Hot Couple Fight

Two years ago a hot couple sat down next to me at a restaurant. I was eating alone, and hated them immediately, because come on hot couple. But then miraculously, they started fighting. Like right away. Like maybe they had come there for that express purpose. Like maybe just the idea of imminent pho makes them hot, hot couple. It was the kind of exchange you don’t really see outside of therapy: “Hi,” “Hi,” “I want to die.”

Maybe I had missed the fight foreplay. It’s entirely possible that things had happened in their relationship before I arrived on the scene, which is pretty annoying for a spectator. But whatever had previously happened, she had just been reminded that he was fucking his lab partner, Kara. Of course hot couple would be brought down by someone named Kara.

One thing was for sure, and that was that hot couple was terrible at fighting. They were talking about something serious—she was accusing him of cheating on her—but neither of them seemed to have any emotional investment in it whatsoever. Which maybe is how it is when you’re a hot couple. Regular looking people fight like IF WE DON’T RESOLVE THIS FIGHT I’LL NEVER LOVE AGAIN, but hot couple? They both knew there were other med students to fuck. One of them had already found one.

It was one of those fights where people go right into self-righteous indignation without ever even trying to explain themselves. Like in romantic comedies when the woman sees her beloved holding hands with another woman, and for some unfathomable reason, when confronted, the beloved goes straight to, “I can’t believe you would think I would ever hold anyone else’s hand,” and doesn’t even try to explain that it was his sister.

Hot guy was weakly denying that he was fucking his lab partner, but mainly just saying, “I can’t believe you would say that,” which usually means the person is buying time trying to think of an excuse for fucking their lab partner.

Their food came, which was when she threatened to leave. Well I thought she was threatening to leave. She said, “I’m going to get mine to go.” But then she just sat there, and it became clear to both him and I that she literally meant she was going to get her food to go. She wasn’t going to leave. She just wasn’t going to eat in this environment.

Then he, apparently having exhausted all avenues of reasoning, said, “Why don’t you just break up with me then? Just break up with me if you don’t want to deal with this.” “This” presumably being the complicatedness that is him and his lab partner’s love affair. He didn’t say “Relationships take work!” but that’s what he meant. Sometimes in a relationship you have to work to keep your boyfriend from fucking Kara. They were both so disengaged with the idea of “Kara” that it almost seemed like she was being used as proxy for what the fight was actually about, but usually you use something smaller to symbolize the bigger issue, you don’t accuse someone of cheating to say you’re mad about the dishwasher.

So he’s half-heartedly commanding that she break up with him, and she’s just sitting there not even being like, “You should be BEGGING me to stay with you after essentially admitting that you’re sleeping with your lab partner.” I was starting to get the impression that these people were crazy.

Then she hissed: “Why don’t you just leave and I’ll pay for this. I’ll pay for all of this.” She said it like it was a threat, but a threat is supposed to be something the other person doesn’t want, not something that would be awesome.

Then I had to leave, because it was so clear that nothing was going to happen. In the beginning I was worried someone was going to throw hot soup on someone else, but then it became clear that this was their thing. This was their relationship. Hot, angry med students passive aggressively working out their issues over pho.

