Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Often, when I leave the confines of my room and journey across campus to a given destination, I run into an assortment of "friends." Depending on the kind of friendship we share, we either exchange awkward half-glances; smiles; head-nods; a weak "how's it going?/"good, you?"; half-hearted chatting; or genuine chatting.

Most of the time, though, it's head-nods (sometimes with a smile or a "how's it going?" tacked on). The kind of friends who call for head-nods fall into several categories:

1) The Class Friend: You are in seminar with this guy. You spend an hour and 50 minutes in a confined space with him every week. You have a good sense of his fashion sense, his intelligence (at least when it comes to Latin American Revolutions, or whatever specific/weird topic your seminar is about) and his general demeanor. Once you ran into him in Commons and made a joke about the weird expression the professor makes whenever he asks questions. But, when you pass him on the street, you realize that you actually know nothing about him. You don't know his crowd, you have no grasp of his sense of humor, and -- it occurs to you -- you don't actually know his name. HEAD-NOD!

2) The Friend of a Friend: She is one of your best friend's friends. You have been introduced to her like 17 times. Whenever you are with this best friend, FofF either comes over, comes up in conversation, or texts your best friend. FofF is unavoidable! Yet, despite the fact you are both good friends with this same person, it is just obvious you two are never going to become friends yourselves. It's cool, though. You're civil. You make banter when you're at some party talking to the mutual Best Friend and Best Friend goes to the bathroom. Despite the fact that you know basically everything about FofF's life, you don't stop when you pass FofF on the street because there's nothing to talk about unless your mutual Best Friend is around. HEAD-NOD!

3) The "One Night" Friend: It was a Friday night and you were hanging out with your usual crew and ONF happened to drop by (she spent a summer in London with one of your friends). You totally hit it off with ONF. She laughs at your jokes; you think her hair is pretty -- it's awesome. You spend this great night hanging out with ONF and your other friends. You go to all these parties and realize you like the same kind of music and both hate beer -- OMFG! You get food at the end of the night and have this crazy waiter which generates so many inside jokes. You part ways at the end of the night and immediately Facebook her when you get home (can't friend her until the next day, obviously). But then something weird happens. You go a few weeks without seeing ONF again. Then you bump into her on the street one day and you make small talk about the class you are late for and then talk about getting lunch. But that just feels weird because talking about uncomfortable lunch plans makes you feel like you are 37. And you realize the night you and ONF shared is a one-time thing and that you shouldn't try to fight it. So, from that point on, when you pass ONF on the street, it's a HEAD-NOD!

4) The High School Friend: You went to high school together, but you are not friends. You weren't friends in high school and you aren't friends now. Just because you were both in Mr. Dotoli's math class six years ago and now happen to go to the same college don't mean a thang. Whenever you pass him on the street, horrid memories of eating overcooked grilled cheese sandwiches in the back of the cafeteria, trying to be invisible at dance parties and shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch come RAGING BACK. When you see HSF, your past comes back... and no one wants that. HEAD-NOD!

Friday, April 25, 2008

blast from the past

There is something disconcerting about hearing a song that was really popular a year or so ago but has since faded into musical obscurity. While last summer it may have been the hit jam, the song is now a mere shadow of its former self.

But when you hear it playing at a bar or something, you nevertheless find yourself humming along without even really thinking about what you're doing. "Earl, check it out, it's that song, ya know?" you hear someone say at the table behind you. And everyone's spirits are briefly buoyed, thinking about that one time that song was playing in the parking lot when they were eating French fries and talking to that totally sweet guy. You mouth the lyrics of the chorus during your conversation about subway systems in different U.S. cities. It's instinctive.

And then you walk home that night feeling a little nostalgic. There are new songs now that have replaced the hit from a year ago that you heard at the bar. And while it's natural and inevitable and probably a good thing that there are always new songs, there's still something about it -- the boom-and-bust transience of pop music, the conveyor belt-ness of it all -- that makes you feel sort of hollow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

when teachers get self-aware

I am, at the moment, sitting in the back row of the last meeting of an English lecture I am taking this semester. The professor just wrote on the blackboard:

"For Monday, no reading, or, all the reading."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

a construct for life

One of my friends separates the events on her GCal into three different categories: "fun," "not fun," and "only fun if I make it fun." While my crazy OCD self would never tolerate such subjective labels for my appointments/plans, I am totally into this construct in a more general sense. In fact, I have been toying recently with the notion that almost everything in life can be broken down in this way.

