Friday, December 27, 2013

Actual Messages I Have Received on OKCupid (part 1)

I joined OKCupid about a month ago because despite the fact that I am not worried about being able to find someone I like on my own, I have very little experience actually going on dates and I felt like it would be a good way to make up for lost time. The actual meeting people experiment is still in progress, and there will eventually be a post about it, but in the meantime I wanted to share a few examples of what some people on this site think is a good way to get a lady's attention. I have already deleted QUITE a few thus far but I wanted to record these for posterity before I delete the rest. I'd also like to add that some of these are duplicates of similar messages. I currently have 58 messages which say something along the lines of "hello how are you" along with a passing reference to something in my profile.

Names have been removed to protect the oblivious:

Dec 27, 2013 – 9:25pm

I'll be brief, and perhaps a breath of fresh air in that I'll also be forward, but not gross in my forwardness- I think you're very attractive, and you seem like a cool person, and I'd really like to hang out sometime in a date-like capacity and get to know you. 

If you're interested, and technically even if you're not, I'm (name removed)!
Generally, if you use the phrase "breath of fresh air" in any self-referential context I am not interested in knowing more.
Hi gorgeous
Well! I...actually don't send many messages anymore, but I am curious about you. So there is that. : ) Hi! 
I…actually don't know why you would think this approach would work.

Happy holidays! Just wanted to drop you a line since we have a lot in common. Love jazz, and reading as well. Just finished The Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling, which was okay. Have you read anything good recently? 

Hope you are having a good holiday! What have you been up to? Wanted to catch Anchorman 2 today, but it was sold out. 
I feel mean shitting on this one because he is obviously making an effort to write the right thing, but there is something so sad about it. You read a book that was only OK and failed to see a movie? If this is the kind of information you chose to include in your VERY FIRST interaction with someone then I have to assume that your life is a nightmare.
soo why would we be 21% enemies for?lol
I don't know where to start with this.
So when are we going out?
Very bold, sir. But if it were that easy neither of us would be on this website.
From what I have been able to read from your profile it seem like you have never dated a Caribbean guy who likes the arts, loves to travel, speak French, and like salsa dancing? 
I think you are a cutie and we would have a great time if we get to know each other and stuff but I wouldn’t wait too long before I am off the market. lol… just playing. 
I feel like the undertone here is "you seem like you've only dated white guys." This happens to be true but my profile doesn't actually SAY that, so I'm offended.
hi, can we talk?
I know what you're trying to get across, but phrased this way I feel like you're already breaking up with me.
You must get a lot of attention, don't you?
This particular user had no picture and no profile information and his listed age was 50 :-(
Nice melons
This was the second message I ever received. Although I did not respond, I cherish it. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Love, The Signified

While all words have a dictionary definition and a denoted meaning, some words have more weight that others. Words are symbolic markers for ideas, and when an idea itself is difficult to define, then the word which is meant to signify that idea is bound to be troublesome.

Take, for example, the following words:


"Lemon" needs little clarification unless you are cooking with lemons and need a particular type. A lemon is a  smallish, roundish, yellow, waxy fruit. As long as the image that pops into your head when you read or hear the word "lemon" is something close to that, then congratulations, you are participating in the English language and should have no trouble with interpreting text as long as it pertains to lemons and what they look like.

"Tree" is a little trickier. There are a lot of types of trees and the word alone isn't a very helpful signifier without some clarifying details. If you tell two people to draw a tree and don't tell them which kind you will probably end up with different trees. It's not hugely important, but as a person and especially as a writer, its good to remember that not everyone pictures a pine tree, so if you're talking about pine trees you had better make that clear.

And then there's "Love". It has a definition, technically, but it means something different to everyone, and in some cases nothing at all. When given the assignment of finishing the sentence "Love is…" two people might come up with lists which not only do not contain any of the same words, but actually contradict one another. I do not doubt that the idea which the word "Love" represents does indeed exist. I believe in Love, the signified. However, because it means something different to everyone, it is alarming and absurd that we still cling to Love, the signifier, with such fervor. 

Love as a word/symbol/signifier makes sense when it refers to parental and familiar love because to anyone (from a healthy family) "love" evokes safety, loyalty, support, and unconditional investment in one anthers well-being. These things, while commonly sought after in romantic relationships, are not necessarily part of everyone's understanding of what it means to say "I love you" to someone outside of your family. Attraction. Respect. Passion. Shared interests. These are all things that most people want with a romantic partner that are by no means expected from your family. You HOPE that your family respects you, but even if they don't they are required to support you anyway, albeit begrudgingly. The fact that we never developed a second word as powerful as "love" to differentiate between these two entities calls into question the words validity as a meaningful representation.

When two people enter into a romantic relationship and it progresses without incident, it is expected that at some point, someone will say "I love you". Either the other person says it back, or they don't. Either way, from that point on shit gets complicated. It really needn't, though. The problem is that people say "I love you" without knowing what they mean by it, or even if they do know what they mean they don't know how to express those specific feelings with the gravity they deserve. The other complicating matter is that if the recipient of the first "I Love You" doesn't call this proclamation into question and goes ahead and says it back, both people have now entered into a very ambiguous agreement. It's ambiguous because usually, both people assume that the other person's understanding of "I love You" is the same as their own, or at least they really want that to be the case and are afraid to find out otherwise. Either that or they panicked and said it just because they didn't know what else to say. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the brief nanosecond after "I love you" but with the right approach, and an appreciation for the powers of words, the damage can be mitigated early on.

In most situations these potential problems don't actually become problems until later on. It feels great to hear "I love you". Even if you're only half sure that you feel it, it feels pretty great to say it, too. Especially if you're young and haven't yet watched the affection drain from a relationship enough times to be fearful of it happening again,  the first "I Love You" is basically a drug. At some point though, if you really mean it, you're going to have to be more specific. Otherwise, both parties will go on assuming that they found exactly what they were looking for, because they had both  projected their own connoted definitions of "love" onto the other person's words. Without clarification, lovers will abruptly find themselves unable to understand one another, and wondering what happened.

It doesn't help that most people we date as adults are people who we don't know very well. They weren't there for our childhoods (again, I said MOST), or our adolescence, and for a while in there simply isn't enough evidence to determine whether or not someone might be a pathological liar or at least a very strategic withholder of information.  It's easy to fall in love (by your own definition) with the parts of a person that you can see early on.  It's my own personal opinion that you should wait until you feel confident that you can really see all of a person before you know whether or not this person is going to matter to you in the long run. And that, by the way, is what I think "love" SHOULD signify at its very least; that this person matters to you, and will continue to matter to you on some level if you're not together any more. It's a hard thing to predict intellectually, but its pretty easy to feel.

