Sunday, November 30, 2014

happy thanksgiving

1) I walked into Starbucks this morning, and the woman at the front of the line was pacing back and forth. "You seriously don't have the chai tea bags?" she asked. The barista shook her head. "This is," the woman continued, over-enunciating, "the worst Starbucks in the world." The barista's expression remained blank. The woman reiterated, ". . . the world!," and then walked out.

When I got up to the counter, the barista turned to her co-worker. "Did you hear that?" she asked him, monotone. "We're the worst Starbucks in the world."

2) A few hours later, I entered the elevator in my building with a woman, wearing a dark coat and an involved scarf, who looked as though she had just returned from an Appalachian trek. I pressed the button for my floor, which was two floors below hers. "I love when someone's on a lower floor that me," she said (it took me a half-second to realize she was talking to me), "It's, like, maybe I hear you being loud! You know?" I smiled so broadly—like that watermelon-slice smile emoji—and nodded my head violently. We didn't speak for the rest of the ride.

3) My iPhone, which I had had for at least two years, lost its life on the eve of Thanksgiving (another blog post for another time). I got a new iPhone, on the afternoon of Thanksgiving, but—since I had, I learned, never backed up my data properly—I lost all the photographs I had taken (more than 2,000) on that phone. When I told my family, as we gorged on shrimp before our Thanksgiving meal, that I had lost all of these photographs, my father looked at me incredulously. "You don't seem upset at all," he said. "This is so unlike you." He was right. I would have guessed that I'd feel like a man dropped out of a helicopter into the middle of the Pacific Ocean; instead, to my surprise, I felt like you do after you've just checked a large suitcase before a long flight: weightless and unencumbered. I ate so many shrimp that I wasn't hungry for the actual meal.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

text me if you can

A few weeks ago, on a Monday night, I met two of my friends for dinner in the East Village. I arrived to find them waiting on the sidewalk outside the restaurant.

"We're on the list," Jess informed me. "She's going to text us when she has a table."

The three of us hovered by a lamppost as we waited, my lime green t-shirt gradually and patchily turning forest green in the awful evening humidity.

After no more than five minutes, Jess received a text: "may be a bit longer for your table, but would you like to sit at the bar for a drink?"

Now, this restaurant is a small, intimate joint, the kind of place where you have to turn and slide by behind the bar to get to the bathroom. There could not have been more than 20 people in there at any given point. (All of this, of course, is probably part of its appeal.) It's not as though this hostess was so overrun that she couldn't have just peeked her head outside and conveyed this information to us with her voice. Additionally, the door of the restaurant was open, and we could actually see her through the opening; so, in all likelihood, she had made the choice to write a (long, sentence-y!) text to Jess (one which necessitated a response, at that!) while she was staring directly at her.

Jess turned to us, somewhat perplexed. "So do I, like, text her back?" 

David grunted. I tossed my hands in the air. Finally – in spite of our (I think I can speak for all three of us here) palpable fear of confrontation – we sighed, channeled our collective inner Vin Diesel and decided to just barrel our way inside.

The hostess greeted us with an almost malevolent, Aubrey Plaza grin.

"Um, we got your text," I said.

"Cool," she said. And then, after a pause, she repeated the twenty words of her text message, verbatim, verbally. As we followed her to the bar, I briefly contemplated making a clunky "Should we text our drink orders to the bartender?" joke, but I thankfully made no such attempt. My "outrage" at her texting maneuver was clearly borne out of some identification; in fact, in her shoes, I probably would have added an overzealous emoticon (":D" or even ":P") at the end, which would of course only have aggravated the situation.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

all in the timing

I always get sweaty and anxious (SO different from my normal resting state) when I'm writing a plans-making e-mail and have to propose when to meet up with someone in relation to a hard stop (e.g. a drinks date she has at 9pm, a reading we're both attending at 7:30pm). 

In my experience, you usually end up sending one of three kinds of e-mails. Let's say, for example's sake here, that you're meeting up with your friend who has to be at the Big Apple Circus at 8pm (what better place to LIVE IT UP than the examples in one's blog posts, right?!):

1) Proposing a somewhat late meet-up time at the risk of seeming like you're trying to limit the amount of time you'll be spending one-on-one. "Why don't we just meet at 7 by your thing and find somewhere to grab food?"


2) Overdoing it in the other direction (you'd be up for spending weeks and weeks together if you could!) — "Maybe 6?? Is that too early?! :P" — knowing full well your friend will suggest pushing it back ("Could we actually do 6:30? I'm going to be, like, coming from uptown.")


