Things I Learned In The Adult World I Wish I Learned In School

With graduation being only a few weeks away, I thought I’d compose a list of things that I learned as an adult that would have made my life easier had I learned them while in grade school and high school. Here goes:

How to invest in the stock market

How compounding interest works

How to have an argument without resorting to insults and violence

Sometimes being “just good friends” is better than a romantic relationship

How to spot biases in news stories and journal articles

How to really listen to people

How to convince people of the validity of my ideas (Hint: facts and statistics almost never work)

I wish I paid more attention in junior high home economics

I wish I paid more attention in shop class

No one is going to ask to see your grades unless you’re trying to get into grad school, law school, medical school, etc.

Things change

Take care of your knees

The only language some people understand is force

There are truly wealthy people who dress in Wal Mart clothing and drive Dodge Ram pickup trucks

There are lots of people living paycheck to paycheck who drive BMW and wear Louis Votton

If you are wrong, apologize and move on. Don’t keep bringing it up.

It is possible to pay too much attention to a love interest. What you call being attentive, they may call being clingy.

Adults don’t know everything. They are just better at bluffing.

Having a job isn’t as bad as your parents and 7th grade teacher told you it was

You probably aren’t being judged as much as you think. Most people are too busy with their own lives to notice.

Eye witness testimony isn’t always reliable.

Sometimes bad people really do get what they deserve.

Some of the most admired people are sometimes the worst human beings in private

You can have just as good a time with pizza and cheap malt liquor as you can champagne and caviar.

You can have an even better time at your nephew’s sixth birthday party then you can any frat party.

No, it doesn’t make sense that a wedding takes a year to plan but a funeral can be planned in less than a week. But it doesn’t matter. Roll with it

It is impossible to predict human stupidity

Most people don’t read books or even newspapers after leaving school

Most people can get through life hap hazardly. But it won’t be a life that makes a difference to even your friends, family, and coworkers

Some people are better off not marrying

Some people are better off not having kids

Some people are better off not working a traditional 40 hour a week job

First impressions do matter but aren’t always accurate

Being a liar and a hypocrite works only when most people aren’t liars and hypocrites.

And, most people aren’t liars and hypocrites.

I have more in common with the working class of rival nations and religions than I do my political leaders and business tycoons

Life is a competition and a game, but in the end it all goes back in the box.

Money in itself isn’t evil but can be easily abused.

Poverty in itself isn’t virtuous.

Long hours and obsessive commitment won’t insure riches. They are the bare minimum.

You can be rich in money but poor in free time.

The graveyards of the world are full of people who could never imagine the world without them.

There will always be people who fight against progress.

The past was a real lousy place for anyone who wasn’t rich or in the religious or cultural majority.

Progress isn’t guarenteed

Machines and robots will eventually take most jobs

Time speeds up with age

Inflation Sucks

Had maintenance in my apartment yesterday fixing some things. I think I’m finally caught up on maintenance issues. I haven’t left my apartment for a few days. Just not in much of a mood to socialize these days. Seems like most of my friends are the same way.

Had to cancel my netflix service. Rates are going up again. My internet connection rates went up the first of the year. Looks like they’ll be going up even more in a few months. I get sticker shock every time I go grocery shopping. I’ve started eating more inexpensive things like rice and canned meat. I rarely order from amazon anymore. Price increases have certainly affected my life.

Been feeling more irritable and anxious the last few days. I’m also getting chronic aches and pains again. Some days my knees are bad enough I can barely walk even in my own apartment. I sit with blankets over my legs all the time no matter how hot it gets outside.

Don’t hear much from my friends these days. I think they are stressed and anxious too. Most people seem to be these days. In cases like these, it’s good that I can spend days at a time alone and not really be bothered by it.

March 16 2022

Feeling pretty decent the last few days. My joints are hurting less. Haven’t had to take any advil for a few days. I still spend most of my time at home. I read and watch educational videos most days. Renewed my Netflix several weeks ago. I often watch Spanish language shows with English subtitles. I think some of my Spanish is starting to come back.

I sleep half of the night in my recliner and the other half in my bed. Half of the time in bed, I lay on my sides. First time I’ve done that in a few years. I almost rolled out of bed a few days ago. I’ve lost enough fat that sleeping on my sides is easier now. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost since the pandemic started. I know it’s at least 80 pounds as that is where I was during my last doctor’s appointment back in October. I don’t have any immediate goals for health and weight loss other than I eventually want to get back to my old college weight. That will take at least a couple more years.

