My Ten Places in America You Have to See

A Republican political operative recently posed the question on Twitter, “If a foreign friend told you they were visiting America, what five cities would you tell them they need to visit?” I struggled with this question, mightily. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. What I’ve come up with is this list of ten places I would tell you that you have to see. Here’s my list, made up entirely based on my experiences and imagination.

1. New York City- If you only get one bite at the apple, there’s only one choice- the cultural and financial capital of the Western World. There is no more famous skyline. Food? It’s got it all. Sports? Nine top level professional teams. Elite education institutions? Plenty. Fashion? All you could ask for. Culture, theater, classical music? Yep. Pop, rock, and hip hop? Only the best. Old school ethnic neighborhoods? Check. Historic national and international sites? Plenty. There’s a reason we used to bring our new Americans into Ellis Island, we wanted them to know they made the right choice. Nothing compares to the bright lights of the “Big Apple.” Nothing.

2. Los Angeles- I’ve been there exactly one day in my life, and it made quite the impact on me. Yes, I get the criticisms about it being “fake” or that the downtown is uninspiring, but that gets blown away by the cultural star power the city has, and quite frankly the beautiful aesthetic of the place. My day in Santa Monica, Easter in the Pacific, was like something out of a movie. I get that a lot of Americans have opinions about Hollywood, but every foreign visitor should see the cinema capital of the West. You should see the beaches. See the incredible diversity of the region (America’s promise/identity). Again, they have everything you could possibly be looking for.

3. Chicago- I thought about breaking up the three biggest cities in America, but frankly I’m underrating Chicago. Consider it the Midwest’s condensed version of New York. Skyline? Yes. Great food? Yes. Beach front on Lake Michigan? Yep. Sports, universities, and a great musical tradition? Got ‘em. Sure, the New York region has better pizza (😉), but their pizza is good too. Like New York, some of the old ethnic neighborhoods remain, giving them some identity as a city. I still really want to get to Wrigley Field.

4. Colorado- Here’s where my criteria starts to change. I’ve been to Denver once, spending a night there driving back across the country. I crossed the Rockies at night, in a snowstorm, when I several times thought I was going to die. Even at night, the mountains are amazing. Why I put Colorado on this list though is it’s like two three totally different places, all showing off some of America’s natural beauty. West of the Rockies, it’s the west you imagine, rugged and kind of wild. To the East of Denver, you’re in the Great Plains for hours. Then there’s the mountains themselves. I can’t describe them justly, so I won’t. You just have to go see them.

5. Las Vegas- I spent two months exploring Sin City earlier this year. No one’s advice prepared me for it. Vegas is amazing, but honestly it’s a place you need to view from a rooftop, mountain, or plane to appreciate. The Strip is all the glitz and glamour you’ve heard about, especially on a big “fight night” in Vegas. I’d spend my Saturday nights at Aria, Paris, MGM, New York, New York, and many other casinos on The Strip. The thing is, there was always something to do. I did a UFC fight, Hoover Dam, a Golden Knights game, Death Valley, LA, an Aviators (AAA baseball), and a NASCAR race, to name a few things, within a day trip. I met some of the wildest, most amazing people there. I ate prime rib at a small casino for under $11. Don’t get me wrong, I saw some terrible shit too, but the overall experience blew me away. And if city life ain’t your thing? There are mountains, lakes, canyons, and deserts like you’ve never seen before.

6. Philadelphia- Take everything I wrote about New York and Chicago, and tone it down a point or two. Throw in some Wawas. Welcome to America’s biggest small town, where people will greet you with “Go Birds” 🦅 if you seem like you are from there. It’s an old school union town and the cheesesteaks are as good as you’ve heard. Go see a playoff game, Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, Union, or hopefully someday the Flyers, but bring earplugs. We’re bringing the noise. America began here, and we have the historical sites to back it up. You can definitely see characters as diverse as Tony Soprano (but real here) and Jay Z hanging out in Philly. Listen to our talk radio for a good laugh. Study at elite universities. Classical music, art, rock concerts? All here. The “Red Army” hockey team came here just to get beat up. Watch Joel Embiid play as the true MVP or Bryce Harper mash baseballs. Just make sure you respond “Go Birds.”

