Tattoos help millennial women establish identity

Special to the Star and Wave

Editor’s note: Puzzled at seeing a number of women of the millennial age group sporting tattoos, i asked writer Rachel Shubin, a millennial, what attracted that generation to having permanent artwork on their bodies.

Tattoos are permanent, but generational ideals are subject to change. Millennials enjoy indulging in the latest trends and tattoos are no exception.

The public image of tattoos has changed in the thousands of years they have been available, surging in and out of popularity for the last hundred years.

For some millennials, their tattoos are permanent artwork forever frozen in time on their body. For others, the tattoos are a declaration of their identity.

“I have been surrounded with tattoos my entire life,” Madi Musinski said. “A lot of my loved ones have tattoos. Tattoos are like a piece of artwork. It’s an investment to get a tattoo on you forever, because a piece of artwork would fade over time.”

Musinski, 22, works at Mayer’s Tavern as a server. She has previously filled in as a barista at Magic Brain Café.

“Millennials want tattoos because of the permanence it has,” Musinski said. “Sometimes stability is rare in life and a tattoo is meaningful to you. I got the chemical structure of coffee, to represent this part of my life which is very valuable to me. It is always there to bring me nostalgia and to remind me of better times and my love of coffee.”

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The chemical structure of coffee. ©Madi Musinski.

Perigee Moon Body Art at 301 Broadway in West Cape May, is a millennial-owned tattoo shop that Kirsten Ewing, 31, operates with a group of millennial women.

“I am so grateful for the work that I get to do every day,” Ewing said. “We have the best service job in the world because we get to sit on edge of society and have people come to us when they want to etch something that’s important to them on their skin forever. It is magical, beautiful and spiritual. For for me personally, it gives me a reason to exist and connect with people.”

Perigee Moon has been open for over three years. While their clientele ranges in age, local millennials frequent the place to get inked.

“I have been tattooing for eleven years,” Ewing said. “When we first started we had the intention to create a healing and safe space that everyone could feel comfortable getting a tattoo in and broaden the spectrum of people getting tattoos. I had previously worked in thirteen studios and I was the first female artist in half of them. We wanted a safe atmosphere where the clientele and artists were comfortable.”

The idea of creating a comfortable tattoo shop atmosphere was appealing to the millennials working at Perigee Moon. Millennials know how to cater to their age group. The harsh image that tattoo shops bring a rough crowd is anything but true of Perigee Moon.

“It’s a great thing because it changes peoples’ minds all the time,” Tattooist Destanie Pickin said. “People who never thought they would step into a tattoo come here. And they are happy when they leave, which makes us feel good that we changed their minds.

Pickin, 27, explained that the thoughts about tattoos is different for older generations. Baby boomers are often quick to criticize millennials’ choice to permanently mark their bodies. Perhaps it is because getting a tattoo is not something they were able to do when they were the same age.

“It’s a different though process that is changing. Many of the people who were ashamed to be themselves get tattoos at an older age. Millennials choose bold, positive and beautiful statement pieces. They love themselves and their tattoos are done tastefully,” Pickin said.

Pickin gets to meet clients from all different walks of life. Tattooing is a type of therapy that is healing for both the artist and the client, she said. Ewing said they connect with people on a serious level.

Some millennials opt for ink that has a strong personal meaning behind the design. It is a way to mark a time in life where they are working to establish themselves personally and professionally.

“People come to get tattoos because they want to remember something, or feel better about themselves,” Tattooist Caity Biggers, 28, said. “Sometimes they get tattoos for closure.”

Millennials getting tattoos consider the placement and size, as well as if their permanent artwork will impact their careers.

“I have been tattooed for half of my life and it’s a lot easier than it used to be,” Ewing said. “People get work with them. When I go to a fancy boutique I get followed and that’s annoying. But if that is the worst I deal with, I’ll be okay.”

The clientele of the shop includes many members of the United State Coast Guard and Lower Township Police Department, per Pickin.

“We have tattooed boutique owners here,” Ewing said. “The community has been gracious and accepting and very loving of us which is really wonderful. The town has embraced us.”

