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Jul. 30 2010 — 5:06 pm | 24 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Cheers to you, and your work.life!

Dear Work.Life readers,

Thank you for following our various musings over the past year, and for your insightful comments. We’ve had a good ride. Now, our time with True/Slant draws to a close. If you want to continue to follow our Gen Y-slanted work-life revelries, you can find us at:

www.thelatticegroup.org

And if you want to get involved with The Lattice Group, do let us know. We are looking to redesign the website in the near future, and are also looking for new contributing bloggers. Be in touch at: yelizavetta@gmail.com

Keep pushing the corporate envelope, keep flattening the workplace, keep sharing at home, and keep being honest. Above all, keep the discussion going. Real change begins with real dialogue.

Thank you and goodbye!

- Liz and Astri



Jul. 27 2010 — 4:25 pm | 127 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Robyn, the persevering pop star

Original Swedish cover art

Image via Wikipedia

Do you remember that cotton-swab-haired singer with the little girl voice who once implored us all if she was really wanted? Let this blast from the 90’s past remind you:

Well, the reception Stateside may have been hot enough then, but it’s literally steaming now. Robyn is back. She’s so back that she’s coming out with three, I repeat three, new albums this year. Wowee. Someone’s really been working hard. There was a great, and adoring, article on Robyn by Sasha Frere-Jones in the New Yorker recently, and a new interview on the Creator’s Project yesterday. She’s everywhere, and she’s phenomenal. Talk about pushing through, persevering in a very real sense. And the Robyn we see now, the idiosyncratic fembot, has a much more mature and original sound than in her young days when she appeared classically engineered like the typical teen pop stars that dominate the airwaves. In fact, her current sound is quite daring. As Frere-Jones remarked, it is unusually versatile. She mixes all kinds of sounds, meaning that every single song coming out of her Konichiwa Records label is more surprising than the one before it. She’s also a refreshing pop star who plays down the sex appeal and spins complicated lyrics about expectation and love– that repeatedly bridge into the robotic…literally. I’m smitten. I bet you will be to.

Here is one of her new songs I can’t get out of my head:

Oh, and did I mentioned she’s Swedish? That obviously makes this Swede love her even more.

- Astri



Jul. 20 2010 — 3:40 pm | 164 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Living, and baking, the dream at 25

After posting my last blog about quarter-life crises, I received an email from an old friend of mine- Julianne Jones. She wrote to tell me that, at 25, she wasn’t lost at all. In fact, she was living her dream.

Julianne and I met when we were at Middlebury College together. Already then, she had a mind of her own. She rented a beautiful apartment in an old wood house above Otter Creek where every possible gastronomical wonder emerged from the tiny oven to all of our great delight. She worked at local Vermont restaurants and studied with a French patry chef. Julianne has always had her eye on sustainability, but also appreciates delicacy. Now, the two have combined in the realization of her dream: Vergennes Laundry, a wood-fired brick oven bakery built in the old laundromat of Vergennes, Vermont. Vergennes Laundry is scheduled to open for business in September. But if you can’t wait til then, Julianne can be found at the Middlebury Farmer’s Market where she sells hand-made croissants, vegetable tartines, chocolate sablés, and more.

But starting a bakery is no risk-free affair. And it demands funds. Right now, Julianne is raising money to build the custom-made wood-fired oven through the fundraising site Kickstarter.com. Go support Vergennes Laundry and Julianne, a 25-year old living, and baking, the dream by going here.

And learn more about Vergennes Laundry here.

Julianne and all you other 20-somethings knowing what you want and going for it– I salute you.

- Astri



Jul. 20 2010 — 12:04 pm | 3,155 views | 0 recommendations | 14 comments

Quarter-life crisis? Thoughts on turning 25

A crowd of college students at the 2007 Pittsb...

Image via Wikipedia

It seems to be that time. Time for re-thinking, re-evaluating, re-fashioning. Our lives.

Liz turned 25 yesterday. My time came back in March. Like a mutual friend said, “We’ve now entered a new demographic bracket.” 25 is half-way to 50. We’re closer to the way we’ll be at 30 than the way we were in high school.

