An Abandoned Applebees in Times Square and I Can Pretend to be Anything

I don’t care if she’s acting or not. This is me being interviewed by literally anyone.

If I were a skinny Puerto Rican with a killer wardrobe, I’d be Aubrey Plaza. I can interview other people. I cannot be interviewed without becoming this.

That line…I can’t remember where it is in the interview but where she says “I can pretend to be anything.” It resonates. I think women, more than men, suffer from fear of being discovered as an imposter. But I think it comes along with certain constellations of personality and temperament as well. I am forever in awe of people who appear to be in awe of me.

Can they seriously not see through this costume, I often wonder. During my interview for this job Jon made the comment that he didn’t know whether I was just a really confident person or good at faking it.


Second one.

Fooled ya, Sitler.

Which I proceeded to prove to him for the first six to 12 months of working here. There were certain personalities here at the time that exacerbated my anxiety. Once things started switching up a bit I started getting more comfortable and more able to act like I am in my head. And it seems to have been a positive change. But I completely understand that ability to be more comfortable in character than out.

I know that’s not exactly what she’s talking about, and I also acknowledge that part of her brand is to be awkward and uncomfortable. That’s how she packages her comedy. But I think that art imitates life to a great degree, and I recognize what she throws out in my own internal monologue. Heavily.

It makes me feel happy with who I am to see her getting positive reactions when she portrays it. It’s the same thing I love about Big Bang. It takes social awkwardness and the difficulty with interaction and makes it funny, which makes it relatable to people who don’t struggle with it, which I think increases empathy.

Unfortunately it also increases the number of people pretending to be nerds because they want to be cool like Sheldon, which makes it harder to weed out the posers, but overall I think it’s a very positive development. I like it, and I appreciate what it’s done to legitimize and normalize intelligence at the cost of social savvy.

In other news, my child’s anxiety continues to trigger my own.

Oh, this poor kid. If she’s a fire I’m gasoline. Her anxiety has been increasing lately and I’m starting to see really concerning traits in her that I remember in myself and, more concerning, that my mom used to have as a child (according to her self-report). I think that when you escape the genetic landmine of an exceptionally heritable psychiatric diagnosis you take for granted that your kids will as well but I continue to worry.

We’re planning a trip to see my best friend who lives near Ithaca this coming weekend and she’s freaking out because she doesn’t want to leave our cats. I, too, used to hate being away from home but mine was an attachment issue – if my mom was going to be there I was fine and dandy. It was when I had to be separated from her that I became an anxious mess. But this is an opportunity for Harper and I to have a whole weekend of alone time and she’s still very uncomfortable being away from home.

Her anxiety over water and flooding continues to increase. The child cannot handle a bath unless I stay in the room and shut the water off the second it reaches her ankles. And she’s started checking the toilet compulsively to make sure it’s not going to overflow.

Kind of tripped her trigger in a bad way when I brought them to the office with me today to find that the hot water tank was leaking good and proper.


I’ve been trying to console her ever since. She won’t leave my side.

She saw my new desktop, though, and she legit thought it was me. And I’m flattered.


I wish that was me.

It’s just so constant, the worry. Nothing seems to help. Every time she gets enrolled in a service (BSC, MT), they don’t see the behavior because they’re visiting at school, or else they visit at home and she acts completely different because the issue is between her and I. The presence of her sister changes her behavior too, and then whether or not she’s had a visit with her father recently seems to influence it. I’ve been focusing really hard on testing her beliefs, because I want to get to the bottom of what she’s actually worried about.

Like with the water. I ask her directly “are you worried it will flood? What’s the worst possible thing that could happen, in your mind, if the water doesn’t stop flowing,” and she just won’t tell me. And I get her frustration, because I do the same thing. Therapy didn’t work for me because I’ve been raised not to tell people what I need and what I don’t like, so it’s hard for me to have those conversations if people aren’t asking the right questions. There were other things going on there for me too, but that was a big problem.

So I know that’s what she’s doing with me. She’s started with the passive-aggressive responses too. I’ll ask her what’s wrong and she’ll give me the “what does it look like,” answer. It’s hard, because I want to respond to her and provide support and comfort when she needs it, and often I can see plainly what she needs. But does responding to her when she’s refusing to vocalize it just reinforce the passive-aggressive/nonverbal behavior then? I feel like it does. I want her to learn how to directly tell people what she needs to have happen, or to have stop happening, without making them guess.

And I guess I’m still learning the skill myself.

It’s so frustrating.

I continue to praise the everloving hell out of every single thing she does that I want her to do more. Going to the bathroom without being reminded, cleaning up her own messes, being kind or considerate to others, being kind and considerate to herself. I still fully believe that heavy praise for desirable behavior is the most direct route to having desirable behavior repeated. And I try really hard to stop for five seconds before responding to undesirable behavior to get myself right with the lord (Our Heavenly Father Skinner) in advance of opening my mouth.

But oh my god this kid. She’s so sensitive and I’m afraid I’ve already fucked up with her one too many times. Fingers crossed she’s got my resilience. But gas on a fire, man. She escalates so quickly that it’s hard for me not to be triggered when she’s going off and I know my responses have added to the problem.


Why couldn’t I have gotten a physics degree?

I don’t want to understand behavior. I don’t want to know anything about mental health. I want to be as ignorant as the next person to why anyone does what they do. It would be so nice to have a different brain altogether and just think about string theory all day instead.

We went for a bike ride last night. First one of the season. We even went across the street to fill our tires up and then we rode across the bridge. It’s our typical route but the walkway is closed down from November through April so it’s kind of a spring kickoff event to ride over the river.

Then, of course, we stopped at the corner to give our neighbor’s ceramic dalmatian a hug.

Sometimes I’d like to move into that abandoned Applebees in Times Square. It sounds quiet. And peaceful. And empty. And dark. And relaxing. It could be like hiding in plain sight, which I feel like I’m doing anyway, but with a better lair.


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