For Laughter

Today I am thankful for laughter.

A few days ago a friend of mine and I were discussing my Thanksgiving trip home to Michigan and he asked me to relay a message to my mom on his behalf. "Tell your mom I read her blog every day," he said. "And that I like it when she says fuck."

I delivered my friend's message when I arrived home earlier this week and my mom smiled and rolled her eyes, somewhat amused, I suspect, at the thought of a complete stranger quoting an early rosemarylambert.com post, but also a little bit embarrassed about having an f-bomb on record in what has become such an oft-visited diary bearing her name.

"Tell him I said thank you for reading," she said sincerely.

The next morning while she and my dad and I were sitting at the counter having breakfast, one of the fifteen or so pills that my mom is now required to try and swallow each day got lodged in her throat and she started to choke. My dad and I tensed and waited for the spell to pass. When it lasted longer than either of us were comfortable with, we each grabbed one of her arms below the shoulder and hoisted her from her seat, trying to open her airway. We hovered over her for a long time, glancing at each other with panic in our eyes as she gasped for breath. After what felt like forever, my mom finally worked the pill loose and gulped for air and immediately began to cry. My dad and I followed suit.

The three of us stood there for quite a while feeling helpless and hopeless and bawling, our half-eaten bowls of oatmeal cooling on the counter, when my mom suddenly took a deep breath, looked me in the eye and mouthed "Fuck." A sly smile spread across her face and her sobbing turned to laughter. My dad and I started to laugh too and that's how we made it through breakfast that day.

In our house we've always had the good fortune of laughter. Lots of it. And even now, in the midst of what oftentimes feels more like a nightmare than a reality, we still laugh together, and it heals. Not in the way we all so desperately wish it would, but on some days it’s enough.

And for that, I’m thankful.

Me and Alanis Morissette

It's been less than a week since I quit my job and I'm already pretty hard up for real human interaction during business hours. In fact, so in need of conversation am I by the time lunch rolls around that I often find myself speaking to inanimate objects in my apartment, like my roommate's rice cooker and Kelly, the green jacket that hangs on a hook in the hallway outside of my bedroom.

Admittedly, this morning I reached such a loneliness low that I may or may not have parked myself in front of my Jambox and attempted to force a conversation out of Alanis Morissette's 1995 multiplatinum-selling album Jagged Little Pill.


Track: "All I Really Want"

Alanis Morissette: Do I stress you out?

Me: No, not really. Well, actually, your breakup with Ryan Reynolds did kind of make me a little bit sa...

Alanis Morissette: Do I wear you out?

Me: What? Oh, um, no. But like I was just saying about your relationship with Ry...

Alanis Morissette: Why are you so petrified of silence?

Me: I'm not. I mean, I'm literally talking right now, but you seem entirely uninterested in what I have to sa...

Alanis Morissette: Here, can you handle this?

Me: Are you referring to all of the interruptions? Because I gotta say, they're already starting to make me feel a little upse...

Alanis Morissette: Did you think about your bills, your ex, your deadlines or when you think you're gonna die, or did you long for the next distraction?

Me: Woah. Shit. I...ugh...what?


Track: "You Oughta Know"

Alanis Morissette: Would she go down on you in a theater?

Me: Excuse me? Alanis, I'm gay.

Alanis Morissette: Does she speak eloquently?

Me: Who, pray tell, are we talking about?

Alanis Morissette: Would she have your baby?

Me: I. Don't. Know. Her. And even if I did, she'd probably charge me like $100,000. That's pretty much the going rate for surrogacy these da...

Alanis Morissette: Does she know how you told me you'd hold me until you died?

Me: You're kinda creepin' me out with that one, I gotta be honest.

Alanis Morissette: Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity?

Me: Nope. Still here. Also, my name is Corey.

Alanis Morissette: Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?

Me: I'm gayG-A-Y. Like super into boys. So no offense, you're very nice looking, but I'd probably be thinking about, like, George Clooney or that guy from the Allstate commercials.


Track: "Perfect"

Alanis Morissette: How long before you screw it up?

Me: Que?

Alanis Morissette: How many times do I have to tell you to hurry up?

Me: Zero. You have literally told me to hurry up zero times. Ever.

Alanis Morissette: What's the problem?

Me: I have no problem, except maybe that you're a really hard person to talk to, Alanis Morissette.

Alanis Morissette: Why are you crying?

Me: I'm not crying. I just...have something...in my eye.


Track: "Head Over Feet"

Alanis Morissette: What took me so long?

Me: Again, what?


Track: "Mary Jane"

Alanis Morissette: What's the matter, Mary Jane?

Me: COREY. My name is Corey. Remember? I'm the gay one who doesn't think about you during sex?

Alanis Morissette: What's the point of trying to dream anymore?

