Young People Should Know

Young People Should Know…Jobs Suck and Working Blows

Working. Fucking. Sucks. SRSLY

I’ve had a lot of jobs since I started working at 15 (or was it 16….too long ago to remember precisely.)  My first job was Burger King. I lasted four months before I couldn’t take it anymore. I went on vacation to visit my dad and when I got back I couldn’t bear putting on my ugly brown polyester uniform one more time. I didn’t want to smell like grease anymore and I couldn’t stomach taking orders from assholes in the drive-through.

I haven’t liked any of my jobs, at least not for long. Except for one. When I was 25, I scored standardized tests for California with CTB-McGraw Hill. I loved that job. Mostly because of the people I worked with. They were funny, intelligent and I had a crush on my supervisor. Unfortunately it was a temporary job and the pay was shit. That was when I realized it wasn’t the job itself that mattered, but the people you work with that makes all the difference whether you resent your alarm going off every morning.

When I’m unemployed, I’m estatic when I get a job and don’t have to worry about money as much. Or when I switch jobs, which for me is about every two years. I feel great about the new job for about a month. Then it’s back to the sould crushing reality that I sit at a desk all day making money for other people, usually the asshole owner of a small company who complains about taxes while he drives a car that costs more than what I make in a year.

I counted how many jobs I’ve had since I started working. From Burger King to my current job as a customer service rep for a small kitchen gadget company, I’ve had twenty-seven jobs. TWENTY-SEVEN!!! From fast food to retail, tutor to teacher, office manager to bookeeper. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I do know that I don’t like wasting my life in an office under artificial fluorescent lights and climate controlled air.

THIS is why people smoke pot or drink a bottle or two of wine in the evenings. Working for the Man is life-draining and if taking a mini-vacation in your living room keep you from sucking on the business end of a revolver then I say toke up man and take a swig for me. Why yes, I will have another pint of beer, thankyouverymuch.

Do I sound bitter? Well, frankly I am.

We think we have freedom, but it’s an illusion. All that crap you want or think you need – your smart phone, video game console, tablet computer, car, cable, HDTV – and all the things you actually need – food, clothes, a place to live- costs money. To get that money you need a job. A job that requires you get up at a certain time, commute, take breaks when they say it’s okay, leave when they say it’s okay, take direction from other people, take vacations when they say it’s okay, only get paid for so many sick days, maybe get some benefits and health insurance  if you’re lucky(trust me you will NEED health insurance). An hour a day  (average) getting to work, nine  hours at work, and hour getting home. That’s eleven hours a day. The other eight sleeping (you ARE getting eight hours of sleep right?) That leave five hours of free time, which includes getting ready for work.  So how is that freedom? Sure, you can pick your line of work or your career if you’re at that point in your life, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re free. We are all wage slaves who MIGHT get a week or two paid vacation during the year.

There are good jobs out there, fantastic people to work with, decent companies that care about their employees. Mostly though,  it just plain sucks out there in the “real world” and you’ll have to find a way to live with it or spend your life being angry and dissatisfied. It’s easy to get bored. You won’t be praised for every little thing you do, unlike you young people who were schooled in the age of self-esteem building, everyone get’s a trophy and we’re all great and talented in our own ways. Your boss won’t give you a gold star when you do what’s expected. If you don’t do what’s expected, there is no motivating pep talk. You’ll get fired.

I sincerely hope, dear reader, that you can find a career that’s truly satisfying and can sustain you at a comfortable level.  I still haven’t achieved both of those things. I hope one day I can, because another 25 years of this shit is going to drive me crazier than I already am. And I don’t like to drink so my escape options are few.


Young People Should Know…College Is Worth It

It wasn’t very long ago that going to college wasn’t the norm. Only people with money or those who were exceptionally smart and could get a scholarship went to college. I grew up in a family where it was expected I’d go on to college after I graduated high school. My grandmother had gone, my dad and uncle had gone, do I would go. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t continue my education after high school. My mom had gone to college, but never graduated but that didn’t matter to me. At least she went for a while. It wasn’t until very recently that I learned that even when I was younger (way back in the late 80’s) that it wasn’t normal for everyone to plan for a college education.

I started at a state university in 1988 to get my bachelor’s degree. Back then it cost me less than $1200.00 per semester to attend full time. This included my books, parking, supplies, and the fees for each credit per class. Now it costs as least that much to just attend a community college. Education is expensive, but it’s worth it.

