On the Competitive Nature of Reunions

First of all, I mine-as-well get this out of the way: I saw the Sex  
and the City
movie
and it wasn’t not good. I know, I know– I want  
very badly to say that I was forced into it, that I had no choice but  
to see it bc (Insert Pseudo Interesting Art Film here) was sold out,  
but, friends, that isn’t how it went down. I kind of like Sex and the  
City. And the movie was an emotional rollercoaster (with nudity!).  
With all the women decked out in cocktail dresses, I kind of  
felt like I was witnessing a female version of the dress-up  
fascination of Lord of the Rings, but with sluttier outfits on the  
hobbits. If I was a movie analyst–and I should be–I would say that  
movie is going to make at least 3 billion dollars (Canadian).

Anyway, I’m back in the designated driver’s seat of my book, whipping  
off the final version before I send it out. And when I say whipping  
off, I obviously mean occasionally writing small edits at night,  
after re-watching portions of The Real World Hollywood. But I realize  
that I need to get the book out, and I need to do it this week,  
because of a crucial event immersing this weekend social calendar: My  
fifth year college reunion.

Fifth year reunions are the 18 plus clubs of the reunion world:  
everyone is too young, looks the same, and probably got drunk  
beforehand. But they do offer a crucial look at the success rate of  
your peers. And–aside from making sure that no one else’s distressed  
status jeans are more expensively nonchalant than mine– I have just  
one question that I need to answer: Is anyone else a more successful  
writer?

In college, I was a political science major, so I wasn’t dialed in to  
who was in the creative writing workshops. And, although I wrote a  
column for the paper my senior year, I didn’t actually ever go into  
the Trinity Tripod newspaper office. So I don’t even know who to  
ultimately try and look down upon when comparing myself.

My plan is this: buy a pair of non-prescription eye glasses (to take  
off and absentmindedly gnaw on when I am trying to make a point) and  
immediately delve into the “so what are you up to nowadays” game.  
Hopefully, after I drop my several-time thought out, faux-self  
deprecating response (“Oh me? Hmmm, not much, just writing for some  
(national!) magazines, getting a book that probably won’t sell out to  
my agent, you know… typical boring writer stuff,”)  then I will  
delicately prod people to reveal if anyone else works in the  
“industry.” People do this naturally: “Oh really? You should talk to  
Ramsey–he’s also writing,” etc, etc. And then I will find that  
person, provoke a convo and hope to the Lord that my writing stuff is  
cooler than their writing stuff. Then I will play beer pong, eat  
Lucky Charms and sleep in a dorm room.

I know I shouldn’t care. I know I should take this as an opportunity  
to network with the other potential writers in my beloved class. I  
know I should be happy if anyone “made it” in such a hard business,  
especially because that speaks well of my school and opens the door  
for the younger generation of writers coming in after us. And when I  
think of it rationally, I do feel that way. But I am also  
competitive. And insecure. And really, really tired. And the dirty  
truth of the matter is that I want to be the only one. I want  
everyone else to be impressed by the fact that I actually am doing  
what I said I was going to do when I left school. I want street cred.

I am not normally like this, friends. I love hearing stories about  
other people’s success. You know that. But there is something about  
the pool of people you went to college with–especially at a small  
school like mine– that brings out the lion, tiger and bear in me (Oh  
my).

So hear you me, Trinity College (CT) Class of ’03: Do you have a book  
published? Are you writing for Esquire or the New Yorker or, even,  
Redbook? Have you ever called the Internet a “fad” on a radio show?  
Do you have to wear pants on a daily basis? Do you like that?

If so, and you see me at the reunion, do me a favor: Please don’t  
tell me.

Reunion stories, writing trivia, and jpegs from Sex and the City will  
be provided in the Comments section. Refreshments will be served.

Till I Hear it,
 From You

Gin Blossoms

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13 thoughts on “On the Competitive Nature of Reunions

  1. Genevieve

    Kristan-I only know two women who’ve said that to me, so I guess it’s not fair to speak for all the chicks out there who might see themselves in the Fantastic Four. The girls I knew were only similar to the women in the show in that they were casual about sex, drank a lot, and called things "fabulous." But they didn’t have the success and confidence of the characters. They were in their mid-twenties, looked older, were desperate for male attention, and very tired. And one of them always hit on my dad, which only he thought charming. Anyway, sounds like you had a sweet girls night out with awesome friends, even if it ended at a reasonable hour.

