One of my favorite types of bonding is the kind done with strangers over simply being near each other in a public place. Mostly this happens in a restaurant (like if your table is near theirs but near BOTH of your tables is another one with a really annoying baby) or on the elevator (like if you try, you swear you tried, to hold the door open for someone but it closes anyway, so you say to the person inside with you, “You saw I tried, right?” and they’re like “You did your best.”) or in a store (like if you accidentally pull a whole thing of pens off the hook and are like “What the heck!” and someone near you is like “haha omg that always happens” and you’re like “I know!!!”). Sometimes it also happens in a bar bathroom, when you’re flushed drunk and you tell a girl you love her shoes and you’d buy them if only you could wear heels, and she yells that “you SHOULD.”
Anyway, this thing, this type of meeting, is one of my favorites, and I become very suspicious of anyone who doesn’t reciprocate when I provide the entry point. Like today: I was in my office snack room and I poured some chocolate almonds into my hand and THEN into a dish for some reason, and they went all over and I said, partly because I sometimes talk to myself but largely because there was another girl in there, “Why am I doing this this way?” and then she just walked out! Can you believe that? Anyone who refuses to briefly bond with me in public over something like that is briefly my enemy instead.
Here is an excerpt of my book on BuzzFeed! In the middle of it there is a picture of me as a very small seventh-grader dressed TOO FANCILY for middle school Halloween levels. Too much effort!! Not cool!!!!!!
“My roommate in New York City is a dating expert. She was one professionally for years, but now she’s more like a retired military general about it. She can’t stop talking strategy. Now, instead of writing tips for an online dating website, she just tells me what to do. And then I pretty much ignore her.”—
C:I danced with this really hot guy who was telling me how to dance. He said I was a FOUR. In dancing. But then he taught me this move and then he said I was a six.
C:I told him my name was Kelly.
C:I also saw this guy who was hot, he was wearing a flannel and this like, hat. He looked like a bad "boy."
K:Why are you only putting air quotes around the boy part?
C:Anyway we ended up talking just us by the bar and he said "what are you doing later?" and I said "what are YOU doing later?" and he said "I'll go wherever you want me to go. I'll go home with you."
C:I was like "OK well I'm gonna go find my friend and find you later." And then I turned to leave and we held each other's hands and like squeezed them for a second. I wanted to get away from him because I was scared.
C:I have LOVE written backwards on my chest somehow.
K:You don't remember how you got it?
C:Oh ... wait it was written on the shirt I slept in. I was worried someone with LOVE written on their shirt threw themselves into my chest.
R:You thought someone threw themselves into your chest so hard it imprinted the word "love" on your chest? Backwards?
This has been a weird week, right? On Monday it felt like Thursday practically and Wednesday felt like two weeks from now. In a bad way. Monday through Wednesday were bad and I did not like them. But last night, when I was walking home around 8, it was this really perfect temperature outside (36, which is good for needing neither gloves nor a hat but never getting warm enough that you can afford to walk slowly), and I was thinking about how much I really love winter, even though whenever I tell anyone here that they say no, I don’t love winter, I just tolerate it better than other people. Don’t tell me what I love! I really do love winter, at least through January.
I stopped at this bakery I went to during my first week here — when Chiara was trying to soothe me, I think, with the fact that at the very least, this city has sugar — and bought myself a treat (one I felt I was owed because of the bad Monday-Wednesday) and walked away having a nice “New York is not so bad” moment on the street in the cold. It was such a quick and unexpected good mood that I think my face must have looked crazily happy. This is the only explanation I have for the guy wearing earphones, walking as quickly as I was, who raised his coffee to me when we passed each other on the sidewalk. I interpreted this weird little salute very dramatically, like he was saying “It’s OUR time now, the start of winter, when the weak may suffer but you and I will thrive,” and when I passed him I started walking even faster. (This happens to me sometimes, rarely, that I get so happy I feel like running. On the very few times I have actually started to run, I have realized my mistake almost immediately. Running is terrible. So instead I usually just walk a bit faster.)
This weird, manic joy lasted for half a block more, until a rat scurried out from behind a corner and ran right by my feet. I stopped walking to say “Oh, GOD” and shake my hands out, which happened reflexively, like I’d touched it. There were two other people near me on the street and neither of them said anything or even slowed down. A block more after THAT I came upon a woman screaming at her boyfriend on the phone. “YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT MOTHERFUCKER,” she yelled, and people on both sides of the street turned around to look. It went on like this for a while — we were walking in the same direction — and at one point she yelled “No I do NOT want twenty dollars!” which made me laugh, because what if that’s how her boyfriend always tries to end their arguments? “Look, do you want twenty dollars.” (God, that would actually be really infuriating. It’s no wonder she didn’t care if all of Chinatown heard her.)
