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For the Fellow Members of My Generation

The title of this blog sounds like the title of a political speech, to me anyways. Sounds like I should be saying, “good evening my fellow Americans” but I am not.

Instead I have decided that since I am approaching my mid thirties I have to stand up and say my name is Donna and I am becoming an old person. I am longing for the things I love to stay the same while finally acknowledging that my childhood was sweet. Better than that, it was low tech.

Every time I read a memoir, my preferred type of book, I am fascinated when authors say how idyllic their childhood was. It makes me question mine and when I force myself to, I feel like I can only remember bits and pieces. But when I ponder this question for a longer about of time it all comes together, gradually. Seeing Instagram and Facebook posts from sites like “Throwback” and “What Where You Doing in The 80’?s” are also a huge help.

Apparently I am from Generation Y, a Millennial by definition being that I was born between 1980-1994. To be exact I was born in 1981. In my neighborhood the big thrill everyday was rushing home from school to ride your bike back and forth down the block with your friends. Being outside was EVERYTHING. That’s because there was nothing and no one inside to tempt you. If you had a bike with rainbow spokes and a basket on it, you were the cool girl on the block. We lived for the days during the summer when block parties took place because than you could ride your bike in the street! Talk about your good times and they really were.

As motorized toys were coming into fashion I couldn’t wait to visit my favorite cousins house. They had a kid version of a Jeep truck and back then three of us could fit in it at once! A ride up and down the driveway was living the highlife. Playing school and house were my life as a girl. It was a little something called MAKE BELIEVE. That is something all kids should need.

When I was around four or five it was my turn. I got a purple motorcycle and it was my jam! I am not nor have I ever been the kind of girl who strives to attain biker chick status but damn it if I didn’t ride that thing until the batteries were permanently dead and the tires could no longer be taped back together.

Now I understand why folks like my dad remiss about music and pop culture in “their” time, which has been gone longer than I have been alive. If he hears a song from fifty years ago the volume must go WAY up. He also thinks prices are the same from fifty years ago, sorry to say Pops sneakers are no longer twenty dollars even in Payless. For that matter he also thinks that my brother has the only phone in America that can provide information on command. However he can only communicate with Siri through my brother of course. For goodness sakes this is a man that once brought our cordless phone into the car and wanted to know when I arrived home, naturally soaking wet from a storm, why I didn’t call for a ride? The reason of course was that I was calling his cell, which was at home, and the cordless didn’t ring because it was out of range, so I couldn’t call even if I wanted to.

Ok that’s enough about my dad because I am starting to get mad about that last doozy all over again. But it proves my thesis- when we aren’t looking the times we cherish is part of our culture that won’t come back again. We are becoming our parents and ragging on what kids of today are in to.

Kids of today would literally die and fall apart at the seams spending one day as a child in the late eighties or early nineties. When you needed information you asked your parents and if it was homework related you broke out the encyclopedia. There was nowhere to search for information. There were no computers. I took typing class on a typewriter. Back in the day you winged directions, plans, pretty much everyday life.

This brings me to my bus story, which my family LOVES. The short version is that when a parent teaches you how to use public transportation, for your first day of high school, but neglects to notice the bus number and line has changed, you learn the hard way how to get to and from school. It is not a fun memory but my parents had an out, there wasn’t an Internet. I suspect those behind its creation had a bus story in their families too.

Growing up there was no cable in my house and worse yet when I was only a few years old we had a TV that didn’t have a remote. You had to actually get up and go to the television set to select which of the five channels you wanted to watch. My mother likes to tell the story that I use to walk by and shut it off just to annoy them. I can’t deny it, sounds too much like something I would do. Better yet there was no TV after midnight. Literally there was nothing on the screen but squiggly black lines until the next morning.

When I was in the sixth grade I got my first CD stereo. My first CD was Mariah Carey’s original Christmas album. I stand by that purchase, as it is still a classic. My mother told me not to spend too much money on CDs because they would be replaced by something else soon. She was right even though it took over twenty years to happen.

In college I got a TV/VCR for my dorm room sophomore year and that was a proud possession. I miss my MTV and the revolutionary show, Total Request Live (TRL). I held onto my Discman as long as was physically possible. Currently I am wishing I still had it now. I am still miffed that new cars no longer come with CD players! What is this world coming to I ask you?! I am still using my iPod thank you very much. You will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands before I am streaming anything. Heck I still miss having a beeper that every once and a while someone would spell out BOOBS for a laugh, guess you had to be there for that one.

Nowadays kids still in diapers are on YouTube using their parent iPads with the quickness. I don’t know how they are born with this ability and yet my father can’t be taught how to do it. This must be the result of some unknown evolutionary skills. We have gone from a society of hunters and gatherers to a generation of kids playing fake bowling on the Wii, which I know is out of date as well.

What are we in such a hurry for? I never thought the Jetsons was going to be a reality but who the hell knows now. We don’t even have scripted sitcoms or plays anymore. Everything is a reality show and playwrights are taking ideas from the movies, while the movies redo the same stories literally every few years. No one wants to work. Those in the business appear lazy. It’s easier to use an old idea and make it new again. However this just keeps our culture stagnant, frustrating as hell to me.

It happens with clothing too. As a child in the late eighties things were neon and matching. Ironically those two are now back in style. So are stretch pants, which I lived in, and still do except that now they are called leggings to make them seem stylish. How about stirrup pants people? Admit it, they were awesome. We had so much fun maybe that is the reason it all ends up coming back around.

I suppose this non-speech turned into a pretty preachy post but so it goes. We have to appreciate the times of our lives and however they influence who we become. I now know the value of mine with this careful analysis. I am thirty-four plain and simple. I am from Brooklyn. A city kid who spent a childhood in pools, riding bikes, playing with friends, and begging to stay outside as late as possible so that I could catch more than my fair share of fireflies.

I am from a time that no longer exists except in photographs and memories.

I am still struggling recognizing that the O.J. Simpson trial was back in 1995. 

I remember being in the seventh grade watching the verdict come in on a giant TV wheeled into our classroom for the occasion.

I remember being at work at CVS as a senior in high school, in 1999, learning about the Columbine shooting having no idea what a school shooting was.

Christ even JonBenet Ramsey has been dead twenty years already.

Our elders are right; time just keeps slipping by faster and faster. I suspect many of my readers will have to do a few Google searches to clarify my stories. I recommend reading the links below as well.

Moving forward I will continue to retell those stories from long ago, even if no one but me appreciates them. My nostalgic soul will smile and know that somewhere in the future these will provide an interesting chapter in my autobiography.

What are the stories from your generation? 

Whatever they are hold onto them dearly.

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  1. Well done Donna. I also wish we could go back for some of those old days. Especially sad that Grandma isn't around to see what a awesome writer you became. She loved reading and would have loved your blog.xo


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