The Generation X and Generation Y Hybrid: For People Turning 30 This Year

Here’s to the Class of 1999 (as well as for anyone else close enough in age to relate this).

We were born between the fall of 1980 and the summer of 1981; currently the ones turning 30 within the next year.  It was us who remember having vinyl records in our house during our early Elementary School days, but by the time we got to Junior High we learned the cool kids were getting CD players.  We remember how in the 3rd grade when The Simpsons came out, our parents hesitated to let us watch it, and now we wonder in amazement that they’re still making new episodes of it, and how tame and polite the show seems now compared next to Family Guy.

During our high school days, we came home and fell asleep to a Saved by the Bell marathon until dinner was ready.  We clearly remember the horrific Columbine shooting in Colorado happening just a few weeks before our high school graduation.  (The event actually happened on my 18th birthday.)

 

Yes, we remember Teddy Ruxpin and slap bracelets.  We remember when The Ren & Stimpy Show was the coolest show ever.

We are part of Generation X, barely: The last year of Generation X ended in 1981.  That means the new generation, Generation Y, began in 1982, just 7 full months after I was born.  After a motivation speaker at work a few weeks ago gave characteristics of each generation, I confirmed my belief that I’m not a typical Generation X guy; and if anything, I’m more Generation Y.  The caricatured characteristics of the generations (below) are from notes I took while listening to the speaker that day, Dan Baker:

Generation X: 1961-1981

33% of the work force, first generation to get divorced, “latch-key kids”, high-tech, loner, needs to be happy, reward-motivated, blames everyone else for their problems, high work ethic, works the bureaucracy, cold-blooded practical

Generation Y (Millennial): 1982-2001

20% of the work force, lacks people skills, no sense of authority, no sense of boundaries, not intimidated by threats, has no prejudice, not motivated by money, loves to be mentored, learns by mistakes, learns quickly, knows how to trick the system, “so what?” generation, wants to feel special, wants someone to care about them, needs to “be built”, bad listener, good watcher, needs encouragement, not good at having real friendships- partly because they rely so heavily on social networks (texting, facebook, etc.)

I definitely relate with a few Generation X characteristics: I’ve always born more of a loner and am content being that way.  I need to be happy.  I know how to work the bureaucracy.  And because I’m not a black-and-white, cut-and-dry person, I am definitely cold-blooded practical.

But as a whole, more Generation Y traits jumped out at me: I am not intimidated by threats.  I am as little prejudice as I know to be humanly possible.  I am definitely not motivated by money (I have been preached to my whole life that money isn’t everything and that it doesn’t make people happy, and I believe it).  I do love to be mentored, just as I love to mentor.  I totally know how to trick the system; it’s one of my specialties- taking a machete to red tape.  I’m not so good of a good listener, but I’m always watching, even when you don’t want me to.  And I need encouragement.

I “work the bureaucracy” be being faithful and loyal to people for the long run (Gen. X), but I’m not faithful or loyal to the system because I “know how to trick the system” (Gen. Y).  I am “cold-blooded practical” (Gen. X) about all my decisions and opinions, yet because I am motivated by encouragement and want to feel special (Gen. Y), I am not being practical because I am letting my “feelings” control me and allowing others’ opinions of my achievements to become part of the deciding factor of whether or not I am successful in what I do.

So I predict that most other people born around 1981 are in this similar situation where they don’t identify fully with either generation, but instead with elements of both.  And I’m sure the hybrid traits I have adopted are not necessarily the same ones as other people born in 1981.  But I do find it pretty interesting how my way of thinking and outlook on life resemble specific X and Y traits.

So now you know.  It’s official.  You’re Generation X, but there’s a good chance you act and think more like Generation Y.  We’re the in-betweens.  And I think that makes us feel special; which for our generation, is pretty dang important.

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A Storytelling of Snake Charmers (or Escapists)

Sometimes there’s no way to get around or over a problem; the only way to get past it is to just go through it.

This past Saturday my friend Tommy and I embarked on our second annual canoe trip on The Harpeth River in Nashville.  The same river that just a month ago flooded much of the western part of the city.  I would love to paint myself as this avid outdoorsman, compensating for the fact (as I’ve established before) that I’m no athlete.  But really, it’s just that I can’t turn down an activity with a friend that allows me to spend several hours breathing fresh air, getting sunburned (just my knees, very badly), and getting to see wildlife.

Especially one that I deem as a lazy adventure (Manspeak, Volume 8: Relaxation).  With the water being as high as it was, very little power was needed on our part to get the canoe moving.  Just basic steering away from rocks and into the best currents.  Like most male oriented social activities, canoeing  kept us from awkwardly facing each other the whole time (Manspeak, Volume 4: Stance).  And gave us something to do when there was nothing to say (which never really happened, because of our mutual love for Super Mario Bros. 2, McGee and Me, and fatherhood).

