What Do We Watch on Tuesday?

If you were a kid in the 90s,  your parents would order a pizza for dinner every Friday night. I don’t know why this was an unspoken rule of weekly take-out, but if it was Friday, you knew that you were going to eat cheesy goodness while watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch, in that order.

Little did you know that your parents were also giving you a taste of adult living at a very young age, while simultaneously setting you up for heart disease. What was a fun way to spend the end of the week suddenly became a rut that you were trudging in by the time you were nearing puberty. Your mouth would start watering on Thursday night in anticipation of the next day: pizza day.

And so it was born: your ambition to work for/treat yourself with the weekend. (To be fair, 5 days of schooling also contributed to this, but hey, positive reinforcement doesn’t help it, either.)

And it is now that I invoke this sort of, blogger’s license, and say that you should break the routine you live in whenever possible (and at the same time, I freely admit that this is a struggle for me as well. I, too, looked forward to pizza at one time.)

But like pizza, routines are unhealthy. (I know, sad truth.)

Now, I’m not going to tell you that life exists outside of your comfort zone. Because you already know that. Yes, if I tell you what you should be doing, it doesn’t change the fact that you aren’t doing it. You’re scared and that’s obvious. We all are, and that’s why we adopt routines in the first place. That’s not a crime, it’s a fact.

No, I want to tell you it is possible to break your routine. It is possible to start something new. It is possible to stop asking, “What’s on television on Tuesday?” Not because you already know, but because you have broken the habit of doing the same thing every Tuesday. Just start small. Watch your normal shows on a Wednesday night instead of a Tuesday. I know, I know, that’s really starting small. But when you convince yourself that change isn’t life-altering, and that it won’t kill you, then you can move up. Try a new restaurant. Read an author you’ve never read.

Then, when you’re comfortable in your new uncomfortableness, keep going. And you’ll realize that the life you were living before wasn’t really living at all.

Routines can be good because they help us to remember what we need to remember in our lives: the car keys, this huge project, that night out with your friends. This is because nothing ever changes. But routines aren’t memorable for the long-term, as days merge into one another as one gray blur. That’s why we need a break from routines from time to time, to feel new things and try new things. To live the life we want to live instead of the life we feel we must.

So, we’ll do it together. We’ll both make small changes in our life so that they add up to something big. Because life is simply that: small moments that add up over the years.

(But don’t worry. This blog will always remain routine without being ordinary.)

I Wish I Had Something Different to Say

When I was a teenager, I had two thoughts. How am I going to hide this pimple on my face? and How am I going to hide myself?

Now that I am an adult, I also have two thoughts. What the hell am I going to do with my life? and I don’t have a life to do anything with.

You see, that first thought governs much that I do. Well, plagues me, really. I struggle against it frequently when I am trying to blog because I have an open forum to voice my opinion. If you look at past posts, you will find that I do not often win the battle. I do not often tell myself to put my own life journey aside, so I can write something pithy and engaging for a blogging public. But by most accounts, I am completely consumed with deciding on my passion, my calling, AKA what to do with the rest of my life. When I’m not writing this blog, I’m researching, calculating, and planning the next 50 years.

But it’s strange because I started out this blog post by telling you how I felt as a teenager and as an adult, but in reality, I still feel like a child. I see someone working construction, and I suddenly feel the need to put on a hard hat. I watch someone treat a patient, and I am convinced that I should be healing the sick. And yes, an astronaut may have been out of my reach as an actual kid, but I suddenly feel like the stars have never been closer than right now. So, am I ambitious or indecisive?

I don’t know. But the only thing I can say for certain is that I wish I had something different to say. I wish I had my life planned out. I wish I could say that I have the courage to pursue whatever I am “meant” to do. I wish I wasn’t worried about making the right decisions. And truly, I wish I had something different to say about my future.

The only thing, and I mean the only thing, that stops me from having meltdowns daily about all this is one simple quote whose origin is heavily debated. But let’s just say Abe Lincoln said it because, you know, it’s a good quote and he’s a good guy, so he deserves it.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

I feel like a cork on a champagne bottle when I read that quote. It doesn’t matter what I am. It doesn’t matter if I’m selling out. It doesn’t matter if I don’t pursue my passion. It doesn’t matter if I never “make it.” I just have to be good at what I do, whatever it is. Hopefully, it isn’t axe murdering, but you get it. I just have to give 100% to whatever it is that I am doing. And I am about 95% sure I can do just that. (Did I say I was indecisive?)

And that’s all you can hope for, too. You should give yourself a little wiggle room to be good. But you should never stop striving for it.

The New MidLife Crisis

Sadly, we live in a youth-obsessed culture. And yet, we are often being told to grow up. To be a proper adult, we need to be able to afford an apartment payment and student loans, but we are also told to enjoy our freedom as young adults while it lasts, before we have a mortgage payment and children.

Huh?

It seems, that somewhere along the line, we got our signals crossed. This results in many twenty-somethings trying to balance a fully active lifestyle (social life included) while still trying  to juggle the responsibilities of someone twice their age. Think of a toddler playing dress-up in Mommy’s closet, high-heels on her too small feet. Get the picture?

