Archive for December, 2013

Friends don’t let best friends see them DRUNK

“If e’rebody in the club gettin tipsy, lets just say im in the club.”

That was a real text I sent my younger sister late my second night of college, after walking into the basement of some frat house on the outskirts of campustown, pouring almost all of my first cup of flippy cup Keystone down my shirt, and realizing it was pretty easy to find a party and score some underage beer.

Embarrassing, huh?

What’s more embarrassing now, more than seven years later, is the assortment of randos, creepers, frat boys and partygoers I’ve gotten embarrassingly trashed with, while some of my best friends haven’t seen me more than mildly drunk. I’m not even sure why it turned out that way.

Some friends with whom I’ve went to concerts, built igloos in the snow, cried over failed relationships, spent endless hours playing Text Twist in dorm basement computer labs haven’t seen me drunk. At least not drunk enough to be strangely angry and adamantly opposed to bar makeouts; too unbalanced to climb apartment stairs without both hands on the railing; or overly giddy and willing to go on any future barcrawl, even one called ThursGays (ThursGays was real. I still have the shirt).

In this case, it goes both ways. I’ve heard some great drunk stories from these friends (that sometimes ended with “and then I threw up,”) but I’ve never been there to witness a few of them slurring their words, smoking pot against their better judgment or mistakenly hitting on an acquaintance.

I guess I’ve spent a majority of the times I’ll never remember with people I’ll never remember either – because I barely knew them in the first place.

Maybe that’s fine. If being drunk makes us do things out of character, speak secrets out of turn and begin to lose control of ourselves, we can carry on that way without those who know us best seeing it. But then again, those who know us best are least likely to judge our inebriated escapades, overreact to a sauced slip of the tongue, or misinterpret our alcohol-induced actions for aspects of our real personality.

So maybe we’re better off if our closest friends are there when we lose ourselves to drink. They’re best equipped to make sure we don’t get so lost we forget who we are.

At 25, I’m not sure if I want the last of my friends who haven’t seen me drunk to witness it. I’m not sure what good it would do, what it would add to our relationship at this point. And I’m rarely drunk anymore, which is good.  My closest friends already have heard the funny, the scary and the regrettable of my drinking stories, and after each one, their impressions of me have remained unchanged.

But those randos who witnessed me take a beer bong at a water skiing tournament next to a pond in middle-of-nowhere-Iowa, black out for the better part of a White Sox game and allegedly cheer nonstop for pepperoni during the animated pizza race, or answer “What’s up?” with the obvious statement “Beer. That’s what’s up,” – I bet they have an impression of me that’s miles from accurate. And because I’ll never see them again, I can’t do anything about it. So I can’t care.

With college in the past, these super-drunk times are becoming much fewer and further between (thank God). So now’s not the time to call shots-o’clock, start a power hour or a case race or insist on a game of screw the dealer or thumper. Because in our twenties and beyond, our drinking buddies don’t have to be our best buddies. Our closest friends don’t have to witness our drunkest moments.

As long we remember what our friends are really like, sober, I’d say we’re safe to just go with it. Drink with whoever’s around when we really need a beer, and toast to the friends who know us best, wherever they may be. It’s New Year’s Eve, so I’ll drink to that!


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Twenty-something Questions for Christmas Eve

Why is a plane ride so exciting?

When will I feel like I’ve “made it”? Is “making it” a fallacy, anyway? Who am I to judge?

Will I turn out like my parents? Would I be OK with that?

Why can’t I break the Starbuck’s habit? Why is custard the best thing ever – even in the winter?

Why can’t there be just one open parking space? And why are meter-readers so meticulous?

Why does the word “eclectic” drive me nuts? What words do you find annoying? Like, whatever? Just sayin …

Where will my next apartment be? Will I ever truly want a house?

If the “Polar Express” bell was real, would I hear it chime?

Why do people filling up GIANT water bottles always hog the tall water fountain at the gym?

