Wrapped Up In Books

‘It is so funny where words, love, and experience can end up in time.’ [Postcards & time travel]
July 12, 2009, 8:18 pm
Filed under: A, Paying homage, Travelogue | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My friend, J, is something of a world-traveler. Most recently she was in Poland, and sent me a postcard. It came in an envelope, which was a bit unorthodox. Once I opened it, I realised why:


While in Łódź, she came across this postcard in an antiques shop. It’s from Niagara Falls (the Canadian side, which is the prettier one) and dates from 1969. To quote her note accompanying it, ‘It is so funny where words, love, and experience can end up in time.’ It was so incredibly thoughtful of her to have sent it.

Copyright © 2009 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.


“Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

My sister, L, is leaving for a geology-related endeavour in Spain and Portugal tomorrow, and being perhaps the palest person I know (as I do not personally know either Conan O’Brien or Jim Gaffigan), I commented that she mustn’t forget her sunscreen. (She assured me she wears it daily.)

It reminded me of the Baz Luhrmann tune from probably a decade ago that seemed to proffer some of the best basic advice there is. It was based on an essay written by Mary Schmich published in the Chicago Tribune in 1997. She wrote it as a hypothetical answer to what she would say if she were asked to give a commencement speech. It makes me think that my own convocation was lacklustre for inspiration in that I cannot remember, nearly three years later, what was said on that hot day in June.

Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who’d rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there’s no reason we can’t entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.


But trust me on the sunscreen.

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Now I’m haunted by the left unsaid (I never thought so much could change)
March 30, 2009, 11:17 pm
Filed under: A, Biomusicology | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Overheard in Ancaster, 2:00 p.m.  today:

[Background: I’m learning to play Sentimental Guy by Ben Folds on the piano, so I play the track on my laptop for my dad to hear the original.]

Dad:  “I like the way he plays it better.

(The music begins at 1:03; not the best, but it’s slim pickings on youtube for this song.)

Copyright © 2009 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

It’s hard to feel like it’s Christmastime when there’s no snow

This entire weekend has been near-torrential rain.  I can’t believe that Christmas is only 11 days away.  Aberdeen has been hammering it into us for the past two weeks already, and though it snowed earlier, there’s something about massive puddles and so much coursework to still complete that makes it incredibly unholidayish.  It seems mad to say, but I feel like I would be willing to trade it all for a blizzard that confines me to my house and gives me an excuse to ask my Dad to light a fire in the fireplace.

And though I detest skating (I have no balance to maintain forward momentum), I saw this photo and again, it made me nostalgic for a Southern Ontario holiday season.


Copyright © 2008 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

Nostalgia for something I’ve never experienced

I’ve ditched listening to melodious and quiet songs for brain stimulation in exchange for tastier tunes. Immediately, I switched over to Girl Talk‘s new album, Feed the Animals, and when my iTunes came to Still Here, I took pause. In just the first seconds of the track Gillis mixes Kanye, Youngbloodz, and, I realized, Procol Harum. One of my all-time favourite songs is Whiter Shade of Pale.

What I’m trying to lead to is that I feel nostalgic for a decade that I’ve never experienced. My favourite show growing up, and probably even now if I had access to it, was The Wonder Years. I identified with Winnie Cooper (now a very well-respected mathematician, Danica McKellar). There was something about the show’s writing that made you happy and sad at the same time (don’t even get me started on the series finale). It’s not that I think times were simpler then (I know they were not without problems), it’s just that I can so easily parallel my generation to theirs. To my parents’.

What brought me to think of this is that Americans are on the brink of potentially having another seriously inspiring leader at the helm of their country. It seems as if there is a revolution just around the corner. It’s something we can teach future generations about one day.

Never think that your actions do not matter because you’re only one person. There are a lot more out of you out there, and banding together is always what has encouraged and accomplished change for the better.

JFK said “Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” Frankly, I couldn’t agree more.

Copyright © 2008 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.