As many of you know, I adopted the alter ego of Jane Phoenix a few years ago when my life was in the toilet. I wanted to write the truth about my life, much like Bridget Jones, but the truth was hard to look at... therefore, alter ego.
I started writing down adventures in 2009 and ended my story at a happy point in 2012, which was parallel to my real life, even though Jane's story diverged from my own and in fact I added a bunch of crazy hijinks that actually happened to other people and made these odd events happen to Jane because it was fun. I've been writing and rewriting stories about that tough time, and sometimes I think it's been therapy for me.
I recently had the opportunity to have my work critiqued by two Baby Boomers. One is an angry gay man. Another is a Northeasterner that I don't know very well, but her writing was about the same time period and I saw some parallels with my own work, so I thought perhaps she might understand.
Sigh. They didn't get it.
The angry one got hung up on phrases here, and language there. And then there were other things that he totally didn't comprehend, so he'd say they didn't make sense or ask odd questions. In one installment, when Jane gets a migraine at work, I wrote something like, "I managed to look busy for the rest of the day," because in the story, Jane had to wait for her carpool buddy to go home.
Red-faced, he declares, "I would have fired her on the spot! Fired her! My old assistant was always fooling around on Facebook..."
"But I didn't write that she was fooling around on Facebook," I replied.
"I would have fired her! Why didn't she just take a pill and get back to work?" he continued.
"Because her pills were 50 miles away at her townhouse," I explained.
But he wouldn't listen. It was useless.
The other gave some good input, but couldn't get over how selfish and mean Jane was. Since I'm writing from the perspective of myself, and since I experienced many things firsthand, I have to wonder: am I mean? Or are they just programmed to hate people in my generation?
The term "whiny crybaby" seems to get kicked around whenever an older generation scrutinizes a younger one. This is why I'm doing my best to love the Millenials. Sure, there's a few I'd like to slap for being stupid, unfocused, and obnoxious (really, just two that I've worked with in the past), but for the most part, they have it worse than my generation, the Xers, do. They deserve our help and compassion, not our scrutiny.
More than that, I don't want to be like the Boomers. I don't want to sit up on high and judge everyone else. I don't want to laugh with derision when I see younger people worse off than I am. That's not fair, and that's not cool. My generation may be invisible, but at least many of us aren't a$$holes.
The root of why I bought a townhouse, and got stuck in "Winterville," can be boiled down to a few factors, the first being: Baby Boomer Bravado.
Older generations were sold on the idea of buying a home because it always appreciated in value, or at least has since the 1930s.
When I was new to Winterville, I rented a room from a realtor and, while she is a delightful Boomer, I felt like I couldn't get away from the pressure... from elders... from my own roommate. I was literally surrounded. So I bought something to shut everybody up, and I told myself it was an investment.
The other factor was my lack of a spine and my inability to judge a situation from a logical standpoint. If I'd been honest with myself, I never would have bought a place and I never would have gotten stuck. It's as simple as that. And it's why I was so angry with myself for so long.
When the home value careened downward, and my job went into the crapper, it was Despair City. I met a few of the most scathingly horrible people in my attempt to "make the best of a bad situation." If it hadn't been for Diva, I'd have been completely alone. I couldn't trust anyone else. It was madness.
I don't know if this book will ever be released or published, because in many ways it's a note to all the people and societal influences that steered me wrong. See how bad I had it? it asks. See what you talked me into? So I have to take a step back, leave it alone for a while, and come at it from another angle. A more comedic, less freaked-out angle.