My birthday was over the weekend. I turned 45, an impossible seeming age. I was thinking doing some list of media–45 best records, books etc–but instead, I decided to be even more self-indulgent and share with you the 45 most important things I’ve learned in this first 45 years. If I’m still around at 90, I’ll consider an update.
For now though, and without further ado, wisdom!
1. Only talk shit about your own mother, hometown, spouse, dietary restriction, region or nation of origin, even (especially?) if it seems like the person you’re talking to is inviting you to do otherwise.
2. Having a bed that is easy to make-up makes it a lot easier to make up your bed every day. Also, decorative throw pillows are an attractive way to conceal your half-assed job.
3. Finish the first draft before you revise. Know that it’s cool to abandon a thing if it’s not working.
4. Money may not be the end all be all, but’s easier to say that if you have plenty. At the very least, as the philosopher said, it changes everything.
5. The kids are all right. It’s probably just that you’re too old and boring to understand the appeal of either Tik Tok or Taylor Swift.
6. If a job requires a license to do, you should probably not do it yourself, even if you have watched a YouTube video.
7. Always punch up.
8. Everyone suffers. Anyone can have a bad year. No one handles things well all the time. Any person that claims otherwise is trying to indoctrinate you into a cult.
9. The secret is probably more butter and salt than you want to admit.
10. After a certain age, you can either have one more drink or stay up late. Pick one.
11. The harder you try to not be like your parents the more you doom yourself to people telling you just how much like them you are.
12. Do what you love, but, like, understand that even people who actually do the thing you love and are successful at it most likely have a reliable secondary source of income. Thus:
13. You don’t have to love your day job (you probably won’t), but you’re going to need it, so it helps if it’s tolerable.
14. It’s absolutely fine to wear black and navy together. Or jeans to weddings. Or tutus to the supermarket. Or white after labor day. But seriously what is the point of white jeans? Who do these work for? Who are you? Do you live in an actual bubble? I’m asking genuinely.
15. Shockingly, other people really don’t notice the vast majority of things you’re self-conscious about. Even more shockingly, most people don’t notice you at all, and if they do it’s for a fleeting second. So you might as well double up on the sequins.
16. As an adult in America, it is extremely helpful to know of at least one lawyer you could call, even if it’s just to get a referral to another lawyer, because you’re never actually going to read the fine print.
17. Tell at least one person where you’re going, especially if it’s a trip abroad, a political demonstration, a hospital or a hike to a remote area. This person should maybe not be your mother, unless, what? You want to give her a heart attack from the worry? What kind of monster are you?
18. Taxis are cheaper than DUIs. If possible, live walking distance from at least once decent bar.
19. Things that are personal are always more interesting than things that are perfect. Taste is rarely about how well things go together but how they artfully don’t.
20. The best argument for honesty is how exhausting it is to keep track of the things you’ve lied about.
21. The difference between a delightfully quirky personality trait and a deeply exasperating pathology can be measured in as little as half an hour alone in a room with a person. Which is a thing you should definitely keep in mind when thinking about long term relationships of any kind
22. In most cases, you’re better off never telling anyone the identity of your secret crush other than (maybe) your secret crush. This is doubly true if you are a teenager.
23. It is perfectly fine to think a piece of art or media is sublime and life changing or absolute garbage . It is less fine to think a person is garbage for feeling however differently about said piece of art or media than you do (your favorite band, however, is overrated).
24. Like most things marketed toward women, bras are an absolute racket. If you’re the sort of person that needs/wants one, never pay full price.
25. It is shockingly easy to not be an asshole to people, especially strangers, especially people in service jobs, who are just trying to survive and get through their shift. You never know who is having the worst day of their life. Related: Tip generously. Always.
26. The crazy thing you’ve always wanted to do with your hair? Do it, but see 6. Especially if it involves bleach.
27. The only scenario more potentially catastrophic than buying a car from a family member is going into business with your best friends. Related: good clients can become close friends. Close friends almost never make good clients.
28. Always check your sources.
29. The coolest, smartest, most awesome person you can think of still probably mangles the pronunciation of a word horrifically every now and then. Especially if they’re speaking French. Especially *especially *if they’re speaking French in Paris to a Parisian.
30. Technically, you can get away with putting a lot of things in the washing machine that say you can’t. You just have to remember to NEVER PUT THEM IN THE DRYER, unless you’re keen to turn your favorite cashmere sweater into a thoughtful gift for a corgi.
31. People do not want to hear your opinion on what they should name their baby, which is a real shame because I have some great ideas. FYI: Tiberius is an A+ name, regardless of gender, and you’re all cowards.
32. In nearly every conceivable context: “I told you so” is better thought than spoken aloud. Even though we all knew that relationship/business/brief foray into macrobiotic scientology Cross Fit was ABSOLUTELY DOOMED.
33. It’s a good idea to have more than one LBD, because once a dress becomes a funeral dress, it’s hard for it to cross back from wake to a dance floor. That said, the absolute best funerals are the ones that are most like parties, so anything’s possible.
34. If you’re having people for dinner, it’s wise to cook enough to feed the people who forgot the RSVP. Because they’ll probably show.
35. It turns out that some of your grandmother’s etiquette lessons– the ones you used to roll your eyes to?—will spare you so much cringe. Also, thank you notes can do a lot of heavy lifting.
36. Flip flops are for beaches and pools. They are never, ever for large cities. I don’t care how they do it in Florida. Related: nothing ruins travel faster than the wrong pair of shoes.
37. Apologizing well is hard. Forgiving someone is harder. Forgiving yourself is really hard. Forgiving yourself for never seeing Prince live in concert when you actually had the opportunity and INEXPLICABLY PASSED? Perhaps the hardest thing of all.
38. Most of us have a surprisingly small window in which we can justifiably blame our families for ruining our lives while still expecting room, board and unconditional love in return It’s a real gift, seventeen-year-olds. Enjoy it while you can.
39. People do change. All the time. But rarely in the ways you expect and almost never the way you want. Which is an important thing to remember when you’re trying to figure out why all your old punk rock friends are into jam bands all the sudden.
40. You do change. All the time. But rarely in the ways you expect and never to the degree that you want. Which is an important thing to remember when you’re still the same clumsy, fat person with weird skin, gappy teeth, social anxieties and not great hair as you were at seventeen. It’s not ideal, but on the plus, dry shampoo is a real game-changer, you still fit into your prom dress, and that tooth gap is kind of on trend these days.
41. Exercise is not complete horseshit; it’s kind of an emotional lifesaver, and and there are plenty of incredibly rewarding ways to do it that don’t involve people yelling at you, blowing whistles, groaning, talking about sweat, and trying to compete with you. Oh, and, this may blow your mind, but it turns out running is a lot easier after you quit smoking.
42. It’s completely human to do a thing just to get the tote bag. Just make sure you remember to cancel the subscription.
43. The best and most reliable places to pee while travelling are almost always the lobby bathrooms of fancy hotels.
44. I don’t know if it’s responsible or preferable to regret the thing you have done versus the thing you haven’t. I can say the former will give you way better story material.
45. Make good friends. And when you know you have one (you’ll know), don’t take them for granted. They are invaluable. They can make your life worth living. Understand that they will totally expect you to reciprocate if you ask them to help move your record collection. Don’t be a jerk. Do it.