Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the ten most important things that happened in 2008

1) The gchat "invisibility cloak" was unveiled and, before long, everyone was wearing one...
2) ... and even though I ranted and whined like a curmudgeonly freak about it... I eventually joined the invisible masses, too.

3) Making videos on Facebook hit the mainstream.
4) After being all proud about it and mocking those who shared their self-indulgent musings with the (Facebook) world to anyone who would listen to me, I caved and made my first Facebook status in early December. (Apparently, the takeaway of 2008 is that you shouldn't trust anything I say.)

5) "OMG" went from the ironic thing people say when they are imitating the popular girls to the thing everyone says in response to anything.
6) I tried to make "IBL" (= "I be lovin'...") happen... to little success.

7) The "Twilight" phenomenon made the high-and-mighty pop-culturally-savvy 20-something base cower in confusion and feel oddly old.
8) In what perhaps will be the beginning of a depressing trend that will define my twenties (yikes!), I decided I didn't want to feel old... so I started reading the book a few days ago.

9) You could see this one coming from a mile away, but it's noteworthy nevertheless: "awkward" became hip. (ugh, who am I?) Michael Cera became a heartthrob; relationships began and evolved on Facebook; Tina Fey became the It Girl; etc.
10) Perhaps feeling insecure about all these people joining the Awkward Club when I had been an active member for so long, I continued to push the boundaries of the definition... and wore a women's coat to work.

Friday, December 26, 2008

popcorn > eggnog

My family gets really serious when it comes to movies. We make lists. We do double features. We fandango like we mean it. Let's just say I have seen the trailer for "Revolutionary Road" like 12 times ("You in a trap?!" You in a trap?!") over the past couple of weeks.

- After my mother and I barreled through the door to this rando cinema in a suburb we had never been in before, 12 minutes late for a showing of "Changeling" (we are never late to movies), my mom threw her pocketbook onto the counter and said to the woman at the cashier, who appeared to be reorganizing books on a shelf (?), "Two tickets to Angelina Jolie, please."

- At the end of "Milk," my friends and I were doing that "That movie was so intense, we're just going to sit here, doggamit" (typo, but I'm keeping it - let's make "doggamit" happen). We had no intention of moving or doing anything and then this girl stands up in front of us, stretches, wraps her Burberry scarf around her neck a few times and then says to her man, "James Franco is hot."

- Sam and I saw a double feature of two movies (with only a 10-minute break between them) both starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. This was either an astonishing new high in our "let's see every movie that may be nominated for any award regardless of if we actually have any interest in it" campaign or the most sickening, disgraceful new low.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

someone call nelly furtado because i'm like a -

I am back home for the week and have immediately reverted to my "Josh Who Doesn't Shave" persona. I take 3 hour naps in the middle of the afternoon because I can. I eat a lot of bagels. I wear one red sweatshirt all the time. And I always feel sort of sick.

I mostly stick to the confines of my room, the room I have called my own since the beginning of high school. Since I am not really home very much anymore, my room is basically this odd museum of artifacts, vestiges of High School Josh (so many Joshes floating around right now - try to bear with me through the madness here). Most of the time I am too busy doing nothing when I'm home to really pay much attention to how weird the things in my room are, but today after Facebooking some randos from my middle school for a good 20 minutes (look, you can relate to me!), I found something wonderful. Tacked on to the giant bulletin board next to my bed is a page ripped out of a page-a-day calendar. You know those weird assignments you used to get in 4th grade that were like "Bring in the one object you would use to represent you in a time capsule"? This is totally the object I would bring in.

Back in 11th grade, my French teacher called me up at the beginning of class and and handed this to me in front of everyone. "I saw this today," she announced, "And I knew I had to give it to you." At the time I was all flustered and sort of offended (Insecure 11th Grader Josh!). I sat down and whispered to my friend Marissa, "Wait, so does this mean I am like noticeably weird?" She laughed and didn't really respond.

Now that I am older and (kinda) more self-aware, I realize that Mme. Fandel knew me wayyyy better that I gave her credit for at the time. I am a funny bird, godammit. People spend so much time repressing the funny little birds itching to get out of the cages inside of them (nothing like a tired metaphor to make a cliched point!). The thing is, people give you things and say things and you don't want to hear them and they don't make sense at the time and you forget about them and then one day (like today) it snaps and you get it and you realize that they were right all along - you were just being stubborn - and that there's really nothing so bad about being a funny bird. It sometimes takes five years to realize it, but then you do and - let me tell you - being able to tell jokes while catching worms with your beak is pretty damn fly.

Friday, December 19, 2008

when 1 becomes 2

Oh, gmail sidebar ads! Always all up in your e-mails trying to tempt you with WORDS RELATED TO THINGS YOU E-MAIL ABOUT. Like a creepy man in overalls eavesdroppin' on your phone calls and then approaching you with a pamphlet about the "1 way to achieve a flat stomach," the ads pique your interest before making your stomach churn.

Anyway, this one showed up next to an e-mail I was just reading and I was like "I'm totally gonna blog the hell outta this sucker."

I like this one for many reasons, three of which are:

1) The URL seems to me to be something of an overpromise. I have not gone to this website (though I'm sure one of you anonymous commenters will and tell me all about it below), but I am expecting information that will either clearly explicate how to make a potion or reveal the words to a spell that will magically transform a "friend" into a "lover." Anything less would just not cut it.
2) Not only can you apparently achieve the thing so many of us dream about -- making a friend into a more-than-friend -- note that the ad suggests you can make your friend into MULTIPLE LOVERS. Are we talking about cloning here? Some sort of split-personality situation? I don't know. But just imagine the possibilities. Don't you spend your time gazing longingly at your friends wishing that they could somehow be split up into three separate people, all of whom you could hook up with? Fantasy has become reality, bro.
3) Believe it or not, as ridiculous as this ad may seem, it actually totally related to the e-mail it appeared next to in my gmail. You win, gmail sidebar ad - you always win.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

things that don't turn out the way you think they will

1) Videoing at concerts. Everyone standing around you is (seemingly) doing it so you whip out your digital camera and concentrate really hard on keeping the band in the frame. You can't even like listen to the song because you are so hung up on being some kind of Associated Press videographer (an Associated Press reference, Josh? really?). Then, the next morning, you watch the video on your computer and you can't even get through 20 seconds of it. The audio is beyond bad. The whole thing is jerky and dark. And, worst of all, your own inadvertent "singing" completely drowns out the actual song. It's like your own personal and torturous "American Idol" audition. But instead of getting told off by Simon Cowell, it gets dragged to the trash can. (Related question: would you rather get told off by Simon Cowell or dragged to the trash can?)

2) Buying trendy hats. It looks so fun! It's so easy to try on in the store! Your friend is so into it ("It actually looks kind of good on you!") You snap a few pics on your phone and, wtfomg, you look so cool! It's only $13.99! "I dunno," you say all bashfully, "I kind of feel like I could wear this out!"

Seven months later, it's still in your closet with the price tag on.

3) Ordering something different from a Chinese restaurant. It's always the same sort of logic. You're ordering Chinese and you're like "Ugh, what have I become? I order sesame chicken every frickin' time. I am totally turning into my dad or a general or something. Rules! Order! Consistency! Where is the fun?? Where is the anticipation of something different?? Why can't they just let me live???" You feel shackled and confused. So you scan the menu and you channel your inner Mischa Barton (MISCHA BARTON = THE EPITOME OF "REBEL") and order something different. Shrimp and broccoli? Pork-fried rice? Whatever. That's not the point. The point is that the minute you order it, you regret it. And then you eat like a third of it and whimper because all you want is the comfort and familiarity of your sesame chicken. "Why did I try to be Mischa?" you think. And it's a good question, but for now who cares because you're hungry for some real food so let's eat some peanut butter out of the jar.

Monday, December 15, 2008

a private shame

Sometimes things happen to me and I just try not to dwell on them because they are just too much. (Actually, sub in "About three times a day" for "Sometimes" in that last sentence there.)

