On this, the morning I begin my 45th trip around the sun, in the springtime of a very much welcome new year after the wretched torments of the last one, I sit and consider what I've learned so far in this life.
The biggest thing I know is how much I don't know. The world is infinite, and I'm planning to redouble my efforts and read more, listen more, go to more museums and spend more time with my dearest treasured friends.
But I do know a few things. I'm 45, after all. Happy Birthday to me. And here's a list of 45 Things I Know.
1. Don't pry open anything with your teeth.
2. Support NPR, independent musicians and public television.
3. Don't skimp on three things in life: your mattress, your shoes, and your food. In these areas, buy quality, however else you might economize.
4. Never work for an asshole. If you work for an asshole now, quit.
5. Every now and then, quiz yourself on the state and country capitals.
6. "No one's really gonna be free until nerd persecution ends!" -- Revenge of the Nerds
7. Never tell a lie, but learn when the situation calls for pursuing the delicate balance between honesty and kindness.
8. Do your homework. In fact, do the extra credit.
10. Go to the library, pick out a book, read it, bring it back to the library, pick out another book, and so on.
11. Don't over-explain. Be concise.
12. Only apologize when you have actually said or done something rude or offensive. If you don't think you apologize too much, search for "I'm sorry" in your outgoing emails.
13. Though it may sound counter-intuitive, life is too short to be rushed. Take your time.
14. Take your time, but not at the expense of someone else's time -- be punctual. Lateness is rudeness.
15. Learn where the apostrophe goes. Put it there. Every time.
16. Familiarize yourself with the text of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bible and the Ten Commandments. You will never lose an argument with an idiot.
17. Make your own fresh guacamole, hummus, mayonnaise, whipped cream and barbecue sauce. Not all at the same time. Unless you're throwing one hell of a party. Every now and then, throw one hell of a party.
18. Being snowed in is one of those things that sounds great until you need tampons or red wine. Always be stocked up on the basics.
19. There's rarely a reason to raise your voice.
20. Sleep is important.
21. Send holiday cards to your friends and family every December. Write personal notes inside.
22. Don't read any comments online.
23. Wait your turn.
24. Sing in the shower.
25. Don't be a dick.
26. Stir two packets of Swiss Miss into one mug for a delightfully chocolatey hot beverage.
27. Say "I was wrong, you were right" when the situation calls for it, instead of blurting out whatever nonsense you say when you know you're wrong but you want to protect your ego.
28. Be kind to animals.
29. We should be working as a society to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
30. Don't spend more money than you earn.
31. "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." -- The Godfather
32. Don't smoke.
33. Read the labels. If you can't pronounce it or don't know what it is, it was probably made in a factory or a lab. Don't eat that.
34. Pick out your Zombie Apocalypse team. Among them make sure you get a musician, a scientist, a writer and a cook.
36. Respect is to be earned, not given out randomly just because it's demanded. Earn it from others through your actions and words, and expect others to earn yours, however much they may stamp their feet and demand it without trying.
37. Take the stairs.
38. You can say no.
39. Ask for help.
40. If you're blind with rage while typing an email, don't send that. Wait a day or two.
41. "...the Matrix cannot tell you who you are." -- The Matrix
43. Don't bother with the pistachios that don't have an opening.
44. Doc Martens can last like twenty years (and counting).
45. "The Origin of Love" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a far superior creation myth than that of Adam and Eve from the New Testament, and it is within my religious freedom to live and love accordingly.