Monday, June 28, 2010


A few weeks ago, I mentioned I was going to be reading a story I wrote at a reading series in the West Village. For those of you who weren't able to make it, here's a video my kind friends Amanda and David took (a joint effort!) of me reading my tale. The theme of the night was "pranks."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

stranger times

I have found in my two years living in New York that if I want to have a conversation with a stranger, I am generally going to have to be the one to initiate it. Unlike in Minnesota or Mississippi or wherever, where people just accost you on the street to say hi (love how easy/acceptable it is to generalize like that on the internet...), New Yorkers just aren't friendly. This has been written about, parodied and championed elsewhere, of course, but this fundamental element of New York is what made yesterday such a weird day for me! So weird. From the time I left my friend Sarah's apartment to the time I got back to my own yesterday afternoon, three different total and complete strangers initiated (or at least tried to initiate) conversations with me. In a 45-minute time period! It was amazing.

1) In the elevator of Sarah's building on the Upper East Side, a woman with a long sleek braid and wearing a white pantsuit (Kathy Bates meets Raquel Welch, kind of) gave me a bemused glance. (I was wearing a V-neck and sunglasses, slurping down Diet Dr. Pepper.)

Pantsuit: "Dr. Pepper... how Southern of you."
Me: "Oh, yeah, uh... they were out of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi at the deli..."
Pantsuit: "Well that's a deli to be avoided, isn't it?"

2) On the subway back to my apartment, I was standing up against the door when this little businessman - who was standing dangerously close to me (pretty common subway occurrence) - yawned loudly (slightly less common) and then looked at me, shifted his stance slightly and announced in this low-pitched drawl: "I'm tired" (doesn't happen ever).

3) On the walk from the subway to my apartment, I noticed this large group of people gathered on the street. I stopped to figure out what was going on and this woman standing there who was eating something that looked like a protein bar said to me, "It's not, like, a celebrity or Gossip Girl... there was a bomb scare so they evacuated the building." "Oh, thanks," I responded, wondering if my "OMG IS THERE A FAMOUS PERSON NEARBY?!?" face was really that obvious.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

things i find awful

1. Blueberries: Grapes' bland and overly sentimental cousin whom you always get stuck talking to at family events.

2. The expression "cleans up good" and any related variation ("Damn, Kylie, you clean up real nice!," etc.)

3. E-mails with no subject. Sure, when a friendship is in its beginning stages, these can be moderately charming and affirming, I admit ("Hey look, I'm just shooting you a quick missive without even bothering to abide by the societal convention of naming the e-mail... because we're so past that...") but when every e-mail comes through without a subject, the gmail-related ramifications (fragmented chains, hindrances to searching) become daunting, and all your e-mails from the person start to blend together into one gelatinous e-blob. Besides, there are few things I enjoy more than a long e-mail exchange that takes place underneath a completely unrelated subject line. (Once I had a prolonged back-and-forth with the subject "big brother through, really?" - the typo was mine - and that bobbing in my inbox for about a month evoked the same feeling as that guy at the corner cubicle you always walk by who plays surprisingly good music and once offered you some of his leftover candy.)

4. Drinking games. Mainly because there is absolutely nothing worse than being at a party and having everyone you know there decide they are going to play flip cup or beer pong or whatever, leaving you with the decision between (keep in mind, actually playing flip cup is out) leering over the proceedings like some sort of sexual predator, or leering by the wall by yourself like you're Paul Dano.

Friday, June 18, 2010

missing the signs

About a month ago, I decided I would go meet my friend who I hadn't seen in a while at this bar near my apartment. It was one of those Saturday nights where I didn't even bother to change out of the Josh-Hartnett-on-a-bad-day outfit I had been lounging in all afternoon. I just sort of schlepped to the bar, didn't bother getting a drink, and moseyed on over to where my friend was sitting. She was squeezed on a chair next to her new boyfriend (who gave me a barely perceptible head nod) at a table with four other girls. I had talked to one of these girls, let's call her Amber, a number of times, but we are by no means friends, on Facebook or otherwise. (We wouldn't make each other's BCCed party invite lists is what I'm saying.)

Amber and I were on opposite ends of the table, so trading pleasant smiles was the extent of our interaction. About ten minutes later though, this girl (who I am just going to assume was named Becky and who wouldn't stop talking about some "hockey player" standing at the bar) managed to drop her beer glass, and we were all forced to stand as two waiters descended upon the table to mop up the shattered glass. At this point, Amber and I were suddenly standing next to each other. "It's so good to see you!" I said and I gave her this overly warm bear hug. (I was pretty shaken up from the dropped glass incident.)