3) Being comically indecisive in an attempt to completely force the decision on the other person. "Anything works for me! 6? 6:30? 7? Hahah! The possibilities! I can't believe you're going to the CIRCUS!"


No option leaves you feeling particularly great. You either worry you've offended the person (a fear that increases with each passing minute you don't get a response) (#1), lament that you'll now have to cut your early evening "mess around on the internet on the couch" time by an hour (#2), or sigh that you've simply delayed any decision and that there will now be at least seven more e-mails back-and-forth (#3).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

alums

The summer between my junior and senior year of college, I lived in Alumni Hall – one of the NYU dorms – with my college roommate, Andrew. It was a formative summer for me for a host of reasons, one of which was that it was my first time living in New York. Looking back on it, there was a funny sort of “play acting” going on: we were living in a fake apartment (dorm rooms) working at fake jobs (internships) for two months. But, at the time, it felt like we were on the cusp of adulthood in a thrilling and exhilarating way. Drinks dates and cab rides and grimy side streets, all cast in relief to the comparatively bucolic collegiate setting we were used to... it felt the entire summer like we were living in the first five minutes of a movie.

Of course, in the years since, when I walk past Alumni Hall, I roll my eyes. I note the security guard sitting in the lobby and the chaos of St. Mark’s Place, and the whole scene seems wholly juvenile. Once when Andrew was in town, we walked past it and I had to remind him that that’s where we had lived that summer. We both looked wistfully in its direction the way you might when coming across a drawing you did when you were eight.

Last week, my little brother, who turned 21 in October, moved into Alumni Hall for the summer. I went to visit him last Tuesday. He had warned me that he’d have to come down to let me in, but the security guard just smiled and let me through when I said I was there to visit my brother. I met my brother’s roommate, and I asked them both all sorts of questions -- “What are your hours at work?” “What do you do for lunch?” – that made me feel like an aunt. The two of them talked about happy hours and majors and air conditioning; I did a lot of nodding. I’m six years older than my brother, but sitting at that kitchen table -- next to an unopened box containing a fan and an unplugged alarm clock -- the age gap between us felt like either minutes or decades, it was impossible to discern which.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Refresh Refresh Refresh

Hi friends!

Know it's been a minute since I've been able to post anything here (nothing gets everyone more PSYCHED than an introductory sentence about how it's been a while since someone's written/vlogged/posted, I KNOW), but wanted to let y'all know that I'm going to be reading a piece at Refresh Refresh Refresh on Sunday night! It's at 8pm at Cake Shop! Very excited about this, and would be great to see you there!

XOJD



Thursday, April 18, 2013

growing up

There are some pretty tangible barometers of maturity, I guess -- when you can legally drink at 21, when you realize you actually like the taste of coffee and aren't just forcing yourself to drink it to try and look "intellectual," etc. But, for me, one of the clearest signs that I have evolved into a semi-functional adult human occurred yesterday in the realm of gmail. 

I've been trying to find a particular designer for a project I'm working on, and a friend of mine sent me a list of five recommendations. I drafted my introductory e-mail (Oh, another sign of maturity! In the past, I would have bitched about the new gmail "compose" layout for weeks, probably would have written a whole blog post about it.... but, in this bright new present, I just immediately switched it back to "old compose" and am now pretending I'll be able to keep it this way forever. VERY adult!). Anyway, I then copied my note into four new e-mails, changing the first names, and sent them out one by one. Once I was finished, I instinctively clicked on my "Sent Mail" folder just to make sure all looked kosher... only to find I had accidentally sent one of the e-mails without changing the first name. I had written "Hi Allison!" to a Maggie.

Now, a previous version of Josh would have completely lost it here. He would have started sweating around the neck, drafted an over-the-top, horrible follow-up e-mail to Maggie ("Guess the cat's out of the bag - you've got some competition. You better hurry to respond quicker than Allison! JK hahaha" or "Sorry, a Maggie really did a number on me when I was a child and the name switch is a defense technique I learned from my therapist :D :P"). Then I would have sent it, clicked "Undo Send" two seconds later, and then ultimately decided to hit "send" again, only to then spend the subsequent half-hour stewing that I had made the situation so much worse. BUT YESTERDAY, after I noted my error, I just kind of calmly smiled (I didn't actually smile, I was sitting by myself in my apartment) and clicked out of the e-mail. "Maybe she'll get a kick out of it," I thought. And then I got up to procure some pistachios to munch on. (KIDDING ABOUT THAT LAST PART. WILL NEVER BE SO ADULT THAT I CASUALLY MUNCH ON PISTACHIOS.) 

