Category: life

In Praise of Non-traditional Adulthood

photo by fayebatka


Lately, a lot of my favorite online haunts have been rife with talk of quarter-life crises and the reality of adulthood versus the rose-tinted nostalgia of our childhoods. Heavy stuff, surely! But it got my little brain a’workin on the topic of adulthood and how we all choose to use ours.I think we can all acknowledge that the American formula for a adulthood goes something like this:
1) attend four-year university
2) meet your special someone while attending said university
3) graduate and move in with special someone
4) get your starter job
5) marry special someone
6) advance in your job
7) baby #1
8) buy a house
9) baby #2
10) move the the suburbs, eat out exclusively at Olive Garden, spend your weekends engaging in lawn care and taking kids to soccer practice, slowly die inside.

I kid, I kid.

Kind of.

But what happens to those of us who don’t find the special someone? Or discover that we can’t get a job with that Anthropology degree? Or feel claustrophobic at the thought of being tied down by a career/spouse/child?You know what? I think it’s the pretty rare individual what actually follows this formula … though that doesn’t keep a lot of us from measuring ourselves against it. How silly! In my entire extended group of friends, I know exactly one person who has followed this formula (at least thus far, she’s on step six at this point … there’s no telling where she’ll go from there!) the rest of us have switched universities, ended long term relationships, had babies before we finished school or bought the house before the wedding. We have taken the scenic route, or a road less traveled or even a series of (interesting) dead ends.

None of this is to say that following the formula is bad. Babies are lovely! Weddings are grand! And lord but I would love to live in something bigger than a breadbox! But I think there’s a lot to be said for this non-traditional approach to adulthood and living life on our own terms, really thinking about the life and future we want for ourselves rather than swallowing this college+wedding+baby notion.

We need to stop punishing ourselves for deviating from what society has taught us is The Correct Way to navigate our 20s and 30s. I will not be ashamed of the holes in my resume resulting from world travel. I won’t be embarrassed to admit that I’m not a home-owner. I won’t blush and stammer when my nosy aunt asks me when I’m going to start making babies.

How closely have you followed the formula?

Adventure: Republican Convention

So, I am something of a bleeding heart liberal. I work in Frogtown, weep over the plight of baby seals and have an MPR sticker in the window of my vintage Saab. It’s all very predictable and slightly embarrassing. Why, yes, I do work in social services! And, yes, I am a vegetarian! Why do you ask? Did my birkenstocks give me away?So it was with equal parts trepidation and glee that The Mister and I headed into the fray that was the Republican Convention, hosted by our very own St. Paul. I wore the cowboy hat in an effort to disguise my woefully obvious liberal-ocity. But I suspect it was more Michelle Branch than Michelle Bachman.

While we were there, Sam witnessed a “dirty hippie” handing out bumper stickers promoting his own run for the presidency. His tag line? “Weasel and Shark ’08!” Sam went over to chat the guy up and take a few photos and was joined by some portly, rather drunk convention enthusiasts. They cooed over his camera lenses, hassled the hippie and wanted to know “where’s the action, maaaan?”
Sam assured our drunk friends that, despite his beard and flip flops, he wasn’t actually aware of any exciting plans in the works. So we left the drinkers and the hippie to their own devices and took a seat outside the convention center while I made eyes at middle aged senators.
A few minutes later, I looked back and saw our drunks actually taking off their shirts. They dug around in their backpacks, pulled on some black t-shirts and baseball hats and headed into the crowd, oddly and instantly sober. And you will not believe what the t-shirts said:
Authorized Personel.
They were undercover cops, trying to flush out protesters and get wind of any trouble in the making.
I think it was my cowboy hat that made them suspicious.

If you were a music video, which one would you be?

One of my favorite games is, “If you were a ______, what would you be?” For this edition, let’s examine music videos.
Now, this shouldn’t be confused with the all important question “What’s your favorite music video?” I really love Bjork’s ‘Big Time Sensuality‘, but I don’t possess big time sensuality, nor do I ride on truck beds through the city.

There are two music videos that I like to think are very nearly me. This one and this one.

But the winner? I feel like this video is me on my very best day:


1) a clear love of choreographed dance routines
2) international references
3) hook from my favorite Swedish super-group
4) nod to vintage warm-up gear, not unlike my favorite Adidas track suit from 10th grade
5) I, too, love light-up boom boxes
6) Madonna is my hair twin
7) Dancing by yourself and singing? That’s pretty much my favorite pastime

What about you? If you were a music video, which one would you be?

Adventure: Crashing the Scientology Center

So, I’m fascinated by religions. My nerdy, amateur anthropologist antics extend to collecting religious icons from every country I visit (macumba charms, Buddhas, anointing oil from Greek Orthodox churches) and occasionally staying in on Friday nights to wikipedia with my flatmate (I’m looking at you, Jess).So you can imagine my sheer, anthropological joy when I discovered downtown Minneapolis is home to its very own Dianetics Center. Holy Crap! Literally! I decided that I obviously needed to poke my head in for one of their “Free Personality Tests!” and see if they could turn me into an alien.

To prepare myself, I read this, this and this. And in a perfect world, I would have worn this:

Please note the Tom Cruise tribute t-shirt (it says “Negative ghostrider, the pattern is full”), the Scientology necklace and the alien messenger bag. Too heavy handed? Probably. So I actually wore my best ‘trust worthy yuppie’ outfit.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Squeee! It’s my birthday – and my golden one at that. My birthdays actually had a way of going pear-shaped for a few years there … 23: alone and culture-shocked. 24: getting locked out of my house in the rain. 25: living without air conditioning, a refrigerator or running water during Typhoon season in Taiwan. Oh, there were some doozies.
But things turned a corner on birthday number 27. I actually met my Mr. that day! And 28 was spent in Australia, road tripping and eating avocado sandwiches. This year is significantly more sedate. Thus far, I have given my students a state-mandated test, was surprised by a big cake, left work early and took my car to the mechanic. Watch out world! But there’s talk of fancy dinners, B n Bs and a spa day, so I haven’t given up hope yet.These days, I don’t get too fussed over gifts. But if I had to put together a wish list, I think it would include the following:

1) A slick and friendly little Toyota Yaris
Stupid vintage Saab! We have tangled for the last time. Being cute just isn’t cutting it anymore – you’re always saying passive aggressive shit about my mom and you’re too codependent. It’s over! I’ve been hanging out with this cute little Toyota a lot and I really think it could go somewhere. But let’s still be friends, ‘kay?

2) Tickets to Madonna’s Sticky Sweet Tour
Madge, I love you. I don’t even hold that fake British accent against you. Material Girl is one of my all time favorites and I just about lost my mind over the awesomeness of Hung Up. I’ll even go to Chicago for you!

3) Cheese
Screw that birthday cake noise, I want a birthday cheese plate. Am I the only person in the world who would get genuinely excited over a subscription to a cheese-of-the-month club?

4) Opium
I love this perfume because it smells like a rich, mysterious, jet-setting cougar. Isn’t that what you want people to think of when they smell you?

5) Tickets to Savannah, GA
To be redeemed during the doldrums of early November. I have never been to Savannah, but I suspect it is rife with romance, history and moss. I want to wear a large hat and high heals and walk with my arm coyly tucked in my Mr’s.

6) Books
Heaps and heap and stacks and stacks. Just so many, really! Currently, I am obsessed with all things Joyce Carol Oats and Tim Winton. And the usual travel and design books.

7) The ability to speak and understand any language, instantaneously
I think it’s available through the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book.

What are your birthday wishes?