Tag Archives: Millennials

Boomer Learning From Millennials: Lessons From a Fiction Writing Class

Head Library - flat concept vector illustration

do know who Beyoncé is; I want to state that from the outset. I may not be familiar with all of her songs or videos – but yes, I know what she looks like and that she is a famous singer/songwriter.

What I did not know was that a recent politically themed skit I saw on TV ( a funny, IMO, take on Mr. Tangerine Man) on “Saturday Night Live” was meant to be a parody of her Lemonade video.

Missing out on current cultural references? Yup, it happens often as we get older. But so – thankfully – does an appreciation for the different perspectives that come from being able to study with people of different ages.

There are eleven students in the “Techniques of Writing Fiction” class I am taking this fall at JHU. Perhaps half are under the age 35. The very nice young man who sits to my left in class listened to me patiently the other night as I fumbled to describe the SNL skit. He turned to me and said, “Oh, you mean the skit that was the parody of the Lemonade video?”

I laughed, pretending that I had known all along about Beyoncé and the video reference. I’d like the younger students in my class to think I am culturally au courant but I’m sure they recognize that I am not.

But I do enjoy being around the 20 and 30-somethings because of the perspectives they have. Not only their outlooks on life, but how through the lens of their experiences and age (or lack thereof?), they offer up unexpected interpretations of the stories we read for our class homework.

Last week one of the assigned readings was the classic “But the One on the Right” by Dorothy Parker, a short story published in The New Yorker in 1929 (and no, I was not alive in 1929.)

It’s an interior monologue of a woman of a certain age who is purposefully seated by her hostess at a formal dinner party with the intent to entertain the known-to-be boring man to her left.  “We can stick him next to Mrs. Parker – she talks enough for two.”

The dull dinner companion likes to discuss each course of food as it is served. Yes, they both like soup. The fish course is fine too. He and Mrs. Parker disagree on the potatoes, but return again to a shared admiration of cucumbers. All the while Mrs. Parker is gulping down wine and wondering how more enjoyable the evening might be if she only she could talk instead with the seemingly more attractive man seated on her other side, who ignores her throughout the multi-course meal.

I won’t ruin the end of the story for you; it is well-worth reading.

I laughed aloud at the Dorothy Parker story, enchanted by her writing. The droll inner thoughts of a sophisticated older woman who implies she’d rather be happily cleaning her bureau drawers at home than be forced to be out in polite but terribly dull company. It rang true to me, having been at many parties stuck with an uninspiring conversational companion. Or two.

One of my younger classmates did not find the story the least bit humorous. To my surprise, she saw the narrator as a lonely and sad older woman.

Another homework assignment was to read a more contemporary, prize-winning writer, an Egyptian-born, Sudanese author named Leila Aboulela, who writes about identity, migration and Islamic spirituality. In her story titled “The Museum,” a young Muslim woman from a well-born but now struggling family in Khartoum comes to very cold Northern Scotland to study statistics in an unexpectedly rigorous graduate school program. Anxious about doing well in her studies, she falls under the unwilling spell of a smart but unpolished Scottish fellow grad student who is attracted by her exotic background.

Again, I won’t ruin the story for you; it also is beautifully written.

I was captivated by Ms. Aboulela’s main character, Shadia. Her straddling of two cultures reminded me of my own days in a small, 100 person graduate student program, half of us, like me, from the U.S. and half of us from other countries. I probably was not as culturally sensitive as I might have been to my own foreign student classmates back in the 1970’s.  Maybe filtered through those memories is why I found Shadia such a sympathetic character.

A younger student in our class totally disagreed with me. She thought Shadia came across as arrogant and selfish.

Is it odd that I find these classroom discussions so exhilarating?

We read the same words, the same stories, the same fiction, yet each of us interprets meaning so differently. In my suburban home-town book club, we also read and share thoughts about what we read, but we are a group of similar-aged women of similar backgrounds. Our discussions are, dare I say it, not quite as exhilarating.

