Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I just got an interesting e-mail from a friend, which I'm going to pretend to be quoting, but I'm editing it slightly to make it make sense with what I want to say in response:

Are we made up only of our words and actions, or is there some deeper meaning behind our interactions with one another?

The question was partly inspired by your last post. Actually, the post didn't strike me as that interesting, but that's because we've talked about it before. I don't remember what we said, but the very fact of our having done that seems to diminish my interest in the
post. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a bit troubled by the fact that people seem to have a finite number of topics and issues, of stuff to talk about. Not finite, exactly, but fewer and fewer new pieces of information.

I just came back from dinner with a friend, and I'm sitting here trying to think of what to write in e-mails to various people. And maybe it's because I'm just a bit tired from the workweek and haven't come up with a way to make my week sound new and interesting.
I was amused to get the e-mail, mostly because it dovetailed extraordinary well with a post I started to write about an hour ago, but stopped because it seemed a little silly, and I didn't have enough to say to make it make sense, but my friend's e-mail prompted some more thinking -- and posed an actual question to address -- so now I feel motivated to ramble.

Basically, the post was going to be this -- when you're not doing anything, it's really hard to come up with things to talk about. I was hanging out with two friends last night, we saw some sketch comedy, and I noticed on the walk to the subway afterwards that once we talked about how much the show sucked, for a moment I kind of had nothing new to talk about. And then tonight I was on the phone with a friend, and again, the same fleeting thought.

Part of this just feels stupid (and it's why I stopped writing the post the first time) because give it three seconds and someone will say something and all sorts of new stuff will be triggered in everyone's head. And part of it is just that I feel like more than a lot of people I get antsy when there's silence. With people I like. With people I don't like, I don't care. And part of it feels stupid to say because it's not like it's anyone's responsibility to have something new to say. And it was just a fleeting thought, and probably triggered more by own realization that I haven't done much that's story-worthy in the past couple of days, or at least haven't really processed anything in such a way that it's given me anything to talk about, but, anyway...

No. This is ridiculous. Because when I sit down and think about it for two seconds, I realize I just wasn't trying hard enough, or my brain's tired, or something. I mean, obviously there's zillions of things we haven't talked about, but just nothing was salient -- nothing about stuff that's actually going on in my life right now. And most people don't have much to say a lot of the time anyway. I feel like writing here every day helps me sort my life into stories, and that's cool I guess, but maybe it's not really.

But, getting to my friend's point, I guess maybe we do need to do things in order to have things to talk about. I know that I fall into patterns -- I have favorite topics that I feel like, with anybody I get to know, I'll eventually get around to talking about. I feel like they're probably things I've posted about. I mean, more than a couple of times I've found myself talking to someone about why I think Saturday Night Live isn't very funny and how it could be better. I have a line about how in the freshman year math class I took in college the only numbers were the textbook's page numbers... that I've said way more times than I should have. I have some law firm stories that come out a fair bit. And maybe more than I should be I'm completely willing to travel down conversational paths that lead to discussions about things like the meaning of life. And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure there's lots more patterns I fall into, things I have things to say about that I've said enough that I can feel myself slipping into a routine. Like during law firm interviews, sort of. But maybe there really is a finite number of things we can all talk intelligently about, and you do run out of those things...

NO. No, wait. I don't mean that. I mean, all it takes is two seconds of thought and there's a zillion new things to say. Like here's something I've never talked about but was wondering about today. What's the difference between The Gap and Old Navy? Besides the price. Like, is the quality any different? Or -- I'm trying to make an effort to cook a little bit, and not just go out and get stuff if I'm eating at home, and I sliced and grilled a parsnip yesterday, and it was good. Is that weird? You never hear anyone talk about parsnips, but they're not bad. Am I strange because I like vegetables? I made a salad with some fennel, tomato, parsley, and vinegar. It was good. This isn't fascinating, it's barely worth writing about, let alone talking about, but it's a topic. And there are lots more. All it takes is a deep breath and some though to come up with things that can be things to talk about. I had a falafel for lunch at a place I found last summer -- Azuri's Cafe, 10th Ave. and 51st St. in Manhattan -- it totally takes falafel to the next level, it's a complete leap in quality from any other falafel you've ever had and you should go there and get one if you're anywhere near there, really, I swear, you'll like it. I have things to say. But maybe sometimes they take a second to find.

But I still haven't addressed the initial question my friend posed. "Are we made up only of our words and actions, or is there some deeper meaning behind our interactions with one another?" I think, for me, part of it is just that sense of connection, beyond the words themselves. I'll sometimes find myself asking questions I don't necessarily need to know the answer to, or saying things just to say them, just to keep things going, just to keep up that connection. Sometimes. I don't know that all interactions are just the words and actions they consist of. There's thoughts and purposes behind everything. A conversation can mean something more than that. Maybe. I don't really know what I'm saying, actually. I don't have a real answer to the question, at least not something I've thought through. Maybe tomorrow. :) Or maybe some of you do.

**I got a lot of responses to my post yesterday about adulthood. I'll post some of them tomorrow, for sure.