Friday, December 28, 2007

the end of 2007, the end of an era

I spent a good hour or so shopping for calendars online yesterday before I had a sudden epiphany that I am finished with wall calendars. "Why have I ended my annual tradition of buying a calendar?" you might be asking yourself.

Problem #1: You have to flip to the next page each month. This can get to be a hassle, especially when you are using scotch tape to keep the thing on the wall.

Problem #2: Every time it falls (about once every two months), you have to re-affix it. This is so annoying.

Problem #3: I get insanely bored looking at the same picture every day for thirty straight days, even when it's a picture of Britney Spears trying to look sexy in a bikini (11th grade) or Michael Scott smiling goofily (sophomore year of college).

Problem #4: I don't think I have looked at my wall calendar to figure out what the date is since middle school.

Problem #5: Who needs a real calendar when you've got Google Calendar?!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

a lack of color

It's always completely mortifying when you leave your house in an outfit you only wear when you don't expect to see anyone you know (for me: unkempt hair, unshaven, glasses, way too large sweatshirt jacket thing, really tight neon Death Cab for Cutie T-shirt, torn up jeans, massive gray Sketchers) and then, of course, you see someone you know (for me: that girl from middle school who I always partnered with in Science class and haven't talked to since).

The only thing I can think about for the whole conversation is that she must be thinking that I have a horrific sense of style or that I have no friends and have no one I feel the need to look presentable for or that I went blind at some point during high school. Of course, she probably didn't think twice about my outfit and most likely promptly forgot about the encounter after it happened. But that doesn't stop me from brushing my hair and wearing normal sneakers next time I leave the house.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

i do not want to see "superbad" more than once

I've noticed that people are really into giving movie DVDs as presents as of late. The DVD seems to have wedged itself somewhere between the gift certificate and that really cool inside joke present as a gift that shows you care but that isn't too expensive/elaborate.

Never get me a DVD as a present.

Either I've seen the movie before or I haven't. If I have, there is little chance I am going to want to see it again. One screening of "Pirates of the Caribbean" is plenty, thank you very much. I can probably count on one hand (god I hate that expression, but I just used it, so who knows if I really hate it?) the number of movies that I want to be able to see multiple times whenever I please. Unless you are sure you are buying me a rare I-would-marry-this-movie movie, don't risk it.

Or I haven't seen the movie you bought me. There is usually a reason for this. I skipped "300" and "Transformers" because I didn't want to see them, not because I wanted you to get them for me on DVD six months later.

Monday, December 24, 2007

hook 'em horns

Tonight, my family ate dinner at the Longhorn Steakhouse -- to celebrate Christmas Eve, obviously.

Two things of note:

1) Every once in a while, I see something and wonder why it took so long for someone to think of the idea (example: the ketchup bottles that have the cap on the bottom). In the bathroom at the Longhorn, I was confronted with a similar "this is such an obviously good idea I can't believe it" sort of thing: the front page of the newspaper hung above the urinal!

2) After we were finished eating our meals (two steaks, one order of chicken fingers, one honey mustard chicken sandwich, one salmon), our waitress (who could easily play the female lead in the next I'm-an-artsy-girl-who-is-totally-going-to-change-your-life indie dramedy) came over to clear our plates. "You guys were hungry," she said with a grin, as my family members exchanged quizzical glances. "Good work," she said, as if she was speaking to a group of kindergarteners who had just put together a challenging puzzle. "Uh, thanks...?" my brother replied.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

home sweet. . .

I know I haven't been living at home for a few years now, but it's strange to me how - no matter how long I've been away - it still feels right whenever I return. There's that uncomfortable five seconds in which your mind has to catch up to your body right after you walk in the door. But then, after that, you're home and it's your couch and it's your television and it's your weird closet filled with wrapping paper and winter coats and soon you forget that you even exist outside of the walls of your house.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

press "7"

It recently struck me that there are a great number of patterns I have fallen into that I get completely OCD about adhering to even though there is no rhyme or reason at all to the behavior.

For example, if someone (let's say Witty Wanda) leaves me a voice mail which rambles for a while before ending with the ole' "So, yeah. . . if you're not too busy or anything, give me a call back when you can," I always save the voice mail. Then I make a mental note that I need to call Witty Wanda back. Usually I'll wait for an opportune time (walking to the bookstore to return a notebook; clicking through a sorta-boring Facebook photo album; driving for a while on the highway) to make the return call. As soon as I finish my fun, catch-up convo with Witty Wanda, I immediately dial "1" and delete the voice mail she had left me.

Similarly (well, these things seem similar in my head, at least), I always keep my most recent ATM receipt in my wallet. Again, who knows why? Then, the next time I go to the ATM and get a receipt, I throw out the old one (always ripping it in half first) and replace it in my trusty wallet with the new one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

yet another reason i hate snow

I have been walking around all day in constant fear of the massive pieces of ice that fall from rooftops onto the ground with absolutely no warning and with alarming speed.

How come more people don't get hit by ice? It makes no sense. It seems like every time I go outside (not too often nowadays) I see rock-hard ice careening toward the ground everywhere I look as groups of cheery kids frolic by with rosy cheeks and annoying smiles. "You idiot kids," I scowl to myself, "one of you is going to get cracked in the skull with an errant iceberg and then those cheeks won't be so rosy!"

I think I am officially an irritable 78-year-old trapped in the body of a 22-year-old.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I find writing e-mails back to people who forget to attach the attachment extremely uncomfortable. I never really know what to write in the body of the e-mail.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Uh, I think snow just fell into my pancakes. . .?"

diner in Stamford, CT 11:37 a.m.

