Allow Me to Introvert Myself

In this post I’ll probably do my fair share of touting my own horn a bit, so bare with me me; it’s not unmerited.

All my life I’ve been fairly introverted. I really only had one or two close friends at a time as a little kid – friends in the sense that there were only really one or two other people who I would drop what I’m doing to go hang out and interact with. The majority of my childhood as I remember it I had spent mentally within myself.

Now being in my twenties and having garnered a very special, close, and moderately sized group of friends, I do like to talk about this part of me every once in a while if the topic of deep introspection comes up; as it often does in groups of friends who feel close enough to want to discuss the heavy topics of life. And when I would explain myself to others I’d find myself claiming to have “first born syndrome,” as I like to call it, or that it’s “because I’m a Capricorn.” As the first kid of my generation born into a large family of close cousins, I can tell you that we’re a rare breed. Throughout life I’ve noticed similarities in the first-borns of each family I’ve come to know. Quiet in groups, dry humor, and a reserved persona are our gifts. In fact, my mom was also a first-born and we’ve always understood each other perfectly. We’re so blatantly the same person that I can confidently read her energy just by being in the room. And here’s where I get weirdly spiritual: delving into the study of astrology – which I’ve come to whole-heartedly accept as something to be taken as true as it is mysterious – I’ve found that I was born into the second decanate of Capricorn, which is like saying I have the strongest traits of Capricornality. Capricorn is the steady climber, the father figure of the zodiac, the gentle leaders who don’t get muddled up in the troubles of others but who are always there for those who need them. The symbol for Capricorn is the seagoat, who represents the juxtaposition of the dreamy, vast ocean of the unconscious and mysterious internal self with the earthy, powerfully oriented and realistic external self. We were born old, and we age backwards. I’ve come to genuinely believe that there are parts of my composition, merely by birth, coupled with my upbringing that explain why as a little kid I reveled in observing others from afar rather than joining them intimately. It’s this kind of introspection that has molded my beliefs about what makes a person, and that it is in fact both nature and nurture that make us who we are.

So why the long-winded post about little anti-social Anthony? Because I’ve just watched a video by this goddess of a woman, Susan Cain, who explained the need for introverts and their quiet, calculated contribution to the world. She explains that we live in a society that loves big charismatic personalities, and parties of people doing outrageous things, fast-talking attention whores, and quick-paced lifestyles. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t mean to come off as this boring, quiet, lonely person who twiddles his thumbs all day. Even the sturdy Capricorn can be the life of the party when surrounded by the right people who are also fun-loving. If your energy is inviting and the mood is right, we can be the ones dancing on tables and making everyone laugh, it’s just not our default setting. This can be crippling for all the kids out there who have beautiful memories of just sitting on the lawn and gazing at the striations on the blades of grass, who have spent childhoods collecting odd things or filling boxes with seemingly useless “tchotchkes,” who would rather spend a day in the backyard smelling the tomatoes and basil growing in the fresh dirt than in a giant theme park with lots, and lots, of people.

If you’re like me, then you should watch this video and thank this woman for speaking out for all of us who’d rather just write about it online.

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5 of the Worst Things That People Do

Over the past couple of days I have been negatively affected by an increased amount of stress that comes naturally with the nearing end of a semester, but also by the typical toxic runoff from the human race. Here are five things I’ve noticed that we do of which I’ve decided only the rack is justice.

