Thursday, October 15, 2009

little pleasures

I bought Kettle chips. Sour cream, onion and chives, and I was undercharged for them. Sounds awesome, right? No. They taste like vomit. And I keep eating them, one chip at a time, hoping they'll taste better- because they must.

But they keep tasting like vomit. I am repeatedly, voluntarily eating someone else’s throw-up. And throw-up will never taste good. It just won’t. That’s why it found its way back up. It wasn’t even worth being converted into…well...excrement.

Is something I ate earlier today making this taste strange? Have I developed a tongue defect, and will all food now taste like it has been rejected by a more discerning palate? Is the bag expired? I'm not familiar with chives- is this what they taste like, garbage? Many questions ran through my mind as I finished off the bag.

Friday, August 7, 2009

My (several months old) thoughts on the matter

An ambulance, sirens blazing, lights flashing, barely clears the busy downtown intersection before pedestrians and motorists resume their battle over the right of way and their race to make the yellow light. To almost everyone, this emergency is a pause button.

We ask the same people to watch our computers as the people we consider potential laptop thiefs. It would be, as they say, a delicious irony if that’s how it worked out. Yet there’s a sense of comfort in requesting someone’s observation of your belongings, in spite of the fact that they’ll forget you asked as soon as you leave the room, and you’ll forget to thank them as soon as you return.

Contracts is known to be a dry subject. This reputation is not deserved. Exhibit 1: The poetry inspired by the not-so-barren cow, the Rose 2d of Aberlone, and by the litigation resulting from her surprise fertility. Hilarious. Exhibit 2: the colorless image from the late 1800s, reproduced in our textbook, of a black lump with 4 vertical lines descending from it, supposedly a cow, with the caption “black angus in pensive mood.”

NYC subways are frequently used as a focal point or at least a starting remark for conversations regarding sociopathic behavior, intrusions on personal space, and the smell of urine. Incidentally, on the subject of smells: referring to someone as stinky is endearing, while noting that someone smells is mean. You’re probably smiling as you call someone smelly. However, you will have earned a dirty look for the comment “Bob smells,” especially if you say it too loudly.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hey Mambo, Mambo Italiano

Students are always asking, what should I be doing during finals week? Should I be reading more, procrastinating more, drinking less? After years of experience with varied finals-week lifestyles, and after a few days into another such week, it has become clear that finals week boils down, quite simply, to a rigid formula.

Take yourself. Add stress- enough to arouse the pity of people who think you’re working too hard, but not so much that you develop a twitch. Add junk food and the subsequent 18 extra lbs (16 lbs of which are acquired during the last half of finals week). Subtract sleep, but not too much. You want to be at least semi-functional when you’re browsing facebook. Seriously though, subtract anything you could postpone until after finals week. Non-urgent chores, tv, showering, writing about finals week. Rediscover your baggy clothes. If you look presentable, you’re insufficiently devoted to studying. I can’t stress this point enough- by “baggy clothes” I don’t mean those slightly loose-fitting jeans. I mean your grandpa’s stretched out t-shirts.

At this point, the courts are split as to the proper approach. Some stress socializing with classmates. Discussions must alternate between the amount of studying you’ve already done, the amount of studying you have left, the fact that you refuse to continue studying, and that you will be up all night studying. Then discuss dinner plans. And plans for the second dinner.

Others jurisdictions suggest an anti-social approach to avoid the urge to compare your progress to that of others. When you find yourself bound to socialize with a classmate, whether in the hallway between classes, in a coffee shop, or at the gym (just kidding), immediately ask about their progress and complain about your own.

Remove some of your natural happiness. Add that to the happiness you expect immediately after the semester’s last final. Add blood-shot eyes, a normal daily serving of caffeine (for a coffee-addicted horse), and a dash of carpal tunnel. If you’re concerned about the health implications of this recipe—are you becoming a doctor or are you studying for finals? If you’re studying for med school finals, then…I don’t know, stop reading this. And assume that it’s better to forgo some sleep to review for exams than to spend next semester asking people if they’d like to see that pair in a size 7.

I have to go study. Go get ‘em champ.

Friday, February 13, 2009

my school at a glance

First of all- I’ll just put it out there- there are lots of Jews. I’m ok with that. In fact, I considered enhancing my skirt collection, but then winter rolled around and I just don’t know how the religious girls do it without their Russian moms yelling at them on their way out of the house. Oh, ok. But I’m not so engrossed in my affiliation with the majority to be ignorant of the possible annoyances the non-Jews must bear: Does the Chinese club prefer to serve kosher Chinese food during their Lunar New Year celebration? What if I accidentally use the microwave that’s not reserved for goy-food? And is it ok if I put on a yarmulke for social purposes? Where would I get one of those? I’ve never seen them in Urban Outfitters, but I’d love one with my name on it in Hebrew. Just to double check, it does automatically grant access to your cute Jewish friends (even if I don’t ask it, you’ll keep me in mind), your dad’s network, and Chaim’s outlines since he took the class last year with almost the same professor, did well whatever that means and will tell me whether my strategy should be “do the readings, skip the classes” or vice versa, correct? Thanks, and good Sabb…Shab..…how do you say it again? You know, the reason the school closes at 3 on Fridays and conveniently remains closed through Saturday?

