Talkin’ ‘bout Generations X, Y and Z

I started thinking about Generation X as a topic and then realized that I still had to cover Y and Z. Well, as far as the generations go, I’m an X, my three younger brothers are Ys (or on the X/Y cusp), and my son is a member of Generation Z. I read a little bit on each one, and I turned up some interesting information.

Though I don’t often rely on Wikipedia for important research, there are some good summaries here, here and here.

I like being a member of Gen-X, aka the MTV Generation. (Sadly, I’m totally disenchanted with MTV now and have been for years. Video may have killed the radio star, but stupid reality shows annihilated the music video. Do singers even make videos anymore?)

In happier news, we Gen X-ers had cool toys, music, movies and TV shows. According to Wikipedia, we also expressed a huge distrust of “monolithic institutions.”  That hasn’t really changed….Despite this, I feel like we were in some ways more innocent than the generation that came after us. Maybe I’m just romanticizing my own childhood.

Generation Y is my brothers’ generation (although the oldest of the three is on the cusp). They’re also known as the Millenials, or the ME Generation. I can totally see that! Some of their best characteristics include tolerance and confidence, along with the not-so-flattering “entitlement, narcissism, and rejection of social conventions.” Yes, it’s a sweeping generalization, but I have to agree with a lot of it. No offense to my family; they’re the exception. 😉

This generation is having an extremely hard time finding meaningful employment and making ends meet, especially after taking on enormous amounts of debt from college student loans. They feel angry and disheartened, with nothing to show for their investments of time and money into college. They can also be considered boomerangs, returning home to live with their parents after some time out in the “Real World,” which, by the way, was a phenomenal MTV show the first time around; but by the umpteenth season, not so much.

Lastly, Generation Z includes my son. This is the first generation to be born into a digital world. They will never know life before Google, DVDs and Kindles. My child is not even in elementary school yet, but he can manipulate a computer mouse or touch screen as well as I can. I’ve reserved a library book about it so that I can start learning more. It’s called Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. I consider myself pretty well-versed in social media and other technology right now, but it’s scary to think how “out of touch” I will soon seem as a parent.

There’s just so much to think about, which is what this A to Z Challenge has done for me. In addition to encouraging me to write more (and hopefully better), it helped me discover other bloggers (you!) and just think more about different issues.

The End!
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Saturday A to Z Challenge Update

W also means “WAIT for it.”

I know, I know. We’re supposed to be on our Y posts today. But X, Y and Z are going to be killer, I promise. (What was that about P is for Pressure?…)

I’m sorry for being such a slacker, but please stick with me!

W is for Wall

I’ve kinda hit a brick wall as far as these posts go. I was doing great, but this week–screeeech. These last few letters of the alphabet are stumping me.

W is also for waiting until the last minute to write today’s post. Hopefully it’s worth it.

Many bloggers, of course, chose to write about writing or writer’s block. To deal with my own writer’s block, I picked a random prompt from The Pocket Muse, a great source of writing inspiration given to me by Lynn at A Common Sea. Her post about The West Wing is great by the way. But I digress.

The prompt instructs you to spend an hour writing about writing (your own). I didn’t actually write for a whole hour and it’s kind of choppy, but here goes:

How would I describe my writing? I’ve always written. My whole life, I’ve always written. But I never set out to be a writer. Every job I’ve had, and every academic experience, has included a significant amount of writing responsibility. Writing has always come easier to me than talking. With writing, you can think of what you want to say, taking as long as you need before you actually say it, on paper, on the computer screen, in a text message on your phone. You can even write something down and erase it, or type it and then delete it. But once something comes out of your mouth, you can’t un-say it.

I guess that’s my big fear about talking generally, and public speaking specifically, which I’ve always hated. When people just sit and look at me expectantly, I’m sure they’re not judging me as harshly as it feels like they are, but I never have been able to get over my nerves in those situations. The best I could do was practice repeatedly and try my hardest to act like I wasn’t nervous. I even gave trainings in Spanish to native Spanish speakers. Talk about being judged, not only by the content but also by your language and grammar. The audience was always extremely nice, though, and the judgments were probably all in my head.