It is not uncommon for millennials to make tattooing a family affair. Biggers has often had multiple generations of a family as clients.

“I get grandmas with their daughters and granddaughters,” Biggers said. “My grandma always wanted a tattoo but never wanted to go into a tattoo shop.”

Parents who come in with their kids, but don’t chose to get a tattoo are offered a temporary tattoo.

Millennials’ parents often tend to fall in the baby boomer category. The baby boomer generation’s upbringing has them associate tattoos with the military or even on the opposite end of the spectrum, criminals. Their conservative upbringing tends to cater towards clean, non-tattooed wholesome looks.

“I think the pendulum of tattoos is swinging back to what they used to be,” Tattooist Tessy Mitchum, 30, said. “Those who get tattoos now get whatever they want and do more self-examination and self-discovery.”

Tattooed people often feel judged by non-tattooed people.

“If I get pulled over by a cop, I pull my shirt sleeve down over my tattoos,” Ewing said.

As more and more millennials get tattoos, it will be harder to find people without a tattoo.

“Tattoos all have a belief behind them,” Ewing said. “How can you discriminate against someone who is saying what they believe through their tattoos.”

The Pew Research Center estimates forty percent of millennials have at least one tattoo.

“It depends on where you are in society,” Musinski said. “There was a time when tattoos were representative of negative things. I don’t know why people of older generations look down at the younger generations and think they are doing something wrong. They were in the same position years ago. Older people care adverse to change and millennials are doing something they could not do.”

If a millennial goes for a job in a conservative setting, they might want to hide their tattoos. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against candidates based on gender, age, disability, etc. There is no federally protected class for people with tattoos.

“To me, it is like someone drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa,” Cape May Star and Wave Newspaper Editor Jack Fichter said when he asked me to write this article.

As for the writer of this article, I am 24 and have five tattoos. I never thought I would have any permanent ink on my body because I am terrified of needles.

My parents are from the baby boomer generation and though my mom has come around to not dislike my tattoos, my dad still does not like them. Perhaps it is because my grandmother would not have approved. She did not even like pierced ears.

The Jewish culture particularly dislikes tattoos. Jews associate tattoos with the Holocaust, when they were tattooed by Nazis with an identification number in concentration camps. The Torah states “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.”

I grew up hearing that I would not be buried in a Jewish cemetery if I had tattoos on my body. It depends on whom you ask. Despite knowing that typically my religion did not approve of tattoos, my first tattoo has my Hebrew middle name, Batyam, written in Hebrew characters under an anchor. Batyam means daughter of the sea.

I got over my fear of needles by getting tattooed. There is something calming in knowing you are making a permanent change to your body that only is temporarily painful. Relinquishing control to a tattooist is scary for anyone, but the artists want you to be happy with the art that you will carry for the rest of your life.

For me, my tattoos all carry a serious meaning about my life story and each one is very personal. They should be, if I am going to live with them for the rest of my life.

Like Musinski said, my tattoos are so representative of the person I am today and strive to be in the future. And I truly believe I will still like my tattoos sixty years from now, because they will hold even less of a stigma in the future

Millennials offer mixed outlooks on living in Cape May

Special to the Star and Wave

Millennials are alive and well in Cape May, and surviving on more than avocado toast and cold-brew coffee.

Rumor has it that their affinity for avocado toast and coffee is one of the reasons millennials cannot afford to buy their own homes. Australian millionaire and property mogul Tim Gurner said that the reason millennials are slower to buy their first home is because they are spending $19 on avocado toast and $4 on coffees.

People are quick to use trendy food as a scapegoat, when the real problem is, but not limited to student loans and the high cost of living. The generation which makes up millennials is so diverse that one statement does not encompass the entire age range.

In fact, there isn’t even a definitive agreement about what years start and end this generation. Typically, those born from 1981 to 1994 make up the group, with the oldest millennials to 24 as the youngest.

Many millennials consider themselves idealists, connected and tolerant, while others have called them narcissistic, lazy and entitled.

