Category Archives: millenials

Wealth (n.)

I need to make more money.

You’re a liar if you say you’ve never thought it. Money is important to us. What does money bring? Wealth, of course. If you’ve got money, you’re wealthy. It’s what we’ve been told for ages.

So I set out to make some money. I was poor in New York. I hated it. I couldn’t go out. I couldn’t eat at restaurants. I couldn’t see a movie in theaters. I needed to make money. I needed to be wealthy.

I packed up and moved across the country. I took a job in San Francisco. I’m gonna make more here than I have anywhere else. I’ll be wealthy, finally. I’ll be able to do stuff. Fun stuff. 

I worked hard from day one and it paid off. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a ton of money. But it was the first time I was about to live comfortably. The first time I wasn’t barely scraping by. I could go to the bar and buy a round. I could grab take out on my way home for myself and my roommates. It was wonderful. I felt happy. I felt wealthy.

I put my cash into savings. Towards my loans. Towards bar tabs and trips and concerts and clothing. I made a bunch of friends. Friends who also made money. It was life changing.

Two months later I got laid off.

Wealth (n.): abundance of valuable material possessions or resources.

Synonyms: affluence, prosperity, riches, means, substance, fortune.

Can you use it in a sentence please? 

“Some people buy boats and cars to display their wealth.”

Do you have a alternate sentence?

“He used his wealth to bribe officials.”

So what is wealth? Wealth is money. Wealth is power. Wealth is material.

Holy shit. I’m unemployed. I’m embarrassed. What will my family think? Friends? What will new people I meet think? Holy shit.

I started questioning myself. Am I not valuable? I’ve had three jobs within two years of graduating college. Will I ever get where I want to be? Am I a freeloader? Lazy? Worthless? Will I ever achieve what I’m looking for? Why can’t I figure out my career?

What am I supposed to do? I have no money coming in. The happiness and joy I felt – will that be gone?

I disagree with Merriam and Webster’s definition. How can something that leaves you unfulfilled and wanting more ever make you feel wealthy? Ask someone with money if they want more money, they’ll say yes. More power? Yes. More things? Yes.

“Hey dude. I don’t know what to say 🙁 I’m sorry”
“I miss you”
“Wow. You ok?”
“How you doing buddy? I’m so sorry.”
“Miss you, dude. Not the same without you here.”
“Sigh. So so so freakin’ sad that you are gone from this office.”
“You are amazing. I’m not being sarcastic.”
“I miss you! Can we please stay best friends?”
I responded to the texts and emails that rolled in as the news spread across the company.

“Thanks. I’m ok.”
“I already miss you too.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“I’d love if you could help me find something new.”
“It’s fine, really. I’ll miss you guys the more than anything.”
“Really, don’t worry about me. I’ll be ok.”

I started getting a good feeling again. The feeling I had before, when I still had my job. That happiness, joy. These people truly care about me.

The idea of wealth is skewed. Wealth is not money. Wealth is not power. Wealth is not status or title or whose name you can drop.

Wealth is loving and being loved in return. Wealth is having deep and meaningful relationships. Wealth is surrounding yourself with the people that are important to you and never taking it for granted.

“If you add a little lemon juice to the Brussels sprouts it’ll bring out their flavor more,” my roommate told us.

“I’ll start the spaghetti,” another mentioned.

“Don’t strain yourself boiling that water,” I harassed while I mixed together the ingredients for the meatballs.

“I’m out of wine!” a third roommate yelled from the living room. We opened a second bottle and poured ourselves new glasses.

Thirty minutes later we filled our plates and the seven of us crammed into the living room to eat and watch How To Train Your Dragon. I took a spot on the floor and put my plate of spaghetti and meatballs on top of a Rubbermaid container. We turned off the lights and let the show begin.

When I finished eating, I leaned my back against the arm of the couch. I thought back to the texts I’d received the day before from the heavy hearts of my former coworkers. I thought about my family’s support when I told them I might take a little time to myself to figure out what to do next. I thought about my friends’ well wishes and genuine interest in helping me find a new job. I thought about the last thirty minutes I spent cooking and joking with buddies I made just a month earlier.

I closed my eyes, laid my head back against the couch, and smiled. No amount of money could make me feel as wealthy as I felt in that moment.

To my closest friend:

I’m writing you this letter because I’m dead.

