Thursday, October 28, 2010

plus one

Few things are as harrowing as bringing a friend to a party where he isn't going to know anyone.

Showing up by yourself to this event isn't ideal, so you've invited your friend or roommate or date. Beforehand, you totally overdo the precautionary warnings ("Now don't be mad at me if it's really lame," "It's entirely possible like only two people from my office I know will be there"). "I'll be fine!" your friend persists and suddenly you feel like a parent taking their unhappy child to a family friend's house for a long dinner party or something.

The whole time you're at the bar you're anxious that your friend might be feeling bored or uncomfortable. You're talking with your coworkers but you keep contextualizing everything for your friend so he's not lost ("This woman seriously wears the exact same cardigan every day"). And when each conversation ends, you get paranoid and weird and whisper some sort of excuse to your friend ("I think Mark was kind of tired tonight," "Kate doesn't usually talk about her boyfriend so much") and your friend will say something like "No, she seemed really nice!" and you think about how you don't even really like Kate and now you're ready to leave the party even though you've only been there for like ten minutes.

You go to the bathroom and return to find your friend talking to the one coworker who always acts sort of weird to you and you don't want to go over to them because then it's like you're relying on your friend to survive socially at your thing, so instead you read old texts on your phone for a minute and finally, left with no other options, you uncomfortably insert yourself in a conversation Kate is having with some guy wearing a scarf.

Monday, October 25, 2010

recovering vampire

At a party a couple of weeks ago - after telling some people that I was going to be "returning to the daylight," leaving my night job for a "normal" 9-to-6 gig - a friend quipped, "So basically you're turning from Robert Pattinson into Taylor Lautner?"

In February, I took a job which required me to work evenings (with Friday and Saturday nights off). From that point on, nearly every conversation I had with others about work went like this:

Random Guy: Whoa. You work at night? That's just, like... so crazy.
Me: Yeah.
Random Guy: So... what are your hours?
Me: Usually I get to my computer around 6 or 6:30... and then I usually finish up by 3 a.m. or so.

(At this point, Random Guy and any of his friends who may have been standing around would look at me in this kind of stunned/pitying way, as if I had just told them I'm not able to digest chocolate or something. In an attempt to lighten the mood, I would then deliver my go-to line.)

Me: Yeah, sometimes I feel like I am turning into the world's most boring vampire.
Random Guy's Friend (after polite laughter): So when do you sleep?
Me: Usually from 3 a.m. 'til about 9 or 10 the next morning. So, you know, it's like six or seven hours of sleep. Not that crazy.

(Random Guy and Random Guy's Friend would consider this point carefully and nod, as if I had just solved a tricky math problem.)

Me: It gets weird though when it's like 2 p.m. on a Tuesday and I'm lying on my couch watching 'Glee' while everyone else in the world is, you know, at work.
Random Guy: Yeah. It must have felt sort of like you were back at... college.
Me: Yeah... sort of.

There were lots of other weird things about working at night which I wouldn't generally talk about with friends-of-friends at bars. Since I couldn't see any of my friends during the week, I started to feel on weekends like Katherine Heigl in '27 Dresses' when she had to go to like 17 different weddings in 17 different outfits in one day. There was also the time I realized I had gone two full days without saying a single world out loud. And there was the havoc it wreaked on my eating schedule (let's just say that most of my eating during the week took place after 6pm and leave it at that).

But there were some not-so-bad aspects, too! I got to see movies by myself during the day. I could schedule doctor's appointments for WHENEVER I WANTED. I had a built-in excuse for missing all sorts of social engagements that I probably would have had to begrudgingly attend if I had had a normal day job.

But now it's... over. When I think about how I've felt these past three weeks since I stopped working nights as compared to the prior eight months, it feels sort of like I got in a really bad accident eight months ago and lost feeling in my legs... but there's just been a medical breakthrough and suddenly I can walk again.

