terrrible twenties

During my final year of college, my friends who’d already graduated regularly warned me that “life after school sucks.” Judging from their gloomy disposition, I believed them. They weren’t fun to hang out with anymore, and all they did was whine about the job market. During school they planned only as far as the next weekend, but suddenly they were determined to plan their entire futures. They wanted it all—a high-paying, important, and glamorous career—and they wanted it immediately. Many of them—working at transitional jobs in the retail or restaurant business—grew frustrated, because it wasn’t quite working out the way they’d planned.

Once the security blanket of college has been stripped away, many recent graduates find themselves in an awkward limbo between adolescence and adulthood. Sometimes referred to as the “Quarter-life Crisis,” this period of uncertainty and dissatisfaction often follows graduation. Symptoms include confusion, insecurity, disappointment, and regret. And while it’s not a new phenomenon, rising expectations and an increasingly competitive job market have made it more widespread. In recent years, a whole slew of Quarter-life Crisis-themed self-help books and support groups have surfaced. Oprah even dedicated an entire episode to the problem—titled Turbulent Twenties—during which psychologists declared that this age is more difficult now than ever before.

Now I have joined the ranks, and it’s true—the transition is tough. I’m broke. I have minimal health insurance that won’t last much longer. I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, and please my parents and repay student loans–all at the same time. And unlike in college, there is no road map or team of advisors to help guide me.

But wait—shouldn’t my twenties be the coolest years of my life? That’s what I always thought. I’m mostly free from family obligations. I get to be self-absorbed; I have no homework; and I will never be this good-looking again. That doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

So to those of you who are bugging–I understand completely, but my advice to you is this: chill the fuck out.

Learn to appreciate this time in your life. Get out and explore your options, but don’t expect it to happen all at once. Your future is a blank diary, so embrace the uncertainty, and begin to fill it up with lots of fabulous experiences. And don’t neglect other aspects of your life while you focus on your career. Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean your education is over. Read, listen to new music, and meet new people.

But whatever you do, don’t let society’s one-dimensional definition of success make you feel bad about your life, and remember that your career does not define you. Because one of the most important things I learned during my last year of college is that the worst effect of a Quarter-life Crisis is that it can make you an insufferable bore. And I, for one, refuse to let that happen.

hockey's back

Remember that oversized jersey your girlfriend said looked horrible on you? Break it out. It’s time.

After a year of waiting, and possibly weeping silently while no one else watched, the only sport where sharp blades are legal has finally come back: it’s hockey time.

The new NHL dropped the puck on October 5th, 2005. A new logo, a suddenly dispersed talent pool, and new rules promise a better game for the fans.

Then again, Steve Spurrier’s “Fun-n-Gun” offense was supposed to be some sort of revolutionary genius.

Okay, so excuse me for being slightly hesitant to bite on the big fat piece of bait the suits at NHL headquarters dangled in front of our collective noses. But the fact of the matter is that you’ll be asking over 700 professional hockey players to stop playing a type of game where clutching and grabbing had become as common as traffic jams on the Schuylkill and morph into speeding superstars almost overnight. You’ll be asking almost one hundred officials to be strict on the new rules when they’ve been lenient and almost forgetting what the whistle was for. You’ll be asking coaches to suddenly stop playing in a defensive format, which, by the way, has been the common trend for the NFL over the recent years… it seems defense hasn’t been only intruding on hockey, either.

You’re asking a collective league to change almost immediately. And is that fair?

I’ll leave that for you to answer, but here’s my rebuttal.

Who freaking cares!? It’s hockey!

One of the best sports ever has finally come back to show everyone what it’s capable of. Do I care that it’ll take an average of ten power plays a game for the next month in order for the new rules to stick? Not a chance. Does it matter to me that critics will be waiting for the first opportunity to bash hockey, like the way Devils fans wait for the inevitable day where the Flyers swallow that good ol’ chicken bone? Nope.

It’s time to stop dissecting whether or not these new rules will be effective. Sure, the occasional 2-1 grudge match could make a hyped-up coffee addict yawn a bit, and simply put, not every game is going to be a sure-fire thriller.

But again, that’s nitpicking, and it’s time to cut the cynicism and support a new NHL.

There’s too much good to focus on. Like the rivalries will be back. The fights, the bloodshed, the vicious hits. The reason to skip shaving come April. And of course, the resentment between the teams will matter as well. And how many of you went through a feeling of emptiness last spring? When the grass turns green, playoff hockey is upon us and there’s an extra energy in the air. This year, hockey fans felt like the fat kid who only got one trip to the buffet stand. It just wasn’t fair.

So now it’s here, new logo and all. Rekindle the rivalries and challenge old buddies in fantasy hockey. Wear your jerseys proudly, and end your sentences with, “eh.” Life is now complete.

Hockey is back.

oh so close!

“Oh, so close!”

It’s become a familiar theme here in Philly.

“Oh, so close!”

But this time, it really was so close. One stinking game.

During this stretch, Ryan Howard made his case for NL Rookie of the Year. Jon Lieber pitched incredible down the stretch. Heck, Vicente Padilla almost fooled me into thinking he was a legit number two starter. Jimmy Rollins was as hot as the TO-McNabb connection was last year. The Phillies were bleeping hot! As hot as this past July. As hot as that girl from freshman year…

You get the picture.

This time, a lot of things were different. The Phils were winning the games they were supposed to win, and then, winning some games they weren’t. Who scores ten runs in the top of the ninth? It was such a strange feat that it must have been illegal. Did Mayor Street’s brother have anything to do with this?

So close.

Like the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Like the Sixers in 2002.

Like the Flyers in 1997.

Like the Phillies in 1993.

We’re accustomed to realizing the fate of our Fightin’ Phils by the time school starts. They would have probably dropped a crucial series against the Braves or the Marlins; this would result in watching the fat guy down the street throw his lawn chair into the intersection only to start an Eagles chant five minutes later. But this year, it happened to be those Metropolitans from New York who quietly did the Phillies in. Only three weeks later than we’re used to.

Losing two out of three in the series against the Mets to start the final week of the season was like being bitten by a bug, only to see that little red welt blow up to the size of that Philadelphia Zoo balloon four hours later. Or could we look to the 0-6 record posted against Houston this year? Or could we look at the 4-9 stretch that ended the month of June? But then again, this is all sounding too familiar, isn’t it?

Instead of smashing the statistics into smithereens and pondering the ‘what if’s’, let’s look at the bright spots.

(The tasteless joke where I’d leave the next few lines blank almost gets the best of me here)

Ryan Howard emerged as a powerful force at first base. The pitching staff really meshed well coming down the stretch. Jimmy Rollins is maturing as a hitter and as an overall baseball player. Chase Utley is a wonderful second baseman. David Bell, well, he did okay. Better than last year. Jim Thome gave that athletic trainer one heck of a work load. So did Randy Wolf. But at least Bobby Abreu hit like a mad man for the majority of the year and made Harry Kalas fun to listen to. Jon Lieber showed why he was so important to the Yankees during the second half last year.

But most importantly, when the Phillies knew they needed to keep winning in order to have a chance, they did it. Unfortunately, they came up short.

By one stinking game.

“Oh, so close!”