In Defense of Millenials

I love to see a good anti-millenial article. It makes me chuckle. Why? Because all this concern trolling intentionally ignores the fact that the world is fundamentally different than it was when our parents were our age. Like, 180 degrees type different. If I had graduated from law school in the 90s, I could have easily landed a $60k/yr job with full benefits at a local firm (BEFORE passing the bar) and that would have been considered mediocre. These days you’re ecstatic to get $40k/yr. And if you can get $50/mo on your health insurance premium and two weeks PAID vacation? Ballin’!

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So in defense of my generation, today I’ll be cheerfully dismantling some of the vicious lies spread about us. All aboard the Snark Express!

 

1. Millenials are responsible for stores being open on Thanksgiving day because they’re “more than happy to leave the dinner and go shopping.” Well, when you’re already living with your parents, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday! The turkey’s gonna last a week and we can DVR the football game. We definitely can’t afford a house and the new smart tv only goes on sale once a year. Fiscal responsibility FTW!

2. Millenials are destroying brands like McDonalds and Coke. When you can’t afford health insurance, you realize pretty quickly that your health is your greatest asset- and maintaining it means staying away from the things that you know for a fact are going to kill you. Coke? Nah, we’ll have the water without the side of stomach ulcer. McDonalds? We’ll save our dollars for Chipotle- at least their meat is 100% actual meat. *shudder*

3. Millenials are failures at dating and don’t know how to love.  Ha! Money can’t buy you love, but it sho nuff pays the bills. Between grad school, our unpaid internship, our minimum wage part time job, and our side hustle, who has the time (or disposable income) to date anymore? Sex is free and we can squeeze it in between class and updating our resumes. Besides, if the Greatest Generation had Tinder back in those days, they wouldn’t have bothered with dinner dates either. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

4. Millenials don’t know basic skills like sewing. I’ll take that L. The only thing I can do with a needle and thread is stitch a hole and put a button on. It would be nice to be able to make an outfit from scratch, but when you can just pick up a $12 shirt and $25 pair of jeans from Old Navy…why bother? Besides, these skills were usually taught in classes like Home Economics, which are getting cut all the time to make room for more standardized test cramming. Knowing how to make  Rice Krispies treats and wool socks isn’t going to get us into college.

5. Millenials are to blame for Hollywood’s excessive mining of nostalgia to sell movie tickets. When you’re thousands of dollars in student loan debt and can only afford an apartment by living with 3 roommates, you tend to take comfort in your childhood pastimes. Since our childhood memories are wrapped up in media that is still readily available, we can and do indulge frequently. The emergence of social media also means that our media consumption habits are amplified and easily quantified by the Hollywood brass. Sorry we’re not sorry! #TeamAutobot

6. Millenials are lazy and taking too long to grow up. Ah, the catchall indictment of 20-somethings. The great irony is that not a single one of us is really excited to be living the struggle life. I for one would love to have the funds to put down $10k on a house. I look forward to the day when I make $300,000/yr and don’t have to rely on a tax refund to pad my savings account. Unfortunately, the business world simply can’t (or won’t) support the influx of young, educated people at a wage where we can achieve complete financial independence. Sure, many of us are entrepreneurial- but it usually takes 3 years for a business to turn a profit. In the meantime, our choices are a) hit up mom and dad; b) sell drugs or get on the pole; or c) give up and live in a box on the sidewalk.

All humor aside, any rational adult should be able to realize that millenials are just trying to make it. There were plenty of self-involved Boomers, they just weren’t visible on the same scale that we are. The only reason many of us seem “entitled” is that we know for a fact we’ve worked harder than previous generations and have zero to show for it. Think about it: high school math now goes through calculus; the SAT has an extra section;  many of us had to pass a standardized test just to graduate high school; college admissions are more selective than ever; and we’re competing for jobs with people who will work for pennies overseas. Expensive cars and home ownership are out of reach, so why not buy the new iPhone? Until the government intervenes in a big way- like forgiving some (or all) of our student loans, subsidizing mortgages for folks with advanced degrees and low incomes, or making corporate America funnel some of that bailout money into entry- and mid-level jobs that require professional skills- we’ll just have to muddle through as best we can. And instead of crying about it, we’ll smile- and take a selfie.

 

Adulting.

Yeah…so today I realized that in about two months I’ll be 27 years old.

Where did the time go???


