Capote said it best: "Well, I'm about as tall as a shotgun, and just as noisy." I adore writing, The Beatles, wit & the smell of cigars. Poison of choice: Johnnie Walker Black. Welcome to the world of a twenty-three year-old, coming-of-age headcase from the fanatic state of mind that is the Midwest.
Ask me anything. I have no idea what I'm talking about.
In the past 48 hours alone, I’ve been asked four times — by four different people — where and how I plan to live my life over the next one to five years.
It’s that awkward pratfall into adulthood that everyone experiences at some point. Unknowingly, we emit the vibe to rest of the universe that we’ve exited proper collegiate age, and suddenly everyone wants to know — from parents and significant others, to colleagues and friends — when we plan to get on with it and get a life.
Get a life.
This city is overrun with people, stuck in precisely the same place as I am — which is to say, early twenties, broke and more apt to buy that fourth round of drinks than pay the electric bill on time.
We’re careless, but not necessarily carefree. We’re foolhardy and whiskey-soaked. We’re facetious. We’re tired and overworked.
We’re in some-crazy-kind-of-love and entrenched in ambivalence, all at once.
But, there is a certain affection we all possess — an essence I’d like to bottle and keep before I give in and get a fucking life.
As a hapless collective, we are drunk on the sheer act of living and loving in a way I never thought possible.
So, while the rest of my tiny world pokes and prods and wonders when I plan to get on with it and start living my life, may the following serve as my faith to keep and reminders that I already have.
(1) Play hooky every now and then. Or, every now, now, now. Work is never as important as biking the breezy stretch of path along the lakefront, or spending hours lost in the musk of a used bookstore.
(2) Whenever good conversation and beer warrants it, always stay up too late. Tomorrow will be tomorrow. Even if you spend it hiding from sunlight and the brrrrr-aaaaang! of the office phone, semi-hungover and huddled underneath your desk.
(3) Take a moment to name something good that happened at the end of every day.
(4) Never miss an opportunity — be it spoken or written — to tell someone you love them. Do it honestly. Do it soberly. And do it as often as you feel it.
(5) Don’t underestimate the interchangeably healing powers of cigars or really good coffee and the shoreline of any body of water. This will solve all.
(6) On all evenings out with friends, or friends of friends, be generous. These people will always be worth so much more than whatever your slice of the tab ends up being.
(7) Don’t pick fights, not unless absolutely necessary. And, anytime you get that itch to senselessly render chaos on your life, take a walk instead.
(8) Open the windows on a weekend morning, even when it’s cold out. Give yourself an excuse to pull out the down comforter, mugfuls of tea and spend an afternoon in quiet conversation, watching the leaves fall and your bundled twentysomething compatriots outside.
(9) No matter what — always kiss goodnight, goodbye and hello. Whether it’s pinned up against the foyer wall, basked in the neon glow of bar lights or while sharing a pillow before falling asleep — always grab that moment.
(10) Do something truly stupid at least once a week. It’s good for you.
(11) Be creative in your profession.
(12) Believe in being content. Beyond monetary goals and the concrete details of picket fences or that cabin in the woods — set your sights for contentedness.
(13) There’s something therapeutic in trust. Recognize when someone is worthy of yours.
(14) Go barefoot as often as possible.
(15) When a person you love has had a bad day, tune into it. Offer to give a back rub, hand over the remote or pick a flower from the potted plants outside. Make a gesture.
I have absolutely no idea why, but waking into summer has always seemed to signify a new year of sorts in this town. It’s as if in that instant when the gas clicks heat lamps in biergartens to life, first pitches throttle over home plate and the lakefront is overrun by careless bare feet, everyone’s given a new lease on life.
I’ve never so thoroughly lost myself like this in a season before. I’ve just spent two hours swinging my legs over the concrete edge of the Lake Michigan waterfront. My hands are still ashy from the cigar that served as company, and I’m hooked on the prospect of letting the smoke linger on my hair and skin, to propel me through the work day tomorrow.
This season is a time to fall in love with the seemingly mundane. There’s an overwhelming sense of home in every place unshaded by cloud cover. A kind of three-months religion, a holiness.