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Splitting the Check

There is no greater horror (in a life with few horrors) than getting the check after dining or drinking with a large group of people. The worst worst time is when everyone has cash except for you, so they’re like “How about you put it on your card and we’ll give you money?” That innocent sounding “How about…” always ends with you putting $200 on your debit card and them handing you 16 crumpled ones, and you being like, “What the fuck?” and everyone being like “I put in the correct amount PLUS a little extra for tax,” and then turning back to their conversations to leave you to be evicted from your apartment. The best worst time is when some extremely chill person who has never been out to dinner before is like “Just give me your cash and I’ll put it on my card,” and you’re like “Okay,” but are thinking: welcome to hell motherfucker.
On Saturday I somehow got into one of these situations at an outdoor bar in Brooklyn. Before the check came, I had worked out a PLAN with my two friends—a couple who no one knew except me—wherein I would give them $4 for my beer and they would put our THREE beers on their card. (Do I have everyone’s rapt attention?) Everyone else had put in cash, so when the check did come we were the defacto guardians of the check folder. As their card was being charged, we were counting the cash and continually coming up $5 short. This is actually a great position to be in when you’ve already given all of your cash to someone else and therefore can harass other people about their miserliness without worrying for one second that you might have to pony up more money. “Hey you guys,” I said to the group at large. “We’re a little short here.” I said this in the semi-aggrieved but ever so slightly self-satisfied tone of a person who never gets the opportunity to take on the responsible role in group. Everyone was all “I put in the correct amount PLUS a little extra for tax,” but weirdly didn’t turn away and instead kept looking at me expectantly. I had the floor. “Well, I’m not sure what’s going on, but we are a little short.” I felt like the waitress who tells you that that table you want is actually reserved, i.e. sure of my position and trying hard to contain my glee. People looked a little panicked. “I’m not sure what you guys want to do,” I said, distancing myself from this group of ragamuffin scoundrels who went out drinking but couldn’t pay their tab or do math. A tall girl took a $5 out of her wallet and offered it to the gaping maw of the check folder. “Thanks,” I said, smiling conspiratorially like, it’s hard being the only adults on Earth. The problem solved, everyone started heading toward the exit. My couple friends and I trailed a little behind having just signed the check and realized that we had actually gotten four beers.

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Everything I Know About Love I Learned from An Airplane Safety Video

Take a moment to find the exit nearest you, and remember it may be behind you. Sometimes we overlook the most obvious potential mates because they are behind us, and we can’t see out the backs of our heads. Make it a habit to turn around whenever you think of it.

In the event of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the panel in front of you. Be sure to secure your own mask before assisting others. Always look out for number one. You can’t be in a relationship if you already died of oxygen deprivation.

If you’re seated in an emergency exit row please review the responsibilities for emergency exit seating on the back of the safety information card. If you’re unable to perform these functions just let us know and we’d be happy to find you another seat. You can change to a different row, but you’ll never be able to change the row itself, because those seats are bolted down. An emergency exit row will always be an emergency exit row, so if you want to stretch your legs out, don’t cry when you have to be the first one down the slide in the event of a water landing.

Your mobile phones and other electronic devices should be turned off during takeoff. If you’re dating a person who won’t stop looking at their phone, have him arrested by an air marshal.

Keep your seatbelt fastened at all times, even if the seatbelt sign is turned off. Sometimes planes drop like 1,000 for no reason and people break their necks on the cabin ceiling. Maintain constant vigilance over your heart.

Remember, most seat cushions can be used as flotation devices. If you have sex with guys who are already your friends, you don’t have to go out and buy a life jacket.

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That’s Not a Selfie: 13 Ways to Tell if You’re Looking at a Selfie or a Not-Selfie

The word “selfie” has only been in the dictionary for a month, but for many people, the definition has already changed from “an image of oneself taken by oneself” to simply “an image.” Just because a photo was shared on Instagram, or was taken by someone under 30, or is of a human, does not mean it’s a selfie. For those who are still confused, here are 13 ways to differentiate between the selfie and the not-selfie.

1. If the photo was taken from farther than arm’s length away, that’s not a selfie.

2. Unless it was taken facing a mirror, which is a mirror-assisted selfie (mirfie), a recognized selfie subgroup.

3. If you hear someone say, “Can you take a selfie of us?” the answer is no, I literally cannot, because that’s not a selfie.

4. If you hear someone say, “Can you take a selfie of me?” that person doesn’t understand the boundary between the self and others, which can be dangerous in romantic relationships.