This morning I received a response from Maggie. "Hey Brian," the e-mail began.

Monday, March 25, 2013

multiple locations

I'll log onto Facebook, scroll down the page, and come across a picture my friend Phoebe posted of her and her boyfriend beaming in front of a sunset on a Puerto Rico beach. "Aww," I'll think, and instinctively "like" the picture.  

An hour later, while waiting in line at a deli, I'll scroll through my Instagram feed and see the same picture there, too. I'll hesitate for a moment. Do I "like" it here, too?? (I think I'm just gonna drop these cumbersome quotes around "like" from now on! Reckless as ever!) On the one hand, I'll consider, it seems a little excessive to like the same shot again. I liked it already on Facebook; she'll know I've seen it and offered my virtual thumbs up (because Phoebe is clearly spending all of her time worrying about whether or not I'm liking her pictures). But then it will strike me that I've spent a good 25 seconds deliberating whether or not to like an Instagram picture and it seems so absurd to be "holding myself back" and life is short why not just like things that you like as many times as you like. So I'll double-tap the picture and keep scrolling. 

A few minutes later, I'll see she's posted a link to the very same picture on her Twitter and, even though I have now dwelled on it on two different social networks, I'll click the link anyway to see it a third time, as if I don't have a choice in the matter.

Friday, March 8, 2013

a day at the museum

I went to a museum last weekend, and it was really fun. (That's the first sentence I wrote when I started writing this, and normally I'd rewrite it since that is a sentence right out of a 4th grade language textbook, but I've decided to... keep it! It really sums up everything you need to know right up top here!)

The first exhibit we went to consisted of all of these giant, hanging works done by this really cool drapery artist (that is definitely the official name for what he is). I enjoyed all of the pieces, but also found myself distracted the entire time by these two high school girls who both were wearing striped shirts and who were clutching each other as they roamed through the exhibit (one of their mothers was a few yards ahead of them; they of course had to keep their distance). I heard them whispering about a boy named Sebastian, and then at one point they sat down on this bench and I took this picture of them (all of this is ALMOST TOO NORMAL and not creepy at all, I know). Anyway, after I took this picture, the girl in the red stripes lamented, "He's just... weird, you know?" and blue stripes sighed, "Yeah, totally," and then they jumped up and glided out of the room, arms linked. (Also pretty pathetic/reprehensible on my part that I didn't even notice the extremely adorable child on an iPad in this picture until I uploaded it into this post just now.) 

Later we visited an Ancient Egypt exhibit, which was filled with mummies and ankhs, and it reminded me of 3rd grade and not in a good way (as opposed to all the ways that remind you of 3rd grade which are GREAT, of course). But one aspect of this exhibit did please me - I was reading this plaque about Osiris and read that whoever this Osiris was had a "jealous brother, Seth." Maybe everyone knows all about Seth and this is just going to expose my ignorance about Egyptian myths or whatever, but Seth sounds awesome. I admittedly didn't read the rest of the description super carefully (though I did catch that Seth threw his brother in a "special human-shaped box" (!!!)) and sorry this picture is horrendously lit/framed, but I just can't get over this psychotic Seth dude and am seriously unclear as to why he isn't the only Egyptian god anyone ever talks about.  
 
And on the way out we passed this sculpture/costume/masterpiece and I love it so much! What I love about it is I feel like you could put Karlie Kloss in it and put the shot in Harper's Bazaar and I don't think anyone would flinch (OK, that's maybe a stretch, but you know what I mean). And at the same time, it ALSO looks like a hideous scary Pixar monster come to life! Both at once!

Friday, March 1, 2013

trips to the drawer

When he's at home, my dad always sits in the same seat at the end of the couch in the living room. He uses the end table next to the couch as a desk, his laptop on top of a m√©lange of papers and folders and pens. In the drawer of the end table, he keeps business cards, newspaper clippings, binder clips (mixed in with the take out menus, ticket stubs, holiday cards, and other ephemera that has accumulated over the years). About a year ago, I opened the drawer looking for a menu and noticed a pack of Dentyne Fire gum. I took it out and held it in front of my dad's face (the only way you can get his attention when he's working).  

"What is this?"
"What does it look like?"
"Why do you have it?"
"It's the greatest."