The ceiling opened up right next to the booth we were eating brunch at this morning. (The diner employee told us to "evacuate" our table.) It was exciting.

Friday, December 14, 2007

working around "is"

As some of you may already be aware, a few days ago Facebook changed one of its most bizarre rules: statuses will no longer have to begin with the word "is."

I have never made myself a Facebook status before (the whole idea of it confused me -- was the idea to tell people what you were doing? to show off your wit? both at once?), but I have enjoyed watching other people make fools of themselves thanks to the "is" constraint.

A few of my favorite kinds of "is"-plagued statuses:

1) The "let's pretend the 'is' isn't here" status. Example: "Trevor is GO RED SOX!" or "Fiona is come to my dance show tonight it is going to be so hotttttt"

2) The oblivious status. Example: "Mickey is is in the library" or "Petunia is is in deep thought."

3) The awkward gerund status. Example: "Kathryn is wanting to go to Boston soooo badly" or "Petra is understanding why Victor will never love her"

4) The abstract status. Example: "Crystal is green!" or "George is The Great Gatsby."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

things i have found to be true

1) When you arrange for a repair man/computer technician/friend to come over to fix a problem, the problem will always resolve itself about twenty minutes before the person is supposed to arrive.

2) When you order hummus/guacamole/spinach-and-artichoke dip at a restaurant, there will always be chips left over after the dip is finished.

3) Despite what they may say, no one really cares how your test went.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

was i alive before i got my laptop?!

If there's one thing I just love, it's the following kind of exclamation:

- "How did people exist before cell phones?"
- "Seriously, Becky, how did people get anywhere before there was Google Maps?"
- "Did people, like, talk to each other before there was AIM?"

Honestly, questions of this kind are just great. I mean, I've often wondered. . . how did people laugh before YouTube was invented? How did people write without keyboards? Come to think of it: did people even make music before iTunes? If only there were people alive today who were around before the internet who could answer such nagging questions!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"you're from texas?! do you know. . . john?"

Everyone is familiar with the "Oh, so do you know. . .?" game. For most people, it is an automatic reaction when faced with the potentially scary prospect of making small talk with someone new. I've never really understood why every conversation between two people who haven't met before must begin in this way, but - alas - a single man cannot change ingrained social conventions.

Most of the time, the game goes in one of two ways. Both of them awkward and vaguely uncomfortable.


"So, where do you go to school again?"


"OK, OK. Do you know. . . wait, what's that kid's name? I think he was in the grade below me in high school. Nick maybe? Yeah, Nick. Last name starts with a "V" I think. . . "

"Nick? Um. I'm not sure - I don't think so."

"Oh, OK."


"So, you're from Nebraska? That's so crazy!"

"Yeah, pretty wild."

"So, this is probably stupid, but do you by any chance know this girl Natasha Hutchins? I went to chess camp with her like the summer after junior year. She's from this town in Nebraska."

"Oh. . . that name sounds really familiar actually. I feel like maybe she went to my rival high school. Yeah, definitely. I can totally like picture her face."

"Really? It is such a small world. Yeah - she was the sweetest girl."

"Yeah. She looked like she would be nice."

Monday, December 10, 2007

paper madness

Whenever I write a paper - without fail - any normal sensibilities I typically maintain in terms of hygiene or cleanliness are completely forgotten. I don't shower, don't shave, eat really gross food, sometimes don't even brush my teeth, etc. And, for some reason, I rationalize all of these uncouth behaviors by telling myself: "You have a paper. Don't worry about keeping yourself clean. You deserve this." (It is unclear what the "this" refers to.)

And it doesn't matter what kind of paper I am writing, my desk and room always get completely covered in clutter: books, papers, pens, clothes, stuffed animals -- you name it, it's on the floor.

And when I get back from handing the paper in the next morning (typically wearing a sweatshirt and a dazed expression), I always survey my body and my room with the utmost disgust.

But then I clean and clean and clean and it is probably the best feeling in the world.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

situations that you can't wait to get out of

1) a conversation with a close-talker in a crowded place

2) a phone call to a relative you haven't seen in a while to say 'thank you' for a gift

3) sections

4) a conversation with a friend's parent while you wait for the friend to return from wherever he is

5) a full meal with someone who really only merits a coffee's-worth of your time

Friday, December 7, 2007

playing it safe

I think it's amusing that many kinds of ethnic food so often get distilled down to just one dish that everyone eats. When someone asks, "Hey, wanna get Indian food tonight?," they might as well just ask, "Hey, wanna get chicken tikka masala tonight?" I can't remember the last time I was out at an Indian restaurant when someone ordered anything else (maybe this just says something about the people I eat with. . . who knows?)

Indian: chicken tikka masala
Thai: pad thai
Chinese: sesame/orange chicken
Japanese: sushi
Vietnamese: pho

Whenever I eat at, let's say, a Thai restaurant, I always want to try something different, break free from the societal conventions. "Ooooh, this noodle dish sounds really interesting," I'll say out loud (people nod, not really paying attention). But, then, in the end, the waitress comes and smiles and fills my water and I order pad thai because I just don't have it in me not to.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

somewhere rita skeeter is smiling

This poster is currently up outside of the Calhoun Dining Hall, with ample space on it for passersby to jot their responses:

"On October 19, 2007, J.K. Rowling announced that Dumbledore is gay. Do you agree?"