Kudos really to the younger students in my fiction grad school class who are opening my eyes to what I am reading, who force me to pay attention, to acknowledge that what I perhaps think is the correct understanding of a story may not be the only way of understanding it. Diversity, differences, making me think about what I am reading – and what I am hearing from others. A good lesson to apply to the rest of life. Perspectives should always enlarge, not narrow, as we get older. I may even get to like Beyoncé yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Aging, Baby Boomers, Book Club, Books, Communications, Education, Reading, Women, Writing

Job Hunting at a “Certain Age”: If Your Name Is Barbara, Judy or Susan…

woman thoughbubble

Once again I am tip-toeing into the waters of the job market. Picture a lovely beach with waves rhythmically rolling in. I am the nervous one at the very edge where the tide laps the shore, my feet hardly getting wet, trying to drum up the courage to wade on in.

When asked about my relationship with the job market, I would say – “It’s complicated.”

I worked full-time – lawyering – for 33 years. Then, as my loyal readers know, a 2x dreadful cardiac infection kicked me out of the action. One day I was a law partner at a downtown firm, the next day I was in the ER. It was a sudden transition.

The next phase was what I like to call “semi-retirement” – returning to my childhood roots as writer and sometimes even getting paid for it. Speaking out on young adult mental health and sometimes even getting paid for that. The “gig” economy, that is what it is called these days.

But the time between “gigs’ stretches thin, as many of you likely know –  and as much as I love siting on my deck, listening to the birds sing in my backyard and writing, I do feel obligated o search once again for that wonderful thing we call a “paycheck.” A part-time one that shows up regularly would be quite nice.

Back to the tip-toeing and perhaps the reason for my trepidation.

Last spring I send out a batch of job applications. Heard zippo back from all of them. Maybe something in my resume was not winning over the hiring managers?

Then a close friend of mine called my attention to one particular Want Ad and said – “This is you!” – I applied and was invited for an interview. Two people asking me questions at the same time;  it did not go well from the start. Bad vibes emanating from one of them.  You know how it is when you meet new people; sometimes you we just don’t click. And exactly 24 hours later I received a very short email of rejection.

I wrote about it here:

Was it Something I Said? – – Job Rejection at a “Certain Age”

Who wants to be told “No” when it’s your first time applying for a new job in over 25 years? Job rejection stings – at any age.

And while I do want to focus on my writing (moment of pride: I have finally written an outline for my novel. Yes, just an outline but it is a start), I’d like to be back among the work force some of the time.

But this time I am going to take a different tack before sending resumes out. I am going to stack the cards in my favor.

I have decided to change my first name! Because, face it, “Ageism” is not only alive and well, it is flourishing  – especially if you have a baby boomer birthdate and the name that goes with it.

Think about it –> when an HR person or recruiter opens your resume, the first thing they see is your name, right? And if it is Linda or Carol or Deborah, forget it. Your chances of making it out of the first round instantly diminish.  Because no one under age 55 has that name. Brenda, Diane, Pamela?  You are likely doomed.

Particularly if the HR person/recruiter is named Ashley, Heather or Jessica.

Amber (do forgive me if that is your name; it is lovely but an age-give-away), that nice young VP of human resources, is not a stupid person. She sees that you are named “Nancy” and she knows right away that you are about the same age as her mother. Which is not a good thing.

Who wants to hire their mother? Let alone work in the same office with her.

So before I start applying for a part-time job this time around, I am going to switch the name on my resume from “Nancy” to something that at least sounds 20 years younger.  I’ll start with the statistics kept by the U.S. Social Security Administration and pick a popular name from the late 1970’s or early 1980;s that will prove my youthfulness, in spirit if not in reality.

Hi, my name is Jennifer. Pleased to meet you.”

OR

Hi, I’m Amanda.  Here is a copy of my resume.”

OR

Thank you for interviewing me. My name is Nicole ____.”