So last Thursday evening I was leaving a family gathering in a hurry as my cousin was about to drop me off at the train station in Scarzdale. (How much more fun would the world be if every "s" was a "z"? Think about it.) I grabbed my new black "let's pretend to be an adult" coat and ran out the door. About 20 minutes later I was on the train, on my way to Grand Central, when I realized I didn't have my scarf. Using the ole cell phone, I texted my bro, Sam, who was still at the house in Scarz, to look for it. Like ten minutes later, Sam texts me: "So I found your scarf... and your coat."

In a surreal "what is going on???" moment which was probably somewhere between how you feel when you wake up somewhere you don't immediately recognize and how you feel when you find out you are adopted (that was totally my best description EVER!), I looked inside the label of the coat I was wearing and realized it was, in fact, not my coat. It had a Calvin Klein label. It smelled sort of different. I was wearing a coat that was not mine.

I texted Sam back and it was determined that no one knew whose coat I had taken. And since the coat basc looked like my own, I wore it to work the next day. Why not, right?

Sitting in my cubicle on Friday afternoon, I got a call from my mom.

"Do you still have that coat you took last night?"
"Yeah, of course. I wore it to work today. Why?"
"Josh, it was SUE'S COAT."

This moment marked the second "what is going on???" moment in this tale. Sue is over the age of 60. Sue is, omfg, a woman. I had worn a woman's coat to the office. I felt like Michael Scott except there was no "documentary crew" filming me - this was a private, unscripted shame.

I retrieved the coat from the office closet and showed it to one of my co-workers who cackled when she saw the strappy thing on the back of the coat. (BTW, what is that strappy thing?! Does it serve a purpose other than making it easy for me to grab women off the street with my cane?!) I sulked. I received mocking texts from Sam about my error. I received angry e-mails from my mom about Fed-Ex-ing Sue her coat ASAP. I realized the "sort of different" smell I had noticed was perfume.

When it came time to leave work, though, I wore the coat home. Why not, right? It was cold outside! And I didn't have another coat option. And, I've just got to be honest here, I'm kind of into that strappy thing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

if i were a blond

Whenever I am sitting in the chair about to get a haircut, I have this momentary vision of doing something completely INSANE and dying my hair blond. It's always the same fantasy. I imagine telling the bubbly haircutter with jangly (don't think that's a word, but it stays) earrings -- after she asks what kind of cut I'm looking for that day -- that I WANT HER TO DYE MY HAIR BLOND. She'll do this quick little recoil (I didn't peg him as that kind of daredevil, she'll be thinking to herself) before she smiles at this fun little chance to dye some lanky kid's hair blond in a boring day filled with rote trims and routine colorings. Then when it's been done I will text all my friends some sort of understated text (obvi the best part) and they will all be like "omg srsly?" and then i will send them pictures and they'll be like "i can't believe you did that!" and it will be this whole long back-and-forth. Because nothing is more fun than lots and lots of text messages! People on the subway would be like "whoa that dude looks fly" and I would be this totally different kind of guy who just does what the hell he wants (= Tattoo Josh, basc). Eventually, of course, it will grow out and my dark hair will come back and there will probably be some upsetting period of time when my hair is like half-blond/half-black or whatever. But eventually that would pass and I would no longer be blond - but it would be fine because it would feel sort of like when you come back to school after a week in Puerto Rico and everything just seems like less of a big deal.

This fantasy flashed before me on Saturday afternoon as I sat in the chair. Of course, when she asked what I was looking for, I said "just your basic cut," and life went on. I looked into the mirror and realized, as I always do, that it was just as well. The idea of having to dye my eyebrows to match makes me really uncomfortable.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"i'mnot, like, astalkeriswear"

It's funny how whenever people talk about seeing something about a rando on Facebook, they'll always make sure to add that they "saw it on their News Feed" so you don't think they were actually sketchy enough to be on the rando's profile.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

what do you call cheese that's not yours?

Surprise, surprise: I like when I can extract meaning from things that otherwise appear to be innocuous or silly or unimportant. This is why when three notable yet fundamentally unimportant things happened to me over the Thanksgiving holiday (ha, is it sad I can't type that without thinking of that bizarre house-swap Cameron Diaz/Kate Winslet movie?), I couldn't shake the feeling that I was missing something, that there was some greater puzzle being constructed around me that I couldn't quite follow.

INCIDENT #1: Feeling surprisingly hungry on Wednesday night after a hearty dinner of take-out Italian food, I was transfixed by the Nacho Cheese Doritos staring at me though the vending machine glass. I WANT YOU, I thought to myself, thinking about the Doritos. My two brothers were yards ahead of me in our hotel lobby, paying no attention to my actions; I acted impulsively, whipped out my wallet and went for it. I put my dollar into the machine... only to become enveloped in all-consuming rage when the heavenly chips inexplicably got stuck in the machine (see picture). I am not kidding when I tell you that I pounded this vending machine harder than I have ever hit anything or anyone before (not saying much, but still...). I rammed into the vending machine with all of my might and - sort of like would happen in a scene from a really bad sitcom - the chips didn't budge. For the rest of our hotel stay, every time I walked past the vending machine, the suspended Doritos taunted me, like that kid in middle school you wished you could be friends with but was always somehow always out of reach.

INCIDENT #2: The next morning, mid-shower, I noticed that the shower curtains in our hotel room (see picture) were apparently designed by an 8-year-old who had just received a new box of crayons from her grandmother. WTF.

INCIDENT #3: My 9-year-old cousin was sitting on my lap on Thursday afternoon and I was reading him some "Calvin & Hobbes" comics (his new obsession). At one point in one of the strips, someone (I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was either Calvin or Hobbes) says the word "popularity."

"What does 'popularity' mean?" Jack asked.
"'Popularity' is 'how cool you are,'" I responded automatically.

My brother Sam, ever the Role Model, interjected right away with bemusement and mock-horror. "Are you serious??" he asked/berated me, "You are telling a 9-year-old that popularity is based on how cool he is??!?!?"

"Uh, yeah," I said, defensively, rationalizing my definition as I went, "I mean, isn't that how it is? I'm just preparing him for what's to come, I guess."

This "argument" went back and forth between my brother and me for about a minute, and eventually morphed into an ongoing joke that strangely lasted for the next few days. Perhaps my "popularity" convo with Jack will be one of those childhood moments he somehow remembers really vividly when he is in his teens and he'll write some personal essay about it in 10th grade. Or maybe he wasn't even paying attention. Perhaps this all just indicates that I am a shallow person. Or maybe the takeaway is really just that I am not good at talking euphemistically to young children.

So there we have it, friends. Doritos, a shower curtain, a meditation on "popularity." Perhaps there is some greater meaning to be had from these disparate and ambiguous tales. Or maybe, as I sometimes worry is too often the case, I was simply paying too much attention.

Monday, November 24, 2008

so many cake-related idioms!

It's the weekend and it's cold outside and there's that movie playing that you sort of want to see but you just haven't been able to muster the energy to Google the times so you are lying in bed and you can't figure out if you're hungry or not and Facebook is sucking the life out of you and you are wearing pajama pants at 4 p.m.. This was me on Saturday afternoon. ("Bloggers, they're just like us!")

Later that night, before actually gathering up the strength to do the tough things in life (i.e. shower, get dressed, leave my apartment), two of my homedawgs came over and we ordered in Chinese. It had been that kind of day; Chinese was in order. (Related: when isn't Chinese in order?)

When we were finished eating and looking at my dirty plate was making me feel both tired and wistful, Marissa opened her fortune cookie. As we know, I take my fortunes very seriously. I keep my favorite fortunes in my wallet. I write blog posts about fortunes. Heck, the first blog I ever made was named after a fortune I got! But this one, this one Marissa got, my friends, this one may have taken the cake (this last sentence is what we call a pre-joke, btw -- come back and re-read it in 30 seconds and you will laugh like you have never laughed before).

Marissa's fortune: "A nice cake is waiting for you."

OMFG. So specific yet so metaphorical!