The job itself was wonderful, but I certainly won't miss walking into Starbucks at 6 p.m. each night, exchanging resigned looks with the barista as he would hand me my iced coffee, the day over but also just beginning.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


1. In Newark airport. A clean-shaven man in a button-down shirt (who looks vaguely like the guy in Lonestar) is sitting near one of those "power outlet hubs" (which always strike me as sorta 2003-ish). He is reading a book (appears to be The Things They Carried... which is really too fitting), but he continually looks up at his charging Blackberry. Finally, he stands, takes the charger out of the outlet, and walks over to a woman (probably in her late 20s) who has clearly not been reading the magazine lying on her lap. "Thanks so much," he says, handing her the charger. She flashes a quick smile (she seems like one of those girls who sat with the chatty gossips at lunch in high school, visibly anxious about making sure she was laughing at the right jokes and making fun of the right people). "No problem," she says, standing (!!!) to shake his hand, "I'm Brianna, by the way." "Oh, uh, I'm Jake," he says. He shakes her hand, then immediately pivots and makes a beeline to the food court. Brianna sits back down, expressionless, and puts the magazine into her bag.

2. On flight to San Francisco. The flight attendant is this overly jolly, theatrical guy with a shaved head and an Anna Paquin gap between his front teeth. He makes grand pronouncements like "Coming through the aisle with a cart! Watch your arms! Coming through the aisle... with a cart!" and "Tell me exactly what you want! Whatever you want. If you want five Sprites, that's fine! Just tell me! I've got nothing else to do for the next five hours..." When he comes to my aisle for our drink orders, I ask for a Diet Coke. The woman next to me asks for coffee with milk and sugar. The man by the window asks for tea with hot water and then a separate glass of cold water. The flight attendant makes this clown-ish face, pats my back and exclaims, "Why can't you two be more like this guy?" before letting out a huge howl of laughter (he then mutters a strained "just kidding"). When the mother in the aisle in front of us asks for a small orange juice with a straw for her son, he bellows, "This isn't a restaurant!" And then laughter. And then "just kidding."

3. In the San Francisco airport. Husband and wife are sitting in waiting area at gate. They've just spoken to the husband's mother on the wife's cell phone. Wife is wearing what appears to be four layers of clothing. Husband is on his smartphone throughout this conversation (wasn't able to actually verify this with my eyes, but I'm, like, sure).

Wife: She sounded tired.
Husband: Yeah.
Wife: I feel bad. We were gone a long time.
Husband: Yeah, we were.
Wife: It'll be easier when they're older. I mean, in five years, they'll be... what?... 8 and 6? They'd be in school then. She could just, you know, give them breakfast, send them to school, give them dinner. So... we can take our next trip in, uh, five years.
Husband: Right.

Long pause. Wife gets up and throws out some trash. She returns and sits.

Wife: It was a fun trip, right?
Husband: Yeah.... I think I took over 800 pictures.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


1. It's much weirder/more uncomfortable to actually pick up a call you receive on your birthday than to just let it go to voicemail. People expect to leave voicemails when they call on your birthday... to "sing," to say "I bet you're... uh... out celebrating," to end their message with a "I'm sure we'll talk... soon." If you do pick up, there's this weird kind of "How does... 25 feel?" and "What are you doing... later?" banter that's even more stilted than the usual phone call conversation (which is, of course, saying something).

2. As you get older, the just-past-midnight "omg it's officially your birthday!" texts become much less common.

3. There are some people who without fail write on my Facebook wall every year on my birthday. They are, almost without exception, people a) whom I haven't seen in person in five years b) whom I've never met IRL c) who are friends of my siblings.

4. There is almost always one TOTALLY UNEXPECTED person who comes out of the woodwork to wish you happy birthday. Either it's a longtime crush who stopped responding to your e-mails a while ago who comes at you with a Facebook message. Or an old friend who sends a five paragraph e-mail three days later (subject line: "belated"). This is (in some ways) the most awesome part of birthdays.

5. Birthday parties are weird for so many reasons, one of which, I've found, is that when you're floating around your own birthday party there ends up being one (usually awful) line or question that you regurgitate to EVERYONE ("There's something about 25 that just feels serious, you know?").