Already practicing for that crucial first moment of appraisal when Amber, the VP of human resources meets me in person – and realizes (to her chagrin) that despite my millennial name, I am indeed the same age as her mother.

What do you say Diane, Ellen and Gail? Want to start a movement to fight Ageism in the older women workplace by disguising our real names?

I’m going with Nicole.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Aging, Baby Boomers, Communications, Email, Midlife, Retirement, Second Careers, Semi-Retired, Women, Women in the Workplace

Do We Stay or Do We Go? – The Empty Nesters’ Dilemma

lilacs - spring, 2015

 

 

Last week it was suggested to me, ever so gently, by my husband, JP, that we reconsider our once-mutual decision to sell our house this spring.

Tell me again,” he asked as we ate dinner in our newly uncluttered kitchen. “Why do we want to move? I like it here.”

I sighed and repeated what the financial advisor told us this winter  – sell now! the market is “HOT”! –  You are empty nesters, you no longer need a three-bedroom brick, colonial home-built in 1948 in which you have lived for 33 years. Time to downsize! Move closer in! Free yourselves of unneeded possessions and repairs!

It sounded very appealing to me. Not as much to JP.

I don’t want to downsize. I like my yard. I like my garage. I like washing my car in the driveway. I even like washing your car.”  My Detroit-born husband puts a high priority on car care.

But don’t you want to be able to walk everywhere? That’s the new big thing. We’ll move to a new condo or apartment with a high “walkability” score.” I told him, visualizing romantic evening strolls to trendy bars and restaurants.

“If we want to take a walk, we can do it in our own neighborhood.  I like sitting in my own back yard, not with strangers in a shared courtyard on an apartment or condo roof. Our house seems perfectly fine to me.”

Versions of this conversation have played out for the past few weeks. I continue to declutter and donate, to empty shelves and cabinets, to get rid of law school books and obsolete electronics . My husband stays out of my way – he doesn’t stop the going-on-the-market-soon process from going forward –  but his distinct lack of enthusiasm hangs heavily in the air.

So I venture off like Goldilocks to find just the right place to move to – that will convince him we should sell once he sees what a terrific new apartment or condo I can find. Our realtor is confident our house will sell quickly. Very soon, she predicts, millennials will be swarming by the dozens to buy our home so they can start a family here – just as we did as young marrieds.

Speaking of millennials, did you know that real estate developers are rapidly building new apartments seemingly targeted at them?

This week I visited several of these new apartment communities that are springing up around us – all deliberately called “communities” – because they market themselves to entice you to sign a lease asap so you make new pals with whom you will soon be exercising in the spiffy gym, mingling in the modern club room and sitting around the community fire pit in the evenings.

These “communities” feature incredibly peppy sales reps who show you floor plan after floor plan as they exuberantly describe the many amenities “your new community” features:

  • bike storage in the basement!
  • weekly “yappy” hours for you and your canine friend!
  • fun events with local bars and restaurants!
  • free craft coffee in the modern lobby!
  • “Wine Down Wednesdays”!
  • “Breakfast on the Go”!
  • And more!!!

Pretty good, huh? Yes, if you are under age 40, my husband comments when I show him the glossy brochures one night after he gets home from work.

We already have plenty of friends, we have our own coffee and wine, we have our own bike storage (it’s called our garage)…our dog doesn’t get along so well with other dogs, you know that – and he loves our fenced back yard  – and what do I need a fire pit for?” he asks.

He makes some good points but I resist – pointing again to the photos of the shiny new, albeit tiny-size, kitchens and living areas in the floor plans. 942 square feet sounds much larger than it is.

Where would we host our family and friends and have our holiday dinners? I don’t see dining rooms in any of these floor plans, do you? The small tables they show barely seat four people.” JP continues. “Just three small closets. How would we manage?”

Rest assured, I tell him –  all of these new apartment “communities” offer extra storage spaces we can rent (for an additional monthly fee, of course.)