I took a long, healing Saturday walk with another recently turned 25:er this weekend. She was unhappy at her job, was feeling unappreciated, unhealthy, and overworked. The words she hardly dared utter, an ugly cliché she didn’t want to identify with, slipped out like a whisper: “burned out.” She’d woken up to the truth of it when she tried to log 25 hours worked in a row and the computer wouldn’t allow her to enter a number higher than 24, the total number of hours in a day. Another bracket had been broken, and she had slipped through.

Now she wanted— needed— a change. She wrote me yesterday that she had decided to leave her job and look for something new, something that would allow her a healthier, saner lifestyle: “Basically the next job I take, whatever it may be, I want to be something where I can prioritize my life first, and then also do my job well.” For this friend, the New York way had gotten the best of her; the endless push to both work and play harder and harder until she no longer had the energy to do either. Reaching 25 for her meant waking up to realize the dream she had been chasing—the bling and the title and the prestige— wasn’t really, truly, what she wanted. She didn’t know exactly what it was she wanted, but she was relieved to know what it was she didn’t want.

Call it the quarter-life crisis, or call it classic Gen Y brattiness, but all around me, other twenty-five year olds are looking at where they are and what they are doing and feeling strangely….out of place. Perhaps it’s the job that wasn’t as satisfying as they thought it would be, the boss who mistreats them, their neglected physiques, the flights they secretly search for but never buy on Kayak.com. For some, it’s the dream they keep having but don’t dare follow.

Over drinks, a friend of mine who works in financial services told me how miserable he is at the job that pays him incredibly well. “What would you do if you could just stop having to live up to this macho idea of the money-making man?” I asked—knowing him well enough to know why he was in his unhappy position in the first place. His answer was immediate: “public planning.” He had been a Geography major in college, a GIS wiz. I had forgotten that. The fact that he wouldn’t do what he wanted because he felt he needed to do what was expected of him was depressing to me. I recalled my friend who’d “burned out,” who’d said she didn’t know what she really wanted. That seemed a million times better than knowing exactly what it is you want and still not doing it.

Another friend told me that up until we’re 25, we think we know it all. After 25, we realize we really know nothing. All the plans we had in college and directly thereafter have given way to a messy reality, where life often gets in the way of our meticulous calculations. You lost your job, you got an unexpected job, you were in an accident, or you fell in love with a boy and that love made you move across the world. At 25, we are beginning to understand, truly, that plans, like rules, are meant to be broken. It is often the spontaneous, the unforeseen, that chisels out our individuality.

Now, at 25, when we’ve started to stir from the frenzied state of our early twenties, when we’ve begun to look at where we’ve come and either feel dissatisfied or just plain antsy, perhaps it is time to stop planning and start doing. To stop fearing side-steps and mis-steps. To, as a wise man I spoke to recently said, breach the minefield and step on the mine, because maybe, just maybe, stepping on the mine is part of it.

That same wise man left me with these words: “You have to live the life you claim you want to have. No one will prevent you.” At 25, it is time to take his advice.

- Astri



Jul. 19 2010 — 11:45 am | 80 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Interviews for inspiration

Over the past two months or so, the Days of Yore, a new site devoted to interviewing successful artists about the time before their breakthrough, has published eleven interviews aimed at inspiring young creative types to keep striving. Here’s a mix of snippets from the interviews as Monday inspiration to help you push through the work week ahead.

This week, painter Lisa Sanditz talks about being able to support herself in a field where financial success is hardly to be taken for granted. Her advice to young artists is:

I would advise young people to apply to shows. And to have your own shows. Take initiative. There seems to be a lot of different kinds of galleries now. Having people into your apartment space as a gallery, inviting friends, seems to work as a way of building dialogue and getting to know other people. I think very few people who wait around will have things happen for them.

The writer Anne Fadiman, descibes her “salad days” like this:

I’m afraid my salad days consisted, so to speak, of smallish piles of rather wilted lettuce. I lived with a roommate on East 84th St. in New York, in an apartment where the roaches outnumbered the paying tenants by a ratio of several thousand to one. My roommate was an editorial assistant whose daily schedule was enviably structured. She strode briskly from our apartment each morning, dressed for success, long before I’d even risen and put on my working garb of old jeans and a T-shirt. We cooked inexpensive meals from the Joy of Cooking my mother had sent me, often purchasing ingredients from the Hungarian food stores that still predominated in our neighborhood in the mid-70s. I stayed up very late every night, occasionally galvanized to action but mostly staring at my typewriter and failing to write.