And this is how we sustain ourselves. The grains of sand clinging to our heels, the dirt underneath our finger and toenails — this is the sanity that keeps us. The poignancy is told in the landscape, in the sway of buoys on the water, the crunch of gravel under the roll of bike tires — a rhythmic set of commandments tightened into a single verse —
I was out with a dear friend last night for a few hours of the best life has to offer — good sushi and cheap wine. And, after half a bottle each and catching up, the conversation inevitably meandered to the topic of dating. Or, in my case, the lack thereof.
Quite frankly, and I say this without any oh-poor-me, I-swear-I’m-fine subtext, but I’m perfectly content with my life as-is. I’ve had conversations with a few people recently, many of them just as immersed in their blunderous early twentysomething realities as I am, and have reconciled with the truth of like/love/like love at this age.
There’s a general consensus that there’s a ritual you have to endure to find someone organically during this transitory, however crucial time in your life: a few half-smiles on the L platform, countless “Can I buy you a drink’s” in bars, a lot of grab-ass on the dance floor or during the walk home, too many missed calls or “get togethers” at 3 a.m. that meant exactly what you thought they did (Please see: drunk, sex, drunk sex?) and maybe the occasional dinner date that comes of them.
It’s absolute chaos. It’s frustrating. And, for a girl who hates putting on her stiletto-hooker-platform heels (Yes, I have the complete combo. It does exist.) every Friday night, it’s resulted in more than a few swear-I’m-not-speaking-metaphorically(-ok-maybe-a-litte) cuts and bruises.
So, for this, and so many other reasons — not the least important of which can be credited to a select few horrendous, unheimlich ex-boyfriend experiences that have allowed me to adopt the Thanks, but no thanks mentality — I’ve ultimately embraced my singularity.
Still, c’mon. I’m 22, and female. And having found more and more satisfaction with my career path and life — and while my ass still looks this good in my jeans — I’d, of course, like to find someone. The ever-elusive holy grail at the heart of just about every quarter-life crisis.
So, what’s a girl to do?
My friend from last night carefully handled her wine glass and casually suggested I join match.com. She’s thrown this recommendation out there a few times in the past couple of months — even claims she has the picture she’d use for my profile picked out. Dear god.
I’ve continuously refused her, still too dismissive of the idea that my epic meet-cute would be online. Now, however, I’ve drummed up a decent compromise. I’ll make no personal ad, or listing or profile. But, instead, I’m putting my standards here, on this blog. Searching for a needed heart in my reason for doing this, I’ve decided that it’s proof that standards — in this faltering land of romance — still exist.
The Top-Five List: What I Would Want From Someone With Whom I Might Choose to Spend a Great Amount of Time With.
1) I find intelligence sexy.
The kind of intelligence that’s unassuming, unpretentious. I like the quiet, face framed by glasses shyness — the guy who could match my pop culture references and is downright witty. To me, intelligence is a sought-after quality similar to what like interests were for Rob Gordon in High Fidelity.
"We agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like. Books, records, films - these things matter. Call me shallow; it’s the fuckin’ truth.”
Well-read, eloquent. You don’t have to necessarily enjoy the same literature or movies as I do, but be able to talk about the ones you do. And maybe without using “fucking awesome” as a primary descriptive.
2) If you have a problem with my occasional cigar-smoking habit, get the fuck out.
Yes, this is a legitimate criterion. A guy I once dated admitted he thought it was “weird” when he saw me smoking. My theory is that he was emasculated by the fact that I knew how to cut a cigar and he didn’t.
It’s the little things, man. What it comes down to is this: Don’t make me feel uncomfortable in my own skin.
3) Discretion is advised.
Please, for the love of everything and everyone, I’d like to find a guy who wasn’t so quick to tell his friends all the gritty, intimate details of our relationship — physical or otherwise.
Aretha preached it. If you care enough to respect me to my face, please do so behind my back.
4) Needs ambition. Passion.
