The Much Expected Graduation Post

June 1, 2009

Well, here it is. The next obvious post on my weblog: graduation. I took my time with this one and didn’t write it immediately after graduation with the hope of avoiding sappiness and talking about how much I will miss the times had at college. So here it is: a somewhat sappy post on graduation.

First, let me get the emotional stuff out of the way. Graduation was kind of cool. It really brought together all aspects of my life. First, all four of my grandparents, parents and brother were at graduation and the days surrounding it. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty rare and ultra cool to have all four of my grandparents with me for my college graduation. Also, having the rest of my family there to support me was very special.

It was also pretty interesting to have my family meet my friends’ families as well. My family has met most of my friends, but I think when you throw families into the equation it could get interesting. For instance, there could be incredibly awkward conversation. But no, there was no awkward conversation and everyone got along shockingly well (I think it had something to do with the fact that we were all clones of each other: white, Jewish, educated, and for some of us, incredibly attractive).

Next, I have to say my friends are pretty awesome and I can’t repeat it enough (like here and here) that I am pretty lucky. My parents commented how close we all were and how rare that is. I think that’s pretty true. I can’t remember the last thing I did socially without most of my friends. I think we all have a rare bond, which is something that I will try to keep strong and cherish (which is why if you are a close friend, I encourage you to join Twitter so we could follow each other. If you aren’t a close friend, I don’t really care… but thanks for reading my blog!). I am incredibly proud of my friends’ accomplishments and even more proud of the times we spent together and the times we will spend together.

Now onto the real meat of this entry. First, my finals week was incredible. I didn’t have any finals, and for the most part I screwed around and took in everything (while drinking, for the most part). I got the opportunity to hang out with close friends (all of whom mailed it in and didn’t really care about finals) and reminisce on the good times. We tried to keep as normal of a schedule as possible: Monday night watching How I Met Your Mother, Tuesday night dollar beer night, Wednesday rest, Thursday night going out, Friday night and Saturday doing the Jew stuff, Saturday night go out. There was never a time where I thought to myself that this would be the last time I would be doing the activities that I had become so accustomed to doing. It just seemed like a normal week. In fact, I don’t think it hit me that I would never be able to do the things I did every week again until I packed up my apartment of two years and drove home alone in the pouring rain (very depressing). I guess the higher powers like to add the rain for dramatics.

I also got the opportunity to go to D.C. during finals week. D.C. has always held a place in my heart and I have incredible memories from the time I spent there—whether it was interning on Capitol Hill, where I got to meet great people and have amazing experiences, or going out afterward in the city, where I had even odder experiences. I spent a lot of time in Adams Morgan on Saturday nights, where I had some of the greatest memories of college, including watching a couple of my friends treat us to drunken musical theatre on the Metro ride back. I also love the museums and the entire environment in D.C. I’m going to miss that a lot.

One of the other chapters of my life that closed during finals week was my involvement in Jewish life on campus. I rarely talk about religion in my blogs (I don’t think I ever talked about it up until this point), but getting involved in Jewish life on campus changed my life. I first got involved after I went to Birthright, a program where young Jews go to Israel for free (I encourage you to donate money to the program here. Madoff hasn’t made it easy for them). Up until this point in college as a sophomore I had had an average time in college. It was pretty much standard that I would hang out with kids in my dorm and play video games. A lot. In fact, meeting women and other good people was impossible. In addition, coming out of a bad breakup, I needed a change in life, and Birthright gave me that opportunity. I went with one close friend (probably one of my two or three closest friends right now) and we met amazing people (a handful of which I am still very close with today). It just gave me a new outlook on life. I was finally incredibly happy and comfortable in my surroundings. I knew from that point on, I could not return to that same boring life of playing video games and sticking in the dorm. From there on out, I got involved with Hillel (donate to them here), the Jewish Student Union, and many other organizations where I got to meet great people and gain great memories. If I didn’t go on Birthright, who knows if I would have the friends I have today—friends who are caring and genuine. I might still be stuck in that same situation from the first year and a half of college. Accordingly, Judaism has become one of the hugest parts of my life and I love every minute of it. During finals week, I said good bye (not forever, though) to the Chabad rabbi and his family (with whom I am very close with) and some of the staffers at Hillel that I had relationships with. It was very sad to close this chapter in my life.

