Gen X Quotes

From the Gen X Quotes file:
“We blew it,” says the Baby Boom.
“Who do we blow?” asks the Millennials.
Gen X just blows.

Autumnal Equinox 2014: Pride Before the Fall

It’s September and temperatures are boiling the local mercury. It’s that time of year we call “Native American Summer,” or at least should, since “Indian Summer” makes no sense given that it’s monsoon season India (and I’m professionally engineered to avoid cultural misnomers). It’s almost over anyway — September 23 brings with it the annual countdown the winter season known as the Autumnal Equinox with its resplendent 89 days of Fall.

Autumnal Equinox 2014: Goals

Discrete stretches of time kindle within me a desire to accomplish something interesting. The 30 days of National Novel Writing Month come to mind. By that rubric, 89 days is just a day shy of a trilogy, right? A guy can do a lot of damage in 89 days. A pal suggested trying 89 different locally-brewed beers. But why stretch over three months what one can do in a weekend?

That said, the 89 Day challenge needs to be more substantial than a hangover. “But what about liver damage, that’s substantial, ain’t it?” asks Sonoma, to which I reply, “Go home, Sonoma, you’re drunk. Again.”

Another friend thought doing an 89 day Instagram photo essay would be manageable if the subject was interesting. However, the only subject in whose presence I’ll consistently be for the 89 days of Fall is me and no one, including me, wants to click through nearly 89 photos of Egogram.

I find with any defined interval of time I have an impulse toward self-improvement. I suppose I could use the 89 days of Fall to concentrate on losing weight but I’m sure I’d find it again come Thanksgiving. I could enjoy 89 consecutive pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks but why not save the $445 and the 33,820 calories for something like a new iPhone and 10 less pounds of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice-flavored regret?

Speaking of Starbucks and 89 days, a fellow named James Burkhart was sentenced to precisely that amount of time in jail for installing a hidden camera in the women’s restroom at a Starbucks near San Diego State University. Unless you have a large bladder, this is why you should get anything beyond a grande to-go.

“Write a poem a day,” someone else suggested. My first thought was NOT writing a poem for 89 days would achieve the same aesthetic effect (nil) and make the inevitable poetry reading more bearable. This is what Gwyneth would call “consciously un-coupleting.”

If I were going to write anything, it would be “89 Days to a Newer, Truer Self,” which is just dying to be penned, packaged and productized across an array of media. An 89-day pad-calendar with daily aphorisms rife for the ripping is a natural. “Day 44. You’re halfway through this calendar. Celebrate your accomplishment buy ordering another one.” And the cycle of abstruse continues.

Depending on the source, the Kama sutra has up to 77 sexual positions. I’m sure I could improvise 12 positions more for a full complement 89 but I also suspect my wife will laugh me right out of the marriage counselor’s office.

Perhaps we should acknowledge the 89 days of Fall by simply doing nothing but being fully in the fleeting moments of its grandeur. I mean, how could any endeavor but humility compete with the heraldry of its hues? Admittedly, this is my hedge — because, as they say, pride comes before the Fall.

Family Vacations

When the county in which one lives annually takes top rankings as a travel destination, it’s hard to wonder why any of us would want to leave. Yet, every summer, flights are booked, trailers are hitched and real life is packed and stowed in a ritual charade of alleged fun and frivolity called “family vacation.”
Has no one noticed the very term is an oxymoron? In my limited experience as a husband and father to a single 5-year-old, I’m a relative neophyte when it comes to family vacations. A week here, a weekend there – I’ve only ever attempted family vacations in small doses. Then I tried two weeks, which proved the metaphysical equivalent of having my stomach pumped.

Coming, as it did, on the heels of a birthday, I’m not sure what made me greyer. After two weeks on the road visiting allegedly idyllic spots along California’s central coast, my hairline has been frosted with a striking lack of pigmentation.

I was laboring under the misapprehension that one is supposed to be rejuvenated by vacation – emphasis on the “juven,” from the Latin for “young.” Instead, I’m older, poorer, my wife won’t talk to me and my son keeps expressing astonishment at my sudden old age.

I blame it on the camping, which, for me, amounted to a miserable couple of weeks of digital deprivation fraught with familial fracas and the persistent feeling that I’ve made terrible choices in my life. I endured by fantasizing that Big Foot might appear to put me out of my misery, or least bring me a decent cup of coffee.

Once we made it further down the coast to my sister-in-law’s place in Santa Barbara, I was able to negotiate a micro-“mancation” for myself, which amounted to a 12-hour odyssey to LA, simply to expose myself to some urban angst and get the fresh air out of my lungs. I spent most of the time in traffic or at the movies. Basically, I’m at my happiest sitting alone in the dark.

After a couple hours of traffic and sifting my broken dreams from the sands and cigarette butts of Venice Beach, I stopped into a diner and ordered a burger. I had no idea it was a front for some freakish experiment in molecular gastronomy until my meal arrived replete with a crimson square of “ketchup leather” atop a patty of some species of bovine wait-listed as an endangered species. It was delicious, I loved it, and I’m still reconciling what that says about me.

Needless to say, I’m very pleased to be home, bathing in the passive radiation of my wireless Internet connection and beams of bluetooth, clicking through the hilarity and hijinks surely contained in my 1,372 unopened emails.

I’m presently in Petaluma and am relieved to be available by email, phone, text and all manner of modern means of communication. I can also do smoke signals, which I mastered when my coat caught on fire (or would that be “blazer?”) while participating in the American culinary fiasco known as s’mores. Graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow, fire. I’m pretty sure a s’more is what you’d get if you asked Willy Wonka to create napalm.

Chats about next year’s family vacation have already started to surface around the dinner table. Hawaii has been mentioned. I hear it’s a place in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that’s just one good wave from being Atlantis. Can’t wait. Though I suspect I might be invited to stay home – my top ranked travel destination. At least the angst is free.

Above is BTillustration’s Tribute to Clark Griswold and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Buy his work here. More at BTillustration.com.