But back to writing. I should have started a memoir of my life when I was younger, mostly because I have a terrible memory and writing can preserve so much. But I have a lot of journals and things that I could use for reference. Most of my writing has been academic, in the form of long research papers. Now I write a lot of articles; just on general information like the health benefits of blueberries…yawn. I’m getting more into blogging and trying to explore a more creative side, if one exists. I can compose a killer email message. I don’t plan on writing fiction or poetry, though. I’m a fan of good fiction, so I much prefer to read it than to write it.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Me writing about my writing.

How would you describe your writing?

V is for Vacation

Following in the footsteps of unplugging, while hopefully not as…verbose as the previous post.

Right now, I would love a vacation. At this point, a simple day trip would be nice. A change of scene can always help with my perspective and mood. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, too much planning and stress actually defeats the purpose of taking a vacation in the first place. Some people love to travel and get a thrill out of searching for the best airfare and hotels, not to mention filling their schedules with fun or educational activities. I enjoy doing that sometimes, but right now I’d just like to be somewhere other than home, maybe staring at the ocean or lounging by a pool, with no plans.

Sorry, no time for posting photos right now, but here are some of the memorable vacations I’ve taken.

  • Spring Break in Panama City Beach, FL
  • Honeymoon in Sorrento/Naples/Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • First Anniversary trip to Las Vegas
  • Last trip before baby, Biltmore Estate/Asheville, NC
  • First trip with baby, Carolina Beach, NC
  • 2011 Girls Weekend, location undisclosed =)
Do you vacation frequently? What’s your favorite (or fantasy) destination?

U is for Unplug

Like I said in yesterday’s post, T is for Time, it seems like there are never enough hours in the day, and it’s fun to fantasize about what I would do if I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted.

Our ever-evolving technology and growing access to information has fooled us into thinking that we can save time. There are shortcuts for everything and we can look up anything we want to know in a split second. The only problem with that is that we’re constantly searching for more. More gadgets to entertain us, more knowledge to absorb, and more ways to stay in touch with people. Now, it would be unrealistic to phone all of your friends multiple times each day to see what they’re doing (and to tell them what you’re doing). But you can check their Facebook status updates three, four, ten times a day if you want to. Despite the fact that we might feel more efficient, we’re actually wasting a lot of time on these activities.

I had planned to make several changes in the new year and here it is already April (again, where does the time go?) and I feel like I need to revisit those New Year’s resolutions. One of the things I had wanted to focus on was living more intentionally and being present in the moment. It fits right in with the concept of time; I have to keep reminding myself that the past is gone and the future’s not here yet, so it doesn’t make sense to obsess over either one. Instead, I prefer to be living in the moment, while also not being bombarded with information.

Weaning myself off of distractions such as Facebook was a part of that plan. Not that I was a Facebook addict to begin with. I had already edited a good portion of my personal information, stopping just short of deleting my account altogether, mostly out of aggravation over their changes and privacy issues. Just as an experiment, I gave it up for over a month and have only logged in once since I was “allowed” to go back, browsing around the site long enough to confirm my suspicion that I hadn’t missed anything.

I love the term digital sabbatical. Basically, it’s a vacation away from phones, computers, and televisions. It can mean a few hours, a weekend, or even a whole month of being unplugged. Sometimes you just need a break. When I’m online, I tend to research things to death and absorb as much information as possible, especially if I need to make a decision about something. But, in the end, having so much information is not comforting. It’s actually counterproductive and stressful.

In many religions and cultures, Sunday is a designated day of rest. Of course, we don’t always feel like we can afford the “luxury” of resting. Too often, we feel like we need to fill any free time with items that we can then cross off our to-do lists.