Will candidates ever give us choices better than a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich?

What if the Internet was never invented? Why is Comcast the worst company ever?

Where did I leave my phone this time?

Will cooking ever actually seem like fun? And why is my definition of “easy” so different than recipe-makers’ definition?

Where, oh where, has my alcohol tolerance gone? Oh where, oh where can it be? Still, why can’t good beer be cheaper?

Who will I keep in touch with over time? Will my twenties be over before I know it?

What will I do for others this Christmas, this season, this new year?

Got answers? Or questions of your own? Feel free to share.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy new year!

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Dear Twenty-somethings, it’s Not All About You

I learned a new texting abbreviation at my sister’s graduation over the weekend, but I doubt it’s one I’ll ever use in a text.

NAAY: Not All About You.

The speaker at a nursing pinning ceremony who introduced the audience to the made-up term said it applies especially to graduates like my sister, nurses who care for patients with the type of medical expertise few others have and the type of compassion few others show.

Nurses have to go into work each day and remember it’s not all about them – it’s about the patient and making sure that person’s health-related needs are met.

But even the rest of us who don’t have the medical chops or caring nature to be nurses can benefit from internalizing the idea of NAAY.

Because in life, no matter how old we are, it really is not all about us.

I remember seeing this type of message early in my college days, in the “About Me” section of the Facebook profile of a person I came to truly admire.

Maybe it was sarcasm or a bit of irony, an attempt to rebel against a text field that asks the profile-holder to be even more selfish than usual by purposefully writing all about themselves. Maybe it was a self-awareness not many 18-year-olds have. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Because the end result was the same. Here was someone who understood it’s not all about you, and helped me on the path to understanding it, too.

Twenty-somethings seem to get a particularly bad rap in this regard, especially those of us who are childless and/or single. The world often overgeneralizes about “Millennials” assuming we’re selfish kids who think society owes us a fun and stress-free job, great money, chances to travel the world and party often, plenty of awards and prizes, the boyfriend/girlfriend/partner of our dreams, gourmet food and designer everything.

That’s wrong, wrong, wrong – but harder to disprove when too many of us are self-focused and haven’t yet learned it’s not all about us. Myself included.

Of course there are plenty of us who have moved past this all-about-me type of selfishness, people who spend their time coaching special needs basketball teams, mentoring at-risk kids or starting nonprofits designed to help women learn to love themselves. These unselfish twenty-somethings give us all a good name and deserve our sincere respect and thanks.

But there are also plenty of us who are just as self-focused as the “entitled Millennial” stereotype, but not in flashy ways. Overburdened by the demands of our jobs, social and family lives and household chores, many of us are thinking only about what we need to get through the day – how to fit in a workout, two or more hours of driving, 12 hours of work and maybe a few minutes of picking clothes and packing a lunch and watching a Bulls game … all without collapsing.

These types of twenty-somethings also need an “it’s not all about you” reminder.

Because no matter how busy we are, it’s not. Because no matter who we are, NAAY stands true: it’s Not All About You.

So on second thought, maybe I will use NAAY in a text some day. Because I, for one, need constant reminders that it’s really not all about me.

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You’ve officially reached adulthood when … Snow is no longer fun

All through childhood, snow is something to look forward to.

It means sledding, forts, snow angels and fulfilling the lore of white Christmases. It means hot chocolate with those melty marshmallows and examining bootprints on sidewalks and ice skating on frozen-over park district parking lots.

And even in college, snow means the possibility of a day off of school.

So obviously, it’s fun.

It means sleeping in, sledding on stolen cafeteria trays and letting cheap beers chill in the snow while building a college kid igloo. It means snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or even better – hitting the slopes on downhill skis or snowboards during a rare vacation to a ski resort. It means forms of recreation that aren’t possible until the ground is coated in white and it’s part of what makes the seasons of a Midwestern climate enjoyable.

