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Jan. 16th, 2010 @ 03:36 am fun things i have done lately, part 1
Current Mood: drunkdrunk
Current Music: Rocky and Balls - I Heart You Online
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Yes, I do occasionally leave the house, or do things other than make stuff. Sometimes. On occasion. Every now and then.

Last week I met theotherbaldwin in person! It's weird; I've known him through the Internet for over twelve years, longer than I've known most of my closest friends, and he used to live less than an hour's drive from me, but we'd never seen each other in meatspace. (He was a regular and eventually maintainer of the Cafe Eblana Messagebase, the first Internet community I'd ever been a part of, back when I was an attention-starved twelve-year-old messageboard troll.) He didn't look or sound anything like the pictures and audio he's put up over the past few years, but that may be because he's just been through an ugly divorce and that will mess up anyone pretty badly. Funny how in this day and age you can meet up with someone you don't recognize and in less than thirty minutes go on to reminiscing with him about the time a dude you guys both knew in middle school broke his penis in a tragic masturbation accident.

An exchange over chocolate egg creams and a BLT burger at a plywood burger bar in the Lower East Side:

theotherbaldwin: Dude, I would give my left arm to be able to write like you.
erf_: Funny you should say that, because I got my writing style from Eblana.
theotherbaldwin: Seriously?
erf_: No shit. In high school I was president of the anime club, I wrote essays about communism, I argued with people about homophobia, I did all sorts of things I was first exposed to from flamewars on the boards. A friend described my writing style as "smart, but with swearing." You Eblanites may have thought of yourselves as just bored college kids shooting the shit but I really looked up to you guys. Maybe you weren't always the best role models, but you gave me something I wanted to be.
theotherbaldwin: Well, I am immensely flattered that I had a part in you becoming the man you are now.
erf_: You have no idea how validating it is to hear that. :D

That night was an excellent night for confirming that OMG Internet People Are Real, as we got to see Sophie Madeleine play live at Pianos, a tiny hipster/folk bar in the LES. (If you read my blog, she needs no introduction; it's no secret I'm a huge fan of her music.) There's something bizarre, dreamlike even, about watching your favorite YouTube star play a set in the same venue one of your old college buddies plays once a month, accompanied by a longtime Internet friend whose face you have previously only seen in livejournal icons. Especially when said YouTube star is wearing the exact same cream blazer, wraparound skirt, and purple leggings as she is in your favorite videorecording of her, the only difference being that she is extremely nervous instead of soothingly calm (this was her first U.S. show) and the venue is so empty that if you didn't know she was an Internet celebrity she would easily pass for just another obscure, underrated local talent doing her usual lonely weeknight act.

Sophie's set was very good. Not sublime, like the Crypt Sessions were--even a venue as quiet as Pianos couldn't compete with the intimacy of a basement set, or the small bedroom from which she became an Internet sensation--but despite the hair-scratching, skirt-smoothing stage terror she was understandably experiencing her well-honed musicianship and heart-rendingly expressive voice managed to carry her through. The acoustics were terrible, and the audience, being mostly small groups of smug New York hipsters who stared at me blankly when I tried to make conversation with them after the show, was largely too sober to be moved. But Sophie gradually managed to overcome this incredibly awkward atmosphere and just do her thing, and by the final song--a catchy and unusually upbeat new number Sophie hasn't named yet--she was just as in the groove and charmingly British as she is her videos, and she had even the hipsters bobbing their heads and clapping their hands to the beat. (Not the same level of perky cheerfulness as she has in her videos with Hannah Rockcliffe, but, well. The chemistry those two have as Rocky and Balls is magic.)

Short version: even in one of the loneliest venues in the world, Sophie Madeleine still managed to be Sophie Madeleine, and my heart went into that warm melty quiet little place it always goes into when I listen to her music. Was worth growing a beard for. :]

(On an aside, I hate it when random people my age at shows who seem to be on my wavelength just stare at me blankly when I try to talk to them, as if trying to start a conversation with a group of strangers is the sleaziest thing ever. You know how people do that sometimes when you say something so mind-bogglingly stupid that nobody knows how to respond? In New York, that mind-bogglingly stupid thing is "hello." And not a sketchy pick-up hello, but just, you know, a bunch of dudes and ladies are standing around talking about a musician you like, and you wander into the group and greet everyone, and EVIL STARE OF DEATH. Geez, guys! Is it something I didn't even get the chance to say?