"A nice cake is waiting for you" is totally my new life motto. Think how differently you would live life if you were always aware of the fact that there was a great big juicy (ha, how much do you love juicy cakes?!) cake waiting for you at the end of the day -- your favorite cake. Crammed between 15 sweaty freaks on the subway? Chill out - a nice cake is waiting for you. Your PowerPoint crashes meaning you lose an hour's worth of work? NBD - a nice cake is waiting for you. Did your hook up from last weekend never respond to your text? Whatevs, a nice cake is a hundred times better... and it's waiting for you. Substitute whatever you want in for cake, y'know? Maybe your nice cake is an episode of "Law & Order" or catching up on your snarky blogs or talking on the phone to your boo. It's your nice cake. And it's waiting for you. SO GET OUT OF BED, SHOWER AND GET DRESSED, FOOL. GOOGLE THOSE MOVIE TIMES AND FIGURE OUT IF YOU'RE HUNGRY. Your nice cake is waiting for you: so earn it.

(I'm totally going to write a self-help book. It's going to be called: "Earn Your Nice Cake... and Eat It, Too.")

Thursday, November 20, 2008

pimp my gmail

By now you have probably noticed the advent of the new gmail "themes" which give you the ability to trick out your gmail however you like. (It's so cool to use ghetto slang when you're using it ironically!)

Now my resistance to change has been well-noted on this blog so at the risk of becoming a parody of myself and complaining like a caffeine-addled freak about how the "default" gmail theme is now some weird aquamarine nightmare (I switched back to "classic" faster than you bolt to Facebook when you get an e-mail notifying you that you've got a new tagged pic), I present to you this analysis of some of my "favorite" themes:

The kind of person I would never willingly interact with is the kind of person who would choose this theme (called "Terminal"):


This theme (below) is called "Cold Shower":

I know, I know. It looks just like the 10 other blue-based themes (Marina, New Blue, Steel, etc.). It's simple and plain and blue. So why does it get such an evocative and sensual name?! Just like they say you need a cold shower after getting all hot and bothered (or maybe people only say that in mediocre movies?), I need a cold shower after getting hot and bothered over this stupid name. BOO-YAH!

Check out these boys who can adorn your gmail and who are totally sensibly called "zoozimps":
SEXY CAN I ALERT! They appear to be distant cousins of the paper clip that hung out on the screen while you wrote papers on Microsoft Word in middle school. There is really nothing I can say about these attractive fellers other than that they come in last place in the tournament of life in which the grand prize is hanging with the stomping grapes lady and "life" means "gmail."

Now shit just gets weird. "Tea House" is some sort of vaguely Asian-themed theme that features a pretty awesome iteration of the Gmail logo (directly above) (see, I can take it just as well as I dish it out... erm... you know what I mean). But all hell breaks loose when you scroll down to the bottom of the "Tea House" situation. WTF. This Chinese garden (what up, apricots?) is just sort of chilling on the bottom of the page. So detailed, right? When I look at this, I feel like I am supposed to either meditate or have a really severe psychotic breakdown.

Monday, November 17, 2008

the boy who cried "tattoo" (or, the birth of Tattoo Josh)

On Friday night I got a tattoo.

Not a real one (though I did amuse myself by sending my friends mysterious text messages like "OMG TATTOO" or "Guess who has a tat yo?!" or "Someone call Jordin Sparks, I gots a tattoo"). No, this kind of tattoo -- which was applied through a process I am still unclear about and which involved graffiti and a hot wax-like substance -- lasts for about 2-4 weeks.

You can see it in this picture I took of myself.

To answer some popular questions I have gotten since Friday night:
- No, it is not henna.
- No, it doesn't "mean anything." I picked this one out of ten generic options.
- No, it is not Chinese or Sanskrit or whatever.

When I woke up Saturday morning and looked down at my arm, I was struck by an unusual and palpable "this is not my arm" sensation. It was pretty disturbing. I was semi-horrified as I decided that I looked sort of like a biker dude you would see on "The O.C."(not to be stereotypical or anything). I felt dirtied, infiltrated, confused.

Then a weird thing happened. I was hanging out with some friends Saturday night and after showing them the tat in horror upon my arrival and complaining about it endlessly and annoyingly throughout the night, often pulling up my sleeve to hate on it, my friend pointed out something that I guess was abundantly obvious: "Josh, I don't care what you say, you really like it." And it hit me that she was totally right.

Tattoo Josh is totally different than Normal Josh. I feel empowered as Tattoo Josh. It is almost like the weird black squiggles on my arm are providing me with strength, with confidence, with the suavity I normally lack.

Normal Josh doesn't complain when everyone at dinner decides on an appetizer he doesn't really want to share.
Tattoo Josh raises his hand and shouts "hold up!" after someone orders the artichoke spring rolls "to split" and just goes ahead and orders the nachos everyone is really wanting anyway.

Normal Josh (all 6 feet, 2 inches of him) uncomfortably bends his knees at concerts in order to reduce his blockage of the people behind him
Tattoo Josh doesn't give a frak and stands tall and proud at concerts.

Normal Josh writes back to every e-mail in his gmail promptly and thoughtfully, writing long responses to everyone who e-mails him.
TATOO JOSH ONLY E-MAILS WHO HE WANTS.

Come 2-4 weeks time, hopefully the essence of Tattoo Josh will have rubbed off (heh) enough on Normal Josh so that even though the mark will have vanished, the effects will be permanent. Otherwise, the next text message you get from me that says "WTF I just got a tattoo" may be a helluva lot more serious.

Friday, November 14, 2008

regretful and vaguely hungry

Eating out at a restaurant when you know someone else is paying is always really uncomfortable for me. On the one hand, you don't want to appear as though you are taking advantage of the sitch by ordering multiple margaritas, an appetizer along with your duck, and then a dessert for kicks. But at the same time, you feel weird seemingly restraining yourself because, well, it's not like other people pay for your food all that often - you should make the most of it, right? (She did say to order whatever we wanted, you tell yourself.) Basically there is no right way to deal and, like most stressful situations in life, you end up feeling regretful and vaguely hungry when it's over.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

what's the first thing you think of when I say "Conan O'Brien"?

I'm not really sure why I titled the post that question, but at least you're all thinking about something (probably red hair) that you don't usually think about before we get started today.

On Friday, my friend Liz (yes, the same girl responsible for my not meeting Jessica Alba) (JK JK, Liz!) (sort of!) accompanied me to a taping of Conan O'Brien's late-night show. It was a surreal, awesome experience that - as is so often the case with things that are surreal and awesome - went by way too fast to fully comprehend. One minute we were wandering around "30 Rock" hoping to bump into Kenneth or Jenna on our way to the studio; the next we were out the door, unfortunately reacquainted with the grating noise and lights of Sixth Avenue.

Three Observations About The Show:

1) Pretty much everything is scripted. It was disconcerting to find out how much of the show is just people reading cue cards. I guess I knew this was the case, but seeing it in practice is sort of like if you actively watched your parents buying and wrapping your Christmas presents and then had to listen to them tell you they "came from Santa" or if you watched the meetings behind-the-scenes on "The Hills" where they tell Lauren Conrad what to do. (Yep, just equated Christmas with "The Hills.") Even the interview Conan did with this "designer who worked on the show" about the designer's Obama enthusiasm was scripted on both ends. The funniest parts of the monologue and interview were definitely when Conan went off script, or "off-cue card" as it were.

(I feel like it's kind of weird I am critiquing Conan O'Brien's show this intensely, right? Whatever. I'm gonna keep going with it.)

2) Conan is always surrounded by people. During every break in filming, people come out of crevices and corners like small gophers to just do things. Someone refills Conan's coffee. Someone fixes his hair. Someone fills the mug on his desk with Diet Coke. Someone preps him for the next interview. Someone moves furniture around. Meanwhile five other random creepy older guys stand around the whole scene with clipboards and walk around agitatedly. It's sort of like an oil change during a NASCAR race.

3) As an audience member, you are able to do anything! I could have stood up in the middle of Conan's interview with Ricky Gervais and shouted "Stardust sucked!" Somehow it works out and the audience cheers when it's supposed to and is quiet when it's supposed to and they never had to re-do a take or anything like that. We were kind of treated like trained monkeys - and we acted accordingly. For a "live studio audience," we were pretty flippin' tame. Before the taping, the surprisingly non-annoying warm-up guy told us that the one thing we should never do as audience members is acknowledge the camera when it panned to the audience. "Just look straight ahead and clap," he said. Of course, when the camera did pan to the audience after Conan said "good night" at the end of the show, I waved furiously -- checking myself out on the overhead monitor -- in the way parents wave at their kids during sports games or music recitals. "I'm sure I got on TV," I said to Liz smugly.

