Generations

I Live in the “New Loneliness”

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In her article This is the New Loneliness Jamie Varon focuses on the Millennial Generation. She categorizes them as both the most and least connected generation, due to their inherent, almost organic, use of social media.

I believe millennials have a arrested interpersonal communication skills, simply as a result of being born into a technology-dependent culture.  Communication requires “doing.” As children, millenials were not encouraged to physically be present. Most of their play needs were met by technology. So, it is unfair to paint them as disconnected.  They connect differently.  Social media, rather than face-to-face interactions, is their preferred vehicle.

Ms. Varon overlooked the original disconnected generation – Generation X. 

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We were latchkey kids. Loneliness was ingrained in our lives.  Sure we participated in every activity we wanted to, but most of us held a piece of ourselves back – a self-preservation piece.

These early experiences served us well as we entered an unpredictable, and sometimes volatile work environment, vastly different from the generations that preceded us.  The days of a life-long career with one company ended, just as we came of age.  So we became latchkey adults.

Social media paired nicely with Generation X, because it allowed us that “separation” we learned in childhood.  Technology offered the buffer against anonymity. We were still communicating, just indirectly.

I work primarily from home, so I have limited contact with others. And, even though I prefer to work alone, I genuinely miss the everyday interactions among coworkers in an office.  

Sometimes, I force…no…motivate myself to physically interact with other people.  As a natural “loner” and “homebody,” this is as unnatural and outside my comfort zone, as it gets.

Additionally, I am an extroverted introvert, suffering from clinical depression. Not only do I have to psych myself up to “participate,” I then need several days within my soul cave to regroup and recharge.

The paradox for me has been that even though social media is  “artificial” (as in manmade, rather than preexisting) I am still myself when I am online.  Some people create entirely new personas and lives. I did not and have not. Regardless of the clever nicknames I take on, given the site, my personality remains intact. Acting as someone else, is just not in my skill set.

Missing in technology-based interactions are the subtleties of speech, inflection and body language.  For someone who joyfully wields sarcasm and dark humor, this is a slippery slope.  Not only have I written/said things that were not understood as I had intended, I too have felt the string of a poorly worded online barb.

And, those words that are carelessly hurled around under the guise of anonymity? Those words injure, sometimes fatally. They bring the loneliness to a level that surpasses having a “dark/gloomy” or even “sad” day. Social media gives us the liberty to erect  invisible walls to hide safely behind.

The key is to peek over the wall, open the gate and talk to our neighbors…but it’s easier and quicker to just text them, isn’t it?

Hermione Without Ron? Say It Ain’t So, J.K.

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ron and hermioneIn teaser quotes from an interiew with Emma Watson, guest editor at Wonderland Magazine, J.K. Rowling admits to having wanted Hermione Granger to end up with Harry Potter, not Ron Weasley.  (The issue will be available on Thursday.)

WHAT?!

As I read each book and the characters grew older, I found the pairing of Hermione and Ron to be inspired.   As the primary character, Harry, was the obvious (boring) choice as leading man.   I will admit to having imagined the two of them ending up together, but as the story progressed, the more compelling relationship was between Hermione and Ron.

It was a classic “opposites attract” story, imbedded in the “friends-to-lovers” theme.   Ron allowed Hermione to let her hair down, have fun and relax her natural intensity, while Hermione’s confidence in Ron empowered him to grow up, and into his own man.  It also allowed a ginger to be the romantic hero.  Genius!

I thank whatever literary gods and the Universe for ensuring that Ms. Rowling, not only kept Ron alive, but made him into an awkward, albeit truly lovable, romantic hero.   It was one of many different plot twists that made this series on of my favorites.

How do you feel about these new revelations?

El Bachelor.

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Rosas para las bachelorettes de Juan Pablo.
Rosas para las bachelorettes de Juan Pablo.

I have been a reality TV connoisseur since the first season of The Real World aired on MTV in 1992.  Additionally, I avidly watched dating game shows like “Love Connection,” “The Dating Game,” and my all-time, these-couples-will-need-family-therapy-after-the-show-airs favorite, “The Newlywed Game.”  If I see a Millionaire Matchmaker or Tough Love marathon on, I will make time to watch Patti and Steve deliver their stern, yet sage dating advice, to clueless women and men.

While I gravitate towards shows that focus on the cast’s talent, like So You Think You Can DanceProject Runway, The Sing Off and The Voice, big personalities like the ladies of Double DivasDance Moms, and this season’s little gem, Kim of Queens, which follows a former pageant queen as she molds girls into pageant winners, are always worth a look-see.