We caught up for about five minutes and I was whipping out some of my go-to talking points when she stopped me mid-sentence in the middle of my rant about subletters or whatever.

Amber: "Hey, what's your sign?"
Me: "What?"
Amber: "Your sign..."

(uncomfortable, five-second pause)

Me: "Like, astrological?"
Amber: "Yeah."

My excuse for what followed is that the combination of my sluggish mood, Hockey Groupie's accident, this just really odd reunion with Amber and her SUPER UNEXPECTED interjected question (who asks barely-even-casual acquaintances about their astrological signs?!) was enough to render anyone almost completely nonfunctional, lest of all me, who, of course, was in a mindset where it was taking me a good five seconds to come up with the word "astrological."

As the response came out of my mouth, I knew it was just awful, but there was no turning back: "I can't remember," I said. She made this sad/confused face, the kind of face Naomi Watts would make in a movie when she realizes her son has a learning disability or something. Like a first grade teacher might, she asked for my birthday. And when I said it, I immediately remembered my sign (Libra!) and told her. But it was too late; the damage had been done.

I saw Amber at a party last weekend and we walked past each other and smiled but neither of us stopped. It was just understood that we wouldn't be speaking.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

apple picking

I did something last week that has been on my Mental To Do List since I moved to New York two years ago: I bought an Apple laptop. While I have used Macs a whole bunch (at my last job, whenever I needed to print something from my college roommate's computer, etc.), I always remained attached (literally, if not emotionally) to my HP. Of course, before long, everyone I knew had hopped on the Mac Bandwagon. My brother got a Mac, my history teacher got a Mac, my mom got a Mac, the little guy who sang that "Paparazzi" cover got a Mac. Sometimes if I was feeling especially insecure I would tell people I had the "most Mac-like of non-Macs" as if that somehow would make me seem cool enough to be allowed to sit with them at Cosi. But I remained stuck in a world of Windows. What finally pushed me over the edge though was when, a few weeks ago, this computer consultant guy was in our apartment fixing our router (surprise, surprise, I am completely helpless when it comes to all tasks technical or practical) and he picked up my laptop and exclaimed, "This thing is running a fever," which was his "cute" way of telling me my computer was overheating and in the "post-retirement, pre-nursing home" stage of its life. I decided it was time.

Now that I have a MacBook Pro and am no longer a disgrace to Young People, a disgrace to New York City and a disgrace to Bloggers, I feel sort of excited and also sort of despondent. Excited because everything is sleek and pretty and precise and who doesn't want to be just like Justin Long? But also sad, as I sit in this coffee shop in Tribeca amongst a sea of aluminum MacBooks, because, as I open the same files and listen to the same mp3s and browse through the same photos - all of which are now housed in this new, sexy machine that looks just like everyone else's - I feel like I've just traded in my Lauren Conrad - boring, but durable and with quirks - for one of those nameless blondes who tries to get on the show by flirting with Spencer at a bar.

Friday, June 11, 2010

julia and jeanette

Last weekend my youngest brother graduated high school, an occasion which brought my two cousins (10-year-old Jack and 8-year-old Julia) to Boston (they walked by themselves from Washington D.C.). Julia, as tween girls do, became immediately attached to this small stuffed bear wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with my brother's school's logo that she found lying around the house. She carried this bear around with her all weekend, to each dinner, each photo op, each dull speech. Of course, she named it (Jeanette, which i think was a sweet homage to my mother, Janet), "groomed" it with her hand, and attributed wildly diverse emotions to it ("Jeanette's not happy right now," "Jeanette wants candy!"). I found myself growing kind of fond of Jeanette, to be honest. I imagined her having the tomboy spunk of Clarissa Darling but with enough charm to run in the popular crowd with the Selena Gomez-y bears.

Then, Sunday night, after the last graduation-related event was over, Julia came into my room to chat, grasping Jeanette by the head in her left hand. We were talking about something or other when Julia squealed: "Look!" She pointed at another bear, identical to Jeanette, lying on the floor beside my desk. She picked it up and dropped Jeanette to the ground in one swift movement. "I like this one's fur better," Julia said, already petting the new bear's head in the same way she had once doted on Jeanette. And with that she turned around and walked out of the room.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

times I've said things I wish I hadn't

1) Whenever I divulge some information or offer up some constructive feedback to a friend of mine and she begins her response with a "Listen, thanks so much for being honest" or puts her hand on my shoulder all phonily and says "You know, I really appreciate your telling me that," I immediately feel like I said too much and should have just kept my mouth shut.