Have you failed to notice,” he responds. “that we already have our own free storage spaces?  We have a big basement, not to mention a tool closet and a cedar closet. Why should we move someplace much smaller and then pay extra for storage?”

His tone ups its’ sarcasm quotient as he shakes his head.

 And where would we park our cars? We each have one, remember.”

Again the car thing. To say that JP is hung up on car care underscores the obvious.

I have the answer to this one. “They offer underground parking. $200 a month. For one car. You have to pay an additional fee for a second car.”

I can park for free in my own driveway. So can you!” he retorts. “Why do we want to uproot ourselves to move? You are not very convincing.”

Perhaps my advocacy skills have slipped since my lawyering days.  I must marshal better arguments to persuade him.

We are now at an impasse; the realtor’s Listing Agreement sits – unsigned – on our kitchen counter.

 

                                                                                          *****TO BE CONTINUED*****

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Aging, Baby Boomers, Communications, Empty Nest, Husbands, Marriage, Men vs Women, Midlife, Relationships, Talking, Women, Writing

As Baby Boomer Working Moms Leave the Workplace, Has Anything Really Changed?

Female lawyer working in office

BREAKING NEWS: August 1, 2015, headline in New York Times  – “Millennial Men Aren’t The Dads They Hoped to Be.”

Article Recap: Many young men initially plan to be in equal partnerships with their wives –  believing that when they become parents, both will continue to work and both will share childcare. A 50/50 life.  Then, when they become parents, they make the shocking discovery that the work world will not accommodate their idealistic notions of equality – so, facing less-than-family polices at the office, they are forced to revert to more traditional roles with Mom stepping back from her career, doing more of the care-giving and Dad doing less.

AND

BREAKING NEWS:  July 22, 2015, headline in New York Times – “More Than Their Mothers, Young Women Plan Career Pauses”

Article Recap:  The younger generation of women in the work force, millennial, define “career success…less linearly than their Moms. They are more likely than their predecessors (the generation of women who entered the business world in large numbers) to plan to scale back at times or to seek out flexible jobs. Fewer millennial women believe they can succeed in combining their careers and family life like their baby boomer Moms did (or tried to do.)

I read these two recent articles  and thought, whoa – is this really where we are now?

Despite all the gains working Moms supposedly made in the past 30 years since I was a young, full-time Mom/full-time lawyer – All of that hard work that we working Moms did to push for changes in our workplaces, so that the women who came after us could be successful? We thought we were paving the way for our daughters, but apparently not!

Do you hear sarcasm in my tone? Yes, you probably do.

We were among the first to think (idealistically) about “having it all” – We kept our given names when we got married, our husbands would be our equal partners (that part worked for me, thankfully), we would work full-time, share child care and somehow in the rosy haze of an uncertain future we would have “work-life balance” – a brand new thought in the ’80’s.

Then reality hit. Being pressured at both ends. Simultaneously feeling guilty about not spending enough time at home and not spending enough time at the office. Law firm life, I quickly learned, was not set up to accommodate working Moms. Like many corporate environments, law firm success is measured in increments of time. You are judged by the hours you put in, the more hours the better, even better if you are visible to as many people as possible while you are putting in those hours.

At my DC law firm everyone seemed to keep track of which associates were at their desks billing time like good little legal soldiers and which were not. The later you stayed at work (remember this was pre-internet so you couldn’t work from home even if you wanted to), the more diligent you appeared.

But one of the reasons I had two kids was to actually spend time with them. (silly me) So I insisted on trying to get home every night for a family dinner, followed by bath time, reading a book or two (or three or four or more) and eventually bedtime.

In order to have that family dinner, at the end of each work day I would sneak down the hall and try my best to slip into the elevator unnoticed. If I was spotted, one of my male colleagues, seeing me leave the office at the ridiculously early hour of 6:00 or 6:30 p.m., with bulging briefcase in hand, would invariably comment, just as I pushed the “down” button —

“Taking a half day?”

Ha, ha, hilarious.

