Monday, June 22, 2009

Random Observations: Gen Xers, Suburban Life, and Holden Caulfield


Technically, I’m still considered a ‘thirty-something,’ despite having only 1.5 years left to make that claim.

If someday you hear someone desperately praying out loud that they want the next 1.5 years to go by really slow, let there be no doubt—that would be me.

I may be sobbing at the time. So bring tissues, just in case.

Does anyone remember that show, Thirtysomething?

Yeah, I don’t remember much about it either. If you do remember it, I think there’s a good chance you’re a Baby Boomer.

I do remember being twenty-something at the time that show aired, and also remember thinking that I didn’t really like the show. I tried to watch it once or twice, but just couldn’t relate to it.

The title of the show probably should have tipped me off.

Looking back on it now, the reasons I couldn’t relate makes total sense. The show was apparently inspired by the movie, ‘The Big Chill’ and was about a group of Baby Boomers living as, you guessed it, thirty-something adults in the 1980’s.

I was born in ’71, which is considered one of the Generation X birth years.

So there you go. That should explain why I didn't get it.

Part of me tends to believe that people are people, regardless of what generation they’re labeled as, which I think is true, at least to some degree.

Over the years, however, I’ve noticed clear differences in the attitudes, values, and overall mindsets of people from different generations.

I think the times you live in can have a real impact on those things.

I also think other things like personality traits and one’s general disposition are probably, at least in part, more genetically inherited.

I'm of the opinion that both nature and nurture play a part in who we become.

But hey, I’m no expert on the subject.

I’m just touching on my own observations and opinions based on my life experiences; opinions which you may find accurate or inaccurate, depending on who you are.

I don't think there’s really a 'correct' answer anyway, since there are exceptions to just about everything in life.

In my experience, there is no black-and-white answer or neat little categories that everyone fits into—which is a GREAT thing if you ask me.

Diversity is the spice of life!

It’s part of what makes things interesting.

People's differences should be welcomed and celebrated, I think.

How boring would life get if everyone you knew was exactly like you?

I say, miserably boring, to be exact.

You want to know the first thing I associate with miserably boring?

Two words...

The suburbs.

Unfortunately, the words ‘different’ or ‘unique’ are the opposite of how I would describe the suburbs. To me, it’s more accurate to say that everything is mostly the same in the suburbs—where being different or not fitting in is usually frowned upon.

This being one of the many reasons why I find suburban life so incredibly boring.

In all fairness, I do know there’s an up-side to living in the suburbs.

In fact, I spent my high school years living in one of those quiet, cookie-cutter suburbs in South Florida.

Feelings of comfort and predictability, which bring a sense of perceived stability and safety, come to mind—and those things are especially alluring if you have a family, or are starting a family.

It’s just that, like everything else, there’s a price for that comfort and stability; there’s a sacrifice I think you make for that perceived perfect life.

I saw the movie, Revolutionary Road a few months ago, which was a great example of this sacrifice. In fact, this quote from one of the movie reviews sums it up perfectly, in my opinion:

"The suburbs are comfortable, maybe even beautiful, but their serenity is rooted in a friendly American conformity, so that the people who live there have to repress their true selves, which will emerge when they drink too much and have affairs, or rage at each other for their dishonesty, which was all caused in the first place by...the suburbs."

Conformity. Ew.

Anyway, I’ve digressed yet again. Wow, am I good at that or what.

It's kind of what I do, though.

So, back to the difference in generations subject.

The original reason I started writing this post had to do with a NY Times article I read today, which really fascinated me.

It’s titled, “Get a Life, Holden Caulfield,” and it touches on how today’s generation of kids seem to feel differently about Holden Caulfield, the main character from the book The Catcher in the Rye, than my generation did.

What’s especially interesting to me, is that after recently trying to read the book again as a thirty-something ‘adult’ (I use that term loosely), I now tend to feel the same way about Holden as many kids feel about him today.

I couldn't get past the first chapter for some reason.

I asked myself, “What the hell does that mean? How is that possible?”

I LOVED that book!

How is it that I can relate to high school kids these days? Is it that I haven’t really matured at all since high school?!

I’d like to think that I've matured nicely. Then again, there's a part of me that I think may never grow up, which is actually a comforting thought.

I want to keep that spark—that youthful sprit—alive as long as I can.

It’s a scary thought to imagine growing into some crotchety old man who’s afraid of change. I just can’t imagine.

Much like John Mayer sings in the song Stop This Train, I am generally: “So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young.”

In any case, after thinking about the Holden Caulfield thing for a few moments, I realized that kids these days have access to much more information than I did at their age.