This question is just so ridiculous on so many levels. So they are asking if you think the author of the story -- the person who conceived Dumbledore and the entire world he lives in -- is right about a characteristic she made up of a character she made up?!?!

I felt like writing on the board: "No wayyyy, J.K. totally got it wrong, foolz. I saw D-dore mackin' it wit' my girl Britney at the Trumbull Screw last weekend. Lemme tell ya: he's straight as hell."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

too close for comfort

It's always uncomfortable trying to decide whether or not to sit immediately next to someone or to leave a seat in-between.

The other day when I walked into an early morning lecture, I saw a sort-of acquaintance sitting slouched over a coffee cup and rolled up YDN. She saw me and waved. I moved in to sit right next to her but then I momentarily panicked (these chairs were kind of close together. . . was it too intrusive to sit practically on top of her? would her breath smell like coffee? why was I even thinking about this?), did an awkward fake-out and sat one seat away from her. Suddenly, I felt like a fool. Was she going to be offended now? Would she think that she smelled bad or that I secretly thought she was a loser? Or would she actually be happy that she didn't feel obligated to make fake conversation (= fakersation) with me from one seat over? I considered getting up and moving next to her, but then decided that would be too much awkwardness for even me to bear. We ended up not talking once during or after the class.

On a related note, I once went to a movie with a friend who I considered to be a pretty good pal. We entered the movie theater which was about a quarter full and found an empty row. When we moved in to sit down though, he didn't sit right next to me. He sat one seat over, offering no explanation at all. I found this so strangely odd/offensive that I did not talk to this kid for a good few weeks afterwards.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

one is a genius, the other's insane

I spent a good ten minutes last night trying to figure out how to get the heater in my room to work. Eventually I gave up and went to sleep in seven layers of clothing.

This morning, I decided to revisit my quest to fill my room with glorious heat. Though I was still unsuccessful (let's just say getting things to work is not really a skill I possess), I did learn that my heater's name is Pinky. Suddenly it all made sense! Now I understand why he refuses to work: he misses the Brain!

Monday, December 3, 2007

trapped in a snow globe

So I am aware this post might not make me the coolest kid around town (hell, it might even earn me a few enemies), but this is a risk I am willing to take.

I am sick of people talking about how much they love snow.

Honestly, EVERY SINGLE WINTER everyone decides that all I want to hear about is how excited they are for it to snow. Why?! I am from Boston. I have dealt with snow since I was a mere infant. And still - I do not understand the collective fascination with the white stuff. Do people really like being frigid and wet, huddled in massive jackets and hats? Do people really like slipping on the icy pavement and falling on their asses generating black marks that last for days? Do people really like getting snow in their shoes, making their feet feel like Popsicles? Does snow serve some kind of purpose that I am missing other than making me never want to leave my room?

When I walk through the dining hall and hear people talk about the upcoming first snowfall as if it will be the Second Coming of Jesus, I want to ask if they also like blizzards which knock out the power in entire towns? Frostbite? Snowballs which land in eyes? Highway accidents due to icy roads?


Sunday, December 2, 2007

comforting things

1) when you turn on the TV at like 3:37 p.m. and that one episode of "Friends"/"Seinfeld"/"What I Like About You" that you've seen a thousand times but still really, really like is on

2) when a meal or a flight (or any other event for that matter) ends with the delivery of a small hot towel

3) when you get to the front of the line at Starbucks/Bruegger's/etc. and the person behind the counter has already started making your drink/sandwich/etc. because he has memorized your order by now

4) movies that end predictably

Thursday, November 29, 2007

i derive my self-worth from gchat

So gmail introduced "group chat" yesterday. While the jury is still out on whether this new feature deserves a thumbs up or thumbs down (early opinion: thumbs down -- though I hate change), I think that the gchat elves are going to have to work on the group chat nomenclature.

When I saw this flashing box on the bottom right of my screen, read the title on top, and realized that my two gchat buddies had left the chat (THANKS FOR RUBBING IT IN MY FACE THAT MY FRIENDS DITCHED ME, GCHAT!), I felt profoundly rejected. I was utterly alone in an empty chat. I went to get some ice cream and then e-mailed myself some smiling emotions in a futile attempt to lift my spirits.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

such as

Lately, I've taken part in a number of conversations in which people discuss "YouTubes." They usually begin with someone (let's call him Eager Edgar) proclaiming after a beat or two of dead air: "Have you guys seen the dramatic chipmunk/Miss South Carolina/Daft Punk body parts/Shoes/narcoleptic dog video?" Usually, about half the people in the group have seen it. "Oh yeah, that video is hysterical," someone will respond. "Yeah, my brother showed it to me, like, a month ago," another will offer smugly.

After about ten seconds, the members of the group who haven't seen the video will quietly admit their ignorance. At this point, it suddenly becomes IMPERATIVE for the people who have seen the video in question to demand that those who haven't watch it immediately - it's as though they have become possessed. "Let's find a computer now!" someone will proclaim ferociously, as though he is leading a march on the capital. "Let's go back to my room now!" another will echo, even though everyone just sat down for dinner like three minutes ago.