These comments were not made by any of the older firm lawyers, the men in their 50’s and 60’s whose wives, for the most part, did not work outside the home, and thus could be (somewhat) excused for thinking that women should be happy homemakers and leave the tough office stuff to men.

No, the men who needled the few of us – perhaps there were four or five of us at my large firm  –  who had the nerve to try to be both lawyers and moms – were often our own-age colleagues whose wives mostly stayed at home. Our male colleagues bragged like it was a badge of honor about not seeing their kids during the work week, I leave too early and stay too late, sigh, they would say. And they wondered if we were going to stick it out for the long haul to try to make partner.  Would we drop like flies when we had our second kids? (some of us did.) Part-time work was frowned upon, the “mommy track” a stigma to be avoided and telecommuting not yet invented.

So we were expected to keep our heads down and work hard to be taken seriously. To be just like the men. And even in the 1980’s to look like them too. Yes, I was one of those women who had a closet-full of the requisite black, navy and gray, hideous skirted power-suits which I wore with decorous blouses, some of which came with big, soft, drapey bows to simulate the appearance of a man’s tie.

And we were also expected not to show off the Mom Thing too much. Not to talk about our kids and best not to have it look like we even had them. One helpful young partner actually came into to my office once and advised me to get rid of the clearly kindergartener-made pen container (gold glitter and macaroni stars) on my desk and the finger-painted drawing on the wall because it made it look like I wasn’t taking my job seriously, that I favored love of my family over love of the law.

Umm, didn’t I??

And yet when that same young partner left the office mid-way through a Thursday afternoon to catch his son’s soccer game, he was praised as a “family man.” But when a female lawyer took time off to watch her daughter in a school play, she was seen as “less committed.”

Have you ever heard the term “family woman”? Me, neither.

And oddly enough, after the computer entered our daily working and home lives in the 1990’s, things got worse, not better. Oh, good, we can now work from home turned into –> Oh, not so good, we are now expected to work from home too. To check emails when we got up and again before bed. To revise documents on Saturday afternoons. And on Sunday nights. Work time and family time blurred.

Flash forward to the 2015 headlines – yes, we have made some progress. Thankfully working Moms no longer have to wear ugly skirted-suits. We can put up as many kiddie photos in our offices as we want. Maternity leave is a given, not a request you have to make.

But still in many professions, the clock governs, hours on the job matter. Judgments made on the level of your commitment based on the quantity of your work rather than its quality. And part-time hours are still being interpreted as part-time dedication.

As a full-fledged feminist (go back to the archives, you can check the date of my original subscription to Ms. magazine!), I was and am all for choice. Women can choose to work or not to work, to stay home full-time or part-time, to take career “pauses” as they wish, to have kids or not to have kids. But then, as now, if you have a family and you want to have a job, women more than men are making the compromises.

So I think we have a problem – if this new young generation of working Moms are indeed choosing to step back from their careers solely because the workplace hasn’t evolved as much as our thinking as to gender roles has. We baby boomer working Moms did try to lead the way for you. (You’re Welcome.) But now we who blazed the work/life balance trail so it would be smoother once you got there, are starting to exit the workplace.

We did what we could. Now it is up to the next generation to push your professions to really change. It is long past time to get rid of the structural obstacles and the outdated attitudes facing women in the workplace. Are you up to the challenge?

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Filed under Baby Boomers, Careers, Law firm life, Lawyers, Men vs Women, Moms, Women, Women in the Workplace, Working Moms, Working Moms, Working Women

Move Over Millennials! It’s Trivia Night and the Baby Boomers Have Arrived

craft beer

Why should millennials have all the fun?

I have recently been feeling decidedly not on trend so I talked with my friend, Martha. Our same age, millennial daughters both live in Big Cities where they always seem to be doing cool-sounding social activities on weeknights with their friends. What could we – two semi-retired but hardly retiring, women do to power up our “with-it” quotient?

