Your Personal Quarter Life Pizza Evolution

July 17, 2009

Pizza or ‘zaa’ is the mainstay, cliché food item for all kiddos of all ages. Somehow Americans are introduced to this beautiful food transport device early in their lives and it comes to have an almost mystical property. It says: Sleep over. Birthday party. Late study cram session. Office luncheon. Friday night.

You ate it then. You scarfed it down by the pie in college. And you eat it now with all the enthusiasm of the slumber party.

But, have your tastes for the greatest single culinary invention move forward, the palate more expensive? Does your wallet still lead you to your toppings choice? Are you a pizza snob or will eat anything round with sauce and cheese on it? And during these years from kid to tween to teen back to kid in college and now here and now…how have you grown? Has your pizza kept up with the life and times of Quarter Life you?

You might want to think you are the end all of end all pizza experts, a true gastronome of our flat friend. And thus I might think you are full of crap with your correct pronouncing of Italian cheeses with Tuscan accent during the middle of your lecture with ya uber pizza giants NYC, Memphis, L.A., Chicago laden American voices.

You might still be ordering flat, stale cardboard from your local mega pizza delivery franchise.

What you do in life defines ya. We are what we eat. Put the two together, and what kind of pizza you eat really says where you are in your Quarter Life evolution. I am not saying there is a right or wrong here…or I have all the flatbread philosophies. But, you think about it.

The world’s most laddy dawdy pizza is available at New York’s Nino’s Bellissima restaurant. Topped with six varieties of caviar, lobster and crème fraîche, retails at
$1,000.00 or $125.00 a slice. Then you got the grocer store frozen brand for .99 cents. Either or. Everything else like life is some where in between. Bon appetite.

Quarter Lifer Quotes

July 17, 2009

All made by those at your Quarter Life age about Quarter Life living…

Family isn’t about whose blood you have. It’s about who you care about.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Go through your phone book, call people and ask them to drive you to the airport. The ones who will drive you are your true friends. The rest aren’t bad people; they’re just acquaintances.
Jay Leno

A fashion is nothing but an induced epidemic.
George Bernard Shaw

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Andy Warhol

Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.
Gloria Steinem

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Why is it drug addicts and computer aficionados are both called users?
Clifford Stoll

Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.
J. K. Rowling, (Being twenty or thirty something ain’t no big deal!)

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.
Ben Stein

There is no calamity greater than lavish desires.
There is no greater guilt than discontentment.
And there is no greater disaster than greed.
Lao-tzu

And malt beverage does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
A.E. Houseman

To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
Benjamin Franklin

Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.
Billy Crystal

Finding Tech Zen

July 17, 2009

Okay my Quarter Lifer. It’s pretty much an either-or here. You are EITHER totally up to date, all about, cannot live without technology or you have entered a phase of life where you might just be falling a little bit behind, scared of the IPhone GPS function, off the grid totally, carpel tunneled texted out and just plain out of sorts with all that is tech. Still, I guess there is a third option. You might be totally, 100% happy with your inkjet printer cartridges’ lifespan, your cell minute plan, internet service provider and hardly ever use the vid and pic function on your cell. Yea right. That person does not exist. Red button, up, arrow left, green A.

The balance between the desire to be either totally tech or a little less so is hard to maintain. The Buddha said the root of all mankind’s sufferings is desire. Do you desire more techness or more inner peace. The pace of a Quarter Life gal and her guy pal does not lend itself to much evenness on the quest. Some see everything in Best Buy moving too fast. For others the internet connection is never fast enough.

Let us do a quick quiz so you can find out your techie nightmare or nirvana. Just a few questions on your level of savvy or needs.

No matter your age you should be familiar…sort of with this older term. What does acronym CD-ROM stand for?

If you said Compact Disc Read-Only Memory then you also have probably heard of Fortran and Basic. Does not mean you are a geek. Does not really mean anything except you have a brain and use it. Congrats.

Do you know what CGI means?…

Wrong. Michael Bay could not take a morning piss without it, but it is not ‘computer graphic blah, blah. Harry Potter’s five o’clock shadow is hidden by Common Gateway Interface. If you knew that then you are officially an uber geek and you need to get off this website and back to cleaning out your keyboard of Cheeto crumbs. Sorry that last part was uncalled for.

