Again and again

A big reason why I started this blog is because I like to tell stories. And when I have a good story to tell, I tell it over and over again. Extremely consistently.

What I mean is, once I’ve really honed a story, I tell it with the same jokes, same tone, same voice inflection.

Which can make things awkward.

Because pretty much all of my friends are friends. So if I tell one of them a hilarious anecdote about my adventure on the train, sooner or later they are going to hear the exact same tale told again, just this time to a larger group.

They’ll start to wonder if I’m actually funny or just well practiced. Were they the first or the fifteenth person to hear that joke?

It’s the same with stories I tell on here. Though I try to save my best material for you guys, sometimes I won’t even think to blog something until I’ve told it to someone with a favorable response. Then I’ll have this “oh, that’s a good one” realization and start editing it in my mind for print.

But when I do write out a story I’ve already told, I always imagine the original hearer reading the text version. Do they feel slightly offended that I’ve, essentially, plagiarized myself? Or do they feel honored and slightly superior that they already know how it’s going to end?

If you read my Get to Know Me page, you know that even this story is actually something I’ve told before. But at least you also know it’s something I’m aware of. I don’t even necessarily think it’s a bad thing. Good story telling is a skill that requires practice.

So I’ll keep practicing. Over and over and over.

My husband is sitting here

Every Tuesday, my friend (and newly minted fellow blogger!) James and I take the train home together on our way to a religious meeting. It works out for the fiance because he gets more time after work to get things done, for me because I get a ride and don’t have to commute alone, and James because he gets to be dazzled by my charm and regaled with my wit. (Right, James?)

The thing is, James and I meet at Penn Station. In fact, we meet on the train. And more often than not, I get there first.

This means I am forced to commit one of the gravest public transportation annoyances ever: seat saving.

The first time I got there first and someone asked to sit next to me, I panicked. I buckled under society’s pressure and let her sit next to me. When James arrived on the train, he looked perplexed, I explained quickly, and he shuffled off to find another seat. I had failed. And that occasion haunted me.

Later, James informed me that I should have just said my husband was sitting there. Duh. James actually offered to be my husband on one other occasion. Remember the Grand Lux Cafe Debacle of 2010? (And let’s be real, who doesn’t?) When I was on the phone with Travis, James offered his services in case I wanted “to put my husband on the phone.” What a guy. But I digress.

So from then on, I decided I would just say my husband was sitting there. “Husband” has a certain weight to it. You’ve said vows. Signed papers. Paid an alarming amount of money to have a party.

“Boyfriend” sounds fleeting, and “fiance” is just a really cumbersome word. “Friend”? Well, you can just forget about saving a seat on a crowded train for your Johnny-Come-Lately friend.

Husband is a bond that cannot be broken by even the most harried commuter. So the plan was decided.

I had actually used this tactic with great success once before. A girl tried to sit by me, I said my husband was on his way, she said OK and moved on down the car.

Then last night happened. Again, a woman wanted to sit by me, I said I was saving the seat for my husband, she said OK and sat right behind me.

I tried to text James to warn him that we were now man and wife, but he arrived as I was mid-text. And since I know for a fact that you can hear the conversations of people sitting anywhere in your car, it wasn’t like I could just tell him. Besides, it wasn’t like he was going to say something like, “Don’t you also enjoy being unmarried?” We could pull this off.

Or maybe not. Suddenly everything we said seemed rife with evidence that we were not, in fact, married.

“I liked your blog post today.”

Oh, crap, do married people discuss each others blogs? No, no, be cool, the fiance and I talk about my blog sometimes, we’re good.

“How much does your gym membership cost?”

Ok, yeah, if we were married we would probably go to the same gym. Or, you know, be aware of how our household income was being allocated.

“Soooo…what’s new?”

Yup, yup, in hindsight I see where I blew that one.

I mean, we discussed James taking the fiance suit shopping for our wedding. We could not have been less married unless James actually did ask me how I enjoyed life out of wedlock.

I kept waiting for the woman behind me to loom up over the seat, shove a bony finger in my face, and growl, “Heeeeey, you’re not married at all, are you?!

I even started working out a response on my head.