I love connecting with people who have a facet or talent within themselves that truly makes them thrive — a piece that they’ve cultivated and kept and shared. I love people that can find the art in something and run with it. The attraction is something I’ve never been able to deny.
5) Must love dogs, the Beatles, “Arrested Development,” good gin and the complete (or any of the) works of Tim O’Brien, Truman Capote or F. Scott Fitzgerald. And won’t scoff at the fact that I can effortlessly quote nearly all of 1987’s film masterpiece “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
I think I cheated.
I made a pact with my best friend a few weeks ago, on our Single Ladies Paint the Town Valentine’s Day 2012 Extravaganza. Over pub food and wine spritzers, we clinked our glasses and made a promise for the future of our love lives:
And, if that’s all this list of want’s proves, I’m keeping my promise. But I’ll amend it a little — I’ll never settle with the implicit compromise that, even if I meet someone who loves cats or can’t appreciate the acting styles of a young Patrick Dempsey, I won’t deny what fits, what’s simple and good, what exudes that ultimate chemistry of contentedness.
This morning, I’m walking along the Chicago lakefront on my way to work, headphones blasting some nondescript song by Train.
Now I’m out here countin’ airplanes, trying to make sense of the change..
I’m bundled in the brass and black of my military wool coat — a stark silhouette against the placid steel of a lake and sky that seem to blend together. I’m windblown and rosy-cheeked even underneath my blush.
The buses on Lake Shore Drive splash last night’s rain onto the bare tops of my feet — the only skin I’ve allowed to be exposed to the chill — and I find myself simultaneously fumbling in my briefcase for both my lip balm and office keys.
As I walk through the complex’s revolving door, I’m thankful for the first time that the building’s turned on the heat, and I keep my scarf loosely wrapped around my neck all day. I watch a leaf dance back and forth across my window fourteen stories up, and there’s really no denying it. Today’s the day I’ve had to admit it:
Hello, fall. Summertime’s officially out.
And there’s something about that first gasp of autumn — that first cough of wind and bout of heightened waves that sends Lake Michigan crashing endlessly into the breakwaters, the biting afternoon that bristles and unsettles the leaves from the maples lining Astor.
Days like today mark the end of summer romance. Couples that first brushed hands over too many bottles of wine on outdoor patios in May find less and less to say when faced with early sunsets and drafty barrooms and no July to fall back on.
It’s the end of barefoot days and farmer’s markets and propping windows open. It’s the end of citronella candles and just-‘cause fireworks and signals that desperate edging into holiday mania to break the sudden onslaught of grey.
It’s the beginning of the end of the no-longer New Year. January somehow seems just around the corner, and all those changes and resolutions promised for 2011 immediately, and disturbingly, have a countdown prepared to blow them apart, or have to be resigned as impossibilities until that lackluster stroke of midnight two and a half months from now.
It’s post-season at its best. And beyond the World Series starting tomorrow — beyond stats and predictions and expectations of what’s to come — this is the post-season of a once-young year. The windchill drops and forces us to stand still for a moment, to grant more reason for reflection than speculation.
Waiting at bus stops, under the useless heat lamps of bar entrances, while tapping our toes on street corners and scrunching our limbs into layers of wool — we’re forced to give pause.
Where had we been all year? What had we done? For all those undeniably significant people — all the are’s, were’s or had-been’s — where were they now? All those coming’s and going’s — had we had a hand in any of that?
It is my truest belief that fall is that perfect catalyst meant to jumpstart all our high fidelity moments. Take a second and look back. All the elation and infatuation. All the love and maybe-this-time’s. All the pain of “What if?” banter.
You made it to the top five. Number five, with a bullet, welcome.
Too often when they surface, I find myself trying to shirk those memories rather than keep them. And when the discernable change in the weather threw me back to wondering, begging me to wander through all the knots and curves of this year, that was my knee-jerk thought.
Don’t dwell. Give all those moments back to the past year. Let it be February, April or June’s problem.
But it was something about this morning, about the wind loosening the curls in my hair, the pewter of the lake, the melancholic 90s pop charging in my ears. It’s only October, and the year’s not dead yet. I could stand to make one small change. I could give into the persistent tug of high fidelity this time around.