7. The DMV, aka- Our Nation’s Capitol- If I didn’t tell a foreigner to visit Washington, would I be misleading them? If they have time for seven stops, they need to see what it’s about. What’s a trip to America without the White House, Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, or just the entire National Mall in general. Catch a Nats game, take a cruise on the Potomac, eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl, or get a drink in Georgetown. The city was more alive pre-Covid, but there’s lots to see. Take the next day though and head up to Baltimore. Camden Yards is a must for baseball fans. Inner Harbor both has lots to do, and it’s maintained it’s industrial feel. You’ll find lots of good food and history to explore. Close out your trip in Northern Virginia, where DC keeps moving further and further out. Hopefully they’ll bring back the Clarendon Grill and it’s shows, some day.

8. Atlanta- If there is such thing as a “regional Capitol” in America, Atlanta is it. They hosted the 1996 Olympics. Dr. Martin Luther King’s church lives on today. It’s the great Jimmy Carter’s “home” city. It was the site of so many moments in the Civil Rights movement. Hank Aaron made baseball history there. Coca-Cola and Waffle House are outsized presences there. The SEC football championship is here. The ACC has a presence there in Georgia Tech. Morehouse, Georgia State, and Emory are there. Atlanta is the king of “the New South,” the place to be. It’s definitely worth the visit.

9. Boston- Ok, nobody likes “Massholes,” but hear me out, it’s a cool place. It’s cold, but that’s why they like their “Dunks.” They’re rabid sports fans, hence why I hate them. Besides Harvard, they have more institutions of higher learning than just about anyone. Their Little Italy neighborhood has tremendous food. There’s lots of history to explore. They gave us Bill Burr and Aerosmith. Boston Harbor is a cool site to see. Honestly, their accents are kinda cool. They did give us JFK. And Sam Adams. Ok, I like them.

10. Memphis- Everybody who argues about this one has never been there. Memphis is an authentic Mississippi River town. It’s got the blues music, but more importantly the history- B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and Elvis. Go see Beale Street, you won’t regret it. Good music and great food is everywhere. It’s one of the most fun places I’ve been. It’s wildly underrated.

Honorable mention- Let’s start with Pittsburgh and Cleveland, both of which I love. Milwaukee gets overlooked because of the proximity to Chicago. I’ve never been to New Orleans, but I imagine it to be a bigger, wilder Memphis. Austin and Dallas are on my list, but I’ve never done Texas. Omaha is a lot more fun than you hear. Minneapolis looks fun, but I don’t know yet. I should go see Detroit. Ditto for Nashville. Now that I worked Washington elections, it’s time to see Seattle. San Francisco Bay is a must see for me now. I want to see Yellowstone. Lake Tahoe is a need. My grandfather told me San Diego was the most beautiful place he ever saw.

Ok, go see America.

What Sinema May Have Got Right

As I said before, Kyrsten Sinema’s switch from Democrat to Independent was a cynical move to protect herself, but that doesn’t mean there was no genius to learn from it. She can’t be primaries without a party and a Democratic candidate may hopelessly divide the electorate and insure even a weak Republican victory. It was a skilled power play that probably wins. If a half decent Republican enters, Democrats will have no choice but to acquiesce to the gun at their head. She’s a rotten SOB, but a damn smart one.

On a larger level, Sinema took advantage of a political reality that neither party can fully admit- nobody likes either of them. This is true nationally, but very much so in Arizona. The largest “party” in Arizona is independent, and that is growing through registration. Voters nationally tend to see both parties negatively, and that is true in Arizona too. Democrats tend to see recent wins for statewide offices there as a sign the state is moving there way, but it’s probably better to see it as the less partisan/ideological voters being less repulsed by semi-normal people than loving Democrats.

The two parties can’t speak truth to the folks giving consistent small dollar donations and volunteer hours, as the parties would cease to function, but “activists” in both parties (more so the GOP, to be clear, but both) are further and further detached from where most voters are politically (hence, Joe Biden is President), but activists make everything work inside the parties. Rather than confront their soldiers and pull them closer to the population, both parties would rather gamble on “the algorithm”- the bet that no matter how unhappy “normy” voters are with politics and government, they will typically come out and vote for the side that more closely fits to them, because functioning adults understand it’s important. As a result, you have a new Republican Congress that should be logically moving towards the middle, but instead is promising nonsense investigations into Hunter Biden, the border, and liberal parents pushing their kids to “go trans” (don’t even get me started on this bullshit) and a Democratic administration that basically messages everything towards the base groups that most loyally support them.