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The last time I was really aware of my age and could rattle it off without thinking was around 22 or so. After that, I kinda lost track. But now I am for real almost 30 years old. It explains a lot about why I have to work harder just to maintain my weight (uggghhh). But it’s only gonna get harder from here, so I’m going to suck it up and get it right, get it tight from now through 2015. This time next year I want to be down 30lbs and on autopilot with my diet and workouts. I’m getting there with baby steps, though. My knee that I had surgery on is doing worlds better; I still can’t run full out but I’m on the treadmill jogging and have made noticeable progress in just two weeks. My main motivation is that if I were to have a baby tomorrow, I’d be feeling more than the usual discomfort with my post pregnancy weight.Pregnancy is a lot of work for your body and it’s a good deal easier if you’re already in shape.  I don’t plan on having kids for another 2 or 3 years, but I want to be read. Speaking of which, somebody tell my uterus to shut up. Literally overnight I went from “Kids? Yeah, they’re all right” to “Oooh you should have a BABY!” Not. cool. Sunny was super excited to hear about me considering motherhood (and I’m sure my mother would be too, which is why I’m not mentioning it). Kids are just so much damn WORK. And time. And money. I need us to have a  house before we have a kid. I would not make it if I had an infant underfoot in an apartment. No ma’am!

In other news, the job search continues. It’s been 18 months since I graduated law school and I’ve had exactly one offer for full time employment that I had to turn down, and that just happened last week. It hurt my feelings too. The offer was from a private financial services firm to be a full time tax preparer. However, I was expected to work at least 12 hours a day M-F and 8 hours every Saturday during the 10  weeks of tax season. With no overtime pay for a salary that worked out to about $14 after taxes. I reallllly wanted to take it, but I had to be honest with myself that I would not make it. As much as I enjoy working with people, as an introvert I need time to recharge. 12 hour days, plus a 2 hr round trip commute and I don’t even get a full weekend? Shoot, I wouldn’t be even to be able to enjoy a quiet lunch & dinner in the break room because the schedule is so onerous, folks’ families come camp out at the office. Where they do that at? Plus, they still wanted me to work a full 40 hour week the rest of the year even though business drops off by like 200%. Come on now, I’m working slave hours almost 1/4 of the year and y’all can’t give me one Friday off a month? The pros and cons just didn’t balance out for me, especially since I’d be getting no more experience than what I’m getting doing taxes part time and on my own schedule.

I’m at the point where I’ve about had it with sending out resumes and begging people to hire me. I plan to form an LLC since my dad hired me as a legal consultant for his company, and I was thinking why not take it all the way and start my own firm? It will be a lot of work on the front end (I’d need like 3 business bank accounts), but one thing I do have is time. Not to mention, the legal landscape is changing and law practice is changing. So why not create a virtual practice for the 21st century? I’ve seen so many of my college classmates become successful entrepreneurs, and I definitely have a valuable expertise. I used to think that I would need 5-10 years of experience to run my own firm. Now, I’m not so sure. I think I may be underestimating myself. Most small business owners get in trouble over taxes/improper accounting and I’ve already got the jump on that. I certainly won’t be violating any laws. So why not take the plunge? I want a flexible job, where I can pick who I work for, get paid a living wage, and do the things that I’m good at and also enjoy doing. If there isn’t a job out there waiting for me, I just might have to make one.

 

Esquired.

Bar results came out yesterday and I PASSED!

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Because you can’t be excited without referencing Dave Chappelle as Rick James.

Hugely relieved. Results weren’t due out until today, and I actually went to the website just to see what time they’d be dropping and saw the link. I scrolled down the list in slow motion and there my name was! Texas actually gives you your score and I actually passed by a comfortable margin, which was a nice ego boost. Husband and I went out for dinner at Cheesecake Factory to celebrate. Still in a state of disbelief- I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long and it finally happened. I’m a lawyer. Of course, my friends and family never doubted me. I was 75% sure I had passed, but it’s such a grueling exam and I had to learn new law since I was coming from out of state. Plus, this was a hard bar year- passage rates were down a full 10% from last year! Oh well. This news has made my month. I’m out of J.D. limbo and I feel like I finally have some job options. I’m a lawyer, y’all!

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

For the first time since 9th grade or so, I’m celebrating Halloween. I loved playing dress-up as a kid, Halloween or no, so I always went hard in the paint. My favorite costume of all time is still the Tinkerbell costume my mom sewed for me when I was 3. I probably drove my parents crazy running around the house in my little tutu and slippers with the white pom pom ball. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t fly! Other highlights include the time I dressed up as every character in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  In college, I was as stumped as Cady when I realized that apparently, Halloween was all about being sexy.

Well, at 26 years old I’ve lost some of my self-consciousness. This year my friends and I are headed to Austin to do the bar crawl, apparently Sixth Street is legendary. And I’m bringing back the good old fashioned, homemade Halloween costume. Tex is going as part of the SAMCRO crew from Sons of Anarchy, and I know his flannel shirt with the iron on patches is going to be worn well past tonight. I’m going as Alice in Wonderland. I’m putting together the dress below (in the picture it looks purple but it’s actually navy blue) with a half apron, white tights, mary jane flats and a black bow headband.