5. If the photo is of a cat, that’s not a selfie due to the selfie law of opposable thumbs.

6. If the photo is of Hilaria Baldwin doing yoga in her refrigerator, that’s terrible, but that’s not a selfie.

7. If the photo is of a butt, that’s a belfie.

8. Unless it’s not blurry. It’s scientifically impossible to take a clear belfie.

9. If it’s taken from an unflatteringly low angle, that’s a selfie of your mom.

10. If you can see armpit, that’s definitely a selfie.

11. If it’s a picture of a plane wing, that’s not a selfie. That’s my Instagram.

12. If it’s this picture of Ai Weiwei’s leg gun, that’s not a selfie; that’s a political statement.

13. Unless he was using a timer, then that could be a selfie. But people who use timers to take pictures of themselves should be treated with caution, because why don’t they have friends to take selfies of them?

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Let’s get drinks like yesterday.

How long has it been? It’s crazy! The fact that it’s been so long since I’ve seen yo face is a crime. It is seriously a criminal act. Someone should be arrested. Someone should be shot!! Haha, but if you shot me we wouldn’t be able to finally get together, like we NEED to do! Oh, yeah this week doesn’t work for me either. But don’t think it’s because I don’t want to get together with you, because it is crazy how much I want to get together with you. I mean, it’s all I talk to you about! I’m seriously always telling the people whom I actually hang out with how much I miss you. Like just the other night Ann and I were out in your neighborhood and we were talking about how much we LOVE you, and we were like, I WISH she was here! We totally should have texted you, but then we would have had to stop missing you, and how could we, like ever, stop? Anyway, we have to get drinks like yesterday. Because if I have to go one more week without seeing that face I might make a joke about us not even being friends anymore, which would be insane because I love hanging out with you so much.

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On Online Shopping

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You receive it and open the box with excitement and trepidation. There is always some trepidation of course, because there’s always some aspect of the item that you couldn’t fully comprehend online. Something that required holding it in your hands, something that if wrong could be ruinous. But even with that possibility of ruin, of return shipping labels and a lunchtime trip to the post office, you were willing to take a leap of faith, because isn’t it better to have tried to buy a thing online than to have never tried to buy a thing online at all?

Not least because sometimes you end up keeping the item even though the defect you feared came to pass. You do this partly because of the aformentioned return labels and partly because once you have the item you start to question whether the thing you thought was wrong is really so wrong. Maybe it is you who was wrong about this thing. You try to change your perspective by asking yourself questions like: If I saw this on a street style blog would I think it was wrong? Could this item help me get on a street style blog, or at least help me to become some approximation of someone who could get on one? Some crude sculpture of a street style star, not yet cast in a devastating ensemble that is the perfect mix of high and low.

Sometimes, a lot of the time, things are good because they are chosen, and soon the chosen thing, that in the beginning seemed to have some ruinous flaw—like the too deep body on this goddamn bag—becomes something you couldn’t imagine living without, and instead of changing (or exchanging) that thing, you try to change your feelings about the thing. You’ll change your whole life around this thing if you have to. You always used to be a perfectionist, unwilling to spend money on things that you weren’t 100 percent sure you loved more than any other thing in that category, but now you think maybe you were wrong about the things you were wrong about, or that maybe it’s the wrongness that you were missing all this time—the hint of dissatisfaction that makes you hold tight.

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big screen debut

Last weekend, my friend who does casting agent for a reality TV show called “Who’s Your [Redacted]” (It’s not out yet and I’m not sure if, whatever, I don’t want to get in trouble) but she asked me to come be in the b-roll of a scene where this van drives into Union Square and people gawk at it. I said yes, assuming I would be one of hundreds (thousands?) of gawkers, pointing—and for some reason I got it in my head—waving at a van as it drove by, at which point I would pop on over to craft services and then pop on home. The whole thing would take one hour.

But movie people are all liars as it turns out. First of all there were only four of us extras, or “recruits” as my friend kept saying into the secret service microphone clipped to her shirt. Secondly, we were not just going to be gawking (or even waving) at a passing van, but were actually going to approach said van in pairs and then act like we were surprised and then ask what was going on with it and be asked if we wanted a DNA test all under the watchful eyes of 3 huge cameras and about 10,000,000 gawking tourists, who had unwittingly stolen the job I had signed up for. “Just act like you would if you were to see a weird van like that in real life,” my friend said. But how would I do that when my natural reaction upon seeing a weird van would be to look at my phone or pretend to count something on my fingers?