I think that kids having more information and knowledge easily available to them at a younger age is probably helping the younger generation understand the world around them much faster and much sooner than my generation did.

At least that's what I'd like to think.

It's either that, or parents are just doing a much better job raising their kids these days.

I'm skeptical about the latter, but maybe it's a little of both, who knows.

Of course, having information available doesn’t guarantee people will take advantage of it, but at least it’s there. These days, you can get information to learn about anything in a matter of seconds.

Oh, how I wish Google was available to me in high school!

But of course, information and knowledge can’t bring you wisdom and discernment—that’s something, I think, only time and maturity can bring.

After reading this, however, it's clear that knowing how to act in public, is another subject altogether. One that probably includes people of all generations.

In unrelated news—man, am I in the wrong business. Even in today’s financial environment, it’s amazing how these guys are still swimming in money!
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Botanical Bridge

After eating and having a few drinks at The Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park, I went for a walk, towards a nearby fountain I like to sit by whenever I'm there. On the way to the fountain, I noticed a desolate little spot under a bridge nearby with lots of trees, plants, and general shrubbery all around it.

I'm not sure why I liked it enough to take a picture, but then again, I'm constantly taking pictures of all kinds of random things for no reason.

It's kinda what I do.

Being random, that is...
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ode to NYC Street Artists

As some or most of you may know by now, I love all kinds music. I'm proud to say that my tastes are very diverse, as I enjoy many artists in nearly all styles of music.

I pay no attention to labels or genres. Simply put, if it pleases my ears, I'll probably like it.

That said, I thought I'd share some of the musical moments I've captured while roaming the streets of New York City.

I've had the opportunity to interact with many, many interesting people along the way, and fortunately, I happened to have my camera with me during some of those encounters.

Some people love and appreciate the city's energy. Others, not so much -- it's not for everyone.

To me, one thing is certain, however:

New York City is full of life and adventure around every corner; but one of the important elements behind that, which I think rarely gets enough credit, is that the people of New York are the driving force behind the vibrant energy that exudes from the city.

Consider this post a small tribute to the street musicians and artists who add color and vibrance to the Manhattan's city streets and parks.

This, among many other things that make city life interesting, are things you don't get to see in the quiet suburbs of America...










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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Park in NYC

This probably isn't new information for those of you who live in NYC, but for those of us who are obsessed with the place and wish we did live there, I thought this would be interesting info to share.

"New York City unveils new park made from elevated rail line..."
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Friday, June 5, 2009

Morons in Manhattan III


The twenty minutes that Ms. Wonderful spent in the bathroom were the most blissful twenty minutes I’ve experienced in a long time; but all good things must eventually come to an end—and that’s exactly what happened to my all-too-brief, drama free respite from Ms. Diva’s annoying yapper.

But alas, return she did, despite my wishing that she would either spontaneously combust in the bathroom, or somehow be magically teleported back to Puerto Rico, and out of our lives forever.

Unfortunately for me, my powers of wishful thinking go only so far.

I sensed her presence and I looked up from my plate to see the wondrous sight of Ms. Wonderful as she approached the table, staring at me with her disapproving, beady eyes and asshole-puckered lips—frowning as if I’d just forced her to take a bite out of a huge shit sandwich.

I rolled my eyes and looked away in sheer disappointment at the very unfortunate fact that she even exists, then I took a moment to prepare myself for as much brown-nosing as I can possibly bear without vomiting.

I instinctively lowered my eyes into the palms of my hands, rubbing them lightly, as if doing so would make her disappear from my sight.

No Luck.

She was still there as I looked up. I immediately slumped in my chair, thinking to myself, “Aw Christ, here we go.”

Trying to kiss her ass was about as easy and painless for me as trying to pass a marble-sized kidney stone after being dehydrated from drinking no liquids for two days.

In fact, I think I would’ve rather tried to successfully suck a baseball through one of those skinny little black cocktail straws you get in your drinks at Happy Hour.

I tried in vain for a few moments to think of a way to apologize without actually apologizing, so we could get through the day's itinerary in relative peace.

But after a few moments of that futile exercise, I just thought to myself, "Aw, screw it.”

“Why would I apologize?”

“For what?” I thought.

“For being direct and honest? I don’t think so.”

You see, the problem with me is, I have a Holden Caulfield-like dismay for anything phony; so not only am I very bad at pretending that I’m sorry when I’m not, I also can’t even stomach an attempt at coughing up some phony response just to play nicey-nice.

I’ll save that for puppies and children, thanks.

