Tuesday, June 30, 2009

this alternate you

My high school had this really strange tradition where every senior was assigned one morning on which he or she had to speak to the whole school for 15 minutes. It was called "Chapel" because it happened in a (non-denominational) chapel. Yep. Most of the time, Chapels were kind of blah, forgettable affairs. Seniors would talk about the Summer That Changed My Life or the Relative Who Made Me Who I Am or the Life I Am Meant to Have. It was all a little too Perks of Being a Wallflower for a truly sophisticated gent like myself. (This is funny because Perks of Being a Wallflower is such a quirky thing to reference!)

My favorite Chapel was when this super popular Abercrombie frat boy revealed that he was secretly this obsessive "Magic the Gathering" player. "Remember when I told you guys I was up visiting my cousin at UMass??!" he said with a grin, looking up at his Bro Posse, "Well, I was actually at a Magic the Gathering tournament in Philadelphia!" "Nooooo way!!" the Brody Jenners-in-training all howled in unison.

Sometimes when I'm feeling nostalgic, I want to re-read my Chapel. But I don't. I hate reading stuff I wrote in the past. It's like watching yourself in an old video. It's you alright, but it's this alternate you, who has all your worst features, relies on tired cliches and really has no idea how to dress.

Friday, June 26, 2009


E-mail received last night from my friend, "Anonymanda"...

date Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 8:27 PM
subject you know whats weird?
mailed-by gmail.com

i was literally just thinking like two days ago that why michael jackson looks/is so weird/different is something that i didn't understand as a child but thought i would at some point understand when i was older, but i never actually did. i then tried to come up with other things like that, that befuddled me as a child but i figured eventually i would understand. the only other things i could think of were like, existential and epistemological questions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

new york in a nutshell

On my way into Jamba Juice yesterday afternoon, I took note of their prominent promotion (mainly because I was struck by the awkward neologism "blissdom") for a new blackberry infused-drink: BLACKBERRY BLISS!

New Yorkers are really taking it to heart. Pictured below is BLACKBERRY BLISS, New York-style, folks:

Monday, June 22, 2009

it makes me ill

There's always a conflicting impulse once you're "known" for being a certain way: to either embrace your label... or to defy it. If everyone thinks of you as a spoiled brat, you can either shout and scream when dinner gets moved from 7 to 8:30... or you can surprise your pals by being totally amenable. If you're one of those people who's always late, you can resolve to change your ways or... not.

To my good friends and family, my label is hypochondriac.

When I was 15, I developed three "facts" that I still say in my head to this day whenever I worry that I could potentially have "lost my memory" (only recently did I realize the irony inherent to this methodology). After I told my mom a few weeks ago that I thought I might have severe nerve damage because of an overwhelming numbness in my left middle fingertip, she responded blankly, after a long pause: "That's nice, honey."

It's hard for me to explain this particular neurosis I have - it's just always been this way. Generally, I will note something that seems off and then I will keep tabs on it (by which I mean "obsess over it") for a day before convincing myself - through Google searches and thought exercises and the like - that I have something serious. I will e-mail my friends and call my parents, who will all tell me I'm fine. This reaction somehow, inexplicably, only encourages me further, and often leads me to make a doctor's appointment. The minute I walk into the doctor's office though, I immediately feel foolish ("sporadic elbow pain, Josh? seriously?") and the doctor typically placates me with a few "tests" before telling me I'm A-OK.

This morning I purchased the most expensive thermometer Duane Reade offered because I was sure I had a fever. I ripped it out of its package and took my temperature on the street (of course?), only to find... it was 96.8. This led to the following BBM exchange with my brother:

Me: I'm going to ask kim to touch me this morning when I get into work
Me: hahaha
Me: just to double check
Sam: You don't have a fever Josh
Sam: Stop turning your psychosis into a party anecdote
Sam: Don't indulge yourself and just fight it

Well Sam, though I must admit I take issue with the low standard you seem to have for my party anecdotes and your liberal (?) definition of "psychosis," I hope you acknowledge that this post represents my "fighting it." Though, obviously, it doesn't. It's nice to think you can defy and change and we all talk about it all the time; but it's so much easier to embrace the label. The sofa's so comfy and you're waiting for your laundry to finish and you're pretty sure it's raining outside and you don't really feel like finding out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

twilight zone

I like to imagine the 82-year-old woman who walks into this Barnes & Noble looking for a cookbook. She saw an ad for it on TV. Or read about it in the newspaper? She can't remember (jokes about old people = soooo funny).