As I said, Sinema is sly like a fox. She is gambling that in one of the few states left that has swing voters, she can pick up a few political points by essentially shitting on how unsatisfying our political system is. I don’t think it’s certain, because people have had years to watch her evolution and absurd behavior, but this is her best chance to be right. When she wrote that most voters struggle to identify with our political parties, I think she’s right. I think that less politically active, “offline” voters who read her op-ed or watch her spend the next year campaigning on these messages, will probably be far less offended by this move than the rest of us. Will they get over her diva behavior and crappy inaction on things they voted for her to do? In a just world, no. I don’t think we live in that world though. Sinema may have just outfoxed all of Washington by coming outside “the house” and telling the town people that everything they think is going on inside is true. If so, you can curse her all you would like, but don’t ever doubt her political calculus again.

Elon Musk and Our Failing Elites

There’s something rich about a guy born to countless wealth positioning himself as the voice of the common man, against the ruling elites. A guy who was born to money from emerald mining, money made profiting off of the apartheid system, standing up as the voice of the people. The guy who spent $44 billion to buy a social media company, basically because he didn’t believe *his* beliefs were being amplified on there, telling us that he is the champion of free speech. A guy who paid a $20 million fine to the SEC telling us that government regulators are criminals and need to go to jail. To be blunt, Elon Musk is a horse’s ass. He is a narcissist that craves our adoring praise, while also believing he is the center of the universe. His belief in your free speech ends right around the time you mock him. For being the richest guy in the world, he sure craves your love a lot more than most of us do.

I don’t hate Elon Musk as much as many of you reading do though. Not by a long shot. The guy created PayPal, how can we say he isn’t an innovator? His work on Tesla is an attempt to fill a vitally needed space in the market, one that both solves our need for cars and combats climate change. SpaceX stepped into the void governments left when space travel was not cool anymore. Sure, he was born on third base and thinks he hit a home run, but his business adventures have actually been consequential well beyond their profit margins. His political positions on the whole are at times offensive and usually laughable, but he is hardly the only person on the planet to challenge the Democratic Party’s “wokeness” problem. Sure, he’s self-absorbed and amplifies some of the worst voices, but Elon Musk is like most people on the planet- complicated. He’s got “value added” for humanity. He’s also a petulant child that thinks far too much of himself.

So let’s take Musk the person out of it for a second. What is drawing some people to the causes he claims to be fighting for? How are people buying into the guy with the biggest megaphone in the world crowing about free speech? How are people taking lectures on “wokeism” from a dude who got his money from the apartheid system? Why is anyone listening to the guy who got a $20 million fine from the SEC tell us about who is a criminal? Are we really taking opinions on public health from the guy tweeting out pictures of guns and Diet Coke cans on his night stand? Really? The answer is yes, and I think maybe we should step back and ask why. He’s not conning us with his looks (for sure), or his charisma, or really anything about him. Hell, he’s getting booed at a Dave Chappelle show (not exactly a “woke” setting). So, what’s going on here?

People are deeply unhappy with the world they live in. To those of us who grew up in the American Middle Class and aged into adulthood, this seems rather obvious, but it is a very foreign concept to many of those in settings of power. Sure, we live in the greatest time in history to be alive- it just doesn’t feel like it. Work-life balance? It’s fucked. Mental health? It’s fucked. Feelings of safety and security? Yeah right, in what manner? The 21st Century so far is a period of terrorism, long-running wars, pandemics, major financial crimes that bring about massive financial failure, climate change driven natural disasters, school shootings, attempted coups, race riots, and basically a series of major global events that feel like the apocalypse. People work more, they take on massive amounts of debt, they feel less connected to other humans, spiral from anxiety driven personal collapse to anxiety driven personal collapse, are getting addicted more substances than they knew existed, and feel like the world around them is in a constant state of “change”- and not change they asked for. If you’re about 40 years old, your entire adult life has been defined by lurching from one existential societal crisis to the next, save for a couple of years in Obama’s second term. One political party tells us we need to hate Russia, the other China, and while both are reprehensible on many levels, we all kind of thought the Cold War had ended in our childhood. Life just doesn’t feel good, even if it is. It’s hard to be happy and optimistic under these conditions.

