Know Thyself

I lately have felt like all of my thoughts are just recycled. It’s probably because I do the same dang things all the time and am stuck with myself 100% of the time; when there’s little variability in your life, why would your thoughts radically change?

Something inside me wants to believe that I’m thinking the same things because these thoughts are truly important to mull over. However, I proofread the following snippets multiple times, and all I can confirm is that I’m just getting more self-absorbed. And so I’ve named this post “Know Thyself” simply because that’s all these snippets are indicative of — that I know myself, maybe to a fault.

I’ve had a lot of roommates. I’ve lived with anywhere from one to eight of them nearly my whole life, and I think it’s improved my patience enormously. Yet there are certain habits that almost all of them have done that drive me insane, for whatever reason.

The first is not replacing the toilet paper. But I don’t mean not replacing it as in, leaving an empty roll — which is inexcusable. I’m talking about taking out a new roll, but not actually putting it into the roll holder. Leaving it on the counter or wherever. Like, you’re SO CLOSE. Why not actually situate the roll? I had a couple roommates who admitted that they legitimately didn’t know how to replace the roll, which is also pathetic.

In the same vein, I cannot understand why people will rinse off a plate or bowl and then just place it in the sink. Once again, it’s another half second to now place that dish into the dishwasher. I’m talking about dishes that genuinely do not need to soak. Why would you rinse it and then leave it in the sink when you’ll have to ultimately put it in the dishwasher? I’m really not asking for much here.

While I’m on the topic of things that annoy me, I’d also like to mention some phrases that inexplicably get on my nerves. The first happens on Zoom a lot. When someone says, “well, that’s all I’ve got, so I’m going to kick it over to so-and-so.” You’re not “kicking” anything … so stop using that phrase! (Although, I’m guilty of using the phrase “I’ll throw something on your calendar,” when in fact, I’m not “throwing” anything.)

The same goes for when a server asks me, “Can I get a peek at your ID?’ Why are you using the word “peek,” like it’s some sort of secret? Honestly, it makes me kind of uncomfortable.

I turned 25 last month, but I am constantly reminded that regardless of how old I am, I never really feel my age. Of course, social psychologists will try to break us down into generations — Boomers, Gen X, Millenials, Gen Z — but even that broad categorization doesn’t work for me. Being born in 1996, I’m technically on the cusp of Millenial/Gen Z. And it shows. I’m not hip enough to be Gen Z; I don’t know what’s popular and I don’t have Tiktok. But I’m not as cringey as a Millenial, holding onto god-awful trends or demonstrating some entitlement to literally anything.

Recently, I think I’ve been trending closer toward Millenial because of two comments I received. The first, from my friend Nick when I told him I didn’t want to order a computer monitor online, but rather pick one up at the store:

“Wow,” he texted, “Some early 2000s behavior.”

Or when I said to my friend Kate, “Yeah, I don’t know why, but Spotify has told me that Ben Folds is my top artist for 2021. Like sure, I listened to him a lot for a stint, but my top artist?”

Kate: “Ben Folds? That’s like so 2005!”

If I’m truly more of a Millenial, that may also explain why practically all of my friends are around five years older than I am. I tell people nowadays that I just hang out with a bunch of hot 30-year-olds. If you met them, you’d understand what I mean.

Some people are the mom of their friend group, and there have been many chapters of my life during which I was that mom. As years have gone by, though, I’ve really embraced the dad energy I exhibit almost always. My love of mulching; my need to make pancakes at least once a week; my compulsions to drink an IPA and play the drums. All serious dad behavior.

I identify so much with dads also because I spend so much time with dads. I see myself in them, particularly my own father and grandfather. Over Thanksgiving, for example, my dad was playing Billy Joel songs on the piano at our Vrbo. My uncle Carey, a very inquisitive guy, was peppering him with questions about the music. And my dad just lit up. He was practically glowing, explaining the stories behind the songs — the composition, the lyrics — and showing such admiration for Billy Joel. I do the same damn thing all the time. I’m in the car, playing music, and whoever is with me will say (probably very mildly), “Oh, this is a cool song. Who is this?” Cue me going into way more detail than they would ever want as I describe the band, where they’re from, their musical roots, when I last saw them in concert, the story behind this particular song, the story behind the whole album, etc. They didn’t ask for all of that, but you KNOW I told it all.

That same Thanksgiving week, the Beatles “Get Back” special debuted on Disney+ — nearly 9 hours of practically unedited Beatles content, and Steve and I were HYPED. The thing is, we didn’t have a Disney+ account. So Steve broke down and got one, solely to watch this special. I would have done the same if he hadn’t beaten me to it. We ended up texting about it late last Saturday night, after me proposing we attempt a bossa nova version of Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” I mean, who but dads would have a conversation like that at that time of the day and week?

Similarly, the more time I spend with my grandfather, the more I realize that I am him and he is me. The man has an insatiable sweet tooth; I can’t go a single day without dessert. The man cannot sit still — walking, going to Planet Fitness, hiking, biking, kayaking; I will literally not sleep at night if I haven’t overly exerted myself running, climbing, or otherwise. He asks lots of questions and is obsessed with logistics; I haven’t started a single email this last week to another coworker without the phrase “another question…”

He retired in his late 80s and I will undoubtedly do the same. Just like him, I will spend my days puttering around the kitchen, making lists, exercising, reading, and getting bogged down in details that I really don’t need to care about.

A small, dumb thing:

I have the most ridiculous memory for food. I don’t consider myself a foodie, but you bring up any restaurant, and I can tell you exactly what I ate at it last and how I felt about it. Can I recall many childhood memories? Hell no. But I can tell you that I had an insanely good pizza at Carrabba’s in 2013.

One of the last books I read was David Sedaris’s new book A Carnival of Snackery. I so thoroughly enjoyed reading this book that I actually became somewhat sad when I reached the midpoint, willing it not to end. The thing is, every time I read David Sedaris, I become utterly convinced that I could do exactly what he does (if this blog isn’t a case in point, I don’t know what is). These feelings were reinforced on Friday, when my company had a “plogging event” — a two-hour window in which you were encouraged to go pick up litter in your local park. I felt just like Sedaris, who is known for walking around and picking up trash, as I mused to myself about various people and things on the street — “That restaurant has a sign that just says ‘guacamole’ on it. Ha.”

But it’s the same as me watching rock climbers in the Olympics and convincing myself that that could have been me, had I just been trained up properly, put in all of the best programs, and really prioritized climbing from the start. In theory, yes, that could have been me. But in all likelihood, it never was going to be me.

Still, writing will always be the thing that feels the most natural to me. The thing that just flows without conscious effort. I was reminded of this two months ago, when I wrote a sort of “goodbye” email to all of my coworkers to alert them of my latest job change. I spent maybe 15-20 minutes on it, max, but the response I got was overwhelming. People lauding the beauty of my words, the elegance of the goodbye. All I could think was “shit, I guess I did something right.”

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