 It is natural to feel like your are quietly going insane during the time period when you're very enamored with someone but unable to reasonably identify your feelings.  I fully understand how some people feel the need to express themselves IMMEDIATELY lest they suffer a severe brain hemorrhage. It's not that its impossible to feel what you perceive to be love mere weeks after meeting someone, especially if you have spent hours and hours talking to them. However, if someone tells you that they love way sooner than feels possible, you might want to ask a few follow up questions because that person might not fully appreciate the weight of their words. 

Although I doubt that the role of the word "love" in our culture will be amended any time soon, it seems like an important time to call into question our willingness as a society to throw it around. Instant communication and access to all varieties of bad movies and TV only make it easier to get it all wrong. So by all means, feel your feelings, but make sure you know how to describe them in detail before calling it Love.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Stress of Pure Joy

Bad things in my personal life don't stress me out. In Emergency mode, all of the organizational prowess and practical know-how which normally lie dormant under layers and layers of apathy and self indulgence come rushing to the forefront and I fucking get shit done. Stress is not useful during actual hardship and I have never understood how allowing oneself to worry about potential issues which might arise in the future is in any way helpful. There either is something to be done or there isn't, and worrying about it does not count as proactive behavior. I know it isn't so easy for everyone to compartmentalize their stress, but this is how it is for me.

What do stress me out, however, are very positive experiences. I'm capable of enjoying myself during times of joy and merriment, but once I have returned to the still calm of my own consciousness I cannot stop myself from worrying endlessly that I have not properly enjoyed myself, or that I wasn't paying close enough attention to remember the experience well, or that I might never be able to have that much fun ever again because this was the end of my good luck in life (this one is rare, but the thought has crossed my mind). In theory I consider positive experiences to be collectible, and I've had enough to know that there are probably more coming, but there is always a little voice in my head a little while after something good happens peeping "but I want THAT one back. I MISS it!" as if I had the option of going back and just living in that one experience forever.

What characterizes most truly joyful experiences is that they are times in which I am entirely outside of myself and feeling a genuine connection with others. Not all fun times get to this place. Sometimes I have thinky fun where I am enjoying myself but not quite able to switch off the introspective lens due to either the nature of the conversation, my mood, or the fact that I am doing whatever activity it is by myself. I do feel very happy and content when I am exploring or enjoying a quiet lunch while reading but I don't feel truly joyful. This mellow type of happiness doesn't ever cause me any stress. This is probably a good sign because it means I don't fear solitude. However, despite being comfortable being alone, I genuinely enjoy the company of others as well as any activity that reminds me that life is something to be participated in, not just observed and analyzed. Some of the most joyful moments of my life have been the following:
- Conversations with someone I recently met when we both JUST realized we have something in common that we are both very excited to talk about
-Slightly drunken nights out with friends with whom anything and everything is on the table for discussion
-Singing in front of a crowd when I feel like its going really well
-Strutting down the street in really kickass weather to a particularly grooving' soundtrack (I know this is a solitary act, but the right music always makes me feel like being a part of humanity isn't such a terrible thing after all).
-Soccer games when my team is playing well (win or lose)
-Nice moments in relationships which highlight how this romantic Buddy System most humans have worked out for ourselves in a pretty sweet deal. The best of these types of moments are immune to sully regardless of how the relationship turns out. I have at least a few from each one I've been in.

I know I'm pointing out the obvious here, but the warm embrace of others is both comforting and exciting, and having to step back inside oneself after such an experience will always be somewhat sobering. I know some people who seem to spend most of their time in this warm, interconnected space **(I'm aware that there is no way for me to actually KNOW what kind of space anyone else spends their time in considering I'm not sure if anyone else actually views their own social behavior in these terms anyway and its possible that I am over thinking this)**.  I am not the best at striking up conversations from nothing and It takes me a while to get to that comfortable space with most people, so I am willing to admit that just because someone is better at it than I am doesn't mean that they are worse at existing alone inside themselves and use others to escape from themselves. But I kind of need to believe that just a little in order to account for myself.

I like to think that maybe since these fuzzy, exuberant experiences are somewhat rare for me, the high I get off of them is a little bit higher than that of someone who goes there more frequently. The danger in my scenario is that I will accumulate less friends in the long run, and eventually if we part ways one by one I might find myself alone. That's one of those possibilities that I refuse to worry about now, though. For now I just need to learn how let the joy of good experiences linger long enough to cancel out the naysaying voices in my head. Maybe I need to meditate? Do yoga? Today I ate quinoa with peppers and tofu, and although I was basically DISGUSTED with myself, I guess this means that anything is possible.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What Ladies Are Supposed to Do

**Warning: The following contains heteronormative language. This essay is written from the perspective of a heterosexual female, so it discusses love and dating between men and women. First of all, it would be very confusing for everyone if I de-gendered this essay. Secondly, I have never been a lesbian or or a gay man or transexual or bi-sexual so it would be nonsense if I tried to write about relationships from any of those perspectives.**

Based on the information floating around in the universe, here is how it's supposed to work if you are a person who is interested in a meaningful relationship:

A woman identifies a man whose interests, lifestyle, and body type compliment her objectives in life. She will use her feminine mystique to catch his attention. He will try to woo her. She will act aloof. He will try to woo her again. She will agree. She will secretly screen him in order to verify that he possess the qualities she desires in a mate and convince him that she is his ideal match and that she is worth forsaking his evolutionary impulse to continue to search for partners. This goes on until it is officially more problematic for both parties to exit the relationship than to stay in it and if it doesn't work out everyone involved is damaged and sad.

I know almost no one whose relationships actually mirror this trope, but you cannot tell me that it doesn't still govern the way many of us think about relationships, or at least the way we're expected to behave if we find ourselves on the precipice of a potential relationship. I take issue with pretty much all of it.

The other night I attended a "symposium" hosted by comic Aziz Ansari and some professor from NYU whose name I can't remember because I deleted the email. Aziz is writing a book about dating in modern times and the impact that technology is having on the single experience. I went because it was $5, less than 10 blocks from where I work, and allowed me to kill a couple hours before late night plans. I found the topic intriguing and was interested to see what might happen. Also I wanted to see if Aziz is as short as I assumed he was. He was actually taller than I expected. Not TALL, mind you, just not teeny tiny. His head is also a normal size.