Anyway, I was still happy when I got home, even if in a tempered way, and I think that means I’m adjusting to this new normalcy scale. But I hope not too much. Because I do not think it is normal to not say anything when you see a rat on the sidewalk. I think if you see a rat on the sidewalk and other people are around, someone should be like “Ahh, did you see that rat?” and the other people should be like “Ew, yes, god,” because then at least you have something in common.
I keep almost writing “I’m doing such a bad job keeping up this Tumblr!” like I used to write in my diaries when I was younger. (“Dear Diary, boy it’s been a long time since I last wrote! You will not believe what’s been happening: nothing.”) I used to date all the pages ahead of time because obviously I always intended to write daily and am also insufferable. Then, obviously, I’d stop writing, and when I’d write some half-hearted thing a few weeks later, I’d have to either cross out a date or skip a chunk of pages. It was like guilting myself ahead of time. Here I have only the present to feel bad about. Haha.
ANYWAY I wrote this thing for The Billfold about the places I lived in Minneapolis with Rylee, and also some about moving to New York.
One of my roommates from college bought a new bong and a new house, and if the former wasn't a good reason to drive up to North Jersey the latter was. So last Sunday morning we were sitting around, blasted, watching some shitty NFL pregame show as one of the borderline-illiterate analysts mentioned holding a running back to less yards. As soon as it left his mouth we each muttered "fewer." Friendship can be strange. No question, just seemed like a weird combination of your last two posts.
Haha. This is weird and cute and nice and thank you for sending it to me.
Two nights ago Chiara met me after work so that we could stop at a Sephora and buy nail polish. (We just needed it.) We walked home afterward, through parts of the NYU campus and then Washington Square Park, and whenever she’d say, “Isn’t this part pretty?” I would look up and see that yes, she was right, it was. I am not sure why I’m not noticing that or thinking that on my own. When we were almost back to our apartment she said, “I feel like you don’t like the city part of New York that much. You’re fine living here but it seems like you kind of hate the actual city.” I was shocked, because I’ve only been here a month and first week aside I feel like I’ve been in good spirits and have not once questioned whether moving here was the right thing to do. I told her she wasn’t totally right, but I guess she wasn’t totally wrong either. I’m not that excited about the structure itself (at least not yet, and it is very early), but I’m not unhappy to be in it.
The F train this morning was extra-crowded, to that point when people are touching fingers to the ceiling or staggering their feet to balance because there aren’t any bars left to hold. It was hot, and slow. This cute, really short couple got on a few stops after I did and stood facing each other, closing up space in each other’s nooks. They were just standing there, her using him for balance, but it was sexy, somehow, at 9:30 in the morning. They’d probably have liked to be off the subway but it was fine. And then, too, on the other side of the car, there was a group of young girls, maybe 13 or 14 years old. You could tell which two were best friends because one stuck her hand through the loop on the top of the other girl’s backpack and held onto it the whole time, kind of yanking her friend around whenever the car jerked into motion. They were going somewhere together. So I think the way I feel about living here is a little like that.
If you want to make an IKEA bed seem like luxury I can’t recommend highly enough sleeping first, for 15 nights, on a fold out couch from which various metal bars stick up so that lying truly flat is possible nowhere on top of it. Just over two weeks into living in New York and I finally have a bed, and a room, and I don’t live out of my suitcase in the “living room” (which requires quotation marks) anymore! The arrival and assembly of my bed happened to coincide with the first truly chilly night of fall. I had my windows open all night and the first thing I wondered about this morning was where I’ll find a substitute apple orchard for the one I love at home. This happens to me every fall: remembering everything there is to look forward to in a rush. Apple picking! Tights! The option to wear my hair straight and have it sort of stay straight, if I wanted! Hot coffee! Pumpkins! Just everything, I love it so much, reliably, the same amount every year.
Here are some things I didn’t know I would love (or at least like) about New York that I do: walking this much; watching people read over other people’s shoulders on the subway; Dunkin Donuts (Minnesotans, for whatever reason, never really took to donut chains); looking up at the gold-plate floor number while I’m climbing up to my sixth-floor walk-up and realizing I’m already on 5 and not just 4 like I thought; the fact that living on said walk-up is, I think, giving me a near-visible butt for the first time in my life; the men who play the Chinese flute most mornings in the park across the street; the inexplicable presence of Sour Punch Straws in the candy jar at work; how much people here hug each other (true that Minnesota is nicer overall, but people here hug more); the perfect movie theater a mile from my apartment. There are things I don’t love but none are all that immediate apart from the person playing trumpet on his balcony in the apartment building behind ours, but I would imagine he has to be ALMOST done, I think? It’s starting to sound a little strained.
Is there a more polite way to say "I understand that your wedding is the most important day of your life, but to me it's just a Saturday, so you planning five days of activities is more than a little over the top. I can't devote a whole week to you, I have stuff to do, like work, so I can buy you that crap from Crate and Barrel."?
