Thursday, June 19, 2008

TxtMsgBtl hits the road

For the next ten days or so, Text Message in a Bottle will be participating in the first leg of a cross-country road trip. Depending on internet access, new posts will appear during the trip; but if the Gods of the Interweb do not look favorably upon me, expect a boatload of Road Trip-fueled musings upon my return.

Monday, June 16, 2008

we are self-important creatures

1) You say things like "I am such bad luck for the Lakers" when they miss three straight shots after you sit on the couch.

2) You freak out when you get a pimple. You look at it for like three minutes in the mirror, touching it with your finger every few seconds just to verify its realness. You lament your torturous life: "everyone will notice," you howl! (People will notice; but no one will care.)

3) You spend a good twenty minutes debating whether or not to take "Eternal Sunshine" out of your "Favorite Movies" on Facebook.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

share at your own risk

I tend to be the kind of guy who follows the rules. That is to say, I try not to ruffle too many feathers. So when I tell you that this weekend I was a pretty hardcore/deviant badass, you should know that we are talking serious stuff. I DONE BROKE RULEZ DIS WKND. What did your generally good-natured blogger-friend do? Did he speed on the highway wailing along to Limp Bizkit? Did he get an infraction for partying too loudly at his friend's house? Did he run though a red light because he embodies dashing daredevil-ness? No, no and, sadly, no.

My crime? I split a sandwich with my brother at a random diner in Westchester, New York on Saturday. The menu featured this awkwardly-phrased (but nevertheless forceful) dictum: "All entrees and sandwiches may not be 'split or shared.'" My life of crime begins NOW.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

disconcerting things that have happened to me today (and the day is still young)

1) I walked passed a man wearing your standard jeans-and-polo prepster uniform sitting on his stoop playing the banjo. (Too close for a camera phone pic, sadly.)

2) I ordered a chicken Caesar wrap at Boloco (this wrap place in Boston that used to be called "The Wrap" but inexplicably changed its name to sound like a dangerous virus). I took my wrap from the counter, sat down to eat, and realized they had actually made me a chicken burrito. I moaned inwardly and debated going up to the counter and explaining the error (I had already taken two bites). But I decided that my fear of any sort of confrontational interaction outweighed my hatred of beans, and I finished the burrito.

3) I got a text message from a 617 number (Boston area code) that looked vaguely familiar. The text said: "Schiedddddehhh." (direct quote) I was startled, taken aback, confused -- texts from unknown numbers are rare enough; nonsense texts from unknown numbers are practically unheard of. After a minute or so of panic (was I being stalked?! would I get a text from this number every day for the rest of time as if I were in a really awful horror movie?!), I realized that a few days ago, my friend Kanya texted me ("Hi!") from one of the iPhones on display in the Apple Store. This was the same number. The knowledge that my cell phone number is floating around in some display iPhone that hundreds of people scroll their grimy hands over each day: disconcerting.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

intimate strangers

I have spent more time on commuter rail trains than anyone should ever have to. I had to take a train 45 minutes each way to commute to high school, time I spent either sleeping, begrudgingly making conversation with classmates who would sit next to me, staring into space or doing homework (this was back in the day when homework was holey). (typo, but I'm keeping it)

Anyway, when I get on a train, I always look for an unoccupied two seats, rather than sitting next to a stranger. Obviously. Assuming I can find one, I then put something on the seat next to me (sweatshirt, magazine, whatever) to give the impression that someone is sitting there. This is a pretty standard tactic, I would imagine, in the Anti-Social Guide to Living Life.

Inevitably, though, someone is going to sit next to you, and you are going to have to spend hours sitting right next to him or her while not once making eye contact. Here are the kinds of people who will sit next to you, in increasing order of annoyingness:

1) The Sleeper: She is an ideal seatmate. She's wearing sweats and sunglasses, usually with a headband or some sort of hat. She sits cross-legged or with her knees scrunched up to her chin. And she just... sleeps. She has her iPod headphones on the whole way. Sometimes her mouth opens slightly or she'll make an odd moaning/grunting noise, but this is pretty unoffensive as far as these things go. When you get up to go the bathroom, you feel bad for having to tap her shoulder, but she never seems annoyed. Her life is one of peace and calm.

2) The Worker: He is wearing a suit or something and his hair is slicked back and he has one of those fancy phones that's attached to his ear. He smells weird. He looks 37 but he's actually 27. He whips out his laptop and spends the train ride working on presentations and Word documents. He doesn't make much noise and doesn't care what you do, but you can't help checking out what he's doing at all times. You look at his laptop hoping for a glimpse of a movie or a slide show of his personal photos, but you get Excel spreadsheets. This is disappointing. (On the same level as the Worker: The Voracious Reader.)

3) The Cell Phone Talker: You know you're in trouble when you see The Memory Keeper's Daughter or The Kite Runner on her seat. (She doesn't open it the whole train ride - it just sits there.) Nope, she is going to do one thing the whole way to Boston - gab on her cell phone. She is going to call one friend after the next. You are going to hear about her awkward dinner with Jared three straight times. You are going to know her family members by name, why her job is getting really lame, how she kind of wants to get back with her ex - heck, you could write a pretty solid biography of her by the time the ride is over. Of course, if you drop your iPod and reach around for it or ask her to move so you can go get some food, she glares at you as if you are somehow intruding on her precious life.

