A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but doesn’t sell out) – Part Five: Kicking and Screaming into Middle-Age

Back in the 1980’s ‘selling out’ was like when a rock star gave the okay to have their songs used in commercials for stuff like soda and stuff. In fact, Neil Young wrote a song called ‘This Note’s For You’ explaining that quite well. But selling out to Madison Avenue is one thing. Selling out your beliefs and past is another.

I’ve heard over the years that people tend to get more conservative as they get older. For me, that’s not true at all. I’ve always been aligned with liberal progressive ideals but now can define them so much better than before.

So how did I see myself in middle age?

One way was living in a stone house out in the middle of nowhere writing and raising a ton of rescue animals. I’d wander into town once a week in a flowing hippie dress and get my stuff but go nowhere else. Another way was being a self-confident best-selling author traveling the world and looking pretty good at it.

At no time did I see myself as a suburban wife or single-mom (because if I had married suburban-Ken he probably would have dumped me when I hit forty). And I didn’t see myself as career-woman workaholic middle-manager either.

So in relation to my demographic generation, where do I think I stand? Somewhere between a rock and a hard place. We’re about as poor as the generation behind us (Millennials) and we’re also a ‘sandwich generation’ taking care of kids and aging parents. Yet I think we’re also the generation that sold out the least. I mean, we have red-hat assholes but we knew them as Young Republicans so no change there.

As for Generation X women, in the words of three of our musical icons known as The Chicks, we’re not ready to make nice. And now we call out gaslighters and deniers more than ever like The Chicks sing about so well. Because I think we tried to be nice and silent and neither one was received very well. And because of that, I think the generations on either side of us on the age-scale haven’t known where to put us. I do: in front of a tv or a radio with some food and a pair of headphones.

Middle-age for women (40+) is a fucked up time. It’s when a woman’s ovaries began the shutdown process in a way that is anything but graceful and smooth. Your body goes even crazier than it did with fully-working ovaries but at least we have doctors who are writing books that tell it like it is (Dr. Jen Gunter for the win!). We’ve all been touched by cancer so we don’t need the ‘awareness’ and pink-bullshit but a God-damn cure for it (which might be in mRNA like that used in the covid-19 vaccines- yeah science!). Most of all, we know most of the world would love to see us slink off into the dark woods though most of us don’t have that luxury. But the real reason I think the assholes of this world want middle-age women to shut up and go away is that we’ve run out of fucks to give.

But we also know we’re carrying around a lot of baggage, too and that we need to work through it. In the Netflix movie, ‘Wine Country’ there’s a scene with psychic who says this:

“Get over all your shit because it is much later than you think.”

That’s not easy to deal with knowing you’re carrying around a lot of crap and don’t have as much time to deal with as you’d like to. What I’ve learned is that you can unpack and sort it out and get rid of a ton of it. And you can let people know you’ve done that or not. It’s up to you and I will respect anyone’s choice either way. It’s not easy to do this but us middle-age women know nothing is easy past a certain point.

I think this discarding of trash and bullshit is what is leading a good number of us to tiny houses and living on the road. I’m tired of having stuff around that I don’t want or need. And I don’t feel like I need to stay in one place if I have the ability to move around. So why hang on to that crap when you don’t have to?

For me, middle-age is dealing with ever-more fucked up body than usual, an intense need to roam in a turtle shell on wheels, and an ability to write and create day by day. And most of all, it’s leaving a lot of garbage behind and not looking back.

I’ve got my music, books, tv and movies, and a self-confidence that grows by the day. And most of all, I know I haven’t sold out to greed and self-righteous right-wing bullshit. I’ve held on to what I believe in the most: love, hope, kindness, and good rock ‘n’ roll (and punk, new wave, alternative, heavy metal, and country music).

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but doesn’t sell out) – Part Four: Trying to Be a Grown-Up

In my thirties, I thought I’d try being a grown-up. I had my own apartment, car, decent-paying job. But I still had no social life and was afraid of having one because I was still a caregiver to my widowed father. Yes, like the idiot I was back then I thought if I somehow developed a social life that word would get back to my father that I intended to run off to Bora-Bora and live in a hut with my loser hunk of a boyfriend. Or some bullshit like that. Or worse than that, I’d run off to Bora-Bora with some hot woman I’d fallen for.

