35 Life Lessons I Learned before Turning 35

Life Lessons by Rob Pollak

1. There’s no cure for a hangover, but good Lo Mein comes damn close.

A drawing by Rob Pollak - How to cure a hangover:  Lo Mein

2. There are three things that are always worth the money: International travel, excellent food, and Blu Rays.

3. When you make a list of thirty-five things, don’t number the items until you’ve finished the whole list. That way, when you’re editing your list and realize number three is stupid, you don’t have to make up some ridiculous lesson to avoid renumbering the whole thing.

4. No matter how much your parents annoy you, piss you off, yell at you, or tell you that you need to wait before hitting your driver (even though the group in front of you is 400 yards away), they do it because they love you and want the best for you. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, but it’s true. Take a step back to see things from their perspective. It may help you appreciate why they do all that annoying shit.

5. When you get good service, tip more than expected. The few extra dollars won’t kill you and will mean a lot to the person who provided the excellent service.

6. Stop being scared. If there’s something you want to do but aren’t doing because you’re scared, suck it up and do it. The only things in life to truly fear are (a) stepping in dog shit, and (b) asking the one question that makes a public speaker take back the claim that “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.”

7. When you find a blog you like (like this one) go out of your way to tell the person (genius) that writes it (me) how great (best thing in the entire world) it is. Share the content with your closest friends (the whole world). You may think you’re being stalkerish (you probably are) by reading something that you think isn’t aimed at you (it probably wasn’t). But if someone took the time to create something and put it on the web, it’s because that person is an attention whore (and he will be happy to hear from you regardless of his initial intent). And attention whores crave lots of attention (from anyone). To be helpful, I drafted a template for you in case you decide to follow my advice:

Dear [ROB],
I know we last spoke at Hebrew camp in 1991, but I have been enjoying your blog since we reconnected when you spammed my facebook page. I especially liked your post about when lawyers can go home. You have an excellent command of logic and the handwriting of an armless nine-year-old blind child. I wish there were more people like you in the world. You also look trimmer than you did when you were 13. Well done! How did you manage to trick a beautiful intelligent woman into marrying you? I never would have expected that from you. I remember a time when you refused to play on the skins team in a shirts vs skins basketball game. Boy were you fat. I wish you well in the future. Here’s a few dollars. Buy yourself something nice. I learned about the importance of tipping from your blog.
Love,
[Mom]

8. Don’t believe anything the Mayans say. They keep predicting the end of the world, but they never get it right. I wish they would just go away already.

9. Anything that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler do together is funny. Women are funny. Deal with it old men. Here’s my favorite:

10. Three things that are never worth it: (a) Holding grudges, (b) extended warranties, and (c) super-sizing your meal.

11. Nothing good ever comes from drinking a beverage with an ä in its name.

A drawing by Rob Pollak

12. Don’t be scared to request the vacation time you’re entitled to at work. Other people will tell you the “right way to go about vacation time.” Those people are assholes. If you’re in a job that doesn’t let you go on vacation, that job is stupid and you’ll burn yourself out. Vacation refreshes you to go back and do a good job. At least for the first 3-4 hours after it ends. Then you need another vacation on the books so you have something to look forward to.

13. Coleslaw is disgusting. Mistrust anyone who likes it. Unless it’s vinegar-based and atop a pulled pork sandwich. Then it’s majestic.

14. Be wary of anyone who likes some combination of the following teams: Lakers, Cowboys, Yankees, and Notre Dame.

15. Stop hating the foods you’ve hated since you were a kid. You might surprise yourself and find out that brussel sprouts are really good now. Most restaurants put bacon in them.

16. After two weeks of pure torture, exercise becomes amazing. If you don’t exercise now, commit for two weeks. Suck it up. Force yourself to do it. Whatever it takes. If at the end of two weeks, you don’t feel the pull to keep it up, then you can stop. But after one day of stopping, at least try to force yourself to do another two weeks. Keep repeating this until you realize how amazing you feel. If you don’t feel amazing after three tries, then stop eating all that fast food, idiot.

17. If you want to be a news anchor, realize that you have to spend years and years reporting from the coastline during natural disasters. Ask yourself: is it worth it?

18. Never set out to make a list of 35 things without thinking it through first. Thirty five is a lot. Even more than you think. By the time you get half way, you’ll probably regret your decision.

