If I Hear One More Word about the Facebook Movie I’m Moving to Farmville

I read the 6,300-word New Yorker profile of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. I got through half of the 6,000-word New York Magazine cover story on the movie. By the time I saw the Zuckerberg actor’s face staring out at me from the cover of every Village Voice around town—as it was being reviewed, discussed, rehashed, ridiculed, and lauded on every blog and in every publication—I just couldn’t take it anymore. Is this film really of such import that it deserves blanket coverage? No.

But Facebook itself is. What I haven’t seen in all these write-ups of the “The Social Network” movie is a true understanding of just how life-changing the social network itself has been. So here are a few reminders of what our lives are like now that we’re living in a Facebook world. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

 Now that I have Facebook:

 – I can know just how far along all the girls from my high-school are in their pregnancies—with sonogram pics! (This is why God* invented the “Hide feed” function.)

 – I can tell the whole world I “Like” peanut butter & jelly or “I’m in America, I shouldn’t have to ‘Press 1 for English.’”

 – I can invite people to events! No more having to fuss over which cheesy Evite theme to choose! (Or, you know, licking stamps for actual invitations. Right.)

 – I can observe via link-sharing that all my friends are loafing at work reading all the same news articles and gossip sites I am—and be pleased/horrified that we share one brain.

 – I can hope my mother hasn’t seen embarrassing party photos of me before I have a chance to untag them. (Hi Mama!)

 – I can see whatever redonkulous ‘80s video clips Robert Repino is forcing on people.

 – I can fret over posting a public relationship status, as if I’m a 14-year-old girl.

 – I can stalk old boyfriends and watch them get fat, bearded, conservative, married, and paternal, not necessarily in that order.

– I can apparently unfriend a particular acquaintance from high school as many times as I want and she will still friend me again. Goddamit!

 – I can suddenly sign into ANY site anywhere on the Internet with my Facebook login. This is how we know Big Brother** has won.

 – I can prove to all you doubters that Bunnie Cockshott is a real person.

 

*This being Mark Zuckerberg, of course. Or maybe the twins whose idea he stole.
** See above.
† Please feel free to share this post on Facebook, of course, by clicking the convenient little “share” button below.

Just a Saturday Morning Shout-out

… To say: Go read the paper, walk the dog, enjoy this beautiful weather, and check out my friends’ links over there on the right. These are all smart, well-spoken, creative people and they deserve your attention.

Happy Saturday. 🙂

To Say in a Breakup

On a late Tuesday night in Union Square, there’s not a lot going on. The guy with the “Free Massages” sign is still there, outlasting and out-skeeving the more harmless “Free Hugs” kids. Two guys crouch, fists up, in what for a moment looks like an imminent fight but turns out to be friendly sparring. From the bottom corner of the steps suddenly barks the voice of a teenage girl: “Just leave me alone! Just let me go!” All eyes turn to her and to the boyfriend quietly entreating her. She walks away, stepping backward, facing him even as she threatens to leave. She is plaintive, and the command in her voice is not convincing. Neither is the fact that she doesn’t just turn and walk away.

They move across the plaza in a twisted dance, her backing up, him matching her every step without getting too close. “Why don’t you just let me go?!” she explodes. Repeatedly she turns away and he follows, but always she is compelled to face him again, as if giving him endless chances to say the right words to convince her not to leave him forever. Her voice lights up the night.

***

Jezebel ran an advice column the other day titled, “How to Break Up With Anyone.” This is semi-useful. Perhaps more valuable would be a list of what not to say in a breakup. Things you can’t take back, like “I never liked the way you cook pasta” or “Your **** is hideous” (insert beloved and personal body part here).

Then again, it’s hard to predict the phrases that you shouldn’t say, because you never know what will come out during breakups. Every relationship is different and people find unique ways of hurting each other. For instance:

“I feel like the last time you did anything good for me was so long ago, it’s nostalgia.”

“Honey, my baggage isn’t shit compared to you.”

“I’m just stunned at how long I’ve had faith in you, in any number of ways.”

“Just do one positive thing, in your life or mine.”

“I finally have my ‘crazy girl’ story because baby, you are insane.”

“You are not a good person.”

“I think the succession from one lover to the next is tantamount to a death, don’t you?”

“You need to figure out how to stop being a ‘lost girl.’”

“Your capacity to distort reality and fabricate fictive universes in which, at least for a time, you thoroughly and completely dwell is at once remarkable, impressive, and fucking insane.”

“Man, you are a piece of fucking work. … Fuck you, you fucking piece of shit.”

“It didn’t have to end shitty. But it did. Because of you.”

All real things said to me in breakups over the years. These are hard to hear.

Sometimes, though, it pays to listen to the nugget of truth beneath all this hurt. Because sometimes, you can make things end differently.

