A Letter From Your Uncle

January 4th, 2018

Dear Grace,

As your uncle, I’d like to extend a warm heartfelt welcome to the world.

I’m so happy you made it, though things here are a bit fucked up at the moment- and not only because of an unnamed president who will hopefully no longer be president by the time you understand what narcissism means.  There’s global warming, poverty, multiple refugees crises’, and Prince is dead.  You just missed him.  But, since you’re a baby, his entire catalogue will seem new for a while.  So that’s just one of the many things you can look forward to.

Even with the world in its current state, there are endless amounts of amazing, wonderful, magical things all around us.  Like churros.  Trust me, you’ll love churros.  Though I can’t really tell you where to get one besides an amusement park or the zoo.

As your uncle, there are so many important things I want to tell you and so much unsolicited advice I want to give.  But seeing as you just popped out, I’d imagine you’re a bit tired and not in the mood for chit chat.  So let’s jump right in.

-Farts are always funny.  As long as they make a sound.

-The Tooth Fairy is real.  

-Santa Claus is real.  

-The Easter Bunny is real.  

-Wrestling is fake.

-Oprah is right.  About everything.

-Guacamole costs extra.

-The loose end of a toilet paper roll goes over the top.

-Movies with Will Smith, will always be entertaining but not necessarily good

-Songs with Will Smith, will always be catchy, but not necessarily good.  

-Nineties Sitcoms with Will Smith will always be excellent and nothing short of excellent.

-Coffee makes you poop

-Kobe is better than LeBron.  You were born in LA.  Don’t ask questions.

-Bald people’s heads look like butts.

-Tattoos last forever

-Bad haircuts don’t (ask your mom)

-New York City is the greatest city in the world.  You were born in LA.  You’ll understand later.

-No one actually knows how to fold a fitted sheet.

-OJ did it.

-The ideal time to microwave an Eggo waffle is 47 seconds.

-If you accidentally lock your roommates cat in your room, it’ll shit on your bed.  And in your closet.  Even if it was just one time.

-Hermoine isn’t pronounced the way you think.

-Pizza is a breakfast food.

Speaking of pizza…  

It’s a near consensus that Michelangelo is the best Ninja Turtle.  Not only is he the most fun and personable of the bunch, but he also carries nunchucks, which are a perfect balance of practical and effective for a turtle with limited storage space.  For reference, watch the original 1990 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Don’t bother with the new shit.

At some point you’ll hear people say they prefer Rafael or Leonardo.  They’re probably trying to feel edgy and rock the boat.  But rejecting something popular isn’t a requirement to be cool.  Forming your own opinion is.  If you love Michelangelo, celebrate it.  If you prefer one of the other two, that’s your decision, I’ll love you anyways.  But whatever you do, don’t befriend a Donatello fan.  Honesty is one of the most important qualities of a good friend, and someone who claims that their favorite turtle fights with a stick, probably isn’t telling the truth.  Or they’d just be a bad person to hang out with when shit goes down.  A stick?  For a street fight  That’s just dumb.

Like wearing puffy vests in warm weather, eating hollowed out bagels, and spelling any word with a ‘Z’ in place of an ’S’.  Spelling is important.  So is grammar.  Words are powerful.  The internet told me you won’t say any for about a year, but once you’re able, be thoughtful with the way that you use them.  Words are how you express your needs, share your feelings, solve problems, and tell people how fucking frustrating it is, as a child yourself, to know that kids is spelled with a ’s’ and not a ’z’, yet there it is, on a gigantic sign at a ‘place of business’ where you’re expected to learn.  But no matter how much this pisses you off, don’t lose your temper.

It’s okay to feel angry, but acting angry is a whole different story.  Yelling, screaming, seeking revenge, and writing novella-length Facebook rants rarely turn into anything positive.  Use those words.  You’ll be amazed at how far they take you.  

Even better, listen.  In your lifetime you’ll meet lots and lots of people who act like assholes.  But most people who do asshole-ish things aren’t actually assholes.  They’re probably acting that way for a reason- they’re sad, they’re scared, they’re hurt.  This doesn’t give them a free pass, but sometimes taking a little extra time to listen and figure out why they’re acting like an asshole can help solve big problems.  And sometimes, people are just assholes.

Don’t worry.  There are plenty of people who aren’t assholes- good people worth looking up to- your mom, your dad, your grandparents, Ellen Degeneres, Barrack Obama, most of the Rugrats, and Beyonce.  Even though  I hold a very minority opinion that Beyonce’s music as a member of Destiny’s child is superior to her solo albums, there’s no arguing that she’s a one of a kind performer, role model, and badass boss lady.

Speaking of powerful women.  I regret to inform you that even though you’ve been born into this world as an American citizen- which affords you a litany of benefits and privileges millions of other babies can only dream of- our country has yet to elect a woman as president.  Ever.  In 241 years of total sovereignty.  I know it sounds crazy but remember how we already covered a few things that are dumb?  Let’s hope that when you’re old enough to be president in 35 years, you’ll be the second, third, or fourth woman to hold the office… if you decide to run.

Running is also a type of exercise.  It’s not my first choice- or anywhere in my top 20- but there are plenty of other ways to be physically active including yoga, weightlifting, swimming, hiking, biking, and Hip Hop Abs with Shaun T.  There’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to exercise, no matter what someone who does Crossfit tells you.  However you do it, moving your body is good for your bones, your brain, your heart, and lots of other stuff according to science.