Sadly, my uncouth behavior was not rewarded. I watched the show on DVR Saturday morning and they cut to Carson Daly's show before Conan's goodbye had finished. For the first time in my life, I felt antipathy instead of indifference toward the former TRL VJ.

Monday, November 10, 2008

people always be...

1) People always think (and want you to know) that they got it worse. When you are sitting in a restaurant with three of your friends and someone whips out their wallet and says something like "Omigod, I have the worst ID picture ever" and then passes around their (not really all that bad) ID pic, without fail someone else will claim theirs is "sooo much worse" ("I look like a crack addict...") and then pull out their (also not really all that bad) ID pic. Or when you are telling your friend on the subway about your crazy coworker who always makes a scene in the kitchen, the friend will more often than not laugh for a few seconds and then respond with some sort of statement/story implying that her office is crazier.

2) People always want you to know who they been talkin' to. People love to drop names in conversations. Listen sometime for how often people say things like "Like I was telling Tim yesterday..." or "Yeah, I was saying the same thing to Marissa last night..." or "My brother thinks I should tell him anyway..." I am not sure why people love doing this, but once you start noticing every time people (or you) do it, it drives you crazywild!

3) People always want reassurance about the text messages they are sending. Sometimes I think I could make a lot of money as a Text Message Consultant. Fo' serious. Nary a night goes by when I don't look over at least three to four texts to "make sure this sounds OK" or to "check that this doesn't sound too bitchy" or to "see if I would interpret this to mean that you actually do want to see him." But of course, when it comes time for me to send a text, I automatically hand my phone to my nearest friend before pressing "send," too. I guess we all want that nod of approval from another because when we don't get the scan-from-a-friend, then when we don't get a text back in response, the only person we have to blame is ourselves.

Friday, November 7, 2008

on to more important topics!

What is really irritating me lately: Facebook albums titled after names of current pop hits ("Hot n' Cold!," "Live yourrrr life"). It's almost as bad as the vague/attention-seeking "Kimmy is hopeful yet scared" status.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

this shit is bananas

Halloween weekend! Soooo fun, right? Witty/slutty costumes and omg candy and lots of debauchery! It is really the champion of holidays.

Nope. That was a joke. It is not the champion.

Like New Year's and Fourth of July, Halloween is one of those holidays which everyone thinks they have to do something incredibly awesome for and which everyone talks about incessantly beforehand and which inevitably disappoints. None of the CRAZY WILD parties are actually all that CRAZY or WILD and everyone is dressed as the Joker or a Sexy Bumblebee, anyway, so what's the point?

That all being said, I am capable of finding the good amongst the lame. So I present to you the four peanut M&Ms amongst the sea of Almond Joys from this past weekend:

1) The best costume I saw all weekend was this really forlorn, Jim Halpert-esque dude who was wearing a tuxedo and walking next to his old-fashioned bike. He had a piece of paper hanging around his neck with the words "I'm sorry" scribbled on it in Sharpie. "WHAT ARE YOU SORRY FOR?" I shouted. (One thing I do like about Halloween is that you are totally allowed to yell things at strangers.) "I'm a formal apology," he responded, in this perfect hopeful-but-fatigued way.

2) I met the #3 Jack Sparrow impersonator in the U.S. Yeah. That's right. Your move, sucka.

3) I attended a dinner party of eight guests and two of them, completely unintentionally, showed up wearing the same banana costume. (See picture above.) Of course, I had to go and make a lame banana split joke which resulted in this much laughter: zero.

4) Marissa and I, even more fed up with Halloween than we were initially after a frustrating night of no one being able to figure out our costumes, were waiting for the subway to come last night and watched as like 7 subway workermen removed a dead rat from the subway (see picture to the right). Now normally this would be gross and kind of disturbing but ultimately forgettable EXCEPT FOR THE FACT that all seven of them whipped out their camera phones beforehand and took pictures of the dead rat. To e-mail to their wives?! To make as their new cell phone backgrounds?! To send to Gossip Girl?! "Oh shit, wait, Mickey," one of them said while waving his cell phone in the air to the cackling, burly dude who was about to remove the rat with his shovel, "This one came out too blurry. I need to do it again."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

the stranger sangria

More interesting than people not being friendly in NYC is that when people actually are, we are so hesitant to acknowledge it.

The other night when I was at dinner, my guacamole gorging was interrupted by the woman sitting at the table next to me. "Excuse me!" she barked at my friend and me, "I know this is - like - the weirdest thing, but do you guys want to finish our sangria?" My friend and I made eye contact in that half-smile way and then looked at our half-empty sangria glasses. Neither of us answered right away. "We're not going to finish it," she explained, gesturing to their pitcher. "It's just going to go to waste." I gazed at the floating fruit chunks gestating in the Kool Aid-colored liquid in their pitcher and felt a little nauseous. Somehow, her sangria - offered up as if it were a French fry - did not make me feel at ease.

"Sure, we'll take it," my friend answered, adding - who knows why - "Just so long as you didn't roofie it!" Our Sangria Supplier laughed shrilly, handing me the pitcher. "No, we didn't! Don't worry!" It troubled me that she responded as though my friend's question had been serious.

I smiled and thanked her and she and her mute dining companion left. My smile left with them. "People just aren't that nice," I said. "People don't just give people their sangria pitchers. They're expensive! I mean, we are in New York, where I get elbowed repeatedly every morning as people stomp past me on the escalator. NO ONE CARES ABOUT ANYONE ELSE ENOUGH TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT." My agitation was undermined by the fact that my fingers were already in the stranger sangria, retrieving the small pieces of mango for my consumption.

Monday, October 27, 2008

honor and regret

Two things before we begin:

1) Sometimes, it takes the realization that you missed out on something that will never happen again to realize that you ever wanted it in the first place.

2) This is a story about Jessica Alba.

On Saturday night, I arrived with my friend Katie at a pretty nondescript party in a pretty nondescript apartment in Union Square. It was your standard low-key affair - clusters of two-or-three people scattered about the dimly-lit apartment clutching beers and making small talk, checking their cell phones while laughing at jokes. You know the scene.

I knew a small portion of the small crowd (of about 20 people) so after making my rounds and saying my hellos, I found myself extremely tempted to take my friend Liz up on her offer to meet up at our favorite late-night food joint in 15. So I finished my drink, took an umbrella (which probably wasn't mine, but when it comes to umbrellas this is for some reason permissible) and left. I headed out into the night towards the Ukranian restaurant that is my heaven.

ARE YOU READY FOR WHAT IS COMING AFTER THIS ALL-CAPS QUESTION?

I woke up in the morning the next day (=yesterday) to find a text message from Katie that was nothing less than earth-shattering: "Omg so after we left that party apparently JESSICA ALBA and her husband showed up bc they are friends with the girl who was throwing the party's work friend."

Now, I am no great fan of Jessica Alba (as I expressed in my very first blog post here): she was the worst thing about the Oscar-winning "Fantastic Four" franchise; she named her daughter the most awkward name you can name a daughter ("Honor"); and those posters for "The Eye" really freaked me out. BUT, whatever, the fact that I could have totally hung with Jess on Saturday night is too much for me to handle. She could have asked me about my job and what I think about Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impression; I could have asked her about where she lives in the city and if she's ever been to that place downtown where they only sell different kinds of macaroni and cheese. It could have been the beginning of something awesome.

Who really knows why she would want to go to a party which consisted of twenty 23-year-olds, or where her months-old daughter was at the time, or what in the world she actually did talk about with the hipsters and art majors that comprised the party, but somehow that all seems irrelevant. When it comes to celebrity, there are somehow different rules. A not-so-exciting story becomes something truly noteworthy. The fact that you have never seen a Jessica Alba movie with any redeeming qualities just isn't important. The chance at a brush with fame is enough to make even the most sane people into crazies. Which is why I spent the better part of yesterday moping about my bad luck and imagining what I would have said to Cash Warren after shaking his hand. Because even though we're talking about missing the chance to hang with a celebrity I never even wanted to hang with in the first place, the fact that I missed out - and now I'll never have that chance again - is almost as bad as having to sit through all of "Good Luck Chuck."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

emotion involved

Nowadays, it seems like everyone is kinda ambivalent about Starbucks.