Usually seven or eight minutes later, a laptop will somehow appear and -- even though the conversation has moved on -- Edgar will bring up the video again, at which point he'll find it on the computer while everyone keeps talking. "You guys will die," he'll say as it's loading. The video plays and everyone is just sort of silent afterwards, deflated. Edgar will wait a moment before exclaiming, "Wait, wait, wait, I promise you'll like this one," he'll say, typing "baby laugher cute" into the search bar.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

these things are disconcerting

1) when your alarm goes off in the morning, and you turn it off but instead of waking up you get back in bed and have a dream in which you wake up, turn off your alarm, get out of bed, chat with your roommate, lazily brush your teeth, turn on the shower, wait for it to get hot, think about what you have to do that day and then - right as you're about to get into the shower - the dream ends and you wake up in your bed, look at the clock and realize you are going to be late for your meeting with your senior essay adviser

2) when you pass your seminar professor outside of class while you are walking to dinner on a Friday night (you mutter hello as you think about how he looks so much smaller outside of class than he does in the classroom - then, when he responds with a mere head nod, you wonder if he even remembers your name)

3) when a complete stranger refers to you with a term of endearment (some people may like this, but it really creeps me out) -- examples: "here's your change, sweetheart" or "I think you dropped this, dear"

4) when some random guy you do not know who goes to some school you have never heard of (or, more likely, who is listed as belonging to the "New York City" network, or no network at all) pokes you on Facebook repeatedly - like once every two weeks (you do not reciprocate this poking, but that - apparently - does not seem to make a difference)

Monday, November 26, 2007

"but finish"

My brother set up this site which lets me see how people find this blog. One of the best features of this service is that I can see what people search for in Google that brings them to TxtMsgBtl (BTW, this is one way to refer to the blog in texts to your friends).

I find this data amusing/informative/fascinating/odd. While most people clearly know what they have in mind when they type away in that familiar Google search bar ("textmessageinbottle blog" or "awkward moments" or "cheesy text messages"), some of the results are more baffling.

My five favorites searches:

1) "you are so special to me text messages" (because nothing says "I love you" like that perfectly-worded text message)

2) "what did the message in the bottle say" (hmmm, I fear you are going to have trouble finding the answer to this one on the interweb, bud)

3) "but finish" (this one just puzzles me, but I like it)

4) "brueggers pretzel bagel" (WOOT!)

5) "carly zubrzycki" (no idea who carly is, but - if you're reading this, CZub - whaddup?)

the age-old question

construction site in front of DUH, 10:24 a.m.

Thirty-something Construction Worker #1: "Hey, so I heard Lance Armstrong is dating Ashley Olsen. . . you know, the twins."
Thirty-something Construction Worker #2: "Yeah. Weird. Mary-Kate's hotter."

Friday, November 23, 2007

wise beyond their years

my car, 4:47 p.m.

Jack, my 8-year-old cousin: "Josh, are you an adult?"

Me: "Yeah, I guess so. It depends on what you call an adult."

Jack: "An adult is if you are in the grown-up numbers and not a teen-number . ."

Me: "Well then, I guess I am an adult."

Jack: "What is it like being an adult?"

Me: "Well there are a lot of responsibilities. It's different. You're, uh, older."

Jack: "When I'm older, I am never going to have a job and I am never going to work because then you have to work all DAY and all NIGHT."

Me: "Well there are actually some fun jobs you can find--"

Julia, my 6-year-old cousin: "And when I'm older, I am never going to get married!"

Jack and Julia's mom: "Why not, Jules?"

Julia: "Because if you get married then you have to have a baby and having a baby HURTS!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the most irritating clock i have ever encountered

So I was sharing a pumpkin loaf with my friend Liz yesterday at this quaint "tea bar and cafe" on Newbury Street called "Tealuxe" which I had never been to before. It's one of those places that serves like 78 varieties of chai and in which picturesque bundled-up couples huddle over steaming drinks as they cuddle at the wooden tables.

So after thirty minutes of gabbing (and after I spilled my drink on myself just once - not bad for me) we noticed the giant clock projected on to the wall behind us. "TIME FOR TEA" is proclaimed on its face. At first we decided that Giant Clock was kind of cool and different. But then we realized that - for some unknown, godforsaken, inexplicable reason - the time on the clock (9:55 at the time the picture was taken) is NOT the actual time (I took this picture at 5:57 p.m.). WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?!!?!?!? So is the idea that 9:55 is really the best time for tea and I should have left the establishment and returned in four hours when the clock said I should? Except then I realized that if I left and returned at 9:55, the time for tea on the clock would at that point be 2:07 or something like that. The whole thing makes me want to scream!

So when you think about it, the take-home message of the clock is that is is NEVER time for tea when you are actually in Tealuxe because the clock is always going to be four hours ahead of real time. The blood-curling thought that this potentially clever/useful gimmick has been completely ruined by whoever thought it didn't matter if the clock was set to the real time is enough to make me never want to drink tea again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

the Tissue Angel

After an uproarious dinner at Legal Sea Foods with my family of five, my wheelchair-bound grandfather and my grandfather's girlfriend Sue, we made our way to the elevator in order to descend to the depths of the parking lot.

As we were approaching our destination, my grandfather complained loudly about needing a tissue. Sue, exasperated, was searching in her purse to find him one when a 60-something woman with a shiny braid of gray hair appeared next to us, seemingly out of thin air.

"Oh, I've got a tissue," the Tissue Angel said, waving a blindingly white tissue in her hand. "It's unused - I promise. It doesn't have any germs on it or anything."

My grandfather's face lit up. "Thank you!" my dad exclaimed enthusiastically. (As always, my brother and I exchanged cynical looks.)

"I was just digging in my bag, but couldn't find it," Sue offered as an explanation as our merry band of eight crammed into the elevator.