    Speaking of nights out, knock ’em dead this weekend Kevin! Repeat this to yourself, "I am a man of fortune within, I am a man of fortune within…" And so forth and etc.

  2. Kristan C.

    I’m only still friends with one person I met in college, and it’s pretty clear that she’s way more successful than me, so reunions are pointless.

    But I hope you have a fantabulous time and get that street cred you so desire! The fact is, it IS impressive that you are doing exactly what you said you were going to do. You need to hold your head up high when you walk in (also, that way, the eyeglasses won’t slide off.)

    I saw "Sex & the City" over the weekend. (Genevieve, are there really women who say they see themselves on screen?!? Who DRESSES like that?) We had a whole day of it planned: a matinee, followed by cosmos and sushi at a local sushi BBQ place, followed by dancing. But, having nowhere near the stamina of the women on screen, including Miranda with her long working hours and 5-year-old son, half of us bailed before the dancing; turns out 10 p.m. is our bedtime even on a Saturday night. Samantha would be so ashamed.

  3. Tom

    All right, so Pryzbylewski’s got some talents. He’s terrible with a gun, but when he’s on those codes…right on. Freamon was apparently a hidden gem of a cop they didn’t even know they had.

    Time for Season One, Disc Four.

  4. Angie

    Kevin, I can totally relate to that sense of competitiveness. For years after college, I was always measuring my progress against those of classmates. Just recently I learned not to after accepting the fact that I am just on a very different path compared to most of my classmates. They’re all doctors and lawyers and consultants and investment bankers, and I am one of an army of editors at an enormous publisher owned by another enormous publisher based in a far-off land (Boston). Now I’ve been able to refocus that energy on getting where I want to go instead of worrying about whether someone else got there first.

    It seems like you’ve been doing really well at getting where you want to go, and that’s really admirable. I’m sure you needn’t worry about being out-classed, out-performed, or out-smarted. You’re doing what you want to do, and you’re doing it well. That alone is an achievement worth noting.

  5. Tom

    I’ve with Danielle on the radio interview thing. I also want a copy of the cougar interview (I’ve heard it has a Parental Warning for strong language!).

    Genevieve – loved the Beach Boys blog. Pet Sounds is amazing stuff. That group was a LOT more than "Surfin’ USA." Thanks for the comment on my wit. It is summarily ignored/not understood around the office, so I keep it in a box until less normal people who may enjoy it are nearby.

    Stacey – Irong Man was indeed great (and if you go, sit all the way through the credits ’cause there’s a nice little bit at the end that you do not want to miss).

    Kev – While we were waiting in line for popcorn, there was a couple in their 70s behind us who offered me their free popcorn coupon (which saved me approximately sixty-three dollars, as movie concessions are priced in line with airport goods, apparently), and when we asked them what they were going to see, the gentleman paused for a moment, and then said, "Sex!" His wife laughed and said, "We heard Sex and the City was funny, and I need a good laugh today!"

    The Wire – You are good, my new favorite TV series rental. I have now rented discs two and three of you, and am looking to sharing many enthusiastic, tense, enjoyable, sad, drama-filled hours with you. I greatly enjoy your portrayal of Bubs the snitch. I thought his initial scene with the "ain’t even beige" kid was outstanding and uncomfortably real. I think his character lends a great swatch of unfiltered reality to the show. I also wish Prezbelewski and those other two guys (the Three Chumps, as I prefer to think of them) would all get dropped from the force. Those guys couldn’t find it with both hands and a flashlight.

    Rook to bishop four,
    Tea

  6. Danielle

    Kevin you should also ask them if they get paid money to stay at home and work, or if they can go to California whenever they want without having to get their vacation approved while you are asking all of the rest of your questions. If they don’t it’s more pluses for you. I really shouldn’t try to encourage you about this, it may make things worse.

    You don’t happen to have a copy of your radio interview do you?

  7. Genevieve

    You know, the true sinfulness of this blog is that there’s sooo much to comment on! Damn it, Kevin, stop making interesting observations! No, I’m kidding, it’s fun.

    First, I like Sex in the City too, but I’ve noticed that I generally don’t like women who say they identify with the characters on the show. The women I’ve met who say, "Omigod! That show is sooo my life!" are usually women who are not functioning well in their lives, and who I would not leave alone with my husband, father, grandfather, sensitive, single male friends, or my son when he reaches manhood.