Working out with a trainer for TV shows.
Working out with a trainer for TV shows.

When the first season of “The Bachelor” aired, I watched it, but never became a fan.   Even when “The Bachelorette” spun off, I was not sold on the idea of “dating” 25 people in the bubble of reality TV.   However, a few of my die-hard “Bachelor” friends started commenting on the last season of “The Bachelorette,” starring Desiree Hartsock.   They really liked Desiree, and after following a few of their Facebook chats, I was intrigued enough that I started watching.   I also became invested in Desiree and hoped she would find a man who genuinely cared for her.  She did!  Together with beau Chris Siegfried, they celebrated their first New Year’s Eve together.

As we watched Desiree “date” the preselected hunks, one man stood out from the pack.  His name was Juan Pablo Galavis, the soccer-playing, single dad with the sexy Venezuelan accent.  Desiree may not have been attracted to Juan Pablo, but America was!  And so was I!  ¡Ay papacito!

ABC listened!  When they announced the next “Bachelor” would be Juan Pablo, people went crazy.  My middle-aged, happily married self, included.  Juan Pablo came across as a nice man, in a hunky package.  He was devoted to his daughter, Camila Valentina, who was born on Valentine’s Day, and remained friendly with Camila’s mother.   In other words, he was Central Casting directors’ wet dream.   The pre-show buzz included the special, The Bachelor: Countdown to Juan Pablo.  I watched it as research to prepare for the actual show.    Mmmmm.

El Bachelor!
El Bachelor!

The first show aired last night and Juan Pablo (and America) met the contestants vying for a rose.  ABC did not disappoint.  There were the requisite beautiful, intelligent, accomplished women, who should be able to find long-term relationship partners, and there were the “unique” women.  Some may categorize them as unconventional, quirky, socially awkward, overly emotional, but I like to call them reality TV “money.”   Let’s face it, no one watches reality TV to see normal, balanced, happy people.  We like our train wrecks, thank you very much.  Providing last night’s entertainment were Shoeless Lucy, Creepy Massage Therapist Amy J.,  Bicycle Piano Player Lauren S., Mineral Coordinator and What-Not-to-Share-on-a-Date-Queen Lauren.  Uninterested, Possibly Jetlagged, Opera Singer Sharleen  received the first rose, but did not look as if she wanted to accept it.  Ah, must see TV.

I will be pulling for Florida girl and single mom, Renee, Prosecutor Andi, and Pediatric Nurse Nikki.  And, of course, drunk girl drama, which seems to be a staple of “The Bachelor” franchise.  Popcorn, at the ready.

Cue the theme song for “El Bachelor” which could be Juan Pablo’s Lucha Libre alter ego, if he is unable to find love.

I live tweet during TV shows using Get Glue, if you would like to join the party!

¡Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas!

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I received the best gift I could ever hope for, on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) – time with Papi, Mami, Hubby, Brother (PSM), Sister-in-Law, 2 Nephews and our Niece. Later today (Christmas Day) we will spend time with my Mom-in-Law and Hubby’s extended family.

We exchanged funny cards and gave the kids the “Harry Potter” boxed set collection. Nothing is better that time with loved ones. Several years ago, we decided to only give gifts to the kids and enjoy the joy of watching tear open their presents. It keeps the focus on our family and we love it!

Hope the spirit of the season fills you with joy.

Please enjoy “Navidad en Panamá.”

Book Review – “Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel” by Kelsie Leverich

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After a plethora of twenty-something-billionaire-meets-ingénue-have-kinky-sex-and-a-HEA books, it was a pleasant surprise to find Kelsie Leverich’s work. I became a fan after reading her debut novel The Valentine’s Arrangement. As the wife of a Gulf War-Era US Army Veteran, I was drawn to her story about a soldier and his ladylove, because it did not shy away from the complexities of loving a man (or woman) in the military. Ms. Leverich wrote from personal experiences, with attention to detail and a deep respect for our troops and veterans. I had high expectations for her second novel Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel.

Feel the Rush began with the unexpected reunion of lovers who had an unrestrained, steamy, once-in-a-lifetime, one-night-stand. Megan Mitchell, a nurse at an Army hospital, moved from New York to Georgia, started a new job and vowed to find “Mr. Safe.” The first man she met was her next-door neighbor, Reed Porter, an Airborne Jumpmaster and daredevil extraordinaire – the epitome of “Mr. Wrong,” whom she recognized immediately as her one-time lover, from eight years ago.

Reed, however, did not recognize Megan until she jarred his memory and the same inexplicable attraction they felt was rekindled. Each time they were together the sex was hot and became progressively hotter. Neither was expecting the level of intimacy they experienced as they let their protective walls down.

These were likable characters – people we know, possibly our friends, or versions of ourselves. Megan consistently chose men who were emotionally unavailable. Reed seemed to fall into that category. He was the bad boy in an Army uniform, with a heart of gold, but uninterested in the same type of commitment, as Megan. While they seemed perfectly matched, they were looking for different things out of a long-term relationship.

Ms. Leverich built the tension slowly, as the lovers rediscovered their connection. We became invested in Megan and Reed’s emotional journeys as individuals and as a couple. Then, life happened, proving that they lived in a very small world. Two plot twists blew me away, and served to intensify Megan and Reed’s already complicated and moving relationship. I wanted to wrap my arms around both of these characters at different points during the book.

The secondary characters were fully developed people who added to the story. Megan’s best friends Eva and Trevor supported and confronted her on her own failings, as real friends would. The camaraderie exhibited by Reed’s fellow soldiers clearly illustrated the bonds created by men in uniform, who perform dangerous jobs. The soldiers were multifaceted alpha men, who cared for each other as family, and played a part in bringing Megan and Reed together.

Feel the Rush was funny, sad, sexy, and deeply poignant. It surpassed my expectations and had me reaching for tissues on several occasions. I highly recommend it for readers looking for rich characters who suffer unavoidable heartbreak, as they transition into the best version of themselves and learn to embrace love.

I highly recommend reading Ms. Leverich’s first novel in the series The Valentine’s Arrangement.

Links to my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

The 10 Reasons Why Generation-Y is Soft

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Please read this article then come back and share your thoughts – The 10 Reasons Why Generation-Y is Soft

I hoped this article, written by a member of Generation-Y, would spark a heated discussion, on his site.  Unfortunately, it created a forum for people to question his facts, but not offer any alternative thoughts.   Sadly, I suspect it will continue to degenerate into a list of “I know you are, but what am I,”  “you’re WRONG,” or “______ you” comments, so I brought the discussion over here, so we could delve into it with a little more in depth.

Source: ARMA International
Source: ARMA International

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of Generation X.  I received extensive human resources training in generational differences in the workplace, but I am a product of my generation and it certainly impacts by world view.  I identify with many of the characteristics ascribed to my generation: independent, due to being a latch key kid; suspicious and mistrusting of companies/corporations, after seeing many of my friends’ parents lose their jobs in the 1980s and 1990s; comfortable in a diverse workplace (and world), and place a great emphasis on work/life balance.  I work to live, not live to work.  I am also aware that we are not one of the larger generations (population-wise).   I graduated college in 1991 and in the mid-1990s returned to advise a couple of student organizations, at the same university, as a volunteer.

For the past eight years, I have noticed a growing disconnect with the students.   I knew I was “aging out,” or identifying more with their parents, than the students themselves.   Every year I felt as if we were growing apart, even though I tried to keep up with their cultural trends and interests.  This year, however, the gap became too great.  I knew it was time to move on, when my patience dwindled to nothing.

One of the minor reasons I stopped advising college students, was that I felt they were too “fragile.”  The women I worked with directly, learned quickly, that I never minced words.  To some, it was a rude awakening.   Some rose to the occasion immediately upon being treated as an adult.  Others did not, and discovered the “joys” of personal accountability, or cleaning up one’s messes.   I may have been the adviser, but ultimately, they were responsible for decisions made.   Time after time, I was impressed by these women, but they seemed to be the exception, not the norm.

When I read Eddie Cuffin’s article it resonated with me, because it hit upon many of the things I witnessed, not the least of which was a delayed emotional maturity.   At that moment, I knew my “honesty is the best policy”….well, brutal honesty, in my case, would not work with the newest generation and it was an opportunity for someone else to take my place.  I was also exhausted of being “misinterpreted,”  “translated” or worse, “watered-down” to make my words less harsh to delicate Generation-Y egos.   So, I moved on, but left with a sense that there was unfinished business and that I never really understood the newest 18-20-year-olds.

Generation-Y followers, do any of the ideas brought forth in this article resonate with you?  What about my Generation X and Baby Boomer followers, what have you observed?   Please share!