I was writing Christmas cards this evening. The ones I’m sending out this year have a line drawing of Jesus on the front and say "Happy birthday to me!" (Sorry if I ruined the surprise for those of you who will receive them shortly.) But I realized that in my personal notes to everyone I kept writing something to the effect of "Wow, what a crazy year…" I would never call my life boring, but in comparison to the most recent 12 months, past years do seem…uneventful.
As the year began, I lost my job and had my heart broken in the span of three days. I went to Paris for the first time. I went to Hawaii for the first time. I went to Baby Gap for the first time. I collected a few months of unemployment but ended up making more money than I did last year. I was present for eight of Barry Bonds’ home runs. I rode a bicycle 575 miles in seven days. I visited someone in a federal penitentiary. I watched three friends have babies (OK, I didn’t actually watch them, that’d just be gross.) I saw seven friends get married. I discovered Intrepid (thank you Lee Anne). I was 2500 miles away when 3000 people died. And I watched the U.S. go to war. Hell, there’s still three weeks left in the year, although I know better than to ask what else could happen.
But what stood out most about this year were all the things that I learned – about myself, about the world, and about certain Intrepid staffers and their testicles.
I’ve learned that being laid off can actually be a great thing.
I’ve learned that my cell phone should be less important to me.
I’ve learned that really great friendships can be made in the most random of ways.
I’ve learned that both classic cars and relationships don’t always work just because you put a lot of effort into them.
I’ve learned that when in jail, don’t correct grammatical errors made by other inmates.
I’ve learned that two years from now, I will see a picture of myself and wonder what the hell I was thinking wearing that.
I’ve learned that just when you think you’ve got it down, you learn something about life that you never knew.
I’ve learned that you never pay a prostitute with a personal check.
I’ve learned that MJ, yes that MJ, should have stayed retired.
I’ve learned that I cannot fit an entire orange in my mouth at once. Well…and get it back out without dislocating my jaw.
I’ve learned that it’s worse than you might hope, but better than you might fear.
I’ve learned that a good wine collection and high thread count sheets both pay for themselves relatively quickly.
I’ve learned that even if you’re really high, you still need to pay attention to which end of the lit joint you’re putting in your mouth and puffing on.
I’ve learned that just because someone says "I love you," it doesn’t necessarily mean they do. And that just because someone doesn’t say "I love you," it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t.
I’ve learned (the hard way) that you never, ever want to drink something called the Three Wise Men.
I’ve learned that I would like whiter teeth.
I’ve learned that waking up next to someone you love is the most amazing feeling in the world and should never be taken for granted.
I’ve learned that I can actually cook a meal that doesn’t come out of a box.
I’ve learned that on the most normal of days, in one crazy moment people can just be gone.
I’ve learned that you don’t ever seal anyone in a wine barrel. Not even just for fun.
I’ve learned that I always want to be as good a friend as mine are to me.
I’ve learned that "blockbuster" is synonymous with "bad" when used in context of the entertainment industry.
I’ve learned that as fast-paced and hectic as everyone’s lives are, we still have all time to care about each other.
I’ve learned that I am 10 years too old to attempt anything seen on the X-Games but 30 years too young to actually enjoy golf.
I’ve learned that no matter how much evil there is in the world, there’s a lot more good.
And I’ve learned that women really do notice your shoes.
Matt would love to be George Plimpton...welll, except for the being dead part. He supplies the doing and the writing. All he asks of you is the reading.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
12.7.01 @ 8:02a
Ah, I coulda told you that.
12.28.01 @ 1:27a
Did you learn not to pay prostitutes with personal checks and the thing about high thread count sheets paying for themselves quickly at the same time? Did the latter have anything to do with making more money than last year?
Hey, you know what's kind of funny, Matt? Okay, pretend the first three paragraphs of your column are about how you got laid off and became a gigolo. Now, from "I've learned that being laid off..." on, imagine that it's a column of advice from an experienced male prostitute. Fun!
12.28.01 @ 1:45a
I said I can't fit an entire orange in my mouth! And "Orange" is not a code word for anything else.
I've learned that Jason is frequently drunk.
12.28.01 @ 2:27a
Sign of a good, uh, what, uh, writer.
12.31.01 @ 11:46a
I didn't know Julianelle retired.
12.31.01 @ 12:47p
It was a quiet ceremony.
12.31.01 @ 1:08p
You know those MJ-type retirements. In one day, out the next. As soon as someone mentions the fact that Ebert didn't have Memento on his Top 10 Films of 2001, Mike will send us all a fax saying simply "I'm back."
12.31.01 @ 3:10p
Ebert! He writes some decent reviews, but watching his tv show and/or just reading his blurbs gives you a very different sense of his views/intelligence as a critic. But that guy Roeper is a moron. Notwithstanding the fact that he has Memento as his #1 movie of the year. For the record, without having seen Blackhawk Down, Ali or Gosford Park yet, my top 3 this year are:
1. The Royal Tenenbaums
2. Mulholland Drive
For the record.
Happy New Year!
12.31.01 @ 3:26p
If anyone wants to see something really funny, check out Rob Reiner being forced at his Friars Roast to read Eberts review of North. And I quote, "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."
12.31.01 @ 6:17p
I definitely agree with your theory on blockbuster and the entertainment business. Life is never as it is in movies.
1.2.02 @ 11:51a
I know that as entertainment, movies do not have to be realistic, but I've been noticing more and more that a film with pretensions to reality shouldn't be filled with witty dialogue in which people never say the wrong thing, get tongue-tied, or even pause to collect their thoughts.
