Recently in Friends Category

Last night I stumbled into an exchange of love notes on Facebook: two friends going on and on and about how great the other is, detailing the origins of their friendship, thanking the people who brought them together, etc.

I stopped reading after a few sentences, and avoided the thread thereafter.

There are many kinds of bad Facebook etiquette and I've certainly been guilty of several of them. I've even indulged a little in Facebook PDA's, though I try to keep it short.

I admit, I invest a lot of time in Facebook, because I like the basic format of saying something significant about my life in a sentence or two. I find Twitter's format of 140 characters a little too limiting, but Facebook is about the right space for me to say something I care about. I once posted something about how I even consider making daily summations of my life something of an intellectual and/or spiritual discipline. At one point I started recording all my status updates somewhere else, but then I forgot to continue. I keep saying that one day I'll go back through my entire FB page and make an accessible record of the good updates. (Which, I must say in all honesty, is most of them.)

Of Friends and Furniture

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I recently went through the files on my computer where I store all my unposted blog entries. There are dozens and dozens of entries I started and never got around to either finishing or posting for some reason. I decided that I might as well salvage and publish some of the better ones. Here's an entry begun but not posted some time in 2006.

Several years ago a friend confided to me that certain problems he faced in a relationship were due in part to the fact that he too quickly arrives at the point "where you see the other person as a comfortable old piece of furniture you can take for granted and don't really have to think about."

I contemplated this notion a moment before speaking. "I don't think I've ever gotten to that point," I said.

The friend settled back in his chair, which was not particularly comfortable. "Really," he said archly. It was a skeptical challenge more than a curious request for information.

"Really," I said. "It has to do both with how I see people and how I see furniture. It's not that I'm a nicer person than you or anything, because the point I arrive at is the point where I think, 'You are an ugly piece of junk and I can't bear looking at you any more and my life would be so much better if I could get you out of my house and replace you with something that isn't hideous and uncomfortable,' which is how I feel about the couch I have now. I hate my couch. I mean I hate it. It was old to begin with, and now my cat has shed all over whatever parts of the upholstery she hasn't shredded. I really want to throw it out and replace it."

Because Jim Asked Me To....

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My friend and blog host Jim was a very ugly baby. Jim is who introduced me to my evil ex Adam (which I don't hold against Jim, because he did warn me not to date this guy) who, according to Adam's mother, was also a very ugly baby--but we'll never know HOW ugly, because Adam was unwilling to produce any sort of evidence as to just how horrible he looked as a wee sprog. Actually, it wasn't just that he was unwilling to show anyone his baby pictures; he was unable to do something that risky, because he lacked A) a sense of humor and B) plain old chutzpah as well as C) genuine confidence in his adult good looks. (Though in his own unpleasant, insecure way he was very vain and was always telling me how good looking he was, as if I couldn't see for myself that he was a handsome guy, aside from his CRAZY eyebrows--they were like rodents nesting on his face--and the fact that the rhinoplasty he got after college left his nose just a tad too delicate to match the rest of his profile--it wasn't as bad as Michael Jackson, but you get the idea.)

Jim, on the other hand, had a sense of humor and chutzpah and a thorough awareness of how devastatingly attractive women found him. (I was no exception.) Having outgrown his infantile repulsiveness and turned into quite the handsome dude, he positively gloried in having once been so very, very hideous. He'd show his baby picture to anyone. It's easy to see where he got the attitude; his mom likewise gloried in having given birth to such an ugly child. When I met her, she cackled in delight as she told me how people would withdraw in embarrassed confusion when they saw him in his stroller. (I never met Adam's mom, by the way; I know from Jim that she would simply state, with a matter-of-factness that mortified Adam, how ugly he was as a baby.)

But it seems that other once-ugly children are trying to wrest Jim's position as ugliest baby away from him. He asks, therefore, that you go to this photo of the world's ugliest baby on flickr and add it to your favorites, and then add a link to his entry in which he declares himself the world's ugliest baby.

Seriously. Jim deserves the title, and we must help him keep it.

More on the Kindness of Strangers

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My sister really sort of hates New Year's Eve, mostly because it's her birthday. Some people think December 31 would be a great birthday, because there are always lots of parties--but the thing is, they're almost never for you. People usually have their own agenda on New Year's Eve, and they don't want to come to a birthday party for you every single year, plus if you host a party on December 31, people expect it to go til midnight and so forth. Then there's the business of birthday gifts: Only people who really love you and think ahead manage to buy you a present and send it to you in time; a lot of people do that whole horrible "This is both your birthday AND Christmas present" routine, or else they send you stuff in mid January. At least, this is what my sister tells me, and I believe her.

I don't dislike New Year's as much as my sister, but it's not my favorite holiday. Part of it is that there's no prescribed activity, aside from having fun, and I generally resent forced frivolity. I prefer holidays with clearly defined activities: eat turkey and pumpkin pie, or go door-to-door asking for candy, or give and receive gifts. The activity is dictated by custom; whether or not you have fun is entirely up to you.

I've had plenty of spectacularly forgetable New Year's Eves, and I've had several that genuinely BLEW. I want to talk about that, but before I do, I must say that last night was just about the best New Year's Eve I've ever celebrated in my whole life.

