The Lindor Truffle: A Laugh

Sometimes we remember random little events from our past that were seemingly irrelevant to the course of our lives, but upon further reflection we may find that they had a profound effect on us.

For me, that little event involves my favorite high school teacher, a fight with my best friend, and a Lindor truffle:

I had just opened my locker to find a note from my best friend (because that’s how you communicated with your friends in 2007) that left me feeling like I had been kicked in the stomach on a day that already felt like the worst of my life. I was very good at hiding how I really felt and had been carrying on quite an impressive positive face despite the darkness inside. That’s how most of high school passed for me. But I did my best to keep up that face and headed down to my sophomore English class with my all time favorite teacher. I was early and she was the only other person in the room.

My teacher seemed to know something was up, though no words were exchanged. She simply offered me a Lindor truffle- a rare treat, which I immediately accepted with gratitude, unwrapped with excitement, and opened my mouth to plop it in….. only to have it immediately plop right back into my hand after bouncing off the elastics on my braces that prevented me from opening my mouth even remotely wide enough to insert that delicious chocolaty goodness.

Pausing for the slightest moment, I looked up at my teacher apprehensively, afraid that she saw how idiotic I must have looked, and found her suppressing the slightest smile, causing me to let out a stifled giggle that resulted in a snort, followed by a full bellied laugh in reaction to the snort, so that when the first of my peers came in and asked why I was laughing, I was laughing too hard to explain. Every time I’ve eaten a Lindor truffle since that day, I’ve always thought of that moment and still find the corners of my mouth curving ever so slightly into a smile.

After composing myself, my best friend came in and took her usual seat right behind me with a shy smile of acknowledgement. I smiled back, knowing eventually we would be OK (and we are still close to this day). My teacher shot me one last smile before beginning class, but I never thanked her for the truffle and the lesson it taught me, because I didn’t learn it until now:

We cannot let pain prevent us from smiling. We cannot let hard times keep us from laughing. We must laugh in the face of it all- in spite of it all- because one day the memory of the smile will be worth 1000x more than the tears. The smallest moments can save you.

PS. I did eventually eat that truffle and it was heaven to my taste-buds.


The Greatest Lessons of 2015

This last year was tough on my health (mental and physical), so I was forced to look really hard in the mirror and learn to accept a lot of things. It’s a heavy word, “acceptance.” Is it easy? No. It’s taken me 24 and a half years to finally realize it, so I don’t expect it to be easy for you either, but it’s those idiotically simple truths that are the hardest to really accept. Earlier in the fall I started to realize that I was getting nowhere by constantly trying to remake myself. In fact, I was digging myself deeper… So I took a real, hard, excruciating look at myself in a way I’ve never done before (I “take a look at myself” quite often).

In a way, I guess you could say I gave up. I gave up the constant self-criticism and downgraded to occasional self-criticism. I gave up trying to be someone I’m not. I gave up thinking I’ll never be happy. I gave up a lot of negativity. I looked at myself in the mirror and faced the facts: I’m overweight, I’m on a tight budget that I’m constantly pushing, I don’t have the social life I thought I’d have, my job is extremely stressful… I’m pretty, I’m experiencing my mid-20s exactly the way I should be, I have two awesome roommates and a number of good friends, I’m independent, and I have my entire life ahead of me in an ever-changing world.

This December was a series of seemingly unrelated events that caused me to realize those latter facts- the positive ones. Once again, God/the universe/the Great Spirit has thrown me some hints and I’ve picked up a lot from them. To save you time I’ll jump over the explanations of each event and instead offer, as we face the New Year in just a couple days, what I have learned:

