Monday, January 22, 2007

Sunday Top 10: Life Lessons From the Lew-Man

Today's guest blogger is my younger brother, Lewis, who lives in New Orleans, LA. I was very excited to have Peter (and "helnad"!) comment during Natalie's guest-blogging spot, and I want Lewis' friends to know I expect no less from them. And Lewis, you too.

I'm 22--practically a baby, so you may be wondering why I'm writing on Life Lessons (although you're actually probably wondering why my older sister isn't writing on Life Lessons--not because she's been Alive Longer, but because this is her blog). As to the former: I may have the facial hair of an awkward 7th grader, but I also have many qualities generally associated with being grown-up: a bad back, car payments, dental insurance and a vibrating La-Z-Boy chair. So it's not how old you are, but how old you feel--and I feel like getting the early bird special. As for the latter--I'm not sure why Marie can't write this week but if I had to guess I would guess: rock cocaine.

(Riese Side Note 1: "The L Word" is actually not unlike rock cocaine. Pleasurable in the short term though ultimately unhealthy, addictive though you know it's not redeeming, etc. On that note...see recap HERE)


SUNDAY TOP TEN: WHAT I'VE LEARNED, OR "THINGS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO KNOW WHEN I WAS YOUNGER."

10. Mediterranean restaurants are BYOB.
I used to have a vegetarian girlfriend (Marie's side note: WHAT?!! Who was this girl?) who had established a routine of me paying for everything. (That should really be an item of it's own: "Don't pay for everything the first time or it won't be the last time!") This routine was becoming taxing until I discovered Mediterranean restaurants. Not only do they have a variety of vegetarian options but typically the owners have accepted Mohammad as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, and the other hard-drinking prophets we studied in Hebrew School. Translation? They won't serve alcohol, and I'm happy to BMOB. $3 corking fee! That's practically free.

9. Don't be in Charge of Anything Unless You Can Fire People.
I was elected to head up my senior design project: a solar powered boat. We inherited a carbon fiber hull, solar panels, and marine grade batteries from the year before.

Marie's side note: Carbon fiber what?!!! Marine grade batteries? As opposed to like, canine batteries? Aquamarine grade? Why is my brother doing things that involve solar panels and I'm writing jokes about lesbian TV shows? The answer is: Legos. Lewis used them to build things. I used them to produce stop-motion animation movies with 90210-esque plots (but with pirates and astronauts instead of teenagers) when Lewis wouldn't be in my movies anymore 'cause I always made him wear ridiculous costumes and lip sync to songs he didn't know.


We had good people on our team, but we also had all the worst people on our team, and basically our project was done before we even started. The boat never made it to the competition and only made it to the water once and then the whole Tulane Engineering department was eliminated. Logic dictates that the blame for this mishap should be directed at the top, but I would like to reflect that blame back down to the bottom, perhaps with a solar panel, to all the students with: 1. bad attitudes, 2. poor work ethic. They knew we were gonna get an "A" no matter what, I couldn't kick them off the project, and today these people design your oil pipelines, nuclear power plants and missile defense systems. So now they aren't just MY problem anymore.

8. Sunshine Special
I just found out about this sandwich 8 months ago and since then I've consumed about 200 of 'em--some brilliant chef came up with the idea to cram french fries, scrambled eggs, grilled peppers, cheese, sausage and house sauce into a 12' loaf of french bread. Slurp it down with a 99 cent can of iced tea and....Hangover Averted! Also: it's in my neighborhood and they deliver.

7. 74 degree days in January are nice/-4 degree days in January suck
I don't think that people in the north realize they don't have to be cold for 75% of the year. (RSN: I don't think people in...ok. I can't. But you've had some rough weather yourself, y'know?) I keep telling my friends from home that down south we have all those things Ann Arbor has (colleges, businesses, coffee shops) but without the periodic need to "layer up." Last Friday I played boche ball at the park. I just did a load of laundry and had to wash several pairs of shorts. Sure, it's hotter than hell during the summer but unlike up north, everyone here has AC. We keep ours at a brisk 64 degrees. It's like walking into a pool.

6. Hurricanes Blow But More Importantly: They Flood.
I had this idea that it was just a lot of wind? Before we left, I actually moved stuff from near the window to the floor so nothing would get knocked over. I live in an area that was relatively undamaged--the first floor of our house was flooded/ruined as well as our cars, but the only broken window in our house was the one our friend broke to get in and take refuge on the second floor. Katrina took me totally by surprise. It was the third time we've been evacuated since we started school, and for Hurricane Ivan my friend and I just sat it out. If I'd known Katrina was coming I would have brought more stuff with me when we left. I really can't complain; I was at my friend's country club in Atlanta drinking beer during the worst of it.

But it wasn't the wind itself that made it so catastrophic for the rest of the city and it wasn't seasonal rain. It was because the levees broke and everything flooded. Everyone has a story--"I evacuated with only suntan lotion and a wifebeater!" Now every time it rains people gather their belongings and head to the parking structure. I'm a drainage engineer so I know that we have enough pumping capacity to take care of seasonal rains, so that's not really necessary. We don't need to stand under a parking structure with our dogs and medications, we need proper Levees. Like, now.