At this event the seating was split up with men on one side of the room and females on the other. He asked questions like "who has met a guy/girl in the last few days that they've been texting with?". Then when people raised their hands he would bring them up on the stage, have them pull up their texts, and read them out loud. It was an entertaining exercise, but the follow up questions to the men and women in the room tended to make the basic assumption that men ask women out and then women decide if they are interested based on what they say. There wasn't much room in the discussion for the possibility that a girl might ask a guy out, or that sometimes non-dates can sort of turn into dates part way through so any follow up interaction is just an extension of a previous agreement to see each other again.

Although it wasn't spelled out as such, I got the sense that most people in the room subscribe to the theory that prior to a first date women have the upper hand and men will bend over backwards to get a "yes", but then after that, if she likes the guy, it becomes her job not to "scare him off". I have to admit that I actually stopped listening for large portions of the discussion because I was busy having my own thoughts so I might be projecting a little, but I felt like most people present subscribed to the following assumptions about dating:

-Men should make first contact and women should wait for this to happen, otherwise they can assume that the man is not interested
- Once one or several dates have occurred, a woman should not admit to a man that she likes him until he has proven that he is not just trying to sleep with her. This is best achieved by withholding sex for as long as possible.
-Despite the fact that we as women should under no circumstances invite a man back on the first date if we like someone, we should be worried if a man doesn't TRY to get us into bed on the first date.
- The fact that when we as humans like someone we sometimes get nervous, and sometimes when we get nervous we get stupid and say and do weird shit, has no bearing on any of the prior assumptions.

Here are a few things that I believe to be true of humans with a normal capacity for emotion, who are seeking meaningful relationships:

-If a new relationship has potential, telling a guy that you like his face is not going to be the thing that derails it. Worst case scenario is that you have paid him a compliment. I think both of my most recent ex-boyfriends can testify that this tactic works at least a little, if I remember properly.
-Sex with a new person is a little worrisome if you like them. Some men are afraid that if they don't do a good job then that might be it for them so if they like a woman, they actually have much more to gain from waiting until they know the woman likes them than she does.
-It is pretty obvious when someone ISN'T interested in finding out if you're relationship material
- After one or two dates you don't know NEARLY enough about a person to know what their actions mean
-No matter how much someone might like you, if you have only met them once or twice, it would be literally insane if they made you a priority in their life.

Here is a good question to ask yourself if you are dealing with a new potential love interest and you're not sure what their actions, or lack thereof, mean:

What do I have to gain by freaking out and deciding it's a lost cause?

Here is what you should probably do if you're into someone but you're not sure if they like you, and you feel like you need more information from them:

Fucking relax. Don't send passive aggressive texts. Don't start any sentence with "I'm starting to think…". Ask for whatever it is that you want from them in a simple way. If the request sounds too unreasonable to ask so soon then YOU are probably the problem here.

Here is something that is true:

Being a woman is hard because we are conditioned to believe that we have to wait to be chosen. Being a man is hard because they are expected to make the first move. Neither party can really understand what the other is dealing with unless they try to occasionally approach dating from the other side. This is probably why online dating is so popular.

Here is something else that is true:
My last relationship started because I decided to hit on my friend. I was 19 and we lived in a dorm. It worked until it didn't and the whole thing took 6 years. Since then I have been on one legitimate date. So, no matter what you do, definitely don't listen to me. I don't know what I'm talking about. Cheers!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Corona Flushing Park: Stark Remnants of a Dying Dream

Last weekend I visited Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. This area is about 40 minutes from Manhattan on the 7 train and is the 4th largest park in New York City. I'll let Wikipedia tell you everything it contains, because copying and pasting is easy:

It contains the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the current venue for the U.S. Open tennis tournament;Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets baseball team; the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, the Queens Theatre in the Park, the Queens Wildlife Center, and the New York State Pavilion. It formerly contained Shea Stadium, demolished in 2009.

Perhaps more notably, it was the site of both the 1939/1940 and the 1964/1965 World's Fairs. Before it was a fairground it was an ash dumping ground for coal furnaces. When F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to "The Valley Of Ashes" in The Great Gatsby, this is the area he was talking about. This is a very fitting connection because the site itself represents the unfulfilled dreams of American modernity and prosperity. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.

The scenery of the park is, for the most part, bleak:

You might expect as much from a former fairground, but for an area that once held unprecedented wonders and a promise of a shining new era, it was surprisingly joyless. I was expecting some kitsch and manufactured nostalgia and I was disappointed to find none. The place is ripe with the history of the American spirit and I was ready to have it sold to me. The past is a spectacle to me and I am always ready to consume it. Why is there no business for exploiting the ignorance of people like me? 

Some features still remain:

If you've ever seen Men In Black, you are familiar with one of the highlights at the New York State Pavilion:

The Unisphere is also an attraction:

The only establishment I visited was the Queens Museum, which is really more of a contemporary gallery than a Museum. I enjoyed it thoroughly but was very displeased with the gift shop. I wanted an old-timey World's Fair poster and there were none to be had. I won't tell you about the Museum. They have a scale model of all 5 burroughs of NYC which is pretty cool but not worth posting pictures of. They have a website. You can go to it.

I plan on going back to this area because I find it fascinating so this might be a multi-post topic.  Maybe next time I'll find the poster shop.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Productivity Hole

Somehow, it is November of 2013. I'll be 26 in February and I don't know how I feel about that. This year is almost over and the days are shortening rapidly. Despite the fact that the time that the sun sets has no bearing on what time I have to go to bed, I find myself operating with a certain sense of urgency, and I have had a hard time leaving room for creativity these past few weeks. I have had trouble writing, not because I actually don't have time, but because I am bored with my own thoughts. I think because I am officially no longer in my early 20s I'm starting to suffer from impostor syndrome in regards to my own adulthood. The amount of time I spent yesterday just THINKING about how I wanted to organize my closet was more than it typically takes me to write one of my longer entries. I haven't even started actually doing it. Granted this is a walk-in closet, WHICH I HAVE NEVER HAD BEFORE, and figuring out how to best utilize the space is actually quite exciting. It is not, however, interesting to write about. If I were skilled at the art of writing about things like closet organization then I would have a job writing for Real Simple magazine and my life would be very different. But I digress.

