sickFirst off, sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve been busy puking my guts out. This leads me to my second point: I’ve been sick.

After an amazing Valentine’s Day weekend with Kate that included catching an evening show of Will Ferrell’s You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush, a lovely dinner at a tiny neighborhood restaurant, Sunday brunch, and an afternoon wandering around the American Natural History Museum, I awoke early on Monday, President’s Day—a national holiday. I love waking up early on my days off, yet it’s something I rarely do. But as I slowly became conscious, my eyes adjusting to the hazy sunlight coming in through the window, I became aware that something was wrong. My mouth had a bitter taste, my throat was dry, and my stomach felt bloated. I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom, falling to my knees right at the toilet.

“Are you okay?” Kate sleepily called from the bedroom. To which I gave the only known universal reply of “no” to such a question—the sound of vomiting. Once year I get really sick and this was it. By the end of the day, I’d thrown up the wonton soup (which I suspect as being the offending cuisine that put me in the predicament) along with half a tube of saltines, and several glasses of ginger ale, as well as e-mailed my boss informing her that I would not be in the next day. I need to note that Kate took care of me for the whole day—always an important moment in a relationship.

I love taking sick days. Well, okay, I love taking sick days when I don’t have to stay in bed due to the room spinning or an uncontrollable cough. Taking sick a day when I’m actually horribly sick, just plain sucks. To me, a proper sick day (or not-so-sick day) should be spent sleeping in, watching reruns (or old episodes of your favorite TV shows online), and not changing out of your pajamas. But instead, I used my actually-horribly-sick day to nibble on crackers at my girlfriend’s apartment until I was strong enough to walk her dog and survive the trip back to my place, where I collapsed on my couch and debated if the next day should be a not-so-sick day.

I decided to go to the office. As tempting as a not-so-sick day was, it wasn’t worth the hassle of being behind at work. I made the more prudent decision, which is actually kind of strange for me. Just a little over a year ago, I would have called out and taken the day off to watch some House on Hulu without a second thought. Maybe this means that I’m growing up, that I’m becoming a productive member of society.

Or maybe it means that the recession, with its poor job market options, has forced me to cling to my current employment by having an honest work ethic. Yeah, that’s probably it. Damn this economy!

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brooklyn-signThis really happened: I was on the B61 bus, on the last leg of my commute home. Halfway down Bedford Avenue, a mocha skinned girl got on. She was fifteen, maybe sixteen, and her crowd of friends made varying cries of protest from the bus stop for her not to go. I looked up at the commotion to see her climbing up the stairs, giggling, with two plastic tiaras stacked one atop another in her hair. She was a pretty girl, not in the dead behind the eyes fashion model sort of way, but with an honest beauty. Her whimsical grin that she shyly covered with her hand added to the effect.

Following the hissing release of the bus’s air breaks and the high-toned hum of its engine, there was a drumbeat of a single pair of sneakers against the sidewalk. I glanced up from my book to see a teenage boy’s face just outside and bobbing slightly above the window’s bottom frame. He was running hard alongside the bus, his backpack twisting and jiggling. “I love you Michelle!” He yelled as he ran. The girl (who I assumed to be Michelle) laughingly tried to bury her face in her hands. The other passengers chuckled and smiled at one another. The boy continued to proclaim his love (“I love you! Hey, Michelle! I love you!”) until the bus out ran him.

A few blocks later, after the kinetic excitement at witnessing such a brazen act began to wear away, the B61 abruptly stopped to let people off—it is after all the nature of buses. And as the doors were closing, I could make out the slapping of rubber sneaker soles. The boy had caught up with us. “Hey Michelle! Michelle! I still love you!” He yelled, keeping with the bus for only a second before it sped off. Eyes rolled and people stared. I think Michelle even muttered an “Oh, my God.”

We cruised along for a while before a red light at the corner of Bedford and Broadway held us up. Sure enough, the kid appeared just outside the windows. He looked out-of-breath, exhausted even, but somehow was able to jump up and down, waving his arms.
“Michelle!” He screamed. “I just wanted to tell you one more time that I love you!” And then the boy ran off in a sprint. I don’t know what impressed me more: the young man’s persistence or his overall physical stamina.

For some reason, I don’t think the love he shouted was the same sort of “I love you” that so many teenage boys whisper into teenage girls ears. It struck me that maybe it was real. And as we turned on Broadway, passing Peter Luger’s, with the Williamsburg bridge stretching out over the East River in front of us, I remembered that just under the cement, with sewer pipes running through it, lies the ground that the used to be the fields and meadows of Walt Whitman’s Brooklyn.

Will you be my "It's complicated" on Facebook?

Will you be my "It's complicated" on Facebook?

Before we begin: a bit of personal exposition.  Over the summer, I found myself single for the first time in many years and in November I began seeing a girl—let’s call her “Kate,” because that’s her name.  And after a couple months of chess like moves testing each other’s qualities as a possible significant other (I always find asking varying levels of Star Wars trivia knowledge a key factor.  You want a woman who knows the difference between a Wookiee and an Ewok, yet doesn’t know that Bobba Fett, though raised as his son, was actually Jango Fett’s clone.), we decided to make things serious between us and date each other exclusively. In the old days, this was called “going steady” and is what the kids today call “friend with benefits numero supreme.”

There are certain rituals at the beginning of a new relationship.  You meet each other’s friends, which for me always feels like that cliché where someone finds a bloody corpse and then absent mindedly picks up the murder weapon, just as the cops bust in and he has to convince them that he’s not a murderer.  You explain the origins of scars and tattoos.  And of course, you change your Facebook relationship status.

Is this really where things have ended up?  I’m not against sharing my personal life online, but whenever something is expected of me—I question it.  Kate brought it up a few days ago and asked what my thoughts were on linking our profiles to one another.  I explained that I was fine with selecting “in a relationship” as my status, but was apprehensive about directly linking to her profile.  I felt uncomfortable with people I’m Facebook friends with, but not real world friends with (it is the nature of the beast), judging, or even worse (as in the case of my ex’s) stalking, the woman I’m dating. “I’ll be stalked anyway,” she shrugged.  I could tell she was frustrated when a little while later she declared,  “I bet Ryan Gosling would link to me on Facebook.”   Damn that Ryan Gosling and his scruffy dreaminess.

As much as I enjoy Facebook, along with the hundreds of millions of other users, it just seems that the whole idea is based more on the “appearance” of who you are and not the real you.  Now, I can go on a whole diatribe summing up Plato’s Cave or Barthes and the foundation of Semiotics, but I’ve got a better analogy.  A Facebook profile is the equivalent to those opening montages in movies where the camera floats around the main character’s bedroom or office, showing the photos tacked on the wall and the “things” that not only demonstrates his or her back story, but also their “unique’ personality.  The problem is that people are complicated and messy animals.  Although we wish it weren’t so: we are more than our good times or our favorite movies.  You don’t post pictures of the moments of complete ennui that you suffer through at work everyday or list the movies that you can’t stand.  So it seems to me that the Facebook profile is more a depiction of how you want others to see you—happy, popular, cheerful, etc. And personally, I’d rather work on the relationship than worry about what other people know about it.

In the end, my whole reason is moot.  Kate and I made a deal.  I’d link her profile to mine and she agreed to think about possibly, someday, (maybe) modeling a gold-Princess-Leia-bikini for me.  Wow, I never realized how much of a Star Wars Geek I am until this post.

Note: I must give credit where credit is due.  Though I myself found the picture used in the post and paired it with the caption, the idea came from this xkcd strip.  You can also learn more about xckd on my  “What I’m into (for now)” page.