid for it. Therefore, I'm going to give you some simple advice, coming from my professional experience. Some of these will be obvious, but a simple change can make a big difference.

1. Have a recipe you trust.

The most important thing when making any food, is having a recipe you trust. For instance, Paula Dean is known for her southern fried comfort food, so a recipe from her on kale chips might not be the best idea, while her mac and cheese recipe is probably stellar. This is especially important if you've never made the food before as you'll likely have no idea what anything should look like as you go. A good recipe is your guide through the unmapped wilderness of cooking and baking.

A delicious pie waiting to be baked, from Wiki Commons

A delicious pie waiting to be baked, from Wiki Commons

2. What are you aiming for?

It's good to know how you want the food to turn out. With cookies, for example, some people like crunchy while others like soft, this won't be as big of a deal with cupcakes, but depending on what you add, your cupcakes/cake could be dry or moist, dense or light, and compacted or crumbly. Recipes will usually give you an idea of how they will turn out and if you are looking online, reviews will also give you a sense of how everything ends up. (This can also be helpful if you know something generally comes out dry, you can then try adding a bit more liquid to the recipe to see if it keeps it more moist.)

3. Use a cake box mix.

If you're baking a cake or cupcakes for a casual event and want to save time, then I would recommend using a box mix, especially on a basic chocolate or vanilla recipe. However, I would also suggest adding in a packet of instant pudding to the mix. (You add it to the dry mix at the beginning and don't need to change anything else in the recipe.) It makes cake mixes richer and more moist, as well as keeping them from tasting exactly like a cake mix. This can also give you more flavor variety, by adding different flavors of instant pudding to different mixes. Some people even make soft cookies with cake mixes.

While I will say baking from scratch is generally preferable, saving time and energy is also important. Let’s work smarter, not harder.

4. Read the recipe before starting anything.

Mix or not, there is nothing worse than getting halfway through a recipe you're excited about and realizing you don't have pumpkin puree or a food processor, and that it's going to take three hours to cook. Make sure you're prepared.

Delicious cupcakes from Wiki Commons

Delicious cupcakes from Wiki Commons

5. Sample the goods.

Sometimes desserts look perfect but taste horrible because you forgot half the sugar or the inside is under cooked. I always bake a small separate piece, so I can sample without messing up the finished product. You can also usually find a few willing taste testers if needed to help you decide if you’re on the right track. :)

If it didn’t turn out how you wanted, that’s ok! You still tried something new and that’s always a step in the right direction. Even after several years of baking professionally, I still have weird batches of cupcakes every now and then, so don’t ever let that discourage you! Just trust me, it’s better to know if your food needs to be redone in the privacy of your kitchen instead of at the event with everyone there.

6. Make the dessert the same day as the event.

The closer to the event you can bake your dessert, the closer it will be to the desired taste and texture. This isn't always an option, but if you can work it so you're baked goods are done 30 minutes before you have to leave for the event, they will be richer and more moist than if they've waited overnight.

7. Store everything properly.

Whether you had to bake a day ahead or have extras left over, as a general rule of thumb, use plastic containers to keep the food soft and glass to keep them crisp/crunchy.

8. Never skimp on the icing!

While boxed cake mixes are generally fine, canned icing is not. Homemade icing can be as simple as pouring powdered sugar and milk into a mixing bowl until it's the consistency you want but will taste so much better. Making your own icing takes any dessert to the next level.

9. Always make fudgy brownies.

If they wanted cake, they would have eaten cake.

Family baking together, from Wiki Commons

Family baking together, from Wiki Commons

10. Have fun!

Baking is really just about trying new things and bringing joy. Don't get too upset if it doesn't turn out how you hoped; it's just a part of the process. Worst case you can always buy something to replace the food, but you can't replace the memories and smiles. :)

Until next time,

Caitlin

Which Is Better: Extroverts or Introverts

Neither. The answer is neither.

The same answer applies to these questions: Who reads more? Who exercises more? Who likes more guacamole from Chipotle?

'Extrovert' and 'introvert' are consistently misused in everyday conversations to mean someone who is more outgoing or someone who is shy. However those things are not the same.

Extroverts are not necessarily the outgoing, talkative, life of the party; just as introverts are not necessarily the shy and reserved bookworm at the back of the class.

What these terms mean, is where someone gets their energy from. An extrovert feels energized when they are around others and drained when they are alone for long periods of time, while introverts get energy boosts from alone time and feel more drained the longer they are with others.

“Conversation” by Camille Pissarro from Wiki Commons

“Conversation” by Camille Pissarro from Wiki Commons

And while they are on opposite ends of a sliding scale, most people lie within the middle and exhibit traits of both in different settings.