19. Have you ever seen a piece of fruit the color of a Maraschino cherry? That’s why you shouldn’t eat them.

20. Have you ever eaten a Maraschino cherry? They’re amazing. Sometimes just trust your instincts even though you know the consequences.

The Maraschino Cherry - Life Lessons by Rob Pollak

21. The Cosby Show holds up better than Seinfeld.

22. Proofread everything on more time than you think you have too.

23. If you do anything because you want other people to think you’re cool, stop doing that thing. That makes you a poser. Do things because you like to do them. That makes you interesting and awesome.

24. Trust your own taste in music, movies, and beer. Even though people will make fun of you for liking 4 non blondes, you still know What’s Up.

25. Resist the urge to Google the answer to every question. Yes, there is an objective answer to the question on Google, but sometimes it’s more fun to just see how it plays out. I know this because I always Google, and everyone hates me.

26. Say “yes” to pretty much any request, especially when it’s something easy like seeing a movie, attending a wedding, or supporting a friend. Your friends will appreciate you, your life experience will increase, and your comfort zone will continue to expand.

27. Make a prank call at least once a year.

A drawing by Rob Pollak

27a.  If you are the recipient of a prank call, laugh it off. No one likes the guy who thinks he’s above a little humor:

28. If a particular food gives you diarrhea, don’t ever eat that food again. No matter how good it tastes (the food, not the diarrhea).

29. Always give directions to those who ask or who look like they might need directions. If you have a few extra minutes, walk them to the destination and pretend you’re a college tour guide.

30. Try meditation. I thought it was stupid for the longest time. It can do amazing things if you give it a chance. If you think it’s stupid, you probably don’t know what it is. It can have nothing to do with religion or spirituality if that’s what you’re scared of.

31. People older than you don’t have it all figured out. They may speak with authority, but they mostly make it up just like you do. Most of them are full of shit. That said, listen to their advice. There’s a lot of wisdom in that shit.

32. The following things are fake: (a) emails from Nigerian princes, (b) the four hour work week, (c) Lance Armstrong, and (d) those funny autocorrects you read about on the internet.

A drawing by Rob Pollak

33. Ignore the instructions on everything except crazy glue, hot sauce, and power tools.

34. If you can run three miles, you can run six miles. You may not think you can, and it may be painful and miserable, but you can 100 percent do it.

35. No matter how wise it seems, don’t trust any advice you get from the Internet.

(Note – This also appears on Elephant Journal.  If you made it all the way down here, you might as well click this link and then follow me on Facebook!)

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A Reflection on my 2012 Goals that I’m Retroactively Setting for Myself Right Now

Around Thanksgiving of last year, I set out to write a blog post reviewing my accomplishments from 2011 and setting my goals for 2012.  I never got around to it though, because just the thought of embarking on such a task sent me into a tailspin of creative blocks and self-loating that lasted for the rest of my life.  Or at least until my mom sent me on a yogic retreat intended for women experiencing midlife crises.

But now that a year has passed, my creative blocks have disappeared, and my outlook on life has shifted from severe cynicism to just mildly severe cynicism, it seems like a perfect time to reflect on 2012 and retroactively set the goals that I might have imagined for myself a year ago.  Then, I can reflect on how successful I was at achieving those goals.

Goals

Goal 1:  Set attainable goals for myself and then periodically measure my progress.

Damnit!  How can I fail at retroactive goals, you moron?  All I have to do is list out all of my achievements for the year and pretend that they were my goals and then I’ll feel really great about myself.  But nooooo, instead the first one I list is an utter failure.  Damn you mildly severe cynicism!

Okay.  Start over.  Goal number two can be to use the rest of this blog post to imagine what 2011 me might have written on New Year’s Eve 2011 for present me to reflect upon in a hilarious blog post that present me would write while wearing jeans that he had not washed for the entirety of the year.

–A brief aside:  Disregarding for a second that what I am about to say addresses a topic that most certainly has a correct answer, and that I am not sure whether I fall on the good side or bad side of that answer, or that I don’t care about which side I am, here’s something that’s bothering me:  

      I hate people that use the word “an” instead of the word “a” before a word that starts with H and has a hard H sound.  That’s why I said “a hilarious” not “an hilarious.”  I would also say “an hour” because I don’t say “an how-er,” I say “an ow-er.”  Ow starts with a vowel.  How doesn’t.  Did I make this more confusing because hour and how both start with Hs?  How would one spell the sound a hard H makes?  Eight-ch?  Speaking of eight-ch, who decided that g and h should go together?  Ghod?  Probably not, right?  Any way, this whole thought process is giving me an headache.  It’s a probably as ghood a time as any to return to the list of failures goals I set for 2012. 