Maybe it's not them. Maybe I'm just lonely and terrible at making new friends in the city and frustrated that everyone my age I meet immediately thinks I'm not cool or attractive enough to hang out with. Urg. These thoughts--it's like I'm relapsing into adolescence. Or, you know, just sullenly drunk.)
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dd2guy
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From:impactbomb
Date:January 16th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
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On an aside, I hate it when random people my age at shows who seem to be on my wavelength just stare at me blankly when I try to talk to them, as if trying to start a conversation with a group of strangers is the sleaziest thing ever. You know how people do that sometimes when you say something so mind-bogglingly stupid that nobody knows how to respond? In New York, that mind-bogglingly stupid thing is "hello." And not a sketchy pick-up hello, but just, you know, a bunch of dudes and ladies are standing around talking about a musician you like, and you wander into the group and greet everyone, and EVIL STARE OF DEATH. Geez, guys! Is it something I didn't even get the chance to say?

Unfortunately I do not think this is confined to NYC, as this has happened to me at least once at every live show I have ever been to. And I haven't been to that many, admittedly, but the statistical weight is a bit staggering. I HATE IT. I HATE IT A LOT.
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From:soullessthinker
Date:January 18th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
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Well said, to both of you.
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From:drabheathen
Date:January 16th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
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Most New Yorkers, and most hipsters, are assholes to people they don't know. Some are assholes all the time.

In other news, I'm going to Goldenfest tonight! It's expensive, but it's so worth it. It's the most un-New-York thing in the entire city. THERE, people like to meet strangers! I'm planning on being there at 6. (But it goes until 5 am.)
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From:erf_
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
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Yikes, $45 for door tickets! I'll think about it....
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From:behindpyramids
Date:January 16th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
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"Maybe I'm just lonely and terrible at making new friends in the city and frustrated that everyone my age I meet immediately thinks I'm not cool or attractive enough to hang out with. Urg. These thoughts--it's like I'm relapsing into adolescence."

Yeah. That really resonated with me. (If only there was some way to signal: HEY! I'M OPEN TO MAKING FRIENDS. WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?) As did the weirdness which lapses into the easy goodness of meeting an online friend you've known for years.

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From:erf_
Date:January 16th, 2010 08:29 pm (UTC)
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I vaguely remember a webcomic that sold a green shirt with the "TALK TO ME, I AM FRIENDLY" on it and a red shirt with "DON'T TALK TO ME TODAY" on it. That's so nerdy (and sort of desperate) that I think it would turn most people away, though.
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From:behindpyramids
Date:January 16th, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
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It's really ironic the way desperation turns people away...I've found it so much easier to make friends when I'm with friends or when I simply don't care about making friends because I already have too many social things going on in my life.

But starting from ground zero? God help me.
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From:erf_
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
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New York in a nutshell: A thousand acquaintances and zero close friends.

Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, as I do have friends from Oberlin and Edison living in the city, but virtually all of them are too busy / live too far away / have too little in common / actually kind of dislike me / are unapproachable for various reasons / never answer their phones, facebook, or email / are awkward around me due to a looming specter of heartbreak left over from college. I can't even get in touch with my old high school physics teacher to hang out.

I would like this city a lot more if I had people to share it with.
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From:behindpyramids
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
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DC in a nutshell: ten acquaintances and zero friends.

((Question: Did you find it harder to make closer friends with each subsequent stage of life? It was way harder to make close friends in college than in high school. And right now...well, you see how I'm doing!))

"I would like this city a lot more if I had people to share it with."

Yes. Exactly. For once I'm in a place where I can do things, I have independence, hell I even have a little bit of money, even rarer--I have TIME and there's no one. Life, why do you fuck with me like this?

I hate Friday nights above all. I think they were specially designed to torture lone wolf twenty somethings.

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From:erf_
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
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The only reason why that number has jumped from ten to a thousand is because I've been here two years (soon three!), gotten sick of being alone, gone to bars, gone to clubs, gone to street festivals, gone to farmer's markets, gone to dances, gone to parties, thrown parties, gone to poetry readings, gone to fiction readings, gone to weird geek social events, gone to weird geek business events, gone to see my favorite hard rock bands, gone to see my favorite folk rock bands, gone to see college bands, gone to see high school bands, gone to Coney Island, gone to arcades, gone to webcomics conventions, gone to church events, gone to library events, gone to volunteer things in the park, and I STILL don't have anyone I see more than once a month (at best). When people tell me "it's not that hard" or "you aren't trying hard enough" I want to go aaaaaaaaaahh stabbity stab.

I get rather sullen when my college buddies reminisce about all the sex they had in college, and how those days will never come again. I get even more sullen when my ex-coworkers tell me I'm so lucky to be in my twenties and how much they wish they could be my age again and be in a successful rock band and run marathons while high and snort cocaine out of the lady bits of unfamiliar attractive women at rave orgies and all the horrifying shit people who were 25 during the dotcom bubble apparently did. It's not fair.

I actually found it pretty easy to make friends at Oberlin, in part because it's a really laid-back place and has long been a haven for outcasts from the rest of society. (First college to accept women and black people!) Part of the shock of living in New York was finding that it's not nearly as easy to find kindred spirits out here, despite the immensely larger population implying that statistics are on my side. And in high school I hated pretty much everyone.
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From:behindpyramids
Date:January 16th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
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Started laughing in the middle of your list. What haven't you gone to? Bridge events with old ladies?
Admittedly I've been rather bad about getting out. Between work and writing there is very little time left to do anything else. (I spent most of the afternoon in the library writing today and left feeling like a zombie. One of those times when I wish I could have called someone up to hang out...) Carving out the time to cook is a struggle.

But on the few occasions I get an invitation, I leap for it.

I feel like it's really hard because the girls I meet, aren't interested in me. They want to be in a relationship. The guys I meet are interested in sex and not a relationship. I'm interested in...hanging out and talking about books. Ergo, I end up in the library with livejournal and Cormac McCarthy.

Anyone who is vaguely friendly already has a ton of friends (apparently people move in clumps from college or something?) and...not so interested in making new friends.
Besides, most of the people I meet in general are coworkers. Which. Gah. Whole different story.

I've decided this is a form of hard core Buddhism.

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From:erf_
Date:January 16th, 2010 11:40 pm (UTC)
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I have gone as far as going drinking with homeless people, although that's something I wish most people would do more often, lonely or not. Some of the saner homeless I've met are the only people in the city I know who might be lonelier than me. It's hard staying friends with them because, being homeless, they never stay in one place for long. But some of them have a favorite supermarket or Burger King to panhandle in front of, and having them greet you by name as you drop some money in their cup or share a sandwich with them--it means something. It really does.

It's funny you mention Buddhism--I'm not a Buddhist myself, but the thought has crossed my mind that my current lifestyle is the worst imaginable fate for a Buddhist. Surrounded by unfulfilled desire (for food, work, money, company), in an environment in which austerity is impossible and pure quiet is a myth, eating copious amounts of meat and butter...

Not cooking is bad. Not cooking means not eating, or having to eat out. I have the same problem.

I, too, find that writing and coding and work leave little time for social activities, but, well, which came first, the chicken or the egg? I started all these projects because I had so much time on my hands and was having no success making friends. Now I have to be mindful that they do not get in the way of me actually getting a life. If I ever do get a life.

Libraries are the saddest place to try to meet people because they're full of other introverts, some who may be reading books you like, but you can't talk to them because shh, this is a library. And readings at bookstores are a great place to meet introverts, and I'm immensely thankful for them, but for some reason the people who like the books I read are all in their thirties and forties, or are small groups of amazing, vivacious, intelligent women who give each other this "is this guy seriously trying to talk to me, who the hell does he think he is" look when I try to talk to them.

I want a relationship, but first I want to be friends. Is that too much to ask, New York?
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From:behindpyramids
Date:January 17th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
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Drinking with homeless people! *charmed*
What was that like? What kinds of things did you talk about?

...I wonder if a Buddhist would take that as a challenge though? I mean Buddhism was created with the idea that life is about suffering and want. Granted, the level of Buddhism where you deal with all of that isn't the ideal state but I'm becoming very drawn to the idea of being a Buddhist in this environment...mostly because I'm sick of wanting and not having.

Oh, I never forget to eat...the problem is what I eat. Milk and cookie soup for one...*cough*

"Art supports the life, not the other way around." Stephen King said that in "On Writing." It's difficult for me to remember that at times. It's a give and a take. You have to have a life in order to write about life.
(But can't I just make shit up? Nu?)

I actually hang out at this crazy library down town where the strangest people wander in and out. Men gibbering to themselves about gutting preachers, women sitting in the hallways examining their toenails and sobbing in their bathrooms....
and yet I return week after week instead of going to the suburban one that's reminiscent of my library at home, because I wouldn't be able to take the warmth. It'd make me too homesick.

I want friendship. Hell, I'd settle for a good conversation. Is that too much to ask, DC?
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From:erf_
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)

an xkcd variant

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http://store.xkcd.com/xkcd/#JustShy

This would never work outside of an awkward geek community, especially in a large public metropolitan area where people will mostly point and snicker. But it's a nice idea.
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From:behindpyramids
Date:January 16th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)

Re: an xkcd variant

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...<3 that shirt. because it's so true. shy! ahhh, are people still allowed to be shy these days? because i am!