If you have to clean your house or work in your garden, go right ahead. Unplugging doesn’t mean you have to sit and stare at the wall. Unplugging means taking a conscious break from the noise of technology–cell phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, you get the idea.

You don’t have to write a blog post for this Sunday, so why not leave the computer turned off and do something else? Go for a walk if the weather’s nice, or meet a friend in person for coffee rather than texting him or her. The whole point is to take a step back and realize that you will survive without technology, and that unplugging can make you feel more in control of the time that you do have.

Do you believe that digital sabbaticals are worthwhile? How do you unplug?

T is for Time

I wrote the following post more than two years ago, but it’s still relevant and I thought, “Hey, I bet no one read it the first time around, so let’s bring it back for the A to Z Challenge!”

One day I just started thinking about what I would do if I had all the time in the world. It must have been a particularly stressful day when I felt that time was getting away from me. This is only a partial list off the top of my head: CB007967

  • Read every single book on my to-read list, which I’ve stopped keeping, due to lack of time.
  • Watch every movie I’ve ever wanted to see.
  • Travel to all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, U.S. territories….
  • Travel to several countries around the world. Not too sure about this one, as I’m not a huge fan of flying.
  • Visit each of my living family members. (Hmm, this is not giving me a lot of time to myself.)
  • Attend more local arts events, such as concerts and gallery openings. (I’m starting to need a lot more money in order to enjoy all the time in the world.)

They say you have to make time to do what you love, or to do what needs to be done (exercise comes to mind). Wouldn’t it be great if we could make time, as in manufacture it? Right now I’m not creating time, per se, but using time that I should be otherwise spending on writing a semi-boring article. I shifted the time here instead because my conscience is nagging me to write a blog post after looking at the calendar and seeing how long it’s been since the last one. I’ve already got mommy guilt covered. So is this blogger guilt? Who needs all this pressure?? Hey, I’ll turn the pressure back on you, the reader, ha ha!

The question: What would you do if you had all the time in the world? Or if having all the time in the world is too much pressure, then what would a perfect day look like to you?

*Finally, here’s a time-saving tip that works for me: To minimize web surfing when I should be sleeping or doing something else, I use my laptop without the adapter. Since the battery life is only about one hour, I shut it down when it runs out.

S is for Seven So-So Sports

For this A to Z Challenge, I have so many S words swirling around in my head that I almost can’t pick one. I like lists, though, so here are the top seven sports that I don’t like. That’s right, because I don’t have seven favorite sports that start with S. I’ve tried a few of these and they just didn’t agree with me.

  1. Skating (ice or roller). I took ice skating lessons for one year as a kid. I did alright, but mastering the triple Lutz was not in my future. I went to the local roller skating rink a lot, mostly for friends’ birthday parties, and only sprained my wrist once, a triumph for my balance-challenged self. I spent a lot of time clinging to the wall as I skated in a circle to my favorite songs, secretly wishing I could just go put my Velcro sneakers on and go home.
  2. Skiing. I tried snow skiing once. It was not a positive experience. It confirmed my preference for keeping my feet flat on the ground, not propped up on wheels or blades, although I probably could be persuaded to try cross-country skiing or even water skiing. It’s the whole downhill pull of gravity thing that gets me every time.
  3. Skydiving. Um, no. The funny thing is that when I was much younger I told myself I was going to try skydiving and/or bungee jumping some day. As I got older, those desires went away. I’m not sure why. It’s somewhat sad that I had these great ambitions as a kid and that I’ve turned into a really fearful adult, at least when it comes to heights.
  4. Sumo wrestling. Does this one really need any explanation? I realize that it’s an important part of Japanese culture and whatnot; for some reason, I just feel uncomfortable watching it. And what about when people dress up in plastic sumo costumes at baseball games and other events? That’s sort of mocking the culture, isn’t it?
  5. Soccer. I just never got into this one. I find it boring to watch and frustrating to play. However, my attitude was a bit more positive while living in Chile, a country that loves their fútbol as the national pastime.
  6. Scuba diving. This is a very cool activity but again, I don’t think I could get up the nerve to try it. I’d probably be claustrophobic which would probably lead to an anxiety attack. Not a good scene overall. Maybe I could try snorkeling first.
  7. Shooting. I have no interest in shooting any type of gun, especially for sport.