While I’m reminiscing there are a couple other huge parts of college that I want to acknowledge. First, after Birthright, I got to go on Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans with a lot of the same people I went on Birthright with. I use the metaphor that ASB was like a victory lap for everything that happened on Birthright (I think it’s actually a simile since I used he word “like”). I had a great time and got to further my relationships and friendships with people that I met on Birthright. In fact, I am still very close with a couple of people from that trip. One story from that trip I like to tell is how we ended up on Bourbon Street the last Saturday night. Our group had been kicked off the campsite (for many ridiculous reasons) and I decided that I still wanted to go to Bourbon Street. So, while everyone was complaining about how ridiculous it was that we got kicked off, I walked across the parking lot to the supermarket Rouse’s, got a phone book, ripped numbers of hotels and cabs out of the phone book, and starting making phone calls. With the help of a couple other people more than twenty of us ended up having the most classic night ever on Bourbon Street. Still one of my favorite stories of college.

Another adventure I had was my trip to Italy. I loved every minute of it and took advantage of the fact that I was in a foreign country with very little responsibilities. I met great people (not Jewish too… shocking!) and a couple of us remained close and shared some crazy experiences in and out of the country of Italy. One story that I love from our trip was the infamous headband night (I won’t go into that part), but the night started with a power hour with wine (huge mistake) and ended up with us at a bar stealing popcorn and causing a ruckus. We also met Will Smith (not on that night). It was great trip and the professors and people I met impacted my last year and a half of college in a great way.

My favorite ten days of the last year was spring break. Read about it here. I already spoke about it, but let me say: in the past year, about ten of us have shared some insane times. I will cherish them. I also enjoyed BBQs, pregames, beer Olympics, road trips, sporting events and other things with these people (including sharing thoughts on our own poops).

So what else, what else? Oh, the actual graduation. Yeah, don’t go to that. It was cool for about ten minutes and then it got hot and boring. First we started out meeting in the parking lot of our basketball arena. It was quite a sight to see 6,000 kids standing together wearing the same thing. We took pictures with friends, etc, etc, and then they shuffled us into the arena like cattle. We walked onto the basketball floor (which made me feel somewhat important) to 15,000 people awaiting us. It was pretty cool that I was sitting with my friends but the whole thing got stale quickly. Therefore, I turned to funny videos with my camera that I will be posting on Facebook soon (maybe… it takes a long time). The next day was the individual major graduation, which was also pretty boring. All in all, I’m happy I went to the actual graduation just to say I went, but there is a reason why you don’t graduate college twice.

Wrapping up, I am devastated that college is over, but when I say that my life is over, I’m only kidding. This is only one chapter in my life, be it a great one, and one that would be at least a fifty-page chapter. I’m looking forward to going to law school, although it is a little scary and much different than the fake life I lead while in undergrad. I will always cherish the memories I had and the friends I made. Hopefully I will continue the story in New York with some of the same people, and some new people with brand new experiences.

Mike’s Adventures in Disney World

January 24, 2009

Disney World was quite an interesting and fun time and throughout my week there, it became very apparent that there are some main themes day in and day out.  Here they are:

Disney is great no matter how old you are.  At this point in my life (and for the past several years), I have gone to theme parks for big roller coasters and bigger thrills.  I typically wait on hours of lines to go rides with huge drops, high speeds and big loops.  But in Disney World, this isn’t the case.  In fact, we wait on lines with very little thrills.  We waited on lines for “It’s a Small World” and “Peter Pan”–lines I wouldn’t ever think of waiting on in normal amusement parks.  However, this is Disney World and in fact, it was exciting to go on these rides.  These rides are apart of my parent’s childhood, my childhood, and my children’s childhood.  Also, it gives you a good feeling during and after the ride.  Actually, it was very exciting to go on these rides and I enjoyed them more than the roller coasters in the different parks.  Overall, all of these rides are so well done that the are incredibly enjoyable.  I think it was also incredibly enjoyable because I got to experience these rides with my family, which was pretty cool.

Everyone is so much happier in Disney World.  Regardless of where we were in these parks, everyone was just nicer.  For instance, when I was at Epcot and we went to the America part of the park (Epcot is made of different countries), an Americana acapella group sang.  First off, I would normally walk away because acapella kind of sucks, but I couldn’t.  It was apart of the Disney experience.  Second, as they sang the Star Spangled Banner (beautifully, I might add), two foreigners did not stand up for it.  As everyone cleared out after the song, a man said that he worked hard to be in this country and if we weren’t in Disney he would have said something.  It is incredible how everyone just wants to enjoy themselves in these parks and also wants everyone else to have a good time with them.  Maybe if we put the Arabs and Israelis in these parks for a week, we wouldn’t have a conflict in Gaza.  Just a thought.