Well, that’s not true. I’m dying. Really fast. I’ll be dead soon. I’m never leaving this hospital. At least not until I’m dead. Which, thanks to this meningitis, will be soon.

I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you. I did it on purpose. No, not die. I didn’t tell you on purpose. It’s nothing against you, I swear. It’s just that I didn’t want you to feel sad. You’re someone I cherish, and seeing you be sad would make me sad. I don’t want to be sad before I die.

So don’t be sad. I’m not. People keep coming to visit and saying things like “I’m so sorry” and “I can’t believe this is happening” and “but you’re only 23!” and other things that I don’t want to hear. Listen, I get it, I’m dying. They don’t have to remind me of that. Every conversation I have is full of apologies and tears and goodbyes. I don’t want my last conversation with you to be like that too. You’re my best friend, and I don’t want our last moments to be our worst.

We’ve had so many good memories. I want them to be what you remember me by. Not me now. Decrepit, weak. No, I want you to remember that time we belted out Don’t Stop Believin’ at karaoke. Or the time we drank beers in the park and watched all the frisbee players toss their discs back and forth, seeing who can throw it the hardest, farthest. I want you to remember me by the time we drove all the way to Nebraska to go camping only realize we forgot our gear. The good times. That’s how I want you to remember me. Not like this.

And don’t think that because I’m dying young I’m missing out on life. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’ve had a wonderful life. Sure, I won’t be able to have children. Or even get married for that matter. But I’m ok with that.

I have no regrets. I realize now, with my fate looming over me, that I don’t regret the hour I spent aimlessly wandering through the park when I told myself I should be working. I don’t regret letting myself cry when I felt sad. I don’t regret leaving that one job too early or never running a marathon. I don’t regret that I never understood quantum physics, and that I lost touch with my childhood friends. I don’t regret eating that pint of ice cream, and then following it up with Oreos. I don’t regret that C I got in high school or the performance I bombed in college. I thought I’d regret these things. But I don’t. I don’t at all.

Why? You see, I didn’t do those things because I was busy doing other things. Like going to happy hour with you. Or watching that crappy TV show that I know is terrible for my brain but that I love so much. I was listening to music that made me feel good while I walked through the streets of the city. I was taking the long way home so I could see the old building that once was my high school. I was living the dream. My dream.

Why am I so nonchalant about my death sentence? Because every moment I’ve had is vastly more important than what’s happening to me. My death was inevitable, albeit early. But it takes nothing away from the path I’ve laid behind me. I’m proud of my life. Every moment I’ve had has been incredible. I lived it as fully as I could. I’ve lived it more fully than so many other people – the people who dwell on the past or the future, but never the now.

Remember that now exists. It’s the most important thing I have to say to you as I lie here, ready to rest my eyes. The future is unreachable. The past is unchangeable. But now – now is real. Now is what makes us feel alive. Now creates the past we cherish in the future. Now is spontaneous and scary and thrilling and every range of emotion imaginable all squeezed into a singular marble of time that can easily be lost if you’re not careful.

What I’m trying to say to you, my friend, is that we’ve had a good run. Now it’s up to you to keep going hard and strong. Don’t dwell too long on your past or stress too much about your future. Focus on your now.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to quiet down. I hope you’re not mad, but I need to keep some strength just for me. You see, I have one more moment I need to feel – only a little bit of now left. Who would I be if I missed it because I was dwelling on the past?

Love always,

My goals for 2014

I’m hoping to make 2014 my best year yet (just like every other person on the planet). To make that happen, I’ve created a list of goals to have completed by the end of the year, if not sooner. Why am I sharing them here? To make myself accountable. Enjoy! And hey, why not make some of your own? You’ve got nothing to lose.