2) Recently I've been doing this thing where I kind of zone out during trivial conversations and just say things to feed the conversation and - surprise - it often backfires on me. A few weeks ago I was chatting with my friend Andrew about this Lady Gaga article we had both read, and he was yammering about how the profile just fed into the perceptions of her he already had. I think I was busy devising a Twitter @ reply to Lindsay Lohan in my head or like trying hard to remember the name of someone I had wanted to Facebook stalk and I just absent-mindedly said something like, "Oh, yeah, totally... I didn't learn anything about her I didn't already know." THEN, I'd say about a week later, Andrew and I were with our friend Sarah when the article came up again (basically the only things I talk about with my friends are Lady Gaga and the internet). Sarah said something about how much she loved the piece and I just chimed right in with a "Yeah, it just totally changed the way I think about her," at which point Andrew perked up and called me out for the totally blatant about face. I got real jittery and muttered something indeterminable... but Andrew and Sarah, thankfully, just tuned me out and probably opened up Hulu on a laptop, easily forgetting about my faux pas. On the other hand, unsurprisingly, I still get sharp pangs of anxiety about this incident two months later.

3) Anything I have ever said to a celebrity I have instantly regretted, most notably when I asked Gwyneth Paltrow "What is your favorite vegetable?" when I was 10 years old sitting in the "Tonight Show" green room while my parents were in the audience.

Friday, June 4, 2010

gchat between two people without daytime jobs

Friday, 12:45 pm

: yooooo
on hold with go daddy
Sarah: hahahaha
me: totally
daddy makes me wait soooo long
12:45 PM Sarah: hahahaha
gets you all wound up
me: i know how to push go daddy's buttons though
so in a way i have the upper hand
Sarah: ur also the one paying
me: dayum
you just changed the game
12:46 PM Sarah: ive been doing that a bunch today
me: really?
what have you been doing today?
Sarah: well
i changed my twitter handle and now im drinking wine on my bed

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

outdoors and internets

In fourth grade, I got the lead role in the school play and was real jazzed about it. I approached the part quite studiously, highlighting my lines and forcing my little brother to test me on them all the time, telling my mom I was so over karate and rollerblading and just wanted to act (I think this is also how Peter Sarsgaard got his start). The play was called "Outdoors and Internets" and it was this original work by our drama teacher about a guy and a girl who met on the internet and IMed a whole bunch. The first two-thirds of the play literally just had me and Blair (the lead girl) sitting in chairs on opposite sides of the stage, what we said out loud representing whatever it was we were typing to each other. I think our characters fell in love at the end of the play, but it also could have just been that we needed to solve a mystery or something.

Anyway, I find myself thinking about this play A LOT. Sometimes, I guess, it comes up when I'm regaling someone with the tale of how I used to fancy myself an actor (which generally leads to my asking if they want to see a video of me in 8th grade playing a 70-year old man - they gave me a cane and ascot but didn't dye my hair gray - followed by the other person finding a polite way to say "Um, I'd actually rather alphabetize my text messages" or whatever).

But I actually think the reason the play remains one of those memories that just can't be shaken is that it was so egregiously ahead of its time! I mean, it was the mid-nineties then! No one knew a thang 'bout the internet: it was like the first season of 'Lost' when they were just awe-struck by polar bears and trying to find fruit. If we were even "online" then in any capacity, it was solely to check our AOL mail for five minutes before our dad yelled at us to get off the computer... maybe we were allowed to visit Ask Jeeves if it was a "homework emergency." Our drama teacher might as well have asked Blair and I to talk in Shakespearean English: "where r u?" was basically just as foreign to us as "where art thou?" "ROTFL" was nothing but a meaningless string of letters. I mean, I wish I could remember what the dialogue in this play actually was like, given that there wasn't any commonly understood internet vocabulary then. Like Britney's "I'm a Slave 4 U" (released five years too early) or Monica Lewinsky (who, nowadays, would have been able to land a "Betrayed by Bill" Us Weekly cover and "Dancing with the Stars" spot), "Outdoors and Internets" was tragically ahead of its time... undoubtedly going right over the heads of us fourth graders, our clueless parents and even the thirty-something Mr. Schue-esque "cool teachers." Hopefully my drama teacher, whatever he ended up doing, managed to eventually pull off his "Toxic."