Who doesn’t love Millennials?


O.M. God. These creatures of the digital tar pits are humanity’s saviors. They speak differently than the rest of us. They dress differently. They know life hacks. And they shoot Periscope videos of themselves doing it. Like a phoenix dressed in 80s fashion rising from a pile of entitled, home-schooled ashes, Millennials hold a fist full of dollars and aren’t afraid to spend them. Praise them, lavish them with a weird sense of high self-worth, for when combined – like Voltron or Megazord – they are the second coming.

Just knowing how to ‘scope is a feat. For the rest of us, it’s just another social media platform that we might someday explore when time and the non-digital world allows (IRL), but Millennials make the time for these important things. Trump memes won’t post themselves. Millennials make the time to change the business world to suit their personalities. First there were slackers, but Millennials; by God, they’ve turned the slacker life into a series of well-shared LinkedIn articles.

And Millennials share videos of interesting things Generation X-ers scroll right past. That video of the Volvo in the middle of a snowy field being mauled by that giant European backhoe? It’s viral, and obviously staged as so many are, thanks to them. When a video goes viral, as we all know, lots of people watch it and that means… it gets a lot of likes, which means a lot of people see it. And that translates into something. Trusted content? Not really. Something Boomlets are into? Who the hell are they? Do “likes” translate into advertising dollars per impressions? Sure. In a vague, click-bait kind of way. Is it all about money? Always. Even for Millennials, but they’re cool with it, so we should be too. They have money to burn. Everyone says so.

Baby Boomers love them. They’re the new Me Generation, so similar to their free-loving grandparents back in the day, but hip to tech and stuff (they have selfie sticks). And they aren’t afraid to talk about their needs (because we’ve told them they are special), their issues (because we’ve told them they are special), and their Go Fund Me accounts (because they think they’re special). The generations that have come before have put all their hopes for the future, not to mention the task of fixing the present planetary issues, on you. As Millennials are so fond of saying, even when not thanked first, you’re welcome.

The hope of the future hinges on what you post (say) next.

Pretend you can’t pay your bills

The blurb in question.

It’s like being poor is a conspiracy or something. Let’s go undercover and make sure poverty is a real thing! Because maybe the destitute are big, fat liars? They’re not “us,” after all, how can we be sure “they” can be trusted?

As if living in fear of nearly everything, from sleeping in your car (if you’re lucky enough to have one) to wondering if you have enough Ramen to last til next payday, isn’t enough; there’s now a book that allows the privileged to read about how craptastic life can be. Yay for them. Or us. Or whoever’s side you happen to be on.

Apparently there are sides.

At least that’s what I gleaned after picking up the January 2016 Indie Next List at the local bookstore in Pacific Grove over the weekend. While this post has nothing to do with the book “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” by Barbara Ehrenreich, it has everything to do with the book’s absurd listing in the List. Initially, the premise had me interested. That is until I read the description. The short blurb by Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books, Saint Louis, MO, is as follows:

“Ehrenreich goes undercover, joining millions of Americans working at minimum wage jobs to see if it is as easy as some contend. She experiences firsthand the below-subsistence, dehumanizing conditions of much hourly wage work, but she also finds the remarkable humanity of the people who make daily life possible for the rest of us.”

And never has a short, pretentious review steered me so far from wanting to read a book before now.

There’s a silver lining to poverty? Of course there is. Those who’ve never faced the misery of hunger need that silver lining. It wouldn’t be a good read without a kernel of uplifting drivel. Of course for those of “us” who know poverty, there really is no silver lining. Remarkable humanity? Is it surprising that poor people can be nice? Surprising to whom? The rich? The Clintons? To Conservatives? And going undercover to see what want is like? Knowing you can return to a life of iPhones and Netflix, car payments and vacations to Hawaii, or whatever, takes the edge off fearing you might die hungry and alone in cardboard box. You’re just pretending, knowing you can drive off in a Lexus when it gets too nasty to handle.

It’s the last sentence that stirred my ire the most. The poor make daily life possible for the rest of us? That statement, of course, assumes a great deal. It assumes poor people would never pick up this book and that anyone who might want to read it just needs assurances they will never have to hang their laundry in the backyard or call the food bank to see what time they close. As a reader, as someone who has never been rich and has, on more than one occasion, planned to live in the backseat of a car should the next paycheck go sideways, I don’t appreciate being lumped into the “us” category. There is no us and them when it comes to poverty. For some, it’s a spouse who thankfully makes a good wage, for others it’s parents who help out their middle-aged children, and for others it’s an abyss with no safety net.

We are them. They are us. End of story.

Thoughts of thirsty people who did the right thing

Let the tap roar.

My brand new-to-me car got a little dirty in the drought, but now I can wash it. The sparkle of diamonds will have nothing on my Volvo after I get done dousing that thing. After all, I got told by California American Water I should pay more because I used less of it during the drought. Might as well get my money’s worth.

And how I missed those long, luxurious showers myself. It’s not just the new car. I remember how the hot water felt like needles on my shoulders, massaging the stress into nothingness, while the bathroom disappeared in a mist of steam. I remember it like it was yesterday, but really it’s been years. It may be just one of a series of long showers, as I plan to get my money’s worth for a good long time, but that first one will be like Christmas morning.

I’ll probably read less thanks to all this water I pay to use. I won’t have time to sit around. The cost of books will shoot up as a result, which will somehow raise my Netflix bill. I may eat less too, especially after I make a new pool in the backyard. Swimming will cause me to lose weight, hence an increase in my grocery bill. I’ll fill water bottles, more than I need, and walk to the coffee shop instead of driving my diamond-clean car. That will bring up gas prices. Thanks to my walking shoes, the cost of slippers will skyrocket.

And the puppies will be so clean and downy soft, but first they’ll be nice and muddy thanks to the bog I plan to make out back with my once-dried up garden hose. The puppies have never known what it’s like to play in water bogs from a running hose. Most dogs don’t, at least not since the early 1980s. But mine will. I’m paying for it after all.

Thanks for the drought, Mother Nature, or whoever you are. And thank you, Cal Am, for making us wish we’d never conserved.