Tag Archives: friends

It’s a Tough Choice Between Cankles and Friends

Yesterday, my friend Andrew sent me this article, “The Social Side of Obesity”, with a note: “We can’t be friends.”

The article, which claims “you are who you eat with,” cites research that followed 12,000 adults for 32 years.  Those with a friend who became obese were 57% more likely to become obese themselves.

obesityPart of me thinks this is great news — If you are obese, at least you can revel in your whale-like tubbiness with your best friend!  Biggest Loser Couples is always more interesting than singles.  And this ensures that big people can get love too… because unless you have a hippo fetish, most Americans will cruelly judge anyone packing lardy love handles.

The downside of course, is that obesity leads to heart disease, diabetes, multiple chins, ugly flab, arm jiggle, cankles, and premature death.  Since I’m not on the road to obesity (yet), it’s easy for me to downplay these effects, and to continue to write about my love affair with food (and The Biggest Loser).

But Andrew’s email yesterday was a wake-up call.  Clearly, the essence of life is derived upon restraint.  I have to change my food-loving ways: it’s unhealthy to dream about fajitas, and wake up gnawing on my pillow.  To control my voracious appetite, I’m going to start having a lunch of water and sugar packets.  And given that obesity is just the product of irresponsible and indulgent behavior (of course, DNA has nothing to do with it), I’m ditching all of my fat friends.  I don’t need their chub mentalities seeping into my head.  I don’t want their potbellies full of beer and cheesecake taunting me. 

I may become friendless, but at least I’ll be skinny.

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The Friend Bullseye

On this blog, we have talked about how important our friends are.  Well…actually, we have discussed categorizing our friends in a modern-day feudal system made up of serfs, peasants, and nobles.  Given that references to the Middle Ages may seem somewhat archaic, I have revised our friend-stratification strategy.   Introducing, the Friend Bullseye:

friendbullseye

As an example, I have taken on the patriotic duty of filling this out for President Barack Obama.  There were a few question marks on Barry’s bullseye: For example, is Tim Geithner a “work friend”, a “convenient friend”, or just a poor-performing “acquaintance”?  What about Sarkozy, whose overtures to Obama may signal a one-sided man crush? Where does Sarah Palin fit in (especially since Batshit Crazy is already taken)?

I find that filling out the Friend Bullseye can be a rather illuminating exercise.  Further, the bullseye can also serve as a gift-giving guide–the closer the friend is to the center, the more money you should spend on birthday gifts: inner ring $75, middle ring $50, outer ring $25… and if a friend misses the board completely, then a Facebook message shall suffice (or at least a Cabinet post).

So, get out your pencils, scour your old yearbooks, and start stratifying your friends.  Not only can this help you determine Christmas-gift-worthy friends, but you’re giving yourself a head start on the vetting process for 2012.  After all, buried deep in our pasts, we all have at least one Batshit Crazy friend that we’ll have to overcome in our run for the presidency.  Sarah, we’re looking at you.

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Thanksgiving on Wall Street

thanksgivingWith the holiday season rapidly approaching, we are all looking forward to seeing our loved ones.  Thanksgiving is a time to catch up with old friends, hang out with obscure members of the family, and gorge ourselves on mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and turkey and tofurkey.  Of course, Thanksgiving is also a time to stretch the truth about how amazing our lives actually are, in order to one-up our cousins and give our parents something to brag about.  So, in order to impress Uncle Jerry and crazy Aunt Lisa, here are some responses that may be better than the cold hard truth.

Crazy Aunt Lisa: “So, what are you up to these days?”

You: “Well, I’m working in New York at [prestigious company] as a credit derivatives trader.” 

(Translation:  I’m probably going to be unemployed soon.)

Crazy Aunt Lisa: “Wow, that sounds mighty impressive!  So you work in one of those tall, shiny skyscrapers?  What do you do as a trader?”