Things You Write

FUN: poems when you are feeling moody; short plays (that always get ditched after about 7 pages)
NOT FUN: essays you have to write about book you haven't read
ONLY FUN IF YOU MAKE IT FUN: responses to surveys; diary entries; letters/e-mails to friends you haven't seen in a while

Eating Dinner at a Restaurant
FUN: asking to look at the dessert tray but then not ordering any dessert; appetizers(!)
NOT FUN: deciding what to order; splitting the check among multiple people at the end of the meal
ONLY FUN IF YOU MAKE IT FUN: interacting with your waiter

FUN: attempting to close your eyes (read: sleep) without the TA noticing
NOT FUN: listening to people you don't like try to sound smart
ONLY FUN IF YOU MAKE IT FUN: participating in the class discussion

Going to the Movies
FUN: watching previews; eating things you never usually eat (popcorn, Sour Patch Kids)
NOT FUN: people in the movie theater making grating noises (talking, coughing, seat-shifting)
ONLY FUN IF YOU MAKE IT FUN: watching the movie itself

Sunday, April 20, 2008

facebook does something pleasing

Most of the time when I write about Facebook (or anything, really), I'm peeved. Every time they add some new/unnecessary feature or redo the specific formatting we have come to love, a little part of me dies (you think I am exaggerating!). So I was pleasantly surprised to find a new feature yesterday that was both cool and unexpected (even if it doesn't really serve any discernible purpose).

LEXICON! Enter two words/phrases separated by an almighty comma, and the little chipmunks who work inside Facebook generate a snazzy graph charting how often those words/phrases have appeared on walls over the past year.

These searches reveal some fascinating stuff, y'all.

Who knew "LOL" was that much more popular than "OMG"!!?!?! Are people really bemused more often than they are shocked (or faux-shocked, as is more often the case)?! Readjust your glasses and take out your graphing calculators, friends: THESE ARE SERIOUS FINDINGS.

I guess this one isn't really that surprising. "THOMAS LET'S GET CRUNK 2NITE" does seem to be more prevalent among the walls I've perused in my day than "BECKS MEET ME IN BASS 2 STUDY L8ER!" I think it's cool that "study" rockets ahead during mid-December (=midterms). (When I typed that last sentence, I felt like I was in 8th grade math class, wearing the Abercrombie & Fitch sweater/JNCO jeans combination, doing painfully easy graph analysis worksheets with Jessie and Becca.)

This one is like a beautiful painting. I love it. Doubt cripples us until we reach New Year's, when - just like that - we find ourselves stirred by hope, inspired by the promise of what these new twelve months teeming with possibility offer us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

bathroom vision

When this blog was in its infant stages, I imagined there would be some topics (awkwardness, Facebook, television) that would come up a lot. And, as it turns out, I was right. But I never could have predicted that I would cover the "things above urinals" field so extensively.

Nevertheless, welcome to my second post about bathrooms.

On Saturday night, I found myself at a club/bar that is most definitely having an identity crisis -- it wants oh so badly to be a hip NYC club but is tragically stuck in decidedly un-hip New Haven, Connecticut. There are fake trees inside the club; one of the appetizers they serve is spiced almonds; the club's name is its address, etc.

Anyway, the bathroom in this bar is bizarre.

a) There are no mirrors. What bathroom doesn't have mirrors?! People need mirrors. They need them so that when they are leaving the bathroom, they can make sure they don't have a poppy seed stuck in their teeth or a drink spilled on their shirt or a really hideous pimple on their forehead that can be easily masked by a quick shift of the hair. No one wants to see poppy seeds in teeth or pimples on foreheads. MIRRORS DO EVERYONE A FAVOR!
b) There are two urinals in the bathroom. And nothing else. I don't think I need to say anything more about this.
c) THE WEIRDEST THING OF ALL: There are television screens above the urinals that show a LIVE FEED of what is going on in the bar. WTF! When I realized what the screen was showing, I hung around and watched the action transfixedly for like three minutes (the guy using the urinal next to me probably thought I was a sketchball... though, in all likelihood, he was glued to his screen too, and didn't notice). I watched two girls order drinks. I watched a guy drop his coat. It was like my own personal reality show except without sound and with less attractive characters. The purpose of the live feed still escapes me. To allow those in the bathroom to scope out hotties? To make bathroomers hurry up and get back to the fun times at the bar? To cater to the inner stalker within all of us? I do not know. What I do know: I returned to the bathroom twice more that night and not because I had to go to the bathroom.