***

The estranged teenage lovers in Union Square keep walking their circles—circling each other, circling the park, and circling my new boyfriend and I, who’ve been leaning on the fence by the statue of George Washington, observing in silence. Amid the background cries of the teen girl’s protestations,  I lean in to him and say, “The look on your face last week when I tried to walk away from you … I never want to see that again. I never want to make you look that way again.”

It’s the opposite of a breakup. It’s the promise of not. It’s the promise.

Tips for Wine Tasting So You Don’t Look Like a Jerk

I recently went wine tasting on Long Island’s beautiful North Fork with a relative newbie to the pleasures of bellying up to a winery bar to sample a few vintages. He was understandably concerned about the proper way to go about it without looking like an asshole. It got me thinking of useful advice for the first time, or the next time, you venture out to dance with Bacchus.

Dressing

– Wear something halfway decent. Don’t look like a hobo. You can further amuse yourself and your tasting companion(s) by dressing as if you’ve just stepped off your yacht or the golf course. Salmon-colored Dockers shorts and a lime-green polo, for example. Secret hilarity ensues but you actually fit right in.

Drinking

– Swirl, sniff, sip. Never spit.

– Also, never ever dump the excess contents of your glass in the bucket. There are thirsty winos in Midtown who’d kill for that last swill. Besides, it just makes you look like an arrogant prick and makes the wine servers hate you.

– Always butter up the pouring staff. But not in an overt, unctuous way. One way to accomplish this is to roll your eyes at the more obnoxious customers in a quietly commiserating way. This will ensure bigger pours for you for looking understanding, nice, and sober in comparison to all the other lushes.

Describing

– Throw around the following words. Doesn’t matter if you know what they mean in regard to wine: “finish,” “varietal,” “mouthfeel,” “legs,” “terroir,” “crunchy,” “silk-tastic,” “groovy.”

– Go ahead and free associate. If a wine reminds you of your grandmother’s puddin’, that’s okay. If it smells skunky like certain illicit substances, own up to that. All’s fair, and creativity is necessary once you’ve tasted more wines than you can possibly remember.

– Don’t be afraid to amuse yourself by describing wines with adjectives usually reserved for describing an individual of the opposite sex. It’s fun! For example, try “perky,” “brash,” “sassy,” “corpulent,” “seductive,” “flaccid,” “alluring.” You get the idea.

– When all else fails, claim a white wine tastes like “grapefruit” and a red wine tastes like “elderberry.” Can’t. Go. Wrong.

– Realize that you will not be able to properly enunciate “steel-barrel-fermented” after about the second winery. Or maybe that’s just me and my problem pronouncing “R”s. Yeah, that’s it.

– Ask every winery if they have a Sangiovese, just because “Sangiovese” is really fun to say.

– When wine tasting outside of California, always find a way to casually mention you are from California, even if you’re not. This commands respect (or resentment? meh, it’s a gamble). Then say, “Your varietals are so different from those grown in Napa. Why’s that?” But say it as if you actually have any idea what you’re talking about and as if you actually think their wines hold a candle to California’s (which, obviously, they won’t, but see above about staying on the pourer’s good side).

Eating

– For god’s sake, eat something during the day. You don’t want to be “that guy” getting punchy by 2 pm. (And by “that guy” I mean that chick who suddenly yelped loudly at the winery bar and then went on to shout about how she’d just found a pine needle poking her in her pants.)

– When you spot palate-cleansing munchies on the bar, follow this simple rule:  Oyster crackers: yes (salty and delicious). “Wine crackers”: no. Watch out for these dinner-mint-size nuggets that do nothing but suck all the moisture from your body within seconds. Seriously, we could have used these puppies to soak up the BP oil spill.

Enjoying

– Beware of winery parking lots with more than one limo or stretch Hummer. You don’t want to be elbowing your way to the winery’s bar as if it’s Coyote Ugly at closing time.  

– Always be the cutest couple at any winery.

– Always pretend you’re considering ordering the more expensive wine flight but then pretend to find some reason to go with the lowest priced (“Oh, I had that nice simple Chardonnay last time, let’s try the Cheapskate Collection!”)

– Even better, visit a wine region that still gives free tastings. (Hi, Murphys! I miss you! I’ll be back soon!)

– Buy a bottle occasionally. I mean, nothing fancy (what are you, rich?), but it is ostensibly what you’re there for.

– Never go wine tasting with anyone with whom you have simmering tensions. Sipping wine all day has a tendency to up the truthiness factor and this can be bad news. Or so I hear.

– If you go wine tasting in Murphys, California, do not, I repeat, do not go to Kautz Ironstone. Those people are bastards and their wine sucks. Screw them and their giant gold nugget. (Well, okay, go see the nugget but then find better wine elsewhere.)

– Do, however, say hello to all my old classmates who are now working at wineries in downtown Murphys. Tell ‘em Carrie sent ya. Then buy me a bottle and ship it here as gratitude for all my helpful advice.