Two hours into our journey, after relatively no stress whatsoever, I had to do it.  I had to, in typical 1980’s sitcom fashion, speak a line of ironic foreshadowing: “This has been a really laid back trip.  No problems at all.”

Instantly, we look up and ahead.  Two trees had fallen from the flood; one from both sides of the river, blocking the entire length of passage, doubly.  But even in that moment, we didn’t realize that this puzzle ahead was more complicated than just getting past two fallen trees.

We decided the right side of the river promised the easiest and quickest clearance.  I had learned from our last trip that where there was thick, abundant, yellowish foam, it meant there was a decaying animal trapped alongside the river.  As we got closer to the foam, both of us smelled the corpse before we saw it.  A large dead fish, head and tail missing.  Still the size of the pillow you sleep on every night.  Meaning that passing through would ineviditably mean we would have to step in the water to lift the canoe over the fallen tree, we opted to check out the left side of the river blockage as to not get funky fish foam on our sunburning legs.

We steered to the canoe to the other side, seeing right way that the depth of blockage was even greater.  In our strategy forming minds, we both came up with our own idea of how to get through.  Tommy wanted us to stick to our original plan; to step in the water and lift the canoe over our heads and over the trees, then place it back in the water and hop back in the canoe.

I, however, saw a different means of escape.  Shaking the tree and its submerged limbs further in and out of the water, I came to the conclusion that if I crouched down low in the boat, Tommy could stand on the tree, pushing the canoe through the limbs as I helped keep them pushed down to make way for our path.

Tommy is an easy-going guy.  Or maybe it was my natural older brother demeanor, but I convinced him to do it my way.

And right as he said, “alright, let’s do this”, I replied with “Oh, there’s a snake right there!”

I picked my oar up, placing it on my shoulder like a rifle.  “Look five feet away from the end of my oar.  There’s a black snake wrapped around that branch.  He blends in almost perfectly.  His head is up, and he’s looking at us right now.”

It’s not that he didn’t believe me, it’s just that my head was in the way for a few minutes before he could finally see the thing.  And when he did, he jumped in to “crisis mode” with me.

Of course, a man in Crisis Mode is not a man who gets nervous or noticeably excited.  He is a man who speaks lower and slower as he attempts to play the situation in slo-mo, in order to figure out the best practical solution for the potentially dangerous and deadly problem.

After another five minutes (which seemed like 20) of deliberation, after realizing our wishes of killing the snake with a flame thrower were not part of reality (thanks a lot Contra), that we had to meet this problem head on, we went in to Action Mode, while of course, simultaneously remaining in Crisis Mode.

Keeping our eyes constantly scanning the weather, the bank (filled with a good amount of visible snake holes), and the canopy of tree branches over us for more snakes, we carefully lifted the canoe out of the water and over the fallen tree, sliding in the mud (he was wearing flip flops, I was wearing my ten-year old New Balance cross country running shoes), only to realize that once we set the canoe back into the water, another 12 feet ahead was another (this being the third) fallen tree blocking the entire width of the river.

The snake, now behind us, had slithered off of his resting (preying) place on the branch.  Was he in the water now?  Were his friends waiting up ahead of us?  We tried not to think about it.

We hoisted the canoe over the final tree.  The only way into our vehicular escape module was to hop down a few feet from the tree we were standing on at that point, which meant possibly tipping the boat over.  Thank God, we both landed it and got out of there as fast as we could.

The final hour of the trip involved a lot of head turning at every threat of another lethal animal.  We did end up seeing a doe that froze once it saw us.  I was convinced I would see a great beast out there, like a mountain lion or a blank panther.  Never happened though.

The thing is, I’m typically the last person to ever spot any kind of creature in wildlife.  And despite me being so close to the snake, I’m still amazed I spotted it.  We talked about the possible ending this story would have had if I wouldn’t have miraculously seen the snake.  I would have remained in the canoe as Tommy pushed us through, the snake would have been inches away from my nose- either biting my face and falling into the canoe with us.

When I bought my mountain bike back in April, the girl who sold it to me told me that when her brother was working at Bonnaroo last year, he got bit by a water moccasin.  He had to be airlifted to the hospital and given a $40,000 antidote.  Now he was to pay off that debt on a $30,000 a year salary.

But in that moment encountering the snake on the river, what else could we do?  We couldn’t go over or around the problem, we just had to man up and go through the problem.

Myself and Tommy back in 2008

Do Aliens Really Exist?

Or more importantly, could they even get here?  And could they survive our living conditions?

Being a kid in northern Alabama in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I was convinced that at any moment aliens could be on the verge of flying over me as I rode my bike, especially as I was heading back to the house as the sun was beginning to set on a crisp, eerie October evening.

