40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 21

If you find yourself in a hole, one of the best things you can do is simply stop digging. By midway through my second year at Bradley University, I was working two jobs to pay for a car and an apartment–both of which I didn’t really need–and I was missing lots of class and homework […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 20

Even assholes can be insightful. (Or spot bullshit, anyway.) The first visitor I had during my freshman year at Bradley University was a friend from 12-step meetings, a middle-aged man who was sort of a mentor/advisor in many ways. It’s wild, looking back on it now, to think that I’m older now than he was […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 19

The more capable a person is, the more a mid-level manager will want to hold the person back. I worked in food service a lot as a teen and young adult–frying fries, shaking shakes, burging burgers, waiting tables… As someone who is conscientious about basically anything I do, I found that my managers always tended […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 18

Alcohol and other drugs aren’t safe for me. By the time I reached the age of 16, I knew without a doubt that I can never predict with much accuracy what is going to happen when I put mind- and mood-altering chemicals into my bloodstream. Since 16 January 1998–when I was 17 years old–I haven’t […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 17

Living in society involves being indoctrinated. Between the ages of 15 and 17, I read books like Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984, and I quickly found myself feeling fairly disenfranchised and disillusioned with the world. It wasn’t until I read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn that I finally started to realize that I was […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 16

Sometimes, snitches should get stitches. At the math and science academy, my friends and I were always up to no good. Sneaking off campus, shoplifting, gambling for real money, smoking cigarettes… and, on occasion, smoking week, drinking liquor, and eating magic mushrooms. My closest friends and I had decided we didn’t like my roommate one […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 15

Make sure there’s gas in the car before you steal it. I first began taking my mom’s car out for joyrides around the age of 12 or so. It didn’t matter whether it was her mini-van before it broke down, the little Chevy she borrowed from Uncle Pat for a while, or the next mini-van […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 14

If your campaign slogan is too ridiculous to get you elected, the student council will still create a position for you. I served as treasurer for my junior high school student council during the 6th grade. As far as I can recall, the only money I ever handled as treasurer was the change I handed […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 13

Model rockets aren’t jetpacks. (Sometimes adults don’t take kids seriously.) I was obsessed with the movie “The Rocketeer” when I was in the 6th grade. Maybe it’s a testament to the magic of cinema, but I simply couldn’t see why–if it was so easy to make a rocketpack work on screen–we couldn’t have real life […]

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40 Lessons in 40 Years: Entry 12

I don’t know how I know what I know. As “the smart kid,” I was known to be found by my siblings, at random times between 1st and 4th grade, sitting in my bedroom, listening to Tchaikovsky, and reading the encyclopedia. In the fifth grade, during some sort of class trivia contest, I kept getting […]

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