"Doesn't that just sum up life?" the Tissue Angel said, wisely. "Still digging, but can't find it."

Monday, November 19, 2007

starting over

I have always been a sentimentalist when it comes to things. I keep absolutely everything. I have a file folder containing all of my schoolwork from 4th grade under my bed. I save every letter, book, photograph, CD, e-mail, etc. This past summer I found an old t-shirt that I wore once in like 2nd grade with the Oakland Raiders logo on it and thought to myself "I can say with 100% certainty that I am never going to wear this again for the rest of my life" -- YET I COULD NOT GET RID OF IT.

Anyway, I am just as obsessive when it comes to text messages. If a text message is at all significant, I save it. If it's notably witty, I save it. If it expresses anger/love/gratitude/sadness in any sort of marked way, I save it. If it represents something important to me in a friendship, I save it. (God, I just reread these last five sentences and I am pretty sure I sound like a complete freak... whatever.)

So saving special texts wouldn't be that big of a deal if it wasn't for the fact that my cell phone can only store 50 texts at any given time. This means I am constantly deleting texts to make sure there is enough room in my Inbox. I am faced with decisions like: "Which would I rather save? The first text Jenna sent me ('Wanna get lunch tomorrow? Let's get hummus again!') or the witty social commentary Kenny texted ('Have you noticed the dining hall workers have stopped even trying to pretend they aren't reading Star Magazine when they swipe our cards?')"

A few hours ago, I brought my cell phone in to the Verizon store because my camera phone wasn't working. The irritable employee said I needed a new phone and that while all of my numbers would be saved, I would lose all of my texts. After a split second of panic, I resigned myself to my fate and nodded solemnly. A few minutes later, I had a new phone with ZERO text messages. And, while you'd think I would feel despondent, I actually feel inexplicably wonderful. I have a new lease on life. I'm starting over. I don't have to worry about deleting texts to make room (for a while, at least). And, as strange as it may sound, I think now I'm finally ready to get rid of that Oakland Raiders t-shirt.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the fortune's got sass

The snarky fortunes keep on coming!

After devouring half of the carton of pineapple bites our Chinese food place sends with their orders (a sublime post-MSG treat), my brother was greeted with the following dis:

"Today, your mouth might be moving but no one is listening."

This is not a prediction nor a commentary but rather a straight up insult: no one cares what you have to say, dumbass.

things that irritate me

1) when all of the previews before a movie are ones you've seen before

2) when someone posts a logistical/scheduling question on your Facebook wall ("Do you want to get dinner this Thursday?" "Could we actually meet at 3:30 tomorrow instead of at 4?")

3) when someone starts to tell you a story about "the funniest thing ever that happened last weekend" and you realize that she has already told you this story

4) when you run into someone you haven't seen in a few years who you don't really even know (it's lucky if you can even remember his name) but whom you feel obliged to make small talk with ("How is, uh, is it New York?" "Oh, great. Really great. And how is senior year?")

5) when people see a picture taken of themselves on a digital camera, squeal with disapproval and then try to delete it

Friday, November 16, 2007

my answer: first

text message I received last night, 6:19 p.m.

"When theres part of a salad u like least, do u eat it first, last or not at all?"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

leading seminar

I find it fascinating how kids who are completely silent for an entire semester in seminar are completely and utterly transformed when their one week to "lead" class arrives.

Mute Molly sits in the same seat every seminar. She alternates between stretching her arms in the air while yawning, sipping her giant iced coffee and texting under the table for an hour and fifty minutes straight. She never raises her hand and the professor knows better than to call on her... and everyone in the class basically pretends she isn't there.

BUT when it is Mute Molly's week to lead seminar, she becomes someone else entirely. Mute Molly is now a Seminar Monster. She has clearly done all the reading for the first (and only) time all year. She gets to class early. She calls on students to answer the questions she has drawn up as if she is academia's leading expert on Reagan's foreign policy. And when students say something smart, she exchanges knowing glances with the professor.

The next week, everything returns to normal and she doesn't speak once.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

things that happen when your blog gets linked to on ivygate

1) People start pitching blog ideas to you. . . all the time.

- Friend: "I've got a great idea for you. Have you ever walked into class late and walked up the stairs and everyone just looks at you and it's really embarrassing? You should totally blog about that."
- Me: "Um. . . yeaaah."

- Me: "I'll be back later. I have to go pick up my dry cleaning, champagne and some photocopies."
- Roommate: "You should blog about that!"

2) People start asking you how many hits you are getting and if you are freaking out and saying things to you like "Well now the pressure is really on to deliver, huh?" or "Just keep on writing for you, OK? Don't let fame change you." I've got to say, I am starting to really relate to the Lindsay Lohans of the world, burdened by the pressures of the spotlight. (Though I'm not going to lie: I am crossing my fingers that some freshman takes a camera phone picture of me checking my P.O. Box and then posts it online somewhere - "Celebrity Bloggers - they are just like us!")

3) Your parents find out how you have been spending your senior year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

situations i find harrowing

I am never quite sure what to do when faced with the following situations (which seem to happen to me surprisingly often).

1) You finally get around to writing that really long e-mail to your friend from high school filling her in on your life. At the end you toss in a few questions ("Still liking your Econ classes? Still living with that crazy girl from D.C.? Still dyeing your hair?") to give the impression you care about her life. A week later you get a response from her - it's long, detailed, etc. You skim it only to find she has thrown in some questions at the end for you, too, about things you neglected to mention in the first e-mail. "Does she expect me to write her back another long e-mail?"

