A Voice of A Generation

20 Feb

“I’m the voice of my generation. At least I’m a voice. Of a generation.”  — Hannah Horvath, Girls

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Whenever I watch Girls — which, if you haven’t seen it, is a funny, often shocking, bitingly well-written show on HBO about four twenty-something girls in New York — I have the following three thoughts, not necessarily in this order:

1.  CRINGE!
2.  I am SO glad I’m not in my 20s (especially my early to mid 20s) anymore!  This is one of the rare times when my age, 33, sounds like the perfect age to me.
3.  Wow, Lena Dunham is a damn good writer.

Lena Dunham is incredibly impressive because while the show (and its predecessor, her film Tiny Furniture, which is like Girls‘ unfunny indie cousin) center on characters played by Dunham that are clearly drawn at least in part from Dunham’s life, Dunham herself is obviously a lot more put together (or at least a lot more focused) than her character Hannah.  If Dunham purports to be confused and struggling twenty-something, then she’s a twenty-something with a Golden Globe and a show directed by Judd Apatow – not too shabby.  I can only imagine how amazing it must feel to have someone, especially someone with so much cache, really “get” the appeal of your voice and your point of view and decide to get on board with it.

I laughed aloud watching this week’s episode where one of the characters, Ray, commented that “when people say they want to be writers they just want to eat and masturbate.”  It suddenly occurred to me (hello, Captain Obvious) how many people are aspiring writers.  Especially in L.A., if you go to a coffee shop I guarantee that among the college kids and grad students with their laptops, you will see at least one dude working on his screenplay.  (I was tempted to write, “You can’t swing a cat without hitting an aspiring screenwriter,” but that expression is kind of gross.  Sorry, Noodles.)  And now that blogging is so easy that anyone can figure it out, people can get their worldview and their writing out there instantaneously.  But among all the ordinary “here’s what I did today” writing out there (guilty as charged!), there are some real standouts, and Dunham is definitely one of them.

I think what Dunham does so incredibly well is just what Hannah Horvath says — she really speaks to and encapsulates the experience of a particular generation (or at least a particular white, New York-dwelling subset).  I think I’m on the young end of the prior generation, so I can’t attest to whether Girls is true to life for today’s twenty-somethings (those crazy kids!  Ok, now I sound old), but it certainly comes across that way.  And maybe that’s what I’m aspiring to do as well.  Maybe I won’t be the voice of my generation, but I can be a voice of a generation, right?

While Dunham’s girls are trying to find jobs, boyfriends and generally figure out what to do with their lives, many of the “girls” in my generation have jobs and/or husbands (and in many cases, kids) and now we’re all trying to figure out how in the world to manage our lives.  What kind of job and work schedule do we have?  Do we work full time, part time, flex time, are we stay at home moms?  If we have kids, what do we do for child care?  How do we focus on our marriages and our partners when we are also so focused on our kids?   Not the sexiest,  most glamorous, or most titillating issues in the world, perhaps, and maybe not the stuff good TV is made of, but these definitely the issues that keep me up at night and I know I’m not alone.

Recently I joined a Facebook group of other moms who attended the same women’s college as I did.  The group has grown to a couple hundred women, all of whom attended sometime in the mid-late 90s to the mid-2000s.  People post questions and get a flurry of responses from moms who have been there before — it’s a really awesome resource and I love reading the posts even if Lucy isn’t experiencing a certain issue yet, to sock away the information for future reference.  Last week one woman posted saying that she’s unhappy with her current work/life balance and wanted to know what other peoples’ work arrangements consisted of.  She received about 40 responses from every variation from full-time work to stay at home moms.  I found it so fascinating what a vast difference of opinion there was with respect to the desire to work outside the home or not, even among women who attended the same school at approximately the same time.  One woman admitted that she finds playing with her kids really boring.  Another said that she couldn’t imagine working outside the home and being away from her three small children.  One woman described herself as a “reluctant” stay at home mom who regretted having left academia when her son was born, and another expressed that she wished she could afford to stay home.

But despite all the differences between these women,  absolutely nobody makes judgy or condescending remarks (which, if you’ve ever looked at any online mom resource, you will know is quite a feat).  I’ve written before that one of my biggest pet peeves — at work, with parenting and in life in general — is when women cut each other down instead of supporting each other, so it’s wonderful to know that I can pose questions in this forum and receive nothing but positive encouragement and advice.

I must say…. if this is my generation, I’d be honored to be a voice of it.

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