 Other than showing up to work on time and paying my bills, I actually don't have a whole lot of expectations to live up to. I am obsessively punctual and I am just the right amount of lower middle class that I am doing just fine but I don't have to spend much time worrying about what I'm going to "do with my money". I strive to be a good friend, but I seem to have accumulated a group of friends who are all either in relationships or are simply low maintenance. Also I haven't been in the city that long and I've changed jobs a few times so most of my friends are relatively new friends who have other, older friends to handle their more complicated friend needs. Other than the pleasure of my company (I'm delightful) no one seems to particularly NEED anything from me on a regular basis. I am fine with this, but I tend to get anxious in the absence of external responsibility so I bestow upon myself a set of tasks to be completed with the idea that once I have completed these tasks my lifestyle will be tidier and more respectable.

I tend to prioritize things like closet organization and laundry and errand running over more nebulous goals like visiting new neighborhoods and researching their history. This is problematic, because the former are things which all impact only the very smallest details of my everyday life, whereas expanding my own world of experience and sharing it in writing is actually an undertaking which could potentially impact the course of my life, and at the very least keep some of you jerks entertained for 5 minutes. Despite my efforts, though, I can't seem to escape the burden of productivity in it's most boring form.

Once I organize the closet then it will always be easy to keep organized and I will have more time in the future to go exploring and focus on my writing, I think. This is not true. As much as I often convince myself that sacrificing one day off for the good of future days off is reasonable, I always eventually remember that something will always come up, and leaving time for activities that do not fit under the heading of "productive" needs to be a daily endeavor. Since I fancy myself a writer, having new experiences actually is something I need to focus on. Otherwise I will have nothing to write about. I can only post so many entries like this one before everyone is going to call my bullshit.

Although harping on my time management skills is exactly the kind of creativity vacuum that I try to avoid, I realize that I need to be a bit more vigilant in holding myself to a schedule  so I can go explore the city, write about it, and still have time to work out and grocery shop regularly and make homemade meals and deal with my closet. If I fail to get to the mundane things, then I won't be able to enjoy the enlightening things going forward. This time of year it can be tempting to put off self-improvement because the New Year is coming up. Making New Years Resolutions is a very destructive habit for this reason, and this year I am actually going to try to start tweaking my habits now. Tomorrow will be a good day.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Horrible, Embarrassing Boy Stories Episode 1: The Back Massage Fiasco of 2003

 I have been single for about three months now. For those of you not caught up, I have not previously been single since I was 19 and living in a dorm. Needless to say, I have no idea what I'm doing. To my delighted surprise though, I no longer suffer from the same breed of anxiety and generally terrible instincts in the presence of attractive members of the opposite sex that colored all of my teenage endeavors. Granted, I am in no rush to find the next person whose food preferences I'm going to have to start considering on a regular basis, so I am operating at pretty low stakes the moment. 

I'm going to stop right now and say that my parents read this blog, so this post is not going to go where I'm sure that many of you are hoping its going to go. Not that my life is interesting in that way anyway. I mean…not that it's NOT…it's just…it's none of your business. Shut up.

Anyway. I'm feeling pretty good about things and I am confident that I have the skills to avoid a lifetime of sadness. So, to mark this new chapter in my life I am going to periodically share some stories from my "romantic" past that I previously vowed never to think about again because they were too upsetting.

Episode 1: The Back Rub Fiasco of 2003
Age:  15

In the summer of 2003, between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, pretty much everyone in my school went on a summer training camp to Switzerland. I don't have time to explain this right now. Just roll with it. For the first time ever, I actually had a boyfriend during this period. He did not go to my high school so he was not on this trip, and we actually had only ever really seen each other  twice. It was not serious. It was important though, because it marked a serious improvement in my general confidence.

 Boys from my school were generally well-bred and attractive, and they by far outnumbered the girls. There were just so few of us though (less than 100 in 5 grades) and the fact that I spent so much time with everyone my age made the idea of doing anything resembling dating any of them fairly uninteresting. I should also note that no one was exactly knocking down my door with invitations. I did not lament this fact because I knew full well that I was not outgoing enough to begrudge anyone for not paying attention to me. This would end up being the general state of affairs all throughout high school, but in the summer of 2003 I was chock full of the kind of confidence that  comes from having a mysterious boyfriend that none of your friends have met. I know now that everyone probably thought that I made him up but at the time I assumed they were all viewing me in a whole new elevated light.

Enter one of the tag-a-long campers who didn't attend our school. Let's call him Buckley. Buckley was very cute and I hadn't just spent an entire year in classes with him so I was drawn to him in ways I could't account for. I have zero recollection of his personality. It's possible that he didn't have one, or that I wasn't really listening when he spoke. But alas, I had a boyfriend, and I was not about to compromise my first ever relationship. I will tell you right now that I was not sexually active at this point in my life, so in case anyone is still hoping that this story is gonna get REAL. It is not.

I don't remember how it came to be that Buckley was in my room with my roommate and I, or why I thought that offering him a back massage could be construed as anything other than a flirtatious advance, or why I thought that it was necessary to have him lie on his stomach and have me sit on his butt while I was giving the massage, but these things all happened. Once I was giving the massage I was feeling very proud of myself for maneuvering the situation, but I had no idea what was supposed to happen next even if I wanted something to happen, which I didn't. Because I had a very cool, mysterious and tall boyfriend. I don't remember what role my roommate played in any of this but she was definitely present. Did she fall asleep? Why did I not get yelled at for sitting on a boy's butt in our room? The answers to these questions are lost to me.

At some point I realized that Buckley was asleep.  Still having no idea what to do, I decided to just lie down and go to sleep as well. "This will all resolve itself by the morning" I thought. And then Buckley started spooning me and kissing the back of my neck. WHAT. THE FUCK. IS HAPPENING. Complete panic set in. So I pretended to be asleep. He shook me a bit. I pretended to breath heavily to indicate that I was in a DEEP sleep. Poor Buckley. He didn't know I had a boyfriend or that I really didn't make a habit of this kind of thing. None of this was his fault and I was terrible. He left and I proceeded to never have a real conversation with him ever again aside from once later that summer on AIM chat where I tried to be all like "haha you fell asleep and then I fell asleep and then you left" and he was all like "…right…".