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However, it also occurred to me that it can be hard to come up with low maintenance costume ideas. So here are a few that you can steal from me, some of which are particularly black girl friendly. (Because you don’t want to be the killjoy who goes as Rosa Parks. I’m just sayin’.)

 

1. Janelle Monae

Everybody has black and white in their closet. Add a red lip and a pompadour (or a bun/afro puff in a pinch) and you’re good to go. Bonus points if you’ve got some suspenders, saddle shoes or a fedora!

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2. Beyonce

You can go a few ways with this. I personally think the Single Ladies version is played out. How about Flawless (cut off denim shorts, flannel & boots)? If you have poufy prom or bridesmaid dress to recycle, you can grab a first place medal and tiara for Bow Down.

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3. Han Solo

I’m a nerd so I’m thinking about doing this next year. Tuxedo stripe pants, a white blouse, a vest, and a fake spacey looking gun from the Dollar Tree are all you need.

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4.  Suzy from Rugrats

This is for all my 90s kids. Grab some purple leggings, a yellow tunic and red Chucks. Plait your hair and you’re all set.

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5. Hogwarts Student

Recycle your college graduation gown and add socks and a scarf or bowtie in matching house colors. My favorite is Ravenclaw.

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6. Oliver Twist/Annie Hall/Steampunk

Oliver Twist was actually my Halloween costume circa 7th or 8th grade. It consisted of a pair of capri pants (for the knickers), knee high socks, a button down shirt and one of my dad’s vests, plus the piece de resistance: a newsboy hat. A flat Kangol hat works too. I used a terrible Cockney accent the whole night, to the amusement and eventual annoyance of my family. The picture below shows the high fashion version of this. You can use similar clothes to create an Annie Hall look; just straighten your hair and use a fedora. Or you can sub in a corset/bustier and add  fingerless gloves, combat boots, a chain belt and a pocket watch to make it steampunk.

 

 

 

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7. Hipster Disney Princess

I saw some of these pics floating around Pinterest and thought it was a hilarious idea. The great part is that there’s no wrong way to do it. It works great as  group costume too.

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8. Michael Jackson

An oldie but goodie. If you don’t happen to have a red leather jacket floating around, you can use his outfit from The Way You Make Me Feel. Rolled up jeans, white Hanes undershirt and a denim button up- easy as pie! If you don’t want to get embarrassed, make sure you know all the lyrics and can do at least one move from the video. Authenticity, ya know.

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9. Cheshire Cat

Put a spin on the typical cat costume by wearing pink and purple. The makeup is what will really sell the look. A pair of cat flats would add some extra sweetness.

 

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10. Wednesday Addams

No effort required. All you need is a black dress, the blankest of blank stares, and the full force of your sarcasm.

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Get off my (digital) lawn!

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It seems like we’re in the Age of the Overshare. Fortunately, Facebook and Twitter have developed features that allow me to filter out most of the nonsense because I use my social media for keeping in touch with people who I otherwise probably wouldn’t hear from. I love seeing pictures of my of my aunt and uncle’s anniversaries, my older cousins’ babies, and my younger cousins’ first weeks at college. I love sharing links to news articles and having intellectual debates with my old college classmates. What do I hate to see? When people air all the details of their relationships on social media. Especially when these same people have “don’t judge me” as their battle cry. It’s not right to judge, but humans fall short all the time. You can’t air out your dirty laundry for everyone to see and get mad when people react to it.

People seem to have lost all sense of propriety these days. My parents grew up in the 1950s so I was raised to be a lady who wore stockings, knew the importance of foundation undergarments, and let men chase her instead of vice versa. I don’t feel that any of this conflicts with my modern sensibilities because for me, all of that is more of a guideline than a blueprint. I’m not a slave to the notion that all women have to be prim and proper, and not every rule applies to every situation. But some things, like modesty, shouldn’t be thrown out. Booty and boob pics on Instagram? Tweeting about your favorite sex position or how much & how often you get it in? Ugh. Shut up and go away! Nobody but you, the person(s) you’re sleeping with, and a few internet creepers want to know all that. Some things are best kept to yourself.

Another feature of the Age of Overshare is the nude picture leak.  There’s a celebrity one every month now, and every day, some poor woman’s pictures are getting shared and uploaded without her consent. Still, folks keep foolishly putting their trust in the cloud and thinks their partner would NEVER do that to them. You don’t know what people will do when they’re hurt or angry.  99% of relationships don’t last forever, and even the ones that do have rocky periods. Everybody has a right to privacy. Unfortunately, once you put any type of sensitive information out there, it’s liable to be used against you, so why give them ammunition? I don’t even sext with my husband, and he has no problem with it. He can look at me in person when he gets home. Of course, not everyone is a victim of an unscrupulous partner. There are just as many folks out there purposely putting themselves on display. But why though????

