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.