The problem is, I’m terrible on camera. I get really nervous and my face starts shaking and I sweat and I also don’t know how to act. One time I was asked to be in a “fun” “little” “movie” for a magazine where I was interning and I was like okay because I was an intern and it seemed like an honor to be asked. They brought in a whole camera crew and it took all day and then they saw the video and immediately were like, “While we LOVE what you did, we’re going to redo the whole thing without you in it.”

It’s not that I can’t act like a character on camera, it’s just that the character I’m acting like is not a human being.

So there we were standing on a street corner with the instructions to cross the street, then walk down a block, then notice the van to our left and walk toward it. The first pair went and it took forever, which terrified me even more because I was left wondering what kind of crazy, embarrassing things they were being made to do and how many really hard questions about the Affordable Care Act they were having to answer in front of Barack Obama—which was pretty much the scenario that my level of fear matched. What it did not match was walking up to a van and saying, “Oh, what’s this?”

By this point we were all joking about how scared I was and I kept making jokes like, “I can’t breathe.” Everyone was laughing, me loudest of all, in a maniacal, desperate way that makes people move away from people on the subway. I really wanted to leave. Suddenly, it was our turn. It was three of us: me, my friend B and the casting agent’s boyfriend, Y. I had insisted they be in my group, because both of them are very charismatic and I knew that I could count on at least one of them to “steal the show.” No one had ever wanted something to be stolen from them more than I wanted that show stolen from me.

We crossed the street and marched shoulder to shoulder down the sidewalk, like anyone would do if they had just met up with some friends and were headed straight to a firing squad. We were approaching the place where we would “react naturally” to the van. I was on the left and the van was also on the left, which made what I did next even more awkward than it would have otherwise been. They started to turn toward the van, but instead of also turning, as I had spent 2 hours mentally preparing to do, I just kept walking, which, because of my positioning in the group required me to basically walk right in front of them and actually push them out of the way with my arm. I then hid in a doorway for the rest of the shoot, periodically saying to the two girls who had gone before me, “Do you think they’re going to come try and make me be in it?” To which they responded, “No one wants you in it,” and they were right. Later my friend texted me saying how much she appreciated me coming and how great it was that I had tried, and failed, but more importantly tried to conquer my fears, which made me feel like I had accomplished something that day, which is sort of all you can ask of a Sunday.

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there’s no such thing as “writing a screenplay.” There’s only not writing a screenplay or having already written one. Everything else is make believe.

My friend Allison and I had decided to write a screenplay. So she came over after work, and first we had to buy a bottle of wine, because it had been a long Monday. In order to do so we had to find a wine store. I actually knew exactly where a wine store was, and I told her, but since she was the one buying the wine—a housewarming gift—she had to be the one to go to the store, so while I could relate to her where the wine store was, and did, it obviously took longer than if I had just gone with her, which didn’t seem like an option at the time and still doesn’t.

When she returned with the wine, we set up shop by pouring it into glasses and positioning ourselves around the living room. I sprawled on the floor and she sat on the couch with the computer sitting next to her at a more jaunty angle than one would have used if one were actually going to type something, but luckily we were not going to type at that moment because we needed to discuss our weekends. She had gone to the lake with some friends of our mutual friend, and I wondered why I hadn’t been invited but didn’t ask, because there were almost certainly a myriad of reasons, the first being I wouldn’t have gone. My weekend had consisted of moving into my new apartment, staying up all night, and then sleeping for 24 hours straight, which is maybe the reason people don’t invite me to their lake houses, but who’s to say, or ask? Not me.

We had previously decided on the subject matter of our screenplay, which would be one night in the lives of a pair of completely ineffective MDMA dealers. Once we had typed that sentence into a Google.doc, we were able to relax a little and bat around some ideas and Allison had a frankly brilliant idea for the pre-credits sequence, which either is or isn’t film speak for “before the credits start.” We were so pleased with this small but important breakthrough that we decided to order pizza from the place down the street.

