Aug 02, 2013, 09:12AM

All the World's a Classroom

How we never stop learning.

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Alecia taught me that family matters most. My cousin Kevin taught me how not to lose at backyard wrestling. Mr. Magrogan, my senior year English teacher, defined livid exasperation for me, gave it a face, told me he was going to "kick my ass," in the library, over some paper I hadn't bothered to complete. My mother taught me how to iron clothes, but that's a lesson I've since unlearned so thoroughly that sometimes it takes my breath away. John taught me how to sell executives on a concept with a few well-designed PowerPoint slides. Zack taught me what a problem adolescent was at a time when maybe I wasn't that much better. Dave taught me that a willingness to work through my own issues wasn't necessarily equivalent to solipsism. Dr. Porto taught me how to resist authority, and I did for a while, until I gave in and sold out.

Amal taught me that eating cashews produces a Prozac-like effect, and that's true, kind of. Aunt Yvonne schooled me on political hip-hop. My violin and clarinet tutors attempted to teach me about dedication, which got expensive even though I wasn't aware. Elitsa taught me about ambition. Steve taught me how to play "Asshole." Don tried to teach me about car upkeep. My friend Kevin taught me how to conceptualize a zine and how to lead a news story for a daily newspaper in a mid-sized market. Nimoy, who washed dishes with me at a country club, taught me how not to live in my 30s, then disappeared. Doug taught me how to nurture aesthetic and artistic well-being on a community level. Sanjeevani taught me how to maintain. Kent taught me how not to be a boss. Jeff taught me a thing or two about individuality without even knowing he was doing so. The therapists I consulted over the years taught me how to listen.

Juan taught me how to properly smoke a cigarette, which is when I got hooked. Sean taught me how to pack tobacco into a pipe, and smoke it. Mindy taught me what body language was by explaining that I lacked it. Lee taught me how to ease into a record review; from Bret I learned how to make a review snap, and Marc and Jess taught me to keep my options open in terms of explaining the appeal of an artist or composition. My father taught me how to use a typewriter. Dennis taught me a great deal about CMMI and process engineering for software development, but I still have a difficult time explaining it to people who aren't already read in. Stuart taught me that there's such a thing as being too trusting, too open, but that was a lesson I was to learn many, many times over, and I'm still learning it.


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