A fairly short and simple list. But I don’t want this post to sound like one big whine, so I’ll add that I do enjoy softball and swimming, as well as many other sports that don’t begin with S.

Do you have a favorite S sport? How about a least favorite?

R is for Redemption

Redemption, and a recipe.

I realize that I slacked off yesterday and today, so hopefully I can stay on track for the rest of this challenge.

To combine Q and R, I’m posting my absolute favorite Quinoa Recipe.

The first time I heard about quinoa was in my undergraduate Geography of Latin America course. The instructor was raving about this grain that most of us had never heard about. Over the years, I’ve seen it in the organic and natural foods section of the grocery store but didn’t get up the nerve to actually try it until recently.

When I made this quinoa with black beans recipe, I started eating it out of the pan and almost couldn’t stop myself. The combination of flavors, from the distinct quinoa taste mixed with a bit of spice, and the sweet, fresh cilantro…wow.

So here it is, Quinoa and Black Beans (courtesy of Allrecipes.com)

Just a quick note—I usually use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and I use only one can of black beans. The recipe calls for two but it seemed excessive to me, unless you really like a lot of beans. Then go for it!

INGREDIENTS:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2011 Allrecipes.com

Q is for Quick Post

I know, I know, this is a cop-out, a post-and-run, if you will. But I’m sure I’m not the only A to Z participant to do it today.

See, it’s a nice day and we promised our little one we’d take him to a new park while he’s on spring vacation. Gotta carpe that diem.

I was planning to school y’all on the virtues of quinoa, but it will have to wait until later. In the meantime, have a great day and spend some quality time with someone you love.

P is for Pressure

I’m thinking of the kind of pressure that we put on ourselves. I imagine that everyone has certain goals and responsibilities, and it’s easy to criticize ourselves when we fall short of living up to what we think we should be achieving.

Sure, there can always be outside pressure exerted on us, from parents, from friends, and from society as a whole, with their expectations about the roles that we (should) fulfill. Ultimately, I think we put the most pressure on ourselves.

It’s not always a negative thing. If I don’t put any pressure on myself to take charge of my own health, for example, there’s really no one else who will. Therefore, it’s a good kind of pressure, as long as I follow through.

Lately I’ve been feeling the pressure

  • To be a good mom
  • To be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, fill in the blank….
  • To be a good writer
  • To get in better shape

For a couple of days now, I’ve been pressuring myself to come with good blog posts for this challenge, and I’m not even being paid for it. So that makes me feel the pressure to be working on other (i.e. paying) assignments.

The pressure to be a good mom is a big issue. Lately I’ve been telling everyone I know that I’m anxious to come up with a plan for keeping our preschooler occupied this summer. Not that we need to have a strict schedule of activities, but I don’t want to be stuck in the rut of doing the same thing every day. Send a wig, because I will pull my hair out. We also don’t have the funds for things like camps, museums and bouncy house types of places every day of the week.

Exploring new parks and playgrounds will have to be one of my goals this summer. I love when we run into a classmate somewhere, or he finds a playmate to run around with, because phew, the pressure’s off me to entertain him, at least for a little while.

Don’t get me wrong. He’ll be going to kindergarten full time in the fall, so this is, basically, a unique chance to enjoy our time together before school becomes a regular part of his life. I will treasure every moment.

I’m still curious to know what any of you in similar situations do to deal with that voice that’s pressuring you to do certain things. It doesn’t have to be kid-related. Do you want to be a published author? Are you trying to find a better job or make a major lifestyle change? Are you too hard on yourself? Or is it a positive force that motivates you?