My very cool, mysterious and tall boyfriend broke up with me in an email not long after. "Right…because you were a terrible girlfriend"…is what 'm sure you're thinking right now. Perhaps, but there was a bit more to it than that which I will discuss at the later time. I think I should have just made out with Buckley. Moral of the story is boyfriends are stupid and don't give a boy a back massage if you aren't prepared to lick the inside of his mouth.

Special note: A bunch of people at this camp got busted for drinking and were consequently on probation for the next school year. I think whatever fun thing they were caught doing was going on this same night. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Standards of Beauty and the Dynamics of Attraction in an Urban Metropolis (Alternate Title: The Universal Appeal of Awesome Rockin' Boobage**)

** Alternate title credit to the writers of South Park for their episode Major Boobage

Since moving to New York City I have had to adjust the way I think about my appearance and the role of human aesthetics in every day life. The city's role at the heart of fashion and advertising make it the arguable origin point of the beauty narrative. More importantly, there are mad hotties all over the place. An average person must learn to deal with this. Luckily, it's not that hard to do once you realize that beautiful** people do not have any kind of monopoly on happiness.

Despite the vast diversity of New York City I often find myself in neighborhoods where I don't quite fit in. Whether its an ethnic enclave or a pocket of wealth, I am regularly surprised by how homogenous certain areas remain. I don't bring this up in order to discuss socio-economic dwelling patterns, but rather as a launching point to discuss an issue which has been on my mind a lot lately: Standards of beauty and the dynamics of interpersonal attraction.

Men, bless their hearts, are predictable in their tendency to leer. I am moderately attractive, but not so attractive that it is a given that everyone will stare at me, so I have actually been able to glean a fair amount of insight into the relationship between attraction and status simply based on who makes weird faces at me on the street in relation to how I present myself.

The street is really the best place for this experiment because there are fewer variables at hand than in any situation where there is potential for conversation or having to deal with the implications of "being seen together". Split second reactions to another person's appearance on the street defy the "10 point scale" that dictates who is too attractive for whom. At the heart of it, a person is either pleasant to look at or they are not, and the street is the only place where both a 10 and a 2 can appreciate a 6 without having to apologize for it or deal with the implications. I myself do not subscribe to this particular ranking system but I accept that it exists.

Rule #1 is that everyone likes boobs. If you sport some cleavage then everyone, not even just men and lesbians, will look at your boobs (If you are a straight woman or a gay man who cannot appreciate great cleavage than I don't even know what the point of you is). However, since they only have a brief moment as you pass on the street, they do not have time to also make eye contact or register anything else about your appearance so any and all data collected in the presence of cleavage is inconclusive. The same is true for great butts but unless you are with a friend who is taking notes for you it is impossible to measure how often other people look at your butt.

I think everyone can agree on the above statement. Nothing else I have to say about any of this can be considered universal because I am my only test subject and the variables are numerous. I know how science works, people. This isn't science.

That being said, here are a few things I have observed often enough to assume that they are always true.

-Men in nice suits don't look at me when I am dressed eccentrically, but they do look at me if I am wearing a shift dress and heels, as long as I am well groomed.

-Hipster guys don't look at me if I am dressed conservatively, but they really like it when everything I am wearing looks like I stole it from an obese gypsy.

-Men in tight Ed Hardy type shirts always look at me no matter what and raise their chins at me suggestively. I assume they do this to all women, just in case.

- Men who walk with their arms around the girl they're with are among the most likely to look at me if I am dressed in body conscious clothing.  Men who walk NEXT to the girl they're with but don't make body contact with her don't look at me at all, because they are able to look at that girl. So ladies, if a guy if being publicly affectionate towards you in a way that makes it impossible for you to see his face, he might be scoping other chicks.

These are all indicative of fairly obvious truths, but it says a lot about how style works in New York City. My style isn't definitive and on one day I might look like I'm on way way to a business lunch where on another I look like I'm on my way back from an underground rave. I should mention that I have never been to a rave; I just often look like I go to raves. Either way, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of perfect human specimens in New York, and having the power to conjure a wide range of personas through my appearance is very comforting to me, even though I am just fine with being myself.

**It is difficult to write about beauty without getting caught up in the semantics so allow me to  to clarify that what I'm trying to discuss is what makes another person pleasing to look at. At some point the word beauty was taken hostage by the notion of self-worth, and it is important to me to keep these two ideas separate. It has always been my opinion that "Everyone is beautiful" is one of the most damaging ideas ever to be propagated to the masses because it simultaneously renders the word meaningless while still upholding the notion that beauty, however you define it, is intrinsically linked to a person's worth. I know it's a less romantic way to put it, but I think what we should be saying is "everyone is valid".  I apologize for being precious with my words.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Following Strangers

On 9/22/2013, For the second Sunday in a row, my plans to visit The Bronx were derailed by beautiful weather. Again the sunny, breezy early autumn perfection coaxed me into such a state of euphoria that I couldn't bring myself to take on the sobering task of exploring the far away neighborhood. I knew that I wanted to leave Queens, though, and I was having a hard time picking a new destination, so I decided to walk to the nearest above ground multi-train station (Queensboro Plaza for me) and catch the first Manhattan/Brooklyn bound train.

I boarded an N train with no arrival point in mind. I relied on a new game that I like to play called  "Follow the Hottie". What I do is pick the most well dressed and attractive person on the train and go wherever they are going. I don't actually follow them once we're off the train. I'm not THAT creepy. I just have a theory that well dressed, attractive people are more likely to be going somewhere interesting, which means that whatever train stop they get off at might yield an interesting path for me as well. I know that there are a lot of holes in this theory, but it's just something that I do when I can't make a decision so it doesn't really matter whether or not it's true. My only condition for the game is that If they are going to either 42nd or 34th st then I have to find a new target because that's the area where I work and I never want to go there in my free time.

Today the winner (I decided this is a less threatening description than "target") was a man in his late 20s/early 30s whose dark hair was couffed to such perfection that I considered asking him about his product choices and techniques. I recently had a boy short hair cut myself which I proved to be incapable of styling, so I have a new found respect for men who "do" their hair. His pants were slim cut navy blue dress pants, which he wore with a patterned dress shirt (white with crimson, navy, and gold embroidered teeny tiny polka dots), a crimson cardigan, and gold and navy tie which appeared to be knitted. His shoes were a deep, reddish leather with slightly darker soles. Writing it out now it sounds gaudy and over thought, but everything fit perfectly and he looked fucking fabulous. He wasn't too tall or muscular, but his bone structure was model perfect and his eyes were sly and emerald. I was sitting across from him and obviously staring at him long enough to memorize his outfit (I actually took out my journal and took some notes) and he was so aloof to my presence that he either didn't notice or didn't care that I was fixated on him. People, I don't like to make assumptions because I know that personal style is not a function of one's sexuality, but I'm 80% sure that he was gay.  Either way, it's not like I was trying to date him. It wasn't about him; it was about where someone like him might be going, which turned out to be the 8th st stop near Cooper square.