High fidelity is what gives way to every second chance, every double-take. It allows us to reassess regret, to compel us to pick up the phone and make that call.
It’s the initial step to mending all things broken throughout the year. It grants us the possibility to reconcile with ourselves, to harbor revival even as winter promises a requiem for nature.
So, I’m giving in to this year’s onrush of high fidelity, to all those top fives and whatever level of devastation or hope they may represent. Let it all drift back, in perfect resolution, in the sharpest of quality. Forget the forgetting.
And remember that — hey, baby. We’re gonna be just fine.
Don’t even get me started on how long it’s been since I’ve updated this. Just about the most epic fail of the summer months. Below is another original piece of mine — started this years ago, but I’ve finally had some time to edit it. Feedback always appreciated, my lovely readership.
She’d Rather Be
He’d been sitting at the dining room table for hours, hunched over thick books, the small printed case numbers and court dates bleeding into one another. He whispered them fiercely to himself, trying to keep defendants and details straight. With precision, he left-handedly jotted down the last of the Rehnquist Court decisions, an etching of capital letters that peaked over the lines of the legal pad. He always wrote in all caps. He couldn’t remember why.
He remembered his second grade teacher, Miss Farrell at St. Christina’s had once told him he had the perfect penmanship to be an architect. She’d been pretty, and so his timid, seven year-old self had clung onto the architect idea until about halfway through fourth grade when the newly-engaged Miss Greenhard had marveled at how quickly he’d been able to memorize his multiplication tables.
A career in mathematics, then.
But, for some reason, that one had stuck, even after Miss Greenhard had married and withered, and could no longer have any effect on his boyish desires. He’d passed his Certified Public Accountant exam in January of 1981, nestled into a small firm in Chicago, met a girl that worked at reception and married her three years later.
In twenty-five years of marriage, they’d had three girls, three dogs, four cars, three addresses, and by year fifteen, had achieved that perfect kind of comfortable that’s almost uncomfortable in its tranquility – a lull that had jolted him into Monday morning reveries every now and then. Looking out the window of his high-rise office, he could admit to having thought about other women – always unattainable ones, though, the celebrities and musicians that wouldn’t be able to stand his picket-fenced life.
He’d lazily scan the jagged skyline, eyes focusing on the barriers of across-the-way buildings, imagining actresses flitting about his wife’s kitchen. He’d strut in, a Desi Arnaz copy in loafers and a skinny tie to have dinner waiting on the table and a long, passionate kiss from the New Wife.
But then, his eyes would land on the photo leaning against the windowsill.
In a bright green frame, there was his second daughter at about age three, clamoring with sticky hands to get to the top of the plastic slide in their backyard, a chocolate ice cream dripping precariously in her chubby hand. The family’s first cocker spaniel, Ramsey, had nuzzled up beside her, licking her ice cream where he knew the bloom of her eyelashes would keep him out of her view. Still, he’d kept one eye on the camera, implicating him in the crime of stealing ice cream from the baby.
There’d been no punishment, just the picture, now smudged and crinkled after being passed from hand to hand. And even now she was eighteen and seeming so grown up, that thick set of lashes that had stolen away his middle child’s ice cream cone years ago still buried her brown eyes until she smiled.
One glance at the photo and his sitcom daydream would evaporate, and he’d be back to the eerily contented hum of life.
He pushed the pad away, and leaned back in his chair. The wire framing of his bifocals had been digging into the splotchy mole above his left ear for the past hour. He took his glasses off and flattened his palms over his eyes. He could already feel the headache coming on.
He squinted against the fluorescents of the bulbed chandelier above the table and wondered what time it was. Putting his glasses back on, he flicked his wrist to look at the his wristwatch. The second hand was moving rapidly towards the diamond chip at the top of the clock’s face.
She should be home soon, he thought.
While the rest of the house was calmly breathing in the stick of the humid August air drifting through the window screens as they slept, his eldest daughter was out on a date with a boy she’d met somehow in her time home for the summer. He hadn’t really been home enough to find out.