  1. Reach 150 blog subscribers (if you still haven’t, sign up for my mailing list)
  2. Get DailyCreative email open rate average to increase 15% by year end
  3. Land a copywriting contract
  4. Find a way to earn $500/mo extra by June 30
  5. Have a meeting or call with three bloggers/writers a month
  6. Take an improv class
  7. Write a post that gets 2500 unique views
  8. Have a meeting or call with one person in advertising or marketing per month
  9. Express my emotions more freely and confidently
  10. Cook with one new ingredient every two weeks
  11. Complete the first draft of a screenplay
  12. Visit two states I’ve never been to
  13. Visit 10 museums (preferably in NYC)
  14. Get published in Metropolitan Diary
  15. Read 26 books
  16. Join a spring/summer sports league
  17. Grow DailyCreative to 250 users
  18. Follow through with at least one business idea (instead of letting every idea peddle around in my head and get lost in oblivion)
  19. Guest post on three reputable blogs
  20. Pay 10k towards student debt
  21. Be more present in one on one conversations by actively listening and avoiding close ended questions
  22. Go 30 days paleo/gluten free (wanna take the challenge with me? let me know)
  23. Naturally eliminate my anxiety
  24. Recognize my achievements and allow myself to be proud of them
  25. Run a marathon
  26. Determine my opinion on issues before reaching to others for their thoughts
  27. Complete a weight training circuit three times a week for three consecutive months
  28. Go to a music festival (any suggestions?)
  29. Visit friends in other cities once every three months and do something we haven’t done before
  30. Write 5 short stories of 5000+ words
  31. Stay true to self in new groups of people
  32. Publish a Kindle Single (hoping for Leaper)

Throughout the year I’ll be adjusting and adding any goals as I understand what I’m doing better. You’ll find the most updated list in my 2014 Goals tab.

If you want to set some goals of your own (and you should), check out Chris Guillibeau’s and Scott Britton’s tools. They’ve been extremely helpful for me.

Thanks to Justin Mares for looking over these with a comb of the finest teeth.

In the end, it all evens out.

Few things give me more anxiety than trying to hold on to the empty seat beside me during the 20 minutes it takes the rest of the passengers to board a Greyhound. A half second of eye contact with a passerby can easily be mistaken for an invitation to take the aisle seat, turning my La-Z-Boy into a church pew.

Luckily on this particular trip my anxiety was curbed by that fact that I would be seeing nearly all of my best friends when the bus stopped seven hours later and I stepped out into the familiar streets of downtown Pittsburgh.

We planned weeks ahead to have a reunion, and it was all I could think about since. I’d been counting down to this moment – waiting in line for the overnight bus from New York to Pittsburgh. I chose the overnight bus because tickets were only $10 and I love waking up with back problems from using a metal bar as a mattress and a vibrating window as a pillow.

As the first person to board the bus, I enacted my five-step strategy to get both seats to myself:

  1. Pick a seat in the first four rows.
  2. Pile luggage haphazardly on the empty seat beside me.
  3. Put headphones in ears (music optional).
  4. Open a magazine (reading optional).
  5. Look as pissed off as possible (emotions optional).

The bus was fuller than I expected it to be. With each new passenger my nerves escalated. I looked out the window. Three people left. Although I was curious, I didn’t dare compromise my operation by sitting up and looking back to see how many seats were still open.

One person passed. Then the second. I felt the bus move as the third and final person walked up the steps. I faced away from the aisle and looked as angry as possible. He stopped by my seat. My stomach dropped. I felt him looking at me, contemplating his next move. I didn’t budge. Five seconds of stillness. Then I heard his footsteps shuffling down the aisle.

When we started moving, I looked back. Just one other person had both seats to herself.

I nodded a “job well done” to my silent companion and settled in for the night.

There are certain people who are extremely important in your life. People who have shaped your views and personality nearly as much as your family has. People who you can go months without seeing only to pick up exactly where you left off when you’re back together.

These people remember everything – good and bad. That time you pooped your pants in the car? They’ll remind you about it. Or when you barfed on Forbes Avenue like nobody’s business. They remember that awful haircut you had in 9th grade and that one night at the casino where you became a chain-smoking Blackjack fiend. They remember the water bottle of theirs that you lost 4 years ago and didn’t replace. And that dreadfully ugly person you hooked up with on more than one occasion.

They also stick with you when things are crazy. And when you are crazy. They’re the people who know when you’re happy, when you’re sad, and how to deal with it. They disagree with you, but support you anyway. They’re the people whom you never owe money, because “in the long run, it all evens out.” They carry you through break ups, hangovers, and lost basketball games.

Few things in life feel better than sitting around and collectively doing nothing with them, because even though you’re doing nothing, you’re doing it together.

Friends. Amigos. Assholes. Whatever you call them, they’re irreplaceable.

I settled into my seat for the long trip. Ten hours this time – via Philly – until I’d be back in New York. I used my five-step strategy as the bus filled. The familiar anxiety returned. Passengers scuttled by, taking seats alone, then with the people who took seats by themselves. The last person to enter the bus – a huge, 6’6” man – did not look the ideal bus buddy. I concentrated as hard as I could on the magazine I was pretending to read.