Participate in “Barre to the Bar” – where you go from exercise to drinking? Our hips are no longer that flexible.

Join a Kickball team? Knees not so great either.

Trivia Night?  Now that’s a possibility.  Martha had been to a Trivia Night with her daughter in Chicago, it was fun, she said. We’re smart, we read newspapers, the old-fashioned print kind, we keep up with culture. We can do this. And we could even force  ask our husbands to join us.

Which is how Martha, her husband Rob, my husband JP and I found ourselves last night at a Tuesday Trivia Night in a local brew pub.

When we walked in, I scanned the room, yes, as expected, everyone else was of Millennial age. They didn’t even look up when we walked by them, so busy were they with their craft beers and their iPhones. The four of us settled in a quiet corner and asked for the Trivia Night score sheets. Rounds of questions in three categories.

Our first task (after ordering our own craft beers) was to come up with a team name. I suggested “The Geriatrics” but was overruled. We could be these kids’ parents, not their grandparents, I was told.  So we went back to our roots, to the 60’s – when we were growing up, of course none of us ever smoked (or even inhaled) marijuana, but the name “Purple Haze” seemed fitting nonetheless.

Promptly at 8 p.m. the M.C. started. 1st question – recent action movies. Not fans. We were sunk. 2nd question – the name of a Jay Z song. We know he is a rapper, but little else.

Then came a question on sitcoms; Martha correctly guessed the words to the first line of the song Phoebe sang in the intro to “Friends”. In the category of science, JP (who was pre-med before he discovered that blood was involved) knew right away that “Kelvin” was the name of the absolute temperature scale.

We were on a roll.

The six millennials sitting at the next table turned their heads to size us up for the first time. We were competition. YES!

Next round: international governments. We knew the name of the man who was prime minister of Israel in 1974 and again in 1992.  An unfair advantage since we were alive in 1974 and the millennials were not – but really… under what rock was the team living that came up with the answer of Yasser Arafat?

Geography”.  The names of the largest lakes on four continents. Hello, Lake Titicaca? (I was a Latin American studies major in college. Finally, that came in handy.)

We were in 5th place at half-time. The table of six millennials, in 4th place, huddled over their beers.

We slipped a bit on another current music question, then rebounded with correct answers to a sports award question (relief pitcher) and to a question about “Taxi” (a TV show that lasted from 1978 to 1983 before most of the young adults in the room were born.) Thank you, Tony Danza.

The tension mounted – we were now in 2nd place among the nine teams, one spot behind guess who, the millennial sextet at the next table. We heard them grumbling as they hunched down in concentration.

Last question –  category – the U.S. Economy –  and a tough, possibly trick,  question.

“In 27 of the 50 states, which state government employee earns the highest salary?”

We put our heads together. Not governors, they don’t make a lot. So think – what is it that 27 states have in common that the other 23 do not?

My husband and Rob jumped at it  – “football” – big state school football!  – where the head coaches get paid (IMHO) far more than they should.

That was it, we got the final answer right!  The six adjacent unhappy millennials did not. “Purple Haze”, the four baby boomers in the corner, WON on their first night out as a Trivia Team.

We cheered for ourselves since no one else did. An odd silence settled over the room. Were they all waiting for us to leave? We paid the bill, gratefully accepted our “one free beer on your next visit” coupons and left the bar.

The four of us stood outside – here it was, a weeknight, already 10 p.m., yet we were still wide awake, alert – and triumphant.

But at what cost?

Perhaps we had intruded onto sacred millennial turf with our lucky, first-time team victory. Rest assured, millennials, we don’t plan to embrace any of your other questionable habits – we will keep our landlines, ignore cross-fit and instagram is so not our thing.

Truce? Can we at least agree that the appeal of Trivia Night cuts across generations?

See you next Tuesday night, millennials. Study up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, College, daughters, Empty Nest, Female Friends, Husbands, Moms, Retirement, Semi-Retired, Women

Love, Marriage and Social Media

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One of the best parts of reaching a “certain age” is that you get invited to weddings all over again. This time around – it is to the weddings of our friends’ how-did-they-grow-up-so-fast adult kids.

