Issue #129 – “Degree of Difficulty 2008” – April 21st, 2008

-Congratulations, Class of 2008, you’re about to get your college degrees!  In just a few short weeks, you’ll be sitting at graduation, listening to words of wisdom from administrators you don’t like, faculty you don’t respect, and one disappointingly B-rate politician or executive hired to give the same forgettable commencement address at six other universities.  That’s why I believe that college graduation is like being hungover – your best bet is to drink through it.  So, in what has become an annual tradition, I’d like to give this year’s graduates an honest look at what the real world is actually like.

-Just as freshman year probably seems like yesterday to you, life after college also passes in the blink of an eye.  My friend Jen recently told me about a job she’s applying for that requires at least seven years of experience.  My immediate reaction was, “Are you kidding me?  How are you ever gonna get that?”  And Jen was like, “Karo, we graduated seven years ago.  I have that much experience now.”  Oh my God.  I never thought I’d ever know people who are – gulp – actually qualified for shit.

-As we move up the ranks of our respective industries, I often find myself engaging with my friends in serious business transactions.  While this kind of networking is not surprising, it does take some compartmentalization.  For instance, I’m working on a big project, potentially involving lots of money, with my buddy Ian – a borderline alcoholic.  I know this because I’ve been out drinking with him.  When we’re talking contracts and financials on a Friday afternoon, he’s a complete professional.  But still, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “In a few hours, this guy’s gonna be obliterated.”

-If you’ve decided to go to law school after graduation, good luck.  I know dozens upon dozens of lawyers, and not one has ever told me that they truly love what they do.  It’s a cold, hard fact: job satisfaction for attorneys maxes out at “rich and mildly happy.”  Remember, these are the same people who ruined the word “bar.”

-Working for your fraternity is another questionable career move.  Everyone knows at least one former frat boy who now travels the country going from chapter to chapter doing, well… I don’t know what the fuck they do.  Remaining active in your fraternity?  Fine.  Visiting your fraternity?  Cool.  Working for your fraternity?  Dude, Rush is long over.  Just sack up and take the LSATs already.

-No matter how old I get, when my parents come to town, it still feels like they’re visiting me in college.  I have to clean up my place, make dinner reservations, and throw on those khakis my mom bought me but I never wear.  Then I end up walking around with my parents, pointing out landmarks, and bumping into friends in the street and making awkward introductions.  It’s just like Family Weekend except my dad now thankfully refrains from arriving completely decked out in college logo paraphernalia.

-As children we were always admonished that our “permanent record” would follow us everywhere.  Of course, that was never really true – until college.  For years after I graduated from Penn, I actually got calls from the Office of Student Conduct investigating shit from when I was in school.  I bet they still have a file on me – like the fucking Ivy League FBI.  In fact, these days, whenever my caller ID pops up with the signature area code and first three digits of a call originating at Penn, my first thought is: “Oh shit, what did I do now?”  Then I realize it’s merely a fundraising call and think, “How much more do they want me to donate?  I just graduated!”  Seven years later, it’s still hard to accept.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-All of a sudden it got hot as balls in LA last week, and the pool in my apartment building was instantly packed.  And so once again I am forced to come to terms with the fact that I am the palest motherfucker in the state of California.  The problem is, being in the sun doesn’t even help because I just go from white to burnt without any browning in between.  I seem to carry the recessive gene for tanning but the dominant gene for beer belly.

-I recently got this gift basket type thing and one of the foods was a package of miniature Pringles.  Upside: they taste good.  Downside: they look like loose thumbnails.

-I am way more amazed at receiving physical mail than at the technology behind receiving electronic mail.  Think about it: you write three lines on an envelope and in two days it goes across the country to the exact right place.  I still don’t completely understand how this miracle works, but it’s definitely worth the four bucks or whatever the hell a stamp costs these days.

-I think if sex was a sport my scouting report would say that my biggest weakness is spooning.  I’ve never really mastered the technique.  Though, I’ve been thinking I should try to improve, since it’s probably the best position to conceal my blindingly pale torso.

-Big news: Triplet #1 is engaged!  I was a little pissed because I was only off by three months in the pool some of us had going, but of course I’m still thrilled for the guy.  You may remember from Ruminations #94 that Trip 1’s girlfriend (now fiancee) is also a fraternal triplet, which honestly has to be one of the craziest coincidences ever.  Always a class act, Trip 1 announced the news in a mass text message that read: “Yo soy engaged.”

-My office is an approximately seven-by-seven foot area of my apartment where I spend roughly twelve hours a day.  My cell phone gets service everywhere in the universe except that 49 square-foot section.  It’s so fucking frustrating but just not frustrating enough to change carriers.  In fact, I’ve been with the same company for so long that when I call up they’re like, “Hello Mr. Karo, I see you’ve been with T-Mobile since – (short pause) – holy shit, what is wrong with you?”

-And, finally, when I graduated from college, my dad imparted various bits of advice to me, which I wrote down and have referred to ever since (much of it is printed on the whiteboard in my office, within the confines of the T-Mobile death zone).  One of his most useful tenets is the simplest: “Keep your options open.”  It sounds obvious, but I’ve found that many graduates don’t follow it.  It works on so many levels, too.  Career: pursue the path that opens up the most doors down the road.  Apartment: don’t lock yourself into a long-term lease when you don’t know what your situation will be like six months from now.  Bars: pick one that’s close to a few others in case the first one sucks.  Chicks: don’t get roped into hitting on one girl all night.  The list goes on and on.  So, Class of 2008, I leave you with my dad’s advice, and hope it will serve you as well as it has served me.  And I wish all of you good luck in the real world.  You’ll do great.  By the way, we’re looking for a few good spooners – no experience required.  Fuck me.