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Welcome (Back) To Adulthood: A Joyful Reunion

The Greatest Wedding Gift: My Friends from High School!

The Greatest Wedding Gift: My Friends from High School! (Pictured left to right, Missy, Sarah, Meredith, Me, Michael, Sarah)

“…Those steps on our journey to adulthood meant

something (however much we struggled), and we made it.”

This year of Adulthood has been an interesting one for me.

I married my epic love David on a sunny August day in San Diego. This August marks our first wedding anniversary and as the date approaches I am reminded just how fast a year passes.

I also attended my 15-year high school reunion. High school reunions are the stuff that eye-rolling, dread, and avoidance are made of. I didn’t attend my 10-year reunion. Partly because it was in Washington D.C. and I lived in California, and partly because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to really go. Was it really that important to keep in touch with people from high school who I didn’t already keep in touch with already? I wasn’t sure at 10 years, but the answer I now know is: Yes. It is important.

(As an aside, I have to say that my high school was a little different than most: We only had about 50 kids in our graduating high school class. Because of the size, the school was an incubator for creativity and learning, and I can really say that the kids in my class were a group of interesting, thoughtful and talented kids.)

At the 15-year reunion I felt a little different than I did five years earlier. In fact, I felt so different that I decided to co-chair the reunion with another friend from high school. I think the reason I felt different is because I realize time is passing quickly, and in the days and weeks and months and years that go by, I forget a little bit more each day about what it was like to NOT be an adult.

And I realized that a shared history is important to me. Memories of that little school and those interesting kids and teachers aren’t as vivid any more, but getting together 15 years later somehow cements into the universe that we were there, that those steps on our journey to adulthood meant something (however much we struggled), and that we made it.

I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to see everyone. My junior year prom date, who kindly put up with my bright green ball gown with a green boa in 11th grade, was there. We also did Model United Nations together and he was always the smartest delegate in the room. It made me so happy to find out that he is still the smartest delegate in the room, taking D.C. by storm working at a political think tank!

My senior year prom date was also there, who I actually do see pretty regularly. He used to psychoanalyze me for hours as a teenager and now is an accomplished child psychiatrist. (Senior Year Prom Date put up with my shiny lavender dress with a huge purple and pink boaobviously I was a little eccentric. Come to think of it…my wedding dress had feathers on it too! Clearly some things never change.)

My first friends from high school (who made a new girl not feel so lonely) were there, my girlfriends (many of whombut not allI still get to talk to) were there, my friend from math class was there, and friends who traveled from Europe, Canada, and Mexico were there. And they are all awesome and smart people.

Despite my initial anticipatory dread for high school reunions, fifteen years later I found that everyone grew up to be really nice adults. My classmates’ shared history makes us all kindred spirits and I’ll continue to cheer on their successes as adulthood marches on. But I’ll always remember them as a the funky group of kids from high school. I’ll remember the feeling of being at an age when the future of possibilities were made of only dreams and hopes and best intentions. It was real, because they were real too. Fifteen years later, we made the feeling true again.

Cheers to a future of limitless possibilities, then and now.


The Art of Solitude

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.

-Alice Koller

I’ve always been a person who dislikes solitude. Growing up, I lived in a bustling house full of family and pets, and a little brother who often kept me in his company whether I liked it or not. On the days when I was not playing with my siblings or my neighborhood friends, I would spend lots of time on the phone with my childhood buddy, Nicole. Nicole and I would often keep records of how long we could talk on the phone. We once talked on the phone for six hours straight and then went to bed while still on the phone, and woke up to greet one another via the same connected phone call in the morning. (Some things never change: 20 years later, we still talk on the phone for hours at a time.)

In college, I was also never alone. I lived with a multitude of roommates for my entire college career and thereafter.

A house full of roommates ensured that if I ever got lonely, I need only to poke my head into another bedroom for some company.

At some point along the way, I lived with a former boyfriend, an arrangement that never left me alone for long, even during the sleep-hours.  

Then I bought my smartphone. Suddenly, I was able to engage with the world at any time of the day or night with just a click of a button or a text message! In the Twitter/Facebook universe, you are never alone, and for a social maven like me, that interconnectedness nourished and enticed me.