  1. React to situations purely on emotion.                                       When life decides to throw a huge pile of steaming shit on your face, please don’t lash out at the first person standing next to you. It’s no one’s fault that there’s now a pile of shit on your face, so swallow your anger and wipe it off with dignity. Unless someone purposely intends to make you feel hurt, no one else is responsible for your emotions but yourself, so keep them in check. I don’t care that you may be seething with feelings of rage, if shit just happens (and it does a lot), direct your energy toward the universe. It can take it. 
  2. Live their lives with an “I don’t like drama” attitude                      News flash: this is Earth and drama exists and you’re no exception. If someone tells you he or she doesn’t like drama, take it as a sign that they do in fact bathe in drama on the daily. You verbalizing your inability to cope with a naturally occurring part of life is something I need like a hole in a boat. People create drama all the time just by being in contact with other people. It’s not really something you can avoid. And that also doesn’t make it a bad thing. We need conflict in our lives so that we know how to overcome it, just like how we need the poison to make the antibodies. Running away from a problem never solved it.
  3. Putting other people on an untouchable pedestal                           We’re all human. That person who you think can do no wrong has flaws whether you want to acknowledge them or not. It’s totally fine to make role models out of people whose methods of dealing with life are as close to universally applicable as possible – and you’ll only really find a few of these golden people – but remember that this person has flaws too. I know, it sucks when we find out that people we admire are not actually gods, but it happens.
  4. Live in frames of ultimatums                                                                Life is NOT black and white. It just isn’t. More people need to start understanding the meaning of “it depends,” because, you know, it just fucking depends sometimes. This is probably the most ridiculous as well as annoying thing that I’ve seen people do. Despite how much control we like to think we have over our lives, no one is in complete command. Solution: be understanding of other people and the shit that happens to everyone – which brings be to number five.
  5. When people are incapable of sympathy                                              This is probably one of the most important abilities to have in a world run by people. Without sympathy, everyone’s fucked and mercy doesn’t exist. People should be understanding of the plight, the hardship, and the means by which other people live every day. Sympathy is so simple and all it requires is communication. Empathy would be best, but that requires the same experience as someone else. One of the most saddening things about us is that we aren’t, can’t, and won’t ever really be able to completely understand the thoughts, actions, and mind of another human being. Miscommunication is probably the root of all the evil that we inflict on each other. You need to be receptive to people’s troubles, never dismiss something that’s important to someone else, swallow your pride and try to digest another person’s pain.

Yeah, we can really suck. I’ve also found that the reason why they just don’t get it is usually because they choose not to, which is probably the worst part of it all. But I’m looking forward to all the good that humanity finds itself able to carry out during the holidays. The other day I was crossing the street and the light was about to turn to let the cars go. It was really crowded and this little old lady was pacing slowly through the throngs of people in the middle of the street, and I found myself walking a little slower behind her to make sure that if anything happened to her, someone was there. I just felt like I was the only person who even acknowledged her efforts to cross the street, and that made me feel so bad. But before I delve into the sadness that is watching old people, I’m going to cap this post by saying be fucking nice. And if you’re the one whose life is something to be recognized as an endeavor in itself, the right people will acknowledge that. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll treat you the way you deserve.

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We’re Bad

I’m going to be brutally honest. There is probably no better way to spark long-lasting, blossoming, shining relationships with people than mutual hatred over the same person. When making friends, we obviously look for traits and characteristics that we like and admire. Then it creeps into “what do I see in this person that I can relate too?” And then, right there in the middle of your unsensational conversation about how great lime dorito chips are, it happens.

“Ugh, this kid in my class is so annoying. Nothing he says is relevant. And he wears this dumb hat.” “Wait, I think I know who you’re talking about – John, right?” “Stop, how much do you wanna punch him in the face?”

A life-long friendship has just been put in motion. Seriously, it’s like the difference between a piece of toast and an everything bagel with cream cheese. This is because knowing who you want to be around and who you dislike is a great indicator of knowing yourself. Thus, when you meet people who dislike the same people as you, you know they are to be trusted. This post isn’t long because this very human process takes all but a conversation to become apparent.

Just an observation from someone who finds himself encountering many different types of personalities and weeding through the annoying ones.

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Same Filling, Different Crust

What do you think happens to us as we get older? It is thought that when we age we become stubborn, tired, and cranky. It’s believed that we lose our creativity to the hustle and bustle of the real world. As our naiveté slips away from us and the hole left behind is slowly filled with a cold trickling realism, we wonder if we’re the same person we were when we blew out our candles on our 10th birthday. And to that I say yes.

What I don’t believe is that people completely change. We are a stone. This is our capacity to handle life. The environment around the stone – the raging waters, the howling winds, the intense pressures and fires – is life. The elements don’t completely break the stone – hopefully – but they do weather it to a specific shape, and no two stones are the same. Each has its own shape, texture, roughness, markings, etc.