The county tourism office has found that millennials seem to have little interest visiting Cape May on their own, though it is suspected they are more likely to arrive here with their families.

Millennials living in Cape May break the mold of entitled, as many of them need to work multiple jobs to survive. Upon closer examination, Cape May has a well-established millennial community living and working in town.

“Working here is tough because I’m a writer,” Jennifer Post said. “I also consider job hunting a full-time job.”

Post, 28, works as a freelance writer and has a part-time job at Willow Creek Winery. Her family visited relatives in Cape May before ultimately buying a house after Post graduated high school.

 

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Jennifer Post. 

 

“I went away for college and then moved back in with my parents after I graduated from Rowan,” Post said. “Millennials love to hang out in Cape May, but can’t afford to stay here.”

Millennials are hindered with student loans, making funds scarce for life in a seasonal vacation resort town.

“Working here is great for college kids whose parents have a house here,” Post said. “It’s hard for someone like me who is trying to save up for a car, a house, bills and student loans. The constant cycle of seasonal jobs just isn’t conducive for starting a life here.”

As a full-time resident, Post does not find a wide variety of entertainment for herself. Every millennial has different interests, and depending on their chosen career path, it can be hard to find a full-time job in their chosen career.

It’s not that millennials do not want to own their own businesses, but they lack the capital to do so.

Some Millennials defy pigeon-holing

However, a lack of capital does not stop all millennials.

Anyone who calls millennials lazy and entitled has not met 28-year-old Jesse Lambert. The fourth-generation local along with his wife, Leigha, owns Coffee Tyme on the beach and a new location, Coffee Tyme on the Washington Street Mall.

“I grew up in Cape May and the only time I left was to go to college,” Jesse Lambert said. “As soon as I was done with college, I knew I wanted to come back here. Cape May is where the heart is, I’ve always been drawn to it. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life here.”

Before the Lamberts opened their coffee shop businesses, they worked a variety of jobs in town.

 

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Jesse & Leigha Lambert.

“The Cape May hustle is juggling multiple jobs at the same time,” Jesse Lambert said. “We would work two to three jobs each to save up for rent and traveling. I worked at Sunset Beach Gifts and taught surfing lessons.” 

When the Lamberts saw that Coffee Tyme was up for sale by the previous owners, they worked there for a year to make sure they wanted to buy the business.

“For a young couple like us, we were able to get a loan from Sturdy Savings Bank through the Small Business Administration,” Jesse Lambert said.

The 2008 stock market crash continues to plague millennials ten years later.

“I’ve heard that the mortgage standards are very strict because of 2008,” Jesse Lambert said. “It’s a shame because we would like to be able to buy a house but it’s tough with student and business loans. It will be a while for us.”

Slowly the demographic of visitors and locals in Cape May is changing. More millennials are being drawn to Cape May for a quieter lifestyle or more active weekend trip or summer vacation.

The Lamberts have seen increasing numbers of younger people coming into Coffee Tyme.

“It’s exciting to see younger people coming in and not just with their families,” Jesse Lambert said. “Friends of mine will come down here.  Even people who have come as a child and fallen in love with Cape May are coming back as adults with their kids.”

The Lamberts opened their latest shop on the Washington Street Mall in early 2018.

“It was easier 30 years ago to have a house and a business,” Jesse Lambert said. “We are blessed to have two coffee shops.”

Cape May’s millennial appeal is evident through the activities available in town. Cape May has always been an outdoor-friendly destination for bicycle riders and beachgoers.

“There has been a push for more active events like bike tours around the island, the Escape the Cape Triathlon and the Cape May Running Company’s races,” Jesse Lambert said. “Cape May Running Co. is doing an amazing job and that is perfect for millennials.”

Liza Crawford, 26, started visiting Cape May in the summer with her family to visit her grandparents. Crawford came to Cape May every summer through college, still visiting after she graduated from Penn State.

“I worked as a nanny outside of Philly,” Crawford said. “I was already working weekends at Cape May Running Co., so when it was time to leave this past October, it was easy to come back here.”