Once off the train I realized that I still had no idea where I wanted to go, so I just started walking in a direction. The area where the train stops is not in the number grid so I decided NOT to take the time to orient myself directionally. It was sunny but cool and I myself was dressed to kill (I thought) and I just wanted to stomp it out around town. A note about my own fashion choices for the day:

This is a dress that I bought at Sears of all places a few years back which is navy blue with a sequined front. The dress itself is a cotton shift, but the sequins are the good kind which really gleam and sparkle under light, the best kind of light being sunlight. It casts specks of light in a 180 degree radius around me when I walk in the light and it pleases me to no end. Usually I wear it on the 4th of July or for other festive events. Today I wore it because I fuckin' felt like it. To top things off I paired it with a huge, glittery plastic necklace and a wide brimmed shimmery straw hat, and burgundy tights which matched my  burgundy wedge booties. I was conspicuous, but it felt right.

After several blocks of blinding everyone in my path, I ended up at Tompkins Square at around 12:30, when I realized that I was very hungry and might do with a bit of lunch. It was Sunday after all and there are always brunch deals to be had in that part of town. I walked over to Avenue C and up to 13th street, which is an area where I knew of a few places, but everything was packed. I kept walking until I really just needed to sit down and eat something, so I settled for a $6 sandwich at a non-descript pizzeria with some outdoor seating.

After recharging I walked over to Union Square, where I went to Whole Foods in order to use the bathroom. Usually they don't enforce the "you must be a customer" rule but today there were actual men in suits checking receipts before letting people in, so I went down to the beer section to see if I could find something suitable for an afternoon outdoor drink-and-read, which I had planned for when I got home.

The guy working in the beer section assisted me in picking something comparable to a Vermont favorite, Heady Topper, which unfortunately is never distributed to NYC. The fact that I was able to A)ask for his help to begin with and B) ask him if he was not only familiar with the beer but might be able to suggest something similar is a point of pride for me, because I often struggle with such interactions. After finally using the bathroom, I left with a 6 pack of canned IPA from North Carolina and some apples. I sat in Union Square park and contemplated my next move while I munched on an apple.

I wasn't ready to go home yet so again I just started walking, deliberately west this time. Then I headed north on 6th Avenue. I walked until the weight of the beer and apples was straining my shoulder and I could feel blisters cropping up the courage to emerge on the balls of my feet. I got on a Queens bound F train near 23rd street and rode that as close to home as I could get.

I arrived home feeling slightly sun-stroked but very content. I had a beer and half-napped in my "backyard" which is shared with the other apartments in the house and it mostly cement, but gets the job done. I am not afraid to tell you that I got absolutely no research done, which is why this post is void of any historical perspective. Next week I'm hoping for rain.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On The Emotional Health Of The Millennial Generation

There have been several (and by several I mean two so far, but something tells me more are coming) articles circulating which attempt to address the issue of why middle and upper middle class members of the millennial generation (born late 70s to mid 90s) are unhappy. One such article  (article A) basically claims that it's because we have unrealistic expectations which need to be adjusted. The other article  (article B) claims that its because we have been left a world that is disproportionally challenging and that no one has the right to judge our response to these conditions. My first response to both of these articles was "Oh, I wasn't aware that I was unhappy, but thank you for pointing out that I should be."

What is strange to me about both of these articles is that they both assume that happiness is a byproduct of success, and that success is measured against a particular standard. The standard being referenced, albeit indirectly, is essentially the worn out vision of The American Dream in which the stable family is a symbol of emotional wellbeing. The articles argue about whether or not the root of Gen Y's unhappiness is our sense of entitlement or our sense of frustration about the fact The Dream is no longer attainable.  I don't believe that either of these are valid arguments. In fact, I don't believe that most of us are really unhappy at all. We're just being told that we are.

Article A positions Millenials against "our" baby-boomer parents (though many of them aren't that really) and suggests that this generation's success has altered our perception of reality and warped our expectations. Article B suggests that it doesn't matter what our expectations are, because our education debt is higher, our cost of living is higher, and our options are fewer. Both articles ignore completely the fact that there are just a few more than 50 years of human history from which to source perspective on the topic of happiness. We are, if nothing else, an over exposed, over stimulated generation that has been bombarded with information from an increasing number of angles from birth and yet we seem to have no sense of our place in a broader human scope. Economic strife aside we're bound to have a few screws loose.

Regardless of their ideas of what causes unhappiness, both articles suggest that I'm definitely supposed to be depressed about the fact that my student loans are making it harder for me to save money, and that I have to live in Queens instead of Manhattan and that I don't have any reason to own a pantsuit. The thing is though, that I feel fucking fantastic most of the time because I have the freedom not to have children if I don't feel like I can support them. I have the option to fulfill my creative impulses privately (Ex: This Blog) while paying my bills in a job that doesn't own my life.  If I ever feel compelled to exercise my ambition am I free to do that as well. Young, single women in past generations didn't have nearly as many reasons to be happy as I do.  Furthermore, I just don't believe that some vague idea of maybe someday raising a family comfortably is a compelling reason to be consistently at odds with the world around me. Even if that was something I REALLY wanted I understand that we can't always get what we want, and with the population as bloated as it is I really can't get behind the idea that anyone "needs" to have children.

