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book coverOver the weekend the New York Times ran a feature/book review on “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps” by Kelly Williams Brown, a 28-year-old advertising copywriter in Portland, Ore. It made me dry heave.

I’m tired of excuses for millennials. Here’s my one sentence self-help book: get your shit together. No one cares about your student loans or BFF drama or what you wipe your ass with when you run out of toilet paper. (Seriously, that’s your aha! moment?)

The last thing my generation needs is a quirky, somehow meta how-to book. Rather than telling your peers how to be a super awesome redit-worthy grown up, how about studying and reporting on the source of the problems? The failing education system, lack of adult mentoring, credit card reliance, empowering personal dreams over viable careers—all are much more interesting topics.

Which brings me to motivation. Here are the quotes from the article:

“I still don’t feel like I’m an adult all the time,” she said, “but I’m not writing to exorcise my demons. I want people to have some useful information, and I don’t want them to feel less-than. These ideas are not moral judgments.”

Indeed, part of her impetus in writing “Adulting” was to defend millennials against their reputation for being entitled and self-absorbed.

“The people I know in my age group are not aimless man-child caricatures,” Ms. Brown said. “They don’t spend the bulk of their time Instagramming brunch entrees. They, like every generation, sometimes struggle and sometimes succeed in the complicated process of becoming an adult. Millennials can be a little narcissistic, although I don’t think there’s anything weird about our collective character. We’re coming of age in a time that’s tough. But far be it from me to deny the older generation the pleasure of complaining about the younger.”

Unbelievable. You know what’s a little narcissistic and self-absorbed? Writing a book that dispenses your great wisdom to your peers about how they need to be more of an adult like you. And that’s not a moral judgement.

Sure, on some level I’m wildly jealous of her publishing deal and TV option, but if I had to sell my soul and sell out my cohort, no thanks.

You know how you be an adult? You grow up. You learn to do things on your own and accept responsibilities. You become financially independent and find fulfillment in relationships and hobbies. You do not focus on knowing how to make a “dope” cheese plate.

One can’t magically become an adult by reading a book or a blog or following the advice of a Twitter feed. In today’s world, especially with young people, the meaning of “adult” is very fluid and individualized. Some grow up fast, for others it takes a while. There’s really no right or wrong answer. However, being a functioning member of society is not a fucking meme.



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Summer Reading: Medium Raw

Or cooked well-done?

I feel like a jaded music fan when it comes to Anthony Bourdain. I was there from the beginning. I read Kitchen Confidential when it first came out, man. I ate at Le Halles when he was still behind the stove. Needless to say, I’m still a huge fan of his television work and his writing. By no means has he sold out, but his snarky edge and no bullshit attitude has increased his appeal far beyond foodies and fellow chefs.

This is a blessing and a curse. The ravenous popularity of Confidential, his “obnoxious” (Bourdain’s word) tell all, has opened the door to Bourdain’s mainstream success but also painted him in a corner. In Medium Raw, Bourdain’s latest effort, it feels like he spends too much time explaining or apologizing for the success of Confidential. Some years later, he doesn’t seem content. He’s in a different place and I can’t tell if he’d trade in all the money and fame just to once again be an anonymous chef working the line every night.

Bourdain is angrier than ever in print and has an even sharper tongue. His criticism of vegetarians, the processed meat industry and the Food Network is solid, but easy prey. His food writing is the most exciting and the book contains probably the best examination of rock star chef de jour David Chang to date. The tiny travel vignettes transport you to lands you’ve probably only seen on No Reservations. Continue reading

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