    Second, I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but I have a slightly selfish reason for enjoying your writing and our group of commentators. WHEN you are well known I can say that I was a fan in the early days, before your first book, when you went through your trials and tribulations (oh no, I used a cliche!). And Tom! when you begin to channel that writer’s voice and wonderfully ridiculous wit I will say I knew you during the days when you were working at a job somewhere doing somthing I don’t know! And Stacey! Dear God, Stacey. When you graduate magma sue lotta, or whatever the greek term for really good college student is, and publish your first novel which will win the pulitzer prize for youth and smartness all at the age of sixteen, I will say that I was there for your first drafts when your classmates were still getting their heads flushed down toilets.

    Yes. I will live vicariously through your glory Class of…um…many people. Please don’t think less of me.

    ps- speaking of insecurities, thanks for what you guys said about my blog a while back. I’m working on the whole accepting compliments thing.

  8. Tom

    Doesn’t Stacey say the best stuff? She’s like a wellspring of hope and positivity.
    Stace – Yep, I heard that Jones wasn’t all that great, but I’m still wanting to see it. I saw the first one in the theater (giving you some idea of how ancient I am), and I think I’ll have a pretty good time with this one as the last go-round.

    Kev,
    Yes! The chess scene was dynamite stuff, man. It’s such a great scene illustrating how all the players – both dealers and cops – are working on each other. With it there are a number of unpleasant messages about how those players might very well be used in this game, and you can see D thinking on that as he’s teaching them. Good stuff.

  9. Stacey

    Kevin, if you are impressed with where you are today (which you definitely should be), then your college peers will have no reason not to be impressed as well. Remember, some people are most likely unhappy with their job and dread going to work everyday. If you are doing what you want to do right now just because you want to do it, than I think that you are the most successful. It really depends on how you define "success." I think a respectable, hardworking man of good character is more successful than the richest man in the world of bad character. Are you happy with where you are today? Yes? Good. Then be happy.

    You majored in political science? That’s always interested me. I’m pretty caught up in the presidential election now. I know the delegate count like a jock knows his sports statistics. 🙂

    Tom – I heard Iron Man was amazing, but Indiana Jones wasn’t as good as expected.

  10. Kevin Alexander

    Tom– truer words re: The Wire have (maybe) never been spoken, at least not on this blog. D’Angelo does come across a little over the top at first, but I love that chess scene. Bodie is one my favorite characters of all time:
    D: "The King stay the King. Pawns get capped quick. They be out the game early."
    B: "Unless they some smart ass pawns."

    God, just talking about it makes me happy.

  11. Tom

    Colleges have class reunions? That’s weird. My graduating class was so big that it’d be hard to reunite with anyone I was friends with. Isn’t that what Facebook is for, anyway? (I ask this in a not-really-sarcastic tone, because I just found an old college friend via the magic of said interweb social institution – hats off to you, Kev, for your Facebook asides here.)

    Of my friends in Journalism school back then, one is an editor at a newspaper, one is a copyeditor at another newspaper, and one is at some job that he can’t describe to me, so he just sent me a link to the company website, and now I can’t describe it to anyone else either.

    I said I was going to work for a car magazine when I graduated. I did, as a freelancer for a couple of years. I don’t know if it chewed me up and spit me out, or if I just lost interest, but I’m not doing it now. I still write about that stuff, get pretty hands-on with it, and take lots of pictures, but there’s no money in it for me. I’m trying to get back to something involving writing, as I’ve mentioned here before, but it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps this is the reason I never pause to consider any of my reunion dates?

    On movies, I have not seen Sex and the City. I’d have to say it’s incredibly low on the list. I took the nieces to see Narnia II last night, which they loved, and that I can at least say has a pretty fantastic storyline to it, as well as talking animals, and I stand by both of those as strong arguments for my enjoyment of said film. I’ve also got Iron Man and Indiana Jones to see before they leave the big screen.

    And, on yet another filmic note (of the small screen), I have finally begun watching The Wire. I had to make three attempts at two different video stores to get hold of disc one of season one, but now I’ve finished it, and I’m fully vested in seeing the outcome. It’s a good thing each disc only has three episodes on it, because I would have stayed up until 3am last night watching more if it had been available. I’m really liking these characters. While I’m somewhat in disbelief of D’Angelo as the kid from the streets with an apparent abundance of heart for his fellow man and a mind for chess, I’m nevertheless digging him. He’s obviously got something going for him, and you want to hope that he can get his life together. And this thing with Daniels – holy crap! I find out about his background during the final minutes of episode three??!!! Arrrgh! I can’t wait to get my hands on disc two.

    Liberally wordy this PM:
    T-bizzle

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