Maybe I’m just an ass; but at least I’m an authentic ass. And that, to me, is as sacred as any Holy Relic or scripture is to [insert pious, religious pilgrim of any faith here].

You simply can’t buy or put a price on authenticity, my friends.

So, all of this considered, I decided to just say whatever I needed to say, and let the chips fall where they may.

“Listen, I really need to be as straight-forward as possible with you here. I’m not good at sugar-coating things, so I need you to turn down your girly sensitivities for a minute. This way I can say what I need to say without pissing you off—again.”

I cringed for a moment, thinking the ‘girly sensitivities’ comment would set her off, but thankfully it didn’t.

Her non-verbal cues and facial expressions, however, tightened up like someone who was anticipating a punch in the face, or like someone who knows they’re about to hear bad news.

“Um…ok” she said, reticently.

“So here’s the deal…”

“You and I clearly don’t get along and don’t have much in common” I said.

She nods in agreement.

“I don’t trust you, I think you’re way too pretentious, you have no sense of humor, you’re too judgmental, you act like a spoiled brat, and you take way too goddamn long to go to the bathroom.”

She sits back in her chair, a bit shocked at what I had said.

“I know that’s some brutal honesty for ya, but I’m just telling it like I see it.”

Before she has a chance to respond, I continue:

“That said, you’re here and that’s the reality of the situation. We’re all here for a few days, so I just need you to know that I’m a sarcastic person, and if I sense someone is being fake or disingenuous, I’m gonna call them out on it.”

“Capiche?”

Immediately after I said it, I regretted saying ‘capiche,’ since I thought the word would fly over her head and I’d have to explain what it meant.

But that’s not the word that threw her off.

“What do you mean disingenuous?” She asked.

“Note to self,” I thought...

“Don’t use anything above a fourth grade vocabulary around her.”

In as patient a demeanor as I could muster, I replied, “That means when I think your full of shit, I’m gonna point it out, and I’m most likely gonna be sarcastic about it.”

“When was I full of shit?” she asked.

“Um, you’re full of shit when you use your Puerto Rican heritage as an excuse for the fact that you’re simply not as cultured as you’d like us to think you are” I said.

“I mean, give me a break—my parents are from Hispanic countries too, but they know what a goddamn Yuppie is! Just say you don’t know, but don’t blame it on being Puerto Rican, because that’s bullshit.”

She smirks and looks down like a little kid who’s been busted lying.

“I guess” she says, reluctantly.

“Whatever, you know it’s true.”

“Remember the time TD and I were talking and he threw out that Moby Dick reference?”

“Yes.”

“Well, do you also remember that when we told you it was from Moby Dick, you asked, ‘What’s Moby Dick?’”

“Yeeeaah, and?” she replied.

“Great. She's yes-ing me to death now” I thought.

“So if you remember all of that, then how do you not remember that after we told you that Moby Dick is a book, you said, ‘Oh, well I’m from Puerto Rico, we don’t read books like Moby Dick there.’”

Smirking again, she says, “Oh yeah, I did say that. It’s true though…I think.”

“Ok. Welp, I hate to burst your bubble, but literature isn’t exclusive to people in the U.S.” I said.

“Believe it or not, people all over the world read literature, including those in Puerto Rico—which is, by the way, considered U.S. territory.”

“Well, I just never heard of it” she replied.

“So, just say you’ve never heard of it then” I retorted.

“When you blame your ignorance on being from Puerto Rico, you basically insult the intelligence of all people from Puerto Rico” I said.

“Not only does it piss me off when you say that, but you sound like a complete idiot.”

“Alright, fine” she replied.

“If I stop saying that, will you stop picking on me?”

During all this, TD motioned to the waiter for the check, and it arrived just before we finished the conversation.

“I haven’t been picking on you any more than I would anyone else…”

I paused for a moment, then replied, “Ok, well may be I have.”

“All I ask is that you stop trying to be a bullshit artist.”

“I think I can deal with your pain-in-the-ass-ness for a few days if you can cut down on the bullshit” I said.

“Ok, I’ll try.”

I was tempted to reply with a Yoda reference from the movie Star Wars and say something like, "There is no try, only do!" But instead, I opted for something a bit more tame.

“I guess that’s all I can ask for” I replied.

Feeling relieved, TD pays for the check in cash, and we get up to leave. She put out her hand to shake mine and says, “So, we got a deal?”

I look at her hand, and in jest, I scoff at the gesture.

In a loud, obnoxious voice, I recall one of my favorite episodes of HBO’s Entourage and say, “Nah! No hand shaking on this one, we gotta hug it out bitch!”