Monday, April 14, 2008

the ultimate "fakersation"

I've gotten quite good at faking cell phone conversations when I see a) people I don't like but who always want to chat with me when I run into them b) the overly genial people I awkwardly see all the time who I always smile at but never actually speak with c) the guy who I never called back when he called me 17 times asking if he could copy my problem set.

When one of them approaches from up ahead, I automatically reach for my phone and place it next to my head. By now, I am able to commit to the charade without even thinking about it. My facial expressions (surprise, frustration, amusement, etc.) are subtle but noticeable. I say things fairly often (but not too often) in a pretty loud voice - things like "yeah, that sucks" or "well, I feel like you just need to tell him what you really think, you know?" Basically, anything that is vague-but-not-too-vague and incorporates pronouns flies.

The fake cell phone maneuver is golden.

Sometimes, even after I pass the target, I keep the fakersation going, just for kicks. And then if I walk into someone I like and want to talk to, I smile when I realize who it is and inexplicably just close my phone (no one ever notices the well-timed ending of my cellular conversation). Sometimes I say something weird like "Oh boy, that was stressful," gesturing to my phone. It's fun. I feel like I'm in a play.

Somehow I feel like I am going to regret writing this blog post.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

fifty minutes of torture

Having class outside is terrible. Whenever it gets the slightest bit sunny, all these kids arrive at class looking all dejected, backpack straps sliding off their shoulders, and they pout "Can weeeeeeee have class outsiiiiiiiiide today?" Thankfully, about half the time, the teacher sternly refuses. But it's that other fifty percent, the times when the professor tries to seem "cool" or whatever and conduct class under a tree, that make me squirm.

Having class (especially a boring class) outside is like some unusual form of torture. It's like having to take a standardized test in a strip club or having a dentist's appointment on a beach. You are forced to sit in a circle and listen to your professor drone on and on about something (you can never hear what anyone says when you have class outside) while, around you, it seems like half the people you know are prancing about in skimpy garments, tossing whiffleballs, reading magazines, eating delicious food.

Meanwhile, you are trapped in the circle. Your allergies start acting up. You realize you are sitting in some sort of slightly-damp mud situation. You can't find a comfortable sitting position. You can't see anything because of the sun so you start squinting and then realize the professor probably thinks you are sleeping but you honestly just can't open your eyes because it's so bright. You get so bored that you start doing the weirdest things like playing with grass super seriously or retying your shoes seven times.

And then when the 50 minutes of torture are over and you stand up (your leg is asleep and there is some sort of weird red imprint on your arm), you no longer even want to be outside when your friend asks you to go hang out on the green. It's been ruined. You walk back to your room, open the window and fall onto the couch. But first you take off your jeans because they're covered in dirt.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

things i have never done

1) made a Facebook status

2) sang along to the chorus of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated" without messing up the lyrics

3) slept in a room without a time-telling device present

4) played beer pong

5) used the word "condone" correctly

Monday, April 7, 2008


In real life, when someone says something funny, we can respond in a number of ways. We can smirk, nod, chuckle, glare, spit out our grapefruit juice, etc. Possibilities abound!

In cyber life, our options are more limited, as we must use LETTERS to LAUGH. As such, different expressions of amusement (iLaughs? eLaughs?) have taken on very different personas:

1) "haha" : This is the standard response to something mildly humorous. Your friend wrote something funny. It wasn't super funny. It wasn't lame. It was, as Randy Jackson might say, "just a'ight." There is no discernible expression on your face as you type "haha."

1b) "haha" also is useful when you type something to someone that could be interpreted offensively/strangely. If you type something like "I can't believe you said that to Tiffany" and your friend doesn't respond for a few minutes, a nice "haha" is all you need to make sure they know that what you mean is: "It was such a great moment when you called her out in the middle of dinner. It was funny. I am on your side."

2) "ha" : This one has a very specific connotation to it. It is appropriate in response to a lame pun, a comment too cheesy or try-hard to merit a real laugh, but one which you must acknowledge and give credit for, nevertheless. It also works when someone says something making fun of you. ("That sweater you were wearing today looked like a reject from Andy Dick's wardrobe pile." "Ha.")

