Yesterday I gchatted Chiara “I’m depressed about UFOs,” which did not exactly mean I was sad about them but a little disappointed on their behalf, maybe, or mine, because very few people care about them. It first came up with this picture, which I dropped in my work chatroom, and nobody said anything, and then later people left. It was probably because it was lunch time, but still. Then I tried to show the link (it was just a GOOD one, okay? Like you just do not get a lot of decent UFO pictures to look at and I thought this one was worth it) to another one of my friends, and he said “I don’t care about UFOs,” and I was like “Well I don’t care about stupid cats and you talk about them literally constantly, so.” So then we reached an impasse.
This led me to despair to ANOTHER friend, who said she thinks there are so many other “real” mysteries to care about, so why would anyone smart invest mental space in UFOs? (Which, well, lots of reasons, including that they are fucking cool, but also: people believe in and think about and get very very into all kinds of unlikely things, and that is one thing I really like about them.) But anyway I said to me it IS a real mystery, or at least real-ish, or at least something I love. I don’t care almost ever if it’s just me, but sometimes I want someone else to just look at a picture and say “What!! Oh my god??? What IS this object with beautiful lights?!?!?” and then I’ll be like “I KNOW WTF!”
The other day Chiara linked me to this video stream of an eagle’s nest, which she’s started watching again lately because the babies are about to hatch. She’s been checking in on these eagles forever, and she wrote about why she loves them in 2011. Anyway, she’s been tweeting about them a lot in the past few days: how cute-ugly the babies will be, how big and weird their feet are. This is what she gchatted to me this morning.
Today after a book event I had in Boston a man came up to the table where I was signing books and told me a very long four-part joke about a man who finds a talking girl frog. (I don’t know!)
The girl frog keeps begging the man to kiss her so she can be human, and with each round her promises to him escalate. She’ll be beautiful, a princess, she’ll love him only, she’ll do whatever he wants. The man keeps saying no but also putting her back in his pocket. Finally she asks why he keeps her if he doesn’t want to be with her and he says that as an engineer he’s too busy for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is too interesting to set free. So he puts her back in his pocket.
!!!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK ??????
Anyway afterward the man looked at me smiling and clearly expecting me to laugh and instead my face looked like this:
Last Friday our office rearranged seating, and though I didn’t personally have to change desks, I did take the opportunity to clean mine up at least, because it was covered in papers with weird/bad post ideas on them and also some stickiness, presumably from all the Sour Patch Kids. When I was done it was pretty bare and sad-looking, so I decided I would get a plant, even though I pretty much always kill them. All that time living with a horticulturist and I never learned anything! I watched Rylee water our plants so many times and I swear I am doing it the same (she REALLY soaks them, holding them under the faucet until the water pours out through the holes in the bottom; this way you don’t have to water so often) but it does not work the same. But anyway I figured I’d try.
After work I went to the gym, and on the way back I stopped at this flower shop I always see downstairs from my apartment but never go into. (I do this a lot: walk by a place I’m curious about lots and lots of times and never go in, but then ultimately go in and love it. Why don’t I just go in sooner? I don’t know.) Anyway I walked in, and in right after me walked this really tall handsome older guy wearing an apron, and he said “Hi Joy, can I have a pen?” Joy, the woman working there, shuffled around the tiny shop looking for a pen, and I stood there trying to sneakily wipe sweat off my face, and when it became clear she wasn’t going to find a pen quickly, I offered the man one of mine, even though they are this very specific thin-tipped gel kind, with navy ink that my mom and I are obsessed with, that she orders online and gives me for Christmas. The man said “Are you sure? I have to take it with me!” And I said “It’s really okay! I have like 40!!” which wasn’t true, I have maybe 8, but he was so handsome. He said “I have a bar around the corner, you can come whenever and have a free drink for this pen,” and I laughed and kept trying to wipe sweat off my face. Then he said “What’s your name?” and I said Katie, and he said “Where are you from, what’s your favorite color?” And I said “Minnesota, green.” ‘Katie, Minnesota, Green,” he said. “When you want to remember someone’s name you’re supposed to picture their favorite color written on their forehead.” I didn’t do this for him, and I do not remember his name, so I guess this is true. Though I do remember he said green was his favorite color too.
He left the store (after kind of standing next to me to compare our heights?! He was so much taller than me, ahh, so handsome and I think inappropriately aged) and Joy helped me find a plant. We settled on one called a Waffle Plant that doesn’t look anything like waffles but is pretty and very dark green. She found a black pot and put rocks in the bottom for me, to gather extra water and make the plant fit, and then charged me $12, which seemed like nothing, and I carried my plant home around the corner. On Monday I brought it to work in a canvas bag with plastic over the top to protect it from the cold, and it looked very cute and helped take up space on my desk. It looked a little sad, but also determined.
I came into work this morning and Waffle was not dead, but was perhaps as close to dead as one can come while still having a shot at recovery. I sent Rylee a panicky text message with a picture of him, and she said to water him all the way through like she’s shown me, so I took him to the kitchen and did my best. He’s over by the window now, which is a little annoying because the whole point was to have him at my desk, but I am trying to be flexible and patient, which are two things I don’t do very well, and I really want this one to make it.
“All acts of sex were forms of degradation. Some random recollections: East 11th Street, on the bed with Murray Gorman: “Swallow this mother ‘til you choke.” East 11th Street, in the bed with Gary Becker: “The trouble with you is, you’re such a shallow person.” East 11th Street, up against the wall with Peter Baumann: “The only thing that turns me on about you is pretending you’re a whore.” Second Avenue, the kitchen, Michael Wainwright: “Quite frankly, I deserve a better-looking, better educated girlfriend.” What do you do with the Serious Young Woman (short hair, flat shoes, body slightly hunched, head drifting back and forth between the books she’s read)? You slap her, fuck her up the ass and treat her like a boy. The Serious Young Woman looked everywhere for sex but when she got it it became an exercise in disintegration. What was the motivation of these men? Was it hatred she evoked? Was it some kind of challenge, trying to make the Serious Young Woman femme?”—
Chris Kraus, I Love Dick
This book is like a talisman, or something, or a spell, like sort of a secret, because it wasn’t in any of your Women’s Studies classes or even on the radar for so long, but all the women you meet now or see at readings or online are talking about it in a way that makes you both doubt it’s really everything they say (because WHY DIDN’T YOU HEAR SOONER) but then you buy it and read it and are like, oh, yeah. It’s the kind of thing that makes you write exclamation points in the margins. It’s as totally revelatory and gutting as Emily in particular always says, of course.
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.”