Uncomfortable Moments

I spent forty-five minutes yesterday learning everything there is to know about periods and the female reproductive system. This was not by choice, most decidedly not.  No, this was a health “enrichment session” that I had to sign up for because it was the only one that fit my schedule.  So, at 12:50 on a Friday, I found myself in a classroom, surrounded by 25 girls and exactly 0 other guys, listening to a doctor speaking about what to expect at one’s first OB/GYN session.  It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt as I listened to this very nice lady speak.  I was enlightened, educated, but primarily grateful.  Listening to everything that women will have to undergo, whether it be a pap smear (guess what, they hurt!) or what happens if you decide to do squats while on your period, I really felt bad for the opposite sex.  Yet as much as I grew from my experience, there’s no denying that it was among the least pleasant ways I have ever spent my time.  But as I think about that statement, more and more examples of awkward and uncomfortable situations pop up in my mind.  For your schadenfreude, I present to you the list of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been a part of.

1. Back in middle school, when I was self-assured and confident, I decided to play on the basketball team.  I was pudgy, slow, weak, and understood nothing about basketball.  Thus, no one was surprised when I only played an average of two minutes per game.  I think the coach would have never played me if he had his way, but he was required by the school to give me some time “on the court” so I wouldn’t feel excluded.  That isn’t to say I didn’t feel humiliated.  All of the jerseys had been given to the players who were actually talented, so I was forced to wear a woman’s jersey emblazoned with the numbers 00.  I was not even good enough to get the 0.  Worst of all, it was too small on me so I ripped it and had to fix it with blue duct tape.  There I was, running around for a minute a game, missing passes and tripping whenever the opportunity arose, sporting a jersey that perfectly represented my status on the team.

2. When I moved schools for high school, it took me a little while to come out of my shell socially.  Often during the time allotted for lunch, I would go up to the library, pull out a pair of headphones, and watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or something like that.  No one noticed my absence and I was happy with my little set-up.  Then, it backfired tremendously.  One Friday, after finishing a particularly steamy episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, I left the library for my Spanish class.  This class was composed of students from all grades yet when I arrived, I was the only freshman.  The other kids, surprised to see me, asked how I had gotten back so soon.  Apparently, my entire grade had gone to take grade pictures at the Met and I’d completely forgotten.  I wasn’t mocked for my oversight but I could tell that people were unsure as to whether or not I attended my school. The administration wouldn’t even photoshop my face into the picture.

3.  I was a manipulator as a child and I specialized in getting people to do my dirty work for me.  Yet as much as I loved reaping the rewards from various crimes I set up, I rarely got away scot-free.  The best example of this can be found in the legendary 4th Grade Chocolate Milk Scheme.  As lower schoolers (anything less than fifth grade), my friends and I were tempted on a daily basis by the succulent, dark, creamy chocolate milk that was provided for all students in middle school.  We could not bear to wait another year before getting access to the tastiest of beverages and when the other 4th graders began to whine, I plotted instead.  Gathering several of my closest friends, I explained the plan.  One student would serve as a distraction, talking to the members of the kitchen staff as they replenished the always dwindling supply of chocolate milk, or as we had come to call it, Special C.  While the innocent kitchen staff was distracted, two students would swoop in, stuffing chocolate milk into their coat pockets.  Finally, another student would go to the handicapped stall in the bathroom directly adjoining the cafeteria and wait for our arrival.  Instead of fleeing the scene, we would drink the chocolate milk in the bathroom, reveling as the rest of the students sat clueless, only feet away.  My role was to wait in the bathroom and “oversee,” a word which I did not understand.  When we were caught, it was not because of a fault in my perfect plan, but because one of my thieves had tripped and dropped the chocolate milk in the middle of the cafeteria.  Immediately, the teachers swarmed, picking out my friends and interrogating them.  In the bathroom, my friend and I waited, terrified by the commotion.  When one of our friends finally ratted us out, I hid behind the door and allowed my friend to take the fall.  Somehow, they never caught me and I suffered no consequences.  On the other hand, my friends were all severely reproached by the principal and forced to apologize to the kitchen staff.  Furious at my cowardice, they shunned me for weeks, leaving me friendless and most importantly, Special C-less. I was only nine or ten yet I knew that this would not be the last time I felt alone and awkward.

