Your Quarter Life Crisis!

Lots of drugs, not much sex, and a general fear and loathing mark these tales of twenty-something angst.

In a matter of weeks, I had relinquished my position as ashram "housefather" and was back on the street, or, more specifically, in a seedy little basement rooming house in south Wash Park. -- Gregg Painter, Denver

So where'd you really get it from, buddy? Alistra just won't leave me alone. Alistra is the periunga wart underneath the middle finger of my left hand, which has stuck with me through thick and thin, through freezing, burning, mutilating, medicating and even duct-taping. Alistra is the last physical vestige of my relationship with a pretty French girl of the same name, the wart having appeared a few months before the second and final time the girl broke my heart.

Brian Taylor

That second heartbreak coincided roughly with the end of college. Harvard, the ringworm on my neck that was my last physical vestige of college, was cured somewhere in the intervening six months since graduation. Following these two great dermatological, experiential turning points, I am aware that I have lived a life of unquiet desperation.

I'm overconfident desperate, a condition of which my current quarter-life crisis is merely a symptom. And as far as quarter-life crises go, I can play misery poker with the best of them. Not only is the job market craptastic, but I've got an Ivy League diploma. So no matter how many nights I have to eat ramen and inflate my ever-expanding plastic debt, I won't take a hard-to-get shit job. No, overconfidence in my skills and potential has me desperately determined not to live the life of a quietly, perpetually disgruntled wage slave. I'm jobless and picky in a stingy economy. -- Deric Spearer, Denver

Confessions of a well-adjusted 22-year-old: One interview on my second day here, and I had a job at a magazine. Sure, I had no bed, no computer and one small saucepan with a broken handle for cooking, but so what? "Look how far I've come from my white-trash days working summers at the factory," I thought. "What a well-adjusted 22-year-old I am."

Then I met this boy, and he soon asked me to hang out with "his" people." The first party we attended together was at one of his bosses' houses. I had on my cute jeans that made me look skinnier than I was, $3 tucked into my back pocket. As I walked into the party, I immediately scanned the room for the keg line. Instead, my eyes passed quaint little groups of well-dressed thirty-somethings, a tuxedo-clad bartender, large shiny vats of steaming chocolate fondue and bowls of fresh strawberries. The party's host, in his black Kenneth Coles, had no intention of asking me for the $3 keg donation. But suddenly I knew where the keg was. It was back in B.F.E. Indiana, with the fifth-year seniors, the townies, the late-night card players, the journalists -- my friends.

I secretly judged them all for their good fortune and extravagant lifestyles -- their Land Rovers in the driveways, their leather chairs from Pottery Barn, their $100 highlights. I was certainly not jealous; these were just not my kind of people. But to their faces, I laughed nervously and made the occasional white-trash joke about myself. To the kids back home, I looked like I had it all together. But around these people, I could see it as clear as day: the big black outline of an L on my forehead. -- Lydia Rueger, Arvada

Gleaming the cubicle: So, I'm sittin' here in my cubicle thinking I must have the worst job ever, and then I'm thinking maybe I have the best job in the world. I mean, I don't really do anything. The work I'm responsible for can pretty much get done in the first couple hours of every day. Then, if I want to, I can put my headphones on and just sit here at my desk. Sit there in my little space with the walls that only go up five feet high, and every once in a while, I can just stand up to see who's stirring. I find myself so bored I want to shove a Sharpie in my ear.

But you know what? My job is the way it is because I'm in an entry-level position, and I'm fine with that. I used to be on the middle-management side of it. Then I got laid off -- happiest day of my life, until the severance ran out. Sure, I could find another job, maybe actually helping people or something. Maybe I would actually feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. But something tells me that this is just the way it's going to be, and who knows? Another 45 years of this and maybe I can retire. By that time, maybe I'll be allowed to just sit in my cube and crap my pants. I don't think anyone will make a fuss, not for an old company man like myself. -- Hank Troutman, Denver

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