Back in middle school it used to be the hip joint ("I just asked Mickey to come study with me at Starbucks! OMG! I'm so nervous!"). Because none of us drank coffee yet but totally wanted to, it represented something rebellious, something adult. When my friends and I had a free period in high school, someone would often whisper, "Wanna walk to Starbucks?" as if "walk to Starbucks" meant "snort some drugs." Of course, no one would actually get coffee when they got there. It was all about the marble loaf and caramel frappuccinos, baby. And sitting in those big armchairs.

But then somewhere along the way, Starbucks became less "cool" and more commonplace. In college, I stopped there when it was necessary (i.e. paper due the next day, heading into 2-hour seminar, etc.) but never for pure FUN. I found myself ordering the same, boring drink every time (grandé French vanilla coffee). The chatty baristas who used to amuse me so no longer got a smile out of me. Give me my drink. I am not interested in exchanging pleasantries with you. That is how I felt. And if your friend in college asked you to go study at Starbucks with you, you would make a little frown. Starbucks?! Really?! Are you really that pedestrian? Don't you want to go to that funky coffee shop down the street where they give you cups made from recycled lamb hair and where you can use actual silverware to cut open your dazzleberry scone?

Now that I have a job that requires me to stay awake for 9+ hours every day with few breaks, Starbucks has become a morning habit. A habit. Nothing more. Nothing less. No emotion involved. I didn't think it was possible, but spending each morning in line with 40-somethings with stress lines on their faces and trench coats draped over their drooping bodies has made Starbucks even less cool.

Less cool, that is, until today.

Today, the bubbly barista (seriously? do they shoot these people up each morning?) asked me if I wanted a "splash stick" with my coffee. I looked at her and squinted. A splash stick? It sounded like either a pool toy or a sex toy. But then he handed me the green stick to slide into my coffee - which serves to block the SO ANNOYING splash of hot coffee (especially a problem for those of us who walk briskly). As I walked out the door, I grinned broadly (rare for Mr. TxtMsgBtl) at the recognition of a truly awesome idea.

"Oh, Starbucks," I thought, downright giddy at the introduction of the heavenly splash stick into my partly-cloudy life. "You may not be the coolest kid in the playground anymore and you may have lost some of that initial charm, but damn how often I forget just how happy you can make me. A splash stick! Starbucks, I take it all back. On my List of Things That Are Cool, you're back right up there with Tina Fey and Texting With One Hand. I promise, I'll never take you for granted again."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

shifting geres

I have never seen the movie “Autumn in New York.” But, for a while now, whenever someone mentions how it’s starting to get chilly outside or when Gossip Girl (as she did last night) says things like “There is nothing quite like autumn in New York!” I can’t help but envision Richard Gere and Winona Ryder walking amongst the orange and yellow leaves as some schmaltzy ballad plays in the background.

Here’s what I can tell you about this movie (because I am sure you love to hear about movies that came out eight years ago from people who haven’t actually seen them):
1) Richard Gere, as ever, plays someone who has never found meaningful love. He’s a wily playboy. He has gray hair.
2) But then he meets Winona Ryder. She’s cute! She’s spunky! She has a short haircut! What else could possibly happen but him falling in love with her so intensely, right? (Basically, WR was the Natalie Portman in “Garden State” before Natalie Portman in “Garden State.”)
3) Uh-oh. It turns out Winona’s got a terminal illness, y’all. She’s going to die. Just when she was about to totally re-energize Richard Gere’s life and give him a new purpose for living, too. What will he do now? Buy a sports car? Start dating Tara Reid? Dye his gray hair?

No joke, the tagline for this movie is “He fell in love for the first time… she fell in love forever.” Get it? She’s in love with him forever because she is going to die and will be loving him from heaven for the rest of time.

This is what I think about whenever some work acquaintance fake-shivers on the elevator and turns to me and says “Well I guess summer's over, huh?”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

escalating

Every morning when I get off the subway, I have to go up a giant escalator. It is such a big escalator. You have no idea.

I love the 45 seconds I spend escalating each morning for the same reason I love train and plane rides. I like the idea that to get from where I am to where I want to go, I need to take a certain kind of transportation and there's nowhere else I can be for that period of time but in transit. There's nothing else I can do for those 45 seconds of my life but ride the escalator. I love that!

The Escalator Culture is such that you stand on the right if you are going to remain stationary. Freaks who want to walk up the escalator can do so on the left-hand side. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND wants to walk up a giant escalator I do not know, but when I watch the sleazebags and robotrons who stampede up the escalator as if they are climbing Everest, I seethe with fury. Seriously, it personally offends me.

Today, some uppity woman was trekking up the left-hand side and of course managed to trip and somehow extend her arm into the back of my leg, which caused me to nearly topple over. I saved myself by grabbing onto the handrail thing with the grace of a trapeeze artist wearing a dress shirt. (Anyone who has seen how I move knows that is probably the most untrue sentence I have ever written.) Anyway, Woman Who Sucks steadied herself and then turned back to me. "So sorry," she said, as she kept moving upward.

My cherished 45 seconds had been ruined. I immediately began to worry about what this day would hold in store for me. Would this be one of those days when I just can't catch a break? Would I spill coffee on my pants and find out they're all out of the bread I like when I buy my lunch and would my phone run out of battery in the middle of the afternoon? Had WWS destroyed my Thursday? I sighed as I came out onto the sidewalk from the subway, and then I looked up to cross the street.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

COMMUNICATION!

Public gyms creep me the frak out. Every time I step onto a treadmill and notice the sweat residue on the handrails, presumably from the person who was running on it before me, it takes everything within me to not just turn around and run out.

Things That Are Weird About My Gym:

1) It's weird that you can see what everyone who is running on treadmills/doing the elliptical things/etc. is watching on their personal TVs while they work out. Yesterday, I spotted a man well into his 40s watching "I Love Money" and a younger woman gazing transfixedly into her small slice of visual heaven: an "Everybody Loves Raymond" rerun. (Because I couldn't figure out how to change the station on my personal TV, it appeared to any passersby that I was watching a senate hearing on C-SPAN. Hah. Little did they know my headphones were connected to my iPod, not the TV... and I was listening to this. Joke's on you, sweaty man wearing a headband!)

2) In addition to these individual TVs, there are large TV monitors up on the wall that, theoretically, I guess you can watch while you work out - though that would be weird. At all times of day, these monitors are inexplicably playing pop music videos from 5-10 years ago, exclusively. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have witnessed a steady rotation of Ashlee Simpson's "La La," Mandy Moore's "Candy" and the classic JoJo ditty, "Get Out (Leave)." How much do you love parentheticals in song titles btw? (So much!) Apparently the dude who owns my gym has a thing for platinum blond nymphets who are pretty decent at lip-syncing.

3) There is a room in my gym behind where the weight machines are located called the "Communication Room." It looks sort of like an office, I suppose. I was going to take a picture of it with my Blackberry (yes, I bring my Blackberry to the gym - on the scale of tools, I'm somewhere between Brody Jenner and a wrench) but a gym employee was loitering in front of the door. What goes on in the Communication Room?! Is it for verbal communicating - as in, if two dudes need to talk things out using their words after getting into a locker room scuffle? Or is it for physical "communicating" - as in, if two exercisers who have been eyeing each other across the gym need to exert their bodies in a different kind of way? COMMUNICATION! What a word! It can mean so many different things!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

spotted bass

On my most recent post, an (anonymous) commenter wrote something I could not agree with more:

wait. back up. "I saw Ed Westwick on the street." you can't just casually drop something like that and expect us to let it slide. doesn't this encounter deserve its own post?

You are right, Anonymous Annie. It happened on Sunday and, believe me, I have needed these past six days to process it all. Seeing Ed Westwick in person is the kind of thing that merits an ample amount of post-encounter analysis and recovery. We're talking about a mythic figure here.

But now that I have fully digested what may have been the MOST IMPORTANT THING TO EVER HAPPEN IN MY LIFE, here's my tale:

I was lying in bed and scrolling through pictures on my laptop (how Dan Humphrey of me!) in the midst of the Sunday afternoon dead zone when I got a text from my friend Amanda. "Ed Westwick! Chelsea movie theater! We're waiting for him to come out! COME NOW!"

