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Gen Z Are Vicious

I’ve heard it said that millennials are boomers’ dream children, after their social experiments involving divorce, free-love, abortion, and feminism turned their first set of children into cynical anti-authoritarians who were just generally confused, but in a bitter way. You can see the bitterness in 90’s grunge rock; it creates a sharp contrast to the dumb sitcom world of Friends, where clinging to friendship in the wake of broken families is played out with canned laughs and corny punchlines.

Millennials were that in between generation, the children of more stable, but aging boomers and the older set of Xers. They were more likely to be daycare kids rather than latchkey ones — when they were too old for daycares, there were always publicly-funded after-school programs waiting for them. For us odd ball parents, we homeschooled; millennials grew up in the era when homeschool rates took a sharp upward path.

I hesitate to say it, but gen Z are in a sense the dream children of Xers. They’re being raised by a combination of aging Xers and older millennials. This is a strange contrast, as Xers were under-parented (in general, not specific) and millennials over-parented by helicopter moms and social programs. The result is a kind of weariness with the world, especially when adding round the clock internet and entertainment access. Hence, Gen Z has seen everything, and they’re pretty tired of it already.

I was thinking about this after reading about and subsequently watching the 14-yr-old YouTube phenomenon Soph. She’s gotten in a lot of trouble because she just won’t play by the PC rules set up for us by the powers-that-be — old media and teacherly types, mostly, who thought it was super-cool to drop F-bomb when they were young, but have a low tolerance for truth being spoken plainly. And that’s what Soph drops, truth bomb after truth bomb. She’s utterly disconcerting, but no more so than the rest of the gen Z kids I spend time around. She just happens to be articulate and intelligent and a popular YouTuber to boot. Right now, her youth protects her a little; I don’t know too many people who look kindly on adult bullies who go after children. But this generation is going to grow up. They are growing up, and their unwillingness to follow the correct social path is at the same time frightening and heartening. Those who so carefully constructed our modern social order put a lot of effort into it. And they aren’t going to give it up lightly.


The Exercise Lifestyle

Spring is the hardest season for me, health wise, because I stop sleeping about when February hits. I never sleep well, but just as soon as I’ve settled into a January of hope, maybe even a few nights in a row of five or six hours sleep, my body says, nope, you only get two. Zero if you’re lucky. Sometimes, May kicks me to the curb with only a few minutes of sleep here and there. I’ll be honest; there were a couple Mays in my life when I was drinking a bottle of wine a day just to relax. Alcohol, obviously, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and red wine has the ability to decrease brain inflammation, making relaxation and a few minutes of sleep possible. No other alcohol has the same effect, in my experience. Drunk in a month other than May (again, my experience), red wine can make an entire night of sleep possible, if brain inflammation is the cause of the insomnia. Doctors like to claim alcohol disrupts sleep, but most doctors are full of…shaving cream. They just repeat the same ludicrous advice, and then prescribe sleep medications that are like throwing gasoline on top of a brain already on fire. Granted, their drugs actually might work for people who don’t suffer from brain fire. The problem with many doctors is they lack ambition and curiosity; they don’t actually want to find out what’s wrong with a patient. Patient in. Prescribe appropriate prescription. Patient out.

That was a huge digression. This post was meant to be about exercise. However, it’s about exercise in the wake of intense lack of sleep. Over the years, I’ve found that I’ll give up writing, which has included blogging for some years now, I’ll give up friends — I’ll give up literally everything I can in my life (family and paid work I can’t give up) while in the throes of exhaustion. And yet, I’ve never mentally managed to give up exercise.

Being unwell is a good way to find out what’s really important in life. Family and work should always be at the top. Btw, I’m leaving out spiritual considerations because faith should walk with a person everywhere. If faith isn’t integral to a person’s soul, what’s the point of religion? It’s not something that can be left behind like a smart phone or a keyring. And so family and work are at the top of my list. What I do with the rest of my energy reserves demonstrates what I care about. For me, that’s exercise. Why? How did it come to this?

It’s like a drug, I think. It boosts energy, attitude, and well-being. There are so many varieties that getting bored is unlikely. The only cardinal rule is to never listen to the exercise jackasses who think they know everything. They will even claim if I exercise their way, I won’t have any insomnia at all. Jackasses. Exercise is to be enjoyed, and I generally enjoy dance fused with strength-training, the kind that reminds me of being in dance class. Usually, these workouts involve push-ups, which is good because I don’t waste money or time at the gym.

Thinking back on my life in which I’ve obsessively been exercising for the last thirty years, I have to say it’s my main schtick. More than writing. More than taking classes. I don’t know what else to say.

***It takes me forever to write a blog post. In the meantime, I ran into an old math professor in the beer aisle at the grocery store, and he’s full of inspirational talk, like, come take a class, we’re going to have a good group this fall. Groan. I have to. I really do. Exercise just makes me think I’m accomplishing and doing, doing, doing. But it’s all a lie.


The Hillbilly Instinct

It’s inside me somewhere. My dad is usually the one to remind me. Today, however, it was Randy Travis plaintively singing his Worship & Faith songs. We had that album for years, and it had disappeared as albums will as recording styles change; I rediscovered it on Spotify. Of course, it’s not all “old-timey” songs, but a mix of 20th C favorites and older hymns. Still, Travis’s plaintive singing style is enough catalyst for me. I usually start singing, to be honest. If my dad is around, he’s quick to remind me my voice is uniquely suited to the hillbilly style, to which, I give him my hardest glare. It’s his fault I’m not part of the culture, I’m equally quick to remind him. But that’s not exactly honest.

This is not a biopic on Randy Travis, but a touchstone on origins. He grew up singing in church in North Carolina; that’s the origin point for my dad’s family. From there, they went to Missouri. Now, there are some still in Missouri*, and others in Texas and Oregon. His family didn’t like sticking to one spot. That’s why I ended up graduating from high school in Portland. In case you didn’t know, Portland didn’t used to be the land of snowflakes who are libertarians as long as it means they get to do what they want, but progressives when they want you to pay for it. Rather, it used to be full of…hillbillies who’d left the hills for literally greener pastures where they could make a living logging and fishing.

During my childhood, that logging-fishing culture was under stress. A combination of welfare and California mores threatened their way of life, and so the redneck** youth were combative. Mean to put it in plainer language. Because my dad has always been an iconoclast, an artist and intellectual and general family know-it-all (a crown I’ve usurped), I was raised…a little different, to say the least. I was treated with suspicion, bullied even, by the local yahoos and consequently grew up loathing my own cultural roots.

Now that I’m older, I recognize what was happening, but it’s difficult to parse when in the throws of awkward, emotionally fraught adolescence. On the other hand, my contrarian response to my own culture and, well, everything is a cultural trait. I’m so ornery I don’t even know why I’m ornery. I can’t explain it, and although there was a moment in my life when I thought reasonableness was the way to go, the orneriness has only gotten worse with age.

The music is mellow, though. Pleasant. It always is, especially when there’s a singalong. What an odd mix of characteristics exist in the souls of my people.

*This is officially known as the Ozarks…and the people there are just another type of hillbilly, many of whom came from Appalachia.

**Redneck is the term used in Oregon. Hillbilly and redneck are like geek and nerd. There really isn’t much difference, even if you will find some, ahem, nerd on the internet who’s delineated the difference down to the nth degree. Btw, I would call my mom’s family rednecks, but mostly because they never settled in the hill regions of Appalachia. Instead, they took a tour through New Mexico and California. Albeit, my favorite cousin on her side is a bonified California mountainman with a beard down to his knees.


News From the Christian Front

1. This is perhaps the most far-reaching and devastating news, which is why I’m leading with it. Those who pay attention already know that Christians are globally persecuted more than any other religion. A year ago, however, UK’s Jeremy Hunt asked the Bishop of Truro to assess the extent of the problem. A year later, he’s not done because the problem is too big. And western church leaders rarely address it, nor do we hear much about it from our western media sources. Christianity is wrongly considered a “white colonialist” religion; it’s not PC to admit that the vast majority of Christians persecuted around the world are not only poor (i.e. not colonizers), but those we call “people of color” — that is, not European. You can read more about it here or elsewhere. There are, thankfully, a number of media outlets that reported on the UK’s investigation.