It doesn’t matter what your degree is. Just get a four-year degree. It will make a huge difference. Do you like to paint? Major in art. How about history? Then great, get a degree in history. Math fascinates you? Take those trigonometry  and statistics classes to your heart’s desire.  Unless you really want to be a doctor, some specialized computer guru, or go down any career path where you need a very specific set of skills and knowledge, just pick something you love and major in that. Most people don’t work in their field of study, so may as well pick something you love because that’s what makes learning fun or if not fun then at least interesting.

The economy sucks and it has for a long time. I can’t imagine being in my twenties right now and having to find a job. It was hard enough being in my forties and having to find a job. Things have permanently changed, unless we have some great new economic boom like we had in the mid-nineties. Before this current economic suckage, people could get good paying jobs without a college education. There were jobs to spare and employers would hire anyone who was competent enough to do what they needed done. Now, it’s hard to get a job at McDonald’s without at least some college. The competition is fierce for the crappiest of jobs and no one will be able to get by on experience and charm alone.

Going to college will likely put you in some sort of debt, but if you go about it slowly so you can work part time and can get some financial aid (grants, not loans), you can get a degree and graduate without owing too much in the end. Yes it will take several years and in this instant gratification society that can be a difficult thing. You must learn to work towards something meaningful and wait for the rewards. This is a good skill to develop if you haven’t already.  You don’t have to get your degree in four years. You can take five or six instead. The world isn’t going anywhere. I know there are a million distractions, but focus and drive are what will get you where you want to be and it’s always better to be making small steps toward progress than big meaningless steps to nowhere.

Don’t rush your twenties. Enjoy them, learn something valuable along the way, have some fun and don’t worry TOO much about your future. It’s coming regardless.

Young People Should Know…Birthdays Aren’t Special

You probably look forward to your birthday right? You get presents and money, people pay special attention to you, you have a party and for one day things are all about you. Birthdays are awesome….until you hit 40.  After that, birthdays are kind of depressing. It becomes a day to take a tally of how much you haven’t accomplished in your life, remember that you’re not young any more, and to wish that you could just pull the covers over your head and sleep the day away. More often than not I catch myself crying at least once during my birthday.

Most people couldn’t care less that today is the day you were born. Oh sure, your Facebook is full of birthday wishes and that feels pretty good. You might get a card from an older relative with ten bucks in it. Your partner or kids will probably do something nice for you. But what happened to cake and ice cream, parties with balloons, and that feeling that for just one day you’re special? You might get a cake at work or if you’re lucky, the day off.

I almost planned a birthday party for myself this year, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy themed. I am, after all, now the answer to life, the universe, and everything (don’t get it?…Google it…then read it.) I changed my mind however, realizing that a 42 year old having a birthday party is rather silly. Birthday parties after 40 are reserved for new decades, not an annual major event. So instead, I bought myself a new tv (which is the only way to get a decent gift most years…buy it yourself) and will be going out for a nice dinner with my husband.

I woke up a little bummed this morning. I’m 42 and haven’t achieved much this year (which, when I think about it, isn’t really true but it is how I feel.)  On the other hand, I’m still here. Another birthday means I’m alive which is better than not being alive. I have friends, a good job, a husband who I enjoy spending my life with, and family that I like. Most days I don’t feel old.  I still want to dye  parts of my hair pink and get my nose pierced. This isn’t the behavior of a middle aged woman. Usually I forget my age. Then I’ll hear an old song and think, the 80’s weren’t that long ago were they? They were and that’s okay. I’m not stuck in the decade of my youth like those women I knew when I was a kid who ratted up their hair and wore blue eye shadow like it was still the 60’s. I still like to discover new music  and watch new actors (even if they’re twenty years younger than me), and try a new style now and then (within reason…I don’t want to look like an old person trying too hard to look young.)

So, birthdays aren’t like they used to be but that’s fine I guess. Find a way to celebrate a new year and stay young in a way that is meaningful to you. And don’t forget to eat some cake!

Young People Should Know…Life Gets In The Way

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Thanks for that Mr. Lennon. So profound. While I’m a big fan of John Lennon, it was a little too easy for him to say that when he had already reached his dreams and goals Although I’m sure he had some that didn’t include music and being a father and a husband, he certainly had the means to pursue whatever he wanted.