2) You walk into a party with your friend Joe and see Aloof Alice, who you know is in Joe's seminar and whom you have been introduced to at least four times. (Yet, despite all the previous introductions, neither of you ever acknowledges the other when you pass on the street.) Joe, of course, introduces you for the fifth time. "Oh, this is Aloof Alice - we're in seminar together," he says. "Uh, we've already met," she'll mutter into her cup, without even so much as looking up at your limp hand held out for a shake.

3) You are sitting in a common room on your cell phone talking to Zach who is on a train somewhere and getting really bad service. You can only hear like every fifth word he says. "Hello?... Zach?... Zach?..." you say. Finally, you give up and hang up. The girl on the sofa across the room looks up from her magazine at you. Zach calls back. You pick up again because you feel like you must. "Zach, I-..." you start. The signal cuts out. Magazine Girl's face resembles that of your mother's when a telemarketer calls. Ten seconds later, Zach calls again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

things that start strong but finish weak

1) Tootsie Roll pops

2) almost every episode of "Saturday Night Live"

3) power hours

4) most of the papers I have written in my academic career

5) the ubiquitous Black Eyed Peas hit "My Humps" (seriously: the last minute of this song is the worst and completely incongruous with the first four minutes of the song)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

the lives of others

Occasionally there are times when I wish other people didn't exist:

1) When I walk onto a crowded Amtrak train and realize my only seat options are either next to the blubbery businessman stuffing a muffin into his mouth as the crumbs fall onto the floor or the waifish 25-year-old female with chapped lips blabbing away into her cell phone as she flips through old issues of Glamour and Vogue.

2) When I am at a concert which features one of those new-fangled gimmicks in which you can text a message to a certain 5-digit number in hopes that it will appear on the Jumboscreen for all to see. Embarrassingly enough, I have been silly enough to craft and send a witty little message at both concerts I attended with such an option - but in neither case did my message make it to screen. Instead, the screen was an endless rotation of drivel: "TONYA U R MY SUNSHYNE," "GIRLZ FROM MIDTOWN ARE HOTTT" or "RED SOX UP 8-7." So frustrating.

3) When I enter the gym and on one treadmill is the girl who declined my Facebook friendship freshman year and on the rowing machine is the guy I e-mailed last week about getting notes from seminar who never e-mailed me back.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


You buy/illegally download a CD. You are happy.

You love it. You listen to it again and again and again. When you are reading. When you are running. When you are doing neither of those things.

Then - suddenly - you'll be in the middle of reading a "New York Times" article about a new trend in swing set design when you realize that overwhelming desire you have had for the past three and a half weeks to listen to the CD over and over and over is just gone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

i HATE pretzels!

- It is raining and cold.
- I will shortly be leaving for a seminar for which I have done no reading and during which I will have to pinch myself/bite my tongue every few minutes so I don't fall asleep.
- I am a generally irritable person.
- I hate pretzels.

Waiting in line at Bruegger's (if you think about the spelling of that name for long enough, I swear you will go mad) I was confronted with a sign advertising what I think is probably one of the worst ideas in the history of food:

AH! Who thought of this?!?! He deserves to be force-fed a hundred pretzel bagels until he turns into a giant pretzel bagel and gets eaten by seagulls! Seriously! Pretzels are crunchy and bagels are soft! Soft and crunchy things DO. NOT. MIX.

I can just see the meeting at which all the Bruegger's executives are eating Dunkin' Donuts and munching on pretzels and patting their bellies and "brainstorming" ideas for new kinds of bagels. "Uhhh, Stanley, do you think we could we make a bagel out of these?" What will be next? Bagels made of carrots? Marshmallows? Lamb fat?

And, as if this all wasn't discouraging enough, I nearly walked right out of the store when I saw the pathetic ad campaign. It's a close call between who is more misguided: the Bruegger's crew for coming up with this grossness or the ad agency for writing an ad campaign that a class of 1st graders could probably have written. . . and for a lot less money.

how to leave the perfect voicemail

1) Don't say your name. Just jump right into the good stuff. It will make the listener feel pleased that you think she will be able to recognize your voice. (Starting with "It's me" is always nice for establishing intimacy.)

2) Make some funny/sarcastic/wise comment about your current surroundings. Example #1: "Oh god, I just saw this weird girl walk into a shopping cart - I am totally serious." Example #2: "Hold on, I literally just stepped in the biggest puddle you have ever seen! My pants are like soaking now."

3) Take a momentary pause and then cut to the chase. Don't side-step. "So, yeah, I'm returning your call from last night about getting dinner tomorrow."

4) Make some convoluted excuse about why you waited until now to call. "I was tied up with a really long text message" or "I ate a really big sandwich and passed out" will not fly here. The more realistic, the better. (If you are out of ideas, you can always use the "Oh, I was in CCL where my cell phone doesn't get service" excuse.)

5) Mention something exciting and special you have to share with the listener. "I have a Kendra story you will not believe!"

6) End with a self-deprecating joke about the length of the voice mail.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

fall back

Why do people love talking about daylight savings so much?

The night before it's like the only thing people discuss. You hear "Don't forget to turn back your clocks tonight!" three times as much as the ever-present "Are you finally ready to leave? I waaaaant Ivy Noodle," "Honestly, Kelly is being such a bitch tonight" and "So should I text Jeff back or not? Should I wait ten minutes?"