Unhappy people will seek solutions to their problems that numb the pain. It’s why some people “find religion” in dark times. It’s why other people find drugs and alcohol. It’s why some people find politics. This is not to say that God, weed, and political activism are bad things- I support them all. It’s more to point out that when the world around them is scary and dangerous, and people feel like they’ve lost control, people will find something to make sense of that world and seize back control for themselves. It will often times take on far more dangerous forms than what I mentioned above- white supremacy and ethnonationalism, hard drugs, fascism, violence, personality cults both big and small, religious fundamentalism, and political extremism are all just sitting there, waiting to answer what is wrong with the world, give you back control, and tell you who is to blame for your problems. They will prey on your prior preferences and biases, alienating you from other people, even those close in your life. Conmen will seize on these causes and elevate themselves as “the solution.” People will fall for it too, because they’re unhappy. Their needs aren’t being met. They feel like they’ve lost control.

Of course there’s something slightly wrong with a person who is comprehending the world by believing JFK Jr. is coming back or obsessing over whatever politician they want prosecuted. The reason this can be exploited though is the void in leadership, both in America and globally. Government isn’t solving our pressing needs, and so people look for others to fill the void. Again, life feels like it’s getting worse, and it doesn’t feel like we can do anything within the system, so why not turn to these causes. Some of this is augmented by social media, and some by 24 hour cable news, but the impact is the same. The sky is falling and “the elites” are doing nothing for you. This is dangerous rhetoric, and it has been used by groups as far apart as the Nazis and Communists, who will define “the elites” in whatever way fits them best, then call on you to lash out against them. Obviously demagogues are preying on our failings as people, but as I said above, a lot of us are failing in a world that isn’t meeting our needs. Basic societal functions from public education to policing, from our public health to our financial system, are not meeting our needs every day. “Mainstream” politics, run by the “elites” aren’t getting the job done, and so they look less and less like a good option. What we have has left us deep in debt, stressed by life functions, and increasingly lonely and isolated in relation to others. In fact, to watch the news regularly will make you think many, if not most of your fellow people, are no good. Decisive, bold action is needed, immediately, to stop the “bad” people. Meanwhile the government can’t even do the basic things we (think) we elect them to do.

Actual American elites aren’t Kanye’s “Jews running Hollywood,” Musk’s “woke mob,” or Trump’s “educated people,” they’re anyone in government, business, or culture that wields power, which is to say they come from every group. You don’t get to be a United States Senator or Congressman and claim someone else are “the elite.” You don’t get to be a billionaire and claim someone else is “the elite.” If you took a class at Harvard from Elizabeth Warren or were a classmate of a Bush at Yale, it’s hard for you to call other people elites. If you’re a high paid professional athlete who just signed a massive contract to play for a team next season, you’re not nearly the kind of elite the owner of your team is, but your “commoner” card is revoked. You’re a rapper with a fashion label producing clothes in your name? Yeah, you don’t get to rail against elites either. Certainly the richest man on the planet, who bought one of the largest social media networks as a play toy shouldn’t get to do this either. Despite these things being obvious, there are still people cheering Elon, or Trump, or any number of politicians, or Kanye, or Kyrie, or anyone else from these elite levels, when they launch these attacks on “the elites.” Americans seem to get that every Supreme Court Justice coming from the Ivy League, or nearly every recent American President coming from said schools is problematic and that they don’t represent us, yet we’ve let two Penn Grads (Musk and Trump) dominate the public discourse in the past decade by railing against a class of people they absolutely are a member of. It’s strange. It’s actually fairly dangerous that we fall for this. Again though, we’re falling for it because we’re angry. We’re falling for it because, well, we think “the elite” are failing us. We’re ripe for the demagoguery.

As we’re constantly told, Hitler was elected. Nearly every January 6th rioter, 9/11 hijacker, Hamas suicide bomber, IRA bomber, or ISIS soldier voluntarily took part in their extremist movement. Fundamentalist cult members across religions generally join voluntarily, once they are “awakened.” That’s not something unique to any culture, religion, or race. Generally though, they’re people who lost hope and found a new way of understanding the world- for the worse. Humans find their way to the next person or thing that gives them back control and tells them who or what the problem is. If that leads them to extremism, so be it. The world is broken anyway, because the bad guys they want to remove ignore “the people.” These things generally start the same.