Yesterday, as I learned about the potentially painful parts of a gynecologist visit in a graphically detailed fashion, I flashed back to  these moments.  They were not welcome memories and it was rough.  Speaking of which, you know what else is rough?  Cervical cancer.  Get vaccinated for HPV girls!

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Senior Year

Being a senior is overrated.  I was excited for all the discounts on public transportation that come along with the title, but no, apparently you have to be over 65 to get those.  Wow, what an incredibly cheesy joke.  I think I executed it perfectly.  Nice job me.

However, I actually do think that being a senior is overrated.  Here’s why.

1.  Senior year is overwhelmingly hyped.  When you’ve been waiting for something for three years, it’s going to be very hard for that thing to fulfill expectations.  I’ve looked forward to being a senior ever since I was “frosh scum” and while it’s cool, it’s nothing like how I pictured it.  There are no adoring women or confetti parades when I get to school in real life.

2. The freshmen are less deferential than I had hoped.  The main perk of being a senior is that you get to maintain the high school hierarchy.  You torture the juniors by reminding them how horrible second semester is and for fun, mess with the freshmen so they know their place.  In turn, the juniors mock the sophomores who, just to make sure things are balanced, make the freshmen’s lives even more difficult.  It’s a beautiful thing and carefully maintained through various checks and balances.  However, I’ve noticed that the freshmen are less intimidated by me.  Now, I think of myself as a pretty intimidating guy. I dress very fashionably, wear my retainer consistently, and have an extensive vocabulary.  However, the freshmen act normal around me.  It’s agonizing and I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such treatment.  Maybe they think I’m nice.  I’ll have to change that.

3. It’s actually sad being a senior.  As difficult as high school can be, I’ve come to really cherish my time there.  I’ve fostered great relationships with my teachers, made some great friends, and actually learned a ton.  When you think about leaving all that behind, it just makes my heart ache a little bit.  I know that I’m going on a journey, the journey of life, but sometimes I just feel as if I’m growing up too fast.  What happened to the little boy who liked to suck his thumb and play with his action figures?  I feel like I don’t know him anymore!  What if he’s gone forever?


These are all things I’ve heard other seniors say.  Yeah, change can be tough.  That said, college isn’t going to be the worst four years of your life.  Leaving high school isn’t the end of the world.  People just need to understand these basic truths and grow up.  On an unrelated note, sometimes when I think about leaving home, everything turns all fuzzy and I have to sit down.  Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to go out into the world and discover who I am, but it’s just so difficult to say good-bye to everything that’s made me into the boy I am today.  I’m going to miss him so much!

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Recently, I’ve been trying to get more in touch with my European side.  I’m half Belgian and while I speak French and know my way around some cities, there aren’t too many European things about me.  At least, that’s my rationale behind my newfound obsession with the beautiful game, football.  That’s soccer to you common Americans, which is something I can say because I’m from Europe, a magical land of sophistication and waffles.  Anyway, I’ve started dedicating all my free time to soccer, whether it be through online soccer forums, watching Premier League matches, wearing the one jersey I own every other day, or just doing it as people have done for decades and playing FIFA.  As you might expect, this lackluster way of learning a sport has made me no expert.  However, my outsized ego refuses to believe that I don’t know everything about soccer, so I find myself challenging forty-year old men who’ve followed the sport for decades.  I haven’t been physically attacked yet, but I’m sure that’ll happen in the next few weeks.

Despite not knowing the slightest thing about soccer, I really do love it.  It’s hard to succinctly explain why, so I’ll do this thing I’ve been doing when I need to make blog posts longer.  I’ll make a list.