We all laughed, the mood was light again, and were finally able to leave our little Café on 23rd Street and start our much anticipated Metropolitan adventure.

(continued from: Morons in Manhattan II)
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Funemployment?

Considering I work for a Fortune Top 100 Company (it was before the recession anyway), I've been very aware of the large amounts of people that have been getting laid-off.

I think the count so far for my employer this year is around 12,000 people.

Most of the people who I've known that have been affected were absolutely thrilled, however. The reason for this was the fact that they recieved decent severance packages, and wouldn't have to work for a while.

I have to tip my hat to those people.

I would immediately be thinking about what happens after the severance runs out. Hmm. I'm really laid-back about most things, but I guess that's one of the few situations I'd definitely get very stressed out about.

I would be freaking out if all I had for income was a paltry unemployment check.

I know that anyone can be affected by this these days, so I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for that possibility. In light of that, I read this article today, which I thought would help me see things differently if I were to be part of a RIF (reduction in force) someday.

I'm not so sure it helped though. I might enjoy it for a week or two, but after that, I'm not sure I'd be able to see it as 'funemployment' for very long.

I hope I don't get the chance to find out!
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Sausage le' Male

Looks like the Counting Crows are playing Central Park in September.

Figures, I'll be there just in time to miss it the week after, on the 10th. Dammit!!!

In other news, Borders is apparently the le chique le cool place for lonely, single men to be on Saturday nights in my town.

Granted, I'm neither lonely nor single (well, single, but taken), but it was just me at home on a very boring Saturday night, and I was getting stir crazy.

I decided to go there after a quadrupel espresso at Starbucks. I was feeling lively and upbeat from the coffee, but after a few moments, I found something about the place a bit strange.

Then it hit me -- there wasn't even one female in the entire store.

It was a total sausage-fest.

As far as I'm concerned, a little eye candy couldn't have hurt the situation. It's not like I went to check out women, but it's nice to have some good scenery, at least.

It would've been a much better experience if I had something worth looking at besides the wiener-roast of about a baker's dozen of South Florida's most unattractive, hairy men.

I mean, even if I were gay, these guys wouldn't have made the cut.

Now, you may be wondering why I would go to a book store to cure my boredom instead of say...going to a Club, Pub, or Bar -- which is a fair question, and one which I am now asking myself as I type this.

The truth is, I wasn't in the mood to drink and I wasn't in the mood to be around people who were drinking either -- this being another choice that I'm now questioning myself on, since I find that drinking tends to make a lot of seemingly uninteresting people, well...interesting.

But, in all fairness to seemingly uninteresting people, I'm sure they're probably not really uninteresting, per se (some really are, though, as I know a few).

The drinking just enables introverts to loosen up and reveal themselves more. I'm part of that group, so I should know -- in fact, I'm probably uninteresting to people who don't know me, in all honesty.

In any case, I came across some interesting books while I was looking to see if they had a copy of Mat Kearney's new CD, City of Black and White.

They didn't have the Mat Kearney CD, but I was amused by one of the books I came across, which was titled, The Bro Code.

It's full of stupid, but funny so-called 'rules' (a.k.a., the ones that are part of the secret world of men, which is apparently not so secret) that guys follow. It was actually quite witty and definitely provided some light reading, as well as a few laughs.

Here's one for example. This is one is by no means the best 'rule' of the bunch -- I just happened to pick it because I like to wear baseball caps, and I can relate to this opinion:

"Article #24 of the Bro Code: when wearing a baseball cap, a Bro may position the brim at either 12 or 6 o'clock. All other angles are reserved for rappers and the handicapped."

Nice. I never could understand the young guys who wear them in strange, sideways type of angles. To each their own, I guess.

And a few more:

Bro Code, Article #101: "If a Bro asks another Bro to keep a secret, he shall take that secret to his grave. This is what makes them Bros, not chicks."

Self explanatory and true, if only guys were not like chicks -- and they are most of the time when it comes to this rule.

Bro Code, Article #89: "The mom of a Bro is always off limits, but the stepmom of a Bro is fair game if she initiates it, and/or is wearing at least one article of leopard print clothing."

I would add that she is required to be a MILF, otherwise, all said rules referencing stepmoms being fair game are null and void.

See, just look and marvel at all the useful information I acquired this weekend.

Now, if I happen to discover the shangri-la of girl hangout locations, where only attractive, single women that are worth conversating with congregate and spend lots of time -- I'm going to be really pissed off that I didn't find it when I was 'available.'

Seriously.
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