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I don’t get it. It seems to me that sexuality is becoming increasingly commodified. Your body isn’t a temple whose holy of holies could only be accessed by the worthy few, it’s a hotel running a 50% off Groupon special. Sex isn’t something special between lovers, it’s something that has to be doled out in increasingly risque doses to even compete in the dating game. What happened to less is more? What happened to embracing your sexuality but knowing that you don’t have to flaunt it at every opportunity? What happened to wanting to be seen as a whole person, not just a fat ass or bulging biceps? I suppose this is how the Victorians felt when the fashions changed to allow women to show their ankles. The difference is that at this point, there’s literally nothing left to show. The only reason you don’t see nether regions in public is that it’s still illegal. But I guess I’ll just be sitting on the porch with the shocked and appalled senior citizens…

 

 

 

 

Millenial Blues

It’s been a rough year for me.

I graduated from law school last May and still haven’t found a full time job. Obviously, a forced relocation that uprooted me from my network and delayed my taking the bar exam for an additional six months didn’t help. Still, who knew it would be so hard for an educated, able bodied person to find meaningful work? And by meaningful I mean something in a professional field (I’d prefer to at least be a paralegal but at this point, I’ll take a secretary job) that pays at least $10/hr. It just seems like every time I get close, something happens to knock me off my ass again. I had a great internship at a non-profit last summer that was an audition for a full time job. They gave the full time position to another intern who was less qualified than me, who kept the job for just under a year and moved on (I know that because we’re connected on LinkedIn). I really wanted that job and had they given it to me, Tex and I would still be in Atlanta. But I guess it just wasn’t meant for me.

Seeing as Texas hasn’t been hit as hard in the economic downturn, I had high hopes for finding employment in Houston. Tex is employed but underpaid- we’re a hair above “just barely making it” without any income from me. I had a talk with one of my law school gal pals and realized my law degree was screening me out, so I have removed it from my resume. So I spend my days getting up at 8am like I have a job to go to, applying to jobs, working out in the afternoons, and watching tv. It’s depressing. I don’t have any friends or family of my own here. I gotta say, being a housewife is no fun unless you’re rich. It’s almost enough to make me wish I had a baby just so there would be some purpose and meaning to my days. I’ve still got the tax preparer gig, but summer session is slow and they overhired. Since I’m the newbie, I’m not getting hours anymore and tax season doesn’t start until January. Bar results aren’t out til November. So what the fuck am I supposed to do in the meantime?

I know that you shouldn’t worry and pray. But it’s hard not to be anxious when your bank account balance is always hovering close to zero after paying rent, and you have to keep borrowing from your ever dwindling savings account just to make ends meet. I wish I had Tex’s assuredness that everything is going to be okay. Part of me is just angry. I feel like I did all the right things, and even if I didn’t, I worked my ass off and made the best decisions I could. As a working class black girl from the south side of town, there were certain things I just didn’t know. Sure, I could have chosen a different major, done different extracurriculars, or chosen a different graduate degree but that only would have happened if I could somehow go back in time with what I know now. I’m not expecting to be on easy street before I turn 30. But can I at least make some fucking progress? I know there are plenty of folks out there who aren’t as smart or as hard working as I am who are doing far better financially. I try to count my blessings instead of other people’s. But will the struggle ever end? Can I at least get to the point where I can maintain instead of playing catch-up? I just want to be able to use my God-given, school-refined talents to make a living. Why is that seemingly so impossible? On top of everything, my car is breaking down so I’m scared to  go farther than the grocery store for fear my car will overheat. I’m trying to preserve it for when I really need it, like to go on job interviews. But that means I can’t go out to networking events, which are all 20-30 minutes away in downtown Houston. I don’t know anyone I can catch a ride with either, and Tex works on the opposite side of town so he can’t get me anywhere I need to be before 7pm, which is when most events are ending. Plus, apparently networking ain’t free anymore- you’ve got to pay cover.

I try really hard to put a brave face on. I pray and try to put it out of my mind. But every day I don’t have a job is a day I feel useless. Unwanted. What was the point of 7 years of higher education, when I could have stopped at high school and been in the same position? Possibly a better one, since I’d have 7 years of work experience? By the way, entry level ain’t what it used to be. Jobs that required a college degree when I was in college, now only require a GED. If you do need a degree for the job, you also need 5, 7, 10 years work experience- just to be able to make $50,000/yr or $40k/yr with benefits. It’s insane. *sigh* In my heart, I know that God will provide. He’s never let me down yet. But the doubt in my mind is hard to quiet. I used to feel like I could never fail. I was valedictorian, voted most likely to succeed, got into the honors program at a top ten public university and survived law school, even if I didn’t necessarily conquer it. I guess this is just my test…patience isn’t my biggest virtue. But giving up isn’t an option. I have to make it. I have to.