Crawford moved in to her family’s home, so she could continue to work for Cape May Running Co. (CMRC).

“I do both retail sales and design at CMRC,” Crawford said. “I also will be teaching sailing at the yacht club this summer. I work two jobs at a time and I also dog sit and do freelance design.”

Crawford started the Mile Zero Project, a free fitness group that meets at the Cove Beach at 6:23 a.m. on Wednesday mornings.

“It is based on the free fitness group run in forty-nine cities around the world,” Crawford said. “It’s a group of people who like to work out and anybody can come, no matter what your ability. It creates a community in its own.”

Variety of  attractions appeals to millennials

When asked if Cape May appeals to the millennial age group, the bar and music scene as well as the outside activities are mentioned. The Lamberts have never sought after nightlife, but find that there are options for those who enjoy outdoor activities.

“Cape May is heaven for millennials who like outdoor activities,” Jesse Lambert said. “We like to bike around the island, go surfing and even skateboarding. One day we hiked from the Canal to Reeds Beach, which took all day. We’ve always wanted to try paddle boarding around the island.”

Jesse Lambert noted that a small town like Cape May could not even support a movie theatre.

“We had the theatre for a long time, but Cape May just doesn’t have the year-round economy that it used to,” Jesse Lambert said. “It’s working to get back to where it used to be.”

There are always live music events offered in town, from Convention Hall to open mic nights at various bars.

“The music is not marketed at millennials, it’s marketed for baby boomers,” Post said. “I like going to the Rusty Nail, but every time I go to hang out there, the age group is like my parents age. The bands they bring in play that kind of music. The marketing is a miss for what you’re actually getting.”

Cape May attracts a different scene from the other shore towns, because every activity in town offers a whole experience.

“There isn’t a lot to do in the other shore towns, other than going to the beach and bars, but Cape May has so many activities,” Crawford said. “We are more hipster and that draws people in because there are so many young business owners.”

Visitors aren’t limited to spending their day on the beach or shopping, but can find different yoga studios and other opportunities.

“Cape May is an entire experience,” Crawford said. “You can go to Beach Plum Farm for entertainment. There are other wineries in West Cape May, farms to visit and so many experiences to be had.”

Millennials who live in Cape May find that the drawback to life here is how the town almost comes to a standstill in the winter. As evidenced by this past winter, that is changing as more stores and restaurants are staying open or having weekend hours.

“If you work hard enough during the summer, you can make it work in the winter,” Crawford said. “I am happier living here. I have lived in the suburbs before but I love this close-knit, small town.”

Cape May holds a power over those who grew up here. 28-year-old Kelsey Medvecky is no exception.

“I grew up in Cape May and left to go to college at the College of New Jersey,” Medvecky said.

She met her future husband, Tom Medvecky, when she was at TCNJ. After school, they moved to Plainsboro to be closer to each other and for work opportunities.

“I grew up in Piscataway and started dating Kelsey in college,” Tom Medvecky said. “We would come down here on the weekends in the summer. We knew without really knowing that Cape May was where we would end up.”

 

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Tom & Kelsey Medvecky. Photo provided.

The Medveckys moved to Cape May and both work as lifeguards. He teaches sixth grade at Cape May City Elementary School, while Kelsey works as an occupational therapist at multiple schools in the area. 

“Winter is the same everywhere you go because it’s cold and it gets dark early,” Tom Medvecky said. “Summers are just better by the beach and Cape May is the place to be. It’s home for Kelsey and felt like home for me. Coming here worked out nicely for us.”

Tom Medvecky takes his coffee and dog to the beach every morning before school. In the summer, Tom works as a full-time lifeguard.

“Tom has the Cape May life,” Kelsey Medvecky said. “I do lifeguarding here and there, when the college students go home. In the summer, I work in various occupational therapy jobs. Even if you’re a teacher, you need something to do in the summer. Living here, it’s like why not work on the beach.”

The Medveckys enjoy going on walks at Higbee beach with their dog, Iris.

“We also have a great restaurant and bar scene,” Kelsey Medvecky said. “You definitely cannot beat the food. We’ve traveled all over and we definitely have the best restaurants.”

