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.