“Who’s this guy?” he’d asked just before she left. She’d walked into the dining room to kiss him goodbye on the cheek, tripping over his Torts book, stumbling into the table in the short wedge heels she’d chosen.
She was wearing heels. She must really like this guy.
She’d laughed, bending over to readjust her shoe. “Dad, don’t worry about it. Study.”
It was a major brush-off, using the excuse of his studies so that she could go off and grow up. And she’d turned to walk away – and she was so quick, turning on her heel and flipping the car keys in her hand that he realized she really didn’t want to talk to him. He wondered when that had stopped.
But, before she could scamper to the car, he’d blurted, “Well, can I at least know his name?”
She’d swiveled back around, a sway moving through her hips that he could tell was a direct result of the shoes she’d chosen. There was no question that No Name Boy would notice as well. It was impossible having daughters sometimes.
But, in her turn, she staggered ever so slightly, hand poised above the mahogany table for support. And then, he could pretend that she was four years old again, tripping in her mother’s heels down the upstairs hallway. She’d scurry into the bathroom in the master bedroom and rummage for a tube of lipstick.
“Daddy! I got yipstick!” And then she’d tear back down the hallway, searching for her mother in every bedroom.
He’d hear his wife then, “Ok, ok. Oh, looking to be a lady of the night, are we?”
“Ah, I should get you some pink, then. This red just isn’t very princess-y.”
But then she’d soon show up in the hallway again, running out of the six-sizes-too-big pumps this time, an audacious smear of crimson on her lips, apparently having won the princess-prostitute battle.
She’d grip the banister and take off around the corner landing, flying without the hindrance of the borrowed stilettos, shouting in a hurried jargon of a child’s halting babble, something about Belle and the Beast and a fight at the castle. Even after poking his head out behind the doorframe of the bedroom, all he was able to see of her was a small shred of shimmering fabric from her dress-up gown disappearing out of his sight and into the mystery of the downstairs.
Here she was again, in a more suitable shade of lipstick and a pair of jeans to replace the princess garb, but it felt exactly the same. The moment her heels clicked out of that dining room, around the corner and into the garage, she’d be stepping into unchartered territory.
Somewhere outside his periphery was a world of cars and booze and boys and everything her mother had told her she shouldn’t do, but she’d probably try anyway. He couldn’t know about these things, and hadn’t really bothered to ask about them.
But, tonight, he wanted to know. It was like grabbing onto the last ledge before slipping off a cliff. He could feel the gravel loosening in his grip, and he knew that if he didn’t ask now, she’d have come into her own and his mark wouldn’t be on this new person. He’d take off down that cliff, coming up with only traces of dust once he hit the ground.
“Come on,” he’d pressed. And he’d leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest – a single sign of menace that she knew he’d never follow through with.
She had leaned on the table then, and he had hoped she might move to pull a chair out from the mismatched set and sit and talk with him, stay a while. But she had just looked at him, her eyes a veil of shadow and mascara, so that the navy ring around her blue irises seemed to be the only thing keeping the ice of her eyes restrained.
She’d let out all her exasperation at his curiosity in a single huff of air, hanging her head so strands of her sunkissed hair hid her face from him. She was contemplating telling him, weighing the outcomes of what letting him into her blessed corner of the world might mean.
She had quickly thrown her head back up to meet him, tousling her hair so that she could look him straight on. “His name’s Aaron,” she’d finally conceded. “And I swear he doesn’t have a criminal record. He’s just a guy. And we’re just going out for coffee and a movie.”
“What, Ace? The kid’s too cheap to take you out to dinner?” He’d known it as soon as he’d said it that it had been the wrong thing to say. She wasn’t in the mood for his playful jabs tonight. Even his addition of his adoring nickname for her wasn’t going to silence the tip-tap of her foot, to soothe her impatience to leave.
She’d crossed her arms to match his own, the roll of her eyes the only subtle indication that he’d just witnessed a twenty year-old’s tantrum. Then, just a curt, “Bye, Dad,” some more absentminded fumbling with the car keys, and she was gone.