“Oh, um, well, no, not married married, but we’re, um, engaged! Yeah, that’s it! That’s why we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives! Engaged people don’t always live together, you know! Or…talk… regularly…but yeah, engaged, I just said ‘husband’ to save time and oh my God I am so so so sorry!”

It would not have ended well. Fortunately, if the woman deduced that we were not in love, she consoled herself with the fact that at least we were good friends, and maybe that’s a good enough reason to save a seat after all.

Or at the very least, our marriage was clearly in trouble and maybe I had enough to deal with without her pointing out the holes in our relationship.

I’m not saying I won’t continue to use this excuse. It has worked without incident so far, and I like those odds. But maybe next time I won’t use the expression “for the sake of our friendship” during our conversation.

How was your day?

You know something that’s hard to bridge? The disparity between your quality of day and someone you care about’s quality of day.

I’ll elaborate.

Say, for example, you have the worst day ever. You forget your train ticket, get accosted by a creeper, it rains and you forgot your umbrella, you feel dumb at work, and just when you think things can’t get any worse, you train home is delayed and you have to deal with Everything That Is Wrong With The World.

Phew.

You finally get home, totally psyched to just whine and moan to someone about your incomparable suffering, and you roommate/significant other/friend you called is all puppy dogs and rainbows about the fantastic day they just had.

I mean, where do you go from there? On one hand, the only way to cure a bad day is to crab about it (or write it out….ahem), but who wants to be the whiny downer who can’t even be happy for someone else’s great day?

Fortunately, modern day technology has given us about a million ways to communicate, so all you really have to do is post an emo tweet and you’re bound to find at least one other person who can relate within the hour.

Honestly, I think the real trouble comes when you’re the one who had the great day. There is nothing like coming home from a day of kicking butt and taking names to find out that someone you love had a rotten day. And the last thing you want to do is spew sunshine and daisies all over them.

So what’s the solution. I think, like so many things, the answer is time. (She said sagely, stroking her long salt-and-pepper beard.) Hold off with your awesome day until the sting of the crappy one has faded. After all, that’s probably what you’d want if the crappy shoe was on your foot. (Or something.)

Duck, duck, fail.

Tried to forget my bus/train/subway ticket again today. It’s ok, though; I mean, I’ve been trying to fit more physical activity into my life, and that 100-meter dash I did back to my apartment and then back to the bus stop ought to help with that.

I hate doing things that make me feel like an idiot. Like, really, self? Couldn’t just do a quick self-assessment to make sure you had everything you need for the day in your bag? You know, before leaving the house?

It’s like realizing you have forgotten a really important project about two minutes before the deadline. Or that gut-punch feeling you get the moment you realize you’ve overslept.

Fortunately, I was regular about going to the gym this weekend, so made it back to the bus stop about 35 seconds before the bus arrived, only slightly out of breath from sprinting in heels and a pencil skirt. (And that, my friends, is why girls are stronger. Just sayin.)

Speaking of things that are awesome, the fiance and I might be looking at an apartment this week, possibly even tonight. Have I mentioned how excited we are to finally be living together? It’s going to be really nice not getting dropped off for the night anymore. So here’s hoping the place is awesome and the landlord lurrrves us! I mean, I dressed all “young professional” today (remember the heels and pencil skirt?) Just in case, so at least I’ll look the part of a responsible tenant.

So I guess here’s hoping I manage to get through it without doing something that makes me look like an idiot, too. Ooph.

Glass case if emoticons

I have mixed feelings about emoticons. By all counts, I should hate them. I hate “text speak” for the most part, and generally only use it ironically.

But emotions…I’ll be damned if they haven’t winked their way into my grammatically correct heart.

And so, here it is; my totally unprovoked defense of the emoticon.

I think, like most things I come to love over time, it started as a joke. When I used a winky face, it was as if I was also winking at the audience, letting them know I was in on the gag.

Like, LOLZ OMG I’m totes winking at you grrrl, LYLAS!!!!!!1111oneone ;-);-);-)

But somewhere along the line, I stopped being able to claim sarcasm. My frowny face meant I was frowning. My smiley face represented my own happiness.

The tables had turned, and like any other addiction, there was no going back.