The pizza was to take 45 minutes, and we decided that we would work for the duration of that time, which would almost certainly have worked, had not the pizza shown up after only 20 minutes, that came right on the heels of a 20 minute conversation about whether we should use bitcoins to order drugs from India. It was at the moment that we were about to start working in earnest that the doorbell rang, putting a stop to everything. I went to get the pizza while Allison texted her friend Grace in LA to ask her how to write a screenplay. Next, we spent a not inconsequential amount of time getting situated: trying to find plates and napkins (there were none), me admonishing Allison to not get grease on my couch, her realizing she hadn’t really been that hungry to begin with, me devouring three pieces of pizza in quick succession, since as long as I was actively eating I could put off trying to figure out how to write a screenplay, and just repeat over and over again, “But how do you actually WRITE it?” I had also started to wonder why we were doing this at all. Was this a story that needed to be told? But I didn’t say anything about my creeping doubts since I didn’t want to sap the momentum that we were surely about to gain. The pizza gone, we decided to block out the first scene during which our protagonist dealers (one sweet and responsible, the other unpredictable and mean) would arrive at the McKibbon Lofts to sell drugs to drunk 23-year-olds.

“So they go inside right?” Me.

“Yeah, I think so,” Allison.

“So they walk in the door, then they walk another door, and then I guess they’re there?” Me.

One scene completed, we decided to brainstorm how we would pitch it to the people in L.A. who we would meet in elevators and have 30-seconds to say, “Breaking Bad meets Frances Ha meets Jawbreaker meets your mom on a dark corner. LOL BYEEEE.” Finally her “friend” Grace (as much as any screenwriting rival can be a friend) texted her back to say that the key to writing a screenplay is to outline the acts (3) and then sit down and don’t stop writing until you’re done. I had a panic inducing flash of sitting hunched over a typewriter for three days, but then remembered about computers and felt somewhat better. We were both so heartened by this straightforward advice—make a plan and then execute it quickly—that we decided to end the night on a high note and reconvene in a week to pick up where we had left off. After all, Good Will Hunting wasn’t built in a day. 


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No Sleep In Brooklyn: Insomnia Returns

I haven’t had regular insomnia since I was a junior in college living in a weird boarding house and not seeing any friends because they had all turned 21 and gone into bars and never come out of them. As of 1 month ago, sleeplessness is back. Some observations:

Time Moves in Mysterious Ways: Hours pass during which you are not sure if you have slept, because while you feel certain you’ve been awake the whole time, you can’t remember the time passing. Somehow you pass 2 hours just laying there doing nothing, which you would never be able to do during daytime. Think this is like meditation, then think no, this like meditation’s devil twin.

Denial: Refuse to get up and spend sleepless time wisely because can’t believe can’t sleep. Look at phone, even though have been avoiding phone due to clock and also something you read about how looking at screens can keep you up, not yet realizing that you ARE up. Briefly consider seizing moment and watching sunrise from roof, then think who gives fuck about new day, and also still holding out hope for sleep.

False Promise: Moments when feel like going to fall asleep but then don’t. The usual signals of coming sleep — yawning, suddenly having a Musketeer walk into your thoughts — don’t mean anything.

Positioning: Move head to bottom of bed for change of scenery, convinced change of scenery will make body forget about sleep troubles and maybe finally sleep. Get up and go lay down in absent roommate’s bed, think briefly that this it, but this not it.

Dread/Fear: Not being able to sleep weirdly scary. Sure that everyone else in world is sleeping soundly. You alone are awake and will always be awake and also alone. You may never sleep again and may die from it like that guy you learned about in Psych 101. The real fear that sleeplessness will ruin the following day, and then also the useless fear that this fear will keep you up more.

The Reckoning: You finally gather the courage to look at the clock and your worst fears are confirmed when you see that it’s 3:30, but then you think, at least it’s not 4:30, but then suddenly it is 4:30 and your worst worst fears — that weren’t even really fears because they were too terrifying to consider — are confirmed.