The relationship between policy makers and decision makers in our society and the people who they govern is generally broken. They live inside bubbles, they live in areas where most of the people around them are of the same class or ideological persuasion as they are. Skilled, but dangerous politicians who live in some of America’s wealthiest neighborhoods will warn you of “Beltway elites,” “Massachusetts liberals,” “San Francisco values,” and “Wall Street fat cats,” while they themselves share many of the same traits. We bite hook, line, and sinker too. We have a society that doesn’t have time to learn the system, they’re too busy struggling to survive, and so the pleas that “we’re doing the best we can” are not nearly as satisfying as chants of “lock her up,” and competency within the system is viewed less favorably than bluster, bravado, and arrogance from blowhards who aren’t interested in better policy either, just pursuing power and leading their “sheeple” followers to burn the “other” at the stake. Our “policy wonk” class just don’t get the real world failings of their values and decisions, but dangerous demagogues do. In truth though, they’re rather similar in their relationship to the general public though. One side of the coin are detached and unable to see how hated they are, the other side are greedy bastards that will pursue power to dangerous ends. One is obviously better than the other, but they probably won’t lead us to a better ending. Our people are too broken to “just trust us,” and that lack of faith in our institutions and society is grounded in their real world experiences that the “smart ones” just can’t see. And so we get the worst of all worlds.

Nonsense and More Mavericky Nonsense

If you still put Joe Manchin in the same sentence as Kyrsten Sinema, stop. There is plenty to debate about him, and certainly votes to dislike from him, but he knows what he is and behaves like it- a conservative Democrat representing a ruby red state. He is authentically not in line with most of the Democratic Party, especially the online activist type. His “bad behavior” is simply more authentic and honorable than Sinema’s though, and it makes more political sense.

Arizona is not a “blue” state at this point, and it has a history of electing “maverick” Senators. It is a swing state though, and it just elected nearly all Democrats at the statewide level. Mark Kelly, the state’s junior Senator, is certainly a moderate in brand too, but his voting record and political affiliations make sense. Sinema on the other hand is all over the map, sometimes killing Democratic priorities from the left, other times from the right. She stakes out positions that make little sense on legislation, often times making passage hard or impossible. Sometimes she even contradicts her own votes from the past with nonsensical switches literally just for the sake of doing it.

My real problem with Sinema though is she has no political soul, no authenticity, and no values or identity. The former Green Party member lefty, who sold herself as a leftist progressive woman while ascending to state legislative leadership, then Congress, and now to the Senate, has gone out of her way to now rebrand herself as the Senate moderate. Out of principle? Yeah right, she still insisted on some of her former priorities, like fighting climate change. She doesn’t contradict herself to serve some bigger principle, like freedom of speech or individual liberty, but mostly just for attention and political positioning for her re-elections. Sinema must have determined in recent days that the likely primary challenge in 2024 from Congressman Ruben Gallego was highly likely to beat her, either because of a bad poll or former allies telling her they are out, and so today we got the nonsensical announcement from her that while she is still caucusing with the Democrats, she now identifies as an independent. It is a highly cynical move to avoid losing a primary, one that she believes boxes in Democratic opponents- if she runs as an independent, she will likely siphon off enough votes from the Democratic nominee to insure neither she or they can possibly win. She set up a suicide pact, and is essentially willing to hand the Senate to Republicans that literally hate who she actually is, all to try and desperately hang on to power.

I usually am fiercely defensive of moderates. I have my fair share of grievances with where far-left progressives want to take the party. It is imperative though that Democrats, moderates, and frankly any people with any values or decency in them reject this cynical act. Kyrsten Sinema has had her time, had her chance, and had her attention. It’s time to end the temper tantrum in 2024.

Why I Don’t Like the New DNC Calendar

On Friday the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee formally adopted a new primary calendar for the 2024 Presidential race. The big highlights are replacing Iowa as first in the nation, instead having the South Carolina Primary go first, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada, then Georgia and Michigan. Already there are problems, including Iowa and New Hampshire saying they won’t go along, and Georgia officials saying their primary won’t move. The order will be finalized next year.

The rationalization behind the President and the DNC’s decision is actually pretty strong and realistic. No group has been more loyal to Democratic candidates than Black voters over the last 40 years. Since South Carolina began moving up the calendar, it has been growing in importance, catapulting Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden toward the nomination, and three of them towards the White House. Joe Biden said having more diverse voices pick the nominee is the principle he values. That is a very good principle to have.

I have two main problems with the new primary calendar. The first is that making changes presumes there is something broken that needs to be fixed. There isn’t. Democratic nominees have been extremely competitive in recent years, which every nominee since 1996 getting at least 48% of the popular vote. Since 1992, Democrats have won five of eight Presidential elections, and won the popular vote 7 of 8 times. None of the nominees were crackpots that took embarrassing positions either. Democrats nominated fairly solid candidates under the existing calendar.