Yet the weight loss doesn’t feel like drudge work. The biggest changes I made were giving up bread, sugar, fried food, and most fast food. I haven’t bought bread in over two years. Haven’t had even a Big Mac in almost five years. Most fast food is too greasy and salty for me anymore. Upsets my stomach too. Most of my diet is now grilled and baked chicken, pork, vegetables, and soups. It’s easier, at least for me, to cook healthier meals now than even five years ago. It also helps that I’m cooking only for myself as I live alone.

Even though my aches and pains are reducing, my mobility hasn’t come back as quick as I would like. So, my family and I hired someone to help me with my laundry on the weekends. I just provide the coins and laundry soap, she supplies the labor. Even though my mobility is all but gone, I’m glad to be getting help around my house. Makes me glad I was helpful to others in my younger days when I was still quite healthy. See, kids, it pays to not be a jerk to people.

Don’t have any real plans for St. Patrick’s Day even though I’m 20 percent Irish. I’m just glad that winter is about over.

October 15 2021

Today might be just another Friday to most people. For me, today is the day I get to return to my apartment. I’m anxiously looking forward to eating my own cooking and sleeping in my own bed once more. I’ve been sleeping a lot these last three weeks. Of course I haven’t had much for caffeine since I went to the hospital. As it is, I’m on a few blood pressure meds and will be for life. But blood pressure issues run in my family.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my old routine. I’m currently at a small facility for physical rehab a couple hours drive from my hometown. Right now I’m just waiting on my ride to arrive. My parents are coming from out of state to help me get back home and get reestablished. They probably won’t be here until early afternoon. But, it’s good to be back. Three weeks ago I wasn’t sure I could even live on my own again. After three weeks of intense treatments and rehab, I’m ready to live alone again. I’ll still have my cleaning lady arrive every week. My neighbors will still help with laundry. And I still have at least a few places in my town that will do same day grocery delivery. It’s going alright.

Update On My Serious Health Scare

It is Sunday October 10 2021 as I write this. My blood pressure is back under control thanks to a few blood pressure medications. I’ve been doing physical rehab for over a week. It’s looking like I will be able to go back home within a few days. I can get around in my hospital room without a walker. As part of my physical rehab, I’ve been outside several times in the last week. The weather is turning cooler the deeper into fall we go. Looks like my town might get it’s first frost by the end of this week.

I was retaining a lot of fluid. In the almost three weeks I’ve been in the hospital, I’ve lost 40 pounds in fluids. That was in addition to the 40 pounds I had already lost during the pandemic. Overall, I’m down over 80 pounds in less than two years. I still have a long way to go, but I’m off to a good start. I eventually want to be at my old college weight. It’ll take at least another three years.

The biggest thing I missed over the last three weeks was my own cooking. I’m probably going to cook some grilled pork and cheese soup for my first meal out in the world again. I’ll be ready for this ordeal to end. Haven’t slept in my own bed in almost three weeks.

Beginning of Fall 2021

I’ve been having problems with insomnia lately. I fall asleep but usually stay asleep for only 30 minutes at a time. I usually get my best sleep between 7am and 11am these days. I still go to bed around 9pm most nights. But I usually lie awake for a couple hours before I drift off for the first time.

As far as I know, our complex is still on lock downs. I usually make a point of not talking to people much, at least in person. Most people I know are really on edge. I am too. Just saw in the news that the official death toll from covid in the US is now higher than the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago. Naturally, some people will say that Spanish Flu was a totally different virus and that the US has over three times as many people as we did in 1918. To me, this is a heartless and ugly attitude to have. I’m through with arguing about mask mandates and vaccines and social distancing. I’m convinced some people will never get the idea even if they themselves wind up dead. I’ve had to cut a lot of people out of my life because of toxic and heartless attitudes like this. I’m glad my grandparents aren’t alive to see this mass insanity.