Math: If I fall asleep now, and wake up at 7, I’ll still have 2.5 hours of sleep, which is 1.5 hours longer than my normal nap, which should be sufficient to at least feel okay tomorrow, but if I push my wakeup time back to 7:30, then I would have 3 whole hours of sleep, but that’s only if I fall asleep this instant, which there is a 0% likelihood of happening.

Drugs: Google “benadryl overdose” to make sure it’s okay to take 6 at once. Learn that while people do take benadryl to commit suicide, it must require more than 25 pills, because they took 25 and are still posting on this benadryl overdose message board.

Homeopathy: Take hot shower at 3am. Then take shot of whiskey. While this is not necessarily good idea, it is at least idea. Suddenly, remember how tired crying makes you. Get back into bed and try to make self cry. Find that not able to cry on cue. Dreams of becoming famous dramatic actress dashed along with dreams of being able to sleep. Feel like this is saddest moment of life. Then do actually cry. Drapes are starting to lighten as sun comes up. There is rooster in backyard? Never knew.

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The long weekend is the loneliest number

People like to go on and on about how great weekends are, when really weekends can be pretty lonely. Especially long weekends. Especially in New York. What makes New York weekends so lonely is how much importance people place on them, as though they don’t happen every single week of your life.

Whereas a New Yorker will pretty much grab a drink with any idiot during the week, the weekends are reserved for only the most prized in their social circle. You won’t know if you fall into this category until the weekend actually arrives, because New Yorkers don’t like to commit to any plans until they’ve made sure there aren’t any better plans. It’s just like when I was in middle school and no one would tell me which Y2K party they were going to, because how do you decide where to spend your last night on Earth? And where was Ben Arnold going to be?? That’s how people in New York feel about weekends — like each one may be the last Y2K party they ever attend with Ben Arnold.

So, it’s lonely, but it’s not because you don’t have any plans. There are more than enough plans to go around, way more than enough. You’ve already given a not-very-firm commitment to three plans, none of which you are going to go to, since by the time they roll around you’ll be too hungover from staying up way too late with the people you really wanted to make plans with in the first place. This is the catch 22 of plans: the only good ones are the ones that weren’t. Everyone in New York knows this, which is why they try not to make plans in the first place. In fact, the only real purpose plans serve in New York City is to give you something to think about during the week. As soon as Friday rolls around, all plans are immediately dispensed with and everyone just hangs out with whoever they hung out with last weekend.

This whole plan clusterfuck is the main reason why being in a couple in New York is far superior to being in a single. Couples are the only New Yorkers who never have to worry about weekend plans since the default mode of a couple is to have plans with each other — even if these plans are as non-specific as “be by each other’s side in several different locations.” Couples love the weekends and they should. Some say that the best way to see New York is by bike and some say it’s on foot and some say other things that are simply ridiculous, but the truth is the best way to see the city is while holding someone’s hand. If that makes you sad, I’ll remind you that you didn’t move here to be happy, but to get an entry level position in publishing.

If you’re not so lucky as to be at The Highline with your significant other, the weekend can become a time of lonely agitation. This hopped up sadness is a more emotional form of ADD. Your mind is filled with things to do, but you can’t decide on anything, because it all requires several steps and you don’t want to do any of it anyway. You end up running from your apartment in Bushwick to Prospect Park for no reason, except that it’s something to do. Unfortunately, once there, you find that everyone is involved in a barbecue except for you, which makes you sad even though none of the barbecues look like barbecues you’d like to attend, and you actually don’t like barbecues anyway, you’ve just decided. Barbecues are just a lot of standing around wondering if you need to ask for a hot dog or if they’ll put out a plate of them all at once. Your reward for finally getting a hot dog is sidling up to a group of strangers, taking a deep breath and saying, “What a NICE day!” You’ll do this over and over again until someone lights you on fire.

By the time you show up to work on Tuesday, having done a few plans, skipped a few plans and been generally unhappy the whole time, you’re starting to really look forward to the structure of the work week and, of course, the weekend ahead.

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