For instance, an introvert might not feel drained at all during a weekend camping trip with three of their closest friends, while an extrovert might need a few hours alone after a full workday to refresh.

Most people understand this idea generally, but start to get confused when discussing how being outgoing or shy is a separate part of one's personality from their extroversion/introversion.

An extrovert can be shy and reserved, while an introvert can be talkative and outgoing. They are not mutually exclusive. People just tend to assume that anyone who draws energy from others would be outgoing while anyone more inclined to alone time would be reserved, which is inaccurate.

I for one, used to be very shy as a child and was often mistaken as an introvert. To the point where when I eventually realized I was an extrovert, old friends and teachers didn't believe me. This is because they didn't understand that I still got energy from being around others, even if I wasn't necessarily engaging with them.

However, a lot of extroverts do work hard to be seen as outgoing if they are naturally more shy, like I did. This is because it's hard to meet people and engage with others if you are extremely shy, making it more difficult for you to gain that energy boost you need. Introverts on the other hand don't necessarily feel the need to be as social or outgoing, since they feel drained after long periods with others anyways. If an introvert is shy to begin with, they just may not put as much importance in learning those skills as a shy extrovert would. Meanwhile an outgoing introvert can choose to utilize those skills when they want.

That being said, anyone can be as outgoing or gregarious as they want. Social skills are built, like any other skill, with practice. Someone will always have a natural talent, but by working hard anyone can achieve their goal of being an Antisocial or Social Butterfly.

The path is yours!

Until next time,

Caitlin

Are You Glad You Can Read This?

"I found this note ripped up on the bus yesterday. It looks like it was addressed to you from your daughter's teacher. I thought you should have it." My bus driver held out a crinkly taped up note to my mother who had been waiting for me at the bus stop. I almost cried right there as I realized what had happened. My bus driver had found the note I had attempted to destroy the day before, the one I didn't want my mother to see.

Textbooks from Wiki Commons

Textbooks from Wiki Commons

The note detailed how my first-grade teacher had noticed I was struggling in my Reading class and suspected that I didn't know how to read. The ironic, or not so ironic, part is that I hadn't been able to read what the note said, I had just tried to destroy it because I assumed all notes sent home were bad.

After a long discussion with my parents, many after-school study sessions, and years of extra help from tutors and reading coaches, I finally developed above average reading skills and a hard working attitude when faced with difficult challenges.

Sometimes, I'll sit and wonder what it would have been like if I couldn't read. And I mean could not read, at all. I assume that I'd be able to recognize my own name and a few other words when written, but beyond that, text would look like scribbles and strange hieroglyphics. I'd likely assume that people were just making stories up when reading. How would they be able to understand all those symbols?

At least I'd be able to drive places. Maps and road signs might be tricky, but I could work with numbers and landmarks.

Speaking of numbers, I was really good at math (despite having a preschooler's reading level). Numbers made complete sense to me, but simple words and spelling would confound me. I probably would have gone into a math related job because of that, if I could get that far in school.

I likely would have failed all my English classes, and probably even my history and science ones, since I wouldn't be able to read the questions or answers. I'm sure I would know at least some of the answers from lectures, but there would be no way for me to communicate those answers on a written test.

This is a book title page in Welsh from AbeBooks.com, which I think is a good example of what it would be like to be illiterate as an English speaker.

This is a book title page in Welsh from AbeBooks.com, which I think is a good example of what it would be like to be illiterate as an English speaker.

I wouldn't even be able to read instructions on furniture, movie summaries, or electric bills. I would have had to rely on other people to tell me how often I should take medicine, or where I was allowed to park and at what times. Even as an adult, I would have to have been completely dependent on another person and hope that they had my best intentions at heart. Or maybe I would use machines that read to me like what some blind people use?

When I think of that version of myself that could have been, I feel immensely grateful for the simple ability to read and write, something that I often take for granted. But I also feel worried for all the children who grow up without this ability, whether they are in the US or any other country. It is terrifying to imagine what life would be like without being able to read, let alone actually living it.

There is a section of Animal Farm that I vividly remember because it talked about how a number of the animals could not read and had to rely on the pigs to read the rules they had established for them. While the animals originally had seven rules that they followed stating that they were all equals, the pigs eventually went back and changed it to say, "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others", which none of the other animals could protest against because they could not read and therefore could not prove that it had ever said anything besides that.