And then the Sunday after the fact, everyone is utterly obsessed. "Did you remember to turn back your clock?," they ask. ("No," you want to say. "I just decided it would be fun to show up to this 1:00 meeting an hour late.")

Friday, November 2, 2007

awkward moments

1) When you are on the subway and your iPod happens to be on something like "Glamorous" by Fergie or "Bye Bye Bye" by N' Sync (this has never happened to me, obviously) and the cool guy who has just the right amount of facial hair and those really big noise-canceling headphones who is sitting next to you glimpses the album art on your iPod and looks away smirking.

2) When you are at a party or small gathering and you know a bottle of a carbonated beverage is going to explode so you have to open it extremely carefully by twisting the cap off insanely slowly and then quickly closing it in a process that takes like 30 seconds but feels like seven minutes while everyone watches you with rapturous attention and says things like "Ooooh, Josh, be careful." "Oh, really? I should be careful? You think that's a good idea?" you want to sarcastically retort. (You don't.)

3) When you are sitting with your friend Ed in the dining hall and that girl who you met at that party who you talked to for like 45 minutes walks by and you say to Ed, "Oh, that's Kara! You'll love her. She's great - really funny." "Kara," you shout! She doesn't hear you, it seems, and keeps on walking with her gaggle of girlfriends in hip outfits to the back of the dining hall. You shout "Kara!" again, this time a little softer (it's more for show than for actually getting her attention at this point). She doesn't turn around. Ed looks down at his half-eaten lasagna.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

remnants of october 31

Outside the Writing Center, 4:07 p.m.

I would love to know the story behind how these rabbit ears ended up so utterly alone, perched on this bush, absent a body. . .

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

to the left, to the left

I derive great pleasure from watching the faces of kids around a seminar table when a professor/student passes around some kind of artifact/postcard/strange object. As the artifact gets passed around the table, each student examines it as if he is a laboratory scientist -- picking it up, shaking it, holding it up to his ear. In actual fact, no one has any idea what the object is or why it matters and no one was paying attention to the professor's explanation in the first place -- but that doesn't stop everyone from treating the reproduction of a Guatemalan wood carving as one would a precious golden snitch, with a furrowed brow, careful fingertips and pursed lips.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

a cookie with an aftertaste

I have often bemoaned the fact that the fortunes in fortune cookies are annoyingly sunny or cryptic. I feel like every fortune is some sort of variation on either "You will be happy soon" or "Life is a river that we all must paddle down." Sure, every once in a while you get a fortune that totally applies to your life at the moment or a tart/witty fortune that makes you smile - but those moments are rare.

Considering my displeasure with the general fortune cookie landscape, I was shocked tonight when - after a mildly nauseating meal of sesame chicken, dumplings and strange sauces - I opened my fortune to find the following:

I reread it twice. This is a fortune with some verve, I thought, a prognosis with an acid tongue! Aside from the irony of a restaurant that serves greasy/fatty food telling you to go on a diet in the near future, I was impressed - this Chinese restaurant (or, at least, the fortune cookie supplier to this Chinese restaurant) had some gumption. "You are getting chubby," it seemed to say.

Completely thrilled and pumped with adrenaline, I stole a fortune cookie from the person sitting next to me and ripped it apart. Lo and behold, I came upon the next gem:

I am not kidding when I say this was the most awesome thing that has happened to me in at least the past week. These fortunes were kicking my ass! "You're as bad as the rest of 'em," it scolded. And, let me tell you, being scolded by a fortune after years of being patted on the head felt OH SO GOOD.

cereal on earth

Gourmet Heaven, Whitney Avenue, 8:12 p.m.

Yes, this is called "Peace Cereal." And yes, "10% OF PROFITS DONATED TO PEACE."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

only in the movies. . .

So I saw the George Clooney vehicle "Michael Clayton" last night (excellent flick, though Ms. Gavin and I took issue with some unresolved threads and a questionable ending).

Anyways, watching the complicated thriller made me contemplate things that only happen in the movies.

1) Answering machines play voice mails out loud as they are being left. (This one bugs me so much - have any of you actually seen one of these in the past ten years?!? NO!)

2) People make comments out loud -- such as "Bitch!" or "Dammit" or "Well, that changes things. . ." -- after hanging up the phone, even though there is no one else around.

3) Little kids and really old men say astoundingly smart/witty/wise things that make others do things like quit smoking, finally ask out that girl of their dreams or tell their boss the truth.

4) People read letters out loud to themselves.

5) Attractive men get onto elevators right before they are about to close only to find pretty, single, confused women standing there with doe eyes and pouting lips.

Monday, October 22, 2007

things i really need to stop doing (but never will)

1) dropping my cell phone

2) spelling the word "tonight" as "tonite" in text messages

3) reading spoilers online for television shows

4) exclaiming "Oh, I love this song" every time I hear a song I somewhat like and there are people around

5) leaving voice mails that last longer than 2 minutes

Saturday, October 20, 2007

things i find depressing

1) I just spent about 20 seconds unsuccessfully trying to insert my ATM card into the machine before I realized I had been jamming in my Starbucks gift card.

2) Yesterday, the woman who swipes your cards when you walk into the TD dining hall had a copy of the New Haven Register on her desk. All of the enclosed spaces in the letters ("a," "g," "e," etc.) of the headline ("Tragedy in the Sound") were filled in with red pen.

3) This is a picture of the menu at Miso, a respectable and expensive Japanese restaurant.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the curious incident of the dog in the fire-suit

Old Campus, 1:31 p.m.