(My sexual orientation definitely leans heterosexual more than anything but I’m more than open and accepting of other orientations including in my own life because if I met someone of either gender and they were a good person and attracted to me, I’d pursue that relationship. If this freaks anyone out, get over yourself.)

But when I look back on thirties in the first decade of the twenty-first century, I see a shit-ton of missed opportunities. I thought I was doing the right thing by working at my soul-sucking call-center jobs and piddling around on my writing and not making waves of any kind. In reality, I wanted so much more and I had the means to pursue that.

So why didn’t I?

After my mom died, I became my father’s sole caregiver. He gave me all the legal power to do so in the event he became incapacitated (which I had to exercise when he had a stroke two years before he died). I felt like I was the only person other than my late mother who could truly handle him and I think I was even better than my mother was considering what I had to do for him. I miss him terribly with all of his stories and advice (but I don’t miss his mood swings and lashing out at me, either). But he was also over-protective as hell of me and I felt like if he was told enough shit about me he might not believe me over the lies and misinformation. I never wanted him to think I would ever abandon him. And it wasn’t just because I made a promise to my mother to take care of him after she died. I knew how to be a caregiver and I was damn good at it.

But also I still felt like I was a useless sack of shit and not worthy of a social life either. I know now that was due to a lack of self-confidence that I’m just now starting to regain. Back then I just felt like a social idiot.

Also in my early thirties I got a case of baby-fever. But because of my physical issues (scoliosis and weight) a pregnancy for me would have been very high-risk so that put the kibosh on that. And fostering and adopting were very expensive and difficult and I didn’t have the financial wherewithal for that. So I had to nurse this pain alone and I’ve dealt with it in private ever since.

I think us Gen X women knew the shit our mothers were told that they could have it all was a lie. But I think we wanted to believe we could have the good job and the family and somehow balance it all out. In reality, I think you juggle as best as you can and learn to let go of things that you can afford to have fall and bounce.

In my thirties, I got the best-paying job of my working career without a college degree but left after five and a half years. About a year and a half before I quit that job, my dad had his stroke and if it hadn’t been for a manager who really cared about me, I would have lost that job then. I told myself not to make any decisions for a while but a little over a year later there was talk of a reorganization. That didn’t feel right to me and in a decision I didn’t talk about with anyone, I decided to quit that job with nothing else to go to. Looking back, I’m glad I did it because I later learned the reorganization did not go well.

I ended my thirties on what I thought was a pretty good note- a little apartment, paid-off car, and still piddling around on the writing. But little did I know then that when I began to realize I wasn’t such a fuck-up like I’d believed for so long my life would change in the way it has been over the last few years. I had no idea I was about to start breaking my silence once and for all.

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – Part Three: My Secret Longing to be a Riot Grrrl

In the 1990’s, the Riot Grrrl movement was born. It was a movement of women who played loud punk music, wore black Doc Marten shit-stomping boots, and didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought about them. They stood up to the patriarchy and for women everywhere.

And I wanted to be one so damn badly.

But in my twenties, I brutally suppressed so much of myself in the name of keeping the peace. When I was nineteen my dad had his first heart attack and would later retire early within the next couple of years. When I was twenty-one my mother was diagnosed with cancer that would slowly kill her seven years later. Without telling anyone, I became a caregiver and was more than willing to give up a lot of my life. What I didn’t intend to do, and should have never have done, was give up almost all of my own life because I knew people were mouthing off to my parents behind my back about them letting me live at home while I was helping out as much as I could.

Back then, I felt like I could not find my own way like most people start to do in their twenties. I didn’t go out and raise hell, or even have more than one drink at a time. I didn’t socialize in any way that was meaningful and long-lasting. I felt like I was not allowed to slip, stumble, and fall like most people do. And not because people were over-protective of me, but because these well-intentioned people thought that I couldn’t handle falling on my ass. And also if I wasn’t at their beck-and-call I was a selfish bitch.

This is why after all these years I want to be a Riot Grrrl. I want to stand up and yell and scream and tell the assholes of this world to ‘fuck off!’ more than anything. I do it here on my own website-blog as an act of defiance. And so far, no one has reached out to me to tell me to shut the hell up with well-intentioned words and bullshit. But hey, if anyone wants to do that I will unleash my inner Riot Grrrl on you.