3) "lol" : Oh, LOL, I just don't even know what to say about you. Actually, I do. "LOL" is never the right thing to type in response to something funny unless you are being obviously and sarcastically lame.

4) "lolz" : Ah, the power of a "z"! "Lolz" is great for when someone types something that is quite clever or surprising or profoundly funny. "Lolz" seems to say "Yeah, man, I like that. You're funny" without trying too hard. Especially appropriate for internet-related humor. ("I am sitting in my room debating whether or not to take a shower." "That should be your new Facebook status." "lolz")

5) "hahahahhahaaa" : This one is the most powerful of all, the Empress of eLaughs. When you are actually laughing at your computer because of what someone typed to you (a rare/wonderful occasion), this is what you should be typing back. Let your friend know just how funny he/she is -- allow your cyber laugher to expand into a jubilee of 11 or more letters.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

viva la gchat!

Today, Facebook launched Facebook chat (which, though I can't claim to have tried it yet, looks visually like gchat's bastard offspring). Same green light when a friend is signed on. Same placement of chats at the bottom of the browser. Same popout option. And so on. Before we know it, group chats and (my favorite) invisibility cloak will be added to the FChat (?) juggernaut.

Here are some of the reasons I will never support chatting via Facebook:

1) I do not want to chat with the kid who picked me last for basketball every day in 7th grade, nor with the girl in my section who I have never spoken to but who (drunkenly?) friended me. Not only do I not want to chat with them, I would prefer not to see their names and little faces every time I sign onto my procrastinatory device of choice. Since everyone has hundreds of Facebook friends, there are just too many people for a chat list (you can't block anyone on FChat). When I signed on briefly this morning to check it out, I realized that only one of the 27 people logged in is someone I would actually stop and acknowledge if I passed them on the street.

2) Why do I need to use a different format for communicating with my friends online when I (religiously) use gchat (which is simpler, prettier and only includes my friends)?

3) While it's no big deal to always be logged into your gmail (at least, that's what I keep telling myself), it's embarrassing (especially as a senior) to be someone who is always logged into the Stalker's Paradise that is Facebook. (How many people have you heard say, with an air of superiority, "Oh, Facebook? That ole thing? You know, I check it, like, once a month now..."?)

I am sure some people will say that this just makes communicating with your friends easier. I say: there are some people (96% of my Facebook friends) who I don't want to be able to communicate with me easier.

For now, when it comes to FChat, I shall remain offline. Perhaps, if enough of us do so, FChat will evaporate from lack of use and disappear! And then, comrades, we will again be able to check updated profiles and scope out the latest tagged pictures in peace! In peace!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

things that can ruin a day

1) when a waiter doesn't write down your order and then brings you the wrong thing

2) when you are craving that Diet Coke and you push your glass under the nozzle and some weird clear Ginger Ale nonsense comes out

3) when a piece of popcorn gets stuck in between those two teeth in the back of your mouth that you only remember exist when something is stuck between them

4) when you write a fun e-mail to someone you kind of flirted with in section the other day and he/she responds by writing you an e-mail that ends with the sign-off "Best"

5) when someone on the street who seems really nice and cute asks you for directions and you decide you are really going to try to be helpful for once so you give them these kind of convoluted but really detailed directions and then a few seconds after you part ways, you realize you gave them the wrong street name and they are never going to figure out where they are going

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

april fool's blues

I'm over April Fool's Day. Perhaps I should lump this in with the other things I hate that everyone else seems to love (snow, burritos, the beach) and move on, but I can't shake my queasy feeling this morning.

Reasons I don't like April Fool's Day:

1) My ever-present social anxiety reaches uncanny proportions. I walk around the whole day like someone who has just been released from a mental asylum. I peer around corners, don't respond when friends call me and simply don't engage in any sort of interaction that could result in a prank.

2) Everyone thinks they're the funniest prankster to hit the scene on April 1. This results in people setting your clock an hour ahead and thinking they are the next Ashton Kutcher or someone in the dining hall shouting at you "Look - there's Keira Knightly" and thinking it's the most ingenious trick ever pulled as you rapidly crane your neck and whip out your camera phone.

3) I get really excited about things like this for a really intense and really awesome three or four seconds and then it sinks in that this isn't real. And then I wonder why it's not real. Because it would be so awesome. And then I get sad. And then I curse the heavens for this "holiday" based upon deceit, disappointment and embarrassment!