What it’s like to be GenXer in 2014

This post was spurred by this Salon article from 2013.

GenX article @Salon

It’s Salon, which means it’s not reliable as a news source, but this article feels pretty spot on to me:

“The Xer in midlife is facing the opposite midlife than the Silent Generation,” Howe says. “The Silent experienced claustrophobia. Xers experience agoraphobia — everything is possible.” – Neil Howe quoted in Salon article “Generation X gets really old: How do slackers have a midlife crisis?”

I do not feel like the dude in Falling Down. I do feel agoraphobic. I feel like I’ve been let down by the “American Dream” touted by my parents. They would tell me “you can do anything you want!” then ridicule my college degree and advise me to get an office job when I kept changing “careers” to try to make the best of what I had. I feel resentment at them for still spouting that bullshit at me, EVEN AS THEY GO INTO THEIR LAST YEARS BROKE AS FUCK from refusing to change. They were in the building business and they got crushed. My brother now has a shitty county job that pays less than $30k/yr and he supports ALL of them. He sat around for 4 years spending their savings before he got a clue that he might have to find a new career. My parents fought him all the way. This is my brother all right:

“Studies reveal that a disproportionate number of us are sandwiched between dependent children and aging parents – fending off economic stressers while juggling a heavy load of family responsibilities.”

My brother supports his clueless 17 year old pregnant daughter and two sickly parents. He’ll be supporting his grandkid, too. He feels trapped and he is. But it’s his own fault for allowing our overbearing mother to run his life. I really wonder what will happen when she’s not around to tell him what to do. My brother will be 47 in January and he’s never had an independent life. I couldn’t save him, though I tried very hard. They all resent me because I saw the trap and I fled. None of them were smart enough to do that, so naturally I’m the bad guy.

My parents tell me that it’s MY FAULT that my $100k home became worth $40k. THEY ARE FULL OF SHIT. And out of touch. My father actually said, “There wasn’t a housing bust! I don’t know what you’re talking about! You’re lying! Houses are selling great in Knoxville!” Uh, right Dad, I made the whole thing up and Knoxville fucking TN is immune to the ills of the WHOLE GODDAM COUNTRY and you lost all your retirement money to invisible gnomes. Right. He probably thinks this because he has lived his whole life in a 10 mile radius. They all have. Small towns, small minds. It’s amazing how real their fantasy world is to them. They must work really hard to ignore the news that is on their TVs that are on 24/7. This is why I call them militantly ignorant. It’s hard work to ignore reality like they do.

I have had to start over in my life. And over. And over. I’ve been fucked by the Boomer’s “American Dream”. I went to college. I settled down and bought a house (Nick did this, too). What did we get? BANKRUPTCY. We bankrupted and started fresh three years ago – but we paid off our fucking student loans, at least. It was the best thing we’ve ever done – despite my fucking family telling us we’re losers for not sticking with a failed investment that was killing us with stress. Despite my father (who has always been an entrepreneur) telling me I’m crazy to start up a business and I’m doomed to failure (arcade pub for those new to this blog), that is precisely what I’m going to do. I’ll succeed to spite him.  The last paragraph of the Salon article really does sum it up:

“If we’re going to make the country a better place, more suited to our values, we need to do it ourselves. Middle age is, if nothing else, time to shift out of second gear. If we can’t take a break from the urban farms, put down the knitting and home brewing equipment, and step into politics, business and other kinds of leadership, we’ll deserve our reputation as the generation that never quite showed up. Rather than the sound of silence, we should be hearing our voices – and they should be loud and angry.”

The Boomers are clueless about who we Xers are and the constant stream of CRAP that we’ve dealt with. But I think we can become the leaders we need to be on our own terms. I think if more of us would take chances, we could get something done. There’s no one left to take chances but US. The Millennials are certainly not ready. We’ve got to stop playing it safe and get out there. It’s hard to do, I can attest to that. The fear of failure is real. But when it comes down to it, we have no choice. It’s start over again or live in a box under the interstate. Nick’s Boomer era job is ending. We must reinvent. If there’s anything that Xers are good at, it’s THAT.

Curry Coconut Beef

This is a slow cooker recipe. But I start off by browning the beef, which gives much more flavour! This dish has the perfect amount of curry spice. Really delicious!

