30 is the new…what?

Meg Jay says 30 is not the new 20

I listened to this podcast while at work, crunching through e-mails and writing new client messaging. Jay’s voice floated through my earphones and froze my fingers poised over the keyboard. 30 is not the new 20, she said. And according to her, it’s time we stop acting like it. 

Millennials, born from 1981 to 1997, appear to have all the time in the world. We’re casually dating through unanswered texts, missed connections and fears of being single the rest of our lives. Apparently, we’re also marrying later although my Facebook feed of engagement rings and wedding photos say otherwise. We’re at jobs we like well enough, that pay well enough, while holding out hope that our rose-colored careers will eventually appear. At the age of 23, 27 and 30, we’re kicking the metaphorical can down the road in the (false) belief that the road is endless. 

We coin excuses. When asked why we don’t leave our jobs or leave our jobs too often, when we’ll go to school or graduate, when we’ll get married, buy a house, have a child, settle down, the answers are:

Next year. When I’m 30. When I’m older. When I’ve saved. When I find the perfect person. When I’m 35.

I wonder about my generation. I wonder if I’m part of the statistic or an outlier at the end of the bell curve. In some ways, I think Millennials are caught with this gnawing question: Is there something better? 

We’re the generation of increased opportunity and decreased satisfaction. There are so many people who we could choose as our marriage partner, companies who could pay more or treat us better, places with a higher quality of life, weather and quantity of Whole Foods. I fear we will become the generation of the Fisherman’s Wife. 

Blue Ridge Labs, now a program of Robin Hood, has a unique fellowship program where intelligent, tech-savvy individuals collaborate together to help solve poverty-induced problems in New York City. I went to the final presentation for this year’s participants and was blown away by the creativity, focus and drive of people not much older than myself. Millennials. Their apps include lending circles for college students, tenant surveys to combat absent landlords, and a website to quickly text all group participants in a surrounding area. For these fellowship-ers, their “30 is the new 40” mentality is anything but their peers’ ennui.

So there’s hope. And perhaps the way the rest of us can get out of our “30 is the new 20” slump, is to stop thinking exclusively about our own happiness and start asking how we can make a positive difference in the world. Right now. 

Group Rocks

Trees for the Soul

FRIDAY FRIDAY FRIDAY. I cannot wait until the age of retirement when Friday becomes just another day; a world where Mondays and Saturdays are once again created equal. My father, who remains ageless, is thinner and creatively healthier than he’s been in a long time. I think everyone needs to retire every 2-5 years, just to re-align physical and mental health. 

But I’m still in a world of the five day work week, meaning the precious hours of weekend time must be packed with fun, friends, productivity and relaxation all at once. This weekend for instance, I’m traveling up to Connecticut for a hiking and camping getaway,  waving goodbye to the concrete monoliths in exchange for sweet country air.

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America


I stumbled across this quote while reading Travels with Charley on the morning commute. Steinback takes the reader into his world as Rocinante (his trusty automobile) nears the Pacific shore. Here in the forest of the redwoods, moss and densely packed pine needles muffle footsteps and bird calls. Sunlight filters through the canopy far overhead, branches scarping at the clouds. I remember this world of greenery and ancient growth from a long ago family vacation as a child. The trees cultivate a instant sense awe and wonderment; reverence for a cathedral build by bark and leaves. 

Are humans born with an innate connection to trees, to rivers and beaches and mountain ranges in the distance? I can’t say. Perhaps it’s where a person grows up that determines where he or she feels most familiar and at home. Some may fit best in a city or surrounded by human activity.But given enough time, enough quiet and reflection, I believe each of us would find a kinship to the redwoods and any trees (albeit smaller) growing with dignity and vitality. 

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of camping (the rain, the tent, the sleeping on the ground). But when my little group of friends picks our spot in the woods on Saturday evening, I will silently thank the pines and the oaks who act as watchful protectors for the sleeping couples under the stars.

Redwood Forest, Circa 2006
Redwood Forest, Circa 2006

Always Have Your Next Trip in Mind

Nick’s travel website is almost live. He’s patiently waited for me to finish editing the first round of pieces for the Katelyn “stamp of approval.” I believe all forms of the website and various social media outlets should be ready in the coming week. Stay tuned…

Over the previous month, I’d had many conversations about travel. Lorenzo, the Italian stud, is jetting off to Greece to sail a boat with his friends for two weeks. John & his fiancee are planning an 8 month backpacking voyage through Southeast Asia after their wedding in October. There are bachelor parties in NOLA and romantic adventures to California. It seems everyone is coming and going to exciting new places. 

