Wednesday, April 27, 2011

times i feel foreign to myself

1) When, while sampling some new brand of pita chips I bought the other day, I find myself taking a picture of the bag with my phone and sending it to a few friends with the caption "these are AMAZING!"

2) When a taxi driver makes some sort of attempt at humor ("Well, that guy is clearly a tourist!") and I laugh in this breathy, staccato manner for a few seconds.

3) When I'm struck with an impulse to send a "it was so good to see you last night!!" text to a good friend the day after getting dinner with him/her.

4) When I'm crafting the Paragraphs of Questions ("So how are things with you??" etc.) in a long e-mail to a friend.

5) Whenever I have to describe "how work is going"/"how I like my new apartment" to an adult I don't know well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

no thank you, gmail

This new gmail feature that suggests potential contacts based on addresses you've already entered in the "to" field is disconcerting in the same way as those "We think you'll like..." e-mails. Sure, if I've entered my mother's e-mail address, there's a good chance I'm going to add my father's next; and sure, if I bought Lauren Conrad's first book (obviously, we're talking about a hypothetical me here), I probably will think about buying her second one... but is this really the aspect of our internet life that most needed to be addressed with a flashy new feature?

There are a lot of things I'd love gmail to do for me: filter for passive-aggressive turns of phrase, remove people from party invites that I am going to regret having included later, auto-link relevant GIFs on certain key words. But this particular issue -- uncertainty as to who to include on an e-mail -- is not one I've ever felt impeded my e-mail efficiency or believed would benefit from a "helpful hand."

Sure, you could argue that having suggested contacts there "could come in handy" or something, but I'd argue, if anything, their inclusion adds time to your e-mailing process, either because it sends you down a tunnel of nostalgia ("Oh, yeah, I remember when I used to include Tim on these group e-mails....") or because it makes you feel more guilty about any sort of sketchy social maneuver you're pulling (i.e. consciously excluding Daisy from brunch while her name sits right there glaring at you).

Also, who wants to feel that their internet conduct is that predictable? Gmail, you've homogenized enough about how we interact/communicate -- give us at least the illusion of autonomy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

putting down the chewy stuff

Don't feel like I'm hyperbolizing all that much in positing that my quitting gum about a month ago has majorly improved my overall mood and general quality of life.

There was a time, back in high school, when I was known amongst my group of friends for my gum supply. The top pouch of my monogrammed L.L. Bean backpack was at all times stuffed with packs of gum. My best friends felt it completely acceptable to use my backpack pouch as their personal vending machine, sometimes even coming up behind me without notice and withdrawing as I waited for the train or strolled across campus.

I chewed all the time: when I was nervous, when I was bored, after lunch, after coffee, after dinner, before a party, during a party, after a party, when I was feeling angsty, when I was feeling elated. It was disgusting. This behavior persisted throughout college and for my first few years in New York. (I sort of unwittingly fell back into my "gum dispenser" role at my old consulting job, which I'm sure made me seem so mature that it was almost intimidating for everyone else in the office.)

Anyway, a few months ago I decided that a true adult doesn't chew gum (please, someone submit that to and that I would try to quit. And: so far, so good!

Here are some of the ways I feel my life has improved:

1) I am saving money. I would estimate, thanks to some extremely scientific calculations, that I've probably been spending upwards of $75/year on gum. Not this year!
2) I no longer have to worry that I'm inadvertently resembling a character from "Clueless" every time I talk.
3) I feel "healthier." When I have a craving for gum now, I try to subside it with a glass of water or a cup of tea or some raisins or carrots or Tic Tacs. This "diet" makes me feel like I'm a middle-aged duchess and it's great.
4) I feel saner? I think? Life seems quieter since I've gone gum-less (due in part to the absence of constant chomping, I suppose), like the aural equivalent of being able to actually see the stars in the sky when you're out in the country.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

oh na na

There is a fleet of six doormen who take turns manning the front desk in my new building. Having a doorman is a new phenomenon for me, and it's certainly taking some getting used to. There's something almost uncomfortable about having your comings and goings "monitored" by a vaguely parental figure, one who mutters "good luck out there" when it's raining or "good morning" as you leave the apartment in sweats at 2pm.

Anyway, there is one of the six who is younger than the others and, if he wasn't wearing a suit, he wouldn't look out of place at a Sleigh Bells concert or Central Park on a Saturday afternoon. Rather than doling out verbal greetings like his comrades, he seems to prefer a barely perceptible head-nod or an extremely controlled wave. As such, I've identified a pretty embarrassing desire within me to "impress" him. But I reached a major road block in this quest last week when he accompanied one of his waves with a "Hey, Josh," and I found that I couldn't reciprocate his friendly gesture because... I didn't remember his name.

Now, this guy does wear a name tag but, aligned with his overall brand, it droops in such a manner that it's basically impossible to make out what it says (even when you're standing right in front of him). I have made up a whole series of reasons to stop and talk to him over the past week, trying to slyly kneel and crane my neck at just the right time and at just the right angle while I "listen" to whatever he's saying. So far, I've been able to conclude his name starts with a "B"... and that's about it. I got one momentary direct glance and I saw "Bloiche," which a) cannot be correct and b) I wouldn't even DARE try to pronounce anyway.

I've attempted the ole "have a friend introduce herself" trick (she reported back: "I think 'Ben'? Or, like, 'Bizarre'?"). I've also contemplated just admitting to him I don't remember his name (but keep deciding that it would be too embarrassing after having had so many interactions with him). I have even mulled asking my mom to call the front desk when I know he's on duty to have her coax it out of him.

So I wait for two possible resolutions: the day I am no longer so self-conscious that I can't just ask someone to remind me what his name is, or the day "Bloiche" gets his name tag readjusted. I feel pretty confident I know which will happen first.

Friday, April 8, 2011

"will get to this in a bit!"

The most frustrating response to an e-mail which is clearly looking for some kind of reply - a long story, a forwarded invitation accompanied with "thoughts?," etc. - is one in which the recipient just states his or her plans to get to your e-mail later. "Oh, hmm! More from me soon." Or: "Will look at this later." Same idea as when you send someone a YouTube link and they write back, "Oh, can't wait to check this out in a bit!" More often than not, in either case, you never get a subsequent e-mail from the person, as if they believe the mere act of having immediately responded somehow negates their not having actually reacted.

Friday, April 1, 2011

my favorite kind of lunch

After a long morning spent with your mom or your friend doing errands or shopping or something, you find a place to get lunch that doesn’t look at all remarkable from the outside. It’s one of those places with a person’s name in its name (“Andy’s Deli,” “Helen’s Mediterranean Cuisine”), a buffet-style station characterized mainly by steam, lighting that recalls a hospital hallway...

But from the second you walk inside, a particular kind of fatigue-fueled, punch-drunk hyperbole kicks in.

“Oh, this place is so cute!”
“Can you believe how much stuff they have on this sandwich menu? Seriously, look at it.”
“They have egg salad, too?! Are you kidding me?!”

The charade lasts for the entirety of the meal, chowed down in the nondescript seating area. “I would come to this place every day if I lived near here,” your mom might say. “Ohmigod, I almost want to ask them if I can just buy a jar of this honey mustard,” you might exclaim. The cashier says you get a pickle with your meal and you both audibly cheer.

Both of you are aware that you’re being sort of disingenuous, that there’s some sort of hard-to-qualify “joke” going on here, but there’s something about the repartee that seems familiar and makes you feel close with the person, so you keep it up until you leave the deli, almost certainly never to return again.