-The commentators for other sports are either really boring or really corny.  In soccer, they’re all  witty old dudes who’ve seen everything and make the subtlest jokes.  There was this one instance where a player just came onto the pitch and made a bad tackle on another player.  Right away, without thinking, the announcer goes: “Player X looks eager to make an impression on the game.  He’ll be happy to know he made one on Player Y’s heel.”  Then he threw in this little British chuckle and I couldn’t stop giggling for a solid minute.

-There’s this very odd sense of aggression amongst the players mixed in with a sense of camaraderie.  Like they’ll viciously take each other down and then laugh about that time they all went to a tournament and made a few million pounds.

-Nearly every player has had the weirdest sex scandal.  Like one guy was sleeping with his sister-in-law periodically for eight years.  He’s widely regarded as a British legend.  Then there’s another player who literally bit an opponent mid-match for no reason whatsoever.  He was straight vampire-ing and people just sort of laughed it off.

-Soccer players are the most athletic people in the world.  After golfers of course.

-A lot of the players have really cool names so I can wear a jersey that says Hazard on the back and not be thought of as more of a tool than normal.

-Finally, soccer is the only way that I can get my friends and I to stay in one place for 90 minutes straight.  It’s a super fun activity to do with your pals!  We like to make bets on who’s going to win and if you’re ok with losing 20-75 dollars a week like me, it’s a great time.

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Fire Island

There’s a magical place two hours away from New York City where all your worries go away, you can walk around barefoot, and everyone literally could not care less about anything.  This is Fire Island and it’s practically paradise.  (I’d like to give a shout out to the Ginsberg family with Sam in particular, my hosts over this past weekend.  They provided me with a roof over my head, delicious food, a bike which I crashed into a ditch several times, and several remarks about the paleness of my complexion.  It felt just like home.)  Anyway, Fire Island is like this little secluded place free of rapists and murderers and as a result, people just do whatever they want.  Kids chill on beaches until late into the evening, everyone puts their expenditures on their own tabs at the one grocery store/sandwich shop in town, and best of all, no one spends any time indoors.  As someone who spends more time inside my home than someone in a permanent coma, the concept of spending an entire day outdoors seemed more plausible than skipping this Sunday’s new installment of Breaking Bad (get HYPED).  But apparently, that’s what people in Fire Island do, so that’s what I did.  Even when you eat lunch, it’s outdoors.  To tell you the truth, it’s incredible.  It feels outrageously carefree and nothing can compare afterwards.  Sure, I got a hundred bug bites and the sun gave me third degree burns on 75% of my body but I can honestly say it was worth it.  When I had to leave for my internship late on Sunday night, I felt that I was saying goodbye to the best two days of my summer.  Fire Island is the greatest place in the world to go swimming, almost crash a speedboat, make new friends who only wear lacrosse pennies, get made fun of for how short your bathing suit is, get made fun of for defending the shortness of your bathing suit, find ways to hide yourself under your towel, cut yourself on your bike, tackle people in the sand, beat your pull-up record, spot Tina Fey on the beach, watch Scrubs and play Backyard Baseball, eat bowls of Trix at 1 in the morning, delete your instagram pictures of the sunset because no one liked them, and just genuinely enjoy yourself with friends.  It’s a great place.

See Will? He can pull it off.

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Summer in the City

I’m living in the city this summer.  Normally, I go away to a distant place where trees exist and people go outside without a destination in mind: the countryside.  Honestly, the countryside is just a place for people who aren’t strong enough for the city.  As I always say, if you can’t handle the city, you should  get the hell out of the city.  However, you could also consider going somewhere a little quieter and more peaceful so that you can gather yourself and get back in the game.  I have faith in you.  I say that all the time.

Living in the city is actually pretty fun.  I’m living alone for half the summer and no, my house isn’t available for you to throw a “rager,” even if you offer to bring girls.  Actually, we’ll talk.  Anyway, living alone means that I’m independent, or, as I like to call it, a “big boy.”  I shop for my own food, go to the gym (see previous post) and, to be completely honest, wear nothing but my underwear 90% of the time I’m home.  I enjoy myself but that isn’t to say that it’s always easy and fun.