If you ask me, everyone goes through the same transition but at different speeds. It’s when we get our first tastes of the “real world” that we start to adapt to different troubles and prepare for larger worries. Our plans start to incorporate longer roads with steeper slopes, and we’re just getting the hang of driving. This time is the driver’s ed of life, and I believe it’s pretty crucial.

When we get older, we’re still the same rock. Chemically, we didn’t change, but, physically, our exposure to an ever-changing environment at the whim of the elements is what shaped us. For example, a pebble that sinks to the bottom of a stream is rounded smoothly to cope with the flow of the rushing water. A rock in the fiery pits of a volcano is burned and charred. And, sometimes, someone comes along and strikes a pick axe into you, leaving an gapping crack that no amount of polish or cement will fix.

We obviously show our age when we get older. We bear the signs of our carving, but on the inside we’re still composed of the same minerals. In terms of humanity, when we get older we become more set in our ways. Our liquid personality congeals, and the things we thought were funny when we were 18 are still just as funny. Our humor cements and we perfect our punchlines.

Life is the refinery that we all go through as coal and hopefully come out of the other side as diamonds.

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For the Love of Pizza

Being Italian and from New York, I have the ultimate privilege of knowing what good pizza is. Whether it’s picked up from Carmela’s restaurant, Phil’s, a quick slice at Bistro, or made from scratch, we know what we’re doing. It’s the real reason behind the acronym “T.G.I.F.” After enough road trips to and from Florida – and that means everywhere in between too – I not only never want to see another alligator again, but I’ve come to realize the gastronomic wonderland that I call home. I’ve also observed that there are some recurring offenses when it comes to royally fucking up a pizza, but three in particular are quite upsetting and should be made known so as to prevent the further rape of everyone’s favorite food. And here they are:

  1. Soggy crust. As soon as you pick up a slice and you feel the bottom is soggy, stop.  You should know something is wrong, it should feel unnatural. If you were eating a sandwich by the pool and dropped it in the water, would you eat it? If you see that there’s a stain under the pie when you finish it (if you can finish it), then you have a case of soggy crust. I’m also willing to bet that the sauce is the horrendous ketchupy, runny, salsa-like sauce that I’ve seen being used at places that give off the facade of being authentic but really are no different from the average Pizza Hut. Also, spongy crust is largely a result of the crust actually being too thick and not cooked through. Visually, you can tell that crust is not cooked through if it still resembles dough. Duh. When a thick crust is cooked enough, you have a pretty decent Chicago-style deep dish that works. But, a combination of gummy, undercooked crust with a watery, fake sauce is something I wouldn’t wish on an enemy.
  2. Fake cheese. Now, I know that pizza can look different depending on how it’s made or where you get it. That’s fine. The biggest factor in its appearance is probably going to be the cheese. A good pizza will have an even distribution of, hopefully good quality, mozzarella cheese. It’s pretty hard to fuck up the kind of cheese you put on your pizza, but I mean there are people in the world who wear crocs. Cheap cheese can either be really dry, so you end up getting halfway into your slice until that one bite that takes the rest of the cheese with it, and this cheese won’t even taste good; or it can be too oily, which is pretty common. More often than not, even a decent pizza place will have some pretty oily cheese. The solution to this is a napkin and/or gravity. We’ve all been there, even here in New York, so we’ll let that slide as long as the cheese tastes good.
  3. Finally, the absolute worst thing you could do to a pizza, and I mean like making a Holocaust joke in a synagogue bad, is have too much oregano in the sauce. I don’t understand how human beings can manage to eat something so repulsive as that putrid, sweet, oddly herby sauce that luckily enough only mass distributors use. It’s the kind of sauce that you know just comes in a tube, which is why you’ll find it in Lunchables packs. It can be easily pointed out with its evil little specks of green, and the color is way more dark than regular sauce – almost like the difference between Hunts ketchup and Heinz. Oregano alone is one herb that can bring an army to its knees and should never be used in amounts of more than a pinch. And by pinch I mean enough to fill the footprint of a mouse. Non-Italians think they’re being all cute, clever, and cultured when they use oregano. Let me just say that, for the love of pizza and all things holy, DO NOT USE OREGANO. I’ve actually bonded people together in conversation over mutual fear and hatred of this kind of thing, because it is just that: something to be feared. Only awareness can prevent it.