There are a lot of MILFS in these parks.  Let’s think of the logic here: many young kids are here, so there must be young mothers.  I didn’t notice the attractive girls in their twenties as much as I did the mothers in their thirties, and boy, there were a lot of them.  For this, Disney, I applaud you.  This brings me to a small Mike theory about MILFs.  MILFs are much better than normal hot girls my age.  Why you ask?  Because they are much rarer than hot 21-year-olds.  It’s just a fact.  Even the hottest 21-year-old can become ugly when older.  Some don’t age well, others get knocked up and can’t get that washboard stomach again.  It just happens.  Then, there are those rare gems who stay hot.  So, a MILF is a lot more impressive than a hot 21-year-old (not that I’m saying being hot and 21 is bad).

Wild, Wild Weekend (wicky-wild-wild)

January 7, 2009

First, let me clear the air: yes, the title of this post is a play on words of my least favorite Will Smith movie and most favorite Will Smith song.  But, more importantly, the title needs some explanation.  Over the next week(ish) I will probably have the craziest (wildest, if you will) week and I want to brag.  It’s my blog, I could do and say whatever I want so back off.  If you’re looking for a more insightful piece (like my past entries) you’re out of luck.  You’re not going to find it here.  I just want to brag.

When I decided to go to school in the Washington, D.C. area, I knew that through family friends, I would have the opportunity to work the 2008 Presidential Inaugeration on Capitol Hill.  It was something that I have been looking forward to for years.

Over the summer, my family decided that we need to go on a family vacation before I enter the real world.  We had it planned perfectly: go on vacation, then be back in time for the inauguration. 

So my parents made the plans: we would be going to Disney World.  I was pretty excited about it.  Disney World is great, no matter what age you are.  Everyone has grown up with Disney and has a great appreciation for it.  My family hadn’t been there since I was in fifth grade (eleven years ago), so I was absolutely looking forward to it.

Unfortunately, our perfect plans hit a little bump in the road yesterday.  NBC needed me in Washington by the Thursday before elections, but we weren’t coming home until Friday.  This created a major situation.  I really wanted to go to Disney, but the inauguration was something I was looking forward to for years now.  Furthermore, with the election of Barack Obama, Washington is going to be a zoo and I really wanted to be apart of history.  Lastly, I had told everyone I knew (pretty much) that I was working the inaugeration, so it would be quite embarrassing to not end up working it (people may think I was lying/think I was all talk).

So we had quite a connundrum on our hands.  I was devastated that I probably couldn’t go.  Not even playing Madden on a 50 inch HDTV could cure my woes last night.  However, my parents are thinkers.  They knew how much I wanted to go.  So, today they booked me a flight a day earlier than the rest of the family so I could get back to D.C. and get clearance to work. 

I am incredibly grateful to my family for letting me have this amazing opportunity.  More importantly, over the next week, I will have an amazing time in Disney and then in D.C.

New Years: The Sequel

January 5, 2009

As promised, the following is what I did on New Years 2008.  As I stated previously, pretty much my past New Years have sucked.  So, my solution was to go into New Years not having any expectations.  Because of this, my night was a success.  And because of this success, I will most likely have expectations next year, which will result in me having a miserable New Years 2009.

One of the pieces of advice I followed from my past post was to surround myself with “good friends and cheap drinks.”  Well, I followed one-half of this.  I had never had a New Years with a group of my closest friends since about 2004, so I made an effort to surround myself with friends.  This year, I traveled down to school, where I finally got to spend New Years with my closest friends.  We started our night early in Washington, D.C. at a friend of a friend’s apartment.  However, instead of drinking cheap drinks we were provided with a nice food spread and very, very expensive drinks (and very, very is an understatement).  We then topped our night off in Adams Morgan in D.C.

Throughout the night, I had no expectations.  I did not form an opinion on whether the pregame at a friend of a friend’s place would be good or bad or whether the bar in Adams Morgan would be good or bad.  I just let the night take me wherever.  I think it gave me a more positive outlook on the entire night from the start and did not allow my preconceived notions cloud the night in negativity.  Overall, it was a pretty successful couple of days and I am glad that in my last New Years in my childhood, we went out with a bang.