Socializing Beyond the Blogosphere

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This post is an introduction. Dale has beaten me to the punch by writing an entire account of the magical evening we spent together in Toronto before I even managed to post the first of what I hope will be several installments about the experience. I suppose I could dive right in as he has done, forego the introduction and contextualization, but I like context and clarity, so I'll just have to deal with the consequence, which is that it will take me longer to tell my side of the story. Those of you who read me with any regularity probably are used to that tendency from me; it might even by why you read my blog. Anyway. Here's the introduction.

I have had the privilege--the very great privilege--lately of meeting in real life two people I first met virtually in the blogosphere. One wishes to remain anonymous, and so will be known as "Anonymous Blog Friend," and the other is the ever passionate Dale.

Now, maybe there are people out there who are willing to have dinner with any old person they meet in cyberspace, but I'm not one of them. I'm sure that every single person who reads my blog is a lovely human being, and I am most definitely convinced that the authors of each and every blog I read are all the coolest people in the world (that's why I read their blogs), but still, there are matters of trust and protocol that have to be dealt with when you move from reading all about a person's life on the web to asking really invasive questions when you're sitting across a table.

His Big Gay Belgian Wedding

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By the way, remember that wedding in Belgium I mentioned attending? I never said who got married, because I wanted to write all about it. And I did write all about it--I wrote a great little piece which I sent off to the NY Times Modern Love column, because it's edited by a friend of mine who asked me several times to write something he could use. So I finally did, and wouldn't you know, it never even got a response.

I'm not going to post here the essay I wrote, but I will post something I didn't send the NY Times: a photo, of me with my dear friend Matthew, one of the grooms. That's right: the wedding I attended was a gay wedding--and not just a commitment ceremony either, but an actual, valid, legal ceremony performed by a government official and recognized by the state, without any nasty judicial challenges or threat of constitutional amendment to render it invalid.

And not only did I attend the ceremony, but I took part in it: I was one of the legal witnesses--in other words, I was one of the "best people."

I'm including a photo of me and Matthew instead of Matthew and his husband because Matthew has already appeared on my blog, so I figure he's fair game. As for the partner, well, I don't want to invade his privacy. But they looked fabulous together and I was very, very happy and proud to be part of their wedding.

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My Ethos of Conferences and Other Related Topics

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Well, here's the thing, here's why I keep disappearing for weeks at a time:

I've been busy.

Busy with some stuff that was clearly, from start to finish, thoroughly dreadful; busy with some stuff I thought would be good but wasn't; busy with some stuff I thought would be tedious and obligatory but was actually Tony-the-Tiger, riproaringly loud, extendedly GRRRREAT!

In the last category was the 2007 conference of the Associated Writing Programs, which I returned from yesterday. I have this thing about conferences: when I go to a conference, I go to a conference. I stay at an official conference hotel; I don't arrive late or leave early; I'm there for the whole time, and even if I ditch out on sessions to hang out with people and talk, I'm still talking to people I meet up with at the conference, often about conference-related topics. I mean, it's great that I have an opportunity to go someplace I might not otherwise visit, and see people I might not otherwise see; but I am, after all, a seasoned world traveler, and if I want to visit friends or do the tourist thing, I'll do it without the distraction or time-constraints of some conference.

Skills Acquired through Old Jobs

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So, having already mentioned one benefit of acquiring a friend who used to tend bar (I love focusing on that verb--"to tend bar," which evokes an imagine of needing to sooth an unruly and disgruntled piece of very big furniture, as opposed to dealing with the people behind it demanding beverages--instead of focusing on the role--"be a bartender," which evokes an image of someone shrugging slightly and frowning to him/herself before filling a glass with way too much tonic and way too little vodka), I am now discovering that there is much more to that subject.

I guess I should acknowledge that I've been friends with people who tended bar while I knew them, and that two obvious benefits were that they mixed me stiff drinks, and would see me and ask me what I wanted, even when I couldn't make it to the bar because of the crush of people before me. And I guess I should acknowledge as well that I've known other people who once tended bar who aren't nearly as cool as this new friend and colleague of mine, whom I shall call Dr. C.

Thursday night, which is not exactly the most happening night in the dismal little town in the rust belt where we live, we went out. We sat at the bar in an establishment that was anything but crowded, and I got to watch THREE masters at work.

The White Trash Goddess

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I just checked Saviour Onassis's blog While You're On Your Knees and saw that he had posted something about his alter-ego, Helena Bubbles.

Helena was a truly fascinating creature and although I understand the reasons why she had to retire, I was still sorry to see her go. One of the few things that gave me any comfort in the matter was that I got some of her old clothes.

As the page featuring SO's story of Helena loaded, there was a picture of Helena, and then when the page was completely loaded, the photo was gone--kind of like Helena herself. I hope you get to see her.

Why Hang Up?

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People say you know you've found a special friend when you can enjoy a comfortable silence with him--the absence of speech doesn't herald awkwardness and anxiety. My friendship with Wayne must be pretty damn special because we can enjoy a comfortable silence together--on the phone. I called him Saturday afternoon and of course the conversation wandered eventually to blogging, an activity we share. We sat at our respective computers, he in Southern California, I in Northern Pennsylvania, and we blogged. We collaborated on three new entries (see them here, here and here), working in silent contentment, listening to the other breathe and mutter in the background but not speaking unless it became necessary, because we're THAT comfortable with each other, and besides, we both have free cell phone minutes on the weekend, so why hang up just because we don't have something to share right this second? In another 20 minutes or so, one of us will surely think up something to say.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Friends category.

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