Friday, February 25, 2011

the man who walked with sticks

The "hottest" Halloween party when I was in college was this massive dance party thrown every year by the art and architecture graduate students. They had it in this building about halfway up some giant hill (though now I'm wondering if I'm just imagining that it was on a hill due to the "psychological height" I was forced to climb in mustering the courage to attend this party).

Senior year my roommate and I dressed as basketball players from High School Musical for Halloween (age appropriate as ever). We arrived at the art and architecture party and it was something of a mad house. We went outside for fresh air (I think? Actually more likely is that we wandered around inside for 45 minutes and didn't see anyone we knew) and while we were loitering we heard this guy calling at us from the window of an empty room. He asked us if we had a lighter (we didn't) but he was friendly and we were bored and we started chatting and a few minutes later we found ourselves inside his art studio.

His costume was really great. He was a Popsicle... which doesn't sound like it would be so impressive but it was like POPSICLE TO THE MAX (well-tailored one-piece red jumpsuit that I'm pretty sure he had sewn himself; red face paint; surprisingly "real-looking" Popsicle stick affixed to his back). As he sipped on tea, he informed us that he had won the art grad school costume contest earlier that evening.

He also told us about his senior project: a one-man "performance" he was planning in which he was going to carry about seven or eight giant sticks from New Haven to New York. Yes, he was going to walk the 80 or so miles, schlepping these giant eight foot sticks all the way. (I'm pretty sure he used some "artist-y" euphemism for "stick," btw, but I can't remember what it was.) My roommate and I were totally in awe. This guy was a smoking enthusiast/costuming champion/performance artist dude in his late 20s; we were college seniors dressed as Zac Efron for Halloween.

A few months later, I thought he might be a good subject for a profile I had to do for a writing class, so I e-mailed him about meeting up for coffee. He arrived wearing a gold spandex outfit (pants and matching top), which I decided must have been his version of "jeans and a t-shirt" considering the nonchalant way he sauntered into the coffee shop. He told me about The Walk (which had been completed successfully some months earlier) and I listened rapturously.

Even though I ended up writing the profile about a music teacher at a New Haven public school instead, and even though I don't remember a thing he told me about the walk itself other than that he wore the same shirt the whole time, I still find myself thinking about him now and then as if he were a character in a movie I saw a few years ago that I keep meaning to re-watch.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

vaguely depressing

1. When a musical act that was once super famous and that you were really into at the time just... keeps on releasing songs, even though no one pays any attention to them anymore. #maroon5 #ciara

2. When two of your friends from completely different eras in your life -- both of whom you've either fallen out of touch with or were never that close with to begin with -- become friends with each other on Facebook. They start writing on each other's walls ("OMG we HAVE to go back to Victor's next weekend") and you realize that they must have struck up a IRL friendship in Chicago or wherever it is they live.

3. After weeks of telling your best friend about how some new co-worker or roommate of yours (let's call her Charlotte) is mad irritating -- which, in turn, causes your best friend to scowl when Charlotte's name comes up and to make disparaging remarks about Charlotte even though she hasn't met her or anything -- your feelings about Charlotte start to change. Suddenly she isn't annoying you so much; you even start hanging out with her one-on-one now and then. You tell your best friend over lunch one day and she does a spit-take. "What?!" she says, "I thought you hated her." And then you find yourself adamantly defending Charlotte to your best friend (getting way more passionate about it than you actually feel) and contemplating how you got to this point.

4. When you realize you have inadvertently ended all of your text messages for the past week with the emoticon ":P"

5. When you have this long conversation with one of your good friends who is dealing with some sort of issue and you offer him all sorts of advice and you feel all satisfied afterwards (not because you're happy that your friend is sad but because you just feel especially close with him in that moment). Then, a day later, the friend sends an "update" e-mail or forwards some exchange about whatever you guys were talking about and there are seven people on the e-mail.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"catch what you hit"

As if I were emulating a McAdams/Heigl character, I've recently taken to sleeping with my Blackberry next to my face. To be clear, it's a "I am too lazy to roll over and plug this into my charger" thing rather than a "OMG! What if the office needs me?" thing. But, as a result, I've adopted this bizarre habit of waking up in the middle of the night and - in a more-than-half-asleep stupor - typing things (usually related to my dreams) in my phone. It's like sleep-texting. Thankfully, I haven't actually sent any of these texts (yet); but I've been waking up in the morning with like three drafts in my inbox.

Last night was an especially "productive" night.

1:47 a.m. "Those dumplings were unreal, bro."

I really have no clue where this one came from. I think I must have been dreaming/thinking about this bro-y guy I was fixated on sitting across from me on the subway last night (... and embodying his spirit/taking on his vernacular?).

4:42 a.m. I actually gave this one a "title": "Dream - best Modern Family episode EVER." And then I wrote the following lines (I have absolutely no idea how I wrote so much text in my phone at this hour):

Guy says to Leslie Knope, "you look like Amy Poehler but a lesbian."

Meryl Streep and Will Smith have a cute romance (Mom says this is the least believable plotline)

Sofia Vergara standing by water fountain adjusting heels, like at a nice hotel

Sounds like a KILLER "Modern Family" episode, huh?

7:11 a.m. "Catch what you hit."

I sort of remember the dreaming behind this one. I was playing baseball (as I so often do in real life) and I hit this far shot (definitely what that's called) and then I ran into the outfield to catch the ball that I hit (there was no one else on the field). I awoke with a start and wrote these four words in my phone in quotation marks as if it was the most profound aphorism in the world. When I woke up for real about an hour later, I read it and just shook my head.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

matt! hi!

A new thing I've been trying ("new month, new things" = my mantra) is beginning my e-mails "PERSON'S NAME! Hi!" So if I was sending an e-mail to Matt, I'd write, "Matt! Hi!"... then hit "return" twice and get into the meat of my e-mail.

These are the issues I've had in the past with the ways people commonly address their e-mails:

"Matt," (variant: "Hi,")

Impersonal! Makes me feel like I'm a bank inviting you to try our new smartphone app.

"Hey!" (variants: "Hi!" "Yo!")

Too positive/cheery/that-girl-in-your-office-who-always-brings-in-baked-goods-y. And when the content of your e-mail is, like, a reminder to bring money to dinner tomorrow night, this kind of greeting seems especially gratuitous/disingenuous.

"Hey Matt!" (variant: "Hey Matt,")

Too much like a second grade teacher writing in a workbook to one of her students.


I was so into this kind of greeting for a few months about a year ago and then one day I almost sent my landlord an e-mail that started this way and it was this really important reality check where I was like "Seriously, Josh? Relax."

No greeting

This is generally fine if you're e-mailing one of your very good friends, but if you're writing a so-so friend, it can be too personal, the equivalent of leaning in too close while talking to an acquaintance at a party.

So now I'm in a "Matt! Hi!" phase. It's kind of weird, I suppose, but I like the inversion of it and how it's (I think?) reflective of what people say when they greet people IRL. I mean, it's also sort of irritating and, thanks to the exclamation points, comes across as too friendly - and I'll probably be embarrassed when I see it in old e-mails a year or two from now - but, for now, it's light years ahead of "Hiiiiiiiiiiii" in my mind.