Say no more.

I threw on a yellow-and-blue striped sweatshirt and some jeans I found on the floor. I looked like what I imagine Helena Bonham Carter looks like when she wakes up in the morning after an all-night bender. But no matter. I was off to see Ed.

I raced down the stairs of my apartment, hopped on the C train, and got off at 23rd and 8th. Amanda was waiting with her friend in this café right next to the movie theater. The two girls had seen Ed walk into "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" (would have thought this was the kind of movie Ed/Chuck would sneer and laugh at, but whatever) and said that the movie would be getting out any minute. I stood in front of the movie theater next to Amanda's roommate's friend (let's call her "Basstalker") who was an even more obsessed Chuck-ie than me. (When I asked her where Ed lived, she responded with his exact street address.) "I have been waiting to meet Ed my whole life," Basstalker screeched. I nodded my head as if that was totally a) normal and b) possible.

And then, just like that, out came Ed and two friends (one female and one male). ("Omigod, I wonder if that's Jessica...," Basstalker whispered urgently. Again, I just nodded.) I was having trouble processing the whole situation. Ed was so... not Chuck. He was wearing gray skinny jeans and a tight/ill-fitting gray t-shirt. He looked surprisingly short and, dare I say it... normal. Except for the fact that... he had a soccer ball (!?!) which he was juggling and bouncing off his body. Yes, he had a soccer ball with him on his way out of a movie theater. I don't get it either.

My companion didn't know what to make of it, either. "Do you think he's on drugs?" she asked, as he dribbled the ball down the sidewalk, his friends beside him. But I was lost in thought, thinking about the fact that I was standing so close to the legend himself, the man who had his way with Blair in the back of the limo, the creep whose favorite pastime is standing a few feet behind the popular girls during lunch time... the motherchucker himself.

I had no time to take a picture or say something witty or yell out for him to pass the soccer ball to me. It all happened so fast. The next thing we knew, they were across the street. "Well what do we do now?" I asked. "We follow them," Basstalker said, not missing a beat. And we did. For four avenues. Which is when we stopped because we decided we were being too creepy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

parentheses, italics and hyperlinks: one year in the life of a blog

Generally I hate when people celebrate birthdays/anniversaries for things that aren't humans.

"OMG my car turned 2 today." Ugh.

"Tomorrow is the eighth anniversary of us living at 34 Yancy Street!" Groan.

But I am going to do it anyway in this post. A year ago today, 10/8/07, I wrote my very first post on this blog: "things i don't like." (As you can see, from the very beginning I've been a cantankerous 78-year-old man trapped in the body of a lanky 22/23-year-old.)

In all seriousness, a lot of changes have taken place in the past year. I moved from New Haven to New York. I found out I was lactose intolerant. I got a Blackberry. I saw Ed Westwick on the street. And, yes, I've started holding onto the handrails on the subway. Major things have happened in these past twelve months, yo.

Like most things, when you think about blogging for too long, it starts to seem really, really weird. Why write a blog when you can write in a diary, write stories... or, uh, write e-mails to your friends? And who wants to read the poorly articulated thoughts of some random dude who really loves hummus? I have no well-reasoned answers to these questions; to be honest, I try not to think about it too much (see the first sentence of this paragraph). All I know is that with every post, I feel myself letting my guard down a little bit more, feeling freer to try something a little bit zany, revealing a side of myself I never really felt comfortable revealing before. It just happens. And you don't have to really think about it. And it's nice. And all these people who read what you write are on the roller coaster with you, too (just follow me on this metaphor, plz). And that's nice, too. Because riding on a roller coaster with people you like is always more fun than when you ride it alone.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

know brains

The best argument I've seen in a while for saying your hilariously witty store name idea out loud before you ACTUALLY MAKE IT THE NAME OF YOUR STORE.

Friday, October 3, 2008

things that are annoying

1) When you are trying to find an article in a magazine (usually the cover story) and you keep flipping through the pages and it's taking you forever and for whatever reasons that don't really make any sense YOU JUST AREN'T FINDING THE ARTICLE - but instead of turning to the "Table of Contents" and finding the right page that way, you figure you are bound to find it if you keep flipping through all of the pages for long enough.

2) When someone decides it's a good idea to tell you something awesome she was planning on doing for you but then... didn't. Example: "Oh, I was going to get you a birthday cake from this really awesome place but I called them and they said they couldn't do it on such short notice. Sorry!"

3) When you are trying to make plans with someone and you finally decide on a time and a general area ("6:30/6:45ish," Union Square) after 40 texts back-and-forth, and so you leave work or wherever and then the person texts you: "Also, I don't care where we eat at all - you just pick a place." (I know you can't italicize in text messages, but just go with it and imagine a world in which such wonders were possible.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

bad heir day

Sam: thanks
so the dutch was really good?
Sent at 11:21 PM on Wednesday
me: yeah
incredible
KK was great
and rf was awesome
it is my new fave of that genre
the genre being "why can't i birth a son? also, i hate my husband"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a drinking problem

People in NYC are always sending e-mails to each other with subject lines like "next week" and "dinner?" and trying to make plans to meet up. These e-mails always kind of stress me out. I want to see random college friends as much as the next guy, but I can never settle on what exactly I'm supposed to propose that we do together. More often than not, though, what is settled upon is getting a drink.

There are a lot of nice aspects of getting a drink with an acquaintance. A drink is informal (as opposed to getting dinner), can happen pretty much wherever and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how uncomfortable/wonderful the dynamic is. In general, getting drinks with rando friend > getting dinner with rando friend.

But lately, my tune has changed a bit: I've decided - hold your breath, here - that getting drinks with a pal really isn't all that awesome.

1) I don't really enjoy drinking when there is no promise of getting at least tipsy (what is the point?!), and I never really want to get drunk (or tipsy) (or anything) when it is 9 o'clock on a Tuesday night....

2) ... because it's expensive! Who wants to pay $9 for a vodka-cranberry that basically just tastes like really cold cranberry juice?!

3) Bars are loud and rowdy. It's awkward enough that we're talking about our freshman counselor but this awkwardness is quadrupled by the fact that we have TO SCREAM AT EACH OTHER while talking about him.

4) Whenever I find myself sitting in some dimly-lit bar that neither of us will ever set foot in again, I always think about how I'd rather just be at Pinkberry.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

the crevice between "B" and "N"

Everyone eats lunch at their desks in my office, so I figured I should just start doing that, too. (Re-reading that sentence, it kind of makes it seem like I have become a robot without a mind. You can now e-mail me at robot@inowgettiredatdinnertime.com. Wow. The working life ain't hurting my wit a bit, huh?) So nowadays I dart off to Food Exchange (which really is the worst name, since every time I buy a chicken pesto sandwich there, I feel like I am supposed to give them two avocados in return) and then head back to my cubicle and chow down.

But I think I am missing something that everyone else in the office is getting (call it Michael Scott Disorder) because I simply cannot eat while on my computer. Eating a salad while checking e-mail is a) gross because pieces of lettuce fall onto your keyboard while you're typing and then you notice some dressing in the crevice between the "B" and "N" key and then you cross your fingers your keyboard doesn't break in which case you will have to go talk to the IT guy again and b) inefficient because it is impossible to write an e-mail with one hand (try it right now) or even to conduct a normally routine series of mouse clicks and c) annoying
because you can't even concentrate on the awesome mix of pears and feta in your salad because you are instead concentrating on eating quietly and not dropping anything off your fork.

EATING AT YOUR COMPUTER = almost as bad as a lunch place called "Food Exchange"

P.S. I got my first decoration for my cubicle today: the miniature chair pictured here. Now I have a totally flippin' awesome joke I can make when people come by to chat: "Would you like to take a seat?" I will say smarmily, gesturing to the chair, "I'm told it's quite comfortable."

Friday, September 19, 2008

the invisible neighbor

5:47 p.m.: I open the door and bump into two 20-something girls (Frizzy Hair and Burberry Purse) coming off of the elevator with a broker. They are looking at an apartment on my floor.

5:50 p.m.: I enter Associated Supermarkets (the grungiest large supermarket I have ever set foot in), two blocks away.

5:55 p.m.: I purchase two cases of Bud Light.

