Thursday, October 13, 2016

Take it from Me, Column 2: Adam opens up (unedited version)






Thanks to everyone's powerful response to the first column, I am eager to share the stories of other alumni filled with their insight and realness about how they, too, felt neurotic, insecure, anxious, disconnected, and under-achieving... and what they wish to tell their younger selves. For this week, here goes:


1) Go. To. Therapy. More precisely, go earlier. It would have helped me as a student, friend, and an athlete. I was depressed at least half of college, and it’s hard to live your best you when you're a disconnected, anxious mess. Like anyone suffering from depression, I had my reasons; my dad was an absent, narcissistic alcoholic who valued me for my flattering-to-him accomplishments. My mother—to her credit, was very loving and present—is an evangelical Christian who thrust her religion’s regressive morality and her abusive second husband on me. I felt like I was raised to not have needs or feelings. My job was to be some sort of saint and achieve stuff to make everyone around me look good. Go to a fancy school. Get good grades. Be a track star. I was miserable.


I tried Monsour a few times early on. The therapists were either impossibly cheesy or totally passive. I couldn’t take them seriously. No disrespect to the hard and important work they do, but my experience is not uncommon. I found a therapist senior year that I could work with—it can take a few tries—and it changed everything for me. So many of the bad decisions I made in school were a product of gaping emotional wounds. I either didn't open up to people, or I opened up in the wrong ways.Example: a disastrous, “this-is-out-of-nowhere-since-we’re-friends-but-I’m-gonna-show-up-and-spend-an-hour-telling-you-I’m-in-love-and-we-should-be-together-no pressure” emotional vomit episode to a friend my senior year. It ended badly for both of us, especially me. Don’t ever do that. Ask them on a date. If they’re not into it, let it go and see point 2.


2) Romance: Date people from other campuses. I can’t overstate the utility of distance and mystery in romance—deliberately asking and going out with someone, then going away to your own spaces. It keeps the pressure off and makes breakups and rejections way easier. Going “off-campus” would have made it easier too, in the spirit of the liberal arts, in order to get a more broad education in romance. It’s really easy to feel like one’s romantic options are limited to a) a codependent relationship or b) nihilistic no-strings-attached hookups, which is true if you limit yourself to the hall you live in. Cross the damn street and free yourself.


2a) Deal with your weird issues around sex. I’m embarrassed to say but I’ve realized that at the time I honestly didn’t believe women actually desired sex. It made initiating anything feel like I was imposing my horniness on them. This is absurd, yet understandable. Growing up super christian, sex was this thing the “men really want/was bad” and women “put up with/faked interest in” to manipulate men. Ick.


3) Ask for help, you twit. I never asked for help academically—I was arrogant and ignorant. Like most of us, I had been one of the—if not the—smartest kids in every class before college. I’ve since embraced being an ignorant, bawdy moron, and the freedom is delicious. At the time, though, it felt so vulnerable and taboo to admit shortcomings; I thought asking for help was for the dumb kids, and I was afraid of being judged by others.Papers are hard. Did I even once go to the writing center? No. I often wasn’t understanding core concepts in a class. Did I ever see a professor to ask for help? Nope. I want to scream at my younger self: “YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. THAT IS WHY YOU WENT TO SCHOOL, TO LEARN STUFF YOU DON’T KNOW, YOU ARROGANT ASSHOLE.” Claremont faculty and staff are paid to do exactly this. Go to office hours and be direct about your ignorance. Afraid of judgment? Take comfort that everyone is both messed up in their own way, not to mention totally self-absorbed, so just let that go. Not convinced? Re-read this column.



Take it from me: the Intro Column



I started a column in the student newspaper of my alma mater, Pomona College. I feature alumni giving advice to their younger selves, and talking about regrets from their time in college. I am going to republish the columns here and in a few cases post the versions that did not make it to publication or were cut down for various reasons at the editorial stage. You can also read these at tsl.news
-AB

9/16/16


Welcome (back) to Claremont! You are here to learn, to tackle the big questions, and to become great citizens. You also have another more urgent question to answer: How do I college? What should I do, or not do, to have an awesome time and not end up a regretful mess?


