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Posts Tagged ‘status quo’

Passion fuels the lives we envision for ourselves better than discipline or elbow grease alone.

However, a little bit of passion’s dark side — anger — may be the best defense of our identity, and a future that looks like us.

Sousse 2009 by A.AshmanThis week Dialogue2010 participant Elmira Bayraslı shared the anger that keeps her hybrid. Rather than assimilate or choose one social group to belong to, the daughter of Turkish immigrants in New York ferociously defends her hard-won ability to switch to independent American woman — and back again.

As an expat I know this righteousness-to-be-hybrid. A defense mechanism not only kicks in but is kept in place by a low level anger about external pressures to live and be a certain way. It’s been a cornerstone of my survival, and for many people living between worlds.

Today I was reminded exactly how homegrown this righteousness is by a Facebook group of one-line jokes about Berkeley upbringings. How counterculture taboos affected childhood is dizzying:

  • boycotts of table grapes and iceberg lettuce make kids anxious when visiting un-PC families,
  • a sneaked McDonald’s meal draws punishment while smoking weed does not,
  • the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are off-limits (pseudo-military!),
  • while the whitebread Brady Bunch and misogynistic Barbie are what’s wrong with the world.

Free Speech protests witnessed from baby strollers make this group a veritable Red Diaper Baby playdate.

Also glimpsed: the realization that  much of what characterized a Berkeley childhood thirty or forty years ago — that is, the lifestyle and belief system of an alternative community, the anger that separated it from the rest of the nation — has now become mainstream in America.

So, my righteous sisters and brothers, what are you going to keep being angry about when it comes to who you are?

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If you’re over 30 you probably don’t yearn to recapture 20-something days of gritty uncertainty. It’s even less appealing if you’re from the tail end of the Baby Boom like me.

This week a visiting friend and I reminisced about our salad days in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Now Sex and the City types fill its fashion showrooms, art galleries and wine vaults but in the late ‘80s — when our loft went Hollywood in the film Fatal Attraction and Madonna launched her naughty picture book from the basement nightclub — it was a no man’s land of motorcycle gangs and transvestite prostitutes.

Meatpacking District party invite circa 1987

Our lifestyle and career struggles seemed par for the course. We didn’t realize birth year alone meant we’d always occupy an entry-level position in our cultural generation.

I post today at expat+HAREM, the global niche about being my very own generation gap, and how the 20-somethings of GenY bring the status quo rebellion I seek.

How about you? Ever felt in synch with a different generation?

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