1.  I’m late to everything.  With no one to make me leave the house, I do things at my own pace, meaning an hour later than I originally planned.  I once left the house to get to my internship, only to return because I wanted to watch an episode of TV that I’d forgotten about.  It’s ok though.  I’m finessing my apology skills.

2. There is so much sweat everywhere.  For some reason, summer in the city is so much hotter than the countryside.  It could be because there’s eight million other hot people surrounding you but, whatever the cause, it’s miserable.  Every day, I come home with my shirt feeling like the Everglades.  Once, I got a text from someone asking to see me (happens all the time, no big deal, definitely not my mom) and I had to refuse because I felt like “a man who has just eaten a piping hot bowl of wanton soup and then decided that running a marathon through Death Valley while in a mobile sauna would be a sound idea and a terrific way to clear out his pores.”

3.  When I say that I cook my food, I really mean that I microwave it.  I refuse to buy anything from the grocery store that isn’t microwave-able.  I’m sure I have radiation poisoning already but the day someone actually sees me cooking will be the day that I share my secret scrapbook of topless Channing Tatum collages.

4.  There are so many tourists.  Look, I think tourists are great.  They inject New York’s economy with capital and keep me up to date on the new European fashions.  That said, I  hate them with a deep, fiery passion hotter than the city during the god-forsaken heat wave.  I’ve been a tourist every time I’ve visited a foreign country but there’s something about New York visitors that just allows me to feel no empathy.  They stop in the weirdest and worst places, take pictures in the oddest positions, and have a really terrifying obsession with three-quarter length pants and clogging up the whole sidewalk with their similarly clad family.  I just can’t handle it.

I hate this city.

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The Gym

There’s something about being fat as a child that’s more scarring than anything else.  Humans can go through some really rough traumas but it’s the people who used to be fat and couldn’t run around a field without throwing up a burrito from last week who have the real issues.  There’s a strong feeling of inadequacy that one acquires after they fall down and actually have to rock themselves like a turtle to get back up onto their feet.

However, as someone who managed to lose the blubber and is no longer teetering on the edge of obesity, that feeling hasn’t gone away.  I’m not trying to get deep here, I’m just trying to explain why I weigh myself every other breath.  With this fear of being fat comes, at least for me, the urge to be in really good shape.  However, I’m not in very good shape.  I’m in decent shape, don’t get me wrong, but if I jump up and down, things still jiggle.  (Side note: how great of a word is jiggle?  It just brings to mind images of cheeks to squeeze and children’s laughter.)  So, to get rid of my winter fat, I decide that this summer would be the “summer of me.”  I was going to “take ownership of myself” and “redefine who I was.”  It sounded like a Jennifer Aniston movie and I was happy with that.  However, in order to “embrace the true Julian,” I had to make some changes.  The most major change was that I started going to the gym.

1. I go to the NYU gym because my father teaches there and it’s on my block.  It’s kind of a bummer that it’s so convenient because I have no excuse not to go.  When I walk in the door, I try to act like I go there but I can tell that nobody believes me.  I hand my ID to the security guard and he looks me up and down suspiciously.  I’m already sweating.

2. Since I normally go the gym right after my internship, I have to go down to the locker room to change.  The men’s locker room is the most disturbing place I’ve ever been and I’ve been to some strange places.  There are so many naked elderly men, I feel like I’m at a competition for who has the most wrinkles in the weirdest places.  The worse part of it is that they feel no shame.  They just walk around with a towel slung over their shoulder, looking at things and sweating profusely.  I refuse to even consider walking barefoot in that room because not even God knows what has dripped onto that floor.

3.  I start off by going to the mats for my abdominal exercises.  These mostly comprise of me lying down and trying to decide what song to listen to.  Then I do something strenuous for a minute or two and then tell myself I deserve a rest and lie down for another five minutes.  It’s not efficient, but hey, it’s the “summer of me.”