I am here to help by talking to alumni about what went right, and more importantly what went wrong, in their college days so you current students can hopefully do it better.


Why should you listen to me? You shouldn’t. Just kidding, of course you should—I’m the best thing that has ever happened to you.


A bit about me: I graduated Pomona 2001. I majored in linguistics, ran cross country and track all four years, and was a sophomore sponsor, a junior RA, and an OA leader. I threw some parties that I'm rather proud of (including participation in the record-setting Beer Mile, may it R.I.P.) In the name of helping those coming after me have a better time, I spoke at first-year orientation about how no one at Pomona ever has sex, so just give that up now (not a completely accurate sentiment, but the speech really happened). In other words, I did a lot in school and I want to help.


This project started as a conversation with my great friend and fellow Pomona alumnus J.B. Waterman. We often speak about Pomona and really connected on how our college experience was so different than what we had hoped or expected—it was way lamer.


We killed ourselves in high school to get into college, fantasizing about an epic, romantic, and wild experience. College was the promised land of parties, pranks, brilliant conversations, deep connections, adventures, getting past first base, meeting women who actually wanted to go past first base, and doing badass academic work while becoming an adult. That's why we worked so hard in high school to finally thrive in college. Right? Right?!?!


In reality, we showed up to find a much more confusing situation with a bunch of people who were kind of like us in ways we didn’t always like; equally inexperienced and clueless while subject to constant overthinking. I’ve come to realize that whimsy, adventure, romance and actual-not-just-imagined-sex are, in my experience, largely incompatible with being clueless and overthinking. PSA: You can and should establish consent and use protection without overthinking.


Rally as we might, each semester looked the same. We arrived super psyched to do all this awesome stuff and have it be amazing, but within a couple of weeks we found ourselves, well, not psyched, not doing awesome stuff, and certainly not feeling amazed, or even particularly connected to our classmates let alone collegial.


What gives? The first issue was my own unrealistic expectations. What I knew about college was gleaned from college viewbooks (too glossy), movies about college (too vulgar), stories from older kids I knew in high school (too exaggerated) and, most of all, my own fantastical projections of what I wanted it to be (too escapist). Claremont is sort of some, but not really any of these things. Small, cozy schools full of brilliant over-achievers.


I wasn’t the smart one; everyone was the smart one. Not exactly DTF party animals.


The second issue was me. I had my charm, but I was kind of a mess. I was mostly clueless, often obnoxious, unreasonably horny, dealing with undiagnosed depression, and new to the game of college. I had a lot to learn about myself and my new life, but for whatever dumb reason I seemed to think everyone around me knew what was up—they really didn't—so I freaked out about making any mistakes.


This is where I come in to *try* to help. Rather than generalized, gauzy, nostalgia-rife advice that could apply to anybody, I intend to share real alumni candidly speaking about how they specifically screwed up, how they were stupid, clueless, anxious, depressed, or ignorant—because everyone is—and how they could have made their college experience a bit more awesome.


So I’ll go first, and speak to 19-year-old me: “Adam, if you are into/maybe friends/maybe flirting with a girl, and you aren’t sure where you stand but you somehow end up in bed together with your faces two inches apart, there is a really, really good chance she wants to kiss you more than she doesn’t want to kiss you. Do not overthink this, chicken out, and then be surprised if she stops hanging out with you. Make. A. Move.”


Any alumni interested in participating, or students interested in flattery, email me at adambke@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Hey guys! I sort of forgot that this blog exists. I am on the fence as to whether I want to start a new one or if I am going to just start throwing stuff up on this. Clearly, me writing this suggests I have made my choice. I'm such an asshole.