After an in-depth analysis based on my recent attendance at a grand total of two weddings this spring, I can confidently state that some things about nuptials remain the same. But some have changed. And for the better.

Let me explain.

Last Saturday we drove from DC to Brooklyn to attend the wedding of the son of my best pal from law school. The ceremony was at 4 p.m. in a darkly beautiful, historic gothic church in Brooklyn Heights followed by a reception in Prospect Park.

One step inside the Park’s Picnic House and I knew this was a millennial-designed reception.  No assigned seating, no name cards, no receiving line, no formality. Instead a group of very happy friends and family members clustered around a drinks’ table featuring a curated selection of local craft beer and personalized mixed drinks.

AND in a prominent place a boldly lettered sign providing the following social media instructions for guests:

 

For Instagram, please use #GroomLastNameBrideLastName

Social media instructions are very 2015. But some things about weddings – thankfully – REMAIN THE SAME since I was a May bride 37 years ago.

1. A wedding always involves a happy couple.

And as guests, we get to bask in the reflected glow of their happiness, watching as they recite their vows and pledge their troth. (whatever that is, they still pledge it.) And vows they still say, even if they leave out the part about “obey” (I did, too, to my husband’s lasting regret.)

2. After the ceremony comes the reception – and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

I am a huge fan of tiny appetizers.  While you may be among those wedding guests whose first priority is to get your first drink, or to offer congratulations to the bride and groom, my first reception task is to determine from which door the waiters carrying the fresh trays of hors d’oeuvres will emerge.

On Saturday night, I lucked into an excellent reception location, about eight to ten feet from the swinging door so that all of the waiters had to pass right by me as they entered with trays of miniature potato pancakes topped with chives and sour cream, petite crab cakes and tiny goat cheese tarts.

(pro tip: please do not block me, if I get to the spot closest to the appetizer entry door. I can be fiercely hors d’oeuvres-protective.

3. There will be sentimental toasts.

The bride’s sister on Saturday night charmingly told a story about her younger sister in pigtails. The groom’s sister welcomed the bride into her family. And the best man embarrassed the groom with a reference to tray stealing from the college cafeteria. Guests applauded, champagne was served.

 

But some things about weddings  – thankfully – HAVE evolved.

 

1.No one blinks an eye if the happy couple are from entirely different backgrounds. 

33 members of my husband’s extended Macedonian-American family traveled from Michigan to Connecticut to see us get married by a rabbi under a chuppah; that was unusual in 1978, although my parents and relatives did a lovely job of welcoming my husband’s family.

Now in May, 2015, inter-everything marriages are the norm and differences in heritage are celebrated.

Early in the evening of Saturday night’s reception, the bride, the Korean-American daughter of immigrants, and the groom, whose forebears served as officers in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, both donned Korean wedding attire for a paebaek ceremony where they sought and received blessings from both sets of parents. After they bowed to their elders and drank ceremonial wine, their parents tossed chestnuts (symbolizing boys) and dates (symbolizing girls) in the air which the bride tried to catch in the apron of her dress to signify how many children she and her new spouse will have.

All of the wedding guests crowded around the paebaek ceremony, applauding and cheering –   I did spot my friend, the mother of the groom, flinch slightly when as it was announced that the newlyweds should expect 6 male and 8 female children.

2. No bouquet was tossed nor garter was thrown.

Saturday night’s couple, both medical residents at a major hospital, did not partake in these antiquated traditions. No one seemed to miss them. It was clear to everyone that this was a marriage of equals, of two young adults who take joy in each other’s accomplishments, yet intend to support each other in times which are sure to come when disappointments will outnumber successes.