Somewhere in between baby brothers, epic phone conversation, co-habitations, and smartphones, I lived alone for about 6 months in a little beach cottage about 8 blocks from the ocean. The cottage had no TV and no wi-fi. It was during this time that I tried my hand at something I don’t think I had ever learned: how to be alone.

I cooked meals alone, ate alone, and filled my lonely nights with work, iPod music, dating, running, and wine. My mom (who is an only child and is pretty good at being happy and dynamic even when she is alone) told me that it was “good to practice” being alone, because you never know when you might have to be alone again. I had never felt lonelier during those six months, but she was right, I had to practice being fulfilled when alone. It was a lesson of adulthood that I needed to learn through experience, and it was really hard.

In contrast, my fiancé, David, has almost always lived alone. In fact, he loves being alone. He could spend days on end alone working on his various independent projects and he would be completely content. For him, being alone has nothing to do with loneliness. Being alone allows him to unwind, recharge, and gather his thoughts. I would venture to guess that he feels lonelier at a crowded party than alone in his house reading a book. Admittedly, he is pretty eccentric, but I think he may be on to something really important. Solitude is often associated with creativity, spirituality, and intellectualism. There is something enlivening about solitude.

Greg Feist, a professor at San Jose State University who studies the connection between creativity and solitude noted that when we let our focus shift away from the people and things around us, we are better able to engage in “meta-cognition,” or the process of thinking critically and reflectively about our own thoughts. There may be additional benefits to being alone too, according to John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago, author of the book “Lonliness.” Cacioppo believes that as long as solitude is not motivated by fear or social anxiety, then spending time alone can be a crucially nourishing component of life.

Solitude as a critical experience in our life is a bitter pill that I have learned to swallow. I am a very social human animal and my creativity mostly comes from collaboration with others rather than from singular revelations. My times of solitude stir in me a deep loneliness and longing for human connections rather than inspiration and solace. Yet, every since the lesson I learned from my time in the little beach cottage, the art of solitude is something I continually strive to practice.

Most of the time I am not disciplined enough to be alone. I still check Facebook, surf the web, text, or chat online. I don’t know if being alone will ever get easier for me, but because it is so difficult makes it that much more important for me to keep trying to get better at it. After all, at the end of your life, even if you are surrounded by people, death will be your own singular experience. I believe that learning to find peace in solitude will arm us with the strength we need to face whatever may lay ahead when that time comes.  

To that end, I’ve been working to change my perspective on solitude. I try to practice cherishing those times I can be alone. I try to actively carve out more time in my busy life to just exist, by myself. Some of the times that I am alone, I fill my mind with thoughts, things I want to do, places I want to go, plans I want to make. Other times, I spend periods of solitude just quieting my mind and paying attention to every small breath I take. I try to be grateful for those times I have to spend with myself, just to check in with myself, and remind myself why I am my own very best friend. I think finding ultimate fulfillment and empowerment in solitude will be something I’ll have to keep struggling with for a very long time. But, by removing loneliness from solitude to re-imagine my experiences of being alone gives me the power to change, grow, and learn.

After all, practice makes perfect.

[Photo by BKusler via Flickr.]

Guest Blog: Response to This American Life’s Retraction of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”

*This guest blog by David Daedalus is a follow up to David’s 1/20/12 entry about a now-retracted This American Life Episode by Mike Daisey.

Guest Blog: Response to This American Life’s Retraction of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”

By David Daedalus

Today, I received an email from Ira Glass of the radio program This American Life. It turns out that a recent episode featuring monologuist Mike Daisey, who traveled to China to learn more about the workers and working conditions under which Apple products are made, was largely fabricated. Below is a portion of the email from Glass: 

During fact checking before the broadcast of Daisey’s story, I and This American Life producer Brian Reed asked Daisey for this interpreter’s contact information, so we could confirm with her that Daisey actually witnessed what he claims. Daisey told us her real name was Anna, not Cathy as he says in his monologue, and he said that the cell phone number he had for her didn’t work anymore. He said he had no way to reach her.

 At that point, we should’ve killed the story. But other things Daisey told us about Apple’s operations in China checked out, and we saw no reason to doubt him. We didn’t think that he was lying to us. That was a mistake.

As those of you who have been following the story already know, the result of the original broadcast of Daisey’s story increased scrutiny on Apple’s labor practices and, in response, Apple improved its auditing practices of its third party suppliers.  

Daisey’s response to the retraction is posted on the Washington Post, found here.

What Daisey’s response amounts to is him saying is: I’m not a journalist, I never claimed to be, the story is a dramatization designed to raise awareness of an important issue, and it did that. In fact, the New York Times ran a story shortly after Daisey’s episode aired that also detailed that working conditions in some of the factories were deplorable.

Until more details come out on this week’s podcast of This American Life, we have no way of knowing to what degree Daisey lied to the producers about the facts in his story. Obviously if he lied to them, he shouldn’t have.

However, the inescapable irony here is that Daisey’s point about the ease with which we ignore the immoral is exemplified by the producers of This American Life in their willingness to ignore their own concerns about the truthfulness of Daisey’s story.

Just as we, the consumers of Apple products, willfully turn a blind eye to the manner in which those products are made, so it seems that Ira Glass and his staff also turned a blind eye to the warning signs that there were issues of factual accuracy in Daisey’s story because the story was so damn good.

Kudos to Glass for taking his lumps and owning up to his mistake. It just goes to show you how readily even the best of us will ignore our conscience if what we get in return is shiny, impressive, and makes us look cool.


Photo by rpongsaj via Flickr.


“To me, on this anniversary of September the 11th, what comes to mind is not that day, but what happened after.”


By David Daedalus


My name is David and I am a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. I was an active duty member from May 30th, 2001 until the same, 2005. As you, my clever reader, have no doubt already surmised, I was serving my country the day of September the 11th, 2001. I served during the formation of the Department of Homeland Security (of which the Coast Guard is now a component), the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq, and the implementation of the Patriot Act. In addition to being attached to a cutter (what the Coast Guard calls their ships), I volunteered and was deployed to the middle east as part of USCG PATFORSWA (Patrol Forces Southwest Asia) unit 3950 where I spent time in Bahrain, Kuwait, and the North Arabian Gulf.


Today, on the tenth anniversary of the vile act of mass murder and destruction wrought by fucktard fundamentalists, the question I keep hearing is, ‘Where were you when…?” It’s all over the radio, all over the internet, on everyone’s minds. Stories about loved ones lost in the towers, brave first responders exhibiting more courage in that one day than most of us muster in the whole of our lives, and stories about United Flight 93. On the tenth anniversary of this horrific, inexcusable, malicious act of terror, I can’t help but reflect on where I was on September the 11th…2003.


Pier 36. Coast Guard base. Seattle, Washington. It is a quarter to midnight and I am relieving the security watch stationed on the pier at which my ship was moored. The moon is a fingernail etched into the sky and there is very little light across the water. Armed with an M16 and a sharp eye, I am tasked with protecting the ship from terrorist attack. For days prior, and with metronomic consistency, the command drilled into us the importance of standing a vigilant watch on the anniversary of 9/11; that we were in danger, and that the terrorists could be anywhere or anyone. The Coast Guard’s newest recruiting slogan rang true in my ear:




Specifically, I am keeping a watchful eye for divers. The thinking is that unless the crew is vigilant, a diver can easily approach the ship, attach an explosive, and slip away. If that were to happen, both my home and my sleeping shipmates would be lost in a vesuvian explosion of blood and fire. To some of you this may seem far fetched, but before you go thinking this is something ridiculous to worry about, remember that this is exactly the sort of attack that nearly sank USS Cole in 2000. Placing aside the fact that the Cole was moored in Yemen at the time and my ship was at home in Seattle, it’s only fair to point out that the command did have some justification for being concerned.


After two hours of marching up and down the long cement pier and trying to keep warm, I hear something in the water. Figuring it was either my imagination or something completely innocuous, I shuffle over to the end of the pier and look out into the inky black water. Even with my flashlight, it’s difficult to see too far away. Sleepy and bored, I am just about to turn away when my eye catches the barest hint of movement. I squint and look hard, bringing my flashlight to bear upon the phantom. Just as I shone the light upon it, I see it. A slick black form diving under the water towards the ship.


My heart instantly kicks into overdrive and thumps loudly like a kick drum in my ears. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. For a second I forget even to breathe. I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. I mean, HOLY FUCKING SHIT. THERE’S A TERRORIST DIVER IN THE WATER AND HE’S GOING TO BLOW UP MY SHIPMATES!


Adrenalin saturates my chilled body as with hands shaking I grab my radio to alert the quarterdeck watchstander (the person aboard my ship minding the gangway between the pier and the cutter) of the situation. At top speed, and now too scared to be cold, I bolt down the pier to get a better look. Frantic, I scan the water hoping to catch a glimpse of the intruder.






Again, I spy the black mass. It breaches the security perimeter separating the Puget Sound from the base and has changed course. It makes a beeline right for me, then goes under again.


Scared shitless, I draw my rifle. With an audible click, my thumb I disengages the safety, and I place my trembling index finger atop the trigger. I’d never even been in a grade school fist fight and now I was about to kill a human being. Military training barely restrains the instinct to freak out and just start shooting. I’m a sitting duck where I am, atop a pier under a tall floodlight, but there’s no choice. I have to protect my shipmates. I can’t just let this happen.




Nearly a full minute goes by when suddenly, right next to me, it breaches the surface of the water.


“U.S. COAST GUARD STOP OR I’LL SHOOT!” is nearly out of my mouth when I realize the terrorist is a baby sea lion. I shit you not, the cutest, wide-eyed, innocent fucking thing I’ve ever laid eyes on had seen me from afar and came over to play. I nearly blew its brains out of the back of its little head.


The world pauses for a split second and I see myself in the third person, and I don’t like what I see. I see myself standing there, terrified, pointing a gun at a harmless baby animal. I see that I’d become so afraid of the implausible, the probable never entered into my mind. As I engage the safety and lower my weapon, it hits me: I’m not ‘The Shield of Freedom’,


I’m a frightened idiot…with a gun.


Shame welling up in my boots, I alert the quarterdeck nothing is wrong and resume my watch. I’m in bed before dawn and with a worried mind and heavy heart I fall into a fitful slumber.


I think about that day often; about how swept up I was by the tsunami of hysterical fear, and what I nearly allowed that fear to drive me to do. To me, on this anniversary of September the 11th, what comes to mind is not that day, but what happened after. How we allowed fear to overwhelm us. How we started relating everything to terrorism and that horrible day, even when it made no sense to do so. How we turned on one another and gave up our fundamental freedoms for the illusion of safety. How we literally endeavored to make torture legal and acceptable because we were afraid. How we became a nation of frighted idiots…with guns.


9/11 was a horrific day, one for which there is no excuse, no mitigating explanation, and one that could no go unanswered. My aim is not one of a 9/11 apologist, but to point out part of adulthood is making choices, assessing the effectiveness of those choices, and using that information to make future decisions. When I think about that night, about those innocent eyes staring at the muzzle of my M16, I am ashamed of what I almost allowed fear to goad me into doing. While the memory is a painful one, it must be acknowledged and assessed honestly if I am sincere in my endeavor to use the lessons of the past to build a better tomorrow.


On September 12th, 2001, we had a choice to make. A gauntlet was thrown down challenging our resolve to uphold our American values of respecting the rule of law, respecting the inalienable rights of the individual to preserve a free society for all, and to act globally as a champion of justice. We had a choice to either fight for those values or abdicate them and simply fight. We chose the latter. On this, the tenth anniversary of that black day, I find myself not thinking about the day of, but what happened after, and how it’s not to late to do better, to be better, to be the America I know we can be:


The Shield of Freedom.





David Daedalus is a writer, a filmmaker, and a graduate student of Philosophy at San Diego State University.


[Photo courtesy of David Daedalus, pictured second from the right.]

Notes on Adulthood: July 26

It has been months since I have posted our Notes on Adulthood segment. Notes on Adulthood is a neat way to explore some of the little lessons we learn from livin’ each day. So, I am bringing it back! Don’t forget we take contributions, so feel free to send me an email or a tweet at welcometoadulthood@gmail.com or at @AdulthoodMara. Let us know what you have learned this week!

Here are my notes on adulthood (both quotations!) from this week:

1) The other day, a very cool adult (who is very well established in her profession) told me, “You never do stop asking yourself what you want to be when you grow up.’” Duly noted.

2) Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak once recounted a story of young fan. “A little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it,” Sendak recalled. “I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over.

I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, ‘Dear Jim: I loved your card.’ Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, ‘Jim loved your card so much he ate it.’ That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

I like this quote. It reminds me that love is sometimes just too big, too special, too rare and wonderful to explain in words. And love is out there, friends! Find it, feel it, and eat it up. Every piece of it.


Lessons on Adulthood: November 22

Life is about learning lessons–that is how we keep growing and evolving. Lessons I learned this week involve friendship, relationships, and…shopping!

1) Friends come and go — even friends that you think are kindred spirits. But you see their faults, and you think, “But I am special. They would never do that to me.” And then it happens. A betrayal can be as small and unspoken as a silent phone, an unanswered call, or a secret. But the loss is heavy, the rift is wide. So you try to accept the change, set aside the bitterness, appreciate them for their moment in time, and move on. Call it a lesson learned.

2) Recently, I ventured to Sonoma for a weekend of wine and hibernating for a dear friend’s bachelorette party. One of the days we were there, we drove down Sonoma’s coast to an epic iPod soundtrack and then stopped at a little restaurant for dinner. We had to wait a few minutes for a table, so we stood outside on the patio deck looking at the ocean.

A couple, who appeared to be in their early 50s, was also waiting for a table. We chatted with them a bit about where we were from and why we were in Sonoma. They were vacationing for their 25th wedding anniversary.

“Do you have any advice for the bride-to-be?” I asked them, expecting some cheeky response.

The couple thought for a moment and the woman said: “When you get married, you have fights sometimes, you might disagree, you might even be attracted to another person, but on our wedding day, we made a vow to always choose each other. So, no matter how angry we may be when we go to bed, no matter how stressful life may get, we wake up every day and think ‘I choose you’ and we are happy.” (Note: it is not “I chose you”, it is “I choose you.”)

Then the husband spoke. He had a slight accent which he indicated was because he was born in Israel. He said, “Never hit below the belt. Because hitting below the belt leaves a hole of hurt so big that no amount of apologies can ever fill it. And you can never take the words back.”

Duly noted.

3) And on a lighter note….From Kaitlan, a reader in Arizona, “Adulthood is seeing a pair of boots you want, being able to buy them without devastating your budget, and walking away because it is the season to give.”

(Photo via AlyssaFilmmaker on Flickr.)

Notes on Adulthood: October 04

Everyday we learn something. That is how we grow! Here is what I learned this week.

1. Freelancing = hustling.

2. When friendships feel like work, you’re not doing it right.

3. The best part of being a food writer is getting free dessert(s)!!!

What about you? What did you learn this week?


Notes on Adulthood: September 27

Dog Bite Face – Day 1

Dog Bite Face – Day 4. Still not healed.

Adulthood is about learning lessons and growing from each experience. Lessons learned this week:

1) Never EVER trust your face near a dog. Even if you know the dog pretty well, never EVER put your face close enough where they can bite it. (Case and point: my face, pictured above.)
read more

Notes on Adulthood: August 30

Everyday we learn something. This is how we grow. Here is what I learned this week.

  1. @theficklenickle says “Adulthood is finally coming to understand why you have to clean the house BEFORE the cleaning lady comes.”
  2. Just because you love the German restaurant you eat at every week, it doesn’t mean you should apply for a job bar tending there… Right?
  3. Wanderlust can sometimes be cured by moving the furniture.
  4. From my husband: If it says dryclean on the label, it’s not a suggestion.

by Lorelei92950 via flickr

Guest Blog – Life of an Emerging Adult: An Uneven Slouch Toward Adulthood

Our discussion continues about last week’s New York Times article about Twentysomethings as “emerging adults.” Our guest blogger, Lukus Williams, provides his witty and insightful take on the ups and downs of unemployment as a recent college grad. Enjoy!

Life of an Emerging Adult: An Uneven Slouch Toward Adulthood

By Lukus Williams

April 15, 2010

Just when it was appearing to turn bleak, I got a response! I’ll be interviewing next week at a large university for an editorial assistant position I applied for nearly a month ago. This is the exact, perfect position for me and words simply cannot describe how psyched I am for this chance. If I get this job I’ll be able to move back to the city I love so much and be closer to all my friends once again – essentially I’ll get my life back, which has been on hold ever since graduation.

April 22, 2010

I aced it! He shoots, he scores! After running the interview through my head, and calling up every friend to get their thoughts… I just know I got the job. My portfolio, my experience, my enthusiasm – they were impressed, I could tell. The definitive way in which they spoke about the nuts and bolts of the job after the questions were through (*when* you start, etc…) is a sure sign I’ll be packing my bags soon. This is finally happening, I’m getting my life back.

April 29, 2010

Received my rejection letter today: no job. They wrote as if I had been the runner up in a competition, that over eighty people had applied and they only interviewed the four most qualified. They were incredibly impressed by me, but in the end decided to choose someone with an advanced degree in the field.

Seriously? What? Not only do I have to beat out over eighty people for a chance to be interviewed based on my cover letter writing skills alone, but now I have to compete for entry-level jobs, that barely pays a living wage in San Diego, with hopefuls who have Master’s degrees? How am I ever going to come out on top in that situation? I need to spend another $20,000 on education so that I can make $30,000 a year?

I thought this was my ticket out of my parents house. I thought this was the start of my life again. I thought I could finally begin doing all the things I’d been dreaming about, all the things my college education would allow me to achieve. Will I ever get out of here?

August 26, 2010

I’m up to five interviews now since my first one back in late April. Each one I do better than the last, and each one I receive an even more heartfelt rejection from my almost-employer:

“We had over 100 applicants, and interviewed five of the most outstanding candidates. You truly had exceptional skills and interviewed well, however we have decided to offer the position to a more experienced candidate, who has accepted.”

The job hunt, the interview process – they are a competition, only there is no prize for second place.

After reading Robin Henig’s piece, “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or hurl my laptop across the room.

The author haughtily muses about the advantages and disadvantages of letting us 20-somethings meander into the responsibilities of adulthood, as if there is some committee that decides what a generation should be doing, while I pray that my 1400th job application isn’t just being tossed into the void. If there is some societal authority allowing me to languish in this lifeless existence in the doldrums… I would like to kindly ask him/her/it/them to cut it out and let me move on.

Where Henig sees an awkward moment of exploration and questioning, wondering if maybe we should all be cut off and told to “find something, anything, to put food on the table and get on with [our] lives,” I just thank God/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Your Favorite Deity that my parents don’t just “cut [me] off.”

What would happen if I was kicked to the curb? Easy answer, I’d be homeless at best. Some “tough love” isn’t going to erase a 20% unemployment rate. Henig’s audacity astounds me to no ends; presuming that I and other’s in my age group are futility attempting to hold back the flood of adult life and responsibilities, but the reality of our situation could not be further from her postulating.

The reality is, I don’t date anymore – I have no desire to even entertain the possibility with my life the way it is currently. The longer this goes on, the further and further away I get from meeting her milestones in the most ideal fashion. When I finally get back on track, I’m not going to have some wonderfully advantageous career thanks to my excellent college degree. No, I probably won’t even make enough money to avoid needing roommates and simultaneously pay my student loans back. And owning a house, or even a car is going to be totally beyond my means – exactly the type of scenario I want to start a family in, right?

I don’t need sympathy, but some empathy would definitely be nice. Mostly, I’d really just like to kill this blatantly false idea that every college grad goes off to search for the meaning of life and their purpose in it while becoming a drain on their parents and society.

{Photo credit here goes to Mike Licht, Notionscapital.com via Flickr}

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