Article A suggests that Millennials are unhappy because we assume that we are special, and on that count we are mistaken. I think that's an irrelevant line of argument. A little confidence never hurt anyone. What does cause problems, however, is having ones emotional state both generalized and scrutinized on a regular basis. I've been doing a lot of research about NYC history and I for one would not trade being where I am now making the money I make for the chance to be some bank man's secretary/future wife in the era of Robert Moses. (Sidenote: If I could go back in time I would find Robert Moses and punch him right in the dick). If you are a Millennial and you are feeling a little gloomy because you're having trouble finding stable ground, let me remind you that there are worse things. And if you're NOT feeling gloomy then  please stop reading articles about how you might be unhappy! Stop it right now! I'm serious. This one included. STOP.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Aimless Walking in Manhattan on a Sunday in September

" The walker-writer cannot help seeing, superimposed over the present edifice, its former incarnation, and he/she sings the necropolis, the litany of all those torn down Pennsylvania Stations and Les Halles marketplaces that goes: Lost New York, Lost Boston, Lost Tokyo, Lost Paris.
Rich or poor, white or black, gay or straight, for the moment, at least, everyone in the pedestrian swirl  is assigned the same human value: you are either in my way or not."- Philip Lopate  (On the Aesthetics of Urban Walking)

My original plan on Sunday, September 15th was to spend the morning exploring the Bronx, and then spend the afternoon researching what is probably one of the saddest neighborhood histories in the country. When I emerged from my basement apartment into the late summer morning though, it was clear that I needed to rethink my plan. It was too agreeable out to spend any amount of time underground, inside, or in front of a computer. The Bronx is a long journey from Woodside, and one that would keep me sliding through the bowels of the city for longer than I fancied fit for a day such as this. I packed my journal and Philip Lopate's "Waterfront" into my little backpack and alighted for Central Park, which is as good a starting place as any for a day of wandering, and I could get there with very little underground subway time.

The Q train dropped me at the Eastern base of the park and from there I started walking. I clambered up a boulder which overlooks The Pond with the intent of sitting for a moment to contemplate what I planned on getting out of the day. At the crest of the boulder I found a couple, both young and attractive, languidly melting into each other. At the sounds of my rustling the young man turned around, squinting, which I at first thought was his way of saying "I wish you would leave" but instead his face softened into a smile, and he stood up, offering me his iPhone and asking in a mild mid-western accent "Would you mind taking our picture?". This pleased me, because I decided that I must look friendly. I worry sometimes about whether or not I look friendly. I took their picture, and once they confirmed that they were satisfied with the result, left them in peace. As I picked my way down the stony path it occurred to me, and not for the first time in my life, that I should perhaps try to find a nice midwestern boy myself. They're always so trusting and friendly. By boy of course I mean adult male between the ages of 25* and 36 (*I am 25 at the time I am writing this in 2013), because I am not a pervert nor do I have any interest in A)coaxing anyone out of their adolescence or B) helping them regain their youth.

I strolled past the Central Park Zoo and ogled the seals for a bit, and then continued through the varied loveliness of the park. After a short distance, though, the guilt of spending my free day in an area that I had visited many times before got the best of me, and I exited at 69th street. I had already done some exploring up and down Park Avenue, so I decided to walk east. I had previously never been past Lexington (where the train runs) on the Upper East Side.

I headed out on 69th street but soon saw a building that looked interesting. I went to inspect it and wrote down the address. I did this a few times, letting my curiosity dictate my path, before deciding that 72nd street was a good route towards the water. One building turned out to be worth including:

867 Madison Avenue
Why I stopped: As Philip Lopate so eloquently puts it in the quote at the beginning of this post, I spend a lot of my time walking wondering what used to be in these neighborhoods. This building is not only old itself (commissioned in 1898), but is styled in a way that is deliberately old-looking, even for its time. Usually the only structures who achieve this effect are churches, so I was very curious to learn more. I assume there were many such extravagant homes commissioned and many of them have been torn down to make way for larger, more profitable structures., so I wonder why this one has been spared.
Currently: The Ralph Lauren Flagship Store
Origin: This was commissioned in 1898by Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo, an heiress who never actually moved into it. It is known As the Rhinelander Mansion and you can learn all about it on Wikipedia. The style is French Renaissance Revival and it is quite striking.

I continued along E72nd street until I came to it's terminus, which was an elevated pavilion overlooking the East River with views of Roosevelt Island. The views were slightly grim but there were trees and benches and it was the perfect place to cool my heels and do some reading. It was only 1 PM by the time I left to go meet a friend at Columbus circle at 59th street. We then walked up Columbus Avenue to 96th street where she used to live, and then across the park to the east side and then all the way east to the river, and then all the way down to 42nd street and 5th Avenue where we caught the 7 train back to Queens for a night of Irish Pubbery. I cannot fathom how many miles I might have walked, but it was a good amount and I ended up needing to change out of my leather boots and into flat shoes.

I visited a variety of neighborhoods including Yorkville, the Upper East Side, The Upper West Side, Midtown, Sutton Place, Tudor City, and Murray Hill.  They are not the most endearing neighborhoods in the city, but there is certainly an interesting history behind each one, and that is something I intend to flush out on a day when I have slightly fewer blisters to attend to.

an So I pop my blisters, thinking I know better, and continue walking.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The John Mayer Effect

It is not cool to like John Mayer these days. It's not that people hate him, exactly. It's just that everyone in and around my generation (Millennials I think we're called) seems to have collectively decided that we don't want to give him the satisfaction of liking him.

The argument usually goes something like this: "I'm willing to admit he's a pretty good guitar player (speaker is establishing that they are generous by offering a compliment). He's not THAT good though otherwise he'd be playing real Blues (demonstrating their ability to know types of music, and therefor everything there is to know about said types). And I mean his lyrics are kind of pussy and he's basically just a sellout and an asshole dating all those pop stars (offering specifics to validate claim). That guy sucks."

This particular line of logic most frequently comes from males near my age (25-34) who definitely listened to enough John Mayer at some point in their past to develop an emotional attachment to his career path. Females don't seem to care much one way or the other at this point. They're too busy loudly professing their girl crushes on Beyonce. Either way, I think we all started experiencing a little Mayer related dissonance when magazines like Rolling Stone started telling us he was a Rock Star. They were telling us he was Jimi Hendrix. Meanwhile his songwriting style was more closely linked to likes of James Taylor and somewhere in there he started looking like Johnny Depp and acting like...well...also Johnny Depp. It was confusing times for those of us who were his prime audience at the beginning of his career.

Some of you might not remember, or might not have been born soon enough to know in the first place, that John Mayer's first album came out in 2001 and it was just a folky pop album. No one would have cited Stevie Ray Vaughn as an influence with a straight face. No one was expecting anything in particular from him. If you were very curious maybe you went on the internet (which took more effort back then) and found out he went to Berklee (briefly) and thought "oh neat so he knows what he's doing I guess". Mostly he was just a sort-of cute, dopey dude singing mostly about things OTHER than love and heartbreak. Remember (or look up) that 2001 was kind of on the tail end of the boy band craze and we were all a little sick of having 5 guys gyrating to the beat of their communal heart. I myself was 13. Too old for the former Mickey-Mousers but too worried about my place in the turbulent Middle School social dynamic to shun popular music. The more people my age I meet the more I realize many of us had a similar affliction. And we liked John Mayer. WE ALL DID. Some of us more openly than others.