5:57 p.m.: On the sidewalk, a portly man with a hideous goatee points at me and shouts: "This guy's gonna have a fun night tonight!" I wince.

6:01 p.m.: I'm waiting in front of the elevator in my lobby. The doors open and Frizzy & Burberry walk out followed by the broker. The broker looks at me as if I am a cockroach. She stops short. "I don't know who this guy is," she says to the girls, eyes zoning in on the two cases, "but let's pretend he's not here."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

things you can't help but take personally

1) When your friend sends out an e-mail for the party she's having next week and you are somewhere in the middle of the non-alphabetical list, below both the roommate she "hates" and her rando hookup from last fall.

2) When you receive ugly clothes as presents. You think: what image am I projecting with my clothing that made her think I would want to wear these khaki purple shorts?

3) When your friend tells you this long-winded story and asks for your advice and then just when you are about to launch into your thoughts, he makes it clear he has told 50 people the same story by adding something like: "Well Tim and Veronica thought I should have just taken the picture anyway, but my cousin... oh, and of course Madison and Vince... thought I did the right thing. But, like, my brother just laughed when I told him and was like..."

4) When your friend asks you which of two shirts you like better for her to wear out and then she wears the one you don't pick. "Sorry," she says, and you think about what exactly she is apologizing for for a little bit too long.

5) When people tell you what celebrities you look like. They are never the ones you want them to be!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"it's not complicated": the story of a messy breakup

Yesterday at lunch, the waitress at California Pizza Kitchen bandied over to our table and grinned broadly.

"Happy Friday!" she chirped.

I should have known it would be a harbinger of bad things to come.

And the bad things did come. My Blackberry turned on me and deleted all of my texts in a vengeful flash (and we know how sensitive I am about textual messages). The 4/5 inexplicably isn't running this weekend, which resulted in me taking a train 20 minutes in the wrong direction before realizing my error. I got rained on for a good two blocks on my way to work.

But none of this compared to what I discovered when I got back to my laptop yesterday afternoon.

After three months of avoiding the prompts at the top of my screen to "try out new Facebook," I was informed that the new, garish Facebook had taken over for good. I could hold out no longer. I was forced to take part in a takeover I wanted no part of.

While I could obviously write a long rant here about how much I hate the seizure-inducing new layout, how lame it is that the centerpiece of a Facebook profile is now the wall instead of the information, how the new placement of the box to fill in your status is right where the search bar used to be (let's just say I almost made a very embarrassing first-ever status) and how I still don't understand why Facebook feels the need to keep changing something that has succeeded so whole-heartedly already, I will stop myself.

Instead, I will shrug. I am breaking up with Facebook, and I'm not letting her come out on top. I will refrain from complaining to everyone I see about she changed, about how everytime I almost had her figured out, she decided she needed to be something different. I'm not quite strong enough to delete her number from my phone, or to stop myself from going up to chat when I see her at a party, but her place in my heart -- which used to be so intense -- has diminished into a shadow of its former self, a mere poke.

Of course, this doesn't mean that when things get really bad, when I miss how she made me feel, when I remember how tight we used to be, I won't sucumb and have a late-night session at my computer, clicking through her tagged photos one by one.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

friend request rejected

Nowadays, I can almost always be found in one of three places: a cubicle, a subway car, or a bed.

But while the cubicle and the bed remain the same (more or less) on a day-to-day basis, the subway frequently offers something new to gawk at or dwell upon. Perhaps that's why I've been writing about it so much lately. Maybe I should start a subway blog called "The J in JMZ." Yes? No.

One of the things I hate/love about the subway is how each car is typically plastered with hundreds of advertisements from a single company. Lately, every car I ride in is wallpapered with these irritating ads for Dentyne Ice.

There are so many reasons I hate this ad campaign. So many reasons. They took a sort of maybe kinda clever idea (taking "cyber-phrases" and relating them to real life situations) and totally fumbled it. This kind of thing infuriates me. Maybe I have been watching too much "Mad Men" (I am pretty sure that's an oxymoron, btw), but I can totally imagine ten 50-year-old ad execs sitting around smoking cigars and saying things like "I know how to get little 13-year-olds to chomp on some Dentyne - let's just reference that new-fangled MyFace site thing my daughter's always talking about!"

Of the many people whose friend requests I have accepted over the years, there are probably only 2 or maybe 3 that I would hug like this. In fact, there are only about ten percent who I even acknowledge in public! (Not to mention: are we really meant to believe these two aren't already Facebook friends if they are hugging like this? This is clearly the hug of people who became Facebook friends the day after they found out they had gotten into the same college and joined the same toolish Facebook group.)

And what does this concept (people don't have real interactions anymore, everything is conducted on the internet, blah blah blah) have to do with GUM?! People chew gum all the time, regardless of who they're with. When they're with their friends, when they're at their computers, when they're on airplanes, whenever. This ad makes me hate gum: it makes me think about when you swallow gum, and when you find gum under your seat, and it makes me think about Violet Beauregarde!

FRIEND REQUEST REJECTED. That's right, Dentyne, you're going to stare at me in your "People You May Know" box and WISH we were friends. You're going to dream about seeing all my tagged pictures. Think how awesome it would be if you could post on my wall. And wish you could know what it feels like to hug me like that.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

the wisdom of gold choker

at the 33rd Street subway stop, approx. 11:37 p.m. Saturday night

Redhead with Bangs: It was just so weird. I was like 'You're old enough to be my dad!' It was so creepy. And he just wouldn't leave me alone. He kept saying things like 'Your boyfriend's too young for you, anyway. You need to see what an older man can do for you,' and I was just like 'gross.'

Her companion, wearing a gold choker and purple eyeliner, has been listening rapturously.

Redhead with Bangs: It was so funny. After he left me alone, I called my dad and told him about it.
Gold Choker (squeals): Really?! I never tell my parents stuff like that!
Redhead with Bangs: Yeah, I was like 'Dad, never do anything that sketchy!'

Long pause.

Gold Choker: You know what's just really creepy to think about?
Redhead with Bangs: What?
Gold Choker: That guy that hit on you... he could be anyone's dad.

Friday, September 5, 2008

crowded, but empty

What is weird is how people never make eye contact on the subway. It is sort of an unspoken law that you're not meant to speak to any fellow passengers nor, really, make any acknowledgment of their existences. Even when you are pushed up into them so that you can feel their arm hairs on your cheek and practically taste the sweat forming on their foreheads (YOU LIKE THAT IMAGERY?), they do not exist.

It's as if you are supposed to be pretend that everyone who isn't you on the subway is imaginary. The quiet woman reading The Kite Runner. The little kid sitting on his dad's lap. The crazy dude slurring and foaming as he recites a poem. As far as you're concerned, they're all not real. It's bizarre when you look around and really think about it. Today some guy stepped on my foot (hard) on his way out of the crowded 4 train. When I didn't hear an "Oh, sorry!" or even a "How clumsy of me!," I looked up to give him a dirty look or a questioning eyebrow raise. But, of course, he was already not there.

Monday, September 1, 2008

you know you love it

I used to have a "pop culture" blog called the Investigative Sponge -- I wrote about TV shows, movies, celebrities and the like. Whenever I look back at stuff I wrote for it now, I cringe. It's like I'm reading the work of the person who came in last place on some reality show where the prize is a job as an Entertainment Weekly intern. I don't really write much about movies and music and all that jazz nowadays, BUT I am making an exception now to write about a show that is a revelation, a show that is more than just an easy-to-swallow mixture of quick dialogue, actors with funky names and pretty city scenery, a show that is Gossip Girl (which returns for its second season tonight).

Reasons I Love "Gossip Girl":

1) It is, fundamentally, a show that is centered upon (and named after) a blogger. As a blogger myself, I like this. And she is not just any ole' blogger -- GG's a sarcastic chick prone to idioms who maintains her anonymity while making bitchy remarks about the people she writes about. And she is voiced by my Fantasy BFF.