Do you have a shoe box or drawer crammed full of various battery chargers, USB cords or a billion of those square little black cubes you plug into the wall? Did they go to devices you no longer even remember owning?

If you answered yes (which you so did!) you are not alone. Tech tip: throw it all away. Do not even think about recycling it. The earth can take another one for the team. If you hesitate here you will put it in the trunk of the car with every intention of packing it to the nearest Special Olympic drop box and recycling your old cell phones. But, it will never make it there and just cause you further frustrations. A clutter free computing life is a balanced life. Plus, all they do is ship that electronic shit over to Bangkok for some 11 year old boy to sweat shop tear it up for the precious metals like gold from the connectors to lead from the batteries. It is sort of like Dell’s version of Slumdog.

Let us move onto the lightning round. Yes or no.

1. Have you gone over your cell plan minutes more than a baker’s dozen of times?
2. Do you not even bother reading your cell phone statement or bill?
3. Have you ever been texting so much that after you picked your nose, you did not flick or wipe the bogey away clearly…it ended up on your device and you kept typing?
4. Do you consider any computer over three years old as good as an 80’s Commodore?
5. Do you know what a Commodore was?
6. Have you ever considered your high score more important…so important that you passed up on sex?
7. Let’s forget about internet porn. Yea, like ignoring the reason for the widespread spread of the tech age, but let us pretend. Have you ever masturbated to clip art?
8. Do you still write checks?
9. Do you have scary dreams about losing passwords, phones, files, etc?
10. Do you speak in acronyms and texting-ese?
11. Do you think there is someone able to watch you from your computer? Tom-Tom…
12. If so, have you ever covered up your monitor with a towel or blanket?
13. Do you believe there is a passage in Revelations about the end of the world having something to do with iBooks and Barnes & Nobles?
14. Do you order your pizza using the online function?
15. And do you use the online pizza tracker where you can see it cook and check the status of its delivery?
16. Would you rather have a phone that just takes and receives calls…no camera please?
17. Would you like to spend time on a holodeck? Again, do you know what a holodeck is?
18. Are worried more about biological or computer viruses?
19. Does your phone, laptop or plasma define you or are you the type of person who hates people who are defined as such…and dammit don’t they try and show it off. Always the big game over at their place. Check out this file exstention on my 3G. It looks so like a chocolate bar, but sexier. The restraining order says fifty feet…blah, blah, blah.
20. Are avoiding doing anything…ANYTHING…by surfing and reading this article?

You know…it does not matter how you answered. And I have to admit after typing and editing it…I got no words of techie survival wisdom for you. Like a religion…and trust me, technology is so a religion. We must find our own paths. Whether you are going techie Zen to the chubby golden dude at your local Chinese restaurant, find meaning in web conspiracies, get help desk support from that young Judean carpenter or feel the Force…find some sort of balance and live a real life, not an electronic Quarter Life. Plus my hand is so tired of typing on this crappy keyboard. Also I have a cell call coming in…G2G or Gots 2 Go!

PS – If you went with that whole Force thing, then maybe an uber, duber geek you may be. Yea I did it in Yoda passive tone of voice.

Get out of the house!

July 15, 2009

Its summer. Get out of the house already. Chances are that you’re a college student with a lame summer job. Quit a few weeks before you have to go back to school and travel. If you’re a post-collegiate quarterlifer, then you’re probably unemployed in this economic bounty. Take the opportunity while you can to get out and explore. But since you’re unemployed or about to quit your job on my suggestion, you’re going to have to do it cheap!

I find myself traveling along the west coast this week, bouncing from hostel to guesthouse to couches and I’m learning the rules of avoiding hostel hostility. Before this, I had only stayed in a hostel in Milan where the five other people I was with filled a dorm room. I love the concept of a hostel because it gives us all the ability to travel without spending a fortune. My first preference was CouchSurfing.com, but I waited too long to try and find housing and most people already had surfers already.

Thats the first rule: Book Early. The sooner you can book, the more control you have over your room. My travels essentially formed around which places had availability on which dates. It seems to be working out, but you might end up paying more for a private room if all the dorms are full.