But go through one blizzard as a working person and suddenly, snow is just a hassle, an unnecessary mess to deal with that requires extra time to get to work, extra caution on the roads and extra gear – shovels, gloves, boots, scrapers, snowblowers.

Without snow, you wouldn’t need to buy any of these things, let alone remember to leave half of them in your car, where all they do most days is cut down on your winter gas mileage.

Without snow you wouldn’t need that defroster button on your car that stops the warm air from actually coming toward your hands and/or feet.

Without snow, all you’d be missing is slippery streets, a semi-permanent coating of road salt and the “I’m not a little kid anymore” sad nostalgia of seeing youths frolicking in the snow, but knowing you’re no longer one of them. Not even in the college aged stolen-sled-and-beer-chilling-igloo sense.

And if you could skip the snow, obviously you wouldn’t be missing any fun.

But just because people grow up – and a bunch of us make the switch every year from kids or college students who appreciate snow for the fun of it, to career-world adults who see the fluff as an unnecessary side effect of cold weather – doesn’t mean the snow will stop falling.

This winter alone, Chicago weather forecasters are vaguely saying it might be a rough winter, with the characteristic lack of detail only meteorologists can pull off.

I doubt I can fool myself into thinking the impending snows are something to look forward to. And I doubt I’m alone.

But I still don’t want to trade in my Midwest seasons for a snow-free, tropical or Mediterranean climate.

Because the first warm days of spring, the ever-changing cloud patterns of an approaching thunderstorm and the comforting patter of a late-night rain as I’m going to sleep – those are fun. And remembering those better weather days will come again can get even the most snow-fearing adult through a wet and messy winter.

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How to (not) eat like an idiot

I wish I could write an authoritative column on how not to eat like an idiot.

How to avoid maxing out on pizza, late-night noshing on large bowls of ice cream, or being unable to stop at the Christmas cookie table, the buffet brunch or the appetizer trays at a New Year’s Eve bash.

It’s a great mission not to eat like an idiot, but I can’t say I’m an expert on it.

So many things get in the way of sensible eating in my version of twenty-something life and the versions many of my friends live as well. With temptations in the form of vending machine snacks, easy but unhealthy foods beckoning from grocery store shelves, desk drawers filled with stashed chocolate for stressful afternoons, the desire to eat treats with boyfriend/girlfriend/partners and friends you haven’t seen in a while, and the amazing prevalence of tasty fast food shops lining every street you’d ever need to drive on, it’s no wonder so many of us make idiotic food choices from time to time.

I guess in order to stop eating stupid amounts of food, the desire to be healthy has to outweigh all the triggers that turn us from smart eaters into idiots: stress, sugar cravings, salty cravings, unexplainable constant hunger, the starving college kid in all of us that urges us to eat as much as we can … whenever the food is free, and the biggest problem of all – the see-food, eat-food dilemma of eventually giving in and chowing down on anything in reach.

Beating all those temptations is a steep task for our healthy eating desires, so again, it seems making poor food choices from time to time can be explained away as normal and natural.

But then the question becomes … where’s the line? What divides normal, occasional overeating from an idiotic food choice you’ll regret, one that makes it harder than necessary to maintain your weight, throws off your diet, or just makes you feel like a sloth?

The answer, in my eyes, is the presence or absence of a food hangover.

You’ve been there. On the couch. Full to extremes. Bloated. Wanting Tums or Gas-X or something, but unable to move your heavy body to even go get the stomach-aiding pills. Whether you recognized it at the time, that was a food hangover. Back it up a bit, call to mind what you ate before feeling like crap, and there you’ve got it – your latest idiotic food decision.

So here’s where I’m supposed to reveal the solution, explain to all of twenty-something nation how not to eat like an idiot, and therefore, how to save yourself the stomach pain, mental torment, and extra work in your weight-loss or weight-maintenance goals that’s brought on by stupid eating decisions.

But I already admitted, I’m not an expert. I’m just another idiot, and right now, I want a brownie.

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