My second problem is that there is a perceived second problem being answered with the new calendar, that the current calendar doesn’t give voice to non-white voters. It’s true that Iowa and New Hampshire are super white. It’s also true that going first and second hasn’t increased their influence. South Carolina is the undisputed kingmaker in Democratic politics. Voting fourth has allowed them to effectively end many candidates’ pathways who could not connect to the large Black voting population there. Since 1992, every Democratic nominee for President except for John Kerry, who lost to North Carolina’s Senator, won the South Carolina primary. Most of them won decisively and walked out with significant delegate leads. In Nevada, Hillary won in 2016 to get back on her feet after New Hampshire, and in 2020 Joe Biden’s 2nd place in Nevada saved his campaign. The more diverse states are already the decision makers in the Democratic Party. There’s no disputing that.

Sure, one can argue the new calendar is a bow to “new realities,” and that’s true. Iowa doesn’t look like a swing state anymore. The party is simply more diverse. The new calendar accelerates the reality we live in. Again though, why? This current early state structure nominated Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. It elevated voices from people of color. Sure, the new calendar does that more. Are we fixing a problem by doing that though, or creating one. Leftist Bernieland voices will perceive this as an attempt to insure they can’t win, and while they should look inward and realize why that is, is that a conversation we need. The media will point out that Democrats want their nominee picked almost entirely with no input from the central and mountain time zones, or by coastal states, basically. Swing state New Hampshire and quasi-swing state Iowa will almost certainly rebel and lose a chunk of their delegates. And frankly, if Michigan and Georgia are in for being swing states, why aren’t Pennsylvania and Arizona? We’re opening a lot of cans of worms here, for marginal improvement in the process.

I love the principles being displayed by these moves. I can’t find the problems they’re trying to fix. I can clearly see the problems they will create.

The “Rat Race,” 20 Years Into Adulthood

On Friday I attended my 20th year reunion from Easton Area High School (class of 2002). I tried to talk to a lot of people and hear about their lives, after all I hadn’t seen some of them in closer to two decades. Obviously there was a range of answers. Some are finishing doctorates, others served the country, some did time in jail (and are doing well now, so we’re proud of them too), many are parents, a good chunk married, and of course there’s me. Twenty years after graduating from a large public high school, the range of experiences is really broad and the conversations took some turns down some fascinating rabbit holes.

It didn’t matter where anyone lived, where they were married or not, if they had kids, or what their career- almost every single conversation took on some version of “I’m always busy and just trying to make it.” In some cases it turns into a conversation of burnout from work, in some cases it’s a discussion of rising costs of living, lamenting the work-life imbalance, or just how difficult it is to make it as an adult in our world.

I suppose if you were born a billionaire (or most millionaires) this conversation might seem silly, but it’s worth stating that American adulthood is way too serious and not enough fun. You could attack the ills of “adulting” statistically and talk about how many millions of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, but in this case it was a realtime focus group of “early millennials” in a room telling you how it actually feels to be almost 40 and “responsible” in America. It’s also worth noting this was the portion of nearly 600 people that are both still alive and could/wanted to attend. If we could have extracted the responses of the majority of our peers, I’m guessing the answers may have become more pronounced.

When we were teenagers, “The Matrix” attempted a fictional life at how our society truly is just a system, and to be fair I now think that movie did more to foment conspiracy theories and crazy than good, but I could not help but consider the message again as I had my Saturday morning coffee. Do we really just raise children to inherit a pile of debts and build their lives around their work that pays them? Are we long past time to consider if our entire way of life is organized wrong, and limits our pleasure in life? Is this really the best we can all hope for in this world?

Anyway, I really live my classmates and enjoyed hearing about their marriages, kids, and achievements over the past two decades. For all the lamenting about growing into adulthood and the challenges we face each day, most of them are healthy, happy, and finding ways to enjoy life as we enter a new decade, now separated by a bit more space. People asked me about my career and life travels, usually saying they saw me in ___ city on social media at some point in the past 15 years. I almost felt bad in a few of the conversations. I’m fortunate life has went the way it has for me so far, and I’m glad it’s going well for them. I guess I’m also wondering if there’s anything else to this life, now that it’s statistically over.