My name is Chloe….
I am a quintessential Gen Xer.
I have been blogging about Generation X for about five years. I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I mentor Generation X leaders. My husband and I are raising a Generation Z daughter and are passing on to her all the good things from when we grew up – from skee ball to School House Rock. I go on journeys around America to write about and photograph places from monuments to memorials which are deeply significant to the Gen X experience. I’m fascinated by generational theory and the pop culture that influenced our formative years.
I was a college student and temp-worker of the Dot Com Era.
Postmodernism and globalization were unfolding as I worked on my degree and entered the workforce, knowing that each of my temp jobs – from loan processing to paralegal work – might come to an end in three weeks or three days. It was during my college years that I started studying Generation X and writing academic papers about our generation. In my research, I discovered that whether we grew up tens or thousands of miles away from each other, whether we thought we were alone as every aspect of society disintegrated around us in our growing-up years, as a generation we have a thousand things in common.
I was a teenager of the Grunge Era.
I saw some of the greatest bands of that time live from the front row, and was a battle-born contender of the mosh pits. I came of age right as the culture history of Gen X pivoted. As a high school freshman, I could see the influence of first-wave Generation X culture as upperclassmen wearing Van Halen tee shirts passed me by in the hallways. Then, a couple of years later, the pop culture of second-wave Gen X took over and friends wearing Pearl Jam tee shirts would wave to me from down the hall. While The Breakfast Club set the tone for my earlier high school years, Singles set the tone for the later ones.
I was a child of the Cold War.
Most of my growing up years took place during the Reagan Administration when it was supposed to be “Morning In America”, though I don’t remember it ever feeling that way. A portion of my elementary school years were spent in Tornado Alley, so our safety drills doubled as nuclear drills. I was deeply affected by the death of Samantha Smith, a Gen X ambassador for understanding and reconciliation during that time. Near the end of the Cold War, I watched the January 1986 Challenger Disaster happen live from a classroom in my elementary along with millions of other Gen Xers. I will never forget the sting of losing all seven of my heroes in the same moment.
I was born on a US Air Force Base soon after the Vietnam War came to an end. My earliest memories include watching New Zoo Revue and looking through my Bicentennial View Master at Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 3D reels. I remember playing with Fisher-Price Little People and mini Muppet Show characters in a metal dollhouse made in a 1950’s architectural style even though the post-war ‘golden years’ had long since departed by the time I came into the world.
In all the years of my Gen X existence, sometimes the only thing that has kept me alive when it seemed the lights had gone out in the world was a different source of light. I found it behind the glow coming from the pixels on the screen that displayed the video games of my youth, in the lyrics on the CDs that I listened to as a teenager, in the landscape I found myself throughout my nomadic existence, and in many other things that have made me who I am. It was God. It was grace. It was hope.
My spiritual journey toward my Eastern Orthodox Christian faith has been stitched together with felt, stained glass, incense, icons, and pixels. This path began with learning about the Gospel on a flannel-graph in my pre-school days to studying the world’s religions in my college days. I have sought spiritual direction from Catholic nuns and sensed the presence of God as I looked upon the giant stained glass windows of Paris’ Notre Dame. I have been a hospital chaplain and I have done relief work in Mexico. I worked in Ireland as a camp counselor during the summer of ’99, at the start of a truce with 400 years of religious history depending on it. I have attended liturgy with Orthodox monks who, naturally, had once been the counterculture punks of Generation X.