Just as soon as he’d looked to take a step into his daughter’s growing reality, he’d shut her out again, left only to the weight of his books and the tales told by the scratches on the dining room table. She’d somehow flitted through two decades of living, becoming this being that he’d probably only get the chance graze the surface of now. Taking up law school classes at night these past four years hadn’t helped.
When he’d started, she’d been the picture of clumsy adolescence, the shine from her braces matching the shine of her skin, but he remembered that she always smiled just as wide in pictures in those years. It was as if she was entirely unaware of her imperfections, or just simply didn’t care. He was content with either. But it still gnawed at him that he’d brought up a little girl, and in four years that seemed like a wink, he could have sworn a woman had just furiously slammed the door.
Behind him, above the china cabinet, the clock chimed and he glanced again at his wristwatch.
He thought about returning to the business of the legal pad, to go back to etching down case details and dates, but he couldn’t bring himself to move the pencil in his hand. He wondered when she’d be back, how the evening had gone, how much this Aaron guy actually meant.
How long had she been waiting for him to ask her out? Had she even been waiting at all?
He rested his elbows on the edge of the table, letting his head fall into the cradle they made. He closed his eyes and listened for any pattering of feet upstairs, if anyone else was as restless as he was. But, without moving to get up, he could see his wife and two other daughters in his mind, sprawled on top of their covers in the steam of a summer’s night that never felt quite cool enough. Their box fans would be blowing at them on full power, the whirring of the blades somehow regulated the fluid whispering of their breathing.
He could hear the symphony of the rush of August – the restful murmuring of the crickets, waves of grass bending to meet the ground; he could hear the scampering of unknown creatures, cloaked in the embrace of midnight. The blinks of fireflies reflected in the window, and he swore he could see his years-ago daughters, their shadowy forms frantically romping through the yard, hands cupped over the treasure of light they’d captured. Pressing their faces to their closed fists, they’d whisper names for their lightning bugs before setting them free to scale the fence and beyond.
As he’d watched them set those fireflies free years ago, he realized this had been the last moment he felt he truly knew his children, defined by their airy kindness and need for him.
Now, sitting in his makeshift study, surrounded by tiers of knowledge that he knew would never get him closer to understanding these nymph specters he’d helped to create, it didn’t seem to be just the strain of his sprites growing up and away from this sphere of suburbia. It was the added terror of knowing that just as he had finally settled into this existence, each was looking to move on to one entirely her own.
He picked up his pencil again, convinced he’d start back on the cases he was supposed to be studying for his exam that coming Monday, and idly started humming a tune that he used to sing to his youngest daughter whenever she couldn’t fall asleep. Sitting on her bed, he’d quietly launch into the melody of The Turtles’ “She’d Rather Be With Me,” rubbing her back until he could hear the measured whistles of her sleep.
Some girls love to run around, love to handle everything they see, but my girl has more fun around and you know she’d rather be with me.
But, he’d finally resolved to change the lyrics, so that it was plural – but my girls have more fun around and you know they’d rather with me. From then on, he sang it every morning to wake the girls up for school.
He hadn’t done it in years.
Me oh my, lucky guy is what I am. Tell you why, you’ll understand.
He heard a car door slam and the garage door open.
He looked at the clock. 1:35.
He heard her toss her heels into the laundry room; they banged against the hollow of the dryer and he heard her sigh, lobbing her keys to the kitchen counter.
He took a chance and leaned back. “How’d it go?” he asked.
She waited a single beat before turning to face him. “Oh, you know,” she said, shrugging her shoulders as she moved past the couch and shuffled towards what he figured would be the stairs and then to bed. He’d pulled his chair back in, and had already hunched over his textbook when he heard her.
“Hey, Dad,” she said, peering from around the doorframe. As he looked up, he saw her bare feet first, flecked with chipped polish, her toes curling underneath onto the hardwood of the dining room. He was worried that in a moment, she might take off on a flurry of tip-toe and he’d miss another chance. “Want a beer?”
He blinked twice before hurriedly answering, “Uh, yeah. You going to bed then, Ace?”