I myself have a complicated relationship with Pop music in general. I grew up with a professional musician for a dad and a discerning wise ass for a mom. The result was that I became "critical" far before I had any of the knowledge or experience necessary to back up my sass. I insisted, to myself mostly, that my opinion was inscrutable. It was profoundly troubling to me that I didn't have enough authority to be taken seriously when trying to explain in the 4th grade why I was empirically correct in my decision to ONLY listen to the Beatles because everything these days was just "not as good". I'm not saying that opinion is wrong, but I had not done my research and wasn't fit to have it.

In Elementary School and Middle School I started going to school dances and I was furious to discover  that I actually liked a lot of popular music. I found an acceptable middle ground in pop acts that I deemed to be "original". This is ridiculous, of course, because I had nothing in my backlog of listening skills against which to compare my new discoveries. How was I supposed to know that Nelly Furtado wasn't the first person to do nasally, vaguely bluesy art pop? I offer this information to try to shed some light on my particular state of being when "No Such Thing" came out.

I loved No Such Thing and its parent album No Room For Squares.  I allowed myself to love it because it wasn't NSYNC and it wasn't Linkin Park (who I have never liked, even secretly). His music was permissible within my haphazardly defined rules of what a musically cultured person such as myself was allowed to like. That says a lot about me, obviously, but I think it also says a lot about the kind of artist he was at the time. He was definitely in it to make money but he was smart enough to know that he could do so without doing exactly what everyone else was doing. I know now that he was not so much original as he was opportunistic. That kind of music had happened before and it was the right time for it to happen again.

But that was then. Several albums of hyper sensitive man-boy lyrics later, there stands before us a scraggly denim man who seems to have a hard time endearing himself to the public. He elevated his profile by dating deliberately objectified women and I think we were all upset because...we expected better? Is that what it was? Did we assume his lyrics were an actual reflection of his personality and that he ought to be dating someone more dignified? I think we did. And I think that was our fault, not his.

I'm not here to defend John Mayer. I'm pretty sure he doesn't need my help. I think his particular journey through the public sphere has been a more telling reflection of the we the observers than of his own talent or personal worth. I don't know him personally, but my impression is that he is a fairly intelligent and self-conscious guy who likes obviously hot, ambitious women. He has behaved no worse than any young man who has been told a few too many times how talented he is might act. I don't think John Mayer cares one way or the other whether people stop making mean comments about him, but I think we, the teenagers of the early 2000s, will all feel much better in the long run if we just focus on the stuff we liked, and forgive the stuff we don't.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Quality Time in Green Wood Cemetery With Some Wicked Old Dead Folks and Way More Parrots Than You Would Expect

I awoke today with the creeping realization, the crescendoing horror, that I was going to have to go to Best Buy to buy a new cable for my camera. Why? Because I was without a way to get my photos from my camera to my computer, and yesterday I went to Green Wood Cemetery. I wanted to write about it, but writing about a cemetery without any photos is mostly depressing. Luckily I found success,  so now I can share with you my experience in one of America's first "rural" (at the time it was) cemeteries. I apologize in advance if anyone finds this disrespectful to the dead. I believe in respecting living relatives who are coping with tragedy but beyond that I really don't see why one can't irreverently enjoy a cemetery.

Green Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 in Brooklyn, and soon became one of the world's most fashionable places to decompose in peace. The cemetery spans 478 acres, according to the brochure, and encompasses ponds, forest, and hills which provide dramatic vistas.

An interesting thing about Green Wood Cemetery is that there are a surprising number of parrots living in it. It would be surprising if there were even one, but there is an entire population of them. Apparently Parrots have been nesting in Brooklyn since the 1960s when a shipment from Argentina got lost and the birds escaped. They actually nest near warmer powerlines (there are some right outside of the cemetery) to help minimize harshness of the foreign environment. If any of my New York friends knew about this they failed to mention to me, and for that I intend to hold a grudge. THERE ARE PARROTS LIVING IN BROOKLYN. I know they're just birds but I just think it's really rad and I wish I had known about it sooner.

Anyhow...I think the best way for me to proceed is to post the pictures I took and write a little bit about each one. So that's what is happening.

1. Two graves so old that no lettering is distinguishable. It makes me want to become a fashion designer so I can go on Project Runway and design an outfit based on these graves for which I will be kicked off.

2. Marble sculpted to look like a pile of rocks. 

3. A path leading into dense forest in a spooky graveyard? Don't mind if I do.

4. Many of these mausoleums have steps leading down to the water. Ghosts can fly, idiots. They don't need stairs.

5. This one grave is all by itself in an area that doesn't seem to receive any manicuring. 

6. Show off.

7. I kind of want to live in this one.

 8. (same as above)
9.It's like they're all staking out spots to watch fireworks.

10. I dig the etching

11. Some little tables, a few chairs? 

12. Chapel

13: Another pond.

14: Way to make it all about yourself, angel.

15: My reaction to the image above.

16: Entrance

17: Say Whaaaaat?

18: Civil War Monument

19: Civil War Monument 2nd View

20: 3rd view

21: Battle Hill

22: Yes, THAT Leonard Bernstein. I appreciate the restraint.

23: Just because you're dead doesn't mean your last name isn't hilarious.

24: Those aren't lions. They're Labrador Retrievers.


26.Why is he stepping on the hot lady?

27. Oh...That is some BULLSHIT

28. Not every grave was impressive

29. I sometimes worry whether or not bowling balls go to heaven as well

30. Not only a Golf Course problem.

31. Possibly my favorite. No legible inscription.

32: William M Tweed. More on him on another day. Google him.

33. I see you, storks or herons or whatever you are.

34. Creepin' in...

35. Birds, don't be stupid. What if I'm hunting you?

36. Seriously. Fly away. I'm a stranger. Stranger danger!

37. This was the only bloom on the whole bush and I like the color.

38: Half expected a Hobbit to come wandering out and offer me tea.

39: I had to stay and look at this one until someone else came along to look at it otherwise it might have sent me back in time (watch a few seasons of Dr. Who if this doesn't make sense to you).

40. PARROTS. Yes I am sure. They were bright green.