“Can I – “ he points to the seat beside me.

“Oh. Yea sure.” I fumbled my things, placing my enormous book bag at my feet and my pillow and jacket on my lap. He took the aisle seat and made himself comfortable.

His left leg protruded into my space, giving me approximately two thirds of a bus seat to call home. Once situated, he immediately fell asleep. Two minutes later, I had to pee.

In this situation, I’d normally get angrier than a Texan outside an abortion clinic. Today, though, it didn’t bother me. Instead, I got lost in thought looking out the window as we cruised through the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania.

I reflected on the weekend and felt a pinch of sadness that it was over. The time, although only a short three days, was exactly what I needed. I began thinking about my friends – not just the ones I’d seen this weekend, but all of them. The ones I don’t live near or see as often as I’d like. College friends. High school friends. And the ones I see everyday. New friends. I felt a ball of emotion well up inside me that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

It was there, squished against the window, that I realized the emotion I was feeling was blessed. Blessed to have some of the best friends I could have ever asked for.

——

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“Ok, just ONE more.”

Oh dear God. What’s happening. What is that noise. Help.

I reached for my nightstand and turned off my alarm, nearly knocking over the full cup of lukewarm water I had apparently placed there the night before.

How can it already be 8. This is a joke.

I stumbled into the bathroom. The idea of getting ready for work was overwhelming, let alone being in the office for the next nine hours. I looked at the toilet and decided it would be in my best interest to sit down to pee.

Holding my head I my hands, I closed my eyes and tried to remember. “Yea sure, I’ll grab a beer with you. I can’t stay out too late, but I’ve always wanted to check out that bar.” The oh-so familiar scenario ran through my mind.

The night started at happy hour. It was Thursday and the week had already been long, so we grabbed a corner booth and decided to curb the stress with a beer

“Do you mind if my friend comes?” asked my happy hour partner.

“Sure man, why not? The more the merrier. Should we just get a pitcher then?”

Seven more friends and 10 pitchers later, we’re singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” out loud for the third time. It’s not karaoke night.

This happens every time. I never learn. I stood up, flushed, and looked at myself in the mirror. Other than the typical bags under my eyes, I looked OK. I could manage to pass as “just tired” when I got to work. I began to vigorously brush away the sins of last night from my teeth when I felt a jolt of pain on my lower lip. I looked closer.

Great. Black lip. How… Then I remembered. I was in the middle seat of a cab with two friends. For reasons only higher powers can decipher, I had my head through the opening in the barrier between us and the driver. Suddenly – BAM – he slammed on the breaks and my head flew forward. Unable to stop myself, my lip smashed into the barrier. And now I have a bruise resembling a Hitler ‘stache on my lower lip.

Wonderful.

Realizing I was late, I sprinted to my room and threw on the first pieces of clothing I could find. I grabbed my bag, wallet, phone, keys, and headphones, and headed for the door. Wait. I turned around and filled up the largest water bottle I could find with ice cubes and the elixir of life itself.

As I fumbled to the train station I held down the queasy feeling in my stomach. If you puke I’ll kill you. I kept my sunglasses on as I entered the subway and hopped on the train.

Sorry pregnant women and the elderly, today Dan gets the last seat. Twenty minutes later I attempted to compose myself as I opened the office door.

“Good morning!” my coworker cheerily exclaimed as I walked in. “Happy Friday!”

“Morning,” I grumbled as I took my seat and logged on.

My coworker walked over and I shot her a look. With a single glance, she understood. “I’ll get you some water.”

“Got some, but coffee would be great. Thanks.”

“Sure thing.” She began to leave but quickly turned back.

“Whoa,” she said, intensely staring at me. “What happened to your lip?”

Surviving a hangover at work is of art. It is not easy. And it is not fun. But too often, it is necessary.

Whether a friend is in town, you got a promotion, or you found $20 on the subway, there’s always going to be a reason to celebrate. And normally, one of two things happens:

  1. You meet up with your friends, grab two or three beers, have good conversation about your life, work, and what you’ve got going on, and make it home by nine. Or,
  2. You meet up with your friends, grab two or three beers, start getting obnoxious, more friends come, shots of Fireball make an appearance, and you rage face until 3:00am before passing out with your clothes on.