Life is what happens, yes, but it also gets in the way of your goals, your dreams, and your plans. Some of you are probably more disciplined or driven than I am but nevertheless, everyday crap can really make it difficult for you to make the life you really want. Then there are the unexpected emergencies and urgent needs that can really fuck you over no matter how diligently you strive toward whatever it is you want out of life.

Like say, for instance, you want to start a blog that means a lot to you and might help someone, even if it’s only one person, but then you get laid off, move several times in a year including out of state then back again, end up temporarily homeless, live in your car for a weeks, have to live with friends, end up without a car, battle depression, then you pick yourself up and slowly get your life stable again. Yes, all of this has happened to me in the last year. I still had my dreams, goals, and ambitions but life got in the way. Survival can often be a full time job and distracts from long term goals.

When you’re young and still in school, you long for the future when you can do whatever you want. Am I right young people? You think when you’re an adult and don’t have your parents and your teachers telling you what to do…well that’s freedom. And yes, it is liberating to graduate and move out on your own and figure your way around the world. But guess what? You still have to get up on time and get to work and/or school. You have to pay your bills on time. You have to follow stupid rules and play the stupid games and listen to stupid people tell you what to do and when to do it. And it sucks.

You can make plans and set goals but then your car breaks down or you get sick or you break up with your partner or a parent dies and your dreams take a back seat to life.

It doesn’t have to be a tragic event that gets in the way either. Getting married or involved in a serious domestic relationship, having a child, starting a new job, going to graduate school, all of these things demand your time and attention. Free time becomes precious, and in some cases so does sleep.

I don’t have all the answers (who does?) but while you’re going through life, keep those dreams alive somehow. Write ideas in a notebook , try to enjoy a hobby or two so you can relax and so your life doesn’t complete blow, or at the very least keep daydreaming, and as soon as life slows down and gets stable (it may never get back to whatever your normal is) pick up where you left off and keep working toward whatever your dream is.  Or maybe you’ll have a new goal, and that’s awesome too, because experiences often change us, sometimes in profound ways you never thought possible.

Young People Should Know…Be Nice To Nerds

In honor of Steve Jobs, I raise my iPod and say well done sir. You changed the world, the way we communicate, the way we do business, the way we listen to music. He was a world class nerd and he changed all of our lives forever.

Geeks. Nerds. Dweebs. Poindexters. Dorks. We all know them. We all make fun of them. We don’t want to be one (maybe you are one.) But take note Young People. Nerds rule the world. Seriously.

No, these social outcasts don’t rule the actual world, but they certainly rule the business world and in this country business is more powerful than politics.  Steve Jobs (RIP), Bill Gates, Donald Trump (big ol’ nerd…I mean that comb-over…puhleeze), Warren Buffett – all nerds.

Be nice to the nerds. They will be your boss some day. See while you’re busy trying to be cool they are enduring your ridicule and bullying. This builds character – the kind of character that makes them interesting adults with actual personalities who don’t lament the passing of high school and later reminisce about those four years being the best of their lives. Sure they play RPG’s all weekend with their other nerdy friends, but while they figure out strategies to kill an orc what are you doing? Probably worrying about your hair or what pair of jeans to buy. And after they’re done killing those imaginary orcs, they read science fiction (or actual science), then figure out how to write a computer program. Again, what are you doing? Watching a lame reality show probably.

All of those nifty gadgets you love, the iPods, the Xboxes, the smart phones, who do you think invented those? That’s right. Nerds.

Your boss will be a nerd. Yep. He or she will be the same type of person you made fun of in the hallways of your high school. But now they are in charge and they always will be.

Now if you are a nerd or geek or whatever label you’ve been stuck with, do not despair. High school is hell, I know. College is so much better. You have the chance to reinvent yourself if you like. Or if you just don’t care and like your bad-ass nerdy self, keep on keeping on. In the adult world, who you were in high school doesn’t matter. Not even a little bit.

Yep, nerds change the world. So if you are one, be proud. And if you aren’t, be nice to them. You make their lives miserable for a few years, and they may make yours miserable for the rest of your life.

Young People Should Know…You Aren’t Special

You aren’t special. Not you. And no, not you either. And especially not you over there. I know. I get it. Your parents taught you to believe you are a unique as a snowflake. Then you started school and the self-esteem building began. Groups work together and you all got full credit even if only one person made an effort. Everyone gets a trophy, even the kid who can’t hit a baseball to save his life or came in last at the swim meet because she didn’t practice hard enough. No one keeps score.  We all win. YAY!

