Pizza for Dinner
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Cool Coincidence
I heard on NPR this morning a theory that I came up with independently and recently shared with Sanjay. The closest thing to a link I can find is this banner on the top of the page, but maybe it'll show up in the archives tomorrow or later on. This reporter found that baby boomers raised a generation that is now in their 20s and expecting praise in the workplace for doing their jobs. They grew up getting participation trophies and ribbons, every one was special, etc. and now they want a cookie everytime they collate.

(I get praise for doing my job and I think it's a little odd. Great, and better than being invisibile, but if I didn't go above and beyond then I'm not actually expecting anything.)

Since I like talking about my theories I'll go into more detail on it, although it is almost exactly the same. I can't remember if I came up with this while watching people with a huge sense of entitlement or if it was because of the children. I've had several conversations about the lack of well-behaved children nowadays and how I'm more likely to be surprised by well-behaved children than unruly children. And although I am completely curmodgeonly it is not at all limited to me. Of course, there are well-behaved children just as there are people born after WWII who don't expect 76 trombones every time they do the laundry or come up with a bon mot.

I figured with the baby boomers society changed a lot. A middle class existed, more people than ever before (and since?) lived in two-parent homes, in houses, with a car and a chance to go to college even if they didn't have a trust fund. Vaccines and antibiotics came about and decreased childhood mortality. The cold war improved public schools. Weekends and leisure time were more entrenched than previous generations. So while this generation was raised by people who lived through the Depression they were also more priviledged than any other generation up until then. They grew up expecting that a lifetime of work would earn them a house and a pension, etc.

And that didn't always happen. Cue the sense of entitlement. Or it did. Cue entitlement in their children. Regardless, we became a society that looked at how children were raised, psychologically. Instead of worrying if little Joey had food, we started to worry if little Joey could express himself. And that's where discipline slid off. Add society today where almost all families need two working parents and you have even less discipline because the parents are just too tired to argue. The focus on the individual means participation trophies. It means people think they're always right because being wrong makes them feel bad. They're special, after all.

We all know people that need more than just acknowledgement, they need constant reassurance. Maybe they can't do anything without someone holding their hand the first time, maybe they need to be popular with everyone, maybe they think their opinions are the only right ones but it's these people that got me to thinking about this. These people who are now raising kids that aren't told not to throw food at people in the grocery store because their parents are too busy listening to their grocery requests/demands.

I think we can find a happy medium. A verbal good for you for playing baseball, but you weren't the winning team so no trophy, just enjoy the game. No more high school graduations with 8 valedictorians and 12 salutatorians. Hmm, I just thought of the ADD South Park episode. Maybe that's how all this got started in my head.

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Monday, May 28, 2007
Coming clean
I've been keeping this semi quiet because it's personal and self-pitying but I think it's time to be open for healing purposes. It's probably not a big surprise but I'm depressed and have been for about a year and a half. I'm working on it and I'm getting better and I have a lot of good times but it's there and completely related to the events of my life.

A few months ago I read an NYT magazine interview with Sarah Silverman in which she said that in her childhood she was depressed and described it as feeling homesick even though she was home. This is exactly how I've felt and described it in the past when my life was difficult. This time is different though. This time I am comfortable with me. I have flaws but I work at them and I feel like I'm me, if that makes sense. I like my friends and hobbies and I like me. But this time I sometimes want to be me in someone else's life.

The problem is that I'm watching almost all my friends either get PhDs or their dream job, get married, have kids, buy a house, have supportive families, or some combination, and I don't understand why I don't have that. Or why if I will have those things it's going to take so much longer. What's my bad karma? It's not that I'm at all holding this against my friends. My friends are the reason I'm not worse off today and I can't express how grateful I am for that. I don't want anyone to temper their happiness because of me. I just don't understand why my good news is really often more of a lack of negative news.

I'm getting better but it's hard when I'm manipulated or used as a source of self esteem. Invisible. Not seen as the person I am today. Seen as less interesting than people who are the type to think they're wild and crazy for staying up until 1am or have really important opinions on their hair. Seen as not carrying my weight when I'm doing more than my share of the work. Told my opinions are wrong, not different. Lots of people do these things so I know I'm not alone but it just hurts more now because of everything else. When I should calmly say, Excuse me I am in the room and speaking and am offended that you have forgotten that, I may just retreat and be quiet. Or snappily tell someone their opinion is wrong despite their imaginary superceding qualifications. Mature, I know. Some frequent offenders will never see their culpability and it'd only make it worse to say or show I'm offended but that's just my reaction sometimes. And really I don't know how to deal with frequent offenders.

I know this is not unique to me. And no one's perfect. But I just want to be seen for who I am and appreciated when I am deserving, just like anyone else. Thank you to everyone who does this already.


Thursday, May 10, 2007
working girl
I'd like to do science writing. For a newspaper or magazine, my own books, what ever I can get. Publishers, however, are looking for experience, those jerks. And 5 years of writing, editing and reviewing manuscripts and grants doesn't seem to be enough. Granted, it is a bit different, but I know I can write. I know I can make science accessible to the non scientist and still interesting to someone who knows a bit about the subject to begin with. So I started a science writing blog. It'll be the practice and (hopefully) exposure I'll need to one day get to the all-too-impressive appearing on The Colbert Report to talk about my new book explaining such concepts as why I love, Love, LOVE Purell on the airplane after I see someone cough into Sky Mall but cringe, cringe, cringe when I think about superbacteria it's selecting for stage of my career.

Without further ado, here is my alter-ego the Master of Science. (Link is also to the right.)

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007
The non decision
Google ads will creep me out now and then when I inevitable forget that they're there until it pops up with something right on the money. The quotes and links at the top of my gmail, however, have never been so accurate before. Today I had this link/quote from the Duke basketball coach: "The truth is that many people set rules to keep from making decisions." Has this ever been accurate for me the last year and a half (I mean, it's always happened to me but lately, wow). People who have no idea who they are or what they're doing, no clue that they're the pot to someone's kettle. Or are so good at denial that they might as well not know. Whatever they're doing is perfect, everyone else is wrong if there's a problem. I'm the most interesting. Me, me, me, me, me. This is vexing and frightening if, for example, someone cuts you off and then waves as if to say, don't worry, you're fine. You have your moment of wishing someone would cut them off and do the same condescending gesture, complain about it and move on. But if the person's actions screw with your life or they're someone you care about then it's way more tough.

This is not to say that people can't make mistakes, of course not. That's what people do. But I think I act like myself and act responsibly and live my life instead of following a blueprint. (Why are the people so dependent on following a blueprint or having someone else make their decision or make a non decision and call it fate always the most arrogant?) I just wish more people could do the same.



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