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Sun, Fun, And Existential Dread
Stuff 'N Nonsense 6-8-22

Summer vibes are here — despite the bipolar nature of California weather — and with it, the ever-present existential dread of total world destruction as we hurtle toward mass extinction at the ever-grubbing hands of greed, political power, and theological beliefs that should remain private and personal.

Ahh, thank goodness I’m a GenXer accustomed to this level of soul-crushing dread or else I might be curled up in a corner sucking my thumb and crying for my blankie like a Millennial or even worse — raining spittle and blaming high-priced lattes for the fall of the economy like a Boomer.

Don’t cry, the end is coming and the only way to greet the disastrous dawn is wrapped within a generous blanket of apathy woven with the sticky childhood threads of despair, fear, and uncertainty that created a generation well-versed in dark humor.

Because you see, Boomers inadvertently created the stuff of legend with their absent parenting style, their crock-pot mentality to child-rearing, the ‘don’t talk about your feelings, you big baby,’ subset and now we’re the only generation laughing as the world burns.

That’s our superpower — and let’s be real — a major reason why so many of us need deep, intense, and total rewiring-level of therapy.

As such, many of us have an intimate relationship with addiction because our coping mechanisms were messed up and destructive but sometimes, a lot of fun. However, as many of us are hitting our fifties and beyond, the fun stops when your life is in ruins and even worse, your back never stops hurting.

We laugh because we can, but don’t mistake our inappropriate levity for some misguided idea that we’re not completely crushed by the state of the world today; it’s that triggers from our childhood have created an emotional armor that is nearly impenetrable.

We grew up with the threat of instant annihilation at the hands of a potential nuclear bomb (hello, Cold War) and were taught how to survive the fall-out (assuming you weren’t within the initial blast radius, of course). Insert maniacal laughter here.

Here’s the reality: GenXers can see quite clearly what’s actually happening from every angle and while our hearts may have been ripped out as children, there remains a phantom beat that reminds us that we should care.

Yet, that blanket of apathy is so warm and cozy.

Polar bears dying at record rates, starving because the arctic shelf is melting like ice cubes in a pot of boiling water? — That’s a bummer. Beachfront property for the Midwest! Goodbye, Jakarta Indonesia!

Economy on the verge of collapse because politicians on both sides of the aisle are consumed by greed — Yeah, I mean, who really needs bread? Twinkies have a shelf life of forever.

Astronomical number of working poor going without homes, food, medical care and the basics needed to sustain life? — Seriously, #vanlife is calling, am I right?

Ahh, drink in the devastation — but don’t drink the water because it’ll kill you.

To quote the estimable Robert Duvall in the classic film, Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning,” because the world is on fire — and we GenXers will bring the marshmallows while it burns.


Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.