“Xennial”? That’s me!

The hilarious Jessica from "Fresh Off The Boat."
The hilarious Jessica from “Fresh Off the Boat.”

One thing I’ve noticed about this decade — the “teens” — is how old I suddenly feel.
This year and last year, I’ve realized that many of my favorite movies and albums are five, 10 or 20 years old, and I wonder, “How on Earth did THAT happen?!”
I’m also stunned when it’s the 10th or 20th anniversary of a pivotal moment in my childhood or adolescence. I’m both moved by remembering how things such as the Oklahoma City bombing affected me as a 14-year-old and disheartened by thinking about what 14-year-olds today — and their parents! — have to deal with.

I suppose that’s part of the plight of being an “Xennial” — a term I wish I had come up with that describes people born in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Not quite Generation X and not quite Millennial, we Xennials managed to make it through much of our childhoods and even our college years without a lot of technology beyond TV and early video games. We had computers at school but not necessarily at home, and if you’re like me, your first cellphone was a college graduation gift from your parents. (I didn’t own a smartphone until last year, and I didn’t join Facebook until I started graduate school — it wasn’t even an option when I was in college.)

As Anna Garvey astutely writes, growing up before the dawn of social media definitely had its advantages:

Those born in the late 70s and early 80s were the last group to have a childhood devoid of all the technology that makes childhood and adolescence today pretty much the worst thing imaginable.  We were the last gasp of a time before sexting, Facebook shaming, and constant communication.

She notes that our relationship to technology is also more nuanced than that of our older and younger siblings:

Because we had one foot in the traditional ways of yore and one foot in the digital information age, we appreciate both in a way that other generations don’t.

My newest favorite TV show, “Fresh Off the Boat,” which takes place in the mid-1990s, does a great job of helping me appreciate my middle school and early high school years, when people still read print magazines and books and used electric typewriters and when families still watched TV together in the same room. (Of course, it also offers some fantastic social commentary on race and the immigrant experience while being utterly hilarious, so you should be watching it if you aren’t already.)

Don’t get me wrong: I’m thankful that I can write papers on a laptop now, rather than a bulky desktop, and I’m also grateful for being able to send e-mails from my iPhone instead of the standalone computer kiosks that I had to rely on in college. But, it’s also good to remember the pleasures of life away from a screen — and to encourage the younger generations to experience them too.

(Image courtesy Tumblr)

Birthdays, baseball and blogging

My divided loyalties.
My divided loyalties.

It feels good to be blogging again, on a new platform — and in a new year of sorts, since I celebrated my birthday two days ago.
The long winter we had in D.C. finally seems to be fading (although it could snow this Friday — ugh!), and Easter — and baseball — are just a couple of weeks away.
There is hope in the air!

Much to the chagrin of some family members and friends, I’ve added the Nationals to my lifelong Orioles fandom over the past couple of years that I’ve lived in the DMV (local-speak for “D.C., Maryland and Virginia”). I figured, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” especially now that they have Max Scherzer! (Apologies to my college friends who root for the Tigers.) And as great as the Oriole Bird is, how can you not love the Racing Presidents? (Teddy’s my favorite.)

But, I’ve also always kept an eye out for interesting players on other teams. One I heard of recently is Daniel Norris, a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays who enjoys camping in a Volkswagen van during spring training and the off-season. He does so out of a desire to live simply and care for the earth, painting a stark contrast to the lifestyles of his teammates, as Eli Saslow writes:

On the morning in 2011 when his $2 million signing bonus finally cleared, Norris was in Florida with the rest of the Blue Jays’ new signees. All of their bonuses had been deposited on the same day, and one of the players suggested they drive to a Tampa mall. They shopped for three hours, and by the time the spree finally ended they could barely fit their haul back into the car. Most players had spent $10,000 or more on laptops, jewelry and headphones. Norris returned with only a henley T-shirt from Converse, bought on sale for $14. It’s been a fixture of his wardrobe ever since.

The article and Norris’ Twitter account hint at his spiritual beliefs, and I’d love to read more about them in the future — as well as see him succeed while being true to himself.

And, should the O’s and Nats meet in the World Series — as I hoped they would last year — my first loyalty will always be to the black and orange. But, I’m also happy to see the Nationals still in town 10 years after they moved here from Montreal — and doing very well besides.

Play ball!