“Nah, I figured I’d stay up for a bit, watch the fireflies on the porch, if you wanted to take a break?”
He smiled and nodded, and her dimples matched his as she turned back towards the garage and he could feel it, this wonder of knowing, like the buzzing electric of a lightning bug closed in his hands.
Right now, I’m sitting at my desk, sipping a glass of water that I sincerely wish was bourbon. It’s 4:33 and I’ve got the Vogues running through my head:
Oh, it’s a five o’clock world when the whistle blows; no one owns a piece of my time..
I’m thinking about my ATM errands and the train I’ll have to catch, but keep halting on a single fact:
God damnit. I haven’t written much lately.
I’ve been trying to drum up something poignant, but nothing ever seems to work that way. So, instead, I’ll ramble as opposed to writing nothing at all. Proceed with caution.
My life has taken on the whirlwind quality I’ve come to expect from the summer months — because, as much as we all believe that summer is as languid and luxurious as Black Velvet croonings would mislead us, the Fourth hits as fast and loud as its sporadic rocket booms and you can blink and it’s the end of August.
Very simply, summer’s going much too fast. My life’s become a blur of apartment hunts, new clients, trading phone numbers with strangers, good conversations with new people in bars, and never-enough drafts and bonfires with friends.
For a while there, I felt as if I had done nothing of substance with my summer. That my life of happy hours and taking lunch to jog along the lakefront was airy and superficial. Instead, though, I’ve fallen in like with a different idea. It’s finally hit that this kind of time doesn’t last forever, this time of being honestly young. Young enough to get too drunk too often on weeknights, but awkwardly old enough to pay the electric bill and budget groceries.
So, as we round the corner on the end-of-day on July 5th, I wanted to make sure I wrote it all down before it got too cold and the nip of fall/winter hardened my heart. Here it is: my doctrine to live by while I still can. Some rules for being young.
1) Get too much sun. Starting straight out with this one because a) it’s true, and b) my view of Oak Street beachgoers from my desk has made me insanely jealous.
2) Do something; don’t work. In fact, never work. At least, not at something you hate. Twentysomething is too young to not like what you do. Hell, it’s a cliche that’s been rounded back and back and back a thousand times, and Tom Petty’s entirely to blame. But seriously, at this age? Work is for people with jobs.
3) Fuck cabs. Walk, you asshole. Public transportation is ok. Cabs only admissable when you’re drunk and said public transportation has stopped running. But, even then, if it’s less than a mile to your house, move your goddamn feet.
4) Spend your disposable income. Later is an awfully long time away. So, save then. Now, go buy me the books/purse/shoes/sweater I can’t afford for giving you this advice that you clearly could have come up with on your own.
5) Date. Often. Trust me on this one. I’m a self-proclaimed relationship girl myself, but I see zero issue in giving out your number, asking for someone else’s, and going out for a drink or dinner. Serendipity, guys. It’s a real thing. For those of you who already have plans to marry your high school/college sweetheart and for whom this particular piece of advice doesn’t apply, more power to you. The rest of you: get the fuck off your computer and buy someone a drink. If that someone happens to be me, I’ll take a gin and tonic, please.
6) Cut your hair. Pierce your ears/eyebrows/nose/lip. Get a tattoo. Quick. Before years and logic step in and stop you.
7) Celebrate every occasion. That means all birthdays, anniversaries, A-Month-Ago-Today-I-Found-My-Lost-Apartment-Keys Day. I don’t care. Find an excuse to get friends together. The narcissism of your thirties is closer than you think.
8) Spend at least an hour outside each day. Take your lunch outside, to the beach, to the park. Smoke a cigar on your porch/balcony/front stoop in the evening. Lounge and read a book on a bench/at the bus stop. I promise, the episode of What About Brian you have inexpicably queued up on Hulu will still be there when you get back.
9) Leave your cell phone at home every now and then. ‘Nuff said. Disappear for a while.
And, nine shall be the magic number for now. Reason: it’s not nearly as boastful as ten.
Or, mostly because I’ve got to clock out and run to the Metra, like, right now. Farewell for now, tiny readership.