Dear G: I'm Terrified For You

This is written in conjunction with my fellow bloggers at Chicago Now, who are all ruminating on blog posts written in the span of an hour's time (9 p.m. - 10 p.m.) on the topic of giving "advice to a person, place or thing."

The funny thing is, I'm psychic. I have always had intuitions and premonitions of varying sizes and sorts. Tonight, as I was coming home from grabbing something to eat, I had the beginnings of a blog post in my head -- I thought, "Oh, now I get an idea when I already get a freebie coming my way with this mysterious blog prompt tonight." Turns out, my idea was exactly what the prompt was about, so win-win. I don't get two ideas out of it, but I do get to just be happy that it fits the bill.

I am a late bloomer. I didn't have sex until I was 18 and in college (I had my first kiss at almost 18 and my first real boyfriend at 18 as well). I didn't drink until I was late 20, nearly 21. The first major depression came after the breakup with the aforementioned boyfriend. I come by my mental illness and addictions honestly, but I definitely take my time with things. I do things when I'm good and ready, and then I get at them good and ready.

I'm often the same way with pop culture, too. I get around to things as I get to them, and then I binge like only I know how. Harry Potter. LOST. The Avett Brothers. I'm just now watching Freaks and Geeks. I realize now how and why my friend, Leah, fell in love with Jason Segel. I am reminiscing about my high school days and wishing some things were different -- (most things) -- and wondering what it would be like if they had been. Since I've been watching so much and since I'm so suggestible and (fake) people just burrow into my psyche, I've been wondering about Linsday/sey and her virginity and thinking about my nephew and what his life is like.

It occurred to me that, holy shit, he's going to be 19 in like a week or so and that he's actually NO LONGER IN HIGH SCHOOL. That I guess he's actually started or starting college and what the mother fuck. I'm so scared for him. I have no clue what sort of foundation of anything he's actually got going on. What sort of role models he's got for anything -- for sex, for education, for relationships, for extracurriculars, for drinking, for life. And I started to think about things I want to say -- or more importantly, that I want him to know. I've said some things, or emailed him things before, but he never acknowledges them and I have no clue what he knows or understands.

So. Here are things that I hope he knows or that I want him to know or that I wish I knew when I was 19. All in random and completely no particular, as it comes to me order.

  • You have mental illness in your family. A lot of it. If you start to feel overwhelmed or super depressed, talk to someone -- a therapist or a psychiatrist or something. It's okay. It's not a bad thing. Just because your mom and grandma and grandpa don't, doesn't mean you can't. Smart people do ALL THE TIME.
  • You and I have terrible sleep habits. Staying up super late and sleeping super late is not as awesome as it seems. It eventually just leads to a lot of wasted days. You don't have to let people talk you out of being a night owl or into a morning person, but getting up at 10 a.m. is a good idea. Being in the sunlight is a good thing. Trust me.
  • Just because school came easy to you at one point, doesn't mean you won't have to work at it in the future. Don't leave shit to the last minute. You will always probably want to do anything ELSE but schoolwork. It's hard. Schedule it in. Schedule it with other people so you have to show up for it. Try to make an outline or a study plan.
  • If you DO leave it to the last minute and you don't think you'll get it done in time (IT probably = term papers), talk to your professors. At least ASK for an extension or what happens if you turn it in later. This is NOT high school. You can talk to these people like regular human beings if you show up to class on the regular, participate in discussion and show interest. You can come to class late -- there are no bells and there's no detention. This is your life now. You get to make of it what you will. Be real and people will be real with you.
  • Remember the mental illness? We also have alcoholism in our family. So be careful. I don't know what to tell you. If you can tell that when you drink (and it would be GREAT if you waited until you were 21) that you really, really just naturally crave more, you might want to re-think the drinking thing. But if you find one day that you want to stop and you can't, I can show you where to go.
  • On that note ... be respectful of ladies. If you are with a girl and she gets hammered -- no physical stuff. DONE. NO kissing, no touching, no nothing. She can't say "yes," if she's drunk, which means, "no." Okay? And if you're with a friend and he starts messing with someone, you fucking knock the shit out of him if he tries, GOT IT?
  • If you have a special lady (OR GUY ... I'm fine with whatever), and you decide to have sex --- couple of things.  1. Make sure you really like him/her and that you have a good relationship. I don't expect you to marry them first time out, but I'd like to think you're not a one-night stand guy, right? 2. Wear a fucking condom, bro. You don't want to get an STD and you don't WANT A KID right now. GOT IT?
  • If you don't know what the fuck you're doing -- how to buy condoms, how to put one on, where to get lube, etc.  Then 1. maybe slow your roll, and 2. figure it out. Google it. Get a YouTube instruction video. Ask a guy you trust. SOMETHING. But educate yourself. You've got to know this shit before you start becoming a regular Romeo.
  • Sex is not Porn.  I REPEAT: SEX IS NOT PORN. Okay? There's nothing really wrong with porn, in that you shouldn't be shamed for watching it, but know that it's nearly all made by men for men. Women aren't really considered in it a lot. So, we don't always like to do the things that you see in it and even when we do, we don't always like to do it the way you see it done in pornos. So don't feel pressure to make it look, sound, feel or be like that. Don't rely on it to get you off on the reg, either.  Learn to make shit up in your head that you get off to.  You have an imagination -- USE IT.
  • Don't stop reading. Read everything. News, pop culture, books. comics, internet, sports, political stuff.  Always keep finding new sources of information and interest. Keep looking for new things to wet your whistle.
  • Travel. If you get the opportunity, travel now. Go abroad. See new countries and cultures. Get a passport -- and use it.  See the world with fresh, new eyes and explore. Don't forget this great country, too.
  • Visit Grandma and Grandpa at least once a week. Even if they are boring or they say rude things to you or ask you personal questions you don't want to answer -- GO ANYWAY.  There will come a day you will regret the time you didn't spend with them. Ask them questions back. Ask them about their high school. Ask them to show you pictures and to tell you stories about how they met or what they did when they were kids. Ask even if you're scared to. You will not regret this time. You will regret that you didn't later. I know this from experience. Take pictures of them and video and just hang out. Laugh.
  • Take care of your sister. Be close with her. I wish I were closer with your mother.
  • I love to drive. But driving really IS a privilege, not a right. Be careful. You're driving a weapon. Don't be a psycho or try to be cool with your friends. Be conscientious and a defensive driver. It will be the cool thing in the long run. And if you drive safe, you will learn when you can drive fast and make it count.
  • A well placed "fuck" is worth a million lame ones. Keep a great vocabulary -- don't lose all the wonderful words and then you can feel okay about throwing down an f-bomb when you say "behoove" and "facetious" and "nonplussed" on the reg.
  • But don't be afraid to make up words, too. Be silly. Goof around. Learn the rules so you can break them, son!
  • Keep a journal. It's a great thing. You can do it private, password-protected, online at this point. But there's also something magical about pen to paper.
  • Learn how to budget your money now. Get better habits around this if you haven't already. Try to get practice in this now before it's too late.
  • Keep an open mind. About everything.
  • Look for beauty. Go to concerts. And art museums. And parks. And beaches. And train stations. And regular old street fairs. Always be looking for the unusual and the interesting.
  • Remember your manners. They're so important.
  • Sing. Dance. Laugh. Be the one who sticks up for the underdog. Never be afraid to speak up.
  • Love with all of your heart whenever you can. Love is always the right thing.

Well, I'm running out of time, G. Be honest. To thine own self be true.

I love you, Auntie J

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