Monday, November 29, 2010

sinking feelings

1. Those seemingly eternal moments after you've concluded a one-on-one side conversation with someone at a dinner/party and the two of you are trying to fold yourselves back into the main conversation are the absolute worst. You're both silent, avoiding eye contact with one another, listening intently to your companions' conversation to try and figure out what they're talking about so you can work yourselves back in.

2. The more emphatically your friend expresses her enthusiasm at the beginning of the evening about spending the night out with you ("I seriously am so excited that we're hanging out right now," "After this week, I am so ready to get wasted tonight"), the more likely she will apologize profusely at like 10pm that she is just so tired and needs to check in early and it was so good to see you and she wishes she wasn't feeling so out of it.

3. One of your good friends is telling a story at a party to a small audience about something that happened to the two of you, and you notice that she is altering the details of the story in a minor, but notable, way. She's exaggerating the harrowing circumstances, making the funny parts funnier, leaving out a few key context-setting facts. You wonder how she would tell the story if you weren't there.

Friday, November 19, 2010

things that have been ruined for me

1. Movie trailers. I remember when I was about 12 years old and like 65% of the fun of going to the movies was the trailers. Watching the trailers was like opening the five smaller Christmas presents before the big one that you already knew was going to be an iPod because your mom had told you the week before that's what you were getting. I would sit in the theater in wonder as each trailer unfolded: "Oh, it's a romance... or a period piece?... Nicole Kidman AND Jude Law?!?... oh wait, no, it's a war movie?... are you serious?!... IS THAT RENEE ZELLWEGER?!?" (Yep, my inner monologue has the cadence of a Kristen Wiig SNL character.) But nowadays, in the midst of what your cool uncle calls the "digital age," I can't even remember the last time I saw a trailer in a theater that I hadn't already seen online. Now when I'm watching a trailer and have a funny observation, instead of whispering it into my friend's ear and being rewarded with a Sour Patch Kid-scented snicker, I type it into my Blackberry to remember for later and feel like an idiot.

2. The summer. I don't think I was ever necessarily IN LOVE with the summer, so saying it "got ruined" for me is maybe a touch melodramatic. But, I suppose, summers did used to be lovely breaks from that MIDDLE SCHOOL DAILY GRIND and I got to go to camp and eat a lot of candy on benches and gossip about all the counselors with my friends -- so I guess summers were sort of great. But now I absolutely detest the summer. For all the obvious reasons that everyone always mentions, like the subway being really hot and there not being new episodes of One Tree Hill. But there's also just this terrible, still, sluggish feeling in the air, reminiscent of the inconsistently paced, montage-laden middle third of a movie during which nothing actually happens.

3. The Cosi on 6th Avenue. This one is raw, you guys. I was all excited two weeks ago because I found a Cosi near my new office in Chelsea. At about 1pm, I went in, walked up to the counter, flashed a smile and waited for the cashier to finish her conversation with another employee. "Oh, hi, ma'am," she said as she turned to face me. Quickly catching herself, she proceeded to HOWL with laughter as I just stood there like a mute dunce. "Oh, I am so sorry, sir. I just wasn't paying attention. I cannot believe I called you 'ma'am.' Oh my god." She then turned to the friend she had just been talking to and said, "Did you hear I just called him 'ma'am'?" Smooth as ever, I stammered, voice nearly cracking, "You can call me whatever you want, I don't mind!" (Cast me in the new Superman movie ASAP, Warner Bros.!)

She laughed while I looked away, mortified. I ordered a chicken Caesar salad, but she paused before ringing it up. "You're sure you don't want shrimp or... steak instead?" she asked, inexplicably shuddering when she said the word "steak." "Um, no, why?" I asked, "Is the chicken, like, bad or something? Are you warning me?" "Omigod, NO," she said, "I just, you know, wanted you to be sure." I fumbled with my change and said, "Uh, well, you're kind of making me feel less sure, but I think I'll stick with chicken... I guess?"

The next day I walked to Cosi, looked in the door, saw that she was at the register and... I decided to keep walking and go to Chipotle.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

recent developments

1) Last week I achieved two feats which made me severely depressed about the amount of time I spend on the internet: a) I was able to fully detail the plot of last Tuesday's episode of Glee via gchat BEFORE I watched it (an excerpt: "kurt gets bullied hardcore by this big meathead / and then at the end the meathead kisses him / it gets better, all bullies are actually gay, etc.") and b) After digging myself into a giant hole on a date by lying that I "sometimes watch" The Vampire Diaries (holes don't get more giant, right?) I was able to successfully have a five-minute conversation about the show without letting on I had never seen an episode ("Oh, totally agree... nothing is worse than a dual identity story line," "Are they serious with the werewolves plot this season?," etc.).