Imagine your everyday life being like that…

However, that’s not to say that anyone who can’t read is going to have a terrible life - especially now-a-days where your cell phone can tell you directions, read your texts, and will even type up what you tell it into Google. There are just a lot of experiences that would be much more difficult to enjoy fully without the ability to read, and as someone who could have easily gone down that path, I feel extra thankful for this gift.

Have you ever considered what the world would be like without the ability to read?

Until next time,

Caitlin

Is Everything Fanfiction? Probably

One day my cousin came home from school to announce: "On the bus to school, I always ride next to a girl who is really quiet and usually writing in her journal. I finally got a look at what she is always writing and it's steamy Harry Potter fanfiction."

We all took a moment to laugh at this and tried to find out more details. But here's the thing, teens writing fanfiction is not that uncommon. And honestly, putting effort into writing, even if it's someone else's characters and setting, is still showing an interest in writing and thinking creatively, right? So why is there such a negative connotation with it?

This is because fanfiction is broken up into good and bad, just like TV shows or artwork. And there are different sites that are known for good or bad pieces. Sort of like ABC Family (or I guess it's Freeform now?) versus HBO.

However, most people just know of the poorly written fanfiction that used to be hosted on Quizilla or LiveJournal, and don't think about how fanfiction is actually prevalent in all forms of media. For instance someone might write a short story about Sherlock Holmes based in modern day London, which would be considered fanfiction, but what if an international company made it?

The modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes from BBC America

The modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes from BBC America

The BBC show 'Sherlock' is just that, a present day version of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Why isn't that considered fanfiction? It's definitely not canon (a piece of a story that's considered to be part of the original work), as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn't write the TV show's script. Does that make it fanfiction? Or since it is popular, does that make it something different?

Perhaps the term fanfiction can only be attributed to pieces of work that are currently copyrighted or if you don't own the rights? Such as 'A Very Potter Musical' that was produced a few years ago. That was considered fanfiction, even if it was well received by fans and the writer alike.

Fan made poster for “A Very Potter Musical” from deviantart.com/zersen

Fan made poster for “A Very Potter Musical” from deviantart.com/zersen

And along with that, the recent Lord of the Rings movies aren't considered fanfiction, even if characters that never appeared in the book, appear in the movie, such as Legolas in the three Hobbit films. Even though that was clearly fanservice (writing parts of a story in to please fans/readers) no one calls the films out as being fanfiction, they just consider it to be an adaptation of the books (AKA the definition of fanfiction), even if JRR Tolkien didn't give the films his personal blessing. However, the Lord of the Rings films did buy the rights, and perhaps that is the line that constitutes what is fanfiction or not.

But if having the rights is all you need to not be considered fanfiction, then anything written about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland cannot be considered fanfiction as the story is now public domain, such as Once Upon a Time's spinoff: Wonderland, or the recent Tim Burton films on the same subject.

Which leads me to the question: can authors write fanfiction of their own work? Once Upon a Time is a Freeform show that focuses on the lives of many fairytale characters and how their lives intertwine, such as Elsa from Disney's Frozen. However, Elsa's story in Once Upon a Time is very different from the one told in Frozen, such as Elsa's mother having a sister with ice magic who they cast out of the land, which is never discussed in the original story. Is this story arch canon since it came from the same company (Disney)? Or is it considered fanfiction since the writer of Frozen did not write it themselves?

I personally like to believe that everything in Once Upon a Time is just Disney's giant crossover fanfiction, but since the line between fanfiction and canon is so gray it is hard to tell.

Do you have any ideas for what makes something fanfiction or not?

Until next time,

Caitlin

This Statement is False. (Am I Lying?)

One of the first problems we had to solve in my novice level philosophy class was:

"This statement is false."

We were asked to determine if the statement was true or false, which is, of course, difficult to determine since if the statement is true, then it is false; and if it is false then it is true.

A few people dropped out of the class after that.

It brings up a good point though. Can things only ever be true or false? Is truth binary, living only as black or white with no gray overlap?

Most people would say yes: things can only be true or false, but what if there was another option?

Ancient Greek Philosophers from Wiki Commons

Ancient Greek Philosophers from Wiki Commons

The statement above, as well as "everything I say is a lie", definitely points at the idea that something that can be both true and false at the same time, which got me thinking about the definition of truth.

Truth is generally defined as "that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality". However, does "telling the truth" have the same definition? When something isn't true is it automatically a lie?

For instance, if I tell you that my cat is outside, but it isn't, would that be false? Yes, but would it be a lie?

For all you know, I really believed my cat was outside and thought I was being truthful, but what I said was still false. I'm clearly not telling the truth, but am I a liar?

However, if I was purposely trying to deceive you by saying my cat was outside, then what I would have said would have been false, as well as me attempting to lie to you.

