Older and wiser: Your January 2 issue was a great way to start the new year! I was feeling really old when I woke up in 2003, but after overdosing on twenty-something angst in the "My Quarter-Life Crisis" essays, I know that while I may be getting older, I'm definitely getting better.
No whine before its time: I have two words for all the people who entered your "My Quarter-Life Crisis" contest. Shut up.
No, make it four words: Shut the hell up.
via the Internet
A call to distraction: So, I just sat down to write a letter to my (as of last night) ex-boyfriend to apologize for yet again flipping out on him. Just when I couldn't quite bring myself to grovel at his feet for the umpteenth time and beg for forgiveness from another arrogant ass that I seem to fall so easily for, Westword caught my eye. A distraction. Fantastic! I am the queen of distractions. What better way to deal with a problem than to distract yourself until it goes away on its own. (Right!) I wanted to thank you for the hysterically cynical "My Quarter-Life Crisis" distraction. I never thought of this period of my life that way, but I guess you could say I am going through a pretty intense Quarter- Life Crisis myself.
Moved to Denver after being put in intensive care for five days from an attempt to "end it all" with, of all things, Tylenol (not a good idea; I don't recommend it) to escape a lifetime of suicidal threats from my mother, a father who shuts me out because he can't handle my mother, incredible debt, a shitty job and, yes, a chain of arrogant jerks who fall madly in love with me, say they'll never leave, and then run when they find out that even someone who looks like Barbie has problems, too.
After exposing myself intentionally to only well-adjusted, "normal" twenty-somethings, I was beginning to think I was the only unadjusted, emotionally tormented 24-year-old out there. It was so nice to read that other twenty-somethings are going through crappy growing pains as well. Thanks for the laugh!
On to the apology -- at least I'm in better spirits now.
Name withheld on request
Get a life: None of your "Quarter-Life Crisis" essayists seems to have followed a professional education path, such as engineering, legal, medical, business, computers, etc., that would have prepared them for the job market -- so naturally, they are not prepared for anything. On the other hand, their attitudes seem counter to the basic notion of the benefits of a classic liberal arts education -- i.e., a cultural basis for enjoying life in its various manifestations instead of preparing for money-grubbing.
They have come to the city but do not take advantage of the arts benefits of being here: art galleries, museums, symphonies, theater, adult education. So they have no professional education and no benefit from a liberal arts one. They are now, after leaving school, wondering why the world does not give them high-level jobs for which they have no preparation. Their writing abilities indicate that they are reasonably bright, so the fact they have degrees but no education is an indictment of the schools they attended (and I include the Harvard grad who obviously got his typical Ivy League Snob Certificate with his diploma). Some want to keep living the undergrad life (with keg lines, no less) without growing up. Sorry, can't do it, time to move on.
They can get training in fields that pay well and will get them out of the burger joint and the cubicles. How about bulldozer operator, truck driver, electrician, plumber, lineman or paralegal, or jobs in the military, health care, law enforcement, construction? The pay is good, and it is not boring.
These people need to get a life -- in the real world -- and drop their delusions.
Charles A. Kohlhaas
via the Internet
Fat city: The excellent "Quarter-Life Crisis" essays confirmed what I hear from my twenty-something friends. I could go on about how bankrupt our culture is that even youth feel hopeless, but I'll skip to the advice -- from the perspective of fifty years:
Do indulge the "wanderlust" that Amy Haimerl mentioned! I wanted to "hitchhike around the world and take photos" at age sixteen, but due to my parents' guilt-tripping, I didn't. I was thirty before I started spending winters in Mexico and Guatemala. What an eye-opener! There (in the rural areas, anyway), twenty-somethings are building their own houses, tending their crops and animals and starting families. Their joy overflows to world-weary gringos. Everyday life is an adventure.
Of course, the global vulture culture is busily trying to steal their land, resources and labor, much as it did from Indians here. Your travels may inspire you to help stop this onslaught before there are no models of simple living left.
You can spend a winter in Mexico for $1,000. Mexican buses leave Denver every evening, cheap. For another $1,000, you can fly anywhere else and back. You can save this money if you either 1) sell your car, as I did in 1988, or 2) live in a van, etc., and stop paying rent. Give up eating out. I eat well here for $4 a day -- half what many twenty-somethings spend on designer coffee drinks alone. And I'm in better health than most twenty-somethings, even in the "second-fittest city" -- in the fattest country, which Bush fittingly calls "Murka."
Drug bust: Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Locked and Loaded," in the January 2 issue:
The fact that we cannot keep drugs out of maximum-security prisons like Colorado's Limon Correctional Facility, much less schools, is indicative of the drug war's inherent failure. The entrenched interests riding the drug-war gravy train claim they are fighting crime. If only that were true. So-called drug-related crime is invariably prohibition-related.
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Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. In terms of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.
With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor bootleggers no longer gun each other down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin. While U.S. politicians ignore the drug war's historical precedent, European countries are embracing harm reduction, a public health alternative based on the principle that both drug abuse and prohibition have the potential to cause harm.
Examples of harm reduction include needle-exchange programs to stop the spread of HIV, marijuana regulation aimed at separating the hard and soft drug markets, and treatment alternatives that do not require incarceration as a prerequisite. Unfortunately, fear of appearing "soft on crime" compels U.S. politicians to support a failed drug war that ultimately subsidizes organized crime. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.
Robert Sharpe, program officer
Drug Policy Alliance