How much do you want to bet this guy came in last in the Fire Station Fantasy Baseball pool?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


gchat conversation with brother, 1:23 p.m.

i'm going to close my compuer an dtry to pay attention
no i 'm not

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the intersection of hunger and embarrassment

I believe that there are few experiences more dreadful than when you are talking to someone/sitting in class/watching a movie/whatever and your stomach starts audibly grumbling.

At the initial onset, you want to believe that it will just subside. You check your watch, hoping there are only five minutes left in class (no dice: still 35 minutes to go). You try to think about last night's episode of The Office or focus your attention on the slide about the Mere Exposure Effect. None of this works. In fact, it all just serves to make you panic more about the fact that your stomach sounds like a monster truck revving its engines.

You try to do things that will make noise to mask the sound of your stomach so that Cute Cindy who is texting in the seat in front of you or Hunky Harry who is checking Facebook two seats to your right doesn't hear your belly growling. So you cough loudly or accidentally "drop" your notebook and retrieve it, in attempts to drown out the symphony in your stomach. This doesn't work either.

Finally, you give up and let your hunger be known or, rather, heard. At this point, your acquaintance sitting next to you who you don't even really like will sometimes say "Oh, didn't get to breakfast this morning, huh?" or "I can't wait for lunch either" and you will want to slap him. Or (and this is the worst of all), friend-to-your-left just won't say anything at all, awkwardly doodling in her notebook or gazing with faux interest at the professor as your stomach gets its groove on.

Then - of course - class ends, everyone files out and your stomach immediately stops making noise.

Monday, October 15, 2007

the life and times of spraying sally

Wall Street, 4:46 p.m.

I was walking down Wall Street pretending to talk on my cell phone (I am an anti-social Josh at my core) when I saw this woman (see left) leaning over the lawn to the side of Woodbridge Hall.

I watched like the stalkerazzo I am as she opened her soda and then jerked her head back as the soda sprayed everywhere across the lawn. It literally sprayed for like 35 seconds. I have no idea what on earth Spraying Sally was doing with the soda before she decided to water the grass but it must have been pretty extreme. When she finally looked up from her mini-explosion, she rocked the smug "I just did something naughty" smile - especially jarring on her 60-year-old wrinkled face - and kept on walking toward the Law School. Her soda was only a quarter full.

blue barracudas

I am astounded by how often the following things come up in casual conversation:

1) Dunkaroos
2) "Legends of the Hidden Temple"
3) L.A. Lights sneakers
4) Gushers
5) Tamagotchis
6) "Clarissa Explains It All"
7) Oregon Trail

And it's always the same inane set up, too.

"Oh my god, do you guys remember 'Legends of the Hidden Temple'?"

People nod and laugh, oddly enthusiastically.

"Yeah, totally! I was so obsessed with that show. I used to watch it every night."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

star struck

On Friday afternoon, I found myself about five feet from Jack Nicholson in the Silliman Couryard.


1) He is much smaller and less imposing than I would have imagined based on the deranged, larger-than-life characters he so often plays (see "The Departed").

2) His daughter's hair was a blinding shade of platinum blond.

3) Yes, he was wearing those dark sunglasses he always wears (see left). (I find it somewhat weird that this is the first question most people have asked me after I tell them I saw Jack.)

4) When I found myself silently gawking with my jaw dropped as I held the gate open for Jack and his entourage, I considered just how often celebrities must encounter that expression. They must be so used to being looked at as if they were peacocks in a zoo that it probably seems weird/jarring when someone looks at them normally.

Friday, October 12, 2007

the kindness of strangers

Taft Cosmetics, Whitney Ave.

approx. 4:24 p.m. this afternoon

The cashier - a cute, bored 20-something girl with a nose ring - is fumbling with the medium-sized piece of white posterboard I am buying. After she finally scans it, she awkwardly attempts to roll it up, before just giving up and handing it to me. At this point, the short woman behind me in line - we'll call her "The Pay It Forward Princess" - speaks up.

PIFP: "Oh, all you need is a hair elastic or something and you could just use that to roll it up."

The cashier and I just sort of stare at her. "Why is she speaking?" we think to ourselves. PIFP sticks her stubby hand out into the air.

PIFP: "Wait - look at my hand." (She takes off the black hair elastic around her wrist and offers it to me.) "Here - you can use this!"

Me: "Oh, no - it's OK! You don't need to give it to me."

PIFP: "No, no, it's yours now. I'm giving it to you now and then you can someday pass it on. You know, pay it forward."

I do that awkward fake laugh thing and sheepishly take the hair elastic. The cashier's expression has not changed. I roll up the posterboard, using PIFP's hair elastic, and move to walk out the store.

PIFP: "Enjoy!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

grated cheese

me: the author of the next chapter of my con bio textbook is "camille parmesan"
Sam: sounds like a character from ratatouille

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

one or the other

Depending on one's mood, the following exchange can either be eerily uplifting or distinctly distressing:

11:02 p.m., walking out of the Silliman gate in the rain

Plump Security Guard with a Side Pony-Tail: "You look like you've had a long day."

Me: "I have. I have."

PSG with a SPT: "Well don't let the rain get you down."

Monday, October 8, 2007

things i don't like

1) People who respond to a text message with a phone call, and vice versa

2) The inexplicable popularity of Jessica Alba

3) The red "busy" status on gchat, and those who utilize it

4) Plots in which a character loses his memory and must use clues to reconstruct his life

5) Beginnings