There was a hysteria/fascination with UFO sightings where I grew up, as more and more families were able to afford camcorders. In the back of many peoples’ minds was the hope of filming one of these banana-shaped alien spacecrafts made famous on the local news, courtesy of some good ole boys in a town called Fyffe, who kept submitting their shaky footage of either a light pole or a plane at night.

Evidently I seem like the kind of guy that would be knowledgeable on the subject- in the last year especially I have been randomly asked by so many people the dreamy question: “Do you think aliens exist?” Good question. I have a good answer.

I truly want to believe in aliens, but there are two major issues with humans ever making contact with them. The first is how they would get here. Planet Earth is light years away from any other solar system. (A light year is the distance light travels in a year. For an idea of how far that is, light can travel around the Earth 7 times in one second.) If aliens were able to create a device that enabled them to travel to all the way to Earth, it would have to work similar to a teleportation device. Because that’s the only way to feasibly move a living creature that far in so little time.

And even if aliens invented a teleportation device to get to other universes, the chances of them finding our planet are literally astronomical. The universe has no end. So if there really is life outside of our planet (other than spiritual) then we surely can’t assume it’s just us and them. Surely there would be thousands, if not millions, of other planets with intelligent life forms. Chances are, they would discover countless other universes before they ever found us.

The other problem is that they most likely couldn’t breathe our air or survive in our climate. For example, human life can not survive on any of the other planets in our solar system. We would either freeze or burn within the first day of being there. Plus there wouldn’t be enough, if any, oxygen to breathe. The aliens would have to be coming from a planet that was almost identical to Earth in terms of its life sustaining qualities.

Do aliens exist? If they did, they couldn’t get here. And if they could, why would they choose Earth out of all the universes? And if they did choose Earth, they would die within the first day from our natural environment. I have always held this hidden hope that ET really would come back to Earth. I’ve been waiting since 1982.

Sometimes life is disappointing. This is one of those times. The chances of humans ever meeting aliens on Earth are… (unavoidable pun) …out of this world.

“Hey Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along for a ride?” -The Byrds (“Mr. Spaceman”)

The Mute Button (Laryngitis)

 I have become Larry N. Gitus.

There were certain plot devices that seemed to be especially rampant in sitcoms and movies of the 1980’s.  Like quicksand.  Good thing there was always conveniently a drooping branch or vine hanging off a nearby tree in which the sinking character was could grab onto, often thanks to the assistance of a timely passerby or a heroic Labrador Retriever. 

Another one was amnesia.  Began three minutes into the episode and lasted until three minutes from the end of it, when the character would get hit on the head and instantly remember who they were and gain their normal personality back. 

The third exhausted plot device of the 1980’s that comes to mind is the one I’ve been suffering with for the past two days: laryngitis.  Whenever the weather goes through an extreme change (it’s been cold and rainy for the past two months, then finally, this weekend, Nashville switched gears to a hot and sunny climate again) my body suffers some sort of random condition. 

Like painful sinus pressure in my teeth.  Or sensitive body aches.  Or lack of appetite. 

But this time, I lost my voice.  Yesterday all I could do was whisper.  No vocal tone whatsoever.  As for today, my best moments have been the phantom groups of 15 minutes where I could talk, but sound like Brad Garrett (the Jewish actor who played the Italian character Robert Barone, Raymond’s older brother on Everybody Loves Raymond).  I sound like a victim of scandal being interviewed on 20/20, having my voice disguised with a voice modulator.  But that’s only when I’m lucky.

During my usual bike ride through the park during my lunch break, a guy ahead of me was walking while talking on his Blue Tooth, in the middle of the path.  There was no way to warn him I was coming up behind him.  So I just moved to the edge of one side to stay out of his way.  But I still really scared him as I slowed down to ride past him.  Too bad I didn’t have a bull horn. 

Then I could have scared him even more.

Losing my voice has only happened to me one other time, and that was only for half a day.  I’m hoping to be able to speak by the end of the week.  It’s very frustrating as the event planner of my family (my dad is the mechanic/carpenter, my brother-in-law is the computer whiz) not being able to call everyone to make plans for Memorial Day. 

Text messages and emails are a good thing, but still there’s nothing like being able to use words out loud.

But until I get my voice back, I least I can write.  It would have been a horrible week not to, with the finale of LOST and the premiere of Ali Fedotowsky’s Bachelorette season in the same week.

Like a young child just learning to speak but who is frustrated because they can only get certain phrases out that make sense to other people, so am I.  Not to mention the frustration I constantly try to manage amidst all the well-meaning people around me who think it’s funny that I sound like Donald Duck or a big dumb ape.  

And the irony is, I’d laugh with them all as they tease me.  If only I literally could.

Constant Time Travel: Is There Such a Thing as “Right Now?”


