Roommate on a date.
Eating chocolate in my bed
Is this adulthood?
The cyclists whiz by
Parades of almost-boyfriends
Who all look the same
Too windy for this
hike. Many apologies
to all those I flash
I’ve listened to this
song eight times in the last week
I should call my mom
I talked about my
dad way more than anyone
should on a first date
I think in haiku now, apparently
Last week someone sent me a request from the New York Times calling for haiku submissions relating to New York City. I never much liked poetry (owing to how I’m terrible at writing it), but haikus are pretty simple, right? So I left a few of my own in the comments.
I think I’m going to try to write a few every day as an exercise to keep my thoughts clear and succinct (hah. As if.)
How I met ‘How I Met Your Mother’
With all the backlash and criticism and YouTube recuts and reviews and support and general nostalgia surrounding the recent series finale of ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ I’m thinking more and more about my relationship with that show, despite it airing over a week ago.
I found ‘How I Met Your Mother’ a bit late in the game. In fall of 2012, I was about to start my last year of college, and I was really sad. I use sadness as a punchline to most of my jokes, but this was a real and tangible sadness. I felt the kind of blue you feel when you look at the last three years and realize you aren’t where you want to be because you’re not sure where you want to be, and you begin to convince yourself that you’ll probably never get there anyway. I had no true sense of direction (much like everyone else my age), and I felt incredibly lonely for the first time. I had some close friends, and three fantastic housemates, but something still felt missing. I knew what I was longing for, even if I wouldn’t admit it to myself.
On the night before classes were supposed to start, in between picking out the perfect “first day of school” outfit and mapping out my re-caffeinating strategy for the next day, I opened up Netflix to distract myself, to make myself less anxious in the hopes of getting one or two hours of sleep before classes started. What followed is pretty standard for any Netflix user—spending more time adding shows and movies to your queue than actually watching anything, while scrolling past all of the recommendations saying out loud to no one in particular “nah, not really feeling a comedy/drama/dramedy/critically-acclaimed movie/dark comedy/social and cultural documentary/etc. tonight.” I landed on ‘How I Met Your Mother’ because it seemed like the kind of stupid comedy that I didn’t have to think too much about, and it wouldn’t get me so hooked I’d be up all night.
The first few episodes were as goofy as I’d expected. I did my standard Google searches: “josh radnor height,” “josh radnor girlfriend,” “josh radnor gay,” “neil patrick harris height,” “when do we meet the mother,” etc. and I kept watching. And pretty soon I was done with the first season, and then the second, then the third. I kept my new obsession as much of a secret as I could. Regarding taste, television is right under music (and possibly above books) in terms of receiving judgment from one’s peers. In a world where everyone around me is watching those “critically acclaimed” shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Wire, I couldn’t exactly proclaim my love of a mid-2000s CBS comedy (with a laugh track, no less) from the rooftops. But I couldn’t give it up.
I saw an uncomfortable reflection of myself in Ted, the “I” in the show’s title. He was an architect by profession, in his mid-20s (at the start of the show), and finally ready to settle down, marry a nice lady and have a couple of kids. I was none of those things, but I still felt like we had lots in common. He watched his two best friends get engaged as I started to watch my own friends pair off (though in a far less permanent way). A season or two in, I tweeted some terrible joke about how Ted calls himself an architect but we never actually see him work. It was more a comment on how television writers give their characters impossibly trendy jobs without having them work for it, but in a way my comment masked my own security about my professional future. I called myself a writer, but in between school and work and drinking and crying, I wasn’t doing much writing that I could be proud of.
I continued spending more time with these characters. No one was home the day I watched the episode where Marshall’s father died. I cried loudly while lying on the couch and called my dad to tell him I missed him. I watched the quality of the show deteriorate at a rapid pace, but I still couldn’t stop watching. Ted became a caricature of the character once written for him, Jason Segel seemed barely present most episodes, and I cringed at recycled and half-assed gags. Though I couldn’t believe it would last through that ninth season, I watched it until the very end. When asked why I stood by that show, I always said the same thing. Firstly, I like shows with running jokes (see: Arrested Development, New Girl). Secondly, I always appreciated its earnestness. Even when it was terrible, it was earnestly terrible. It fostered a community of fans who, above all else, appreciated its earnestness. We were a group of people who were proud of what we liked, no matter the low-brow stigma attached to it. Much like other shows I love with prominent fandoms, we felt at home in that world.