She has found that more is happening in Cape May than ever before.

“Cape May is a hotspot with the music scene, open mic nights, bachelorette parties,” Kelsey Medvecky said. “There are also so many breweries, distilleries and wineries.”

The only difference between Cape May and other towns is the proximity to typical shopping.

“When we lived in the Princeton area, I had five different grocery stores within ten miles,” Kelsey Medvecky said. “People visit Cape May and are surprised the closest mall is forty-five minutes away.”

The Medveckys do similar activities to their friends who live in other places, like going to the movie theatres and out to dinner, or eating with friends.

“More things stay open in winter now,” Tom Medvecky said. “We have a closer group of friends.”

The Medveckys believe Cape May will appeal to millennials because it is a slower pace and significantly less time sitting in traffic. And visitors and locals alike can see the sun set over the beach at the end of the day.

“I think Cape May will appeal to millennials with the development of the bar and drinking scene,” Kelsey Medvecky said. “It’s a big draw for the younger people and the young professional group. More development brings more jobs that aren’t just seasonal.”

Tom Medvecky said he would take living at the beach over a Trader Joe’s any day.

Working one job doesn’t pay bills

As for me, the writer of this article, I too am a millennial. I am 24-years-old and I work a full-time job and work as a freelance journalist. I have lived in Cape May full-time for over a year and I have found that no one in Cape May works just one job. Most work at least two jobs to afford living in a beach resort town.

For the entirety of my life, I have spent at least two weeks a summer in Cape May. During my college years, I interned and worked at local businesses. All it took was a small taste of living in Cape May for me to form my plans to move here after graduation.

Once I moved to Cape May, I realized just how difficult it is to afford rent by yourself in the area. I lived with my parents for a few months before moving into a place with roommates. After nine months with roommates, I found a place to live on my own. I still find it very difficult to afford life in Cape May. Without the support of my parents, I would not be able to afford to live here on my income.

Affording rent and bills in a tourist town means the cost of living is higher and like Post said, it makes it very difficult to save up for a down payment on a house. I have never ordered avocado toast in my life, yet I am so far away from being able to own a home.

I agree with the Lamberts and Medveckys, that a life at the beach has so much to offer in terms of outdoor activities. My perfect outdoor activity is reading on the beach.

If you’re a millennial who does not like to drink, your available activities become more limited. I also agree with Post, that the music is geared towards the baby boomer generation. I have yet to find an advertised music event in town that I want to attend.

The future of tourism in Cape May lies in the hands of millennials. They make up a huge portion of the workforce and want all the same things their parents have, such as owning cars and homes.

It’s crucial that Cape May continues to think of millennials as new businesses come and go, catering towards the age range of those visiting. Millennials are starting to settle down and get married at earlier ages. Some millennials choose to have kids at a younger age than their parents’ generation.

For millennials who like to drink alcohol, with the breweries, distilleries and wineries the need is being met. Coffee shops like Coffee Tyme are hitting the mark, being run by millennials and catering towards millennials.

Owners of local shops run by millennials know how to market their target audience. Any millennial who has a dream of owning a store in Cape May should not be scared off by the finances, because Jesse and Leigha Lambert show that perseverance works.

Millennials who live in Cape May sacrifice easy access to big box stores, but with the Internet nothing is more than a few days shipping away. In fact, millennials even enjoy shopping local, because the boutique stores carry unique products that aren’t easily available elsewhere.

Cape May is a National Historic Landmark City that offers so much rich history. There are people who might think millennials will not enjoy learning the history of the town because they are selfish and entitled. With the right mindset and marketing, millennials can be interested in repeating history facts when posting a selfie on Instagram.

I urge anyone who believes stereotypes about millennials to sit down with a millennial and just talk to them (but don’t call us on our phones) and ask questions. Yes, I love a good iced coffee as much as the next millennial, but I don’t think my coffee addiction is the main problem keeping me from building up my savings.