You: “Essentially, we run complex financial risk models and look for arbitrage opportunities.  My personal responsibility is to oversee all the trades that come through my desk.  Right now we’re in a bit of a liquidity crunch, as I’m sure you’ve heard, so even though it’s been tough, we are working through it.”

(Translation: I spend most of the day trying to break down the firewall that prevents me from checking my fantasy football stats.  At lunch, I serve as the designated pizza bitch for the traders on the floor who are actually making trades.  A few months ago, I used to carry six or seven pizza boxes back to the office.  Now, given the tanking credit markets, I’m ordering by the slice.  The rest of the day, I take bathroom naps and think about how I spent $120,000 on my education to get to this point: where, after a year on the job, I am a glorified delivery person with a Brooks Brothers suit and the financial modeling skills of an orangutan.) 

orangutanCrazy Aunt Lisa: “My goodness… and at such a young age!  So do you get to see friends a lot, given your busy job?”

You: “Even though the job is demanding, I definitely try and make time to see my friends.”

(Translation: If I didn’t see my friends, I would jump out the window of my shiny office building.)

Uncle Jerry: “How are you all liking New York?  Are you staying out of trouble?”

You: “Oh, of course.  My friends and co-workers are all young professionals, and we are always trying to do something different in the city.  There is so much culture in New York.”

(Translation: Yesterday I woke up sprawled outside my apartment door with the imprint of my floor mat on my cheek.)

Crazy Aunt Lisa: “That sounds like so much fun!  You are just so accomplished already… I hope [your screwup cousin] can follow your lead. Do you know of any job openings there?”

You: “I can talk to the HR rep about it.  Getting into the business is tough right now given the market, but I will check, definitely.”

(Translation: I would not wish this job on anyone.  Not even my screwup cousin.)

Uncle Jerry: “So, do you think this is it?  Found your calling?”

You: “Well I’ve enjoyed the work, and it’s been a great learning experience so far… I’m not sure I want to settle on anything just yet, because I’m still young, but I’ve learned a lot about myself.”

(Translation:  I’m peacing out after two years.  I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I know that it’s not this…)

Crazy Aunt Lisa: “Sounds like you have it all figured out!  To be so young and so driven… what a success!”

You: “Yep, that’s me… Could you please pass the sweet potatoes?  And take some more of my BS… I’ve had too much.”

Crazy Aunt Lisa: “Of course, dear.

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The Best Shows on Television

My favorite TV shows (current):

#1: Friday Night Lights: One of the best shows of all time…that no one watches. This show has actually made me want to visit Texas in search of Tim Riggins. Gritty, real, heart-wrenching… any show that prominently features Applebees has to be high on one’s list. FNL is currently airing its 3rd (and likely last) season on DirecTV, although it will be re-aired on NBC in the spring.

#2: 30 Rock: With the emergence of Tina Palin’s new uber-celebrity, hopefully people will start watching it now. One of my favorite clips below… Coming back Oct. 30 on NBC Thursdays.

#3: Grey’s Anatomy: Our protagonist, Meredith, is whiny, neurotic, and somehow still likable. Add in floods, flesh-eating bacteria, and McDreamy, and this makes it a can’t-miss.

#4: The Office: The show that has made “that’s what she said” into an automatic, kneejerk reaction whenever you hear something like, “It [the test] was pretty hard,” or, “It [the shirt] was a little too long.”

#5: Lost: It’s kind of been out-of-sight, out-of-mind… When it comes back in January, it may catapult up this list.