3. Love is even sweeter the older you get.

When I was making the rounds of the weddings of friends in the late ’70’s and ’80’s , a wedding was pretty much a party. A chance to dress up, to eat the aforementioned hors d’oeuvres, to dance the night away. Now – after years of seeing our friends through divorces, second marriages, more divorces, the deaths of spouses and of elderly parents, I leap at the chance to go to weddings.  Purely happy events come less frequently as we get older, so any opportunity to share in the happiness of our friends in the glow of young love is particularly treasured.

To all of my friends whose adult kids are not yet in serious relationships, may I say with all due respect: HURRY UP.

I am not getting any younger and though I tweet with aplomb, if you want me to become an instagram expert too, I had better start learning now.

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Who Wants My Grandmother’s Dining Room Table? We Keep Memories, Our Millennial Kids Don’t.

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In a rare burst of hospitable energy, I invited my friend, Liz and the new longish-term man in her life, to come to dinner on Sunday night. Anticipating our  dinner guests, ever so subtly my husband suggested that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to clean and organize my study.

The New Man, my husband noted, might be put off, if – while en route to our “powder room” – he caught a glimpse of my work area with its disheveled stacks of files and heaps of my carefully curated, extremely relevant, never-to-be-discarded or read again newspaper articles?

O.K., so I am a collector, do you have a problem with that?

If you are in my general age bracket, you may be a collector too. Of newspaper articles, vintage jewelry boxes, antique candle sticks, old sports memorabilia.

A recent article in the Washington Post  confirmed what I had suspected – our adult millennial children are not like us. They do not collect.

Millennials, the article tells us, don’t keep their old college text books in their basement like we do we did. They live simpler lives, preferring their own personal design aesthetic to inherited brown furniture.

I am coming to grips with this fact.

It is highly unlikely that my own kids will want my grandmother’s large, mahogany dining room table nor will they fight over my well-loved, but hardly used (I’m still saving it for “good”), 12 place settings of ornate sterling silver.

We boomers believe that our memories are stored in tangible objects.  Our adult kids do not wax as nostalgic over generational hand-me-downs. They value intangibles instead. Posting their experiences as they experience them, they instagram, they snapchat and then, poof, what could become a memory quickly disappears.

How will our adult kids pass down memories to their own kids if their memories never leave their iPhones?

Yet another problem I won’t be around to solve.

I do see the Millennial attraction to intangibles. They are definitely the lighter way to go.

Admission:  Sometimes I feel tied down by, rather than affectionate towards, the very tangible objects in which my family memories are stored. My grandmother’s dining room table has never been and is not now, let’s face it, an attractive piece of furniture. It is an ungainly space occupier that can seat 12 people. The last time I hosted 12 people at a sit-down dinner was never.

But a few years ago when I considered  – in a brief, wild, rebellious moment  – that I might rid myself of the old dining room table and purchase a new more contemporary one, I could not bring myself to do it.

Sad to contemplate, then, that the big brown dining room table along with my grandfather’s collection of old beer steins and my aunt’s no longer tunable piano will probably end their useful lives in a tag sale, a thrift shop or shudder to think, our county dump.

So when it came time to plan the menu for our Sunday dinner for four, I decided to go all out. Let’s put some sentimental items to work for a change!

Put an old white tablecloth that was my mother’s onto the big brown table. Use a vase we received as a wedding present 37 years ago for flowers. Hand-wash the crystal, half-moon-shaped salad plates that have quietly resided in the china cabinet for all these years. Drag the sterling silver flatware downstairs for its annual airing. Just using all of these tangible objects did make me feel a bit nostalgic.

But I firmly draw the line at cleaning and/or organizing my study.

I do plan, however, you will be glad to hear, to give a full cleaning to our “powder room” (in which, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever applied powder)  before Liz and her New Man arrive. I figure if he is as thoughtful and kind as Liz says he is, he will also be smart enough to look the other way if happens upon my messy study. I am too attached to the reassuring existence of my carefully curated nest of newspaper articles to sort through and discard any of them – at least for now.

Why mess with my memories while I still have them?

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Husbands, Parenting, Women