Privacy is a commodity. If you know you like to be alone, hosteling might not be for you. You certainly can book private rooms that will run you less than a seedy motel and be far nicer, but if we’re talking about saving as much money as possible in order to have more drinks at the bar or buy more postcards to send to mom, then dorm rooms really are the way to go. You don’t want to be in your room anyway, right? You want to be out exploring. And if you do find yourself needing some down time, its likely that your dorm mates will be out in the city and you may be able to catch some moments alone.

Shower late. Bathroom time is also a rarity. Imagine you’re a Weasley. Or a Dugger for you non Potterfiles. Now imagine you have one bathroom between you. Most hostels have some sort of shared bathroom. If you aren’t out at the bar, or sneaking in to some concert, then hit the showers. Generally, the bathrooms are FAR more deserted at night than in the morning. You’ll get a chance to hog the water as long as you want without feeling guilty and you’ll be able to roll out of bed in the morning and get to the museum/garden/church/porn exhibit that you’ve been dying to see.

Hitchhikers know it: Always bring your towel. Some places will let you rent towels, but not every one will. Having a towel is dead useful. If you don’t know why, you need to consult Mr. Adams.

Lock it up. Having a padlock or combination lock is a must. We like to believe that everyone at a hostel is honest and wants you to respect their stuff as much as they will respect yours. Still, they don’t provide lockers for the fun of it. Especially if you’re traveling with electronics of any value, or your favorite jeans that its taken you years to wear to the right thinness, its best to lock it up.

Pack light. I break this rule. I can’t travel light. I like to have an outfit for every even that could come up. And shoes. That being said, the less stuff you have to deal with quietly when you’re trying to sneak out of the dorm when other people are sleeping the better. I’m combatting this by leaving my suitcase in my car and bringing in a small bag. It makes life easier for you and for others.

A note on food. Most every hostel has some kind of free food. It might be breakfast or pizza at night. Common sense suggests hoarding in cases of poverty. I’m a supporter of the alternative. Go out and find some cheap food on the streets, which will inevitably lead you to an interesting location that you would have never found otherwise. If you do feel pinched for cash, eat somewhere that will give you enough food for leftovers and stash them in the hostel fridge. But please label your food. Otherwise that girl with the dreadlocks is totally going to eat your tikka masala and naan.

Too many directions, not enough time.

July 12, 2009

We have fallen victim to the Quarterlife dilemma: too many options of things to do and not enough time in which to do them. More so, we have failed to focus in on what is supremely important and leave the other things behind. Drop one thing to catch another and hope you can get back and pick that other thing up.

It seems as though my particular experience with the Crisis has led me to perpetuate this attitude of “pile it on”. At the lowest point of my crisis, my fear was living a life with no purpose and nothing to accomplish. In digging myself out of that hole, I just started doing things. I scheduled events where other people relied on me. Singing engagements, catering events…anything to get me out of the house and responsible to someone. In my haste to rejoin the human race, I started to get carried away.

This past semester, I found myself juggling too many things: school, two jobs, a social life, my first serious relationship in over two years, a parent with cancer, an election, a website, and attempting to feed myself in regular healthy increments. The zeal of Quarterlife recovery may have gone a little overboard in my life. Rather than feeling regretful at taking on too much, I have felt relieved to know that there was a limit. I think coming out of a QL crisis is much like building momentum. Your inertia keeps you static. To get moving, you have to overextend yourself, and once the ball is actually rolling, you may end up going too fast- but it was the push you needed to get back on your path.

This is not to say that once you get out of your crisis that you won’t have to face the same damn problems over again. A few of us have even started to feel what seems to be a relapse. Now that things are somewhat back to normal, those same old questions and the same non-existent answers pop back into your daily dialogue…”What do I want to do for the rest of my life…where should I be living…do I really want to get married now…is it time for kids…I’m not happy.”

The real trick now is to keep moving without killing ourselves. It’s knowing how much to back off so that the things that feel important come to the forefront. Its saying “No, I don’t think I’ll take that overtime because I really would like to write an article for the website and that is more important to me right now.” Further, its knowing when sitting at home playing Mario Kart is not necessarily a sign that you are back on your downward slope to depression and stagnation.

