I’ve been procrastinating writing this blog post…for over a year now. I made this promise to you and had every intention of sitting at my desk and jotting down the details every time something noteworthy happened in my life, anytime a lesson worth sharing transpired. And those moments were plentiful this past year. I’ve jumped out of a plane, got my first(and probably only) tattoo, trekked up and down Iceland, all the while making some crucial realizations about the world. But it was the sitting down, the pressure of conveying something that is truly representative of who I am and how and what I think that kept me from returning. I’m sorry. I’m back and I will deliver this time. I cannot wait until you get to know the (now 27) year old me. Sigh, I’m getting older, and not as much wiser as I thought I’d be by now. Still very much trying to figure it out– the who I want to be when I grow up. Maybe i will figure it out tomorrow.
In college, we had a time of day devoted to the stuff: “balcony-bro-brew-time.” It is one of my favorite memories from that worry-free existence. We would get home from class, put on some tunes, and just hang out on our balcony with a couple of six packs and the setting sun. Six girls just livin’ the dream (in a cozy two bedroom apartment– yes, that really successfully happened)
Beer is good.
It is composed of four main ingredients: water, hops, malt, and yeast—each uniquely contributing to its flavor, aroma, color, and viscosity. For me, it was definitely an acquired taste…and just as with anything–be it cheese or makeup–I started with the cheap stuff. And I kept getting the cheap stuff until I figured out I actually really like the stuff (I once bought a block of $30 cheese. May have been a mistake on my part but it’s only when I discovered I really LIKE cheese that I was willing to upgrade & expose my tastebuds to the “finer” more expensive aged milk).
Beer is old.
It dates back to 7000 BCE. People were hunting-and-gathering basically right up until they discovered the stuff. Probably with due reason– beer is best enjoyed without those pointy-spear-headed things getting in the way. Seriously, the stuff is old. Time-tested. Your (future) mother approved 🙂
Beer is androgynous.
In ancient Egyptian culture (or something like that) if a woman drank a beer offered by a man – they were then married. Times have changed. Otherwise, I’d be considered a bit of a hop-digger. However; a part of that ancient history translates seamlessly into the present: a good man buys the first beer, and a great man also buys the second for your best friend.
Today, either gender is free to enjoy the stuff without judgment or constraint.Or entering matrimony with the neighborhood bum that got it for him/her.
And this girl particularly, can enjoy the hoppy goodness of ale just as much as the guy sitting next to her. Because if he didn’t enjoy—no—really appreciate the stuff as much as I, he’d be less likely to be sitting there to begin with.
No matter the gender – beer should be savored and enjoyed. You just have to find your perfect pairing. It’s a bit like picking a mate: some like em’ sweet, rich, earthy, or maybe a bit more tough, with a nice bitter finish.
Beer is responsible for Thanksgiving?
Running low on beer was the primary reason pilgrims pit-stopped (and eventually settled) at Plymouth Rock. We need to cheers to that more often.
I have yet to discover the absolute truth. But I have a theory. There’s this ancient battle of the heart and the mind, as the two rarely agree. But I think—so far at least—my stomach has surprisingly been the most reliable organ on the matter. So always be conscious of your gut—whatever is going on in there usually holds true. That, is my greatest wisdom on it. On love.
I’m a hopeless romantic. It sounds pathetic written that way. As if romance is hopeless. Because it’s not. I know so. I swear. Sooooo trust me on this one, okay?
I think this past Valentine’s Day, I’ve gained even a little more insight.
Love is patient and honest. It holds open the door. It challenges. It doesn’t always agree. It allows you to want to forfeit your favorite jar of bbq sauce. It drinks good beer with you. It kisses your forehead when you’re being cranky and stupid. It laughs at you. Sometimes even with you. It believes in your ability to accomplish your wildest dreams. And most of all, it really understands you—and still wants to hang out anyway. That may not be how Webster—or Socrates—or Cupid defines it, but it’s my version right now.
Love is one of those words that is only in existence—in reality—because you are the sole proprietor of its true definition and hence–meaning. Hold on to it. Cherish it. Exclaim it if you want to! And if you happen to let it go, or it let goes of you—well, that’s another topic for another day. But don’t ever be afraid of falling or even failing in love. It is one of the most unique experiences life can throw at you—usually during an inconveniently bad hair and/or face day. But that’s kind of the beauty of it.
The odds of winning the lottery (Mega millions) are 1 in 259 million. Yet, as soon as that jackpot hits a massive payout, you’ll see me waiting in line at a local gas station, right behind every other fool in this country.