Honorable Mentions: Gossip Girl (needs a longer track record to make this list), Damages (same as GG; needs a second good year to build off its first amazing season), Heroes (I’ve stopped watching this season… should try to pick it back up again), Project Runway (this cast has been kind of blah though), The Biggest Loser (always fun to watch other people work out while struggling to reach the remote from my place on the couch), So You Think You Can Dance (…dance, dance, dance)

Other shows I enjoy: Bones, Monk, Samantha Who, Jon & Kate Plus 8, The Amazing Race, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Designers Challenge, and most everything on the Food Network

Favorite TV shows (no longer airing):

#5: Dawson’s Creek

#4: Alias

#3: Frasier

#2: Will & Grace

#1: Friends

Honorable Mentions: Saved by the Bell, The Cosby Show, Fresh Price of Bel-Air, Cheers, Golden Girls, Mad About You

Shows I’ve never seen (or only saw a few episodes), but are on the to-watch list:

#5: Flight of the Conchords

#4: Brothers and Sisters

#3: 24

#2: The Wire

#1: Arrested Development (on DVD, I suppose)

Shows that make me sad for America: (ironically, all reality shows)

#5: The Moment of Truth

#4: The Real Housewives of Orange County

#3: A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila

#2: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader

#1: My Super Sweet Sixteen

Honorable Mentions: Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, My Super Sweet Sixteen presents: Exiled, I Survived a Japanese Game Show

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In an Open Relationship… With Facebook

This is my daily routine: I get out of work, go home, have dinner, turn on the TV… and then get on my boyfriend. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not like that. I mean, 100 million other people get on him every day too. In the end, though, my boyfriend caters only to me. I call him the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but other people may call him by his given name: Facebook.

My boyfriend Facebook is really good to me. He sends me gifts all the time, like virtual chocolates, flowers, and toilet paper. He gives me updates on sales at my favorite stores. He plays Scrabble with me whenever I want, and he leaves me sweet notes, like, “Damn girl, your profile picture is fine.” He keeps track of all my new messages, draws beautiful masterpieces of graffiti on my wall, and helps my Conestoga wagon ford the river on the Oregon trail. He is attentive, artistic, and handy… everything you’d want in a man.

My boyfriend is also great with my friends, which is incredibly important to me. Most of the time I can’t keep up with all 6,341 of my closest friends, but my boyfriend has it covered. He lets me know if Lois just had a baby or if Matt proposed on Valentine’s Day. He talks to Annie to find out what she thought of Gossip Girl last night. He has singlehandedly kept some friendships alive by reminding me of people’s birthdays. And he is such a social butterfly… he’s always introducing me to people he thinks I may know. It was awkward at first, but I have to admit that I was curious about what happened to the kid from high school with the mohawk and purple leather jacket. Oh, he’s an investment banker now? Interesting…

Aside from being a private detective, my boyfriend also oversees my social calendar. After all, someone has to keep track of my scarf-knitting parties and bake sales for childhood obesity. While I may not actually go to the techno dance rave at Sweat on Friday night, I’m glad my boyfriend still sends me the invite… And even though I just sit at home with him every night, looking through his pictures makes me feel like I was there.

Some people have said that I spend too much time with my boyfriend. They think that he’s prevented me from meeting new people, going out with friends, or getting a job. But I don’t buy that. My boyfriend has always been there for me whenever I needed him (except for blackouts or bad wireless zones). He was there for me through the laughter and tears, the pokes and untags, the inadvertent status updates and awkward friend requests. Through it all, I know I can count on him to be there for me forever, and never, ever change…

…Um, well… there goes that one. My boyfriend’s getting a makeover? I can’t believe Facebook would do this to me… Why would he want to ruin what we had?

I’m changing my relationship status to “Single”… that is, until I get used to his new sleek bod. I might forgive him then.

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Don’t Invite Her to the Wedding… She’s Just a Serf

Most people would agree with what Thomas Jefferson wrote over 200 years ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” But what T-Jeffs left out (besides women), was a disclaimer: that although all men may be created equal, the “we are all equal” statement holds little weight from person to person. There will always be a social hierarchy: we each form judgments about who we like and don’t like, and the way we treat these people is anything but “equal”.

jeffersonBecause individuals still have these biases and prejudices, a we-love-everyone-equally Pleasantville is an impossibility… and it’s so far-fetched that even the prospect of living in such a world is frightening. But this historical digression leads us to our relationships today, and how complex our personal caste systems have become. Today, we have levels upon levels of relationships, even amongst people we like. We have best friends, good friends, semi-good friends, friends we like to party with but can’t trust, friends we can trust but are kind of boring, friends we haven’t seen in years, friends we’ve seen last week… all types of friends.