But you know what? I’m okay with it, and here’s why: Writers, email users, and online chatters alike have long and oft complained that the biggest downfall of written communication is it’s lack of emotional context.

I say, “You’re an idiot.”

I could be insulting you. I could be using an inside joke my sister and I share, where we mean this in a loving sense. (You wouldn’t get it.) I could be teasing entirely.

But you don’t know because you can’t see my face.

So what does the internet go and do? It gives is another way. An arguably better way. Emoticons.

Suddenly, you don’t have to wonder if I’m joking or sincere. Suddenly, even if there are no words for what we’re talking about but I still want to be there for you, the frowny face becomes my expression of sympathy.

Is it perfect? No, and I’m in no way saying that it’s impossible to abuse the emoticon. But I’m not a believer in extremes, so I disagree with anyone who says they’re always stupid.

Those people are probably just a bunch of angry faces anyway. 😉

Try it, you’ll like it

I am not a picky eater. I like to say there are about three foods I don’t like. (Which always prompts the question, “Which three foods?”) And then I say:

1. Olives. I really hate olives. I hate the look and smell of them. I hate biting into what looks to be a great sandwich only to discover it has been mutilated with olive tepenade. I. Do. Not. Like. Them. (Sam I am.)

2. Melon. Yes, all kinds. Yes, even watermelon. Yes, I’m being serious. No, it’s not just a texture thing, though I’m not too keen on that either. Yes, really watermelon too.

3. I can never think of a third one. I say “three things” because I’m sure there’s something else, and because there are several foods I only like in certain context. Tomatoes, for one. I love prepared tomatoes; fried, roasted, sauteed, sun-dried, mashed into sauce or ketchup — sign me up. I don’t usually care for raw tomatoes, unless they’re in bruschetta or doused with vinagrette and sliced with mozzarella.

I also don’t usually care for eggplant, brussel sprouts, sprouts in general, sardines, or giblets, but I have a feeling there’s probably a method of preparation out there that could change my mind, at least for one meal.

In general, though, I like just about anything, and I’ll try anything once.

Which is why I’m kind if embarrassed about my next statement.

Sometimes I’m that person who says I don’t like something when really what I mean is I’m pretty sure I don’t because it doesn’t visually appeal to me but in reality I’ve never really tried it.

The thing is, I hate people who do that. Because I’m a firm believer in at least trying everything and giving it a fair shot. Then decide you hate it.

It’s not like I refuse to try these things. Usually I’ve just never been offered them before. And I don’t like to order things I might hate when there’s something I know I like on the menu.

One example is Bloody Marys. Ok, the name itself is gross, and the look of tomato juice has always turned me off. (I guess that’s one method of tomato preparation I don’t care for.)(Maybe.)

I’m very visual with my food. Even when I’m just bringing a limp sandwich to work for lunch, I like to slice it, arrange it on a plate, and add a side dish like chips or apple slices or something. But a thick sludge of red goo can’t really be dressed up for me, no matter how many celery stalks you stab into it.

The reason why I bring this all up is because last night I was craving a Pop-Tart (I know), and the only kind the fiance had was cherry. Without even thinking, I curled my lip in disgust and said, “Ugh, I don’t like the cherry ones.”

Now, the only cherry thing I don’t like is marachino cherries. I like pitted cherries, cherry slushies, cherry Coke, cherry Tums — you name it. But for some reason I had decided cherry Pop-Tarts would be cloyingly sweet, sticking in my throat and instantly rotting my teeth. Basically, what I think marachinos taste like.

The fiance was stunned I didn’t like them. Then this morning when he drove me to the train, he pulled one out to eat. (Breakfast of champions.) Again, he expressed his surprise that I don’t like cherry, and I grudgingly admitted I’ve never tried it. (Because, again, I hate being that guy.)

He offered me a piece, I took it (because I really am willing to try virtually any food), chewed thoughtfully and declared it…not as bad as I expected. Not great, mind you, but only marginally sweeter than the strawberry version, which I do like. (I know, I’m making a mountain out of that mole hill distinction.)

So lesson learned: You can’t judge a food by it’s cover. Now, who’s up for some Bloody Marys?