I took a while to respond to this so there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already suffered through all of this already (haha, sorry bride and groom) and my advice will no longer be of any service. But then again, we both know you’ll have to go through this again in no time.
Five days of activities is WAY OVER THE TOP. I’m with you. A friend of the family once had a wedding preempted by several months of “get-to-know-the-bridal-party” activities — several MONTHS! One thing a month, but still — and while I think they all turned out to be more or less fun for everyone involved, it’s hard for me not to find the very idea ABSURD. Everyone at your wedding, which is a few-hour event at most, does not need to “get to know each other” ahead of time to “bond,” like some weird involuntary summer camp for grown-ups. That is what the actual wedding, and the alcohol at the wedding, are for.
Don’t get me started on weddings (you’ve already gotten me started) because I could rant and rave and alienate dear friends for days but like, I don’t know, there is so much excess involved, money-wise and time-wise, and I’m not that into it in general. However! When I was a teen I had a wedding picture of Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner taped on my closet door because I thought her dress was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, and I wanted it. I probably can’t be trusted to never have romance-and-fairytale-wedding feelings ever again, even though right now I hate them. My point is I think it would be hypocritical of me to advise you to, like, go sit in a tree outside the wedding grounds and yell mean anti-wedding things from a megaphone. This person is your friend, right? I guess you just should do the best you can and be kind and buy that crap from Crate and Barrel and always argue for a bridesmaid dress you can pick from things you already own. Matching bridesmaid dresses are literally the worst thing in the entire world. NOBODY LOOKS VERY GOOD IN STRAPLESS GOWNS FYI!!!
This is true for weddings and friendship and love and internet manners: Be The Change You Wish To See In The World. Haha, sorry, I don’t know how else to say that. If you get married you can do it so different or not at all! But then it will be so annoying because probably nobody will congratulate you for not being obnoxious with your wedding. You can send me a message if that happens and I’ll be like, “ugh, FIGURES.”
Hi Katie, I've really enjoyed reading your perspective on....everything! Lately I've been thinking about how a lot of confusion and hurt from friends possibly comes from relying on that (best)friend for emotional support, but they don't reciprocate or want to be supportive because they have a boyfriend who they look to for that. As a single woman, do you feel that happens to you? I tried googling it but sadly found article about why it sucks to be single. Wah-wah. Thanks! Amy
I’ve been going back and forth on what I think is true here, because at first I was going to say “story of my teen life,” as if I think this is something confined to adolescence or something that gets gradually better as we get older. And I do think it gets a LITTLE bit better, maybe, but then maybe everyone gets MARRIED and it gets way worse?? I don’t know yet, I’m not there yet, thank godddd.
But yes, this is basically how my life went until I was at least 19, and probably even until I was, I don’t know, 23. I think there are a lot of cultural (#patriarchal) reasons for why this romantic-relationship-centrism seems to be worse among girls than boys. I think the hard thing is accepting that while these things are true — and they’re always going to be there as long as you and I are alive, and all we can really do about that is teach our hypothetical children (or maybe just other people’s children, like by going to a park with candy and fliers that say “don’t date, it’s disgusting,”) to try to do it better than we did — they aren’t always TOTALLY to blame? I think I at least spent a lot of time as a, uh, Disillusioned Feminist Teen (and, fine, college student) thinking that, like, the only reason some of my friends didn’t seem to want to hang out as much as I did was because of their idiot boyfriends. Their idiot boyfriends were definitely part of it! But also … some of them didn’t like me as much as I liked them, which, I am reluctant to admit, is a legitimate and legal stance to take. Some of them didn’t want out of the friendship what I wanted. Some of them were just kind of … shitty friends.
So what I’m saying is, I think that part of the problem, yes definitely, is that people in couples can be shitty friends. But I also think a lot of people in general are shitty friends. This is a pretty frequent source of frustration in my life for sure — far less so now that I have Rylee of course! — but I don’t know exactly how much of it has to do with being a single woman vs. just being someone who is alive. I think that it is probably just as hard to find a compatible, reliable, supportive best friend (much less friends, plural) as it is to find someone you might want to marry and live with forever. I guess I knew I had one when the same person who talked to me about all her boyfriends for three hours at least three times a week would ALSO listen to MY annoying, endless, occasionally-maniacal ramblings for similar amounts of time, and have smart and sincere stuff to say about it too. Omg I am so sappy, and it’s even worse right now since I’m about to move. I’ve been hugging like everything. I’m sorry.
I do think it helps to be a little bit pushy, or maybe I just mean clear. A lot of people seem to really hate having arguments and confrontations but I don’t really get how some of this feelings stuff gets worked out otherwise. Telling your friends that they’re being insufficiently supportive (or unequally so) is not going to make ALL of them do better for you — and what’s hard is accepting that they don’t have to if they don’t really want to, but what you want is someone who WANTS to — but I think it will help, eventually, with at least one. I guess most/all of my advice just sounds like “be bossy,” which is fine with me I think.