2) The actors are gorgeous. All of them. Even the adults. They have names like Leighton and Chace (with a "c," obvi) and they look simultaneously untouchable and totally relatable. One of my friends recently pointed out that if Ed Westwick (who plays Chuck, but you know that) were at a club she were at, she would actually feel like she had a chance. I think this sense that we, us mere mortals, could fraternize, befriend, even get with these Gossip Girl Gods and Goddesses (even though we obviously couldn't) is one of the shows central appeals. Also, I had a dream once that Leighton and I were gchatting - it was the best dream I've had in recent memory.

3) Since everyone watches "Gossip Girl," it gives you this awesome reference point when talking with your friends. I often categorize people I know by whether they are "Blairs" or "Serenas." Or: "See that girl with the matching skirt/headband combo? She's a Jenny through and through." Or: "Uh, oh... I'm worried that Rachel could have an Asher situation on her hands with that new boyfriend of hers."

4) Even though it seems like the show is a soapy mess about hookups and scandals, it's at its core a show about friendship. I love me some Blair-Chuck (and can tolerate the Dan-Serena), but nothing beats the fundamental Blair-Serena bond. The best scenes of the show -- Blair reading Serena the letter she wrote her when she was at boarding school, Serena confessing to Blair that "she killed someone" -- are the most heart-wrenching and wonderful. When Blair says to Serena, "What is you is me. There's nothing that you could ever say to make me let go... I love you" you realize you are watching something more than a mere television show.

5) Nelly Yuki, Hazel and Dorota.

Friday, August 29, 2008

a matter of pasta and death

You know that scene in "Wedding Crashers" in which Isla Fisher, the crazy virgin (ha, that's gonna get me some interesting Google search result hits), warns Vince Vaughn "Never leave me... cuz... I'll... find... youuuu" and it's funny (or, rather, would have been funny if it hadn't been in every trailer) because she is saying something outrageous that must be a joke because who would ever stalk someone like that but there's this fearful glint in Vince's eyes because he wonders if there's a chance she might actually mean it?

OK, good.

Now follow me to dinner Thursday night. My family was at a fancy Boston restaurant marked by dim lighting and delicious flaky bread rolls, taking our sweet time with our menus and trying to decide what to order. We were in the midst of our usual hemming and hawing (it's weird how people always ask each other what they're going to order beforehand, right? and then how we always ask the waiter what's good, even if we totally know what we're going to get? we're bad at making decisions, us humans, huh?). Then the waiter came over.

He was a genial fellow, probably in his late-twenties. He went around getting our orders and then arrived at my mother, sitting to my left.

"So which of the pastas is the best?" she asked. He pointed one out as his favorite, which was then vetoed after he explained it was made with "squid ink."

"Oh, OK, that's not your thing?" he said. "Well how about the ravioli then?"

My mom said "sure," laughed for about seven seconds, and then added as she handed him her menu: "It better be good... or I'll kill you."

I looked up from my Blackberry and immediately turned to my mom, as did my other family members. I couldn't see the waiter's face, but my brother later informed me he looked, to put it mildly, "startled."

To his credit, the waiter retorted immediately, "The death threats don't usually come until the entrees," before darting back to the kitchen, an added urgency to his step.

We didn't see him again until he came to get our dessert orders.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

magnifying glasses!

Today was one of those "fun if you make it fun" kind of days. I woke up with a gmail draft of 13 different tasks I wanted to accomplish. It is now 5 p.m. and I've only got three items left. Success! Most of them were errand-y things (buy mirror, join a gym); others were not (watch the latest episode of "Mad Men," respond to starred e-mails).

So how did I make today fun? I recorded (on my Blackberry) all the weird conversations I had.

8:46 a.m., Time Warner cable store

Time Warner Representative (dead ringer for Bailey on "Grey's", except with scarily long fake white fingernails) asks me for my driver's license. I hand it to her.

TWR (looking at the picture on my driver's license): "This doesn't look like you."
Me: "Yeah, people say I look a lot older on my ID."
TWR (squints at ID for a good ten seconds): "It's the shadow on your beard."

10:23 a.m., office inside NYSC gym

Membership Coordinator (wearing an ill-fitting tight pantsuit) is sitting across from me, filling out my paperwork. She coughs and I look up from gazing at the picture of her and her husband (?) on her desk.

MC: "Excuse me, I'm not feeling well. It's this weather... always changing. Sometimes it's hot and then.... sometimes it's just, like, not."
(She giggles. I feel the need to say something, though I'm not sure what to say.)
Me (said as if I think I am telling a really good joke): "Yeah, I never know what to wear when I get up in the morning this time of year. I put on a t-shirt and then I'm like 'Dammit, why didn't I wear a long-sleeved shirt?!'"
MC: "If only we could jump outside for a second each morning to figure out the weather before getting dressed... (hands me document) OK, sign here, please."

3:45 p.m., Staples

Me: "Do you guys sell mirrors here?"
Staples Employee: "Hmmmmm, that's a good one. (pause) No, I don't think so. But we have magnifying glasses! That's the closest thing."

Friday, August 22, 2008

MAMMA PANTS

So my brothers and I were driving to the movies today and as we pulled into the theater I noticed this oddness on the placard in the parking lot:

Now I've seen my share of laziness in terms of movie placards ("Tropic" in for "Tropic Thunder" is pretty standard practice.) But "Mamma Pants"?! Seriously?! I made a lame quip to my bros (something along the lines of "Mamma Pants?! Now that would be an interesting movie!") and parked the car in the empty parking lot. (It was 3 o'clock in the afternoon in sunny Cape Cod. The only other people in our theater were a 70-year old monstrosity of a man and a teenage girl sitting by herself.)

Anyway, after stocking up on sodas, we walked toward our movie. This is when I noticed that, strangely, the melding of sunny "Mamma Mia!" and sappy "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" wasn't just advertised on the placard -- it was inside as well.

Now this really befuddled me. I know, I know, in all likelihood the theater alternates between showing the two movies: hence, the odd header above the theater doors. But are we sure? Perhaps the owners of the theater spliced together the two movies into a sort of YouTube-style fan fantasy with the best scenes from both movies? (The strongest numbers from "Mamma Mia!" interspersed with Blake Lively prancing around Grecian landscapes laughing -- it would be like a gay man's dream!)

Or what if it was an entirely new movie altogether?! Possibilities:

1) A heartwarming tale about a seamstress (who in my mind is played by Helen Mirren) who runs an orphanage. She sews pants for all of her little orphan girls as she sings old hymns and tells stories. One day the littlest, cutest orphan cuddles up next to her and christens her with her very own nickname.

2) A screwball comedy about three women in their thirties (Fey/Poehler/Wiig) who all have kids around the same time and who decide to raise their three tykes together. Of course, crazy hijinks follow as the ladies juggle diapers, dates and their careers! (Luke Wilson plays Tina's love interest, the good-hearted chef who lives down the hall.) The titular "pants" refer to the baby food-stained jeans which the women alternate wearing around town as a sign of their Mom Pride.

3) A dark indie thriller starring a doe-eyed brunette (Anne Hathaway) and her dim-witted boyfriend (Ryan Reynolds). They have a small child. Basically, Anne's being chased by this serial killer and she's on the run and out of breath the whole time. In the final scene the killer is in the same room as Anne while the infant is hiding in the closet. But the scene is shot from the closet where the infant can hear Mamma panting the whole time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

things that happen when you get a blackberry

1) Because you get notified every time you get a new e-mail, the joy of checking your e-mail after being out for a few hours or after a weekend out of town is a thing of the past. When you get onto your laptop, gmail is an afterthought rather than the first stop. This is totally depressing.

2) You respond to e-mails as if you were writing a text message. Whereas in the past you might have written a few paragraphs in response to a long e-mail -- a short summary of what's going on in your life, a few anecdotes and some mandatory questions -- now, you write "hiy thigns r good. will respond larer when have more time."

3) You can no longer use the "Oh, I didn't see your e-mail yet!" excuse.

4) Fun debates over lunch ("What was the name of that Angelina Jolie-Nicolas Cage car movie?!" "I wonder what Melissa Joan Hart is up to nowadays!") get solved in a matter of seconds, saving everyone from eight minutes of bickering and conjecturing among people who have no idea what they're talking about. This is totally awesome.

5) You forget, almost immediately, what it felt like to have a flip phone, back when you couldn't look up how to get to the nearest Burger King from your car and when you couldn't gchat your friends while you sat by the pool. You're not sure if this is a good thing.