When waking up from a dream I don’t want to be in, there is that pivotal moment right before my eyes open that I realize how wonderful life is.  Because I return to the comfort of reality.  Not trapped in an eerie sub-world with a grey and pink cloudy sky.

Similarly, I sometimes forget how old I am.  I often hesitate when people ask.  In the milliseconds before I answer, my mind travels through different ages I could be.  The most common:

“Am I seventy-five years old, with most of my life behind me?  Is my body aged and limited by decades of wear and tear?  Have I truly lived my life?  Have I been the giver I need to be?  Or have I lived my life selfishly?”

A millisecond later, the wheel has spun, and the arrow points to “28”.  I say out loud, “I am 28”.  Over a third of my life is finished, but that still leaves two thirds.

Like waking up from a dream, I realize I am still young, and I’m so grateful.  The problem is, despite hearing “hold on to your youth” and “enjoy this while you can” from older adults, especially starting once I graduated high school, I can’t do it.

I can’t appreciate “the now” anymore than I already am and have been.  In fact, I try to hold on to the present too strongly.  And then it becomes the recent past.  So then I’m holding on to the past and the present at the same time.  Almost to a fault.  It’s always been a part of who I am and how I think.

My senior year in high school for our “class prophecy” read aloud at Class Night, the day before graduation, my peers predicted that in 10 years I would still be living in Fort Payne, wishing I was in 1983.

I am a person known for my desire to want to freeze time.  Or ideally travel back to my younger years.  All my classmates were aware that even as a freshly turned 18 year-old, I romanticized about the 1980’s more than is humanly normal.

I feel time is going by too quickly and I’m not even 30 yet.  Like the forced moving screen on certain Super Mario levels, all I can do is keep moving forward.  And like love and money, there will never be enough time.


Manspeak, Volume 11: Responsibility

People tend to accept that there is a difference between what is normal in the movies and what is normal in reality, and for the most part we know not to confuse the two. In the world of Hollywood, a 39 year-old playboy bachelor who is “too free-spirited” to get married simply lives for himself in his classic arcade-filled apartment. And he is cool. He is Owen Wilson. Adam Sandler. Vince Vaughn. But in reality, this guy is not cool at all. He’s a guy who needs to grow up.

Because here in reality, we equate responsibility with manhood.

There is of course a false, glamorized idea that a man is defined by his freedom; a lifestyle where he needs to answer to no one. In this unspoken concept the ultimate goal in a man’s life is to win the lottery and never have to change diapers.

But this man is not the kind we truly respect. Instead, we admire a man who while he is still young, gives up his freedom to be become responsible to another human being in marriage. And then of course, within the next few years he is expected to become a father. And an involved father, at that. Responsibility is what helps a man to be normal and have a purpose.

A funny and true proverb I heard a lot in college was this: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” On the same token, men without real responsibilities are rarely respected. So much of life is showing up and participating. And in order to do that, a man must actively become involved in other people’s lives. The closer I get to age 30, the further away I am from being able to relate to what it’s like to be a child, and therefore the more aware I am that I once was an annoying kid.

I think back to all the hours my dad patiently listened to me tell him all the Ninja Turtle trivia I knew. And the way he made sure I had the coolest project in science and social studies class each time. And since he knew I didn’t like sports, he became the leader of a Cub Scouts group to inspire me to be involved in an extracurricular activity I actually enjoyed- being an adventurous boy with my friends. I couldn’t have really known it back then, but his sincere involvement in my life has everything to do with who I have become as an adult.

It’s amazing how much one man’s involvement makes or breaks his child’s life. I was blessed and still am. I still need my dad. I still learn from him.

And now I’m not all that far from being in the position he was in the early 1980’s. I will become the man looking into the googly eyes of a helpless baby, both of us completely clueless. But that’s the way God planned it. No instruction booklet on how to be a parent. Instead, it all comes down to the humility of a man who makes a conscience effort to be responsible.

“My dad’s been dead for more than 20 years. I still want him to be proud of me.” –Dave Matthews, taken from the linear notes from his solo Some Devil album

wild things 2

Manspeak Table of Contents:

Volume 1: Humor http://wp.me/pxqBU-1i
Volume 2: Heroism http://wp.me/pxqBU-1m
Volume 3: Filtration http://wp.me/pxqBU-1p
Volume 4: Stance http://wp.me/pxqBU-1s
Volume 5: Movement http://wp.me/pxqBU-1v
Volume 6: Law http://wp.me/pxqBU-3h
Volume 7: Bromance http://wp.me/pxqBU-3W
Volume 8: Relaxation http://wp.me/pxqBU-6a
Volume 9: Appearance http://wp.me/pxqBU-6f
Volume 10: Exploration http://wp.me/pxqBU-6O
Volume 11: Responsibility http://wp.me/pxqBU-8v