2) I wore the same button-down shirt as an overshirt on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights last week. REAL LIFE GOSSIP GIRL OVER HERE

3) Sunday night I scrolled through a 78-picture Facebook album that I had already clicked through at least twice exclusively to see if there had been any untaggings since I had last checked.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

on friendship & the outdoors

My brother had just moved to New York City for the summer and I was on the subway to meet him for dinner (we ended up going to Cosi for some fine dining). As happens every so often, I was struck with a surge of 'emo' feelings that night, annoyed with my stable of friends, no doubt imagining some sort of alternate life in Berlin or Paris. After zoning out for a few moments, I took out my Blackberry and, naturally, crafted a list of the four qualities I value most in a friend.

This list has now been on my phone for about 18 months and I'll look at it every once in a while and just... roll my eyes. Three of the four bullet points – while signifying attributes most everyone would agree are perfectly nice qualities to have in a friend – are totally basic. They are the sort of things Charlotte on Sex and the City would probably list if she was asked "What are the qualities you most admire in your friends?" in some magazine questionnaire. But the fourth bullet - "knows me well enough to not invite me to an outdoor activity" - not only still rings true but has become something I think about a lot.

When I shared the list with my brother at Cosi, I spent a while explaining what I meant by this last trait. "It's a metaphor... sort of," I explained. "The absolute worst thing in the world is when you have this best friend and you think she knows you inside and out... and then she goes and suggests you go somewhere or do something - as if it's this great idea that she just assumes you will be totally into - and you have to find some awkward way to get out of it because it in fact sounds like the least desirable way to spend time you could ever imagine."

"But isn't it good for friends to force you to do things out of your comfort zone?" Sam asked (though I'm sure he said it in a much less stilted/weird way).

"No," I answered. "It's not that she suggested we do the ‘outdoor activity’ that's the problem. It's that she truly believed it would be something I'd enjoy."

I realize this metric sets a kind of high bar, with the built in expectation that your best friends have this deeply intuitive understanding of your desires. It's also arguably narcissistic ("I only wanna do things I wanna do!"). But there are really few things I find more depressing/distressing than when a friend asks me to go see a movie I clearly would never want to see, when a friend sends me a video with the subject line: "you will love this" that I find totally inane, or when a friend forwards me an e-mail about an outdoor music festival with the message "Immediately thought of you when I saw this! Let's go!"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

costumes optional

On Friday night I was getting ready for my first-ever "costumes optional" Halloween party. Due to general Halloween apathy and also lack of time (as dangerous as combinations get, basically), I was thinking I would just go in "normal clothes." But then as I was getting ready to leave my apartment in a button-down shirt and jeans, I decided that going without a costume to a Halloween party - even one that was "costumes optional" - was like going to Paris and actively avoiding the Eiffel Tower or something. So I came up with a simple idea that only took a few minutes to execute: a "Myself in 8th Grade" costume consisting of my baggiest jeans, sneakers, a dark zip-up hoodie and a backwards hat.

On my way out the door, I asked my roommate what she thought of my get-up. "Uh, you look just like you always look except with a backwards hat," she said. I put on a show of acting insulted ("Have you ever seen me wear pants this baggy out??") and actually was sort of insulted, but there was no time to change or alter my costume. (I briefly flirted with the idea of drawing "pimples" on my face with a red marker, but I was worried if I did that people would think I was going as a smallpox victim...?)

I probably would have been better off costume-less. About 25 percent of the attendees weren't wearing costumes and the whole time I was at the party, NOT ONE PERSON asked me what I was dressed as. People would sort of consider me for a second, ask my more-obviously-costumed friends about their outfits, and just... avoid my gaze. I thinkkkk no one asked because they weren't sure whether I was wearing a costume... and they didn't want to risk offending me in the event that I just normally dressed like a Pacific Sunwear catalog model. And because there is nothing I would detest more than a stranger I will never see again believing that I typically look like the dorkiest member of Avril Lavigne's band, I made a point of blurting out "I'm myself-as-an-eighth-grader!" to anyone I met at the party (even before introductions), adding, "This isn't how I normally dress!" People would laugh politely or smile and look away. One person said, "Yeah, I heard you tell someone else already," which made me feel uncomfortable and unsure what to say (KIND OF LIKE I FELT ALL THE TIME IN EIGHTH GRADE).

Saturday night, I went to a party as Justin Bieber. Nobody knew who I was in that costume either, but at least that night they asked.