Generation Guinea Pig

2010 February 9

This time last week I was frantically attempting to track down my movers in order to reclaim my meager truckload of possessions. Since then, I’ve set up my new apartment, figured out how to use a cordless drill, had coffee with one of my neighbors (and attempted to avert my eyes from his vast collection of vintage erotic fiction) and promised another that I’d never get drunk and crash into his door at 3:00 AM (apparently, the former occupants of casa de JMH couldn’t really hold their liquor), but that I would play Scrabble with him (with the warning that I’m hella competitive), checked out the coolest coworking space ever, volunteered at a bake sale for Haiti, plotted an Olympics-related hashtag revolution, subjected myself to one of Estee Lauder’s social media makeovers and walked, a lot.  And I did it all for you, dear readers. Well, kinda.

For the last six months, I’ve been doling out the exhortations, entreaties, pep talks and tough love beatdowns here on Generation Meh, so it’s only fair that I tangibly put my money where my mouth is and prove that I do indeed live by my own rules. After all, how disillusioned would you feel if you discovered that I was actually an up and coming accountant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers who had recently bought a fabulous high-rise condo with her lawyer fiance (met him sophomore year at Brown, natch)? And that we had just adopted a chocolate lab puppy and were into wine tasting and lazy brunches at the most buzzed-about downtown hotspots? Yeah, I thought so. Fear not, as nothing could be further from the truth. The mangy, stuffed E.T. doll currently taking up residence on my poorly-assembled IKEA coffee table (complete with shellacked recipe cards I bought for 79 cents at Goodwill) can attest to that.

See? Told you so.

Nope, instead you get an ambiguously-careered someone who just landed in a city four and half times bigger than the one she’s lived in for the last six years, who rented her apartment sight unseen and who knows exactly two people in this metropolis. She has no clue what’s going to happen next and is surprisingly cool with that.

As you can tell from the themes of the previous two posts, Gen Y isn’t exactly top of the class when it comes to balancing the big picture perspective with the day-to-day details. In fact, a lot of us are all forest all the time, damn the trees. We’re so busy fretting about the future and how we fit into the jigsaw puzzle of a grand scheme that we lose sight of the day-to-day potential for mini memories, pocket-sized epiphanies and other tiny bursts of humor, pathos, drama and serendipity. These things count, too. They matter. They’re cocktail party fodder, potential best man toast anecdotes, Twitter updates, texts to your best friend, cheap coffee product commercials. And by being so focused on the overarching plan (What is it? Should I have one? How do I get one?) and obsessed with meticulously  timing our lives’ milestones so that we don’t end up on the wrong part of the bell curve, we take these moments for granted, assuming  we even notice them at all.

I’ve decided that it’s high time I give these moments their due and start living out all of GenMeh‘s collected wisdom in true guinea pig fashion. In fact, when people ask me why I’ve moved, I flash them my best manic pixie dream girl smile and  tell them it’s supposed to be an adventure and an experiment. And I mean it. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. If you told me that in six months I’ll be living in Reykjavik after eloping with a dude I’ll meet after standing behind him in the Starbucks line tomorrow or that, before 2010 is out, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my vegan bakery and artist co-op in downtown Burlington, VT, I would have to believe you.  When you leave the door wide open, you really never know who or what (for better or worse) will walk through.

And guess what? I’m not independently wealthy, I’m not a maverick risk taker and I hate ambiguity even more than the next person, so you know that if I can tackle the challenge of being okay with plan-free living, I will surely handhold you through the process in convenient bullet-list form in my next column.

Stay tuned.

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Related GenMeh goodness:

Scrapbook In Prose
The Perils of Plan B: Why Your Back-up Plan Is Holding You Back
You Are Not A Commodity: On Knowing Your Niche