1.2.02 @ 1:40p
Seriously, though, my wine collection and sheet collection just haven't paid for themselves at all. The wine gave me $4.65 toward rent, but honestly, what do you expect from Beringer merlot? And the sheets just lay around (sorry) all day, bitching and whining about the blankets.
1.2.02 @ 1:47p
Isn't a Beringer merlot worth about $4.65?
1.2.02 @ 5:19p
Which is frightening, considering Boone's Farm is about a buck cheaper.
Uh, not that I would know.
1.2.02 @ 5:26p
Ah Boone's...takes me back to my high school days.
I've tried desperately not to become a wine snob. But when eight of my clients are boutique wineries that give me all sorts of really good wine for free, it's tough.
And Lila, the trick is: the longer you stay in bed, the more you'll like your sheets. They won't bitch as much about the comforter.
1.2.02 @ 5:29p
Ah, Boone's Farm. I found my thrill in a bottle of Strawberry Hill.
It never was something that anyone bought so much as something that just showed up (usually in gangs of two or three) at the campus paper's office on production night and got passed around.
1.2.02 @ 5:30p
I find it uncanny that Matt and I both start our wistful memories with "Ah, Boone's..."
1.2.02 @ 5:35p
What's even scarier is that we both worked in production at our campus' newspaper.
1.2.02 @ 6:03p
I don't know. I always preferred Mad Dog to Boone's. Maybe it's a Yid thing.
And by "preferred" I mean "was least likely to knock away when proferred to me at the end of an evening."
1.2.02 @ 6:25p
The only thing we drank at the campus paper was champagne on election night. At least that's all we drank at the office after two things happened: it was discovered that our business director was using campus funds to buy our liquor (and turning in the receipts for reimbursement!) and our Spring Fling party was broken up by the cops and all the drinks confiscated.
Ah, Cordon Negro?
1.2.02 @ 6:48p
Yeah, we drank so much Cooks champagne (1. cheap 2. high in alcohol content) when I was a freshman that I can't get near the stuff without wanting to vomit.
1.2.02 @ 10:16p
Champagne? Never let it be said we aspired to anything so high-falutin'. I recall that on my 21st birthday (a production night) we made a beer run and I bought a 32 oz. bottle of something imported, rather than my usual 32 oz Miller Lite (aka "The Quart o' Beers"). The Boone's Farm was always gratis, brought by the editor's frat brothers.
1.3.02 @ 2:19a
Geeze, after all this time I think I've finally got this site figured out. We're, um, I mean, you're all a bunch of freaks who worked on our, make that your, schools' newspapers and drank cheap crappy liquor. Did any of the rest of you have cheap crappy sex in the business office after the editor went home?
1.3.02 @ 9:45a
All I have to say, Jael, is Cider Jack.
And unfortunately, I had to wait until the editor went to my home before having cheap crappy sex. Actually, it wasn't really that crappy.
1.3.02 @ 9:50a
No sex in the office for me, at least by Clintonian standards. But I learned later that the dark room got quite a workout from other e-board members.
1.3.02 @ 10:26a
Apparently the light board was often sullied. Not by me.
Adam, I don't remember this Cider Jack of which you speak, but I have a pretty solid guess who, I mean what, you're talking about.
1.3.02 @ 10:44a
I imagine the light board was at least a warm place to...uh...sit. But I wouldn't want to explain how it got broken if the glass cracked.
1.3.02 @ 11:34a
Well, once we switched to computer layout, the lightboard wasn't nearly as useful in its original capacity. I'm pretty sure there's still half a dozen rolls of line tape in a filing cabinet that will likely never see the light of day.
And, yes, Jael. You know pretty much exactly who and what I'm talking about.
1.3.02 @ 1:35p
Oh Adam, you can't leave the rest of us in suspense like that...
I worked in the darkroom - printed all the pictures for the next day's issue. And yeah, let's just say a lot of film was rolled in there.
1.3.02 @ 1:45p
It's not suspense, it's protecting the names of the guilty. And if it's who I'm thinking, he reads the site. Right?
Let's put the focus back where it belongs... Adam and his cheap but not crappy sex with an editor. Which did not happen in the office. The most exotic thing any of our staff did in that office, if I remember right, was a series of rousing games of I Never.
1.3.02 @ 1:51p
Well, the Cider Jack was actually this dry cider that they no longer make (yes, I know Cider Jack still exists, but it's the sweet stuff now). We did once get the Tufts' senate (through a very generous man who's initials are D.B.) to pay for a few cases of it and a keg, which is what lead to the games of I Never of which Jael seems to have fond memories.
And no, there was no inter-editor sex in the MAB office, as far as I know. The cheap and non-crappy sex happened at my place. A few times.
1.3.02 @ 1:59p
Cheap and non-crappy. It doesn't get any better than that.
lee anne ramsey
1.3.02 @ 6:36p
I'm disgusted and scared that mention of David Brinker just appeared on this site.
They definately still make Cider Jack - an old friend of mine writes the radio ads for them. (hilarious if you've never had the pleasure of hearing them)
1.3.02 @ 7:27p
I liked their ads on the Green Line in Boston a few years ago. My favorite was "Philosophize like Plato... If Plato were to philosophize about the designated hitter rule." The radio spots were cool too, though -- I remember one about being stirred w/ a rusty screwdriver w/ lots of bugs or something. Gotta love that brand of self-promotion!
1.4.02 @ 3:14a
So wait, am I the only one who thought that when Adam said "I had to wait until the editor went to my home before having cheap crappy sex" that he meant HE was the editor and he went home and had cheap crappy sex with himself? No offense meant, Adam. In fact, it's kinda sorta a compliment since I thought you were the editor. Okay, maybe not such a nice compliment, but still.
1.4.02 @ 1:51p
I think that's a visual we'd all rather not have.