Me: I'm not sure I ever really try, to be honest. It just kind of happens when I eat greasy food right before I fall aslee...

Alanis Morissette: Do you ever wonder who you're losing it for?

Me: I might, if I knew what the fuck you were talking about.


Track: "Ironic"

Alanis Morissette: Isn't it ironic?

Me: Isn't what ironic?

Alanis Morissette: Don't you think?

Me: Again, what the fuck are you asking me?

Alanis Morissette: And isn't it ironic?

Me: I'm not sure, Alanis. Look, to be perfectly honest I don't even rea...

Alanis Morissette: Don't you think?

Me: Don't I think what?

Alanis Morissette: And isn't it ironic?

Me: Are you referring to all the spoons? Because I'm not sure that's iro...

Alanis Morissette: Don't you think?

Me: No. I think all of those things might just be shitty luck.


Track: "Not the Doctor"

Alanis Morissette: Hey, what are you hungry for?

Me: I'm not really that hun...actually, I'd really love a soft pretzel if you have one.

Alanis Morissette: Well, what do you think of me?

Me: That depends. Are you getting me the pretzel or not?

Alanis Morissette: What do you think me for?

Me: I'm confused. Is that not pretty much the same question you just asked me one second ago?


Track: "Your House"

Alanis Morissette: Would you forgive me love, if I danced in your shower?

Me: Whatever you do in the shower is your business, ugh, love? Just don't use the shampoo that's in the blue bottle. My roommate will literally cut you.

Alanis Morissette: Would you forgive me love, if I laid in your bed?

Me: So what, you're like moving in now?

Alanis Morissette: Would you forgive me love, if I stay all afternoon?

Me: No. Actually, you better just go before all afternoon turns into forever. Creep.


Yeah.

I should get a job.


Note: This post appeared on Thought Catalog on April 18, 2013.

Goodbye to a Friend

In the early hours of Saturday morning, after nearly seven years, three operating systems and two trackpad replacements, my 13-inch MacBook succumbed to what I can only assume was a combination of old age and complications related to a 2009 incident with Lemon-Lime Gatorade.

I met Kevin, my MacBook's given name, on a sweltering mid-summer afternoon in 2006. The end of my undergraduate career was weeks away and I was slouched at a desk in the living room of my shared Brooklyn Heights one-bedroom frantically pecking out one of my last collegiate assignments, a term paper about Christopher Columbus' travel journals. I was in the middle of a paragraph ridiculing Columbus for his theory that the Earth was shaped like a pear with a nipple protruding from the top when the screen on the laptop I was using, a battered Dell gifted to me after high school graduation, went black.

"What the hell?" I said.

"What's wrong?" my roommate yelled from the other room.

"I think my laptop just died."

I waited for several seconds, hoping the screen would relight. It didn't. I hacked at the power button a dozen or so times. Nothing happened. I checked the wall outlet to make sure it was plugged in. It was.

"Yup, it's dead."

I paced the room as I tallied my options. The paper was due in less than a day and I figured I could attempt to track down an affordable repair man on Craigslist, camp out in one of the computer labs on campus for the next twelve hours or bite the bullet and just replace my dilapidated Dell. I assessed the state of my bank account aloud.

"The MET still owes me a paycheck. I have a babysitting job on Pierrepont Street on Friday night. There's $300 left from that scholarship I got for that essay I wrote. I'll probably get at least a hundred bucks for my birthday next month."

I took a deep breath.

"Screw it."

Figuring I could probably buy a new laptop and still feed myself without having to ask my folks for help, I grabbed my keys, yelled a goodbye in the direction of my roommate's bedroom and hustled to the Court Street subway station. After a sweaty 10-minute wait, a Manhattan-bound R-train screeched into the station behind a hot blast of New York City air and carried me to within a few blocks of the Apple Store on 59th and Fifth.

After several minutes spent poking at the display computers and eyeing price tags, I chose a 13-inch white MacBook because it was very pretty and because Apple offered to throw in an iPod and a shitty printer if I could produce a valid student ID. I tracked down a salesperson, told him what I wanted and kissed $1,400 goodbye. Careful not to make eye contact with anyone who might be interested in muscling away from me what was then the most expensive purchase of my life, NYU tuition notwithstanding, I rushed back to Brooklyn to restart my paper.

In the years since that frantic afternoon in the Big Apple, Kevin and I have been through a lot together. We left New York together after graduation and spent the following fall in my parents’ basement searching for jobs and binge watching episodes of Grey's Anatomy on DVD. We moved to Chicago together, where we traversed my first few years of full-time employment, my coming out and the rise of social media. Then, after nearly four and a half years in the Windy City, we headed west to San Francisco together, just the two of us, a pair of duffel bags and a tennis racquet, where we've been living ever since.

Until Saturday morning.