2. Meanwhile, in the US, our elected officials have gotten into the game of harassing Christians who protest outside Planned Parenthood. Or, I should say, one elected official: Brian Sims, a representative from Pennsylvania. I’ve now watched two of his videos, in which he harasses and berates protestors who are praying the rosary. His anger and hatred towards Catholics is over-the-top; I rightly concluded that he had grown up Catholic (verified by the Wiki on him). He’s also gay, which might explain his anger toward the church. He might have also been damaged by somebody in the church, but that’s too big a leap to make without evidence. All I know is that he’s an incredibly broken man, and he’s trying to fix himself by venting his emotions on those he considers to be “fake Christians”. The most disturbing part is his asking his viewing audience to dox the protestors and to protest outside their houses. I first heard of this on Catholic radio, but you can read more about his harassment here. For an even more disturbing video, go to his Twitter account. He links out to a Periscope, where he harasses an elderly woman who’s doing nothing but pacing and holding onto a rosary. She tries to ignore him, but you can see her getting increasingly nervous as his emotionally-volatile shouting continues.

3. This is a difficult one to respond to. Over the weekend, Rachel Held Evans died. At one time, I read her blog and her books with interest because she came on the Christian nonfiction/memoir scene strong a number of years ago as an anti-evangelical Christian. Being neither a millennial nor a progressive, I found both the furor and love over her writing fascinating. Furor, as in, many people considered her a heretic. Others found her to be the voice they needed to hear as they grappled with how to be a Christian and a progressive at the same time, which does present a few intriguing dilemmas. I’m not going to make any comments on that, except to say I agreed with almost nothing she stood for. Despite my disagreements with her, she honestly seemed to be a warm friendly woman, who leaves a husband and children behind her. For that, I grieve, and my heart goes out to her family. For more, here’s a link.

4. There was a fourth one I had collected in my head, but it’s gone the way of the wind. I’ve forgotten about it. Perhaps it was the Pope’s anti-nationalist sentiments. He is often misquoted/misinterpreted but this is probably not one of those times; in any case, it was another piece of news I heard on Catholic radio. He makes the odd claim that nations “betray their mission” when they stir up nationalist sentiments. This is the classic double-speak of globalism, to claim that a nation must undermine its status as a nation in order for it to be a … nation at all. Because I heard it on the radio, I don’t have a direct link. But I’m sure you can find one if you’re interested.


Keep On Keeping On

I always do.

1. Listening to Harry Connick Jr.’s She yesterday reminded me we also used to have his album Star Turtle, which has a plot running through it of Harry taking an alien turtle to visit clubs in New Orleans. Snort. He’s such a goofy musician. That’s probably why his music has always appealed to me. He also seems to have a “normal” soul (whatever that means — more what it doesn’t mean: he doesn’t sound like a crazy, dark, tortured artist). So I’m adding this album to my list of alien, robot, and knight rock for general inspiration. Some favorites already on the list: Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories, Europe’s song “The Final Countdown”, and Peter Cetera’s goofy “Glory of Love” from the Karate Kid.

2. I quit social media. Again. I just can’t stand it. There are a handful of people I love to banter with on Twitter, and those people I’ll definitely miss. You know, goofy people. I love goofy people who get my sense of humor. Or pretend to. Another big snort. Look, I suck at marketing. I can’t market to save my life, which means social media is a big fat waste of time. I have no rapport with most human beings, but understanding that doesn’t make me feel any better when I’m rejected or when people with large(r than me) followings decide to drop, block, or mute me … for no apparent reason. I value loyalty and giving the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in. Also, I admit I seethe over others’ egoism that demands attention — where there’s no reciprocity, even among their peers. I’m a stoic. Stoics don’t like to feel deep, dark hatred eating their souls. So no more social media.

3. After a harrowing few weeks, in which I stared into the abyss and came up short, I’m just starting to get back into finishing the end of my book Order of the PenTriagaon. It helps to have a critique partner with the right sensibility. We’re currently discussing a dragons vs aliens thing in the plot because, as he put it, it’s “low-key absurd enough to be in character for your writing style.” You’ll have to read it as a beta or etc. to find out how that turns out.

4. I have a few books in my to-read pile, after I finish this literary novel I found in one of those little free libraries. The literary novel is called Olive Kitteridge. It’s depressing, which seems to be a hallmark for literary novels. But the characters are fascinating, so I’ll probably finish anyway. I also have two history books that I’m reading in snippets (The Battle For Spain and Restoration London); one SF I just purchased, Rawle Nyanzi’s Shining Tomorrow; and a new series by Alexander McCall Smith called The Department of Sensitive Crimes. I’ve always liked his warm-hearted humor, but in this case, the cover cracked me up because he put an umlaut over the “Ä” in his name. Hilarious. I mean, I’m sure he has someone else do his artwork and formatting, but I went there with the Minäverse, and it has caused me no end of annoyance. What I sacrifice for my dumb sense of humor.