  1. I’m not fat. You’re not fat. Fat is what you cut off your chicken before you cook it. Fat intake is something you monitor when you’re trying to be healthy. Fat is a part of the body just as muscle, bones, and flesh are, and you, therefore, cannot BE fat, because YOU ARE NOTHING ELSE BUT YOU.
  2. Being attractive means being the kind of person that others want to be around. It means being a good person, kind to others, and always thoughtful of your impact on the world. It means making people laugh. It means being able to laugh at yourself.
  3. We have limits. We must recognize when something or someone we love dearly and deeply is no longer right for us.
  4. Boondock Saints is one of the greatest movies ever made.
  5. Miracles do happen.
  6. There is much hate in this world, but there is greater love, and the moment we give up on love is the moment we lose. And the people who love us- our family, our friends- are the ones who will comfort us and cry with us when we feel there is too much bad, when we think hate has won. They will save us in our endeavor to save the world.
  7. We must never give up on saving the world.
  8. While it is important to take note of ways we can improve ourselves, we cannot do so without first taking inventory of the ways in which we should never change. If we are forever focusing on what’s missing or wrong with our lives, how in the world do we expect to one day be happy?
  9. Tight budget, big appetite? Pasta, hot dogs, frozen veggies, alfredo sauce, all mixed together. It’s where childhood and adulthood meet in perfect harmony… in your mouth.
  10. Laughter, as always, is everything. Be a goof.

So this New Year’s, please remember to smile, to laugh, to love, to let the bad roll off and the good sink in, and to look hard in the mirror. Watch good movies. Spend time with friends. Remember that everything changes- the hardest thing we can ever accept. Make your resolutions, but knowing first that you are already a wonderful and beautiful creature to begin with. Be a Calvin (see cartoon below).

Laugh on, my friends.


If I could go back

If I could go back to my sophomore year of college…

My sophomore year of college was amazing. What made it so amazing is that it was my REAL fresh start. My first year I had an absolutely horrid roommate, barely made any friends, started second guessing everything I was good at, and, although I absolutely fell in love with Burlington, VT, sincerely considered transferring to UMass Amherst. But I gave UVM a second chance, opted for a random roommate and, although no longer speak, she and I became unfathomably close. We forged what seemed at the time like unbreakable bonds with half the people on our floor (one of whom is now the best friend I will ever have in my entire life). We commandeered a small couch to squeeze into our room and thus became the hangout room; we also never shied from lounging on the floor in the hallway… or adding some whipped cream vodka to my orange Fanta from the vending machines so we could drink in the hallway (tastes like a creamsicle, it’s great).

My sophomore year of college was by far the most informative year of my life. I decided that year to double major in English and Art History- a decision I will never regret. I learned that to get the most out of life you need to explore. I began to get to know Vermont so well and visited as many new places as possible. I took as many different classes as possible. I made as many new friends as possible. I learned to be comfortable with who I am. It was the longest period of time I can remember where I was consistently and truly happy.

If I could go back to my sophomore year of college… I wouldn’t.

It kills me to admit it; I wouldn’t go back if you paid me a million dollars. I wouldn’t change a thing about that year, true, but I also acknowledge that the most amazing thing we accomplish is the evolution of our own lives. It’s 5 years later and I am even now a very different person than I was back then and still acknowledge that those experiences shaped who I am today, more than almost any experience in my life thus far, but what would going back accomplish other than turning my current nostalgia into an agonizing ache in my heart to stay there forever?

We cannot go back and we shouldn’t want to torture ourselves by wishing to. Our memories of what we call the best days of our lives are things we need to never let go of. They should serve as reminders that every day we wake up is, in fact, the best day of our lives; it is new and it is a chance for us to take those memories, take what we’ve learned about ourselves, and become even more the person we wish to and have the capability to be . We are ever evolving creatures of amazing potential and we must never forget that!

I believe that there is a reason we experience time the way we do: to be given innumerable chances to grow, to change, to make mistakes, to explore, to meet countless people, to face hardship and learn from it, to make the most of every moment until you don’t look back and say “my sophomore year was the greatest year of my life,” but instead acknowledge that every moment was the greatest, because you squeezed as much as you could into it.

So if you offered me a once in a lifetime opportunity go back and relive my sophomore year of college, I would say “no, but I WILL channel the sensation of it into the entirety of my life going forward.”

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