Curry Coconut Beef by Angela
Curry Coconut Beef by Angela

Slow Cooker Curry Coconut Beef

1.5-2# chuck roast cut into 6-8 chunks
1 large yellow bell pepper or 4-5 minis, large dice
1 large onion, large dice
1 med carrot, sliced very thin on the bias
1 small box cremini mushrooms, quartered
Sauce
1 Tbl garlic paste (or 4-5 cloves, pasted)
1 Tbl ginger paste (or 2 large chunks, minced – but I highly recommend buying paste from the Indian store)
2 Tbl red “all purpose” curry paste (or whatever type you like)
1 Tbl fish sauce
1 Tbl brown sugar
.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dry cilantro
1 tsp dry mustard
.5 tsp coriander
.5 tsp red pepper flakes
1 14 oz can coconut milk (not light)
juice and zest of one lime
Condiments
2-3 scallions sliced on the bias
1 lime cut into wedges
2-4 Tbl fresh cilantro, chopped

Brown beef in oil in a hot skillet. While that is browning, cut up the veg. Turn the beef to brown on all sides and season with salt and pepper. Turn on slow cooker to HI and spray with nonstick spray. Put about a tsp of olive oil in the bottom. Put half the veg in the bottom of the cooker. Mix together all sauce ingredients until curry paste is dissolved. Pour about 1/3 of the sauce over the veg in the cooker. When beef is browned, dump all of it in the cooker with pan drippings. Add in the rest of the veg then pour over the remaining sauce.

Let cook on HI for 3-4 hours, until beef is fork tender. Serve over basmati rice with scallions, cilantro and limes for garnish.

Angela’s EASY Almond Madeleines

I started with Julia Child’s recipe for madeleines and decided it was too fussy. However, if you want to make the typical madeleine, just use Julia’s ingredients with my method (second recipe). It’ll work fine. NOTE: When I ordered madeleine pans, I got MINI Madeleine pans, so I had to fix the temp and cook times as well. This recipe is for MINI Madeleine pans. If you use regular pans, the cook time will be longer and the yield fewer. Also, I have a shitty electric oven that doesn’t hold temp well, so overall your mileage may vary. Don’t leave them unattended or they’ll burn.

Mini Madeleines by Angela
Mini Madeleines by Angela

Angela’s Easy Almond Madeleines
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
one bag slivered almonds (2.25 oz), ground very fine in a processor or blender; about 2/3 cup
1 stick (4 oz) melted butter (I use salted, if you don’t, add pinch salt)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
powdered (icing) sugar for topping

OR Easy Plain Madeleines
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup A/P flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick slated butter (4 oz), melted (add pinch salt if you use unsalted butter)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon
1/2 tsp lemon juice
powdered sugar for topping

Both recipes have the same cooking instructions!

Melt butter in microwave, stir and set aside to cool a bit. Beat eggs in a bowl and add extracts. Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. When butter has cooled so you can touch it, add it to the dry ingredients and beat in. Add eggs to butter flour mix and beat in thoroughly. The mix should be very thick and sticky, but still pourable. If it’s too dry, add a little water half a teaspoon at a time to make it gooey. If it’s too loose, add flour a tablespoon at a time until it’s gooey. Put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set up.

When the mix is chilled, preheat the oven to 375F. Spray the pans (you should have TWO) with nonstick spray and put about a TEASPOON of dough in each divot. The dough should not fill the divot, only about 2/3 of the way. They rise A LOT. This recipe will fill two pans, more or less. Cold dough helps with making them crispy and rising in the center.

You bake both pans at the same time in the two center racks for about 10-12 minutes. My oven sucks and will not cook evenly, so YMMV. They are done when the hump forms in the middle and starts to look dry, and the edges are medium brown. I’d advise keeping a close watch until you know how your oven will cook.

Pull from oven, let sit a minute, then turn out onto cooling racks. Sift icing sugar over both sides while warm.