After this glorious night and the following hours of sleeping off the large amounts of drinking that went on, I sat down and reflected on the past year and what the future holds.  The first thought that came to mind is that, essentially, this is the last six months of my childhood.  I have one more semester of undergraduate college left and after May, all my friends and I go our separate ways in the real world (I’m sure I will have a full post on this coming up in the next few weeks).  I also began to think about my New Year’s resolutions for the coming year and here is what I came up with.

My first resolution is to eliminate the words “hate” and “awkward.”  In today’s society, and personally, we use these words too much.  I know I use the word “hate” way too much.  It is a very strong word and I throw it around lightly when talking about, well, things that don’t deserved to be hated.  For instance, in one of my past posts I said I “hated Christmas.”  Truth be told, I don’t hate it.  I just dislike it.  Hate is a strong word that should be saved for people who have done terrible things or terrible events that have occurred.  For instance, it is okay to hate Hitler and the Nazis, but not okay to hate something or someone who, in the grand scheme of life, is just not that important.

Awkward is another word I hate… er… dislike, and this is why I want to eliminate it from my vocabulary.  People my age use awkward for everything–anything that makes someone feel slightly uncomfortable.  I can’t stand it when people, girls especially, call a situation awkward.  It effectively has become a word that is completely not descriptive of anything.

I have also come up with a couple other New Year’s resolutions that I hope to keep.  Looking past the obvious ten pounds everyone hopes to lose (except for assholes who think they are too skinny) and finding that girl of your dreams, I really hope to treat people with more respect.  In general, I think I have done a pretty good job of this so far, but I really hope to eliminate the trash talking that most of us do, and to, more importantly, within respecting people, not take my loved ones and friends for granted.  Life is too short and some people could be gone tomorrow.  This is why we must not take for granted the time we have with people.  This goes for my college friends and also family members.  With my college friends, we have to make the next six months the best of our lives before we have to work or go to graduate school, and leave everything out on the court (as my past coaches would tell me)–in other words, complete the final chapter of our childhood and not leave anything up for debate (well now I definitely have material for a future post).  For my family, I feel like the best way to do this is to always be appreciative and not get mad at stupid things (and no, I am not writing this just because I found out my mother and brother read my blog).  I know this resolution is a daunting task for all of us, but hopefully 2009 will be a great year with completed resolutions.

Mike and Mom: Mallrats

August 19, 2008

So I was at the mall today with my mother, as she bought me new clothing for the upcoming school year.  I know what you’re thinking: why would a 21-year-old still go shopping with his mother?  And my answer to you is that I don’t have to pay for clothing.

Anyway, we went into Old Navy and I found a pair of cargo shorts that would look dashing on me.  So I went to try them on and before I went into the fitting room, a female employee of Old Navy said to me, “If there is anything I can do for you, just ask.”  I thought this was a nice thing to say and that the employee was doing her job well.  Then, as I was trying to unzip these new shorts (the zipper was tough, you have no idea), I tilted my head slightly upward and looked into the distance (very John Dorian from “Scrubs” style) and thought about this statement for a second.  What can she do for me?  There is nothing.  She can’t help me get my new pair of shorts on because, quite frankly, I would feel very violated (maybe she could have told me the zipper was impossible, though).  The only thing she could have done for me is maybe do the Heimlick Maneuver if I choked on the hanger (which is a wee bit of a stretch).  But I wasn’t hungry, so there was no hanger eating today.

This got me thinking about this thing that everybody does: being nice using empty words.  If you don’t know what I mean, here is an example that I used just two and a half weeks ago multiple times.  I was at a friend’s apartment for dinner and although I knew she didn’t need help with anything, I asked if she needed help.  Therefore, it made me look like a decent guy (of course, it didn’t help my “nice guy” persona that I told my friend why I had asked her if she needed help).  We all do this and we do it a lot.  Whether it is the waitress who asks, “If you need anything else just call me,” after she gives you the check or the Sports Authority employee who says, “Please come and find me if you need anything else,” just moments before his shift ends.  It happens all around us and it happens a lot.

But then I thought some more.  Are these actions necessary to our lives?  I mean, it doesn’t have any negative effects.  It only makes the customer or friend or whatever feel better about themselves and the environment they are in.  However, I would love to see a world where this “fake niceness” was non-existenta place where people acted real, and instead of focusing on this “fake niceness,” focused on “real niceness.”

And by the way, I didn’t buy those shorts.  The zipper was almost impossible to unzip.  And besides, how can I buy something from Old Navy that doesn’t have a catchy jingle commercial?