By Nadira A. Hira
January 31, 2008

Hello, everybody! Hope your 2008 is off to an amazing start, and despite all appearances to the contrary, I have not in fact fled to a foreign country in an effort to shirk my Gig duties. Actually, I got a nasty flu and decided to spare you guys the NyQuil-induced ramblings. (And hey, I did say I’d be back in January, and technically, it is still January, right? :o)

But it was lovely to come back to your sweet letters, and Gig reader Juan gets a special shout-out for threatening to seek therapy if I didn’t get back to work. So in the interest of Juan’s mental health — and let’s be honest, my own; I missed you guys! — let’s get to it. We’ve got some new stuff in store that I’ll be excited to get your thoughts on, but in the New Year’s tradition, I thought we’d start with a bit of reflection. By that I mean, it’s been a few weeks since last we spoke, and in my acetaminophen haze, I had a lot of time to think. So today, friends, I’m going to torture you with…

WHAT I LEARNED OVER THE BREAK

(or “5 maudlin semi-epiphanies that are sure to infuriate Yadgyu, which only further motivates me to share them”)

Be forewarned, I really have missed you guys, and it shows in the treatise that follows. So apologies in advance. And in case you don’t make it to the end, we’d love to hear about your recent semi-epiphanies, so comment away.

1. We’re too old to spend two straight weeks at Mom’s.

Remember when you used to come home on a break and, as annoyed as you might’ve been at your parents, you kind of loved vegging at home? Well, I think those days might need to be over, at least for me and all of the other should-be independent twentysomething people we know and love.

Regular readers have probably by now ascertained that my family’s pretty tight (i.e. if we were any closer, we’d be sardines). And yet, when the kids decided that this holiday, we’d kick it old school and spend all our time off at Mom’s, we didn’t really know what we were in for.

Our hearts were in the right place; this was her first Christmas in a new house and we wanted to give her as many opportunities to cook ginormous meals as possible. But seriously, by about Dec. 28, we’d each gained 10 pounds and reverted to our worst, whiniest, most awfully teenage incarnation.

So while it’s true what we’ve often said here — that while for many Yers, there’s often nothing our moms would like better than to have us home — it’s time to have our own homes! And maybe even host our own holiday parties! The kind our parents can come to, with, like, real wine and no passing out. Sheesh.

2. We’re not too old to play Wii till 4 a.m.

The preceding tirade notwithstanding, it turns out that one good thing about regressing to childhood at home is remembering that there are some seemingly childish things that are pretty darn awesome — including, but not limited to, the Wii, hot chocolate, Legos and Animal Planet.

And incredibly, when you indulge (a bit) in these extravagances, you often come to the realization that this stuff is at least as cool as standing around at a cocktail party trying to sound smart and wishing you were home watching Adult Swim. Which is what I for one often found myself doing when I got my first real gig and suddenly started worrying about being taken seriously by my legitimately grown-up colleagues.

But as I get legitimately older myself (officially identified a wrinkle, FYI) and vaguely more secure, I’m finding that my favorite Gen Y “characteristics,” to the extent that those exist, are all our little paradoxes. Love the environment/drive an SUV. Most educated people ever/obsessed with MTV. Grew up too fast/can’t get out of our parents’ houses to save our lives. (And before you letter-writers get going, I am speaking very generally here, folks.)

So yes, sure we want to be — and should want to be — adults, but a little Wii never hurt anyone. At least not if you keep your Wii jacket on, take breaks, and clear all the furniture out of your living room. And more importantly, it does keep you from turning into into Holden Caulfield’s long-lost angstier twin, even if you do spend an eternity at your Mom’s.

3. We’re finally just old enough to learn the good stuff.

There was an upside to the aforementioned eternity, though. When we were small, our mom worked a full day; cooked dinner every evening; sewed, papier-mâché’d, and otherwise “project”ed with us every night; and still found time to be best friends with our teachers and know all our business.