She aimlessly wanders around the store touching things, you know how it is. Then she looks up and sees this sign. "Vampire Romance?" she thinks to herself, "What in the name of...?" She looks at the other placards around her: "New Nonfiction," "Self-Help," "Father's Day Ideas." And then her gaze returns to "Vampire Romance." She sighs, and then readjusts her glasses. "Oh Louise, you really have lost it. Harold, if only you could see me now!" And then she lurches out of the store like a caterpillar.

Monday, June 15, 2009

channel your inner megan fox!

Considering I have never seen a movie featuring Megan Fox and couldn't even tell you what the chick sounds like (I'm imagining a kind of husky growl... yes?) it's weird that this is going to be my second post in the recent months focusing on the newly-appointed Empress of Sex.

It all starts, as so many stories about Megan Fox do, with a book recommendation. A friend of mine (let's call her Friendly Flora) whom I haven't known for that long but whom dresses really well (= sign of knowledge) recently recommended a book that she said "was really something I needed to read." I scribbled it down on a post-it note and then sort of forgot about it; I mean, only girls with bad skin who ride the subway and carry woven bags read books nowadays, riiiight??? Right.

But then, this past Saturday, I was in the MOMA Design Store looking for a Father's Day present (these are the details you must know) and there was the book, minding its own business on the white table as if placed there by a higher being. I picked it up, saw it was only $7, and bought that sucker.

I took it out on the subway only to find... my new friend had recommended me a SELF-HELP BOOK that purports to help you "develop a vision of where and who you want to be." This is sort of like me telling you that you just need to go spend some time at Canyon Ranch ("I hear they have carb-sniffing dogs there") or buying you a gift certificate for a nose job (because that's totally possible). When I got home, I flipped open to a page with the header "You can achieve the unachievable" and I tossed the book on the floor. What was it about me that screamed to Flora: "Dude needs a self-help book!"?!?

Later in the day, I was hanging with sum friendz, discussing Ms. Fox's recent interview in Entertainment Weekly. I recounted my favorite part for the group:

Entertainment Weekly: Do you think you're good-looking?
Megan Fox: Well, I'm clearly not ugly.

I love it. Unlike all the other pretty girls in Hollywood who go on and on about how they are such dorks or how they wake up in the morning with bad hair like the rest of us or how THEY HAVE CELLULITE TOO, GODDAMMIT, Fox doesn't front. Girl knows she's hot and she owns it. She doesn't fish for compliments or play the whole self-deprecating game we all play (you play it, I play it, your friend Megan plays it).

At this point in the conversation, my murderous friend mused, "I would kill to look like her."

Just like that, I was struck with a revelation. Who needs this "achieve the unachievable" nonsense?! Let's break it down in terms we can understand.

"Of course not all of us look like Megan Fox," I started, suddenly stirred to stand. "In fact, none of us do! But we all just gotta find that one thing we've got - insane trombone skills, a really good eye for style, awesome comic timing, whatever, and FUCKING OWN IT."

My friends looked at me, eager, elated, expectant. I needed to coin my theory. I needed a rallying cry.

"CHANNEL YOUR INNER MEGAN FOX!" I shouted, triumphant.

The next time I see "Friendly" Flora, I am gonna march up to her and sassily sneer, "Thanks so much for recommending me that self-help book, but I actually subscribe to the Tao of Megan Fox, thank you very much. Go develop a vision of that." That'll show her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"are you suuure, man?? i don't even remember *talking* to her"

Two nuggets – one courtesy of my roommate; the other, my brother – that surfaced in one of those "Anything Goes, Late Afternoon Gmail Chains," those frivolous but lovely affairs that spiral rapidly before sputtering out.

