Thursday, March 28, 2013

Quarter Life Noodles

So you guys.... I turned 25.


After reading that you are most likely thinking 1 of the following:

1. "Oh, you poor little baby - wah wah - just you wait until 25 is a distant, obnoxious tease of a memory. *shakes head*"

2. "Girl, you know that's right. I'm straight up weirded out right now! (*fist bump*...or ehh *high five*? no...something exponentially cooler...*finger guns*? yeah...I'll just quit now - you get me.)

3. "Woah. YOU ARE ANCIENT!" (In which case, you are like 8 years old. How did you find this blog? I mean, you should really ask your parents' permission before cruising the internets....just...uhh stay in school... wear your seat belt...and stuff)

If you find yourself in the third group - go home. Seriously. You're not going to get my cultural references and I'm pretty sure you aren't allowed to operate a stove at that age...right? Clearly, I do not have children. Seriously though, go draw a picture or make a fort and trade Happy Meal toys or something.

If you find yourself in the first group - well, excuuuuuuuuse me! Honestly, you're trying to tell me that you didn't once have a strange revelation about the passing of time? You've never looked at your life and been like "Hold up. Can we just pause here for a few years, so I can accomplish everything I thought I would have by this point?" Yeah. That's what I thought.

No, this doesn't mean that I am wasting my youth with anxiety nor am I ungrateful for the spry, agile appendages I currently possess. So, if you can, just take a chill and let me vent? I promise this will get somewhere positive. Have I ever lied to you? (Wait...don't answer that.)

Moving on!

If you find yourself in the second group - welcome, friend! Let's join in a cosmic, digital hug.

Nope. Nevermind. That's weird.

But honestly, I'm so glad you have my back on this. This post is for all of you. This is for all the kids that have already had to renew their drivers license, but haven't yet gotten life insurance (even though their parents have been bugging them about it 24/7).

This is for every girl who has already gained enough wisdom to look at her prom dress and be like "yikes" and yet still cannot fathom every slipping into a 'mother of the bride' number. (Lord, help us. I mean, those taffeta shrugs? What. The. Hell?)

This is for every guy who can no longer eat whatever he wants without gaining a pound, but hasn't gained enough to prompt him to do anything about it. (Fellas, this will catch up with you. Have you seen Will Ferrell without a shirt on? *shudder*)

So yeah.....

Here we are. I always had these ideas of what "adulthood" would look like. When I was in high school, I genuinely thought that the moment I had my diploma in hand and could drive without obsessively looking at my speedometer - I would be an adult.
No such luck.

Then when I was in college I thought I would be crowned with full adulthood glory when I had my first "real job." You know, one that did not consist of 'cashiering' anyone for anything or being spit up on by a babbling infant.

When you get married? That had to be it. Right?
If anything, marriage has made me realize just how infantile I still am. Being a partner in life with someone makes you painfully aware of just how petty, overly sensitive, and melodramatic you really are.
And of course, there were a whole lot more in

- When I finally got all the pop culture references in an episode of The Simpsons or Family Guy. (Well, that one never actually happened. Although I suppose you actually have to watch those shows to test that one. Oops.)
- When you consistently make your own doctor/dentist appointments.
- When I stopped falling for things like "Hey, spell 'I cup'." (Sorry. Please tell me you didn't....You did? Point proven.)
- When I could confidently pick out an outfit for a special occasion without a) calling my mom and describing all the options b) bringing all the options and trying them on for my mom's opinion c) giving up and not going to said event.
- When I learned how to spell priviledge...damn...privalege?...privalege...GAH!....privilege!!!
-When I stopped laughing at things like: toddlers falling down, adults falling down, dogs in people clothes, cats in people clothes, cats in sunglasses, cats playing the piano/snorkeling/knitting/running in circles/going down slides, the guy on Sweet Genius, etc.

You get it.
My point is - I had it all wrong.

My 25th birthday was lovely. Husband made my entire day a dream. My family and friends were loving, generous, and affirming. I was spoiled.

But here's the thing. I still had that lingering feeling that the rug was about to be pulled out from under me. That somehow I was now too big to get the box of crayons with my paper menu. That life was now going to be concrete, piles of paper, taxes, and restrained laughter.

I know. Like I said - I had it all wrong.

Life doesn't work that way. We know this, right? We know that there is no 'Go to Jail' card. There is no end of the road where fun is prohibited and spontaneity has been outlawed. Which leaves me with this: Why do we feel that way?