Let’s be honest. Normally it’s the latter.

And when it’s not the latter, you secretly kind of wish it would have been the latter.

However, gone are the days when we can skip class without telling anyone and lay around all day. Now, if we “skip work” without telling anyone we “get fired”.

So, what’s a fun-loving yet career-driven 20-something to do?

Prepare and revive.

In doing so, you can go out and ingest as many beers on a weeknight as you’d like while still maintaining your composure and succeeding at work the next day.

Step One: Prepare

  • Eat. This is a classic fix to the all too real “I haven’t eaten dinner so I got drunk fast but who cares because I’m having fun!!!” situation. You’re having fun now, but you won’t be tomorrow. Everyone knows that happy hour means cheap drinks. Happy hour also means cheap food. Order and eat up. Your body will thank you when your friend gets you a “SURPRISE PICKLE BACK!!”
  • Drink water. This sounds lame. Let me explain. When you go to the bar to order the next round, ask for a glass of water. Chug it while you close out. When the bartender returns your card, place your glass on the bar with your tip. Your friends won’t see you, and you’ll hydrate, eliminating that cactus-y hands feeling in the morning.

Step Two: Revive

  • Eat a small, bland breakfast. Remember those awful granola bars you bought last week? Eat one. This is a test to see how your body reacts. If you feel ok, then
  • Demolish some McDonald’s. Or any type of greasy, filling food, if McDonald’s isn’t your style. You will feel immediately better. However, if that granola bar isn’t sitting well, then
  • Slow it down. Sip water. Munch on crackers. Anything to make your stomach stop doing loops. Ease into your food until you can have something substantial.
  • Attach a water bottle to your hand and make sure it’s constantly full. If you want to step up your game, try Gatorade or Vitamin Water. Those electrolytes and sugars will do you wonders. If you want to forego the one million grams of sugar, try some alternatives. Smart Water anyone?
  • At work, be sure to stay 5 feet from all coworkers. You may have brushed twice and used mouthwash, but the smell doesn’t go away until it’s out of your system. So stand back. Way, way back.
  • In dire situations, a nap may be needed. If you drive to work, tell everyone you’re “going out for lunch” and then crank that seat back and sleep. If you don’t drive to work, things get tricky. Find an area of the office that you can sneak away to. Empty desks in nooks and crannies are best – the ones that get little to no foot traffic. Slide under the desk, making sure you’re out of view from your coworkers, and nap away.
    • Caution: if you snore, this might not be the best option.

Prepare and revive. It works. But it won’t curb your hangover anxiety. That’s a battle you’ll have to face alone.

“Cab. I’ll tell you later. I just need to sit here for a few hours and not move. Please please please will you get me that coffee?”

One empty cup of coffee later and I still felt like I was hit by a truck driven by Captain Morgan. I trudged through the day, fading in and out of focus. I tried to stay awake between the moments of misery and sheer pain as the day began to wind down.

4:15. So close. I can do this. Only a few minutes before I can go home and sleep and eat and not think anymore.

“Hey Dan, can you come in here?” My stomach dropped like a rock. It was my boss.

My mind was racing: This is it. He knows. He knows I’m hungover. I’m going to get scolded. Did I forget to do something today? Holy crap did I text him last night by accident? No. No way. I never do that. What did I forget to do today? Nothing. I made sure to get everything done. This is definitely about my hangover. Shit shit shit. Here we go. I’m screwed.

He looked up as I entered. “Take a seat.”

I broke out in a cold sweat as I sat on the couch across from his desk.

“So, I’ve been meaning to talk to you. I just wanted to let you know that you’ve been doing a great job recently. You’ve really been an asset to the team. I hope you’re liking it and that you want to grow in this company. I’d love to get you on some deeper projects so that you’re not working on so many mindless things all day. How does that sound?”

I paused, a little confused, but relieved. Thank God. “Oh, yea! That sounds great. Thanks so much I really appreciate it.”

“Is everything going ok?”

“Yea, I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of things. Just trying to iron out some of the details.”

“Great. Well keep it up.”

“Thanks so much.” I stood up and walked to the door. Relief poured over. I felt the joy that can only be felt by a claustrophobic person getting off the elevator. I reached for the door handle,

“Oh, by the way –“ my boss interjected, “what happened to your lip?”