I am comforted to see a new generation embracing the Riot Grrrl aesthetic today. And I’m also comforted by those of us entering middle-age kicking and screaming along with them because you’re never too old to be a Riot Grrrl. And I think if I had embraced my inner Riot Grrrl back then I wouldn’t be working so hard now to regain the self-confidence I so foolishly gave away back then. Maybe I would have ended up out on my ass and alone but I would have survived, just with more scars than I already have.

Recently, I saw a question asked: what would you tell your eighteen year-old self if you could?

I’d tell her the following:

1) You are so much stronger than you will ever realize.

2) You have the right to stand up for yourself and call out the shit-talkers in your life. Because if you do that, you’ll call their bluff.

3) Five minutes after someone is done ripping you to shreds, they won’t remember what they did it for in the first place. Don’t let them do that to you.

4) Do not be ashamed to do the right thing even if it means sacrificing your own personal life to do it. There is no shame in spending time with people you love as they’re dying, like all the time I spent with my mother.

5) Start saving up for a pair of Doc Marten boots and a black leather jacket.

I think my experiences in the 1990’s mirrored what was going on in the world, especially how a presidential administration elected on a lot of hope and rock ‘n’ roll music ended in a trial over a stained blue dress that could have been avoided had a sitting president read about Alexander Hamilton and his ‘Reynold Pamphlet’ (Alexander Hamilton had an affair while US Treasury Secretary and wrote that pamphlet to clear his name of allegations of embezzlement, which he was innocent of. All Bill Clinton had to do was call a press conference instead to clear his name). For me, it was like ‘family values’ bullshit reaching an extreme hypocritical apex in American society.

This is why I think the Riot Grrrl aesthetic survives and thrives today because it’s about calling out bullshit and hypocrisy. I highly recommend it and have vowed to be like it in the ways I can.

And yes, I’m still saving up for a pair of Doc Marten boots and a black leather jacket. Preferably with lots of zippers or sharp-studs.

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – Part Two: Smelled Like Teen Spirit

One morning a couple of years before my dad died, 2010 (I can’t remember exactly what year this happened), I was in the grocery store one morning and as I was standing at the checkout the song ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana came over the store speakers (yes, this store does play music that cool). The girl checking me out started grooving out on the song and said she loved Nirvana. I told her it was a cool song and I remembered when it came out back when I was in high school. She then looked at me with very wide eyes and went, “I’m in high school.”

At that moment, I felt like I was seen as an old person for the first time. I later told my father about this and he started laughing his head off (yes, I went looking for sympathy from the wrong person). He then told me, “Now you know how old I feel sometimes.”

Looking back, I have to say junior high and the first two years of high school really sucked for me. The bullying in elementary school was tame compared to the razor-sharp precision it was carried out on me in junior high and the first two years of high school. When I started junior high, I was put into advanced classes and those kids just really made me feel like shit. I was smart enough to be in those classes but for some damn reason, they didn’t think I was worthy of being there. I eventually started dropping out of advanced classes and at the time I felt like it was the right decision but looking back now I’d love to go back and kick some ass because I had valuable opportunities denied to me because of that bullying-bullshit.

But I also look back and wonder if I would have survived those times if there had been social media to stalk me with, and also being told to go kill myself like kids are told to today. Back then I was just told to go away and that if it looked like I was going to cry that made it worse. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with social media back then and I got real good at not showing my emotions to anyone past a certain point.

Now junior and senior year of high school were a lot better. I was in regular classes and I got to know a lot of good people. These were fellow students who were just genuinely nice and kind to me. I even showed them some of my writing and they were blown away by it. I had people come to me for help and who worked well in groups together. I didn’t hang out with anyone too much or date but I liked the people I went to school with in those years a lot.

One thing I remember though about my senior year in high school was how the school administration was a bunch of threatening bullies. There were always whispers that if anyone tried anything like a walkout protest or something we’d be suspended or some shit. And at graduation rehearsal we were told multiple times not to do any crazy shit, or clap since there were seven-hundred and thirty-nine people in our class. But at graduation we gave each person a single clap as an act of defiance then cheered when the last student walked the stage. I graduated high school with a healthy disrespect for authority.