A day in the life

Routines are important, which is something I learned in college. I did not have a good daily routine in high school because I never consistently went to school at the same time – which I 100% attribute to anxiety and insomnia.

College was an amazing learning experience for me, and not just from the classes. I learned how to manage a routine that took some flexibility. My first semester of college was at the local community college, and I was stuck with a 4:10-7:30 pm history class on Mondays, a bunch of random afternoon classes, and then Fridays I had a 9 am math class. I had Thursdays off, which were days I never used to do work.

Despite hating the three-hour classes, dragging myself out of bed to make a 9 am math class, I figured it out. It wasn’t always great, but it worked out.

Then my second semester of college, I transferred to George Mason, which was a whole new campus, new people, and new schedule. I learned that 10:30 am classes didn’t necessarily agree with me, which was something I figured out a little late in the semester (combined with a bad teacher…but that’s really another story). So I took afternoon and early evening classes and almost always had no classes on Fridays.

The last few semesters at GMU, I learned that if I really wanted to graduate “on time,” I probably had to take a few 10:30 am classes to get the rest of my requirements done. So I started taking a few 10:30 am communication classes and French at 11 am. Having my best friend in the classes helped encourage being on time (and going in general, to be honest).

By senior year, I had my shit together. I got on a better schedule, I was able to make it on time to classes and I worked harder than ever before. I graduated cum laude and on the dean’s list for the last few semesters.

Everyone always speculated how I would manage a 9 to 5 job. If anyone ever doubted me being able to function in the adult world most, it would’ve been one of the assistant principals at my high school. I proved him wrong by graduating high school, taking 10:30 am classes and graduating college. His “no, she can’t do it” attitude stuck with me in the back of my mind. Now I just had one more time to prove him wrong.

Flash forward to my first full-time job at the Victorian Motel. My schedule is 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. I like to prepare everything the night before, so in the morning I really don’t have to do much before I walk out the door. And I also like to stay in bed until the last minute possible.

7:30 am – The first of my many alarms start. I get out of bed anywhere between 7:50-8 am. Get dressed, make my lunch (I pack everything but a sandwich the night before) and be out the door by 8:23 am.

 

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Many alarms with sayings to remind me to hustle.

 

8:30 am – Arrive at the motel and begin working. My daily routine is signing in housekeepers, checking guests out and in, rebooking reservations and replying to emails as well as answering phone calls. I act as a concierge and I try to be as knowledgeable about Cape May as possible.

4:30 pm – I leave work and go home. What I do next depends on what other jobs I might be working that night. First thing I do at home is usually let my housemate’s dog, Nabs, out to do her thing. Sometimes I lie down and watch YouTube or TV. If I’m in the middle of an interesting book, I will read on the porch with Nabs. I catch up with my housemate Max. Sometimes I wander around the backyard, checking out what is growing in the greenhouse or in the gardens.

If I’m covering a meeting for the newspaper, I tend to eat dinner on the earlier side. Usually, my meetings are anywhere from 5-7 pm. Sometimes they are short, sometimes they are long. I never do any writing after the meeting – I like to let what I’ve just heard soak in overnight – so when I’m at work I can write my articles.

 

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Taking photos of the migrating monarch butterflies after work.

 

I often go to the beach after I relax at home. Nothing is better than going to the beach after a day’s work. One of the reasons I moved to Cape May is so I could go to the beach after work. Anytime I do that, I really feel like I moved here for the right reasons.

 

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Relaxing on the beach on a Fall day, where it was cool enough for a sweatshirt.

 

9:30-10 pm – I start thinking about going to bed. The goal is to be asleep by 11:30 pm. The last month I have had a hard time going to sleep before midnight, which means I don’t get enough sleep. For someone who used to typically not go to sleep until 2 am, it’s an improvement – but I know I can improve upon that even more.

I have been afforded such wonderful opportunities since I moved to Cape May. I got to live in my family’s beach house for a few months before finding my fantastic room with my housemates.  I have a great full-time job and I am freelancing weekly for the local newspaper, the Cape May Star and Wave.