Changes That Improved My Quality Of Life

I’m going to go off subject for this one. I guess now that my complex is back on lock down (everyone in my complex is either elderly, disabled, or both) I’ve had plenty of time to think. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the changes I’ve made over the course of my life. So here is a list of things I’ve done that improved my life so much I wish I had done them sooner. Here goes


Changes I Wish I Had Made Sooner

Learning how to ask for help

Being open about my mental illness

Cancel my cable service

Stop watching 24 hours news channels

Cancel all of my magazine subscriptions

Saving my letters from family and friends

Throwing away my old bank statements

Realizing that I don’t have to be defined by my job

Stop feeling guilty about not wanting to date

Gotten a bidet on my toilet

Getting rid of my music CDs and movie DVDs

Hanging art work in my apartment (most of it is done by my best friend)

Getting rid of my car

Give up on trying to please toxic people and bullies

Stop feeling guilty about wanting to spend most of my time at home

Give up fast food

Get my finances in order

Severely cutting back on caffeine

September 11, 2021

Today, September 11, 2021, is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I was a 21 year old college student. I remember almost everything from that day. I didn’t find out about the attacks until 10 AM Central time. I was up really late the night before working on a project for a class at the end of that week. Since I had no morning classes that Tuesday, I slept in. At 10 AM, my friend Matt knocked on my door. From the look on his face, I could tell something really bad happened. I went to his room (he had cable and I didn’t) and saw the replays of the World Trade Center attacks. Once I got over my shock, I told him, “We just went to war.” I skipped my afternoon speech class. There was a run on gas in our town. I had my weekly counseling session at the campus mental health center. I started going to those a year earlier when I was diagnosed with schizophernia.

In the days and weeks that followed, some of my classmates and instructors were talking that the draft might be brought back. One our college’s theology instructors was in his early twenties when Pearl Harbor happened. He said the mood in 2001 was very similar to the mood in 1941. We were expecting more attacks in the days and weeks afterward. I remember that one of my neighbors was afraid that the resulting wars would be very long and actually wind up hurting the US in the long term. Turns out he was right. I’m sorry I didn’t take him seriously until a few years later.

I had a cousin who served in Iraq in 2007. At least one of the members of his unit died over there. One of my college classmates who graduated two years ahead of me died over there too. Several of my high school friends served in those wars. My brother and his wife worked for a defense contractor whom did a lot of work for the Air Force. They still do. One of my cousins in California worked for another defense contractor.

An incredible amount has changed in twenty years. I was one of those angsty teenagers back in the 1990s. We were so naive in those days.

The Only Constant Is Change

When I was young I was a high achiever. Did really well in school, was involved in school activities year round. Started helping out on my uncle’s farm during the summers when I was ten years old. Had a really good academic scholarship cover a good chunk of my college expenses. Graduated college debt free. May not have been overly popular but had excellent friends anyway.

But, the mental illness really ramped up shortly in the mid 2000s. The illness made it impossible to hold a job for long. Lost many of my friends and family. Had to go on disability. Have to take meds for the rest of my life. Will probably have a shorter life because of the illness. But it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, certainly not like fifteen years ago.

I’ve accepted that my career died before it got started. I’ve accepted that I’ll never have kids. I’m alright with that I’ll never have the big house, picket fence, SUV, and apple pie kind of life. I’ve accepted that I had question everything I took for granted in my youth. I’m even starting to accept that the pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon.

In some ways I’m glad I have the life I do. I’m glad that I get to spend most of my days reading, writing, and learning things that most people simply don’t have the time for. I spend at least six hours a day reading online articles and journals. Spend a lot of time listening to science, economics, history, and philosophy talks on youtube. It’s almost like being a modern day monk.

I would say I accepted living in poverty, but let’s face it: even living below poverty level in modern America puts me ahead of most people alive today, let alone the past. Will Rodgers was right when he said America would be the first country in the world to go to the poor house in an automobile. Don’t even need to own said automobile anymore as long as you have a smartphone and an Uber account. Sold my car two years ago and my lifestyle hasn’t decreased at all. If anything, I feel less stress because I don’t have to worry about traffic, gas, and maintenance. Things like portable computers were science fiction when I growing up in the 1980s.

