If you found this blog by Googling my name or by following sundry noxious links (you know where), please note that all claims that I was fired from my job are 100% false, as are most of the other things written about me. I don't know the people who are libeling me, but it's clear they have some imaginary axe to grind and way too much time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You know who I really, really want to eat with?*

Kate Lowenstein.

She's the senior features editor at Time Out New York, and interviews people every week for the Public Eye feature.

I like Time Out because it's just like the magazine I worked at when I studied abroad in Hong Kong, HK Magazine. I like Kate Lowenstein because she is a great conversationalist.

You don't fully grasp this until you eat with a bunch of strangers one-on-one, but conversation is fucking hard. I'm not a naturally nosy person; it's hard for me to come up with questions to ask someone. And questions are pointless anyway, since people have stock answers for making small talk to the more mind-numbingly predictable ones:

1) So what do you do? Do you like it?
3) Where are you from? Do you like New York?
4) Where do you live? Do you like it? (Alternatively, How much is your rent?)

These should not be called getting-to-know-you questions. You learn nothing. Does anyone ever really give a shit whether a stranger likes her job/city/neighborhood? Nope. I've made a vow to never ask these questions of another human being in NYC ever again. It's more wrong of me to ask and then tune someone out than be blatantly uninterested.

Conversation is not about asking questions - if you try to hard to think of good ones, it's just corny - because conversation happens when you no longer need questions. With the guys I didn't click with, the meals were awkward because we never moved out of the question phase. Nothing we asked/answered could shift the focus away from the unfamiliarity of the other person.

Conversation is sensing what the other person wants to talk about, whatever it is that makes them lively, and to get there in the least number of questions possible. Kate Lowenstein manages to get to the soul of a rando on the street within like, six blurbs. Maybe I just need to stop eating with finance guys, or maybe her interviewees strive to say interesting things because they know they're going to be in a magazine. Doesn't matter. I want to eat with Kate Lowenstein and learn her art. I'm hoping someone who reads this will pass it along some hipster chain until it reaches the TONY headquarters.

*Besides the DABA girls


  1. this is why, after a lacklust CBD, I went out with Sean -- because our conversation felt like one, and not a string of questions meandering nowhere.

    Part of the problem is that those stock questions really could be revealing, but no one offers anything juicy or passionate about them anymore. We're all too good (or bad) at playing this game. Favorite movies/music is the next step down.

  2. You could spend the whole meal making statements instead.

    I like wine.
    I once had a fight with a hobo over wine.
    You have an unlikable face.

    On a more serious note, can't you just email this person and ask her to do you?

  3. Yeah, but statements can be boring too. I think I'll just skip right to "so, do you have Daddy issues?"

    Thought about emailing her, but I'm intimidated - TONY is too hip to not make fun of me.