 

Goal 2:  Run the New York City Marathon

In December of last year, I had hit the nadir of my running life.

graphUnless nadir means top, in which case I mean zenith.  So in an effort to get back in the game and enjoy running again, I came up with an elaborate plan:

Step 1: I forced myself to run the NYC half marathon (check)

Step 2:  I swore I would run my personal record time for that race (check)

Step 3:  Right now, I amended step two to clarify the the word “record” could mean either the fastest or slowest time I’d ever run.  Both would be records, right?  (nailed it!) (suck it mildly severe cynicism!)

Step 4:  While on the 45 minute walk home from the finish line, shivering from the cold, dehydrated, hating running and myself, thinking of nothing other than how I never wanted to ever run ever again in my life for any reason whatsoever, decide that I should definitely run the New York City marathon this year.   (check)

Step 5:  Cancel my entry for the marathon even though canceling does not benefit in me in any way.  It is a courtesy to the New York Road Runners so that they can plan their race accordingly and order one less water.

Step 6:  Have ING and NYRR cancel the marathon and allow all entrants to run the race in a future year!  Except for those who canceled their entry as a courtesy to ING and NYRR.

So, I’m doubly screwed.  Since even if I had spent the entire year training for the marathon my dreams would have been shattered, I am calling this one a win!  Mission accomplished, MF’ers!  I’m a marathoner!

runpic2

Goal 3:  Visit the gym 120 times.

120 visits has been a steady goal of mine since 2008, when I first joined fancy pants Equinox on a whim.  I remember it well because Anne and I had just moved to the Upper West Side, and we both agreed that me joining the fancier (but closer & eucalyptus towel sporting) gym would most likely turn out to be an enormous waste of money.  But I was really lazy, so I disregarded our collective common sense and signed up for Equinox with the promise that I would make sure to visit 120 times for the year.  An impossible goal to achieve, but one that would justify the cost.

Turns out that it worked!  Maybe it was the eucalyptus towels, maybe it was the angle of the mirrors that made me appear slightly less pudgy than I really was, or maybe it was the layout of the locker room in the Connecticut gyms that ensures every other guy will walk nude for an extremely inappropriate distance before grabbing a towel.  No one can be sure.

Whatever it was that got me 120 times in 2008 did not help me this year, when I only had 110 visits.  Why even bother?   I did some research on this, and for optimal results, you should be working out 2 hours a day.  At least according to science:

How many days should i work out    Yahoo  Answers

How many days should i work out    Yahoo  Answers

Goal 4:  Write a blog post that is published by an online media outlet that shares a name with an animal typically found in zoos:

Whoa!  Nailed this one.  Great job, 2012 Rob!:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/12/9-things-i-learned-from-my-first-year-of-yoga-rob-pollak/

Readers, I’ll need your help to achieve a related goal in 2013.  Even after a really great day, fewer people viewed my article than viewed an article titled, “Your ugly vagina is normal and gorgeous.”  So if you want to make me more popular than an ugly vagina, then share my link!  By the way, I’m not linking to the ugly VJJ article for obvious reasons.  (the obvious reason being that you will click and then it will continue to rack up more views than my article).

Goal 5:  Build up my blog a little bit and then lose all of my followers.

Wait, that doesn’t seem like something 2011 me would set out to do.  Oh, ok 2012 Rob.  Then why mention an article about ugly vaginas?  You’re going to drive everyone away.  Or will I?  Google Analytics says that in 2012 the search term that most often directed people to my blog was “Jamaican Penis?”  (This is the space where I am providing a link to the post about Jamaica so no one has to click on a link with the word penis [but if you like clicking on penises, then this is for you: 8======> ) (FYI if you’re reading this mom – that’s internet slang for a picture of a penis).  So if you’ve found me through either of these search terms, Welcome!  Bienvenue!  Bonvenon!  G’Day!  And if that offended you, I’m sorry to see you go.  But at least I won’t have to draw any more thank you pictures.  See ya suckers.

Goal 6:  Eat 200 pints of ice cream.

Finally!  I totally nailed this one.  And not only did I accomplish it, I completed the whole thing by February.

icecream

Up next – My goals for 2013…if I get around to it.