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A Field Guide to Awkward Silences A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri
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A Field Guide to Awkward Silences Quotes Showing 1-13 of 13
“My parents, worried that I might become popular at school, got me a book of puns at an impressionable age.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“The things we love weave themselves into the framework of our being. They are the trellises on which our thoughts grow; we shape ourselves, our habits, our vocabularies, to accommodate them. If someone asks, “Why do you love this?” the question is as impossible to answer as “Why are you?” You cannot isolate the part of you that loves from the rest of you, or mark its beginning and ending. Old couples grow to look like each other. Old ruins blur into their ivy. Star Wars fans name their kids Luke and Leia and show up at conventions dressed as Jabba the Hutt. At first we loved the Millennium Falcon, so we wanted to build a scale replica in our basement. Now we love the Millennium Falcon because of the scale replica in our basement. Every time I watched Star Wars I used to hold my breath to see if it felt the same. But now I know it won’t. It hasn’t moved, but I have. It’s always there. It’s magic, still, but a different magic every time. I turn off all the lights in the house so there’s no reflection or glare, shut all the doors and windows, and settle in a chair with my arms folded over my knees and wait for takeoff.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“(Embarrassing old screen names are the lower-back tattoos of the Internet age.)”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“The only thing more terrifying than the feeling you’re being watched is the feeling that you’re not. Privacy is just an uncomfortable reminder that you’re not a celebrity.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“Crazy ex stories are hard because they started out as love stories. And the key moment in a love story is the moment when you realize that—of all the improbable things!—there’s a person inside someone else! He or she is not just a character in the plotline of your life. You thought you were the only real one. You thought you were alone in the universe, twisting the dials on a radio in a postapocalyptic hut somewhere. Then one day you get a signal back. That’s a love story for you. I’m real. You’re real. Now what? But this isn’t a love story. This is a story about unreliable narrators, about the stories you tell yourself about the people you can’t have. In stories like that only one person is ever real. So you don’t get to tell this story. I’m the real one; you’re a character in my story. I’m the one who gets to tell this. Turning people into characters does a kind of violence to them. You lose a dimension or two pinning them down to the page. No, you say. Stop. Don’t move. This won’t work if you move. You are the story I tell about you. The instant you tell a story it stops being quite true.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“This one's called Social Suicide," I said. "It's about a girl who wants to get revenge on all the people in her life by killing herself in the middle of a dinner party.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“Embarrassing ourselves in front of strangers is literally one of the worst things that can happen to us. It's in the slot where polio used to be. Awkwardness, rejection, missing out. We've conquered everything else and these constants of human life are all that remain to bedevil us.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“As long as you are forced to be a woman first instead of a person, by default, you need to be a feminist. That’s it. Men are people, women are women? Screw that. Screw that. I am sick of having words aimed to shut me up. I am sick of having to be anything other than a person first. Zounds! I enjoy being a girl, whatever that means. For me, that meant Star Wars figurines, mounds of books, skirts and flats. It meant Civil War reenacting and best girlfriends I’d give a kidney to and best guy friends I’d ruin a liver with and making messes and cleaning up some of them and still not knowing how to apply eye shadow. That’s being a girl. That’s being a person. It’s the same damn thing. I wish Rush had just called me an idiot. I’m happy to be called an idiot! On the day when someone on the Internet calls me an idiot first and ugly second, I will set down my feminist battle flag and heave a great sigh. Then I will pick it back up and keep climbing. There are many more mountains to overcome.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“I attended my first Star Wars convention right after freshman year of college, when the wounds of the prequels were fresh. It was a big milestone for me. “Finally,” I told my roommate, Svetlana, “I’ll get to be myself and go among my people.” “I don’t understand,” Svetlana said. “Who were you before? Literally the first thing you did on arriving at college was unpack your lightsabers. Do you think you’ve been hiding? If this is you concealing your love of Star Wars, what would it look like if you let it hang out? Would you just dress up as Jabba the Hutt all the time?” That wasn’t a bad idea, I thought. Maybe I should.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“It was always like this. Yes, the black-and-white debutantes of yore looked prim and proper and decorous and calm—like a row of carnations in white silk. But so did we, in our picture. In actual life there are no sepia tones. Call it the Unified Tastelessness Theory of History. In historic homes, people are always uncovering hidden layers of really hideous paint; James Madison’s bedroom was a wince-making teal. That statue was not the tasteful white you see; it used to look like Liberace on a bad day. There was a time when no yard in Ancient Athens was considered complete without a cheery stone phallus; they were like rude garden gnomes. Why would it have been any different in the ballrooms of a century ago? No one notices she’s living in a golden age. Probably if I’d been around then, I’d have spent most of my time lurking in the powder room, admiring the fractal patterns in the woodwork, catching up on my reading. If I were stuck at a dinner table next to Oscar Wilde, I would have sighed and wished myself back in time, next to Samuel Johnson. And so on, back and back and back until I ran into Dicaeopolis. In a strange way, that was comforting.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“Ancient Egypt was okay. Drinks menu was limited. Not the best place to meet people. Reminded me a lot of the Internet in the sense that it was full of pictures of cats and people seemed pretty excited about them. Also lots of fun emoji. Still not sure what “Feather Squiggly Line Bird” means.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“Like anyone growing up after 1980, I always had a dim, nagging sense, that I was supposed to be famous for something. A certain measure of fame just seems like our birthright these days, next to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Food, shelter, Wi-Fi, and the sense that someone’s watching; these are the modern requirements for survival. The only thing more terrifying than the feeling you’re being watched is the feeling that you’re not. Privacy is just an uncomfortable reminder that you’re not a celebrity.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
“love is by whether the Big Event You Attend in order to celebrate it is called a “convention” or not. You can tell, too, by how relieved you are when you finally get to turn yourself inside out and wear your deepest passion on your sleeve.”
Alexandra Petri, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences