August 29, 2012

38 lessons in 38 years

Inspired by, which I was reading for an article I’m writing.

In 38 years, I’ve learned:

1. Cuts often don’t hurt until you see the blood. (This is not me trying to be clever or profound. It’s true.)

2. Having no major life plans but hundreds of small, achievable goals has led to frequent feelings of fulfillment and/or success.

3. Settling down is easier when it isn’t called “settling down,” and when there’s always the option to move – even if the option isn’t so much a financially feasible option as it is a willingness to move, an understanding that no one is saying out loud, “So, this is it until we die, then.”

4. Mean people will not be erased from the earth, and the sooner this is accepted, the better.

5. Thinking about the horrors children and animals suffer at the hands of mean, evil people when you’re trying to get back to sleep at 3 a.m. is counterproductive. Yes, it’ll creep in sometimes – 3 a.m. is the bad hour – but it won’t help sleep. Instead, think about this:

6. NyQuil knocks you out in ten minutes.

7. Life is primary. Work/career is secondary. Personal days are mandatory.

8. Persistence and hard work won’t always pan out, but as long as you’re trying, there’s always that chance.

9. Hope is a necessary drug.

10. Choosing to be fearless can eliminate a lot of anxieties.

11. The signature on the back of a credit card will rub off even if it’s signed in Sharpie.

12. A few good drinks will wash away a cold (temporarily).

13. It doesn’t matter why the cat curls up on your stomach.

14. If we all have them, they can’t possibly be “flaws.”

15. There’s a difference between being honest and always telling the truth.

16. Fortune cookies lie.

17. People who bemoan their birthdays are people who didn’t die young.

18. Speaking of birthdays, poppyseed cake is the best cake on the planet. Not just any poppyseed cake, but the recipe my family has. It’s a secret. (Psst, Starbucks, call me!)

19. Lift some weights when you have a cold. That way, even if you feel weak, you can still feel strong.

20. The “immortal” teen years are fantastic. If you’re there, enjoy them. (However, know that you are, in fact, mortal, and that speeding through a tunnel in a sports car with a careless driver who also thinks he’s immortal is stupid, stupid, stupid. As is inhaling cinnamon. What are you thinking?)

21. The hardest part of cleaning the car is Windexing the interior of the rear window.

22. One line of unrealistic-sounding dialogue can kill the chapter.

23. The life I sometimes fantasize about – living in a rustic, old, paint-chipped house and driving a beat-up Jeep, or living in a Craftsman house in a tree-shrouded neighborhood designed to Hollywood perfection – wouldn’t be the life I fantasized about if I were living it.

24. The skin on the outside of the nostril can bleed forever and ever and ever.

25. After giving it some thought, I realized living in a nuclear fallout shelter is probably only exciting in theory.

26. We live in the future of old science fiction, and it is good. (The real stuff is so much better. They still used DOS!)

27. “Story truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.” – Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

28. “What’s the point?” is a killer. It can be enough that writing is fun.

29. I figured out that I don’t want a bucket list for my life any more than I want to follow a guide of must-see attractions on a trip through Europe.

30. (But if I had a bucket list, getting back to Europe ASAP would be on it.)

31. Diamonds are only valuable because we say they are.

32. Oxiclean works beautifully on a cat-puked carpet. Even shag. (Saturate, then press and absorb, don’t rub. Repeat.)

33. Children and adults do not live in the same world.

34. Adulthood doesn’t really exist.

35. When you have a cold, and when you’re an adult who can make her own decisions, you’re reminded of how silly it can be to feel the need to adhere to an arbitrary, self-inflicted regiment/word-count/number on a list. Sometimes, you have to remind yourself, “It’s okay to stop early,” and then go have a chocolate chip cookie.


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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website:


lessons learned, life, Writing


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