Monthly Archives: August 2008

It’s Just a Year

This has become the mantra of Gen Y. It’s just a year, it’s just a year, it’s just a year. As we map and re map the path of our life, we dip our feet into different jobs and places and experiences, crossing off the bad and starring the good. But the uncertainty of how you will handle a new experience can make the task of stepping into a new pool of responsibility unnerving yet necessary. And there are the entry-level tasks and “resume building” keys we all need to have to open doors down the line. Doors that you don’t even know address to yet. But you don’t want to miss any of the necessary grunt work that might lead to your American (or International) Dream. So you bite the bullet. For a year.

It’s all I can say when talking to my friends about their I-don’t-get-no-satisfaction entry level jobs and when they get pink eye for the third time from their students. It’s just a year. Then something else, something better. Grin and bare it and make friends with the local bartender and you will survive. If you have something that you want in your future bad enough, I think patient is a virtue. Kate has been talk and dreaming about moving to Europe for a while now. She talked to her boss and they are situating her in the company in a place that could really make that come true. But before she jets off to Italy, she has to work in the agency’s corporate headquarters, a culture far different from the small boutique agency branch she loves and works in now. But it’s just a year. A year in the conservative ivory tower of corporate life that could lead to her dream job working in an international advertising agency, painting the Paris skyline from a bridge across the Seine, and having passionate and forbidden love affairs with tall, dark, and handsome European soccer players. It’s just a year.

Laura has the same relationship with teaching that I have with accounting. Don’t love it, sometimes hate it, but not ready to throw that bachelor’s degree in the trash just yet. She suffered through one year of student teaching and three bouts of pink eye, because, even though she was uninspired by her years of education courses, because she knows she needs to be a real teacher for at least one year, with her own classroom and her own kids and her own rules for one year, before really thinking about throwing in the towel. It’s just a year. Then she can reevaluate where she is and where she wants to be.

Even where we live in our 20’s is a hop scotch game from city to city, trying out all different lifestyles before making a commitment to settle down somewhere. Big city, small town, East Coast, West Coast, US or abroad. The possibilities are endless. For as long as I can remember I have known that I wanted to live in a big city. And I’m here and I love it. Living the dream now is making room for another dream to reach for once I’ve soaked up enough of the city to satisfy. I still take comfort in the fact that the only thing tying me down is my apartment lease.

They call this time in a Gen Yers life the “quarter-life crisis”. Where the proverbial midlife crisis is based on regrets of paths not taken in the past, the quarter-life crisis is stress over having too many options and paths to take and fear of taking the wrong path or missing one that could lead to a fulfilled and happy life. I don’t think anyone in our position is whining about how many choices we have, but the choices we face are decided by our character, who we are and who we will become. Too bad not enough of us have been out of the structure of academia to really know who we are or who we will become. I think part of the fuel behind the quarter-life crisis, a relatively newly coined phrase in 2001, is the commonality of the term midlife crisis. We’ve been hearing that term and the negative emotions surrounding it, our whole life (the term was first published in 1965). Instead of accepting our fate of regret when we are 50 years old, we are trying our hardest to leave no regrets in our past, to take every challenge we can, not to miss any passing opportunities, to do what we love every day. But its tough to do what we love every day when we don’t know what that is yet. So we want to try it all, we don’t want to miss a chance to catch our dreams and live what we love every day. It’s just a year, a year closer to that dream.

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Hipster Paradise

It’s been a busy week as I gather back together all the parts of my life that exploded last weekend with the culmination of so many months of planning and anticipating and mix taping. Lollapalooza ’08. It was yet another weekend of living inside my iPod, body surrounded by music at every corner of Grant Park.

The overwhelming feeling that comes with trying to see 130 bands over 3 days was curbed by the accompaniment of my two rock and roll tour guides; Boutit (for a complete band-by-band run down of who we saw, please enjoy Boutit’s blog.) and my alter ego/sister Andrea. Between the three of us, we had a full schedule to tackle over the 3 days. An added challenge was staying cool. Because Mother Nature has a sense of humor, Aug 1-3 happened to be the 3 hottest days of the summer. The sun and sweat was relentless. Hours under the cloudless sky and weaving in and out of the largest crowd to ever hit the park (225,000 people total for the weekend) made for a very uncomfortable few days. Unfortunately, this personally put a damper on the weekend. Constantly whipping the sweat off my face and making sure I always had some cold water to drink, trying to stick together as we made our way from one end of the park to the other along with a hurricane of people moving in all directions and reading the schedule at the same time took away from some of the magic of the festival.

But I’m no Debbie Downer when it comes to music so aside from being a baby wah wah about the weather and crowd conditions it was a weekend of discovering new bands, people watching, and jump jump jumping around jump around. The crowds were the most entertaining part of the weekend for me. The shear number of people that swarmed the city for the music was enough to give me chills even in the heatwave. The carpet of people that covered the mile long park was a picture of a culture of escapism, getting lost in the wave of the music, wanting for even just a weekend to forget the everyday life of responsiblity and boredom. Everyone filled their days with music from every corner of the world and every genre, simple tasks of bathing, eating, and dressing back burnered in exchange for squirt guns and hula hoops. It was hipster mecca with robes of skinny jeans and crowns of sweat bands, neon green and pink sunglasses protecting from the glare of the desert sun over Lake Michigan. The one image that formed in my mind that, even though I never got to fly overhead and see, will always sum up the spectrum of music that was played was an aerial view of the park at 8:30 Sunday night when Kanye West was putting on a flashing lights show at the south end of the park while Nine Inch Nails got closer to god at the north end.

Other high points in the weekend included:

-CSS and their neon costumes

-The crowd cheering during Black Keys when the sun went behind the only cloud in the sky

-Lupe Fiasco’s Rocky-esque entrance, including a back flip on stage.

-Discovering 3 new bands to download and love: Mates of State, Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s, and What Made Milwaukee Famous

-Seeing a star being born when MGMT introduced themselves as Radiohead, and believing them by the size of the turnout for their show.

-Living a fantasy watching DJ Momjeans (more commonly known as Hyde from That 70’s Show). Learning that in order to be in his entourage you must wear a fedora.

-Placing bets on when the lead singer of Steel Train would fall off the stage during his schizophrenic guitar solos.

-Trying not to look away when confronted with the hairy chested P-Thugg of Chromeo

-Turning the stage into an irish pub when Flogging Molly took the stage.

-Seeing Girl Talk for the 3rd time (one, two, three) this year. GT having to stop the party to let everyone know they had to get off the stage because they were bending it. Seeing my sister crowd surf over my head. GT rafting across the audience at the end of his set.

-Missing the memo that Lollapalooza was a memorial concert for Jounrey. Girl Talk, Gnarls Barkley, and Kayne all paid homage to the band.

-Tearing up when Kanye sang “Homecoming” to the city we all love.

There were a lot of stark contrasts between this festival and Rothbury (the audience, the pace, the heat, the groove, the Sherwood forest), but both left me satisfied and smiling (that’s what she said)