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I am 40 and finally have some experience under my belt, experience that has given me perspective. Of course, it’s that ‘hindsight is 20/20’ kind of perspective that doesn’t really serve me now and only exists to be inflicted upon younger relations who are going to just ignore it. Ingrates.

For the record, there is nothing about sex in this entry other than me testing the theory that titles which include the word ‘SEX’ (or boobs or vagina or penis or three-way or doggie style or Dirty Sanchez — mom, do NOT look that up — or.. you get the idea) immediately piques the curiosity of readers. Intrigues. Entices, even. As a thank you for the valuable scientific data you are supplying, I give you this picture so your time spent reading this was not for nothing:

Hot turtle-on-turtle action. Ooooh yeah...

Knowing that the young’uns are going to ignore all my pearls of wisdom, I am pinning my hopes on the development of a time traveling postal system (I’m looking at you, Apple). In anticipation of this technology, I have written a letter to my younger self so she can avoid all the mistakes she is going to make:

Dear Past Nina–

Hi! My name is Nina, just like you. In fact, I AM you or, well, the future-you to be specific. Before you get too excited, no. There are no flying cars or teleportation, not yet anyway. I’m sure the disappointment is crushing but I do have some advice that, if you follow it, will make the next few decades easier and much more enjoyable.

A day will come, in third grade, when you bring mom’s big, black umbrella to school. It will be raining in the morning but by the time you have to walk home in the afternoon, it will be sunny. You’re going to decide to skip home with the umbrella open, singing and pretending to be Mary Poppins. Mimi from grade four will see this and mercilessly make fun of you. Not just in the moment, not just the next day, but all the way through high school. It will make you feel bad but you know what? FUCK MIMI FROM GRADE FOUR. If it makes you happy to twirl around with an umbrella on a sunny day, you do that! Don’t let the snide remarks of a bully steal away your joy or make you feel bad for being different. Trust me, when you grow up, creativity and thinking outside the box are traits that are valued.

Speaking of things that are valued, I am here to address your belief that a career in art can only lead to poverty and eating out of dumpsters. This is not true. In fact, you will eventually make a pretty nice living as a web designer for a tv network out in California (pretty cool, huh?). So don’t waste years of your life ignoring your passion by trying to pursue careers that you have no interest in just because you think you’ll be able to make a buck — doing so will only make you miserable. Also, don’t wait until your 20s to actually take an art class. You’re a pretty good artist — believe it or not, you’ll get into CalArts for character animation one day! So do it sooner rather than later because college is a whole lot more fun when you are taking classes that you love.

On the topic of college: should you decide to still go to UConn right out of high school, listen to me: majoring in Partying with a minor in Boys is not the way to go. I’m sure you will ignore this advice so let me clarify something for you — you need to achieve at least a minimal GPA to be put on academic probation. Despite what you think, getting F’s in everything won’t buy you another semester to work it all out; the school will just wash their hands of you entirely. Should this happen, DO NOT doctor your grade report to show all B’s and put your head in the sand for an entire summer. That’s just stupid and incredibly short-sighted. Mom and Dad will know something is up when fall comes around and you are still there; sure, they won’t be happy but it’s better to tell them upfront. The Ignore-It-And-Pretend-It-Didn’t-Happen strategy will end up violating the trust they have in you and it will take you years to earn it back.

You are also going to spend years and years of your life feeling badly about yourself and demonstrating that self-hatred by being anorexic. Don’t. Just .. don’t. You’re pretty damn awesome, inside and out, and beating yourself up for imagined shortcomings gets you nothing aside from more misery. Besides, cupcakes are AWESOME and you should enjoy them freely and often.

A few more quick tidbits:

-Be nice to boys; if you have to let them down, let them down kindly.

-Ceasing to call them back and avoiding them entirely is NOT letting them down kindly.

-If a boy breaks up with you, it’s not the end of the world. You are not defined by your relationship.

-Do not pine after Darren Messina in junior high. Just because your married name would be ‘Nina Messina’ is not a good reason to date someone.

-Always wash your face before bed; going to sleep with your make up on is bad news.

-Don’t start coloring your hair; it’s hard to stop once you start.

-If you go out in the sun, wear sunscreen. LOTS of it.

-Baby oil does not count as sunscreen.

-Start exercising when you are young since it’s easier when you are already fit and have a fast metabolism; having that habit already established will serve you well when you are older.

DO NOT START SMOKING. It’s not cool, no matter what you think, and quitting is torture.

-Get involved! Join sports, take dance, be in the drama club. While it might be tempting to just sleep in, you’ll get more enjoyment out of activities.

-Don’t blow off the orthodontist in your early teens; if you get braces early rather than waiting until you are 36, you won’t spend decades smiling with your mouth closed out of embarrassment.

-You were born with dual American and Swedish citizenship but you will lose the latter by age 22 unless you apply to keep it. Do this. It would have been nice to flee to Sweden for the eight years Bush was in office.

-Art, art and more art.

I think that’s about it. I know you think you know better but you don’t. Follow my advice — if not for yourself, then do it for ME!


Future Nina