Apr 26, 2008

"When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That S*** Gold"

Tomorrow is my birthday! Yay, surviving nineteen years on this planet! Eat cake!

On the subject of birthdays and years and age and currently being eighteen, let's talk about all the unfortunate UnderEighteens.

You know them. You've seen them. You've probably suspected that they were plotting aganist you when they congregate. They don't have votes or IRAs and probably don't have jobs, either.

Truth is, they are very, very desperate. Especially in the Valley. Ever wonder why Parkland has such a drug problem?

The UnderEighteens’ lifestyle is very, very interesting. There is a distinct hierarchy and herd mentality that that has to sort itself out with teenage angst and a building of identity and a search for self and it’s all very painful and confusing and dark and fun. Kids get marginalized because they can’t vote and everyone thinks that they know what’s best for them.

Example: I would finally get my mom to drop me off at the mall with my best friend and then we’d go into a store and get watched the whole time because we were girls and fifteen and GOING to steal something if we weren't watched. It royally sucked.

When I was an UnderEighteen it was horrible. I didn’t drink and I didn’t do drugs and it was really boring. Basements and movies and sleepovers just GOT SO BORING. So I finally got my driver’s license and could go places and then I found Hava Java and spent five hours a day for a whole summer drinking tea and eating biscotti and talking and it was AMAZING. I found real people and I fell in love with all of them.

That place saved my life in many ways that I will not go into at the moment.

The problem is that there isn’t enough supply to fill the demand. I am not even talking about what the UnderEighteens demand*. There is a desperate lack of safe neighborhoods for people to venture into and look around and decide if they want to patronize around there. I drive around Allentown a lot. There’s a lot of love there. There is also lots of bad stuff.

Man, we have got to fix the bad stuff. I don’t know where it starts, whether we have to get more police or better after school programs or better community planning or more places for kids to hang out instead of get bored and start to use material possessions gained by illegal means and money to fill the void. But something must be done.

Those UnderEighteens are desperate. They need something, anything. Just throw them a bone, ask them why they're bored.

*But seriously, they do not even get to vote. They get to spend all their time hating that prison-school and getting all disenchanted with politics and adulthood and start egging houses. There’s AMC and Billiards but they are not enough. There needs to be more.


gsbrace said...

"I found Hava Java and spent five hours a day for a whole summer drinking tea and eating biscotti and talking and it was AMAZING. I found real people and I fell in love with all of them."

In my line of work, we call these 3rd places. They are informal gathering places for people of the community to socialize on neutral territory. Ownership of this space belongs to the owner of the business, not to any one particular person who is drinking the tea. These third places are critical for a community b/c informal interaction and the reinforcement of social values in this environment encourage people to be citizens and neighbors. This is too lost in our society.

Having grown up where you grew up, I noticed there were no 3rd places. Where I live now, there are a couple of 3rd places that I enjoy often, usually after a busy day of frustrating travel/work.

The best way to describe everything you need to know about the 3rd place is to watch Cheers. "You wanna go where everybody knows your name..." It was on before our time, but the sentiment holds.

Katie Bee said...

I am familiar with the third place since recently reading "the great good place" by ray oldenberg. i think it is the fatal flaw of the suburbs that they do not have these third places and do not have them for the kids and do not have them within a safe walking distance. walkability, third places and mixed use are what the suburbs lack and (surprise!) what the cities have.

i think that a lot of the suburb kids lack this sense of community that can be found in a neighborhood or third place. it's almost painful to watch my brother get eaten alive by the suburbs. but he just got his driver's lisence, so i think he'll shake it off and figure it out.

and for some reason, the subject of "cheers" came up in conversation in the dining hall today, strange how pop culture is fleeting and indelible all at the same time, eh?

"where everybody knows your name and everyone is glad you came" is certainly a feeling that hava java gave me.

Anonymous said...

I've definitely been there. I lived out west in high school and our town was so completely suburban. Thank god we had a bike trail that you could ride to the center of town or I would've been trapped until I got my license. But even then there were few places to gather. After I got my license, going to the movies and a great little cafe in the nearby city became my favorite activities.

Kids today definitely lack meaningful places to hang out. It seems like many of them just want to be left alone to play video games in their basements, which freaks me out for the future of our society. It's interesting that so many families move to the 'burbs because it's safe but they end up isolating and sheltering their children from the real world and any opportunities to socialize.

As for Hava Java - Great place!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Katie Bee!

Happy Birthday!!!!

Katie Bee said...

Thanks, Bernie!