Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dear Eleni,

Congratulations on your Bat Mitzvah! In lieu of actually being there today, this post has been created in your honor.

First off, you know a lot more than I did at your age. Still, there are a few random scraps of wisdom that have stuck to my shoe during my (nearly) 42 years on this blue marble and I’d like to pass them along. My Jewish consultant, Ginsberg, says that if I want to “go Super Jew” I should offer them in derivatives of 18. Therefore, I present 36 bits of random advice:

1. When you’re in a new class, a new school, a new job, a new town – it’s easy to find the best friends you haven’t met yet. Whoever is funny, or better yet, thinks you’re funny - those are your people.

2. Listen – really listen - to music lyrics and think about the words. Visualize them. They are little books y’know; each song is a great story. Or it should be.

3. Work at least two years as a waitress (or in retail) – it’ll provide empathy later as well as a lifetime of valuable insight to the human condition. Tips too.

4. ‘I’ before ‘E’ except after ‘C.’

5. There will be many phases of your life. Accept that you can’t take everyone with you. I usually end up dragging 3-4 folks per era through the decades. Your mom comes from the Macromedia Era and I’m never letting her go.

6. Wear sun protection. Even when foggy – the rays refract and do something trippy.

7. Trees contain more knowledge than we can ever imagine. Animals too. Respect them always.

8. Read your betters; books should make you stretch.

9. Falling in love is grand experience. Savor every moment.

10. Hiding your purse or coat behind the amplifier at a show is a great idea but make sure you dance nearby to keep an eye on it. Also, see #11.

11. Stop after two drinks and don’t mix your alcohols.

12. Sorry, but your mother is right about pretty much everything. In the next 5-8 years this will seem impossible but trust me on this one.

13. If you think you can’t, you’re right.

14. Once you realize you’re wrong, have behaved badly and owe someone an apology, call them immediately and GROVEL. They will appreciate it and will most likely return the favor in the future. This keeps relationship at a healthy pink level and also means you’re not an asshole. Everybody takes turns being wrong.

15. If you’re on a date with a boy and he checks out another girl in your presence, make a polite excuse to leave and just keep walking.

16. Stay in touch with old friends. After a few decades, these people become family-like but without the obligations. They will save your ass time and time again and are worth their weight in gold.

17. When in doubt, do the kind thing.

18. Always be up for a new experience, especially when it comes to food. Don’t be afraid of spices or weird colors.

19. Dorky guys are best. They might be fumbly and awkward but they will appreciate you like nobody’s business.

20. Just because something has never been done before doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Less than 100 years ago, women could not vote in this country and now we are looking at the possibility of the first female President. Amazing.

21. Explore at least five countries outside the U.S. – more, if possible. See other worlds, other people, other cultures and let your senses take them in. Never will you get a more accurate perception of where you come from than when you leave it. (Tip: Learn the words to “Fifty Nifty United States” before you leave; it will help you win many bets and a few pints of beer.)

22. It’s never too late to learn something new. I just started playing guitar last year – it’s a hoot. This week I’m making an apple pie for the first time.

23. Boys are nice. Just make sure they see the real you.

24. Be flexible – the world will be much easier to maneuver, especially when traveling.

25. Be wary of salespeople and zealots of any kind.

26. Seek out hobbies that enhance your life and bring you joy. It may not always be the same thing; sometimes one passion leads to another.

27. Never be afraid to ask a ‘silly’ question. Chances are, everyone else wants to know too. Same goes for the follow up question.

28. Don’t rely on outside sources for your happiness.

29. If you are worried about scoring a parking spot, say aloud the exact address three times on the way over. Say it with confidence and purpose and you’ll be surprised at the success rate.

30. Pay off your credit card bill every month.

31. Don’t follow the masses but at the same time, don’t be afraid be like something that everyone else does. Think for yourself – don’t be one of the sheeple.

32. Recycle fervently.

33. Be grateful always, not just when there is a big dead bird on the table. This is the core of true happiness.

34. Learn to grow to stuff you can eat. Not only is it yummier and cheaper but it makes you feel all-powerful like … like Bono or Martha Stewart.

35. Honor your family in whatever way works. I give my mom foot rubs and pour her wine; I make dinner for my dad and kiss his bald head. Simple stuff but deeply appreciated.

36. Live in the moment - it is all you have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is just an idea. Believe me, fully grasping this concept takes practice and the secret is this: Listen with your whole body – the birds, the traffic, the person facing you – take it all in with great big greedy gulps.

Lord knows I could go on and on but eventually I’ll start making stuff up so perimeters are useful here. I hope your day was perfect in every way. You are such a smart, beautiful girl who carries herself so well. I rest a bit easier knowing you are part of the world’s future.

Your friend,


P.S. One last tidbit: Kangaroos got their name when the settlers showed up to Oz and asked the Aboriginals, “Hey, what are those crazy hopping animals called?” The Aboriginals said: “Kangaroo.” It was many years before the settlers realized that in the Aboriginal language, the word “kangaroo” means, “I don’t know.” This is my favorite factoid of all time.


hotdrwife said...

After my dad died, one of his buddies wrote a letter to us and said one of his favorite memories (and lessons) from my dad was about asking questions. They were in math class, and dad didn't understand how the teacher got the answer. And it turned out, well, neither did the teacher.

I thought all of your wisdoms were spot on, and a good reminder for me today.

And you know, I had NO idea about the kangaroo bit. It has now become my most favorite factoid, too.

I love you to bits, m'dear.

rosie said...

This was a great list ;)

David Jacobson said...


Thanks for dedicating your blog entry to Eleni. You share some great wisdom and your own beautiful spirit. I wish you had been here in person!

Some comments on your comments:

3. The late Al McGuire, a very colorful basketball coach and commentator, who was a huge figure of my youth in Milwaukee, advised his players, all graduates of Marquette University to work six months as a bartender and six months as a cabbie to really understand how the world works.

11. Yeah, right. Last night I stopped after two of each of four different kinds of drinks...but only because I fell asleep.

12. Not "pretty much" everything.

13. I heard this first from Joe Garagiola (former bad baseball player, then good baseball commentator and author and Today Show host) as "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right.

15. Give us a break. It's involuntary.

21. Eleni taught me the words when she was seven.

Eleni is practicing much of this and will take more of it to heart because it comes from you. Thanks for sharing!

Love, Jake

Kath said...

l love 4,9,26 and 27.

Still haven't gotten the hang of 11.

Kol Ha Kvod, Eleni :-)

Flea's Thoughts said...

That is a wonderful list!!!

Thanks you for sharing and it is great advice. Isn't it funny how we realize mom is right after we did all the stupid stuff of youth LOL

ClizBiz said...

Wow. Great feedback! I should make lists more often. It was a healthy question to ask myself - honestly, I didn't know if there would be anything relevant when I started.