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Lessons Learned in My Parents' Basement

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I recently graduated from college with a degree in journalism. Yep... journalism.

Needless to say, in my formative years, I watched All the President's Men too many times. Redford and Hoffman left an indelible impression on the tender gray-matter of my young brain so I chose to immerse myself in a trade with noble ideals but little contemporary real-world value.

So now I live in my parents' basement.

As far as basements go it's not bad, but needless to say, newspapers aren't exactly experiencing an economic boom right now and even as a well qualified entry-level journalist, my job search has been depressingly bleak.

But I've been learning a lot in the few short weeks since walking, nay basking, in the empty gloriousness that is college graduation.

So here are some of the things I've learned:

#1: Undergraduate education is a joke.

A masters is the new bachelors, a bachelors is the new diploma and a high school diploma can get you a job at Taco Bell.

We as a nation cut elementary education funding, underpay our teachers, cut art, music and most extracurricular programs and have over-crowd classrooms. And this is all before high school.

So we lower academic standards when kids can't meet the bar. And because a college degree has become expected, we dilute and broaden undergraduate education to the point of irrelevance. And we force undergrads who can't afford to pay out-of-pocket to cough up the dough for historic and astronomical tuition prices for increasingly pointless pieces of paper and indentured servitude.

And in this post-industrial, digitally-based society we wonder why our economy sucks...

Well at least they teach ya some big words.

#2: I love snack packs.

Simply put, they are amazing. I wouldn't say I'd mug a child for the snack pack in his lunch but if his little lunch box contained the last Snack Pack ... I would. I would do it without a second thought.

#3: After college, if you keep drinking like you are still in college, people will think you're an alcoholic... and they might be right.

A worrisome thought really. The contemporary collegiate experience is an amazing phenomenon -- unique to our American society at present -- one that totally accepts a complete shrugging off of all responsibility from one arbitrarily designated and date until another.

You can drink, smoke, do drugs, have random sex and what's worst -- do the bare minimum for four long years and still earn an undergraduate degree and be deemed "successful" in society's eyes.

I'm not saying I engaged in all of that behavior (hello, potential employers... please don't judge me), but one can, and many have, while passing through the hallowed halls of academia that is our American higher education.

#4: Having clean towels is awesome.

Also awesome? Clean counter tops/bathrooms/carpet/sink and refrigerator. You know what? Amend that, #4: A Mom's standard of household cleanliness is refreshingly pleasant.

College is fun but opening a Tupperware wondering if you're about to discover a new life form is not something I miss.

#5: That pleasant Indian guy hawking Fiber One bars on those commercials isn't kidding around. When he says they have 37 percent of your daily fiber, he. means. 37. effing. percent.

They might taste like candy bars, but eat three of them as a accidental midnight snack and you'd better plan the day around bathrooms like Superman plans his day around telephone booths.

#6: No matter how bad you think it is, it could always be worse.

While driving to a job interview recently, I passed the county lockup where prisoners awaiting trial are held. Outside, a few inmates were backed up against a fence about 50 yards from where I was sitting at a red light.

I was spacing out and realized one the inmates was looking at me. I made the mistake of making eye contact with him. He had two tear-drop tattoos under his right eye. He was scary. But while I looked at him I wondered for a second, "Man, what would it be like to be in that guy's shoes?"

Then I realized he was looking at me the exact same way! Except with a lot more envy, like "Man, I wish I was in that guy's shoes."

After my interview, as I was driving home, I passed a woman getting into her car after leaving a sewing shop. It looked like she was in chemotherapy. She was almost bald except for a few sparse wisps of hair circling her scalp like little blond halos in the sun.

I felt very sad for her.

And for the guy with the tear-drop tattoos.

And I felt less sad for myself. And my clean towels...