Lastly …

– Do buy a bottle somewhere that you can sit outside, listen to live music, stare out at the rows of grapes, and reconsider your city-slicker existence. Trust me.

Photo by me at Corey Creek Vineyards, Southold, N.Y.

On the Ikea Shuttle

A muggy Friday evening just before Labor Day weekend and it’s obvious the college kids are back in town. At the corner of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in Brooklyn, three young dudes, evidently roommates, board the Ikea shuttle toward the mecca of meatballs and glaringly bright end tables. One, the cool, jockish guy, is quiet but evinces confident intelligence when he speaks up—which he does occasionally in order to shut up the skinny, know-it-all kid who can’t stop spouting off information. “This is Gowanus, you guys. We just passed the Gowanus Canal back there.” (I know something you don’t know, aren’t I impressive?) Cool Guy speaks up: “Yeah it’s a Superfund site.” Bam, shut down. Third guy, even quieter, the heartbroken, sensitive one. He asks if the skinny one knows that his girlfriend Jenny recently dumped him for no reason other than, “We’ve been together awhile and I don’t see it working out.” He sounds perplexed. It sounds like Jenny’s already got another beau. The bus pulls up to the blue-and-yellow box and the three mismatched roomies bound off.

An hour later, the shuttle back from Ikea slowly fills up as the driver takes a leisurely smoke break at the curb in the increasingly stormy gloom. A couple rows back a dad loudly proclaims to his college-age son (and the entire shuttle), “I’m going to call your mother.” Which he proceeds to do, outlining exactly what they have purchased—a desk, a lamp, a bookshelf. The kid sits in silence, staring straight ahead, the only one accompanied by a parent. “Okay, now I’m going to call your grandmother and tell her she can start dinner.” Kid shrinks in his seat a little more.

Two girls get on and an enterprising young man at the back jumps on the opportunity. “Hey, looks like you got a lotta stuff there.” Redheaded girl in artfully baggy dress: “Yeah, we just moved into an apartment and you don’t realize the things you’ll need. Like, oven mitts!” Giggle!

Mr. Social passes the rest of the ride talking to friends on his cell about the night’s festivities: “Yeah, I’m at Ikea buying some stuff—we’re worried about bedbugs. I just got in today. Our place is totally empty but we might have some people over and then go out and hit some bars. … Yeah, we’re on the Lower East Side, Eldridge and Delancey. … I’m gonna go home, chill for a while, then I’ll let you know what’s up. … Do you know if Mo is back in town?”

***

I sit surrounded by my own purchases and listen. I recognize that uniquely college social life—all it takes is a few calls to scrape up whoever’s back in town, grab some booze, gather somewhere. (But I want to tell him, “Dude, do not fill your LES apartment with furniture from Ikea. That’s just douchey. Grab some street furniture on trash day. Venture inside a thrift store. Scope Craigslist.”)

I reflect that I have owned oven mitts for some time. 

I think about the fact I never had my father buying me Ikea furniture, and I hope the embarrassed kid will someday come to appreciate such largesse and love.

I wonder about the fate of the three roommates, each so different, bound for separate paths but bound together for this year by rent.

I start to feel resentful of the innocence and ease of these kids’ lives.

***

Then I remember I’m a “grown” woman spending her Friday night on the Ikea shuttle because her new apartment is totally empty and she’s worried about bedbugs. I kind of wish I had a parent to pay for a new desk and new roommates to get to know. And that I had a cadre of peeps who’d chill at my LES apartment at the drop of a hat. And actually, I had to buy new oven mitts last week.

I look out the window at the sunset glow limning the gathering clouds of Hurricane Earl.

I have not come so far.

Why “Sparkle for a Moment”?

The phrase comes from a favorite song of mine by the indie British duo The Boy Least Likely To. It’s a sweet little tune about promising to be gentle with a new love and there’s a line early on: “I just want to sparkle for a moment, before I just fizzle out and die.” I take this sentiment to heart—life is fleeting and we should try to be our best in the short time we have while also appreciating each ephemeral, beautiful moment.

Plus, I can think of nothing bad associated with sparkling … I envision sunlight dancing on waves, holiday lights twinkling in frost, a diamond ring given for love, the thrill of holding a sparkler as a kid, the inspiring shine of stars. Am I romanticizing? You betcha. Don’t worry, I season my idealism with cynicism as necessary, and a healthy dose of both will find their way into my writing on this site.

For those who’ve followed my other two blogs (A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn and From Peppermint Creek), I hope you’ll enjoy this one. It’s a bit of a return to the purpose behind my first site, which was to write narrative nonfiction. I got away from that gradually, and my later blog focused almost solely on veganism. I intend Sparkle for a Moment to be a place where I share mini-essays on the world around me, on current news, culture, people, ideas, and anything else that strikes my fancy. I would appreciate your comments. Thank you for looking!

Cheers and namaste,

Carrie M

P.S. If you’re curious about the musical inspiration, here you go.