The Beer in Review: My Life Measured in Bottles of Schlitz

Editor’s Note: Yeah, yeah, whatever, it’s February and we’re just getting around to recapping 2010. We’re a new blog, so cut us some slack please. We’re introducing some loosely beer-related columns to the blog that will appear on a semi-regular basis, the first being The Beer in Review. It will run every Tuesday for the next three weeks.

It’s sort-of embarrassing to admit I’m nostalgic, but I have a good reason to be. For me, nostalgia makes it possible to measure events in my life. Nostalgia acts as a sort of log-log graph for experience; I use it to make direct comparisons across periods of time. Nostalgia is research into myself. It’s the only real access I have to “the self,” while I spend all of my time narrating the present like the director’s cut of a film.

When I started thinking about 2010 in review I thought, “This is easy, just another year of nostalgia for me.” But is that really it? Is that why I’ve spent so much time obsessing over different emotions and experiences throughout my life? Do the countless mix tapes and empty bottles of Schlitz add up to something else besides the feeling of emotional complexity? Could nostalgia be used for something beyond personal comfort?

The last ten years of human history have been sort of weird. They were supposed to signify something big, bright and new. They certainly began with the fervor inherent to newness as we all seemed to shout, “Look at us world, look at us!” in unison at the start of the century. Then September 11th happened, and the optimistic energy mutated into all forms of energy: confused, credulous, disheartened, violent, irrational. I think we caught a glimpse of everything and nothing at the same time. The years 2000-2009 have been realized, and they resemble their brutish nickname, the Naughts.

Ten years passed, and we watched as the idea of instant gratification somehow became faster. The present tense began sneaking up on us as we slipped behind trying to remember what happened before everything started happening at once. For me, nostalgia became the norm. Looking backward was easy compared to looking at the present. No matter how many possibilities the past afforded, there was only one path. The present was swamped with everything.

This last year was about finding the tools necessary to measure positive experience in this bold new century. Nostalgia always seems like the easy way out. In 2010, it grew to be that tool. In understanding our past, we’re able to measure the present better. We have the absolutes that we understand so well, the gambit of emotions we’ve stored away for personal use, and we can transpose them over the present for a better understanding of it all.

Most importantly for this last year, we hit the reset button transporting us back to 2000 without all the expectations. We have a clean slate and productive years behind us, the new century shaping itself optimistically, like we always thought it would. The years added layers, obscuring the focus of what we were finally moving towards, and 2010 scraped all of those away in one fell swoop. And here we sit, resilient and robust and all of the things we couldn’t be in previous years. Atrophy turned into opportunity. Here’s to 2011.

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