I watched the finale last Monday, and I expected it to be terrible. It fulfilled every single one of my expectations, and then some. I defended my choice to watch the entire series until the end to my roommate, and I heard myself say what I would say to anyone else: I owed it to myself to stick it through until the end. I’m in charge of my relationship with that show, which means I can remember it how I want to remember it. I can watch the last season once, to see the moments leading up to Ted meeting the Mother, and I can watch the last episode to see what becomes of them and then I don’t have to think about how much the ending differed from the ideas I had for these characters. Much like how many Harry Potter fans ignore the last book’s epilogue in favor of creating their own stories for their beloved characters, I can focus on how these fictional friends helped me through my last year of school. I’m the kind of person who wants to see myself in every piece of media I consume, so I can feel more normal about the way I behave. I had Ted to teach me that it was okay to be lonely sometimes, and picky other times. He was a very flawed character, or about as flawed as sitcom characters could be. So far more than showing me a reflection of myself, I used ‘How I Met Your Mother’ as a form of escapism. Though cited as an unrealistic possibility by most, the idea of five friends moving to New York City to pursue their individual dreams (and actually succeeding) was something I desperately needed when I was 21. I needed something to tell me it would work. And while I’m not truly a professional, I’m here, with enough pre-season 9 episodes of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ to play on repeat until I can’t even stand to look in the steely blue eyes of Neil Patrick Harris ever again (which isn’t likely to happen).
"Hi, I’m Cassandra, and I’m an over-sharer."
"It has been 18 hours since I last divulged a highly personal anecdote that nobody wanted to hear."
Yesterday morning at work, the store’s personal stylist asked me and the other AM restockers to pick out a “three piece outfit for Spring. Make sure you layer and add accessories!” It was 9:30 AM, I was sick, sleep deprived, a little hungover, and I had two huge piles of clothes that still needed to get hung. I had no time or patience for this. I picked out a dress and a cardigan, two things I would actually purchase from my store if I had anything resembling disposable income, a pair of earrings and sat quietly at morning meeting, trying not to roll my eyes as the managers asked us to talk about how we could use our personal style (as represented in our outfit choice) to “inspire her” (the ubiquitous “her” being our customer base). “Let’s make it fun!” the assistant manager said. “Tell us about your outfit, and what you would wear it to!” Each of the girls showed their choices—one of our trillion maxi skirts paired with a loose-fitting blouse and a floppy hat, and each one said the same thing. “Um… I guess I’d wear this to like, go for brunch and then shopping?” After each presentation, the managers smiled appreciatively and commended the associate on her choices and inspiring style. Our home restock associate, a food blogger whom I always go to for tips on roasting vegetables, seemed just as irritated as I was at this little exercise. She dryly said that she’d wear her outfit on the first episode of her imminent Food Network show. I don’t think anyone could detect the sarcasm, because she got the most enthusiastic response. I was hoping that, much like every other time I was in a large group of people, I could remain invisible and slip out of morning meeting unnoticed without having to present my outfit choice as anything more than “This is covered in flowers. It’s good for Spring.” I was already thinking about where I’d go to get coffee #2 during my break when they turned to me and said, “Now it’s your turn!” And so I did what I do best: I made it weird.
"So, I picked out this dress because I don’t like to wear pants, and a cardigan to go over it because I hate my arms. And I’d probably wear this on a really bad date that I’d go home and then blog about."
Everyone looked at me in silence for a few seconds before the assistant store manager stammered that we were opening in five minutes and we should finish getting everything ready.
Don’t get me wrong—I actually like my job a lot. I’m grateful to be there, and i’ve heard I’m not half bad at it. But when you ask me to perform some asinine task before I’ve had enough food or coffee to harness my social filter, be prepared for things to get weird.
I stream a lot of television from the Internets, which means A LOT of captcha tests to make sure I’m a human (just because I give you a blank stare when you’re talking to me because I’m probably thinking about boys/kittens/boys with kittens doesn’t mean I’m a robot, I promise!).
I screenshot the good ones. Like this one.
Because that’s the name of my next band. There are more. And you’ll see them all.
Awhile back, a friend asked what LinkedIn was, and I described it as “Ok Cupid for job hunting.” I realized pretty immediately that was an inaccurate assessment. I only said that because the two services shared a common feature: the ability to see who looked at your profile (something that creates a lot of anxiety for me in using both sites). Shortly thereafter, this same friend decided to make an Ok Cupid profile, and as I tried to help her sell herself (in the metaphorical sense) as the best dating candidate out there, I mused that it would be pretty cool if we could “friend” each other using the site, and be each other’s virtual wingwomen.
As I’ve slowly started to dip my toes into the gigantic and terrifying ocean of online dating (for the second time since I moved here), I’ve started thinking of an idea that would combine the two sites.
