Returning to school was always a stressful time for me, because I was a half-witted ball of neuroses. If I could go back and visit my former self, I would say: "Sam: Cool the f%$* out, buddy." In that spirit, I've written a series of letters to my former schoolboy self, providing heartfelt advice for the new year. The first series of letters can be found here, day two is here day 3 is here, and yesterday's is right here

Today's letters: Soft-Shelled Man (11th through 12th grade)

11th Grade:

Listen, stretch: Nothing matters.

SPOILER ALERT, big time. I know it seems like there's a lot of things going on that really matter. You're getting interested in politics and starting to worry about the state of the world. You're getting a sense of who you are and what you believe in. You're cultivating sensibilities that will guide the rest of your life. Great. But, alas, it doesn't matter. Nothing matters.

Sure, sure, you're going to say that I'm just a jaded old man who gave up on life and has decided to let the winds of fortune buffet him howsoever they may. And the perspicacity of that observation would really wound me, except that nothing matters so I don't really care what you think.

You're going to have sex this year. Congratulations. Bummer that human affection just boils down to pushing skin and meat against one another in what would be horrifically disgusting to an objective observer. But, you know, enjoy that.

Your first job! Yayyyyy. Money! Too bad it corrupts everything it touches.

All right, I'm getting depressed now. Thanks a lot, buddy.

12th Grade:

Listen, "adult": Develop a goddamn skill of some kind.

Things are about to get real in a hurry, and after this year you will be beyond my aegis. (There is absolutely no chance that even after 13 years of schooling you know what that word means, but look it up - it might be on the SAT.) But there's one big trick to success: You've got to be able to do something that other people can't do.

As it turns out, being medium-smart and smoking pot will NOT separate you from the pack, however much you pursue those avocations. You've got to be able to use Adobe Illustrator, or weld, or write aggressive hypothetical letters to your former self if you want to get ahead in this world. It doesn't have to be sexy, it just has to be something that nobody else can do, and you'll be able to count on $$$$$$$ whenever and wherever. (Disregard what I said about money corrupting everything it touches, it's still a hell of a lot better than penury (ditto SAT.))

I don't care if you learn systems analysis or whatever. I don't know what that is, but I know that if you got it you'll be fine. I'm running out of space but, ummm…savor these last few halcyon days before they are gone forever. OK BYE!