Somehow still in the habit of observing my college library’s custom, I often enter the library flashing my ID card to the librarian. Rather, at her. She responds in a way that a security guard scanning for student IDs, had he been posted in the 7th fl library rather than the lobby, would not. And as part of a lovely new habit, I began scanning male heads for yarmulkes the way guys tend scan girls to check out their… yarmulkes. It is of utterly no consequence to me whether I find one on his head or not, but if there’s a possibility that it’s just a shadow or my imagination (which, evidently, runs wild nowadays and I apologize for its impropriety), I’ll put on my glasses to double check.

Laptops are ubiquitous in classrooms, and while I can appreciate the speedy note-taking, there seem to be few other educational advantages. Professors inevitably relinquish at least part of their students’ attention to Facebook until the word “exam” is uttered, and muting g-chat is more important to class preparation than reviewing your case briefs. An unforeseen consideration develops when choosing a seat on the first day, and sitting too close to the front leaves you feeling exposed, as if the world is looking at your computer screen and judging both your desktop picture and the amount of worthless emails in your inbox. On the other hand, such scanning of your comrades’ computer action is frequently a source of comfort, revealing that the vigorous typing is generating class notes on only a few screens.

They do consider this a serious form of education, so I’ll admit that there are classes in which such shenanigans will leave you stranded mid-lecture, unable to grab on to any familiar fragment of the professor’s lecture, and resigning yourself to transcribing it verbatim. This is accompanied by an unfounded hope these notes will make sense in the future, a deep sense of failure, a painful awareness of your limitations, and a blunt knowledge that today, nobody’s comment can sound stupid to you.

Incidentally, is the reason it was difficult to contain my laughter throughout the criminal law class discussion about the rape and murder of a little girl. Back to class.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Those poems

Sometimes, thoughts sound better
broken into tiny phrases
on many different lines.
Two full sentences
stroll between bland and brilliant,
collecting their pieces,
tripping onto a side.


I’m suffering
from block
and maybe rotten cheese.
Not writers block,
I'm not a writer,
but can be fixed
with inspiration.
And maybe better cheese.
Inspire me, Marina
I'll get new dairy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

You're not a doctor. I'm not a professor.

Of course they’re right- hatred and fighting are passionate, indifference is stronger. Verbose, self-important exchanges, reinforcing the crux of the problem (I now realize), gradually shrink into distant small talk, until, as if driving away toward a sunset at the end of a movie, the interaction becomes a tiny dot.

When it's more than just a drifting away, more than a subtle and unintentional, but also unopposed divergence of lifestyles, geographic or otherwise, nobody has to hear of it to know it happened. All it takes is asking the right questions, or noticing the right absences- which, incidentally, I rarely do. And your perspective on the final outcome becomes irrelevant; the label mustn't be specific, because the situation isn't novel once out in the open. And, then, you have lost not just the friendship, but also the sanctity, if I may dramatize for a moment, of the process of parting itself. From that point on, it doesn't linger in your memory in quite the same way. It becomes a fact, and just as weak as one, in personal relationships.

But if divergent definitions of friendship are the cause of its end, let’s say it never really was one. A friendship, that is.

File the procrastinatory tv and chocolate and sleepless and apple tree nights, and drinking and dancing, and the surfaces that were danced on, and ending up at home nights, or ending up in St. Luke’s or taking a limo back nights, or first to walk on the just-fallen snow at 3am after a house party of random Europeans nights- all in the “fun” folder. Add birthday celebrations, smoky behind-the-school upstate moments, and the development from Aubar to Alphabet City. I’m referring to the development itself, not just the experience, but don’t stress the distinction.

The heart-to-hearts and conspiratorial gossip and conspiratorial conspiracies go in the “females in close quarters” file; the disruptive laughter in classrooms, and in rooms with fascistically enforced silence, the college suite experience and the dissolution of the suite, the passive-aggressive fights, the yelling screaming slamming doors one, the petty and not so petty misunderstandings, the eventual, and eventually incomplete makeups: make those fit in this folder as well. Some edges will just have to stick out, get wrinkled, or torn a little. At some point, we’ve all had a similar-looking notebook.

File everything else under, “right place at the right time.” Life makes paperwork disorganized, it’s ok.

"smoking kills," the cigarette box says

“Do you have a light?”
“Nope, sorry.”

I thought that was a decent answer. Polite, direct. The guy behind me answered, “No, I don’t smoke.” Is that necessary? He could have paused before and stressed the “I,” creating admonishing undertones in his answer. At least that would have had a point, albeit an unsolicited and poorly targeted one. Otherwise, he might as well have said, “No, my shoelaces are untied.” The relationship between one’s smoking status and lighter ownership is, of course, stronger than that between one’s shoelace status and lighter ownership. But both comments are equally tangential to the fact of the matter. “Smoker, regardless of what I am, what I am NOT is helpful to you in lighting your cigarette. Now here is some information about the contents of my pockets.”

Fine. After a few reps of my mental eye rolling exercise, I realized the guy's response could have been his version of friendliness. An attempt to reach out and offer something extra, a personal touch in his brief interaction with this stranger lacking fire, standing outside a bar on a drizzly Chelsea night.