The video-chat renaissance is introducing people to a new type of awkwardness

An illustration of many video conference call windows showing a variety of close up facial features.
An illustration of many video conference call windows showing a variety of close up facial features.
Illustration: Heeje Min Heo

I’ve learned a lot about myself since going into quarantine. Like how my daily 3 p.m. anxiety spiral can be treated with a snack or four. That I prefer to wear the same sweatshirt multiple days in a row, alternating between wearing it inside out and right side in until it needs washing. How I find an entirely gray outfit — a groutfit, if you will — to be oddly satisfying. And just how much I absolutely cannot stand seeing my face on Zoom.

As a journalist, I’m no stranger to hating the excruciating sound of your voice: Listening to…


What experts say about their power of influence

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

One of the few joys in the weeks of recent, unending awful news surrounding the novel coronavirus has been the emergence of Andrew and Chris Cuomo as sibling rivals. We’ve watched Governor Cuomo, the elder brother, and Chris, the CNN anchor, bicker on-air about calling their parents and which one is their mother’s favorite. We’ve heard about the younger Cuomo’s fever dream in which his brother donned a ballet costume. (Chris Cuomo was diagnosed with Covid-19 at the end of March.) …


You won’t find these toothpastes in your local grocery store, because of the high amount of fluoride

Photo: Benne Ochs/Getty Images

I’ve never minded going to the dentist. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve never really had a dentist tell me anything other than “your teeth look great, see you next year.” Or, at least, I’d never had a dentist tell me anything other than that before this month.

After a lengthier-than-wise hiatus (we’re talking years), I made an appointment to see a new dentist in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. I sat in the exam chair for what felt like an eternity — probably about 30 minutes — waiting. I stepped out of the exam…


I use it to calm my perfectionism

A tired runner lies down on a track.
A tired runner lies down on a track.
Photo: Paul Bradbury/OJO Images/Getty Images

Piano lessons were a rough point in my childhood. As with most young kids just starting to learn, my sticky little hands were pretty terrible at coaxing anything resembling music out of the keys. But where other kids might cheerfully bang away anyway or successfully convince their parents to let them quit, I threw myself into self-flagellation. After many lessons and practice sessions, I’d inevitably end up in tears, utterly convinced of my own stupidity.

But at some point, after the umpteenth time trying unsuccessfully to calm me down, my father — who was sitting next to me on the…


The Elemental Guide to Water

When being parched feels like the end of the world

This story is part of The Elemental Guide to Water, a five-part special report on the health benefits of water, the science behind seltzer, the truth about fancy H2O, the safety of tap water, and how much water you really need to drink.

Let me set the scene for you. It’s 4 in the afternoon on a Tuesday — any Tuesday. I’ve been working since 8 in the morning. Nothing particularly bad has happened. It’s a typical day, full of typical tasks. But then, it happens: This creeping sensation that everything is awful. …


Relaxation-induced anxiety is a real psychological diagnosis. Here’s how to tell if you have it.

A tired woman lies on her bed with her arm covering her face and a pillow over her body.
A tired woman lies on her bed with her arm covering her face and a pillow over her body.
Photo: Martin Dimitrov/E+/Getty

My weeknights often contain very little chill: On nights when I go straight home from work, I typically spend the hours before bed doing something utterly responsible. I clean, or I work on freelance projects, or I catch up on all the emails I ignored during the day.

Technically, this productivity is by choice, but it doesn’t really feel like a choice to me: It feels like what I’m supposed to do. Would I rather be watching Grey’s Anatomy while eating a leisurely dinner on my couch? Yes. Does the thought of actually doing that fill me with dread? Also…


It’s physical exhaustion, sure. But that’s only part of it.

Illustration: Adrian Forrow

I cried my way across the New York City Marathon finish line. I wasn’t in pain. Things hurt, sure, but that wasn’t the source of my tears. Instead, I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy and accomplishment. A sense of freedom from months, and even years, of regimented training. The realization that my body is a gift and my god how have I ever been ashamed of it... look what it just did! That moment, stepping across the line just 15 seconds under my time goal, wasn’t the first time I watered up that day, though. I found myself…


You’re not entirely at the mercy of your body’s natural rhythms

Illustration: Reza Hasni

An old boss of mine was the most morning-y morning person that ever did morning. Her preferred bedtime was 8 p.m. sharp. She rose before newspaper delivery people and coffee cart operators and, also, the sun. By the time I got to the office each morning, she’d already lived an entire day, and I would spend the entirety of mine trying to catch up.

It was, as you can probably imagine, terrible — especially because I’d always preferred to stay awake late into the night, doing nothing in particular. My mornings were stuffed to the brim with things that needed…


Scripts

It’s totally okay to not want to hang out with your colleagues outside of work

Credit: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

To have co-workers is to have co-workers invite you to things. After-work happy hours. Birthday parties on Friday nights. Picnics in backyards, or parks, or on rooftops. From time to time, or if you’re an especially social person, these events can be fun to attend. But for some of us, they can also feel like an inescapable trap.

And you know what? It’s totally okay to not want to hang out with your colleagues outside of work. You owe your job and your co-workers your time during the work day. You should, in theory, have your evenings and weekends to…


It feels awful, but envy within peer and friend groups is not unusual

A group of friends celebrating  with a toast and raised glasses.
A group of friends celebrating  with a toast and raised glasses.
Credit: gorodenkoff/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Two of my best friends got new jobs this month. Great jobs. Impressive jobs. Jobs with solid salaries and opportunities for career growth. I love these people. I want them to succeed, and I know they want the same for me. I am really, truly thrilled for them.

Or at least I really, truly want to be. But when our group text-thread blew up the other day with their good news, I felt strange.

These messages weren’t a surprise: We had eyeballed application materials together, and workshopped negotiation strategies. …

Madison Malone Kircher

Madison Malone Kircher is a staff writer at New York Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn. Twitter: @4evrmalone

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