I hope that I could illuminate some of the atrocities involved in the war on good food that happens every day. Just like with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, awareness is the first and biggest step in prevention. Arm yourself with knowledge, and demand the right to good pizza. Standing up and throwing your soggy, oregano-laced excuse of a slice on the ground while everyone else sits and tolerates the injustice is the sign that you are doing right in the world. Gandhi would totally be proud. Ideally, pizza should be thin with a crispy brown crust, delicately covered in a light, warm marinara sauce, and hugged with white, fresh mozzarella whose taste reveals itself more on the second and third chew. Cooking is an art, and pizza is just one of Michelangleo’s paintings on the Sistine ceiling of Italian cuisines.

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People Are Weird

We all know this. Some of us complain about it but, in reality, people like being weird. In a sea of people who always want to look up, there’s always someone who wants to look down. We wear our quirks on our sleeve because we want you to know what makes us not like you. We even try to justify the act of going against the grain.

Like, you just prefer drinking tonic water straight because you always have; and no, actually, you don’t mind the phlegm it builds up in the back of your throat. You only really play Super Smash Bros on the Wii because that shit is too complicated to play anything else. Your method of choice for not paying attention in chem class is writing down the lines to your favorite opera on your notes; and if someone notices, you’ll tell them exactly what it is. You only order green tea frappuccinos at Starbucks and you would never, ever, waste your money in that hipster landfill on anything but. You didn’t ever need to get used to the taste of coffee, you’ve just always liked it. In fact, you relish in the fact that you’ve been enjoying coffee since you got off the bottle. Baby bottle that is. You’d rather stay in on this Friday night than go out, because the whole world is out tonight and you prefer the quiet and comfort of the four walls and a good playlist.

Sometimes we don’t even want to bother justifying it, because we like the feeling of knowing that other people disagree with us on matters of taste. It’s that little “I’m better than you” moment that everyone feels jus a teeny weeny bit when their opinion differs from the crowd. This is why it’s so unbearable when we find out that someone we hate likes the same thing as us.

“Ugh, that pretentious ass likes Billy Joel too? I bet he doesn’t know all the lyrics to Scenes from an Italian Restaurant… fuck.”

“Wait, is that kid talking about Chelsea Lately? But he’s annoying, he can’t think she’s funny.”

We’ve all been there. Sharing the things that we like to call our own with people who we consider unworthy sometimes sucks. Everyone’s had that guilty pleasure of laying claim to something that you think only you know about. This is why it’s great when we meet people who we perceive are just our speed and then find out they like the same things. That’s what you call friendship. Each of us works like a different blood type. When we find people who are just as weird as us, but the same brand of weird, we let them in; thus creating a group of people who are a certain type of acceptable weird, looking out at the world and observing the other types of weird that are rather too weird to let in. This doesn’t make you a bad person. You’re smart for putting up this filter. Otherwise, you’ll let everyone in, undoubtedly lose yourself in the process, and end up hating yourself and everyone around you.

Am I right?

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Strugglin’

Like other college students, my day to day life is commanded by a schedule that I thought would be useful when I had made it but am now regretting. Wait, that’s just me? Oh, right.

Recently my weeks have played over and over in a cycle that I must eloquently describe as ass rape. Four classes on Monday and Thursday, and one 3 hour class on Wednesday. But before you think, “What’s he complaining about? He has two whole days to sit back, catch up on American Horror Story, cook some real food, SLEEP,” let me explain.

This fool thought it would be a great idea to squeeze yet another internship in the nooks and crannies, thereby plugging up virtually all of my time in the week; though I have to say, working with TV celebrity chefs is definitely the most fun one I’ve had to date. And you know ain’t no shit getting done on the weekends. So, the result of my genius planning is a predictable headache that arrives like clockwork at around 5pm Mondays and Thursdays, tired Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

The only time I can unwind is when I take refuge from the madness of the city back on Long Island during the weekends. Then the 8:01am train Monday comes along and I briefly hate every waking second of existence until something happens that I can talk about, like seeing someone I know on the train, or sleepily watching the rest of Long Island roll by in a clear morning blur.

But no one wants to hear rambling, unfortunately.

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