Another question, what if the cat was outside but I thought it wasn't, so I told you it was outside in an attempt to deceive you. Then what I said would have been true but I would still have attempted to lie. Would I still be a liar?

Because of these tricky situations, my college roommate and I developed "tries" or half-truths. They are things you thought were true but ended up being false. The main point with tries though, is that there is no intent to deceive anyone. We felt that if you are trying to trick someone whether what you say ends up being true or false, you are still a liar.

Do you agree that intent is what separates liars from truth-tellers? Have you ever accidentally told tries?

Until next time,

Caitlin

Achievement Unlocked: You Bought a House!

If you're interested in video games, you've probably heard of the very popular sequel to the Elder Scrolls franchise: Skyrim. It is named after the island-country that you play in and was one of the largest open world video games ever made.

The game has many features that allow you to customize your personal journey through the game, but one thing I find really interesting are the houses in the game.

There are four houses you can choose from in the original version of the game (later versions and mods allow you to purchase others). The houses are spread out and range in price, size, decoration, and even rooms that can be added on.

At first I was caught up in the idea of purchasing the best house. I researched all four and read up about what made each one unique, like I would if I was going to purchase a house in real life (unfortunately?). My character was a thief and a member of the Thieves Guild, so I ended up purchasing Honeyside in Riften. It wasn't the biggest but it was the most convenient and was the only house that allowed you to skip a loading screen if you exited the back door.

Image of the house you can purchase in Riften from the Elder Scrolls Wiki

Image of the house you can purchase in Riften from the Elder Scrolls Wiki

Only after dumping all of the various junk I had been carrying around did I realize the main reason houses were added: to be a giant storage shed.

Most chests reset after a period of time and delete everything inside, but your character can only hold about 300 pounds at one time. So you have to think really hard about if you need that Dwarven Bow of Scorching before you pick it up, because if you pick it up and then have to leave it somewhere, you won't be getting it back. Or conversely, if it makes you tip over the 300 pounds you can carry, then you become encumbered and are forced to move at the slowest speed known to man.

Therefore, houses were added to allow you to drop off your stuff so you can do more exploring. And isn't that what real houses are for?

Sure, I hang out in my real house and it gives me a place to sleep that's safe, but it also holds all of my junk. Do I really need fifteen paintings of flowers? Or a dining table for six when there are generally only three people in my household? Or a grill I use five times a year?

No. But hey, I got room so may as well.

If houses were strictly for beauty then they would have intricate carvings and paintings directly on the wall and giant bay windows to get the best light. And conversely, if they were just for functionality, then they would be small and just have a bed and maybe some boxes for your most important things. However, they are neither because they are made to hold us and our junk. Hence why attics, closets, and basements are popular in houses: so you have places to hide all the junk you don't want other people to see.

Until next time,

Caitlin

Understanding YouTube and Its Appeal

I've watched more YouTube than I care to admit, and because of this I've had a lot of time to observe YouTube and its users.

Using my expertise on the subject, I've broken down why it's been so successful and how this simple site relates to larger trends in society now and in the future.


WHY PEOPLE LOVE YOUTUBE

Almost 90% of 13-24 year olds watch YouTube weekly and spend 40+ minutes watching their videos a sitting (with likely multiple sittings per day).

Relatability - YouTubers are real people with real problems, making them more relatable than a Hollywood celebrity.

Transparency - Creators talk about their lives and apologize when they make mistakes, making them seem more "real" instead of perfect.

Anything - There is a video for everything on YouTube, allowing people to follow their various interests and find a community that fits them.

Timing - Viewers can watch videos whenever is most convenient for them, making it more of a personalized experience.


PROBLEMS WITH YOUTUBE

YouTube is always willing to sell ad space on their site, but what happens when viewers don't want ads anymore?

Ads - Most viewers hate ads and some have gotten 'Adblocker', which skips ads, but keeps channels from getting ad money for their views.

Ad Money - All 'YouTube Red' money goes into a bucket that channels get a percent of, instead of viewers supporting specific channels.

Trolls - YouTube commenters are notoriously mean spirited, likely because anytime you have 90% of people participating in something, there are always going to be the jerks there too.

Hyper Controlled - Due to a backlash from some videos being considered “unsavory”, many ad sponsors pulled away from YouTube and are only just now considering to rejoin the platform. This then caused YouTube to become hyper strict about what videos get monetized from ads, to the point where mentioning current news updates can get you demonetized.


HOW YOUTUBE IS CHANGING

YouTube's 'Red' and 'Gaming' channels are an attempt to put it in direct competition with cable and online streaming sites.