4. Once I’ve “done my abs,” I go to the cardio room.  Every day, I tell myself that this will be the time I don’t sweat enough to fill up a bathtub, but twenty minutes later, I leave the room literally pouring liquid.  I’m sure that this is very uncomfortable for you to read but I think it’s important that you understand just how sweaty I am.  Imagine a four hundred pound man wearing a fur coat while running a marathon in Bangkok in July.  That’s me.

5.  Finally, I go to the weight room.  This is pretty much just half an hour of me apologizing to much stronger men for having gotten in their way.  It’s a very humbling experience and it’s also very sweaty but I’m really dedicated to becoming a “brolic” dude who can be considered “swole.”  However, I never make myself stay too long because this is “the summer of me” and I have to “watch out for my inner Julian” if my “outer Julian wants to keep his game face.”

6.  I then run through the locker room, pushing through a crowd of wet, unclothed men and grab my duffel bag.  When I finally leave the naked, sweaty, hot hell that is the gym, I walk home by myself and call my mother because I need to be told that I’m a big boy and that everything is going to be ok.

I hate the gym.

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My Absence(s)

I haven’t posted in a little bit.  That’s a bit of an understatement.  Last time I blogged, cigarettes were still considered part of a healthy lifestyle.  I’m sorry; I know it’s been a while.  I tried to blog more often but you know, there was stuff.  However, I’m sick of having to start my posts with sentences apologizing for having not written for so long.  I hate redundancy but most of all, I hate having to apologize.  Seriously, who likes saying they’re sorry?  People have weird fetishes like abuse or feet but I’ve yet to hear of someone who gets turned on by being forced to express a heartfelt statement of regret over their errors. Thus, to avoid having to apologize for my shortcomings, I’ve resolved to post at least once a week this summer.  That way, no one will ever ask me “you still have a blog?” or “ I thought that was just an online diary you wrote in once a year when you felt you couldn’t repress any more emotions.”  This blog is back like Star Wars and J. Crew.  In fact, I’d say this is just the beginning of a new era.  To use an expression I coined while once skiing through prime untouched powder (the way I described it makes it sound way sexier than it actually was.  The “untouched powder” was under the chairlift), I’m Lewis and Clark’ing it.  In short, this is a new blog.  I’d rename it as well but I pay like $17 a year for the domain and seriously, how lucky was I to get www.attemptedhumor.com?  Pretty lucky, I’d say.

I’m sure that as many of you read this half-assed motivational speech that I’ll surely forget/ignore to embrace, you’re wondering what I could have been doing that interfered with me writing a new post every once in a while.  Well, I’ll tell you.

-I didn’t get much sleep.  My parents say that I should get more sleep and my grandmother ripped an article out of the Times that said teenagers need extra sleep, so I guess everyone’s united on that front.  Well, guess what?  I didn’t read the article, Bubbe.  I said I was going to but then I forgot and I left it in the hotel and the housekeeper threw it out, so there you have it.  If you email it to me, I’ll probably tell you I read it but I still won’t.

-I got FIFA 13 and spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to make a soccer team composed only of old Russian players past their prime.  I named the team the Soldviet Union.  We average two own goals a match.


-I tried to take up sun bathing but I have the skin of an Irishman and roof access in my building isn’t exactly allowed.

-I released a mix tape filled with jazz, amateur stand-up, and Tupac covers.  I then found out how difficult it is to un-release something.

-I tripped on a pair of stairs once.  It was okay because there were only old people so there was no one I was scared would laugh at me and the elderly could empathize.

-I tried to convince my parents to let me buy pills to help me bulk up.  They said no and I tried to challenge them but I was too weak.  It’s a vicious cycle.

-I watched a documentary on One Direction because, I swear to you, it was the only thing on TV.  I saw the whole thing and had to take a shower right after because I just wasn’t sure how I felt about myself and I needed to be clean.

-I thought about blogging but nahhhhhhh.  Hey, I’m back though!  Everything’s ok now.  Hopefully people still read this thing.

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