And another thing, I think even back then we knew our education could have been a hell of a lot better. History was a whitewash job and bad teachers were hard as hell to get rid of. Also, girls were treated worse than boys and yes, there was a shit-ton of racist crap, too. I look back and don’t feel discussions in class were nowhere near as honest or as though-provoking as they should have been. Here in Texas where I went to school, standardized testing was emerging as the be-all-end-all of student life back then in the public school system and I’d love to see that completely dismantled.

My adolescent and teen years were like my childhood in that I still felt like there was so much shit you couldn’t talk about. I think a lot of us knew the Regan-era 1980’s were based on a lot of conservative bullshit that has just gotten so damn much worse now. It’s why I think we latched on to Bill Clinton and Al Gore as hard as we did yet didn’t call Bill out on his behavior like we should have either.

I think we wanted to change the world and be rabble-rousers like the kids of the sixties were but I think we also saw how so many of those sixties-hippies turned into eighties-yuppies that we thought the same would happen to us. Or that it didn’t matter if you raised hell when you were younger because eventually you’d become an adult and have to stop believing you could really change things.

In my next decade, I would see a lot of my idealism destroyed by a president who couldn’t tell the truth about a blow job. And also, bullying would take on a new form against me that made what I’d been through before look pretty good.

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – A Latchkey Childhood

I think I was about eight or nine years old when I learned the term ‘latchkey kid’. It was a big thing in the early 1980’s for parents to have their kids come home to an empty house. I suspect some serious shaming went on with those parents for that but my mom once told me if she hadn’t gone back to work when she did she would have gone nuts (she was a stay-at-home mom from 1970 to 1977 – I turned three in 1977). Because as my mom put it, there was only so much Dr. Seuss you could read before you went nuts.

My dad had this book I remember called something like ‘Raising Latchkey Kids’ and all I could think was why did you need a book to learn how to raise kids? I honestly thought back then adults had their act together but also knew they didn’t just like now and back then, and before then, too.

We lived in middle-class suburbia so it wasn’t like my brother and I were on the mean streets of New York City or someplace like that. You just had to remember to carry your house key with you to school and not lose it (I forgot mine one day and had to sit outside till my brother got home about half an hour or so after me). Personally, I liked coming home to an empty house because I got first dibs on the refrigerator and the tv remote. Snacks were whatever I could find and the remote always went to MTV first in the hopes of seeing a Duran Duran video.

As a kid, I never went without anything but I also knew my parents struggled, too. In fact, for more than a few years, my mom was the sole breadwinner in the family (that’s a story for another time and place). I didn’t do as much as I wanted to and since I got paid an allowance I made sure I did my chores to earn it. Back then, I spent most of my money on books and magazines.

Looking back, I feel like there was so much that wasn’t talked about. I’ve said recently that we weren’t having the conversations back then like we are now. I need to alter that slightly to say we weren’t having any conversations at all about the seriously-fucked up shit that was going down. I mean, a lot of kids grew up thinking that parents not being around or assuming too much responsibility was normal and alright. Learning how to do stuff is one thing, but for me there were times when I felt like I was just expected to know something and if I didn’t then I got landed on. I know now that’s just someone being a complete dumb-ass in assuming someone knows something even if they say they don’t. But it’s why I have so much trouble asking for help with anything.

Another thing that was considered a compliment for your kids was being told they had ‘good coping skills’. Yeah, we coped with shit by not talking about it or blowing our lights out (and if someone did commit suicide you didn’t really talk about it either).

Recently on Twitter a discussion was had about Gen X kids watching tv shows and movies that weren’t ‘kids stuff’. I will freely admit here I was watching R-rated movies in my single-digit years and no adults were freaking out about that to my face. I thought it was just watching cool grown-up stuff because back then I felt like the goal was to want to grow up and be an adult and do your own thing. I mean, we were already doing our own thing by coming home alone, roaming our neighborhoods with no adult supervision, and amusing ourselves in addition to taking care of ourselves, too. I think this is why those Gen X’ers who were able to work from home welcomed that last year because we’d been training for it a lot longer than most Olympic athletes ever trained for anything.