So, how do we manage all these relationships, especially as impending weddings force us so stratify our friends even more? Instead of taking the “I like everyone equally” route, we can find a few lessons from history to classify our friends…

So, for this purpose, imagine yourself as an all-powerful despot circa the Middle Ages:

serfSerfs (unfree peasants under feudalism): You know those people that you call “friends” but are really glorified acquaintances? These are serfs. You don’t really pay attention to serfs: you can’t remember their names, occasionally forget what they look like, and get them confused with other serfs. The serf is the middle child, the forgotten Ninja Turtle (Rafael), and the guy you squint at on the subway because you think he looks vaguely familiar. We all have our serfs, and we all are serfs… sans the hard labor and bondage (for most of us).

Peasants (agricultural workers living on small plots of land): Peasanthood is what you strive to achieve when you’re a lowly serf… that level of friendship where at least there’s mutual recognition. Peasants are people you associate with a venue: an English class, a student organization, a volunteer event, work. They’re usually one degree of separation away (friends of friends, or friends of family). They are the friends you’d actually stop to have a conversation with on the street (versus doing the quick-wave or head-bop), and friends who you’d wish happy birthday for… through Facebook.

feudalMerchants (the medieval businessmen you’d lend money to): These are the people you’d consider good friends… They are the friends you went out with every now and then, have some fun stories about, and could incriminate with photographical evidence of less-than-stellar moments. They’re a step above peasants, but not the friends that you would necessarily confide in with all your deep dark secrets. They are the friends that you wish you got to know better, but for some reason, you never did. Perhaps they were just too busy selling opium to children.

Nobles (the landowners who you invite to your extravagant dinner parties while the serfs and peasants starve): These are your really good friends. These are the friends you always go out with, the ones who know you well enough to take you home before you make a bad life decision. They are the friends who you keep up with often and genuinely care about. They know your quirks, your pet peeves, and your weird habits. Even though they may not be your “best” friend, they’re the Phoebe to your Rachel and Monica. They are a part of your “crew” and know all your inside jokes… and who will definitely be at your wedding, if not in it.

The Court (the friends that you let live in your palace…your medieval entourage): These are your best friends. These are the friends who will take you home AND make sure the trash can is angled directly under your head. These are the friends who will listen to you ramble on for hours about your alien theories, and then gently convince you that scientology really is crazy. These are your friends who you’ll call on the toilet, and they’ll know it even before you flush. Even your dad knows the names of these friends. They’ve seen you angry. They’ve seen you cry. They’ve made you laugh when you were upset. They know all your embarrassing stories, and you know theirs… and you know the secrets will stay untold. You know you can trust them with anything, without fear of judgment. They are the ones who you’ll call at 3 am for no good reason at all, if only to sing a few verses of Bleeding Love, burp into the phone, and say “I love you.”

Ultimately, we have few nobles and even fewer members of the court in our lives: the majority of the people we know are merchants, peasants, and serfs. But we can’t be landowners in everyone’s feudal system. It’s hard to climb that ladder, and the designation of nobility is sacred; too many nobles can dilute their importance, and then we often must discern between our good friends and peasants/serfs in disguise.

This exercise–and squeezing the most we can out of this analogy–may seem like a vain attempt to label something (friendship) that transcends categorization. However, like everything else, not all friendships are created equal in the eyes of individuals: we all have to figure out a way to pare down the wedding invite list. So yes, invoking the feudal system to describe modern-day relationships would make Jefferson recoil… but hey, sometimes history repeats itself.

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