4) The Idle-ist. He does nothing. He just sits in his chair. Not sleeping. Not reading. Not working. Not speaking. Eyes open. Nose twitching. These are the worst people to sit next to because the fact that he is sitting there, still as a mannequin, doing absolutely nothing, drives you absolutely MAD.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

lazy dj

It really bothers me when a store/restaurant/lobby plays one CD straight through from beginning to end.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

olives, vegtables, mushrooms

Ah, old relics! It is always sort of trippy to find something you wrote a long time ago. Though the Younger You is never quite as witty or suave or smart as you want him to be, he is utterly and undeniably You.

In sorting through all the junk in my room the other day, I came across a Bar Mitzvah book I completed when I was 13, with sections for all sorts of personal information. The "Dislikes" page was my favorite, though. First of all, it’s kind of weird that there even was a dislikes page, right? Are dislikes really something so well-formed and meaningful that they should be immortalized for all time in a kitschy book? Moving on...


1) It seems that I hate all kinds of music. “Hard rock” and “alternative” are out. You're probably thinking that there is no chance Young Josh was an avid rap or country fan; a natural conclusion would be that he must have been feelin’ that whole bubblegum pop scene, at its peak back in Middle School. NOPE. Hanson, Lisa Loeb (?!) and N’Sync also get the black mark. Lisa Loeb?! Clearly, no one was safe in my world.

2) Brother’s Keeper”!?! WTF! If you asked me what “Brother’s Keeper” was today, I would guess it was some sort of inner-city tutoring program or a confessional Lindsay Lohan pop song, not a TV show that I hated so much that it made it into my Bar Mitzvah book! The (completely sparse) Wikipedia page for the show does nothing to jog my memory. Has anyone heard of this show?!

3) There are no stars I dislike. If stars means celebrities, then this is definitely no longer accurate. If stars means constellations or something (which is possible – this is a Bar Mitzvah book, after all), then this holds true today.

4) Apparently, I didn't really like crew, but not with the same venom and anger reserved for the evil lacrosse and hockey.

5) I still hate (wearing) tight jeans. It's nice to know that some things never change.

6) I am proud of the fact that Young Josh knew that mushrooms and olives are not in fact vegetables, and thus deserve their own separate mention on the Hated Foods list; not as proud of Young Josh’s spelling abilities, though.

Monday, June 2, 2008

a running battle

In the abstract, running outside with a friend sounds like a good idea. Running as an activity isn't really all that fun --> it's hard to motivate yourself to run since it involves effort --> there are so many other things to do instead, like hanging out with your friends --> why not try to make running fun by doing it with a friend?!

So it's a sunny day and Jogging Jerry asks you if you want to go running and, using the above logic, you say YES. So you meet up with him outside, in your bright shorts and weird t-shirt from summer camp, and you start jogging and it's just sort of... awkward. You make weird panting noises as you hit your stride because that's what you do when you run, but then you start wondering if Jogging Jerry thinks you sound like a normal awesome runner or an out-of-shape freak.

After a minute or two, you feel obliged to make conversation (because you wonder what the point of running next to your friend is if you're not going to talk) but you have to pant out each syllable because you're running and it's hot and you're out of breath and you wonder if you are just annoying Jerry by "talking" to him or if he likes it. Then, about ten minutes later, you get kind of tired and this is the point where if you were by yourself, you would totally walk for a few blocks (maybe even stop at a water fountain) but you must. keep. on. running. for fear of showing signs of weakness.

"Want to head back?" Jerry will say, about fifteen minutes after you wish he would. (At this point, your right leg feels like it is going to fall off.) "Oh, uh, I guess... if you want to," you respond.

By the time you get back to your starting point, the back of your t-shirt stuck to your sweaty skin, you are exhausted, though more from the social anxiety of the past half-hour than from the actual physical exertion.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

making space (or, the effects of post-graduation stress disorder)

Toward the end of middle school, I decided one day that I was going to really like Rolling Stone. Having lost interest in sports and with little knowledge about movies or cars or music or any of the things that my peers gabbed about over lunch, I decided Rolling Stone was my ticket to finding an interest/personality. I sent in for a subscription and that was that.

When I got my first issue in the mail in 2001 (cover: the girls of "American Pie 2"), I felt like a new (young) man. It was a little bit of everything: pop culture and politics, movies and music, trend pieces and profiles. I imagine I felt a little bit like Harry when he first walked inside the doors of Hogwarts.

I wanted a way to signify that I was a new me, a me that would know (if superficially) about things. For lack of a better idea, I decided to keep every single issue in the cabinet in my room: Outkast to "The Hills" and everything in between.

Today, about seven years later, I woke up and decided to recycle them all (except for a choice few -- I just couldn't fathom parting with Evangeline Lilly's 2005 "Hot List" cover, for example). It was something marvelous. I threw all the issues into a trash bag and they're gone and now I have all this space in my cabinet and the giddiness I feel about deciding what to fill it with is almost too much to bear.