Here’s a reality check for you. You aren’t all special and you aren’t all entitled to whatever the hell you want just because you’re you. School and (most of) your parents didn’t do you any favors by lifting up your ego by telling you that you’re okay just the way you are. The thing is, some of you aren’t okay the way you are because you’re lazy, you expect things handed to you, and you don’t want to work for anything. Or you’re just a jerk.

Life is not the internet. You don’t get what you want in two seconds just because you asked for it. You will have to work a crappy job that doesn’t pay enough, live in a crappy apartment that costs too much,  and compete for better jobs and better places to live.

Failure, frustration and feeling bad about yourself once in a while is what motivates you to do better next time, to strive for excellence, and to really learn, whether it’s in a classroom, at a job, or just in your normal, not remotely special, life. It also makes you value that which you’ve worked for.

I’m not saying not to like yourself or not  to try to improve your self-image if you truly hate yourself. What I am saying is that you’re not the center of the universe, there are millions of people just like you and as far as most people are concerned, you are replaceable, just another one of the masses getting in their way while they try to live their lives.

You are not entitled to anything other than basic human needs. The sooner you learn that, the less unfair life will seem.

Young People Should Know…Your Body Is Going To Rebel

It sucks when things you’ve come to rely on suddenly start malfunctioning. As you get older simple activities that you took for granted suddenly become a comedy of errors. For example,  bending over to look at a book on a bookshelf may result in a sharp pain radiating from your lower spine and incapacitating you even though you have to catch a cross-continental flight from Syracuse, NY to Seattle, WA. Yes, this actually happened to me. All I wanted was something to keep me entertained and I ended up with muscular distress.  At least I was confined to a stiff seat for six hours and had access to many small bottles of alcohol to relax my back.

Then there ‘s heartburn. I first experienced this while pregnant, which is to be expected. Now I can’t even eat a banana without the risk of burning my stomach lining.

Joints? Sure you can move them, but an innocuous activity like, oh, raking up leaves in the front yard or typing too much at work will cause swelling, stiffness and pain. I’d at least like to earn my pain but nope. Getting older means you suffer for mundane daily activities.

Body weight. We all fight it sooner or later. I’ve never been svelte, but when I was in high school my activity level greatly decreased when my friends got cars. I went from walking or riding my bike everywhere to getting a ride. I gained weight. Then when I decided I needed to lose it I ate less, exercised and it came off pretty easily. There was great rejoicing.

Over 30? Then losing weight is a losing battle, and not in a good way. Eat healthy, exercise, get on the scale and WHAT? I GAINED a pound?!! Screw this. If you’re overweight, lose it now or it will be next to impossible to lose later. Oh, it can be done, but it takes more drastic measures. Better to do it now when your body is bursting with energy.

Allergies increase too. You’d think that if allergies are an immune system issue then as you get older your body could fight off the reactions, but it doesn’t work that way. Last year I finally got tested. I thought my Fall and Spring allergies were a result of my body rejecting grass and tree pollen, mold and mildew spores, and maybe cat dander. What was the offending allergen? Dust mites. I can never escape them. The little skin eating fuckers make me sneeze and wheeze.

My ultimate advice? Take care of your body. You don’t have to run marathons or become a gym rat, but find something you like and do it regularly. Walk more often. Take the stairs. Get up to change the channel on the tv. Limit your video game time and internet surfing. Don’t eat a bunch of crap all the time. Learn to cook your own food, stop eating kiddie cereal for breakfast, avoid the drive-though, and find some veggies you like. Seriously, it could make getting old a lot less painful.

Young People Should Know…40 sucks

Turning 40 sucks. But you probably already thought that. It has its advantages or so I’m told. Haven’t really figured those out yet. But as they say, youth is wasted on the young (who the mysterious “they” are I have no idea, but “they” are right.) Society expects a lot of bullshit from us and it’s hard to sift through it  to find what’s genuine and  important.

Why am I blogging to the masses? Because there are things I wish someone had told me about being young. Of course I doubt that I would have listened. Maybe someone tried. One of the problems with being young is you think you have it all figured out. But you don’t. No…really. YOU DON’T.

If you’re under 30, you’re young. Not that over 30 is old, it’s just that  time between young and old. But the term ‘tween is already taken. Perhaps we need a new term for the over-30 crowd.

Welcome to my corner of the internet, where profanity is fine, the truth is expected, and respect is mandatory.

Life mostly sucks so I don’t take myself too seriously and neither should you.

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