I ran 11.5 today - met a girl named Kat who was talking to JB when I met him in the park. Brazilian artist/dancer who also runs all the time.  Is about to move to Russia- apparently her name is Russian, and I think she is going for language school.  Regardless. Really nice. She gave us her card and took a photo of us. She was very nice, clearly smart, and friendly.  I suggested we run together.  I am going to email her later and hopefully we can make it happen.

I am also working on more comedy. It's hard, and great. I am booked on a few shows this summer at the comedy store belly room, and I need to expand and lock down new material. I am working on the same stuff- being raised by women, thinking like a woman, and what it's like to have am externally imposed sexuality crisis.  If that needs more explaining, come see my show!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

I am hereby publishing a joke I wrote a year and a half ago. I think it is pretty good, and as far as I can tell, original. Here goes:

Why did god give men nipples? So that when they get old, they know when to stop pulling their pants up.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

From time to time, I get a little bored in my job.

I don't talk about work much on this blog, so let me disclose: I am a server at a great, Michelin rated restaurant here in LA, and we are fortunate to have some of the best food in the US, let alone LA. We are lucky enough to have stayed busy (knock on wood) throughout the economic downturn, I am still making decent money, and I work with great people. Really, it's a great job.

Nevertheless, as all of us do with any job, I get bored. The thing I can count on more than anything to keep it fresh is that I never know what customers will decide to let out of their mouths that day. For the most part, I have heard it all.
That being said, last night I heard something even I couldn't believe:

Int Night: Table of four attractive women, conspicuously wearing designer clothes, b/w 35 and 45, kinda Milfy. Drinks and menus on the table. Adam returns to take the order.

Adam: "Ladies-"
Woman #1, animated, to her girlfriends, ignoring waiter who is clearly present and listening: "...Which is why, I SWEAR, I will never have another Jewish husband!"

(That sentence alone is pretty remarkable. Wanting to neutralize the situation, and as I typically do so with with humor, I said the following:)

Adam "Wow. Well, you know what, neither will I."

(Please note: This is not because I am anti-semitic, really I am very pro-jew, but because I don't ever want a husband. I'm straight. That's the joke, and they laughed. But since I am a white american straight male, I will make the following qualification: In General, I really like Jewish people, with the exception being loud, stinky, obnoxious 20 yer old Israeli tourists who do things like, for example, repeatedy scream "Yankee, you're a pooosy! Drink!" in a hotel lobby in La Paz, but for the most part, I am the farthest thing from Anti-Semitic. Nobody be an over-sensiitive idiot and accuse me of being bigoted, which is clear to rational America that I am not. So let's move on.)

Women#2, #3, #4: "hahahaha"
[short beat]
Women #1, now even more animated and raising her voice a bit "Seriously, you know what, he wouldn't fuck me enough! I'm serious, He wouldn't want to fuck me NEARLY enough! He was a great father, a good friend, a great person, but he never wanted to fuck! You know what? I want to be fucked hard, and often. I mean, I want to be thrown on the ground, TAKEN, my arms held down and REALLY fucked HARD!!! you know?!?!?"

[beat]

Adam: "Anything else, or were you ready to order?"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Weekend Highlights:

In Palm Springs at Gary and Karla (JB's parents) at their winter house, in a very nice private club for a weekend of relaxing, catching up, and various sports. G & K were such gracious hosts, putting all of the club amenities at our disposal: tennis courts, swimming pools, and even inviting us to order whatever we wanted from the club bar and restaurant. Which, naturally, immediately led to:

Ext Day. JB and Adam poolside, mid afternoon.

"Gentleman, would you like anything to drink?"
"Yes. A Long Island Iced Tea. [pause] And make it a double. [pause] And subsitute everything but the ice with Macallan."

Actually, I had an Arnold Palmer. I was going to swim some laps, and besides we had been on a bike ride up this great big climb earlier that morning, so I was trying to rehydrate and put off the drinking for Margaritas were scheduled for after that pool. Even the tequila onslaught did not derail JB and I from our taking advantage of the late afternoon of our day of maximum fitness, as we followed them with a run and and tennis, followed by a night of movies and drinking.

