Parenting Advice, for Marissa

In the winter of 2005 I got a job at Starbucks, in large part to my future supervisor and friend, Marissa. I walked into the Starbucks on the corner of Telegraph & Slauson one afternoon, said hello to her not knowing who she would become, asked for a manager and turned in a resume. I got a call a couple of days later from an assistant manager at Starbucks who was kind enough to invite me to a hiring fair at another Starbucks in the area. The rest was history.

Marissa was one of the first supervisors I worked for. When she asked me, "Do you remember when you came in and dropped off your resume?" I told her I didn't, on account of my nerves, to which she responded, "Well I do, because you handed in your resume to me. Not only did I think you were cute, but you were one of the most polite people I had spoken to in a long time and I made sure you got a call about that hiring fair."

So therefore, Marissa started the chain-reaction that got me my first job.


Dear Mer-Mer,

What's goin' on Beav-nuts?

It's been such a long time since I walked into that store asking for a job.

I was young and stoned (You thought I was going to say restless, didn't you?)!

I think you were the perfect supervisor to work for at the time. You taught me well, knew how to have a good time, and never put up with any of my shit.

Which is why I liked you from the start. I may have been a little bit scared of you, but that changed quickly. I think it's safe to say we had a great time working together. We only made coffee but we made working there fun. Maybe too much fun? I'm going to say for the purposes of this letter, our follies at Store #8779 are irrelevant.

I want to talk about parents and parenting. Which I can imagine you might find a little strange, because neither of us are parents or currently in a parenting role; nevertheless, we do have parents who are still very much together and I believe have imparted on us certain qualities that I find to be commendable, snobbish as that may sound.

I believe that our parents did a wonderful job in instilling in us a love for reading.

Let me elaborate.

I recall one of our many conversations, where we spoke about your parents. I loved coming into work and discovering you were the shift lead. Raul was nice and Richard was fun, but you were down-right inspirational. New (old) songs that I had never heard before, new lessons or insights, new vocabulary words and witticisms that perhaps I could've thought of, but never could've expressed the way you so eloquently did. On this particular day, I think we were talking about video games. I told you my brother and I grew up playing video games and read Goosebumps alot, Harry Potter when it came out and other books sometimes. My brother reading more than I would. You said you and your sister grew up reading a lot more than Goosebumps and Harry Potter and played video games hardly ever. You reading more than your sister would. You said (paraphrasing here):

"Instead of my parents taking us to Toys-R-Us or KB Toys, they'd take us to Walden Books or Barnes & Noble. Once a month they'd take us to the book store and say, ' Buy whatever you want' and we did. Sometimes my parents spent over $300 in books, but they'd do it becuase they'd rather me lost in reading than lost in video games. "

And because of Mr. and Mrs. Marissa's valiant effort to make you the smartest woman on the planet you've come to have a friend in me forever. I recall you teaching me what sports commentators do (comment, not commentate), how awesome The Cure was (is), and always stopping you mid-sentence and asking you, "What does that mean?"

I loved the learning and I believe you didn't mind the teaching.

That sort of honest curiosity still seemed relevant back then.

Knowledge wasn't so cheap back then.

Being intelligent and having a good attitude were equally as important back then.

Nowadays, with information at our fingertips and 2-year-olds playing with ipads and taking selfies with their parent, what'll happen to tomorrow's generation when they're 18 years old with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from all the texting and video-game-playing? What happens when these 10-year-olds are cracked out on Ritalin and unable to keep their focus for more than 11 minutes? What happens when the curvature in our lumbar curve moves up to the top of the spine and we all start walking around like a buch of homo habili?

The truth is, probably nothing. Right? Survival of the fittest will dictate that whoever can type the fastest, "multi-task" most accurately, and stay comfortable hunched over a screen the longest will have more sex than Dan Blizeran on a Tuesday.

Call me an old soul Mer, but I've always enjoyed reading. I feel awkward if too long of a time goes by without finishing a book or even a magazine. My brain feels mushy and I feel slightly misanthropic when I haven't read something in a while. Which I understand can be a little oxy-mornonic because the stereotypical loner-nerd image follows the bookworm closely. Yet, I find the opposite to be true. I feel less interesting when I don't read regularly. I find myself feeling as if I have nothing to talk about when I don't read and because I visit Johnny often, I feel it's best to be on my toes.

An incarcerated man can lose himself in prison or lose himself in books. Kudos for Johnny executing the latter, or at least, fighting the good fight between the two.

So en fin, even though we are not parents, perhaps we can agree that parents of today (dare I say, our generation?) should buy their kids more books? It doesn't hurt to be intelligent. It's nice to have something to discuss that that doesn't involve your Instagram feed. It's lovely to be able to have a conversation with someone for so long that one doens't need to look at their facebook feed. Shit, it's unheard of to be able to spend a comfortable silence with someone these days.

Ahh, maybe I'm just getting older.

I enjoy reading and I'm sure you still do too. It's why I felt compelled to write you. From May 18th - June 18th, I read 7 books. I thought to myself (aside from how awesome I am), "which one of my friends would truly appreciate that?"

I thought no further than you.

Tell your siblings I said hello. You know I find them just as witty and intelligent as you (but you're the wittiest, for sure).

And tell your parents I said thank you. By raising you the way they did, they've passed on some wonderful parenting advice.

All the love,



I'd be remiss if I didn't list the 7 books I read in the last month wouldn't I?

The Human Stain by Phillip Roth

He has to be the best American Author alive. The depth he pours into each character is so enveloping. You truly feel their story with his writing.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Fun read. True tales from the kitchen and everyone's favorite TV host. I heard his voice narrating to me the whole time I read (which really made me read a lot slower)

The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

I read this when I was in Japan and reread every time I need a reminder of what masculinity should be.

The Enlightened Sex Manual by David Deida

I think the title tells all.

The Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride

When I saw the Spike Lee joint years ago, I went out and bought the book. Consumed with fickle follies of youth I didn't read it until now. An enlightening look into the US Army's 92nd Division in WWII, also known as, "The Buffalo Soilders"

ねえどっちがすき?by 安江リエ

My toughest read, on account of the language. It's a children's book (roughly translated "Which One do You Like?"). My first of many books in Japanese.

A Brief(er) History of Time by Stephen Hawking

An enjoyable read for sure. When Stephen Hawking, who is arguably one of the smartest men on the planet, explains the extent of the universe you can't help but feel small. A man who knows so much is fully aware that we mean so little in the grand scheme of things and when I was finished reading I was happy to be alive.

#Marissa #ParentingAdvice

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