Yes, actually, I can.

You’re going to have to do indulge me bit – I have some ranting to do. But I do hope it is mostly relatable ranting!

 

So I’m 21. Almost 22 actually, but that’s splitting hairs. I have gotten the sense that the years from 20 to 22 are somewhat awkward. You’re not a teenager, but you’re still not old enough to be considered a “twentysomething.” Sure, you can drink legally, but the initial excitement over that dies down pretty quickly. (And studying abroad the year before where drinking starts from the age of 12 makes it even less of a big deal.)

You don’t have much. In my case, you’re pretty much stuck with a few hesitant glances at the register when you try to buy wine, and a fancy college degree that comes with just enough knowledge to need more than a part-time job flipping burgers but not quite enough experience to qualify you for any kind of “real job.” And the cherry on top? Even while you go about doing what you know you can do, there is a constant presence of someone “older and wiser” (read: condescending moron who think age = intelligence) peeking over your shoulder telling you how to do it.

Pardon my French, but – it’s a huge pain in the ass.

I was one of those kids who always seemed a little older than she was, probably because I’m generally pretty quiet and have always been more interested in sitting at the “adults’ table” and listening to their conversations than playing with crayons and eating chicken fingers. I told you I’m a nerd. But apparently, I stopped growing at around 17 and to most people, I look like I’m still there. I can’t even tell you how many people have asked, “Oh, you graduated this year? Do you know where you’re going to college?” I have tried to laugh it off, but really, it just pisses me off. I’ll recognize that a big part of it may be that in the summer I don’t wear makeup all too often and I’m often dressed to workout (usually because I’m either going to or already have and you are seeing me between showers), but to a certain extent I just find it ridiculous.

 

This has been a real struggle for me, and one of the worst things about it is that I’m not altogether sure why it gets to me so much. Any fellow grads having this issue? Let me hear from you. I feel pretty unique in this, and not in a good way.

I suppose I’m a little burnt out. College to me felt a little bit like a race to the end, and after I won the race and got my trophy, life went back to normal. I feel like I’m still standing in the middle of the race street in my running clothes, clutching my trophy for dear life, while a bunch of important-looking people push around me to get back to work. No matter how many times I try to stop someone and show them my very shiny trophy, they just brush right past like I’m invisible.

Sorry. I’m an English major – I’m prone to very imaginative metaphors. Go with it.

 

There are some days when I just feel like taking a megaphone, heading to the top of the Pru and shouting “I AM SMART AND I HAVE DONE LOTS OF THINGS AND AM GENERALLY A VERY QUALIFIED HUMAN BEING.” Or something like that. It just seems to me that people forget what college was after a few years, and no longer remember the constant-idea-making-machine they were after holding that diploma.

Look, I’m not saying I don’t know things. And I’m not saying I don’t have a lot to learn. And I’m not saying I don’t look like my 18-yr-old brother’s girlfriend when I am on the elliptical in my high school gym shorts.

But you know what? There’s lots I do know too. I probably even know more than your mom about certain things [ohsnap]. I clearly know enough about writing and food to have 1) written a blog about it for almost 2 years and 2) to get my own column about it. I certainly did not spend 3 months of my life reading American cookbooks from the 19th century and throwing around words like subversion and domestic ideology to come out not being somewhat of a know-it-all on the subject. And let me tell you, if you can successfully master the Italian transportation system in three months, you should be able to put it on your resume. I can’t say I haven’t considered it.

 

To the world – please stop underestimating the recently graduated. We’re really very capable and have quite a bit of knowledge still fresh in our brains. And to my fellow racers – may you find a very pretty place to put your trophy, and may you find a way to happily become one of those people around us walking to work. Emphasis on happily.

 

“I can do it just fine, thankyouverymuch” Spaghetti Limone Aglio Olio

Serve with a loaf of good crusty bread and a triumphant twinkle in your eye.

 

  • 1 lb fresh spaghetti (linguine or tagliatelle will work as well)
  • salt (for water)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 6 – 8 cloves of garlic
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 – 4 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • scant 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot about 2/3rds full with water. Add a sizeable palmful of salt. Bring to a boil.

While you’re waiting, peel and either chop or smash (smashing is more fun) the garlic cloves. Then, because water takes forever to boil and you’re old enough to have heard the whole watched-pot proverb about a million times, zest your lemon. Chop it in half so that it’s ready to be squeezed. Go ahead and chop up that parsley, too.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until just al dente (a little undercooked is best).

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a medium-large skillet. Throw in your garlic and keep smashing it around with your spoon. Let it cook until golden. Inhale. A lot.

Go drain your pasta – fresh pasta cooks in minutes, so it won’t need to be in there long.

Remove the pan with the now-golden-brown garlic from heat and add the parsley ( and red pepper flakes, if you wish). Add the pasta to the pan and toss it with the lemon zest, lemon juice (start with half the lemon and add to taste), and some fresh pepper. Top with parsley and cheese.

Serve to much impressed oohing and aahing and tell them you learned this recipe in school, where you also learned how to time-manage and generally be a self-efficient adult. Or just let the flavors speak for themselves. Either way, they’ll get the message.

 

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