I tried a piece and was surprised to find that I was immediately obsessed. I returned to the drawer five or six more times that day, trekking from the "work station" I had set up in my childhood bedroom. Every time I'd open the drawer, my dad would look up at me and smirk before returning his gaze to his laptop. It made me feel like I was eight years old. 

I had no desire to start buying the Fire gum when I got back to NYC; but, ever since, whenever I'm home I make a few trips a day to the drawer. I've noticed that, lately, the drawer is always fully stocked when I get home. When I was home a few weeks ago, there were three full packs. "Wow, what fortune!" I exclaimed when I opened the drawer and found the bounty. "What's that?" my mom asked, looking up from her magazine. "Nothing," I said. My dad didn't look up from his laptop.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

news & notes

Hi friends!

Some news & notes!

1) Like 17 years later, I've made a twitter account for this here blog. It has soooo many followers already, so hurry up and follow it before all the spots run out!! (My own personal twitter is here.)

2) I'm writing a web series that I'm working on with a bunch of very talented people! It's called TWENTY FIVE, and our website's up here -- ch-check it out! (We've also got a Facebook, Twitter, and Kickstarter up. An obscene number of hyperlinks within this parenthetical, I know.) Episodes will be up later this year! 

3) This isn't "news" or a "note" (actually, I guess maybe it is a note?), but it just dawned on me when I was re-reading what I've written so far and changed two periods to exclamation points that it is ABSURD how we've gotten to a point "culturally" where not ending a sentence with an exclamation point makes it seem VERY solemn/severe, regardless of the sentence's content. I recently re-read a long catch-up e-mail I wrote in like 2009 to a good friend about my job and life and such... and the fact that there were zero exclamation points in it honestly made it read like hate speech. 

Anyway, that's it! Love you all!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

best title i could come up with for this was "a list about words" :/

1. A few years ago I drunkenly told my friend that I thought his boyfriend seemed "kind of iconoclastic," which was not at all what I meant (I think I was going for "vain") and made absolutely no sense in context, but I think I just liked the idea of saying the word "iconoclastic" at a bar. My friend kind of shrugged, and something about that exchange has stayed with me forever since as a sort of minor private shame.

2. It dawned on me during a phone call the other day that over the past six months I've adopted a completely gross habit of caveating every other sentence I say with "... if that makes sense." Not only does it make you sound totally willowy (idk), it's also, of course, implicitly fishing for an affirmative response: so, double the grossest.

3. I've noticed that it doesn't matter who you're talking about or what the situation is, if you refer to someone as "humorless" in conversation, the person you're talking to will nod emphatically in agreement.

4. It's hard not to be suspicious of anyone who uses the word "lovely" too much. Whenever I say it, I feel like I'm doing a bad Mariah Carey impression.

 5. Recently I was walking into a bagel place with a friend of mine. I was setting up a story and, every time I'd pause, she'd nod and say "yeah..." After a few of these nods, I looked up at her and asked, "Oh, you know where I'm going with this?" "No," she said. "I've just been saying 'yeah.'" This made us both laugh weirdly hard, and by the time we were finished laughing, we were in line to order and the story had evaporated unfinished.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Giuliani-i-fication

I've seen so many old movies recently! (Apologies for starting off this post with something right out of Zooey Deschanel's Twitter drafts folder.) I guess it started when I was reading some piece about romantic comedies that referenced "Broadcast News," which I hadn't seen before and felt like I should; I ordered it on Netflix and watched it that weekend. That led to my populating my Netflix queue with a whole slew of notable movies from previous decades that I had never seen.  

There's probably some kind of psychological effect at work here, or maybe it's just that I usually have no prior knowledge of the actors when I watch these movies, but the leads in these films just seem so much more like movie stars. They're alluring, sturdier (?)... unknowable, mysterious, beautiful. I'm not simultaneously thinking about what they look like wearing sweatpants coming out of the supermarket, or who they're married to in real life (since I don't even know!). It's hard to watch "An Officer and a Gentleman" and not consider with a frown that if that movie were made today, it would probably star Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in the Richard Gere and Debra Winger roles.  