-- "I hate ppl that lie about their level of drunkenness...in the words of the guy on the bachelorette it's a very 'cheese-ass' move"

-- "i hate when sunday mornings people recount each drink they had to you as if it's interesting--'so i had three shots, two screwdrivers, five beers....' it always takes them a long time to remember, is never interesting, and is always annoying."

The upshot seems to be: unless you want to be severely (and silently) judged, you don't want to have Hungover Sunday Brunch with my crew.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


My usual salad place was super crowded today for some reason (rain causing roughage cravings?) so they had some new guy helping the usual duo. The new guy was all serious and wasn't wearing a baseball cap and I wasn't feeling it. As I started listing my components, he aggravated me by preemptively barking "whatellllse?" before he had even tossed in the ingredient I had just said! But, as he put together my salad with no passion whatsoever, my usual guy (who was standing next to him and making another salad) gathered a handful of cranberries and tossed them into my salad in one swoop, without saying a word or making eye contact with me or No Hat. Cranberries are always my last ingredient.

Now, even though Usual Guy makes my salad every day, we have a mostly wordless relationship of nods and "thank yous" and not much else. No Hat looked at Usual Guy briefly after the cranberry toss, and then back at me. I just nodded, stunned by the loving gesture. And then my heart skipped a cranberry beat.

Friday, June 5, 2009

what's UP

Towards the end of Pixar's "Up," I had to nudge my glasses up so I could wipe the tears out of my eyes (I am used to this maneuver by now; I mean, I famously cried during the final scenes of "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" - tears during "Up" were a foregone conclusion). I had to nudge extra forcefully in this instance though. I was wearing two pairs of glasses.

Yep, I was wearing the fancy 3D glasses, mandatory for watching this animated film, over the normal glasses I wear to see faraway things (sort of like how I never know if it's "affect" or "effect," I can never remember which is which between "near-sighted" and "far-sighted," so I avoid the nomenclature altogether).

When we first walked into the film, I was typically cynical about the whole thing, and disturbed (offended even!) by the idea that this movie had been intentionally created so that the only way you could see it was by spending more money than your average ticket costs.

"Also," I complained, "It's kinda annoying that they probably changed the plot and made stuff more visual or whatever just because they knew it was 3D, don't you think?"

My brother didn't respond.

My cynicism was tempered slightly by the profoundly strange sight of seeing a theater full of adults staring blankly ahead wearing ridiculous oversized glasses. It was like Walt Disney World meets the subway (metaphor report card: B+ for effort, C+ for execution). And then, five minutes into the movie, I was literally bawling (if you see it, you will understand) so I forgot all about my effort to convince myself that 3D movies were so annoying.

Of course when the movie was over and my brother was crowing about how cool the 3D was and how the grass really stood out or whatever, I dismissed him entirely. I had dug myself into a hole, you see; I didn't have a choice.

"I don't think it really made a difference at all," I said, flippantly.

As I audibly shrugged waiting in the logjam to return glasses outside the theater, I decided I was way more Carl Fredricksen than I would care to admit. By which I mean, of course, that I have a fetishistic obsession with balloons.

"The dog had some really funny lines," I offered, as we dropped our glasses off in the box.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

charles in charge

I actually kind of like it when I call an 800-number and the machine asks me to say "yes" or "no" in an attempt to get my information and direct my call. It's like that old, famous saying: "Saying things to a machine is more fun than pressing numbers." (It's famous because it applies to life.)

But earlier today when I had to call a credit card company to change my mailing information (don't fall asleep on me now), the robot man (who sounded like a Charles) "said":

"If you know your account number, please say it now. If not, say 'I don't know.'"

I paused for a second, walking down Park Avenue. I felt uncomfortable. Unsure. Un...normal. "I don't know!" I shouted into my phone. Charles was barking about something but I was long gone. Just like that, Charles had become my high school physics teacher. Charles was that kid at summer camp who called me names. Someone call Meryl Streep, because Charles was DOUBT. Flustered, I just hung up the phone.

Then I got back to my computer and, in an attempt to look up tickets online, was slapped in the face with this uncharacteristically scrutable Ticketmaster "code."
I couldn't help but hear Charles' hearty, menacing laugh as I quickly closed my Firefox window.