No doubt, a Quarterlife Relapse is a terrifying notion. No one wants to go back to that place once you’re out of it. I certainly don’t have the answers to those questions that keep me up at night. I don’t expect that I ever will. The best I can do for myself at the moment is keep moving towards one answer at a time. By paring down, I hope to see a little more clearly what is missing and what I truly want to focus on. This site is one of those things that is important to me, if for nothing else than to know that other people are out there feeling the exact same things.

There are plenty of ways to die. You have to find a reason to live.

July 12, 2009

I watched The Brave One this week. Everyone warned me that it was disappointing. I beg to differ. Now, not everything relates to a Quarter Life Crisis, but I can certainly see the parallels between having a breakdown of identity and losing yourself in a crisis that has been thrust upon you. No spoilers, I promise, but the basic premise is that Jodie Foster is attacked and redefines herself as a vigilante- not so much as a path to revenge, but as a means to continue on with her life. In foraging her new path, she becomes someone else.

When the pain is so horrible that it blows a hole in you, you have to fill that hole with something. It’s certainly tempting to fill that hole with dark things. Dark things allow you to further dig yourself a hole of pity. Its one more day you can say to yourself “I’m worthless, I’ll never amount to anything, I’m a failure” because saying those things is easier than feigning happiness.

I can certainly admit to having gone through some of those very dark times. What’s hard is figuring out how to dig yourself out of that place. I don’t know that there is a quick answer or formula for doing so. I tried distracting myself and eventually some of those distractions stuck, evolving into a great MBA program and, ironically enough, this website. These distractions did for me what becoming a vigilante did for Jodie Foster, both allowed for a new sense of self.

We talk at length about the quarterlife crisis being an identity crisis at its root. What better when an identity is blown apart than to create a new one? Vigilante may not have been what Foster’s character was expecting in her life just as I didn’t see business school headed my way. It’s almost a case of “fake it ‘til you make it.” Your quarterlife identity might not be what you want to be in the long run, but it will inevitably make you a stronger and more capable person in the end. Let’s just try to limit the vigilante acts.

Welcome to Earth!

July 4, 2009

Every year this makes me cry:

Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. An you will be launching the largest aerial battle in this history of mankind.

Mankind– that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it is fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution– but from annihilation.  We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.

And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice:

“We will not go quietly into the night!”

We will not vanish without a fight!

We’re going to live on!

We’re going to survive!

Today, we celebrate our Independence Day.

I got weepy just typing it. Happy 4th!


BREAKING: Student Loan Assistance

July 3, 2009

If you’re like me and you’ve racked up a fair bit of student loan debt, then you probably already know about this.

As of July 1, 2009, some laws were changed that enable us to take care of our student loans a little more effectively through Income-Based Repayment, or IBR.  Depending on your family size and income, your student loan payments could be capped and the balance forgiven after 25 years. If you’re in non-profit or government work, you’re even better off with a timeline of 10 years.  There is a great calculator on the site that tells you what your payments could be. Even if you aren’t in debt, check out the video for the Debt Gremlin. I wonder if the illustration MFAs got their loans excused faster for coming up with that…

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Futile Future?

July 2, 2009

“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” -John Green (Looking for Alaska)

I’ve wrestled with this quote since I read it. John Green writes great young adult novels about misunderstood nerdy boys chasing after quirky and fascinating girls. Skip “I Love You Beth Cooper” and read his “An Abundance of Katherine’s” instead. In each book he seems to throw me a curve ball. This one still has me a little thrown.

The kicker is that he seems to be advocating doing, not thinking, which I agree with on a basic level. When I think back to the problems I encountered in my quarterlife crisis, I should have been doing more and thinking less. At the time, it seemed impossible to do so. When things fall apart, you yearn for safety and comfort. Venturing out and potentially increasing your pain doesn’t seem like a viable option.

But safe moves lead to dull lives. At a time when the world is open to us all, maybe we need to be thinking less about where we are going and thinking more about where we are. Now is what’s important. Planning for the future is one thing, but if we get to that future by way of a lessened existence, what future is there for us?