Friday Frivolity: The Sound of (Donna) Summer Weekends

It has been a rough month or so for music lovers.  It feels like every other day, my Twitter feed explodes with rumors or, more often than not, sad truths about another icon of American music passing away.  As evidenced by my Music Monday posts, I develop very strong connections to the music in my life and each time another beloved singer is gone, it often hits me harder than I would expect.

As we’re about to embark on another weekend (though with being laid off, the weekdays and weekends seem to blend together), it’s hard not to think about Donna Summer.  Her music was always the sound of summer weekends (no pun intended, for once) and being young and wild and free.  And even though my weekend plans are less “bad girls hit the town” and more “taking advantage of the busy tourist season to make some extra dough“, I’ll be cranking Donna Summer all weekend long.

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The Time I Got Laid Off The Day After My Birthday

No use in burying the lede on this blog post, folks.  One of the things I’ve always striven to do with this blog is be honest and forthcoming about how my life has played out since graduating from college and as I have come upon another one of life’s little surprises, it feels right to lay it out here for you.

First things first.  I turned 28 years old last week.  It felt strange.  I usually enjoy birthdays and don’t get too fussy about them.  They’re a great excuse to get a lot of people together and celebrate – in this case, I rounded up about two dozen of my closest friends and we enjoyed a fierce Nats/Phillies baseball game.  I was perfectly content to have people buy me beers and wish me well in the coming year and not dwell on my age.

That is, until Monday night – the night before the actual day.  I don’t know if it was just the exhaustion from coming off a packed weekend or one of those momentary nervous breakdowns that come out of nowhere because someone looks at you wrong, but I snapped.  All of a sudden, I felt the distance between me and my youth (10 years since high graduation!  5 years since college graduation) and the weight of each of the twenty-eight years weighing down on me.  What had I accomplished with that time?  By any factor of success (wealth, health, wisdom, self-fulfillment), did I have any achievements of note?

I tried to shake it off.  A low-key afternoon on my actual birthday – a little museum strolling, sangria with friends, a chance meeting with Jose Andres, and sweet phone calls from my parents – helped to ease the tension and I felt as if perhaps I should save the freak-out for when I actually turned 30.

But apparently, it was the perfect time to freak out.  The very next day, about halfway through my morning work routine, I was called into our department supervisor’s office.  I have written about the end of my previous employment before, but I have to say, this time was different.  You usually have a clue, an inkling, that these things are coming – either because they’re mutual or you can feel it in the air – but this truly took me off-guard.  I knew as soon as I closed the door behind me and the shock was so palpable, I found it hard to catch my breath.

I didn’t cry.  I didn’t argue.  I didn’t fall back on snark or sarcasm, which is really the triumph for me in uncomfortable situations.  I listened plaintively as they explained that there were too many and not enough work.  That they were happy with my performance, that everyone liked me, but it wasn’t a good fit and it wasn’t the right time.  That they could see that I was unhappy.  This last one really stung – because it was true.  I hadn’t been happy in this job, chained behind a desk, with little work to fill my days.  But I had always prided myself on being an outgoing, upbeat person, especially in the workplace.  How could they have known I was wilting inside?

And that was that.  I was truly so stunned, I just grabbed my purse and walked out the door.  I didn’t even clean out my desk – so, you’re welcome, person who gets that desk eventually, for the free granola bars and cough drops and the one fancy pen I brought from home.

I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been a tough couple of days.  Telling my parents was like pulling off a band-aid – it stings initially but it’s better just to do it quickly.  They are loving and supportive, which in some ways makes it worse.  It must not be easy for them, a few years away from retirement, and worrying about an adult child who seems to skip and hop her way through life instead of hunkering down and forging a real career path somewhere.

Honestly, the absolute worst thing about getting laid off is telling people.  The financial worries aren’t great and the lack of daily routine is not well-suited for someone as OCD as myself, but the aspect of this entire ordeal that is so trying is having to let people know.  I know that it’s the right thing to do – your support system of friends and family exist to support you when times get tough but having to volunteer the information that, for not the first time in your life, you’ve been let go is a frustrating endeavor.  Trust me, there’s no easy way to do it.  I am so terrible at it, my roommate completely missed what I had said the first time.

I know there are lessons to be learned here and that, in some ways, this is a relief.  Iwasunhappy at my job and even though I thought I was a spectacular actress, it was obviously clear to others.  I’m learning that I am truly not cut out for a run-of-the-mill desk job and that I have to stop accepting so many administrative tasks just because I’m good at it when I’m better at creating, innovating, and implementing.  I can be proud of the fact that I cultivated strong connections to previous employers and prospective employers, which have already given me a couple of opportunities for the summer and possible beyond.  I have always been happiest when hustling, pursuing projects and working with organizations and people that I’m truly excited to be with, and perhaps I shouldn’t have let my desire to appear more “adult” or “grown-up” to others pull me away from that.

Or maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself to get through this weird first week of non-working.  All I can say for sure is that right now, from my current “office” aka my kitchen table, it’s a beautiful sunny day and I get to go outside and enjoy it.

So, it could be worse.

Music Monday: The Beatles’ Revolver

Like most twenty-somethings with a television set, I’m a huge fan of Mad MenThere’s really nothing to not like about the series – it has a cast full of handsome men wearing well-tailored suits, there’s copious day drinking, plenty of workplace coitus and it’s the best written drama on television right now.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

While I have some opinions on last night’s episode (was the return of Betty Draper Francis unnecessary – discuss amongst yourselves), I’ve still been obsessing on the episode from two weeks past, where the creative types at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are working on a campaign that’s a spin on A Hard Day’s Night.  The clients want something Beatles-esque to tap into the ever-growing Beatles fervor of the 1960s.  While (my imaginary television boyfriend) Stan Rizzo suggests The Zombies, Don Draper decides to defer to his young new wife, Megan, who bring him the latest Beatles album to listen to.  That album is Revolver, one of the group’s most pivotal releases.

I remember the first time I consciously sought out a Beatles album.  I don’t remember the first time I heard a Beatles song or even talked to my parents about them but when I was 12 years old, we were gearing up for a family road trip and Post-Collegiate Dad took me on a late night trip to a local bookstore that also sold used cassettes and records.  I had told him that I really wanted a “new to me” Beatles album to listen to in my new Walkman for the trip.  After searching through what felt like hundreds of Beatles tapes, I settled on Magical Mystery TourI was instantly hooked – I don’t think I listened to anything but that tape on the two-day drive.  That following Christmas, I received a vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and I was officially obsessed.  I thought they would be my favorite band of all time.

Of course, that isn’t exactly how it played out.  Like many a teenager before me, I soon traded in my Beatles favorites for newly acquired re-releases of Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street.  High school brought with it The Doors and my first experiences with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.  By the time I reached college, my favorite album from the 1960s was not from the Beatles but rather, The Velvet Underground & Nico The Beatles became this band that I appreciated but who felt out of place in my adult music collection, until two weeks ago.

On Mad Men, Megan gives Don a copy of the newly-released Revolver, imploring him to listen to the last track first.  That track – Tomorrow Never Knows” – marks the Beatles first real break away from their old sound and the expansion of pop music into psychedelia.  After hearing the LSD-inspired track close out the episode (spoiler alert: it wasn’t to Don Draper’s tastes), I decided to download Revolver and give it a second chance.  It never resonated much with me in my youth, outside of the delightful silliness of “Yellow Submarine” and the serene sadness of “Eleanor Rigby“.  Maybe it’s just indicative of my youthful naivete or a reflection of where I am in my life right now, but this time around, I listened to Revolver straight through four or five times in the span of two days.  Unlike Don, the shifting sound of The Beatles and the expansion of their music into deeper psychological themes is exactly what I need to hear right now.

Given that I’ve been immersed in the album for the last two weeks, it was hard to pick the perfect song for Music Monday, so I’ve decided that, given my lack of regular music posts in the last month, I’d just give in and choose two songs.  Both represent the best of Revolver to me – rollicking guitar medleys, the introduction of brass into the backing sound, and lyrics that speak to our expanding consciousness and the need to make and break connections with others and the world around us.

And Your Bird Can Sing

Got To Get You Into My Life

Friday Frivolity: Millennials on TV

Hello friends!  Thanks for sticking with the blog during our little hiatus.  We are back up and running and looking forward to some great posts next week, including some thoughts on Revolver, attitude in the workplace, and postcollegiate summers.  As always, I’m looking for more fearless post-collegiates to feature, so if you’re interested in being interviewed for the blog (or want to guest post), get in touch with me at postcollegiate [at] gmail [dot] com or tweet me.

I’ve been wanting to do a frivolous Friday post on some television characters I’ve noticed who really seem to embody the postcollegiate spirit and was thrilled to see this Vulture piece on the universally hated character on Smash, Ellis.  What makes Ellis so awful?  He’s a textbook millennial – he’s disloyal, he job hunts, he demands credit, he’s too eager to please, and he thinks he’s better than he is.  Sounds like just about every middle-aged office worker I know talking about our generation in the workplace!  The story really inspired me to think about other television characters, good or bad, who really seem to represent the millennial generation.

Nick Miller  (The New Girl)

Oh, Nick Miller.  Nick Miller, who dropped out of law school and lives off his meager bar-tending wages.  Nick Miller, who doesn’t have health insurance.  Nick Miller, who can’t get a cell phone because his credit score is so laughable.  Nick Miller, who’s friends are convinced they could buy their own city with the money they’d save not covering his share of the rent.  Nick Miller embodies just about every cliche (and hard truth) about millennial and money – most of us don’t have it and when we do have it, we’re not very responsible with it.

Penny Hartz (Happy Endings)

Penny’s misadventures in dating is essentially a documentary for anyone who didn’t get married by the time they were 24.  She’s the girl who will adapt to whatever the guy she likes is into (see:  that time she dated a hipster), she’s willing to go way out on a limb to find someone to settle down with (see: that time she dated the guy named you-know-what), and she’s even explored the possibility of settling down with her best friend (see: that time her sex dream about Dave was really a proposal dream).  But what really makes Penny the embodiment of millennial dating is her perpetual optimism that it will all work out in the end, even though life tells us otherwise.

June Colburn (Don’t Trust the B—-in Apartment 23)

Poor Chloe.  She gets her dream job, moves to the big city, and is so excited to settle down with her fiance.  Except the job goes bust, she loses the perfect apartment, and her fiance is a lying cheat.  So, she ends up trucking along at a dead-end coffee shop job while she tries to survive living with the show’s titular bitch, Chloe.  If Chloe wasn’t so much frickin’ fun, it would almost be depressing to watch.  It’s hard not to empathize with June’s blind belief that everything in her post-collegiate life is going to work out just fine.

 

Abed Nadir (Community)

Inability to communicate?  Check.  Constantly indulged by his peers?  Check.  Refusal to grow up and mature?  Check.  Pursuing a less-than-marketable humanities degree?  Check.  Obsession with pop culture which will unlikely serve him well in the future?  Check.  Although Annie’s relentless ambitious and need for approval and Troy’s insistence on being treated like an adult even when he isn’t really one yet are both strong candidates, Abed takes the millennial crown at Greendale.