5. Hot Sauce Makes You Feel GOOOOOOD
Here's a little bit of science I overheard at the Maple Leaf Bar, a reputable source for urban legends, French Connections and local gossip: When you eat spicy food your mouth burns, this causes pain, nerves run a chain reaction to your brain, endorphins shoot back down to your central nervous system. Endorphins are those sexy little pleasure chems that reward your taste for cayenne with a pint-sized rush: not uninhibited, but it's definitely there. This fact, coupled with the availability of spicy foods and local hot sauces, has changed my life. It's like sex without the uncontrollable weeping. Actually sometimes it's exactly like sex.
(RSN: Okay, so I've published a lot of sex-related writing, used to work at nerve.com, even once got paid far too much to write straight-up smut for a porn mag under a ridiculous pseudonym you could never find in a million years, and maybe even mentioned sex here, and Lewis found my birth control pills in the computer room in 1998 and asked Mom what they were, but um ommgggggi asdsadasopigopipi whahassss my brother doesn't have sex, he's my brother! AWHAHSHHH!)

4. Business School is more fun than engineering school, and well paying!
I worked my ass off trying to snag an engineering degree, and then in my final semester I decided to take a few finance, management and marketing classes. Not only were the courses engaging and interesting but they were EASY! During "Investments," we might spend a day calculating the slope of a 1st degree polynomial (what is this, middle school?!).

(RSN: Poly-what?)

In marketing, we'd discuss the benefits of Coke placement in the cafeteria vs. Tostitos in "Survivor". In "Intro to Marketing" I learned that watching TV pays dividends. Every project was conducted in groups, giving me an opportunity to interact with the girls I'd normally only see at 50 cent night. We had three girls in the Mechanical Engineering Department and they weren't the type you'd see on top of a pool table at 4 am. Plus the average starting salary with a MBA from Tulane is over $72,000. Its a win-win-win.

3. The Line Between Mean and Funny is Razor-Thin
I'm still figuring this one out. Actual conversation I had with a roommate (name changed to protect innocence) after I heard she slept with this boy on my floor who disappeared and then turned up dead mysteriously freshman year:

Me: I heard the funniest rumor about you!
[redacted]: Oh what's that?
Me: You slept with the dead kid!
[redacted] (storms out of room, presumably goes to a Dark Place to cry and experience all 12 stages of grief all over again)

That was over a year ago. It's probably not the best example because that line wasn't necessarily razor-thin. It was pretty big, bold and well established.

(RSN: I think perhaps, my dear brother, that our own experience with untimely/tragic death makes us slightly less capable of dealing with grief properly when talking to those who do not live with it and the lasting psychological damage of dealing with it improperly every single day as we do. Like, for example, in this side note. Deep, huh?)

2. Bourbon Whiskey is Great.

(RSN: When exactly would you have liked to learn this information? Age 12? "No Mom, enough with the Manichevitz! Bring on the WHISKEY! White grape juice is for pussies!")

I still remember the day that I discovered a taste for whiskey. (Side Note: Not many people can say that. Bravo!) December 31, 2005, I had a friend in from out of town and we were facing an impressive liquor selection at the store, pondering the best selection for our itinerary: BBQ in the park, walking parade uptown, an all-night concert with Galactic--and, it turned out, an unscheduled early morning drinking at Snake n' Jakes. Most people, when faced with this night requiring intense energy, would have turned to something a little less legal. We turned to whiskey sour. I had never had the drink before but found the mixer strong enough to cover any ratio. We loaded up the car with Jim Beam and PB & J and made the rounds. Best New Years Ever. I was drunk for over 14 hours which remains a personal best. Oh and in case you want to buy me a drink, now my drink is "Bourbon and Soda."

1. Don't Date Anyone From Your Inner Circle
I don't even really want to get into this. Though it, perhaps even moreso than my awareness of flooding or the sunshine special, is a wise tidbit I absolutely could have used a little bit earlier in life (a year ago? two years ago?) than the golden years in which I actually did confront it.

(RSN: For assistance in dealing with "1," I recommend "2")

9 comments:

Nick said...

Wow... Evidence that a world exists outside of NY... Never thought I'd see it here...

Also, Lewis: Sunshine Special? Is that Favori or Adams St?

Nick said...

Just realized that my comment my have sounded mean-spirited...

Coming from Nola, it's refreshing to know that there are cities out there where people talk about things beyond the murder rate and the storm that destroyed the region...

riese said...

I know, right? In fact, I've heard that most of the people who don't live in NYC think the ones who do are crazy and self-centered. I guess that I am both of those things. I don't have a point.

riese said...

ha--your redaction came up just as my comment did! We ARE ON THE SAME WAVELENGTH NICK! It didn't sound mean-spirited, not at all! I mean..um..also....it's true! I've BEEN to NOLA too, which is the really crazy part.

Bill said...

I find myself in a true dichotomy about not living in New York, on the one hand, I am truly glad to have a yard and 2400 square feet in one of the most desirable neighborhoods of my small north Florida town. This same space right near Central park (a desirable place in Manhattan) would run 5 or 6 million dollars so in that sense I am really glad I dont live in New York but on the other hand it sure would be cool to have a 5 or 6 million dollar residence.

haviland said...

Well done, Lewis.
Good to see you picking up the slack for your sister.

(The slack? Does anyone realize how much she works? It's insanity.)

Lewis said...

Nick: Its favori's, and I'm a little suprised you didnt already know that... Perhaps the tip off was ice tea instead of night train.

Marie: Thanks for calling yourself out about the sex comment before I had too, serously the whole best of womens erotica thing, its a little weird for me.

Rachel said...

I vaguely remember polynomials. I think they made me cry with frustration. Are they at all related to that cursive f, and like, functions and stuff? And inputs and outputs and diagrams?

Also, I laughed out loud at that bit about wanting to know that bourbon whiskey rocks at age 12. It was lovely.

riese said...

cursive f...sounds familiar...but foggy....hmmm

i love grand funk railroad

lewis the newest book is "best american erotica," get it straight. women are old buziness