Honestly, I think there are two schools of people. One category (me) feel the constant pressure to achieve, to strive, to grow up. The other are purely focused on the now, the gimme gimme, the I I I me me me. Consequently, they don't worry about growing up until it's too late.

I don't think either of us have it right.

After the big 2-5, I got thinking a lot about this adulthood thing. Truly, it's not a textbook. You know, you read a chapter for the test. You take the test, get through it, hopefully emerge unscathed, and promptly close that chapter indefinitely - writing off or forgetting 99% of what you once knew. No, it's your favorite novel. You read it and re-read it. You go back to the parts that moved you. You underline, you quote, you daydream, you get inspired, you take the best bits and act on them. And you remember them even as you near the last pages.

Looking ahead, I want to do just that. I aim to take the best bits of my clumsy, free-wheeling teens and extract it from the lack of wisdom and fortitude; to take the beauty out of the tragic ashes that overtook part of my 20s when I didn't have the foresight to see that love does triumph over fear. Adulthood is not a signpost that you reach after a certain number of miles, but a journey upon which it helps to know some of the gritty back roads as well as the smoothly paved highways.
I know that now.

On to food, yes?

Well, as I was pondering all of this I got to thinking about some of the garbage I ate as a kid. Usually not sanctioned by a parent, but hidden in the guise of a slumber party away that produced ice cream cake sugar highs that could potentially last longer than some serious meth (no, I do not know this from experience....I just watch a lot of Breaking Bad)...Or perhaps a stealthy trip to the corner store at the top of the street where allowance became gobs of taffy and Funions (not the greatest of combinations.) Amongst all this gruesome glory, were my beloved Ramen noodles. You know, the crusty square of noodles accompanied by packets of pure sodium?

Yeah...Well, I thought, "Hey Fryer, let's use what we've learned today to make something tasty!"
So here it is. Informed by 25 years of wisdom and health research, I have formulated an incredible (and easy) facsimile!

Quarter Life Noodles:

Step One
Slice 12 cloves of garlic- Yep. You read that correctly. TWELVE. woo!

Step Two
Heat 3-4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add garlic. Do not brown.

Step Three
Once garlic has softened and become fragrant, add 3 boxes (96 oz) of vegetable stock.

I use this kind because I am very impressed by this baby entrepreneur. Way to go, Brad!
Step Four
Season with 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon honey, and cayenne pepper to taste.

Sorry, it's not my fault he looks so weird.
Step Five
Bring broth to a boil and drop in 1 sheet of rice noodles. Available at your local grocery store - probably in the aisle you never shop in, but should. Cook until soft.

Step Six
Serve! Close your eyes, take a bite or two, and be pleasantly surprised when your lips don't shrivel up and fall off from consuming 3000% of your daily sodium. You're welcome.

So there you have it!
A little grown up take on a childhood favorite. Enjoy.

And while you're at it, enjoy every bit of every year you live, my dear ones. Every experience, each precious moment of failure and flubbing, the wrinkles, the awestruck epiphanies, every grin and giggle. 

I may be just rounding the bend into my next chapter, but I'm already excited to read every line. 

And you know what? 

I bet you and I have some terrific adventures yet to come.


  1. Lily, as an Older man I was totally enthralled. I will surely make my own Ramen Noodles (you know for years we pronounced it Lamin because we first had them in the company of a Korean House guest?)

    You brought a true smile to my old, and somewhat wrinkled, countenance.

    You, like your Mom, will be perpetually young.

    You are loved dearly in this household.

  2. Lily - very well written. I think I do a fairly good job of not acting my age, but this was a good reminder to do it more often. Working on some "grown up" documents recently, I was excited to know that once I got them done that I could go back to being a kid again. Your use of Ramen noodles as the core theme of this post was the perfect analogy. I remember subsisting on 6 packs of Ramen Noodles for $1.00 when my meal card was maxxed out toward the end of each quarter of my freshman year of college. I definitely OD'd on that X&@#&*!@. Bleck. But I will definitely try your recipe to return to those more youthful times, but in a more healthy way. Bravo!

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  4. Lily - As your father, I am not biased in any way...You are a better writer than that Henningway guy! Seriously more people should understand there is no day, week, month or year that is the end of the fun of youth or the beginning of "adulthood". Everyday can be lived to the fullest, we should all wring every bit of life out of every day and expect the next day to be even more full of life than yesterday.

    Love your writing style!! Keep updating us on the life of the now over 25 year old girl I used to hold and wonder I know a little more about who she is "going to be" and I am PROUD!!