I think we tend to overestimate how much can change in only a year or two but vastly underestimate how much can change in ten to twenty years. Just looking in the living room of my apartment, most of the electronics didn’t exist in 2001. I don’t think even LED lighting was available back then. Even my memory foam mattress and shoes came about within the last twenty years I think. I don’t even subscribe to cable tv anymore. Can get all the tv I need on my laptop and game console. If only I didn’t have to buy a new phone or laptop every few years. Even in the movies and tv shows I watched in college in the early 2000s, I chuckle about some of the tech in those shows. Phone booths, land lines, and flip phones were extensively used even in The Matrix movies. Even today, we have many of the tech advances of the Star Trek series. We’re still not close to cracking Warp Drive though. But, what is a 3D printer if not an early version of a Replicator?

I will probably never have much money. But I really don’t need to. Certainly not like I would have 25 years ago. A person doesn’t really need much money anymore if they can stay out of debt. Granted that is a huge task. Housing, health care, and education have increased in cost far faster than inflation. But, even education can be real cheap if you play your cards right. There isn’t much I can’t learn with a few minutes of Google search or a few how to videos on youtube. And trade schools and community colleges don’t cost nearly as much as even public universities. I’ve heard of electricians and plumbers making more than even lawyers. In short, there are more options than even twenty years ago. If only people could stop fighting on social media.

Signs That I Am No Longer Young

My complex went back on lockdown until further notice starting a couple days ago. So, no more mass gatherings unless they are outside. I won’t be able to spend time in the complex library or commons area for awhile. We had a few people in here who tested positive within the last couple weeks, one of whom a close friend of mine. So glad I held onto my extra facemasks and sanitizer sprays.

Yet, in spite of the pile up of bad news, I’m going off subject for this post. I’m going to try to make a light hearted list of signs that I am no young. This isn’t by any means a complete list. So here goes.

Signs I Am No Longer Young

I get junk mail from AARP weekly

The highlights of my week often involve my cleaning lady showing up and appointments with my psych doctor

I get more joy now from a bowl of cheese soup and chatting with my best friends than I ever did going to bars and chasing women

I have zero time for drama but factor in time for aches and pains

I used to drink an average of six cups of coffee per day in my mid twenties. Now I drink maybe six cups per month

I’m not embarassed to talk about mental health issues

I have no problem asking for help

I have no problem with taking people up on their offers to help. You want to help? Fine with me. I’m putting your butt to work and I won’t feel a shred of guilt for it.

I remember when social media was fun

I remember when teenagers were called angsty slackers and not triggered snowflakes.

I remember when the Pepperidge Farm guy was a real guy and not a cartoon meme.

I learned about sex from my buddies’ stolen Playboys and Victoria’s Secret catalogs

I was scared to talk about my mental illness with even my best friends for the first five years of my diagnosis.

I got interested in economics and geopolitics by Ross Perot in 1992

Most of the musicians I admired in my teens and twenties are dead, many of whom died quite young.

I remember when people were freaking about AIDS like they are now over covid

I watched the trials of O.J. Simpson and Oliver North

I was in high school before DNA evidence was considered reliable

I used a firearm before I learned to drive or shave

I was angry at my dad because he wouldn’t let me use the lawnmower until I was eight years old

The only person I know personally below the age of 55 who has worked for the same company for over twenty years is my brother.

I remember when college graduates having over 25k in student loans was a big deal

When people with law degrees or MBAs were not waiting tables or Uber drivers

When gig work was seen as a supplement and not a necessity

When you didn’t have to be independently wealthy to afford a house outside of the ghetto or rural America.

When corporations weren’t considered legal people. I mean, does Amazon have a favorite ethnic restaurant? Is Coors Brewing a big baseball fan and, if so, why do the Rockies stink every year? Are J.P. Morgan and Coco Chanel having an extramarrital affair? If so, does Apple have the selfies and is threating to share them with Twitter and Tik Tok?

Too many parents of today are overprotective of their kids. Same parents (and myself) were not supervised or protected at all while growing up in the 80s and 90s. Balance, people, balance.

I get good memories from hearing the theme songs to “X-Files”, “Daria”, “Cops”, “Resident Evil”, and “Jackass”

I’m old enough to remember when “The Simpsons” was just as good as “South Park”

I remember when crime dramas were as popular as superhero movies are today

A few of my friends thought they could commit the perfect crime because they watched every episode of CSI, The Sopranos, and Cops

I remember when the Bulls and Knicks had great teams

These are just a few. I’ve gone on too long already. I’ll be sure to post more in the future