While playing in the waves on the Jersey Shore, Brian asked me if I had any trips planned. What was up next on the bucket list? Anything more immediate than quitting (again) for a trip through Asia? I was embarrassed to tell him…no. During my summer weekends I’ve escaped the oppressive city heat for Lake George or Connecticut but nothing big was planned on the horizon. No PTO scheduled, not since New Orleans. Brian and I both seemed lost in the schedule of our own little lives and it wasn’t until the ferry home that I heard my father’s voice entering my brain.

Always have your next trip in mind. 

How had I forgotten this essential Tsukada rule? The next trip is as reliable as the horizon. And like the horizon, those distant mountains or island speck may be far away, but the goal is visible and the path is clear. The question is a matter of “when” not “if” thereby making the next great adventure all the more attainable. There is a defined reason to save up pennies and research new attractions. It is this knowledge of the Next Trip and accompanying opportunity to leave a routine that is the most enticing feeling I know. 


And so Boyfriend Billy and I going to Nashville, Tennessee. 

The reasons are fairly straight forward. It’s closer than the west coast in an area of the country we’ve never seen. There is a culture of Southern hospitality, authentic music and good food. In recent years, Nashville has exploded in a flurry of hipster coffee, restaurants and have yet to raise their prices to those of other major tourist destinations. With a round trip ticket for under $300, Nashville seemed like the perfect place for the Next Trip. 

My Inbox is bulging with airline and hotel reservations, to-do lists and recommendations from friends. We’ll each be taking three (yes three!) days off of work to maximize time away from the grinding 9-6pm. All of a sudden, I looked up from the sidewalk and realized that the horizon was a whole lot closer than I’d originally thought. September 23rd will be here before I know it. 

So do it, friend. And I don’t mean buy an airplane ticket or quit your job. I mean, pick a place where you’d like to go and make sure it’s clearly embedded in your mind’s horizon. Because you may not know when you’ll get there, but someday has to come around eventually. 

The Particular Sadness of Dropping Lemon Pie

About two weeks ago, I created a beautiful no-bake lemon pie. I whipped cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together with freshly squeezed lemon juice before delicately scooping all the ingredients into a graham-cracker crust. I gave my pie all evening to rest in the fridge before Pie & I boarded the N and the 4 train, making transfers at 59th Street/Lexington Avenue en route to work. 

At work, dear reader, my little lemon pie came to its demise when it fell off the kitchen counter and landed upside down on the floor. A new co-worker I hadn’t yet met rushed to my aid. She made that ‘gasp’ noise that people tend to do when desserts topple to the ground.

“It wasn’t homemade, was it?” she asked as I scooped cream cheese from between my fingers. “It was,” I said “but things like this happen. “

My pie incident is not the saddest nor the most interesting thing that has happened in my life. Since then, I’ve set phone appointments with VPs, became certified in my field, and drank margaritas late into a Monday evening. But the memory of my pie still lingers. I had put love and energy into something that faced an untimely death and for that moment in time, life didn’t seem fair. 

I still haven’t touched my baking utensils–the measuring spoons, cups, nonstick trays–as I mourn for the pie that was never enjoyed by those for who it was intended. I felt as if New York City swooped in and tried to teach me a lesson. People don’t bake here. The kitchens are too small. There just isn’t enough time. New York buys glossy cupcakes on the way to a friend’s birthday party on the Upper East Side and swings by its favorite French bakery to pick up a legendary chocolate mousse pie. In store windows, I pass desserts as perfect as the people: tailored suits and polished heels ready for another day of success and perfection. In these moments I miss my messy Massachusetts kitchen where perfection was replaced by a constant flow of  lumpy pound cakes, underdone brownies and a thin layer of flour covering the counters and floor. 

The pie was originally intended for my boyfriend’s sister to order to properly celebrate her upcoming European backpacking adventure. Instead, I showed up empty-handed with only vague tips and advice to offer. I now remember recommending a book to her; a book she later read and agreed it was a perfect summer read. That book was called: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

Parting with people and with desserts can be such sweet sorrow. 


Here is the simple (and embarrassingly) Betty Crocker recipe: