Panic and Public Pools: Looking Back/Forward

Having reached what is statistically speaking the midpoint of my life, I’ve learned a few things: good shoes are important, Indian food is better than Chinese, going to bed early is a delightful privilege, people notice your clothes, Tuesdays suck, and recently, that I don’t particularly care for public pools. Continue reading


On Applying to Be The New York Times’ Travel Writer

When I was in elementary school, I had a globe with raised mountains and sunken seas on the surface. The tactile senses elicited by slowly roaming my dirty little fingers over the nubs conveyed a palpable sense of something beyond me, beyond my little town, in the mysterious lands across the Atlantic ocean in which I’d swim every summer. That was my instant and distinct connection to the larger world. What was out there? Continue reading

Pearl Jam is Back

There was a time, between hair metal and boy bands, when MTV still played videos, and radio wasn’t streaming online, that scruffy dudes in flannel and Doc Martens ruled the airwaves. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and, arguably, to a lesser degree, Soundgarden were the kings of rock radio. They wrote songs about teenage angst, depression, suicide, drugs, metaphors for the new comfortable life our generation was provided and the emptiness that was found within such coziness. Continue reading

I Remember This. Do You Remember That?

I remember in university, taking a Toni Morrison literature class. My African-American  teacher graded my final paper and told me I didn’t understand what the writer was trying to say about identity, helping me realize how it must feel to be black and read William Faulkner. It’s not easy to identify with something outside your identity. Despite that class being my only C of my last two years of school, that teacher did teach me something that stuck with me; the idea of re-memory. That is, remembering a memory. We all tell stories from memory. Homer, the ancient blind storyteller, conveyed great epics orally from memory. But, why do we only remember some things. Why are some memories, some smells, and some moments more memorable than others? Continue reading

1984 and The War on Terror

I went to an all-boys high school. We had four or five female teachers in the whole school and an all male kitchen staff. Those haggard teachers were the most confident ladies ever to give detention. We must have looked at them like the goddesses they were most certainly not. In high school, the two newest editions to the female scope, bluntly put were a short, mousy-looking lady and a pear-shaped black woman with a Halle Berry crop. Needless to say, they became quite popular on our hormone-riddled campus. Continue reading

Music: of the People, by the People, and for the People

Did you ever wish you could go back to the first time you heard a song? Back to where you were when “Thong Song” blasted out of your friend’s convertible one crazy midsummer night, or any of the wonderfully great rap songs of the 90’s that helped define summers. What about the first time you heard “November Rain” or “Sweet Child O’ Mine” ripping your eardrums open without ever thinking of turning it down. Continue reading

What’s my age again?

For years, I’ve always looked younger than my age. I suppose at 12 I may have looked twelve, but after that, I was always mistaken for a younger version of myself. Once, around 27, a local campaigning politician came to the door of my parents’ house and asked for my mother or father. I replied they were out, and she asked me if I was old enough to vote. I stopped getting carded for alcohol around 28, but still get carded at bars. In Italy, at age 26, a nice old lady asked me if I was old enough to drink wine with dinner. Yet, this is a country where pre-teens sip vino with the Sunday meals. Last week during a massage, the masseuse asked if I was 26, because he was “good at guessing ages.” I told him I’m turning 32 this year, and he was surprised.

Through the18-21 ages, it was terrible to be confused with a young age. During the 20’s it was just a funny little thing that my face still appeared babyish. But now that I’m in my 30’s I appreciate it very much that I remain youthful. The question I asked myself today was, will I get upset when someone actually guesses my correct age? Is it possible that I will continue to look 5 years younger at each consecutive age, or at some point will the marathon of life catch up to me with a properly distinguished exterior? Since I’m used to getting the younger guesses, it would certainly hit me harder, but I am preparing for that day, and the terrible things I will say to that unlucky person.

Can the positive thinking exercises and mantras people use to keep a shining interior also be used for the surface? If you’re “only as old as you feel” is it additionally possible you’re only as old as you appear? Did the guys in high school with full beards feel like they were 25 and working at entry-level jobs some days? Did the girls with fully developed bodies at age 14 feel like they were getting better treatment at the office due to their precocious hormones? It’s funny though, in those very young days, I used to wonder when I would grow hair on my body. Now that it’s here, I spend that time shaving it off.