But the thing I am most grateful for is that I get to live in the town that I have spent so much time in, for every year of my life. I love getting to tell people that I’m living the dream I’ve had for a while now and that I’m writing along the way!

A millennial’s ode to complaining

If you know me well you know that I am a relentless complainer, especially when it’s hot outside. My dad is the first to remind me that air conditioning is a luxury, not a privilege. I know, I know – I’m lucky to have grown up not knowing air conditioning. The Victorian Era of Cape May must’ve been a hot and sweaty one.

Of course, there were the two weeks of summer when we rented a beach house without air conditioning. I said to my mom the other day, I don’t remember how I survived that when it was hot. Her reply? “Rachel, you complained. A lot!” I guess it must’ve been so hot I blocked it out of my memory.  Basically, anytime that I would get overheated, I would have a panic attack (as one does) and fret until I cooled down. Yeah, sounds like me.

Yeah, sounds like me. Coming from the girl who would crank the AC in her high school classes, without the teachers noticing. Granted all that did was run cold water through the vents…they found another way to make high school more miserable. I also spent four years of college complaining to anyone who would listen, that the classrooms were always set as if my grandma was in control of the thermostat – set to a minimum of a balmy 75 degrees.

Millennials complain about trivial, “first world problem” issues. But doesn’t everyone? We complain and get labeled as entitled.

I’m a millennial and I complain frequently. It’s kind of our thing…but people complain about millennials too.  Here’s a list of 6 complaints which we are “supposedly” sick of hearing. In my opinion…speak for yourself. Oh, and while I’m on my soapbox, I’d like to say that I’m not killing the napkin industry and I’m not buying so much avocado toast I won’t be able to afford a house…I just won’t be able to afford one anyway because of the economy.

 

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Oh look, I’m using napkins. Surprised?

Millennials complain about real issues too. Like low pay and difficulty finding a job in your field of study.

I think the reason millennials are pictured as “complaining” all the time has to do with the high expectations we have these days. My parents have two houses, so I expected I would have two houses. My Amazon Prime says my package will be here in two days, I expect it to be here in two days. But the expectations I grew up with have changed –especially because of the economy (I know, how many times am I going to repeat that phrase). The guy who said millennials buy too much avocado toast also says some people won’t even own a house in their lifetime. And maybe that will be my case. I just don’t know.

But I think that fact of potentially never owning a home is the exact right that I, as a millennial, has to complain. I want to be a homeowner (whether it is a house or a townhouse) and get the experience that my parents had. Get married, have a nice car, never have to worry about finances (well…).

Low pay is a serious issue, one that every generation has faced. Not all millennials work in high paying jobs. We also aren’t the ones who fucked up the economy (not the point, but just saying). Our families were (and still continue to be) impacted by the 2000s recession.

According to an article from Elite Daily, “Millennials face particularly high rates of unemployment and aren’t making as much money as their parents. That helps explain why roughly 32 percent of millennials are also living with their parents.”

It seems like the odds are stacked against us millennials. Finding a job in your field after college graduation can be tricky. Some people have student loans to pay off, so good luck with buying a house. And if you get a job, you’re lucky to make over minimum wage.

For those of us millennials who choose to work in our field knowing it’s a tough industry (hello journalism, I’m looking at you), we know making ends meet might require more than one steady job.

Yes I’m a millennial and I complain a lot, but I’d like to think I’m not entitled. I want to work and I enjoy the payoff of my hard work. And you know, not be a renter forever. I’m not above complaining and sometimes only focusing on my issues, but overall I want to succeed and be happy. Is that too much to ask?

Got Skin Cancer?

I live at the beach and probably one assumption many people have about me is that I spend a lot of time on the beach. And you would be so very wrong!

I probably can count on one hand the number of times I have sat on the beach in the last few months – most of the times have been fairly recent.

It has less to do with the fact I work full time; it’s a combination of being unwilling to sit on the beach when it is hot and the heat is intense, as much as knowing that I have to slather a thick layer of sunscreen on before I meander the few blocks down the street to the beach. It’s a lazy millennial thing, but it is a habit I try to be steadfast about changing for the better.