When I was a kid, I thought I had the whole system figured out. I was sure I discovered something no other person realized: there was a sure way to win! Given that a lottery ticket cost $1 – all I had to do was wait until the jackpot hit over $259M, purchase all possible combinations, and the rest—pure profit! There are a number of reasons why this theory doesn’t amount to anything in the real world—but looking back– the logic is still there. In theory it should work. Like communism. Or low fat pizza. Needless to say, I haven’t struck the fool’s gold, but the allure of the lottery has always stuck with me. I don’t play often, but the times I do, I purchase the ticket to dream a little. Everyone deserves that in some way or another.
There’s this great quote from a book I once read (Eat, Pray, Love) and it goes like this:
There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint-please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, “My son – please, please, please… buy a ticket.”
The point is, you can’t win if you don’t play. You miss a hundred percent of the shots that you don’t take. That is as accurate in life as it is in the lotto. Go after the improbable. Take a gamble. Be persistent.
I always buy the day of the drawing; A last minute gambler.
“Ten tickets. Random draw please.”
“Good luck,” the cashier winks and hands me two square pieces of silky paper as smooth as a baby’s bottom. And that’s when it happens; the feeling that anything is possible, if only for a split moment.
I will never stop believing in the improbable. If it exists it is possible. And that—even more so than the cash money—is what keeps me playing those shitty odds.
That, and gambling losses are tax deductible. And it benefits older Pennsylvanians. Gotta’ give back.
DREAM A LITTLE, A LOT.
One day I just may be able to cook a delicious three-course meal without using a can opener. You’ll come home from a semester away at school to a whiff of my special-recipe-comfort-food with all the fixins’. Ahhh home sweet home. I just can’t guarantee with a hundred percent certainty that it will be any good. Nonetheless, I hope my cutlery as well as my craft reaches its master artisan chef potential. For your sake. Besides, I already own a super fancy chef hat as if I make crème brulee for desert every Tuesday. Hey, if you just dress for the job you want…?
Don’t worry. There’s always dietary supplements.
But today, I am certain of two things:
1. I can make good sandwiches.
2. I know a good sandwich when I see one. Look above.
Sandwiches are wonderful. No need for utensil OR plate?! Count me in. An entire meal in the palm of your hand–A sourdough snow globe into all of the major food groups + bacon. And the secret to any good sandwich is in the pairing of its accouterments with the perfect condiment. For instance, pickles tend to do well with yellow mustard; shredded lettuce with oil; bacon with ranch; everything with siracha. I can’t go into a grocery store without purchasing a new condiment. It’s kind of my thing. So the lesson today: practice safe sandwiching- use condiments!
Good Place, Great Sandwich (I only mention these because I am fairly certain they’ll still be around when you’re my age)
- Primanti Bros., Pittsburgh, PA: Pastrami & Cheese –topped with coleslaw, tomatoes, french fries, and onions. (In this very special circumstance, the oil and vinegar-based coleslaw allows for no condiment. Rules are meant to be bended anyway)
- Jim’s Steaks, Philadelphia, PA: Cheesesteak, American cheese, WIT (fried onions) & mushrooms. ADD hot sauce and ketchup
Its timely to begin On Commencement—with the turn of 2014 just a few weeks behind me and the very first post of this undertaking happening as I write—this is where we begin our—well, my, story for you.
Commencement is one of those tricky words—one where you may assume its absolute opposite meaning simply by the inference clues of your earlier years. Every ceremony paying tribute to the end of an academic era has had it capitalized across the cover of its graduation pamphlets. And hence; for a longer time then I’m willing to admit, I used to think commencement was just a fancier way of running the credits to a Roadrunner cartoon: The END. Beep. Beep.
verb (used without object) com·menced, com·menc·ing.
to begin; start.
Your commencement is your starting line–doesn’t get as much press as the finish but just as important, I think. And so now, I commence my journey with the future you. Every week from here on out(until you actually arrive here one distant day) I will share my mid-twenty-somethings’ opinions, thoughts, stories, and qualms On every subject that may be relevant to my current mindset and the current(young&fabulous) me. But today, I would like to leave you with some snippets of wisdom by way of my most personally commemorated commencement coughs (tongue-twistaah). These are the words I read when I need a little jolt–a kick in the butt—an inspiring moment. Here are three great men sharing their thoughts on the world as they see it…and in some way, the way I’ve grown to see it too. I hope you seek out the full transcripts one day as they are very much worth the read.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever…
You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers… If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle…
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer.
You too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”.. the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.
Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.
That is real freedom
The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” — the constant, gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.