Yield: about 30 mini madeleines

SBDC Class

So, that class we attended last night was put on by the University of GA Small Business Development Center. Sounds great, but it was just so-so. Of course we were the only white people there, which did not surprise me. It’s odd how white people won’t use the public resources available – although we got this lead via some hipsters, so I guess it’s generational. The class was half black, one quarter Hispanic and one quarter white. I’m sure we screwed up their usual ratios! LOL

The dude that did the class was an old white man who is apparently unaware of the internet and/or social media and how you can use that to promote yourself these days. He was also kind of an apologist for the banking industry, which of course pisses me off. He droned on about how important biz plans are, the banks won’t lend to you unless you have stellar credit (but it’s not the bank’s fault!), you should use LLC, blah blah. He did give us a couple of leads for SBA loans and a microloan organization.

But when it came to marketing and research, he actually suggested that for a restaurant, you should have focus groups and go door to door polling whether they’d like your type of restaurant. ?? WTF is he on about? He owned fucking dry cleaning stores, what does he know about the food business? Precious little, apparently. He didn’t seem to think the quality of food was very relevant. Gods.

He was annoyed with me because I was giving the 3 restaurant people in the room tips as we went along and even answering questions that he could not. Too bad, old man, I happen to have more knowledge than you in certain areas. I think he is used to being the only person in the room with a clue. To be sure, there was one old lady in there that was an IDIOT. An absolute luddite who was financing her son’s (grandson, probably) business but didn’t know what the internet was. Um. ? The kid is doing clothing rental via instagram and is doing pretty well for a 17 year old! Hope he doesn’t spend all of granny’s money. But he probably will.

Anyway, it was a long powerpoint presentation with the pp slides printed out for us to make notes next to the slide image. Exciting. I guess I remembered more than I thought about the business classes I took long ago. Or maybe I just know this shit via osmosis from Rob. In any case, other than the SBA bank connection and the templates for the various documents, the class was very VERY basic.

I would recommend taking this SBDC class if you are totally new to business. The info is solid, just not very up to date as far as internet marketing goes. It’s run by old white people, so, keep that in mind.

The Problem with Cord Cutting

I hate DirecTV’s bullshit and I hate paying those assholes $79/mo for TV that goes out every time it rains. YES I know I can cut the cord (or the SIGNAL as the case may be) but here’s the problem: we watch lots of shows and we can’t get most of them via Hulu or NetFlix. We might be able to get some via HD antenna (like SHIELD), I have to check on that.

But even if we manage to get most stuff, Nick would still spend a LOT of his time downloading the more obscure stuff – mostly from Food Network or Cooking Channel. Restaurant Impossible, Bar Rescue, Bite This and myriad other things we watch for research purposes would have to be hunted down. That equals LOTS of time.

So, we stay with DirecTV and its bullshit because it’s saving us time.

I know it’s lame, but that’s the bottom line: time. DirecTV and other providers know this, which is why they are uber douchey. Oligobble, baby.

Comcast is our internet provider because it’s our ONLY choice for true broadband and those assholes charge us $45/mo. Of course you can’t SEE any of the various speeds and prices online, oh NO that is supah secret, but I can tell you that I have 50mbs for the price of the 25mbs service. Here is my bill (that does not say anywhere on it what I’m actually paying for):

Oligobble w/ Comcast!
Oligobble w/ Comcast!

The “Blast” special is, I think, why I get the 50mbs for the price of the 25mbs. Who the fuck knows, since they are as obscure as possible on the site and on the bill. OLIGOBBLE OUR BALLS! YOU’LL TAKE WHAT WE GIVE YOU.

Anyhoo, we pay a combined $125/mo for tv and internet. It’s fucking insane. But if we want service, VE VILL PAY.

At least our cell phones are reasonable. We use Virgin Mobile and have for over a decade. GREAT service, great coverage, minimum bullshit. Nick is on the $30/mo dealie and I’m on the $40/mo. Unlimited data (there’s a cap, I’ve never reached it) and Nick gets 300mins talk; I get 1200mins talk. I have to use the phone a lot more than Nick for my job. No contract, either, just good service. The only downside of Virgin Mobile is that we have to buy our phones and they MUST be from VM. We are currently waiting for the price of the 5 series to come down, then we’ll upgrade.

The only provider I actually endorse on this post is Virgin Mobile. They rock. Interested? Please use my VM referral link and get $25 free credit! :)