I think the biggest takeaway I have from my latchkey childhood is having an overactive imagination. I was teased and bullied horribly because I was fat, shy, and ugly as a kid (and still am as an adult). It took me a while to realize that most people don’t have overactive imaginations and create fanfic in their heads so much. Back then, it was just what I did. Now I see it for what it really was: a tool for survival.

Now it wasn’t all shit back then. We had MTV, cable television if you were lucky, good music on the radio, and a bike to ride. And most of all, cooler heads prevailed in the White House and the Kremlin so we didn’t get blown to Kingdom Come in a nuclear war (though we watched enough post-apocalyptic movies and stuff to know what to do if weren’t at Ground Zero and vaporized).

A Gen X Girl Who Grew Up (but who will never sell out) – Introduction

I’ve always said to myself I never wanted to be defined by numbers or anything like that. But where you fit in population demographics and what happened during your childhood and adolescence, and adulthood for that matter does shape you. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get put into a demographic category that might not be overlooked as much as mine is.

Generation X as it is called are those born between 1965 and 1980. We were the children of the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945 according to Google Search) and the first generation of kids born to the Baby Boomers (1946 to 1965). We were also the first generation to grow up with parents who had a fifty percent chance of divorcing (mine almost did), had both parents who worked a lot, and who came home alone and tried not to burn the house down.

It was that independence given so early in life that shaped a generation to my way of thinking. Or at least it did for me because I felt like from as far back as I could remember that I had to do things for myself. I was expected to get myself up, dressed, fed, and off to school. And when I came home I was expected to have my key, feed myself, do my homework, and do chores. But once that was all done my time was my own.

I also think Generation X is unique because we came of age in the 70’s and 80’s right before everything went digital and online. We remember life before cellphones, the internet, and social media. We remember actual print newspapers, going to libraries to do research, and buying music on record, cassette, or compact disk. And as for ordering stuff to be mailed to you, you had to do that with catalogs or flyers you had to mail in first with your order (Scholastic Book Club forever!)

But despite this independence and ability we had to transition from paper to plastic-electronica, we were also called ‘slackers’ due to a movie made about aimless wanders in Austin, Texas, a city where you can’t even be an aimless wanderer anymore. I always felt like we were ignored until we were deemed worthy of attention by some asshole-adult. I also think that’s why we gravitated so heavily to adults who weren’t assholes, like writers and musicians and so forth who wrote and produced brilliant stuff we love with an endless soul-deep passion.

Another thing was that members of our generation took basic computer tech from the 70’s and 80’s and made it viable in the 90’s and beyond. I just wished we hadn’t dropped the ball on social media and let the Zuckerberg’s of the world have that one (and no, do NOT put him in with Generation X- he’s a geriatric millennial). But at least Gen X’ers gave the world Google.

Also, I think we knew who the assholes in our age group were from a very early age. These were the preppie-poseurs who tried only as hard as they had to try and get laid but are now red-hat MAGA wearing jack-asses in polo shirts (which I think should be recycled into something so much better because to me they’re a fashion abomination). These were the people who wanted to be punks but weren’t, skaters who fell on their asses more often than not, and tried to be Alex P. Keaton without any of the charm of Michael J. Fox.

As for the women… well I think we knew who would turn into raging middle-age Karens from Hell. Valley Girls who married well then got dumped and married not-so-well and who have helmet hair and serious misdirected anger issues because of that. They’re the ones who are uptight conservative bitches who rail against anything LBGTQ+ and make retail workers lives absolute hell. Just listen to them rant and rave then top it off with a single, “Whatever.” In your best Daria imitation.

And now Generation X women are entering middle-age and we’re not having the bullshit associated with that. We know the rest of the world would love to just push middle-age women into some dark forest and leave us there, which is a good thing if we can get that. But for most of us, that’s not on the table as an option. But what is on the table as an option is teaching the generation we’re raising now, Generation Z, to be tough and not tolerate bullshit like we did more than we ever should. I love Generation Z because they’re smart and have a great ability to see through the bullshit in this world. And they love Generation X’s culture (music, movies, tv, etc.) and have good culture of their own.

This coming week though is about me and how my own life story fits into the overall story of Generation X as written by a member of said generation. It’s a mix of what I did, wanted to do, and am wanting to be going forward. It’s about surviving, living through shit-jobs and shit-lives, and rocking out no matter what.

