Friday, June 29, 2007

Eastward Ho.

Whenever I tell people I grew up in Oklahoma, I get one of several reactions:

  • "You don't have an accent..."
  • "Oh."
  • "Like the musical!"
  • Insert random line from said musical right here.
  • "Wow, do you know _______?"
  • "I'm sorry."
My standard response is a sideways grin and "I've had time to get over it." You see, I went to college in Chicago, and now I'm doing market research in New York. That's a different story, though. After all, it's probably not what I thought I'd be doing when I was younger. Actually, it's definitely not what I thought I'd be doing. I never really saw myself leaving Oklahoma, but here I am.

When I end up sharing my story of where I'm from, I think people get this huge romantic sprawl of a tale in their head and then attach it to my life, like I'm a country bumpkin who made good and somehow fought his way to civilization through the powers of higher education. The truth is closer to: Parents got divorced my junior year of high school, moved with dad to Evanston, Illinois, went to school close by, ended up in New York through the dumb luck that is employment fairs.

I sort of pride myself on being a stealth Oklahoman. Unless you ask, there's not a lot about me that screams it. My secret fantasy is that I hide it because I'm certain it would be a huge mark against me if people could pick it up. I picture it as a skeleton in my closet. I secretly think it makes me more interesting and heroic, the same way that movies make closeted homosexuals or other marginalized folk kind of noble. But it's not so. Still, I like that I have this one little spot of weirdness that makes me a little different, even if I look just like the next guy in the next cubicle.

The secret within a secret is that I am almost certain that I'm kidding myself here. I don't know what I'm doing in this city. I sit in bed at night and stare at my ceiling fan and I wonder what would happen if I would scream at the top of my lungs. One of these days it's totally going to happen.

The secret within a secret within a secret is that I'm pretty sure that one of these days I'm going to say "Fuck It" and pack my bags and head back to Oklahoma. There are complications to that, but I don't really think about those. I just want to go home.

I remember reading vampire stories when I was a kid, and a part of the whole mythology is that vampires have to carry the dirt of their homelands with them, in their coffin, or they whither and die. I'm not a superstitious guy, but I can relate.

I feel completely detached from where I grew up and sometimes that scares the crap out of me and sometimes I don't even care. And then I think about that, and it scares the crap out of me even more.

Five Things That Inspired This Blog.

1.Rejuvenile. A generational look at kickball, goals, betrayal, and growing up. His wife also created Weeds. So, score.

2.How I Paid for College. A novel about adolescent freaking out; kind of like a New Jersey Catcher in the Rye. Heavily fictionalized, but definitely in the spirit of this space.

3.Simply Fired. A wide-scoped blog united by a single, scary, wonderful topic.

4.20Something Essays by 20Something Writers. A good start, but surprisingly myopic. Consider this a more democratic approach to a similar tactic.

5.Courtney Cox's Asshole. The spiritual mother of this blog. Classic, amazing. We laughed 'til we peed. Then we laughed some more.

The Rules of the TwentySomething Freakout.

According to Howe and Strauss, we love ourselves some rules. If you want to post to this blog, there are just a few:

1.E-Mail to receive a posting invite. A quick heads up about what you want to write about is cool, but not required.

2.Write an entry, complete with clever title, no longer than 350 words. The topic of choice is yours, so long as it's somehow about our generation or the weird world of twentysomethings. It's a broad spectrum; just go nuts.

3.Profanity is cool, within reason. If your post is overly belligerent, cruel, needlessly gross, or pointless, it may not fly. That said, we're all pretty chill here--use this broad guideline, as provided by Terry Pratchett, on 'erotic' vs. 'kinky': "It's the difference between using a feather and using a chicken." In short, moderation and sensibility will take you far.

4.Create a pseudonym, if you'd like.

5.Invite two friends to do the same. We all know lots of people, right? Well, in the words of Haley Joel Osment, from before he fell out of the puberty tree and hit every ugly branch on the way down: "Pay it Forward."

That's all, gang...think of this as a cross between expulsion, therapy, and a group forum. We've all had great, scary, weird, and informative things happen to us as we've hit this decade's all worth talking about.

Looking forward to hearing about it--blog away!


You're young. You're smart. You're educated. You're connected. You have your whole life ahead of you. And you might just be scared out of your mind.

Sound familiar?

There's a bunch of different names for us as a generation--the millennials, the adultolescents, the rejuveniles, gen x, gen y, the echo boomers, the lost, or (if you're totally cynical!) the screwed. Since we were kids, there's a couple things that seemed to be written in stone about our generation.

According to Millennials Rising(Howe and Strauss) we're trained to behave as if we're special (due to constant positive reinforcement), sheltered (due to our parents overprotecting us/micromanaging our lives), team-oriented (due to education trends and the group dynamics of "play dates"), achievers (due to goal-orientation and massive pressure to succeed), and conventional (due to a desire to "follow the rules" in expectation of reward).

We've also come of age into a world where technology has grown and developed in step with us. We have life-long exposure to cellphones, TiVo, DVDs, blogs, MP3s, laptops...and we have an almost instinctual understanding that the iPods we're grooving to will soon be obsolete, along with every other gadget that aids and abets our lives. There's not so much a sense of wonder at the technology explosion around us, but a sense of ennui and expectation.

We multitask; we absorb information from a dozen different streams at once, as we watch TV, read the paper, eat dinner, and work on assignments all at the same time. We expect instantaneous gratification. We execute rather than memorize, as trial-and-error is a lauded learning method. With the world changing so quickly, what's the point in holding onto knowledge, as it might be junked tomorrow? Reality feels softer, and the boundaries between us as consumers and us as creators is quickly shifting, dissolving, reforming, and disappearing.

Okay, if you've read this far:WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN!?! And if we know what this means, and if it gives us insight into how to "play the game" of being a grown-up in this day and age, then why is it so hard to find a job, or decent health care, or feel like we're moving forward into the place our parents were a generation ago?

In short--what the hell is happening to us?

This blog is dedicated to stories by us--members of our generation with perspectives of "The Entitlement Generation" as we come of age. Funny, scary, weird,'s all welcome.

If you have something to post, just drop a line to The rules follow in the post below.

Welcome to the real world, twentysomethings. Let's hope we survive the experience.