Most frequent typos when ending an email “Best, Eva”
1. Nest, Eva
2. Vest, Eva
3. Best, Wva
Office vs Pocket, and the evolution and role of language
From my research today, it appears that we are about 25 years into the pervasive use of the term “out of pocket” to describe a situation that would be correctly described as “out of office." It seems that no one really understands why, and not enough people are asking questions.
Traditionally, “Out of Pocket" describes a situation in which you run out of per diem or petty cash, and have to pay for business expenses with your own money, or out of your own pocket. Out of Pocket.
Out of Office is just not being in the office. It has nothing to do with pockets.
They are both business terms, they start with the same two words, and I can see how plenty of people may have slipped up and said “out of pocket” once or twice instead of “out of office,” and hey, you know, it happens, let it slide. But now, that slip has become interchangeable with the correct phrase. Being “Out of Pocket” and being “Out of Office” have become, sometimes, the same thing. The confusion, I suppose, happens when you are both out of pocket financially, but in the office physically. Or out of the office physically, but haven’t spent any of your own money on business expenses. Or when you are both out of the office physically, and out of pocket financially.
Can you just start calling something, something else, just because it sounds the same, or starts with the same words? Will “vacations” become “vocations”? Will stage parents start living “precariously” through their children, as that glass of water will one day be “vicariously” close to the edge of the table?
Are pockets the same as offices, if you can be out of both of them? Is the role of language, in fact, not to describe things most accurately, but simply to communicate on the most basic level- if someone “knows what you mean”, and all it costs is a few seconds of quiet confusion, is that enough to redefine the meaning of a word or phrase?
I think that the role of language exists somewhere in the middle. Yes, it has to evolve and be fluid, and often, no one knows where slang terms come from, how certain words or phrases are invented and become popular and commonplace, even replacing existing terms. At its core, it is a tool to communicate. But how can that tool be effective when there is no sensible basis in meaning? Language is rich and historic and powerful, and has meaning beyond “you know what I mean.” Bonobo monkeys can ask for food, tell their trainers where they want to go, and play word-based games. They can, without a doubt, communicate. We know what they mean. But, as many linguists have argued, I don’t think this constitutes true language. Language is also about understanding, beyond basic communication.
When people say “out of pocket” when they mean “out of office”, perhaps the communication in there, but not, without some pause, the understanding.
As my final though on this subject, I’ll tell you that if anyone is going to miss use and forgive the miss use of “Out of Pocket”, it’s legendary word-mixer-upper, my friend Matt Pollock. We talked about this today, and the use of “Out of Pocket” to mean “Out of Office” bothers and confuses him just as much as it bothers and confuses me.
These are some personally important songs from the time I lived in New York-
(I’m not a huge music fan, so this isn’t going to be a great list.)
This is a bad one. When I first moved here in 2006/2007, my cousin used to guest bartend at this real awful place on the Upper East Side. I’m not saying we danced on the bar there every time, but when we did, we danced to this song.
The songs by this band called Old Springs Pike.
My friend Zach and I were buddies in college, but when we both moved to New York at the same time, we really became good friends. We still are! Zach is a songwriter and musician, and we went to a lot of fun shows when we were here together. We use to see this kinda folky rock band called Old Springs Pike all the time. Here’s one called “Still Sixteen”.
John Prine “Paradise”
When Zach and I moved in together in 2008, our new apartment wasn’t exactly move-in ready. We both slept on one mattress on the floor in one of the bedrooms, with all of our stuff packed up, for two weeks, while the landlord finished construction on the rest of the place. We didn’t have any internet or TV, running water or electricity for a while, so we lit some candles and bought some flashlights, mixed vodka that I stole from the apartment that I had just moved out of, with lingonberry juice from Ikea, and Zach played guitar and taught me the words to this song.
Harvey Danger “Flagpole Sitta”
I work at CollegeHumor, so this is pretty important to all of us. We get loud.
Mountain Goats “This Year”
New York can be a rough place to live. When I’m feeling little beat up, I would put on this song, and just walk and walk and walk in the city.
Kid Cudi “Pursuit of Happiness”
This wasn’t a huge one, but I have this very distinct memory of standing on the street with my brother when he was visiting the city years ago, sharing headphones and listening to this song. He just moved here to New York. We haven’t lived in the same city since 2002, and in two days, I’m leaving.
Bishop Allen “Eve of Destruction”
For some reason, this song always reminded me of my work friends, and working production. Just a fun little tune, some words about some crazy stuff, but also having each other’s backs and hanging in there, and hey, it’s gonna be okay!
The Decemberists “Sons and Daughters”
In 2010, I spent eight long weeks on medical leave. Like, not working, not leaving the house, serious shit. This was the first song I listened to when I woke up in the hospital right when the whole thing started.
Frightened Rabbit “Old Old Fashioned”
No big story here. Still one of my favorite songs. My friend Jordan Hall and I saw this band together when they were touring for this record.
St. Vincent “Now, Now”
I saw St. Vincent twice in New York. Once with Zach, when I was so exhausted during the show that I pretty much fell sleep standing up. And once with my friend Jess at a festival so rainy, stormy, and muddy, they they decided they could never, ever have it again.
Ryan Adams “New York New York
Ryan Adams is one of my all time favorites. I loved this song even before I lived here. Listening it it over the past seven years, It always made me feel really, really lucky to have spent this time, this part of my life, in New York. Farewell to the city and the love of my life.
If there’s a place on earth that won’t make you feel weird about dining alone, it’s in New York. If there’s a time and a place that will make you almost start crying because the drinks are strong and the people are tough but kind, and the service is perfect and the food is so damn good, and suddenly you can’t believe you’re leaving all of it- that moment when it starts to feel like the first cool nights of fall, this city, your friends, your family, your heart, and your whole life, but you’re ready anyway, and they’ll all still love you anyway, even if you’re a million miles away, it’s not the end, if there’s a place like that l’m there, I’m there, just trying to live, my last seventeen days in New York City.