As a kid, you take that good stuff for granted and ask yourself why, oh, why, you’ve been cursed with a mom who won’t just take you to McDonald’s. By the time you go away to school, you appreciate it enough to miss the nourishment, but not quite enough to understand the labor. But once you’re out in the world with a real job and bills to pay, well, then you start to get it. (Forget kids; my fish would file a petition of neglect if they could.)

Talk about your self-esteem killers. My poor sister and I will so never be as anything as our mom. Which is why this break, what with the eternity we spent at home, we actually got the chance to ask some questions and learn some things. And not the encyclopedia factoids and oft-repeated lectures we groaned at in our argumentative youth, either. But some things that are actually worth knowing, like recipes for the West Indian dishes we grew up eating, the patterns for our favorite sundresses, and the full-length versions of family ghost stories we’ve been hearing in snippets for years.

It shouldn’t be all that long before we (gasp) have our own children, and if we want to be even decent approximations of the good older people in our lives, we’d better start asking the right questions now. There isn’t much of a precedent for that in our country, and goodness knows we Yers are sometimes considered the worst offenders when it comes to valuing our elders, but I do know that we value expertise, and more often than not, the people who raised us have some that’s worth sharing.

4. Sometimes, you just have to say, “Look how amazing I am.”

As little as we know, there is something to be said for a little self-affirmation in spite of it all. Consider my brother Kamran, the RIT freshman. We’re all sitting at the dinner table over the holiday, chatting away, and our mom gets a call from one of the engineers at her office, who was dealing with a problem. She hangs up, shares some (general and totally over my head) details with us, and Kam says, “Oh, so he has to replace the filament.” Mom says something along the lines of, “Yes, precisely, exactly, quite right,” our collective eyes glaze over, and somewhere in the ensuing self-absorbed silence, Kam says to himself, and I kid you not: “Look at how amazing I am.”

Laughter, of course, erupts. But he’s so far off in his own world that he seems a tad confused about the reaction, still smiling to himself over his little triumph. Obviously, he suffered merciless derision the rest of the holiday (for this and his sheepish admission that, until this Christmas, he thought Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” was in fact called “Hullabaloo Christmas” — classic).

But my mom rightly pointed out that for a kid who, after getting his first 80-something on an elementary school spelling test, spent the entire afternoon with a sheet over his face, emerging only to cry, “I’m the only one who gets B’s in the family,” some quiet self-regard was a big deal, as it should be. So regard yourself quietly, and remember how amazing you are. Just don’t tell your siblings, if they’re the sort that, you know, live to mock you.

5. A good job is like a good boyfriend.

And that, dear readers, is why I’ve been gone so long. Because, if I’m being honest, I’d tried to open my apartment door with my office key just one too many times. And had even answered my cell phone, “Fortune,” on more than one occasion. Never mind the sad realization that, as far as my brain was concerned, I’d used and abused every word I had to give, and might in fact have had nothing left to say. My work boundaries were so fluid that I was drowning on and off the job, and that does not a good life — or good Gig writing — make.

But as the proverbial “they” say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And with a few weeks away from you and the real-life boyfriend, I’ve returned excited to see you both, with new and (I hope) interesting things to talk about, and a fair amount of starry-eyed optimism about what this year might hold. If you’ve read this far, you’re feeling pretty optimistic, too (certainly about the outside possibility that this’ll end up being worthwhile reading :o). And you can probably also tell that, whatever I might say, as monstrously long as this post has been, I obviously missed writing to and for you. And that’s just the kind of re-discovery I’m hoping is in store for all of us. So here’s to making our work work for us in 2008. It’s going to be fun.

Allrighty then. Guess I did miss pontificating with you guys. But now that we’re done with that, on to the 56 million new posts I’ve been planning. And in the meantime, if my musings got you to thinking, let us know what you learned — or un-learned — since last we blogged…

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