Nick of Time – The Feral Ferocity of One Member of Generation X

This is a re-post of a piece I wrote over a week ago but instead I’m using it to start this week’s series of posts. You might say these are of a ‘political’ nature and they are, but they’re also observations of what’s going in this world and me calling bullshit on a lot of it. So read at your own risk.

The Feral Ferocity of Generation X

About a week or so back now, a New York Post column and Fox News broadcast said Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) would save this country from ‘cancel culture’ because we knew what it meant to be canceled.

As a member of Generation X, I burst out laughing at that bullshit. Then like the rest of my generation I got mad. A sleeping dragon was awakened on Twitter with over thirty-five thousand tweets on this that were gems of defiance, lists of what we had ‘canceled’ though in our day it was called ‘banning’, and stories of how we were raised ‘feral’. In plain English, you don’t fuck with a generation left home alone who only got attention when some asshole adult didn’t like what we were watching, listening to, or playing. Everything from our music, our movies, our books, and our games was the target of every conservative asshole in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

And we’re going to save conservative assholes now from being canceled for being racist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, lying, conspiracy theorists and attempted coup-and-war mongers?

No. Hell fucking no.

For those of you reading this who aren’t too familiar with Generation X, here’s a primer on who we are and what we’ve been through. And for my fellow Xers, here’s a stroll down memory lane.

First, the term Generation X comes from Billy Idol’s first punk band and a really crappy book of the same title. My dad said he thought Xer was better than Boomer.

We were the first generation raised by divorced parents or where both parents worked and we came home to an empty house. We were called ‘latchkey kids’ because of it but we knew how to take care of ourselves because that’s what was expected of us. We came home, got a snack, watched some tv, then ran around doing chores and starting dinner before our parents came home. Ate dinner then watched our shows and if our shows weren’t on we went to our bedrooms and did our homework or just listened to music and read or played games.

Our culture is extremely important to us. Our music, our movies, our books, and our games are sacred. We listened to heavy metal and hard rock, punk and alternative, New Wave, and rap and hip hop. We watched a ton of MTV and cable tv and movies over and over because there weren’t a million channels available and this was long before the concept of the internet and streaming services was even a gleam in someone’s eye. We listened to the radio on boom boxes outside, rode our bikes or walked, or took buses and trains, hung out with our friends or wandered around on our own. We left the house in the morning and didn’t come back until dark.

We grew up on dystopian science-fiction and the constant threat of nuclear war. As a young kid in the 1980’s I honestly thought the bastards in the White House and The Kremlin had their damn fingers on the buttons ready to blow us all to hell. That’s why we danced and partied around the world when the Berlin Wall came down and would love to dance in Red Square when Putin and Company are finally put in a gulag.

When this damn pandemic roared to life we told y’all how it was going to play out because we’d seen the damn movie so many times. If we were lucky, we got to quarantine but most of us probably didn’t. We don’t think we’ll get to retire to some swanky swinging retirement community in Florida or Arizona. We tend to think we’ll retire to some rat-shack apartment or if we’re lucky on the road. For a lot of us, we expect to work until we can’t, or until we’re in the grave and the boss has a séance to get us to find someone to cover our shifts.

So we’ve had enough of everyone’s shit. Because while we were growing up too damn fast, we were also living through the AIDS epidemic and rampant homophobia, racism in ‘welfare queens’ and crack cocaine. We chanted ‘No Justice, No Peace’ after four white police officers were acquitted in almost beating to death a black man named Rodney King. We watched ‘Do the Right Thing’ and said ‘Fight the Power’. And we knew the real reason the heat came down on NWA was because the powers-that-be shit bricks when they found out white kids at Harvard were listening to ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and God forbid they’d want to do something about the racism, poverty, and violence plaguing our black brothers and sisters. Divide and conquer was the strategy deployed back then, but it’s not going to work now.

We’re punks and gangsters, sluts and princesses, dweebs and dorks. We’re what you want to see in us, but not how we are. And most of all, we ain’t here for anyone’s shit anymore. We may be the smallest demographic but we’ve got the best music and the longest memories, the skills to survive, and we’ll call out your bullshit and cancel conservative assholes once and for all.