The journalist and writer Joe Klein tells us you have to have guts:

But if you’re going to do anything that doesn’t involve nine to five, anything that involves creativity, you have to take risks. Because if you’re going to be good at what you do, you’re going to have to stretch what the traffic will bear.

Theatre director Anne Bogart admonishes us to keep moving:

The image that I have is all about my feet. I imagine looking down at my feet each and every day walking to rehearsal.  It is the walking, the getting there, on time, that seems to be the key.  Keep moving. Get there on time. This seems to help.

The performer Dave Hill tells us to entertain ourselves first:

I guess it’s a bit of a cliche, but go with your gut and don’t get caught up in what other people think.  And entertain yourself first because if you are not a fan of what you’re creating, it will usually end up sucking.  I think sometimes people put what they think an audience might like or what another comedian, writer, or musician might do in a particular situation [ahead of] what they are truly into.  To me, the result of that is always way less interesting and original than stuff that people come up with just trying to entertain themselves.  And no one ever got as big as the Beatles by ripping off the Beatles.

Actress Jan Maxwell claims she had no other choice but to do what she does:

This sounds really hokey, but a part of me believes that I don’t have any other talents whatsoever. It was in The Red Shoes, where they ask the girl: “Why do you dance?” and she says, “Why do you breathe?” It’s just something I had to do – it’s a passion of mine and I had to persevere.

Others, like writer Sam Lipsyte, briefly entertained other careers:

Other things I wanted to be included a pro quarterback, a nameless drifter in the French Foreign Legion, and a European film director. Later I fronted an art rock band. But I was always drawn back to writing, to playing with language, telling stories. I wanted to write because I loved to read, and I wanted to do what the writers of those books had done. I wrote a story when I was fifteen about a middle-aged man having a terrible divorce and recalling his days as high school shot put champion.  I actually was a high school shot-putter so I didn’t have to research that part. The rest I had no handle on whatsoever. It was utter crap, but I was hooked.

Musician Carl von Arbin encourages us to say “yes!”

And then you have to say yes, it’s so wonderful to say yes. There is so much no in the world. It’s wonderful to give yourself up, to just throw yourself out there. It can lead you somewhere else, somewhere unexpected.

The writer Robert Cohen tells us he was once the kind of student he now loathes to have in class:

I was one of those back-of-class, sitting there with his arms folded, fuck you kind of guys. The kind of people I really hate as a teacher and yet for some reason sort of attract. [laughs] I had ambitions, I had pretensions, I sort of prided myself back then as being this up-against-the-wall radical experimentalist, railing against any kind of bourgeois realism. And I considered it a point of pride that nobody understood what I was doing, and I would have been crushed if they had. Of course I was crushed anyway.  I pursued [writing], I did, but I didn’t get much better. I just kept wanting it, basically.

Comedian Kristen Schaal lists the worst day jobs she had:

I was a character actor at F.A.O. Schwartz; that was the worst one. No one wants to pretend to be happy for an eight-hour shift. It’s mentally unhealthy.

And writer Gary Shteyngart talks darkly about the end of books:

The demise of writers as cultural figures has happened so quickly, I think it is still a shock. It is interesting to look at younger people from generations ahead of mine, because they never counted on that to begin with. But my peers, the people in their late 30’s now, to us literature still mattered when we were in our 20’s. We would discuss the new Martin Amis book with a comrade who was not a writer himself. Recently I was at a dinner with a lot of very young people who just graduated from college and a friend said, “Oh, Gary is a novelist,” and they all looked at me like, what the hell is that? Like in a zoo! And then my friend said, “And he is also a contributing editor to Travel and Leisure,” and they said, “Oooo! Travel and Leisure! That must be awesome, dude!”

It’s been a great summer of interviews so far. And there are many more yet to come.

Happy Monday!

- Astri


About

We’re two twenty-somethings who joined the real world armed with diplomas worth a combined half million dollars from Middlebury College—only to find out that we didn’t have a clue. No one prepared us for the inflexibility of the whole workplace set-up. No one warned us that the Mommies were at War, or that employers still assumed men were okay seeing their kids every other week, or that the U.S. doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave, vacation, or sick leave. The current work-life model isn’t working. Let’s talk about it.

In 2007, we started a non-profit called The Lattice Group, which aims to bring awareness about work-life issues to young people, so if you can’t get enough of our musings on True/Slant check out http://thelatticegroup.org.

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