So, what does this all mean? It means that many millienials right now are experiencing a midlife crisis… only about 1/3 of the way into their life. They are questioning their futures, lamenting the end of their lives (if only the lives they lived in college), and making extravagant, selfish purchases.

And do you know what I say? Do it. Have your midlife crisis, and eat some cake, too.

Because your twenties are about two things: making memories and making mistakes. You can’t do either if you are diligently tucking away each cent you make from your job. You should live a little. Just don’t empty your bank account doing it.

Of course, saving or paying for a place to live is smart (especially if your parents aren’t down with you trying to renovate the basement into your “man cave”), but you will begin to resent the money you are making if you do not use it to enrich yourself spiritually and emotionally rather than physically.

Like money, time is meant to be spent, not squandered away. And sadly, once it is gone, it is gone for good. So, spend each of these wisely but generously, and you will have no regrets when your time (and your money) is up.

Car Commandments

Like many Americans, I commute to my place of work. A year ago, it was reported that 10.8 million Americans commute an hour to and from their job. That means we spend 520 hours driving to work in the span of a year. That’s hours of radio playing, white knuckling the wheel, getting lost, yelling at the GPS, etc. And I won’t even mention the amount of gas we feed into our cars only to have them spit out the remains in an ironic cloud that chokes us and the earth.

“Mr. Hyde”: Road Rage Edition

Yet, in many cases, the drive is not the problem; it is the other drivers. The slow turners, the speed demons, the huge trucks, you name it, I’ve probably seen it and been furious at it. I’m not sure scientists will ever be able to pinpoint the exact gene in the human body that, when the switch is flipped, could turn Mother Theresa into a monster truck driver. However, when people get behind a wheel, we all seem to experience the white hot hate that is road rage. I like to call them my “Ms. Ryde” moments, a play on Dr. Jekyll’s barbaric counterpart.

Now, I try very hard to keep “Ms. Ryde” stuffed deep inside. I chew gum to release my stress, I listen to soothing music, and I even employ a truly revolutionary tactic: I remain rational. I try to not take things personally on the road. And really, in the grand scheme of things, where will anger get you? There are worse things than being cut off, or even getting in an accident, although it doesn’t seem that way at the time. People lose their lives on the road everyday. Be grateful you are still sitting safely behind the wheel when you arrive home, and remember that everyone else is just trying to do the same.

With that said, I reached my boiling point today. I actually saw someone get out a newspaper and start to read at every red light. I can’t say I was surprised, but I wish I had asked for the funnies when I passed by. All joking aside, this is downright dangerous. I also watched one woman proceed to curl her eyelashes in her rearview mirror last week.

So, I feel as if I have a civic duty to remind my fellow drivers of what I like to call “common sense,” but what other people may call “Car Commandments.”

Car Commandments

1. Thou shalt not text or talk on a cell phone whilst driving.

-I don’t even know why I have to say this, but put your cell phone down. Down. Every day, I see people miss red lights and nearly collide with other cars because they have a phone at their ear. They somehow believe that they have super powers because even though other people get into accidents, they seem to be immune. You are not special. If you’re not the President of the United States (and even if you are), that phone call is not that important.

2. Thou shalt always check thy mirrors at least twice before merging/changing lanes.

-They are called blind spots for a very good reason. Check, double check, and check again to make sure that no one is in yours. Believe me, I know you want to get out from behind that slow poke in the fast lane, but if you don’t glance at your mirrors before making your move, you may have a bigger problem on your hands.

3. Thou shalt merge like thou mean it.

-Every day, I merge onto a major highway. And every day, I see someone in the right lane who is going far too slow to let anyone merge in front or behind him/her. If you are this person, get in the left lane so people can safely get into the rat race. If you are the person merging, it’s best to speed up, if you can. Step on the gas to get in front of someone, don’t put on the brakes so that you can get hit from behind.

4. Thou shalt turn like thou mean it, too.

-Easily my biggest pet peeve on the road: when someone on the highway decides that they will make their turn and that they will make their turn at a speed that a tortoise in its dotage would think was too slow. Listen, I know you’re excited that you didn’t miss your turn, but if the people behind you have to slam on their brakes and say 10 Hail Mary’s before you take your exit, then we are going to have to throw down.

5. Thou shalt put on thy turn signal in a timely fashion.

-Again, I’m not even sure why I have to say this, but my daily commute dictates that it needs to be said. Turn on your blinker when you need to turn. Turn it off, if it doesn’t go off, when you turn. That’s it. But if you are one of those people who turn it on far too early or far too late, I have no time for you. And a question for those people who leave their blinker on halfway down the highway: doesn’t that annoy you? That metronome ticking? If it doesn’t annoy you, it probably annoys the person you are talking to on your cell phone, because why else would you leave that thing on? Pay. Attention. And see Commandment #1.

 

I completely agree that too many rules can dull the edges of our mind and turn us into sheep. However, the right rules can keep us safe. Be mindful of other drivers, and they will be mindful of you. In reality, if you give me that little “wave” that says, “Thanks for letting me into this giant parade we will be following for the next 20 miles!” or that says, “Hey, I’m really sorry for cutting you off for no reason, but I can see you are upset from your angry gestures in my rearview!” I will totally forgive you. Remember, karma waits at every red light.