Thinking on it last night, I came to the realization that if Kevin were a person and not just bits of metal and plastic, he could expel far more information about my life over the last six and three-quarters years than any other entity, including Google. In that time period he’s seen my college transcripts, my grad school essays and my work resumes. He’s been privy to my photo albums, my playlists and my travel itineraries. He knows the ins and outs of every Gchat conversation, Facebook post and Skype chat, every Amazon purchase, bank account transaction and Netflix rental. He's even seen my Web history, which, to be honest, plays more like a diary than any actual diary I’ve ever kept. I know it’s silly, this sentimentality over 5.2 pounds of hardware, especially in an age when Apple products get a twice-yearly reboot and competing devices show up on shelves every other week, but when I think about how drastically my life has changed since that summer day in New York City in 2006, how quickly life has happened to me, how gone my twenties nearly are, I realize that my laptop had been one of the few constants.

There are, of course, things I won't miss about Kevin. For instance, his battery became so warped in his final years that pressing any key in the lower left portion of the keyboard would cause his whole body to rock hard to one side and then fall back again like a seesaw. And, by today's standards, he's a bit on the heavy side. Long gone are the days when I'd happily haul him around in my backpack, instead opting to tote the much slimmer MacBook Air made available to me by my place of employment. Despite all of his flaws and shortcomings, however, wherever I was living, whatever I was doing, I knew that I could always return home and he'd be there, his gentle light pulsing like a breath, waiting up for me.

Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple and one of the many folks responsible for the 13-inch MacBook, said in the film Memory & Imagination, "What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds."

I think Mr. Jobs comes close, though more so than any bicycle, our computers have come to be our companions, our lives happening both around and in and with them. A remarkable tool, indeed.

As I type this goodbye while simultaneously putting through its paces the brand new 11-inch MacBook Air I purchased to accompany me in Kevin's absence, I can only wonder where the next seven years will take my new consort and I.

Hopefully nowhere near Lemon-Lime Gatorade.

Rest in peace, 13-inch MacBook.


Note: This post appeared on Thought Catalog on April 11, 2013.

Gray Sunday

Morning came early today.

The young daughter of the man I'm seeing awoke before eight and the combination of her energy and the volume by which she operates ensured that the rest of the house do the same. So instead of hoisting the covers over my head and falling back asleep as I have done on so many of the Sunday mornings of my twenties, this particular Sunday morning was spent on a kitchen stool with a plate of pancakes and The New York Times.

It was nice, padding down his steps in my bare feet to fetch the newspaper before the night cool had fully lifted. Nice, but different. On this morning one year ago I was living in a dingy studio apartment near Union Square feeling a little bit lonely and wondering how many months it might be before the proverbial bullet would be bitten and I would move "home" to Chicago. But a whole year has happened since then and I am still here. More here, really, because the days feel more like living than waiting, as they had. Thinking on it, I cannot say why that is, exactly, except that perhaps now I know more people and there are Sunday papers to be fetched.

In the early afternoon I went to the bookstore in my neighborhood to buy something that might help pass this gray Sunday. After I had made a selection, something in paperback by Joan Didion, I went to the counter. The cashier, a man in his fifties, took my credit card, looked at it for a moment and, not recognizing the bank, asked where I was from.

"Michigan, originally," I told him.

"But you live here now?" he asked.

"Yes," I told the man. "I live here now."

He handed me back my card and I walked out of the bookstore, feeling those words to be true.

Goodbye

"So you're moving on to bigger and better things, ay?" Bob the Landlord asked Roommate Matthew and I earlier this evening, his typically coarse tone grumbling in a more playful octave.

"I guess so," I told him, trying to downplay my excitement.

"Well, best of luck to you both," he offered.

"Thanks," we said.

"You can just leave the keys on the counter when you go," he told us. "I'll get 'em tomorrow."

After a brief pause, Bob the Landlord turned and made his way toward the back door off of the kitchen, outside of which is a staircase leading down to his apartment. Just as he was about to descend the steps, he paused, turned toward us and said, "I hope this place served a purpose."

As I stood with Roommate Matthew in our uncharacteristically clean kitchen for what I knew would be the last time, I nodded without saying anything. A moment later, Bob the Landlord was gone.

I stayed in the apartment for a while after Roommate Matthew left. I walked in and out of each of the rooms, fingering dents and scrapes that we'd created over the course of the past three and a half years. I used my iPhone to snap a few pictures and fought the urge to narrate a final video tour. When I finally collected enough strength to leave, I stopped in the doorway and stared into the darkness and thought about the last time I'd seen it this empty, when my parents and I toured it shortly after college graduation.

Again, Bob the Landlord's words popped into my head.

"I hope this place served a purpose."

Knowing it had, I smiled, reached for the handle on the door and pulled it closed.