Science is real.  And important.  Trust science.  Especially science narrated by Morgan Freeman.  Especially especially March of the Penguins.  But also ask lots of questions.  Don’t settle for the first thing you hear.  If you want to know how or why or when, find out.  You’ve been born into a world full of information.  Even if 80% of the internet is bullshit, there are still endless useful things to learn.  Be skeptical and optimistic and pragmatic in the way you navigate, but never stop learning.  And reads lots of books.

Just like you, books are little bundles of magic you can hold in your hands.  Except with books, you’re allowed to give them away to friends, buy and sell them on the internet, and stick them in your backpack when you’re on a crowded Subway.  Books can be mysterious and wonderful and dramatic and funny.  They’ll make you laugh and cry and smile and think and teach you important lessons like, when a guy offers you a ride in his private helicopter and asks you to sign long contracts having to do with sex, it’s probably a bad idea.  I didn’t read the entire book- and I guess there are three, so maybe it turned out well for Anastasia Steele- but still.  Commercial air travel sucks, but it’s better than getting involved with Christian.

We won’t go into too many details for the time being, though if you ever do have questions about sex, I’ll do my best to answer them, then send you back to your parents with a list of a hundred very detailed follow up questions.  It’ll make them uncomfortable.  Which will be funny but also a good experience for them because doing uncomfortable things is another way to learn stuff.  

Traveling is another, more fun way to learn stuff.  Travel a lot.  No just to warm places like the Bahamas and Florida- though to be honest, you can skip Florida altogether.  Trust me.  It’s like a bad version of California.  When you do travel, actually travel, don’t just go on vacation.  See the world, see our country, try new foods, hear new languages, meet new people.  Experience different people and cultures.  You’ll be surprised how similar you are to people you’ve never met.  When you open yourself to the world, you’ll find it a lot harder to hate people.  Hate is one of the most awful feeling in the world.  Worse than a migraine headache or a full blown hangover.

Hangovers are an unfortunate consequence of alcohol.  Sometimes drinking alcohol is fun, but keep this in mind- you’ll never regret a time you decided not to drink.  If spitting up and shitting your pants makes you cry now, wait twenty years until you go to a party, have too many Jager shots, and do it again.  Then tell me how you feel.  I’d like to tell you to stay clear of it all together- really, don’t drink Jager- but it’s also good to make mistakes.

Mistakes are another way we learns things even though it’s a much suckier method than reading books or traveling or watching an episode of Magic School Bus.  If you make a mistake, own it, fix it, learn from it, and do better next time.  If someone else makes a mistake, don’t waste time placing blame.  Instead, help them fix it, learn from it, do better yourself.  Like the saying goes, he who is without sin may post the first inspirational quote on Instagram.

At its best, social media can be a really cool way to connect with people, share with people, and see what Tom Hanks does in his day to day life.  But Tom doesn’t post that often, and also, social media can destroy you.  It’ll distract you from things that are actually happening.  In front of you.  Keep your eyes open!  And it can make you play an awful game of comparison.  If you compare your life to others you’ll always be miserable.  Just because that baby is rolling around in that Bugaboo Buffalo Complete Stroller by Diesel doesn’t mean their life is better than yours.  Yes, I researched the most expensive stroller on BuyBabyBuy.  No, I don’t blame you for wondering what it feels like to cruise around in that thing.  Yes, I’m curious too.  No, there’s absolutely no way in hell a stroller is worth $1,489.99.

Money is important but it’s not everything.  I’m not just saying that because it’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to refer to me as your cool millionaire uncle.  Money is useful and necessary and can be used to do lots of good things.  But it also causes lots of problems and makes people unhappy and sometimes is the reason people act like total dicks.

Speaking of -  When you get to be about ten or eleven years old, a lot of your male classmates will start to punch each other in the balls.  For no reason other than they think it’s fun.  Just ignore it.  Don’t try to make sense of it.  It’ll hurt your brain.  To be honest, it’ll hurt your brain to try and make sense of most things boys do.  Not because you’re not smart enough.  Quite the opposite.  Girls are just as smart as boys, if not smarter.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.  As a girl, you’ll be faced with challenges that I’ll never have to deal with.  No, it’s not fair.  Sometimes things aren’t, but it’s up to you.  Are you okay accepting things the way they are?  If not, speak up, stand up, fight back.  Use your words and brain and heart.  You don’t have to be big or strong or powerful to be big and strong and powerful.

There’s a saying, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’.  Technically it comes from a super old guy named Voltaire, but really it’s more of a Spiderman thing.  Human beings are powerful creatures and just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  Like just because I want to put you in a tiny cowboy outfit and take pictures of you sitting on the dog so you look like a baby cowgirl riding a dog-horse doesn’t mean I should.  I mean, I will, I definitely will, but you get the point.

Grace, now that you’ve left the womb, things are going to change a lot.  As you read this in your crib, there are plenty of people who are dying to meet you, hold you, and tell you how much each part of your body resembles someone else’s.  You’ve got lots of eating and sleeping and shitting to do.  It’s a busy time.  But no matter how crazy things get, if you take a little time every day to do the following, things will work out pretty well:

-Look at the sky

-Look at the stars

-Watch where you’re walking

-Pick your battles

-Enjoy the process

-Say thank you

-Pet lots of dogs

-Be kind to nature

-Be compassionate to people

Most importantly, love your family.  Your mom and dad and grandparents and aunts (and maybe even your uncle) will piss you off at some point.  Love them anyways.  We’ll always love you back.  

Welcome to the world Grace.  The world is pretty fucked up right now.  Like really really really fucked up.  But you just made it better.  Just by being born.


Love,

Uncle Steve