I’m no web developer, and I’m no dating expert, so this is going to get a bit convoluted, but please hear me out.
I’ve been dreaming and scheming of this idea for some time. The (currently nameless) site would feature all the same familiar aspects of Ok Cupid: the ability to fill out your own profile with your likes, dislikes, interests, professional and personal ambitions, photos, and the like. It would show you matches based on location and common interests. However, like LinkedIn, you could connect with other users and build a network of “wingmen/women,” who could endorse you for certain skills, such as “excellent communication,” “creative date ideas,” “good kisser,” and “won’t slow fade,” and the like. This network could be made up of people the user knows personally, or has met using the site. Unlike LinkedIn, the endorsements would be anonymous (because there’s no need for any more stress or animosity than online dating already provides).
Is this something that could work? Does something like this already exist? Is some entrepreneur out there going to sue me for millions for copyright infringement? What would you call this particular site? Would you use this?
I heard this song the very first time I visited the coffee shop in Syracuse (the background of my picture) I would wind up spending almost every Sunday at studying until graduation. I felt a little foolish for having my secret desire sung for me by some pretty British singer-songwriter.
That coffee shop (and the one around the corner) morphed from a quiet place to write some papers to a part of my life I knew I would have trouble giving up when I moved away. My roommates jokingly called me “The Coffee Shop Gnome,” a nickname at which I initially took offense but eventually embraced once I realized I might spend more time there than at my own house. I had some fellow coffee shop gnomes who turned up at the same times each week and who sat at the same tables and who drank their coffee the same way each time.
We rarely knew each others’ names, and when we would run into each other at the grocery store, or on the street, or at a bar, we’d almost not recognize the other person outside their caffeinated habitat. I loved being part of that nameless group. Though we would never speak about it out loud, we all knew each others’ reason for calling those coffee shops our second home: the need to be among humanity. We constantly craved the human interaction that was noticeably missing from our solitary homework assignments. Even the simple act of making eye contact with someone else from across the cafe was exhilarating enough to get us out of our houses on even the coldest Syracuse Sundays.
On a rare occasion, I’ll feel a little homesick for Syracuse, but I’m really only feeling those pangs for my coffee shops. There’s one by my apartment with great coffee and attractive bearded men and there’s that other one many neighborhoods north with great coffee and attractive bearded men (Clearly Brooklyn is nothing if chock full of homogenous coffee shops). In the last month the baristas at the two I mentioned said, “I see you here all the time. What’s your name?” I got that question on an almost twice-weekly basis last year. I used to feel little uncomfortable when someone else pointed out how much time I spent there. The discomfort turned to pride eventually, and I was just happy to forge a (fleeting) connection with another human. But when I introduced myself to the Brooklyn baristas, I realized I hadn’t had the opportunity to do that in quite some time. It felt familiar. It felt good.
"Euclid Avenue and Ackerman Avenue // "Portions for Foxes" by Rilo Kiley
I hadn’t slept in a few days. I overdrew my bank account to pay for birth control. I just lost another apartment in Brooklyn. I was pretty sure I was going to rot in Syracuse forever. I realized how much I cared about someone I might never see again. I had to walk to work. It started raining. I started crying. Jenny Lewis started singing.
Over beers and pizza, my roommate and I talked about how every place here has a story. Every intersection, storefront, porch, bodega, park bench, train station, and coffee shop has witnessed something in our lives. It doesn’t matter what, even something as simple as receiving a text message there gives a place significance to me. I’ve called three cities my home, and that means endless streets and sidewalks have seen me at my worst, at my best, and everything in between.”
Check out the latest issue of The Miscreant for my reflection on the most innocuous places holding the strongest memories, Miss Miscreant’s interview with Mutual Benefit, and Lizzy’s amazing art! And please submit to the next issue because I know you have something to say too.
Now enjoy issue 48 of The Miscreant, featuring Mutual Benefit! Read, enjoy, and share the issue here.
In this issue: an interview with the wonderful Jordan Lee of Mutual Benefit, Cassandra’s memories tied to street corners, Kenzie’s equilibrium playlist, Tori’s study of the good and bad girls of pop music, Holly’s lesson in the music scene of Northampton, Connor’s favorite Daniel Johnston songs, Ben’s ode to bedroom music writing, Andi’s story of traveling to New York and finding a new home, Olivia’s love letter to the music of Manchester, Kyle’s lessons from Gossip Girl, Mary’s thoughts on the current state of music writing, and much more!
Submit to Issue 49 of The Miscreant by 2/21!! Email your work to themiscreant at miscreantrecords dot com.