Thursday, July 28, 2011

the longest minutes

1. You've arrived at a date 10-15 minutes early, so you stroll around the block at an absurdly slow pace or browse the Barnes & Noble next door, flipping through books without taking in any of the words. You keep checking your phone, waiting for it to be at least three minutes past the planned meeting time so you can head to the bar.

2. You recognize an old acquaintance sitting in a booth at a restaurant or in the lobby of the theater, but you make the initial, instinctive decision to look straight ahead and walk right by. For the rest of the meal/intermission, you keep your gaze locked on the face of the friend you're with as if you're taking an eye exam and the chart's on her forehead.

3. You've accompanied a friend to a party at which you don't really know anyone. Your friend starts talking to a co-worker or a college pal and you stand there and try to involve yourself in the conversation to limited success. Suddenly your friend says he has to go to the bathroom, leaving you with the co-worker/college pal. "Uh oh," you realize, "I've gotta turn it up from 20% to 85% now."

4. You're on the subway and it's late at night and there are only two people in your car: one is sleeping and the other is singing or repeatedly cracking his knuckles or not wearing pants.

5. You're sitting on an airplane and you're waiting for the flight attendant to come by to pick up your trash.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

june 30-31

Last week I accompanied a friend of mine to a poetry reading. It was the first poetry reading I had ever attended and it definitely aligned with the expectations I had had going in: one female performer took her shirt off mid-poem; another (who was wearing a skirt over jeans) introduced her poem as a "micro-lyric essay"; one guy shouted an angry rant about insomnia. Everyone in the audience (men and women) looked like they were going as Sufjan Stevens for Halloween.

Earlier, on our way into the reading, my friend had recognized this blond guy with a rattail who was smoking a cigarette by the door. We had stopped to chat with him and I learned he was a "gardener" from Philadelphia. He was the kind of guy who says things like "Facebook is going to be our generation's downfall" and who wears hiking boots and shorts in spite of their perceived aesthetic rather than because of it.

I asked him if he was going to be one of the participating poets and he explained that, though he did write poems, he would not be reading any that night. I said that that was too bad and he then presented two fliers for a poetry festival he was going to be reading at later this summer on Governors Island. "You guys should come," he said, and my friend and I nodded in the most disingenuous way humans can nod.

After a few seconds of scanning the flier though, my friend blurted out, "Hey wait, did this... already happen?" and she pointed to the top of the flier where "JUNE 30-31" was written in huge, bold letters. I mumbled, "But June 31 isn't...." (I was too bashful to outright suggest there had been a typo.)

Our green-thumbed, rat-tailed friend did not look fazed in the slightest. "Oh, yeah, weird," he shrugged. "It's supposed to say July 30-31. I should let them know... I've been putting these up everywhere."

He smiled goofily, tossed his cigarette on the sidewalk and stepped on it, and then turned toward the door. "Let's head inside," he said. Something about the way he tilted his head and bent his knees as he walked through the door made me feel utterly silly for ever taking anything that happens in my life too seriously.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

what i've learned from living alone

I wrote a piece for Thought Catalog about living alone that went up today! I think the tags they put on it sum it up pretty well: Childlike, gchat, Katherine Heigl, Living Alone, Lonely, Martha Stewart, New York City, Ownership, Personal Writing, Studio, Wine

Check it out here!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I watched all of "Breaking Bad" over the past few weeks (highly recommended) and there's this one quote that's stuck with me. This menacing "fixer" guy named Mike (don't worry, this isn't going to be a major spoiler or anything) tells Walt (Bryan Cranston, a.k.a. the dad from "Malcolm in the Middle") this long, super intense story about a time he was working as a cop and had the chance to kill this terrible guy who was abusive to his wife. Instead of killing the guy though, Mike threatened him and let him go; a few weeks later, the guy ended up murdering his wife. Says Mike, "The moral of the story is: I chose a half-measure when I should have gone all the way."

Obviously the specifics of his story are not applicable to my own life in any way, but the message really struck a chord. I feel like I'm almost always settling for half-measures and, when I started to think about it, they rarely pan out all that well. I'll get this idea for something I want to do (anything from sending an e-mail to a cute dude to moving to France for a few months) and then I'll get in my own head and talk to people about it and start feeling all self-conscious and come up with all these reasons I should scale back and go with a half-measure instead. ("Instead of an e-mail, I'll... friend him on Facebook and wait until I see him again in eight months!" "Instead of moving to France for a few months, I'll... take a weekend trip upstate!") The risk and, of course, the reward are both diminished.

I've also been thinking about how the internet is this great enabler of half-measures. There's this degree of separation that social networks provide that makes it so easy to hold back -- to end a terse e-mail with a "hope everything's well," to write a passionate blog post anonymously, to not say what you really want to be saying -- and that's, ultimately, completely numbing. It's enough to make you want to scream; but instead you gchat a ":-("