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 Guide To End of College Drama

May 4, 2009

For whatever reason, no matter at what level, drama emerges as people near graduation.  It could be high school, college, whatever—it just happens.  I don’t actually know why this happens; maybe because people live in close contact (in college, practically on top of each other) and find little things that annoy you about another person.  It could just be built up frustration with a person after four years.  Or it could be something else.  Whatever the reason, this drama happens.  It’s inevitable.  This is why I have created some guidelines to handling the inevitable drama.  In addition, I have added some personal stories to prove my points.

Don’t overreact.  When people start yelling at you, they want a reaction. In fact, they don’t even care if you are sorry—they just want to see you get as mad or upset about the situation as they are.  Take just last week, when I didn’t react to being called out for canceling plans:

Girl 1:  You are such a dick.  I cancelled my plans for you.
Mike:  (calmly) I’m really sorry.  It was a dick move.  I truly am sorry.
Girl 1:  (frustrated) You’re not even angry about it.  Wow, you don’t care.  You truly are a huge asshole.
Mike:  No, really.  I am really sorry.  I can’t express how sorry I am to you.
Girl 1:  Don’t do your whole lawyer “calm argument” thing.  You are truly a dick.
Mike:  No, seriously.  I am sorry.

The girl continued to get incredibly angry because I wasn’t reacting the way she wanted me to react.  She clearly wanted to have this intense argument with me to make her feel better about the situation.  Instead, I stepped back and thought, “Is this really worth a stupid argument that could ruin a friendship?”  The answer was clearly no and I am glad I avoided that.  And I was truly sorry.

If you do overreact, things could go incredibly wrong.  For instance a couple weeks ago, after a long night out with a lot of drinking, another girl called me out for being an asshole (I know this sounds like a common theme but not all people think I’m an asshole… as far as I know).  Let’s take a peek into this discussion in the middle of the argument:

Girl 2:  No seriously, you are an asshole.

As we can see, there is a stark difference between what was said when Mike was sober and smart compared to when Mike was drunk.  The thought process wasn’t there.  Of course, this girl got exactly what she wanted: a reaction.  Clearly this girl calling me an asshole when I was drunk annoyed me.  Which brings me to my next point:

Don’t get into arguments when drunk.  Nothing good can come out of this.  Period.  For some odd reason, girls (most of the time) wait until they are drunk to call out both sexes on things they are upset about.  It could be that one person is an asshole, or that you never called her back or whatever—bottom line is, girls do this.  A lot.  I believe they call this liquid confidence.  And I have to say from personal experience, everything that is said goes in one ear and out the other.  When I woke up the next morning after the drunken argument above, I laughed about it.  I thought to myself, “Seriously, did this just happen? Did I just waste my time arguing when I could have been doing something mischievous and ridiculous instead?”  I then brushed it off and continued to think how ridiculous it was that I was called out when drunk.  Girls, we don’t listen to when you do this drunk.  It doesn’t make any sense.

Admit defeat.  There is nothing people hate more when arguing then if you say they are right.  Especially in these quasi-drama situations.  When your not-so-close friend calls you out for something ridiculous over the next couple of weeks, they just want to get a reaction out of you.  They don’t want you to admit how wrong you were.  They just want a reaction.  Take this past weekend.

Girl 3:  We are not going to [hang out and play solitaire] tonight.
Mike:  Why not?
Girl 3:  Because you only call me when [you really want to play solitaire].
Mike:  (ponders this idea for a second) Touché.  I’ll see you around.
Girl 3:  That’s it?
Mike:  Yeah, you made a great point.

People hate when you say they are right.  It eats them up inside, which, if you think about it, is the exact opposite point of an argument.  But this is how life works.

If a girl says she is mad at you for no reason, she wants you. If a guy says he is mad at you for no reason, he is hiding the fact he is actually a girl, and he wants you.  Girls do this all the time.  They will say they are mad at you and then not tell you why.  This is because she wants you.  And trust me, this is going to happen a lot over the next two weeks.  In fact, there are going to be so many “did that person just hook up with that person?” over the next couple of weeks it will be shocking.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

That is all the advice I have to give you (that I could currently think of).  There is going to be tons of fake drama over the next two weeks for college graduates (and in June for high school graduates).  My overarching piece of advice to you is that your true, close friends won’t do this.  It will be people that are on the periphery of your group of friends.  Thus, I say just ignore it.  Walk away or just admit that the person you are “arguing” with is right.  Partially give them what they want to hear.  Don’t overreact because you will just look like a jackass.  Take these in stride and laugh it off.  Girls, be warned, you will have more drama then us men.  All girls secretly hate each other and if there were statistics available, they would show that more fallouts around graduation happen among groups of girls.  Girls, just be prepared.  Be smart.  Guys and girls, just truly realize how ridiculous most of these arguments are.  Your true friends will be your true friends before, during and after graduation. Your fake friends with whom you get in arguments with are the ones you will never speak to again after graduation.  They will just be the ones you have these conversations about:

Mike:  Remember [Girl 2]?
Real friend:  Yeah.
Mike:  Whatever happened to her?
Real friend:  I don’t know.
Mike:  Yeah, who cares?  That girl was ridiculous anyway.

Charlie Murphy! It’s a Celebration!

April 22, 2009

Celebrating accomplishments is an interesting thing. I have had quite the internal debate (between the many voices in my head… I hear there is medicine for this but then who would I talk to?) about when it is appropriate to celebrate and when it is seen as just plain bragging.

So a bunch of people I know decided to celebrate when they got into graduate school. I think this is great (I really do… In fact, I attended these celebrations with no qualms whatsoever), but when I got into graduate (law) school, I decided not to celebrate. Why you ask? Because I expected to get in. I know what you are thinking: “You’re going to celebrate after graduation right? Didn’t you expect to graduate?” The answer, of course, for both questions in yes. But after graduation, I plan on celebrating the past four years and the unexpected surprises and great times I had–not the fact that I am a college graduate (in fact, this is depressing and not worth celebrating whatsoever–this is just the first of many steps getting closer to the real world).

In the past couple days, I have received the pleasant news that I am receiving some honors at graduation. This was a complete surprise and I would love to celebrate these accomplishments. However, let’s look at this situation:

Mike: Hey friends, come with me to celebrate the fact that I got these honors and you may not have.
Friends: You are a conceited egomaniac.

I guess because I am in direct comparison with my friends in this situation, if I want to celebrate over this, there is the potential that I offend them because I received these honors and they may not have. Therefore, I really don’t want to celebrate (I celebrated this accomplishment by playing a spectacular game of Madden for Playstation 2. I won big in case you were wondering).

So, when is appropriate to celebrate? Do you celebrate when everyone expects something? Or do you celebrate when something is completely unexpected? It seems that the safest, most politically correct way to do it is to celebrate the former. However, in my opinion, what is the point of celebrating something you expected to happen? Derek Jeter expects to hit over .300 and when he does it’s no big deal. It’s quite the conundrum. I don’t know if there is a right answer.

Sidenote: This post was not a ploy to get people to ask me what honors I am receiving. They will find out when I walk around on graduation and tell them how much better I am than them.

Postscript: After writing a draft of this yesterday, a bunch of friends and I went to the bar. I was reluctant to bring up my honor that I was receiving, but I was really happy about it (and slightly buzzed) and brought it up. People said congratulations and moved on.