Oddly enough, I was more sore than hungover the next day. The next day also happened to have 60 mph winds, which affected our tennis game. For the most part, it helped mine, which says a lot about my tennis game.

all in all, it was great to get out of LA for a few days. I am off to Europe to do the Haute Route with JB in a few weeks, and will be working pretty much non-stop until then. Thanks for tuning in!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

On wednesday, I was on the losing end of what the ER nurse referred to as a "Bike vs. Car" Accident. A testament to my bad luck -I had a landscaper without a license cut me off and stopped me via my head and left shoulder smacking his pickup - and relative good luck - it happened near Fountain and Vermont within clear sight of a Hollywood Scientology Center surveillance camera. Here is the video - give it about 15 seconds, and I come in from the right, and the brown truck comes in from the left:


video

I couldn't figure out how maybe 60 seconds after I hit the deck there were all these private security personnel everywhere, and it is because the Scientology people have the neighborhood surrounding their center covered with cameras, which in this case worked out for me great. They called the ambulance (and the cops), and held onto my bike while I was in the hospital, AND offered me this security video. According to Trevor and Jason, the security guys I spoke to, they do this all the time, and if they are always like they were with me, they do it incredibly cheerfully.

Anyway, the ambulance came, they put me on a backboard, and drove me the 2 blocks to the emergency room. I was originally planning to walk, but once the ambulance showed up they kind of had to justify being there, hence the neck brace and all.

The good news:
X-rays were negative, no stitches, no concussions, but I was pretty banged up and had a huge lump on my head and a very sore shoulder, back, and ass (that's the part that stopped me when I hit the ground). My blackberry got smashed, my bike is within the range of repair but certainly worse for wear, and I now get to retire this helmet, which yes, mom, I was wearing. I am not going to be working out for a while and will probably need a few chiropractic visits and massages, at the least, to make things right.

After it's all over let me be clear in saying that I wouldn't recommend it.

The good news is that the landscaper who hit me, although without a license, does have insurance.

I'll keep you posted, and thanks to all who have called in support and to check in on me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We have a new president. About time.

My favorite moments (so far) from the inauguration coverage:

1) Stephen Spielberg being interviewed on CNN prior to the speech while the screen shows the crowd on the mall:

"What are you thinking Stephen?"
"Barack Obama is a force of energy-I can't wait to hear him speak. That and I could never afford this shot in a movie."

2) John Roberts Screwing up the Oath of Office.

Really? It's 35 words. The whole world is watching. One thing: Rehearse. Faithfully, if you will.


3) Dick Cheney being in a wheelchair for the inauguration

Has a certain Karmic beauty about it-being forced to remain below everyone around him, marching into Washington with a destructive, fascist agenda and being rolled out a broken man. I confess a certain note of unfriendly glee as the cameras showed the indignity of being placed in a limo from a wheelchair, just having to wait there as he is handled, the brake of the wheelchair put on, that unpleasant indignity of just sitting there while the people around you put the foot flaps up because you can't. Of course, I wish him to be happy and healthy so he can be around for many years and suffer the consequences of his action in the form of criminal convictions, publicly experiencing whatever public reputation (or his own idea of it) that remains being shredded, and time served in jail for his repeated, egregious violations of the Constitution and the duties to lead this country well. But in the meantime, I'll take him having to visibly suffer the indignities of throwing his back out and being forced to look up to Obama and Biden, and have to work to maintain his dignity while being heaved into a limo.

4) Bush's Fratboy handshake before getting on the helicopter.

The Obama's and the Bush's walk together down the steps (a cool move) and the final moment is Bush turning to Obama and giving him not a handshake that says "You are king now" but more "Put 'er there-That was a great barbecue" It was nice of him to "Bro' it out" with Obama before heading out.

5) Cannons on the mall.

That was awesome.

No one else has said it yet (I googled), I hope they rename Air Force One "BHO Speedwagon."