New Tech - Live streaming already plays a small part in YouTube, but like virtual reality, will continue to grow as the technology gets better.

Subscription - Users can now pay for content. It's unclear if this will be successful since many users are insistent on YouTube remaining free.

Original Content - In an attempt to to stay ahead of the curve and make money, YouTube now has their own shows, similar to Netflix.

Ad Space - YouTube is having to rethink how they make money, and whether selling ad space is still the best route, especially with the large backlash from many ad sponsors.


WHAT THIS ALL MEANS

Taking steps to work with the ideals of future generations will allow any brand to adapt and prepare for the future.

Recommendations - Viewers feel so connected to YouTubers that they are much more likely to consider purchasing their recommendations than a traditional advertisement, even from Hollywood celebrities. This relates to viewers trusting that YouTubers would be honest about the product.

Transparency - Younger generations are looking for people and brands that are more genuine and "real". They would rather a brand make a mistake and admit to it, while fixing it, then trying to cover it up. Brands that try to appear perfect will have a difficult time winning them over.

Share Economy/Open Source - 'Let's Plays' and other videos allow viewers to share in the experience of video games and other mediums, without having to purchase it themselves. They would rather have the experience than own the item. This can also be seen with open source coding for websites and community tool sheds, where people are much more open to sharing in hopes of helping the greater community.


I hope you enjoyed this closer look into the YouTube platform. Again, this is based of my research and personal observations so you might have a different viewpoint. However you look at it though, YouTube has definitely changed the way that we interact with media and will likely have lasting effects for a long time into the future.

Until next time,

Caitlin

What You Will Find Thrifting

One of my favorite pastimes is thrifting, or as my family calls it: Goodwilling, since there are mainly just Goodwills where they live.

Thrift shops are a magical experience. Sifting through other people's discarded and ancient knick-knacks is always more interesting that looking through your own. 

Thrift stores all have a distinct smell of old shirts that have been in the attic for years and potpourri. Certain stores may smell more or less like this depending on the posh-level of the establishment, but even if they have sprayed air freshener, you can still find this smell living dormant underneath.

Image of a “salty duck” that I took at a local thrift store. You never know what treasures you will find when thrifting.

Image of a “salty duck” that I took at a local thrift store. You never know what treasures you will find when thrifting.

The majority of the store is clothing, sorted by type and occasionally color. Racks lining the wall and aisles seem to embrace the store in a soft collection of dresses from the 70s, high school sport jackets, and themed sweaters. There is almost never anything in both your style and your size, but still you have to check.

Some people do quick sweeps over the rack, looking for something to catch their eye. They push the clothes apart every once in a while to investigate a cream shirt or to see if a pair of jeans is in their size. These are usually people who are just there to kill some time, or were dragged by their friends. They aren't looking for anything in particular.

Others, usually with a few clothes already draped across their arm, are pushing each item one at a time into view so they can investigate more thoroughly. The longer this browser has been looking, the faster they flip through each item. They generally have an idea of what they want and are scared of the idea of missing out on that one, specific thing.

Each section of a thrift shop has more or less of these browsers. The higher racks that hang on the walls, which tend to be dresses, winter coats, and 90s pant suits, usually have more casual viewers who scan through quickly. Meanwhile, shirts, skirts, and pants tend to have people who take longer to look through each item. This is probably because the fit of these items is more important, as well as, the fact that these are more common things for people to be looking for on a day-to-day basis.

When two browsers get near each other, whether going in the same direction or not, a strange game of chicken begins, where each shopper sees how close they can get to the other person before one of them gives up and moves further down the rack. This really only becomes an issue for more involved browsers, as casual browsers can see from a distance if anything looks worth investigating.

While thrift stores are usually mostly devoted to clothes, the best part of thrifting is the 'home goods' section where all the dusty, knick-knacks are kept. Porcelain clowns, vacation mugs, candle holders, and empty picture frames litter the metal shelves with various bits of kitchen wares and children's artwork thrown in-between. Antique televisions line a wall looking like soulless eyes, asking the question of what technology will be here instead of them in the near future. Golf clubs lay between the record bin and the collection of used board games. Barbies have never evoked the question of mortality more than in the pile they are thrown in, bent in strange angles, their hair knotted with half a scrunchy still in it, as they look blankly at passersby.

People give their unwanted goods to thrift stores. Then they shop at thrift stores for new stuff, which they eventually give to thrift stores when they don't want it. It's a strange circle of giving, receiving, and cycling through finite resources. And yet, they always have new things to look through.

As they say: One person's trash is another one's treasure.

Until next time,

Caitlin