By the time the movie's finished, I'm itching to Google the actors, scan their Wikipedias, see what they look like now. Of course, invariably, the findings are depressing. I find out that the twentysomething hearththrob from the movie I just watched is now a grandfather (as my friend Alice put it, regarding this phenomenon: "[your] crushes turn into Giuliani"), or that the leading lady hasn't been in a movie since 1987. These revelations usually lead my mind to two different places: 1) I imagine a young guy watching, like, "Eternal Sunshine" 30 years from now and then looking up this intriguing "Kate Winslet" and clicking through her Google Images and realizing she's the mother of that young actress he just saw in a small part in a new Jane Austen adaptation on HBO, and then deciding to add "Revolutionary Road" or whatever to his queue, and 2) I contemplate how weirdly jealous I am of the children of famous actors who can watch their parents' films (the equivalent for them of old home movies, I guess) and "hang out" with this strapping younger version of their mother or father whenever they feel like it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

by a string

I was waiting for the elevator the other day next to a family of three: mother, father, teenage daughter. Each was holding a few shopping bags. They were silent for a few moments, shifting as we waited, and then the mother reached to take one of the daughter's bags. "Stop, mom," the daughter snapped, "I've got it." She looked down and turned away from both parents. "I was just trying..." the mother started, before shifting into mumbles. Meanwhile, the dad looked like he was daydreaming about a coffee mug.  

The elevator opened, and the four of us entered. Just as the doors were about to close, a Real Housewives-y cartoon of a woman in a fur coat slid her way into the elevator with us, along with her small dog. "Make way for my little Frankie," she announced, even though none of us were even remotely in her way. The elevator doors closed, and Fur Coat took in the mother-daughter pair. "Oh my god, you guys are adorable. Matching outfits! So cute." The mother and daughter looked down sheepishly at their red coats and then they made reluctant eye contact, unable to conceal barely perceptible smiles. "Yeah," the mother said, "I guess you're right." "So it wasn't planned?" asked Fur Coat, as she picked Frankie up from the ground and began stroking his fur. "Nope," the mother said. "I guess when you've been living together for this long, these things just happen..." As she said this, the daughter rolled her eyes semi-dramatically for show but, simultaneously, she took a small step toward her mom, as if pulled by a string.

Monday, January 7, 2013

confidants

One of your good friends, Jennifer, is having people over, so you put on a new sweater, pick up a bottle of wine, spend the entire subway ride regretting wearing the new sweater instead of one of your "go to" shirts, and walk to her apartment. Some faint music is playing from a television (?) and there are seven bottles of red wine but no white and all the women are wearing scarves (though each in a different manner). You say hello to Jennifer, who is seemingly already wasted, and proceed to meet a bunch of the periphery characters in your conception of her life: her new boyfriend's roommate, her former coworker who she always talks about, etc. Usually there's one of these bit players whom you end up talking to for a weirdly long amount of time, typically someone who isn't even all that close to Jennifer (it'll be, like, the boyfriend of one of her on-the-outs college friends).

A few days later, you meet up with Jennifer for dinner and, before you've even opened your menus, you say something like "so Saturday night was so fun...," and you're off! You work through each person at the party systematically. You'll deliver a vague initial assessment of each person you met, in turn: "I liked the roommate with the hat!" (you don't want to take too strong a stance before you know what Jennifer's take on the given individual is). Jennifer will proceed to break down this person's entire existence in 30 seconds ("Well, the story with him is that three years ago he..."). After this summary, you'll circle back and either reaffirm or scale back your original claim ("You know, he did seem a little creepy...") And then you move on to the next person ("Wait, so who was the girl with the curly hair...?") 

 
There's something strangely electric about the whole back-and-forth. It's like a car-ride-home-from-a-movie conversation but intimate and dishy and devoid of arguments related to Hugh Jackman's singing voice. As you and Jennifer wait for a picture of her boyfriend's sister to load on her phone's Facebook app, you feel like a confidant, like this is somehow the adult version of the late night bunk bed conversations and post-homework hour-long phone calls of your teenage years.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

two at a time

The checks finally come. You both sign, and fumble, and stand, and fumble, and put your jackets on. You exit the restaurant in silence. When you're outside, you say, "It's getting so.... cold," putting a weird accent on "cold" in an attempt to mask the blandness of the remark. "I know," he says, "... so, which subway...?" "Oh, I think I'm going to take the Q... Union Square...." You sway your head back and forth slightly. Very chill! "Great, I'm... walking in that direction, too," he says, in the vague manner one only uses in circumstances like these. A long pause, and then you both start talking at the same time. You smile (he doesn't) and you ask -- shouting, basically -- "So what're you doing for New Year's?"

Thee blocks later, you're at Union Square. "This was... great," he says. "Yeah, it was great!" A brief hug. If someone across the street were to catch only a few seconds, it could be mistaken for two strangers brushing past one another in front of a Walgreens. The escalator down to the subway's working properly, but you still descend two at a time.