I’m a pasty white girl and skin cancer runs in my family. Finding out a family member has skin cancer was the wake-up call that I needed to be better about constantly wearing sunscreen when I’m going to be outside. I always wear sunscreen on my face and I have even started using hair products with sun-shielding ingredients. The last thing you want is a sunburn on your scalp.

The three reasons I think that millennials avoid wearing sunscreen include (but is definitely not limited to): sunscreen is expensive, we forget it in the car and putting on sunscreen is time-consuming and sticky.

Not all sunscreens are expensive. Stores like Target and CVS have both brand name and store brand sunscreens. And 9 times out of 10, the store brand is cheaper and has the same ingredients. Of course, there are expensive brands and “designer sunscreen,” but really you don’t have to shell out $30 when you can spend $10 on a bottle. The price isn’t increasing the amount of sun coverage you’re going to get.  So skip the expensive Sephora designer brands and stick to your budget.

Chances are if you forget something in the car after you’ve dragged your beach bag and chair down to the water, you’re probably not going back to get whatever you forgot. But if you left your sunscreen in the car, going back for it has two benefits. First, you should not only apply sunscreen before or when you get to the beach, but you should also liberally reapply every few hours. However, the real reason you don’t want to leave it in the car is that the heat changes the composition and efficacy. Leaving your sunscreen in the car is going to make the sunscreen weak and not protect you properly. Don’t waste your money and leave it in the hot car (and don’t leave your kid or dog in there either, for what it’s worth).

And last but not least, yuck, sunscreen is sticky and messy! Well, I can’t exactly disparage that from the truth. I hate putting on sunscreen and then sticking to the seat of my car – which is why I sometimes skip going to the beach in general. But there are sunscreens on the market that are now being advertised as non-sticky or non-greasy or no mess! I can’t say if that is true, but I also have had pleasant results with all the Hawaiian Tropic brand sunscreens. It is my go-to sunscreen to use all summer.

I also like to use make up products that have sunscreen built into them – even though it’s usually a low SPF between 15-20 (30 if you’re lucky). And as I mentioned, don’t forget your scalp…also think about your lips and hands! For your hands, I found a great hand lotion from SuperGoop called Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckthorn. It’s great for dry hands and it is so lightweight.

And last but not least, you have to watch your moles. It sounds gross and frankly, I think it kind of is…but checking your moles and regular check-ups at the dermatologist are what saved the lives of my family members. Even I have had full body checks (yes it is cringey but the docs are there to save you not judge you) and have had to get moles removed. It’s one of my least favorite topics to discuss, but it is important.

mole test glamour mag

Every year since 2006, Glamour Magazine publishes a mole chart that has saved the lives of nearly 90 readers who identified their skin cancer from the pictures. The ABCDE’s might just alert you to a mole that has changed and needs attention.

If you take away anything from this post, it is that I hope you’ll remember to wear sunscreen and go to your dermatologist at least once a year. If you can prevent skin cancer, why not? A little sunscreen goes a long way to self-care.

Farmville 2.0

It’s crazy to think sometimes that from the age of 2 you start pre-school and you often don’t stop going to school until you graduate from college, at age 22. Twenty years of schooling in the making, to put you out in the world to find a job (and probably not one in your degree field, but that’s a blog post for another day).

 

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When you ask your mom for a pre-school pic and this is the best she can do. Cute though.

 

I was supposed to go away to college. Specifically, Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. I know, I know, it’s the same name as that once addictive Facebook game, but trust me – the town was not as fun as the game.

I knew I wasn’t ready to leave home, but I was vehemently against going to community college. I wanted to go to George Mason University, which was two miles away from my house. I only got into two colleges, Longwood and Virginia Wesleyan University (it was private and even my scholarship didn’t help). Reality was, I was only left with Longwood as my choice and I dreaded move in day.

Fast forward to August 2012, when I left for Longwood. I was miserable, a mess and arguably the most resistant to change I have ever been. I’ll say that the resistance against me leaving was futile and that is why I ended up coming home. It was a miserable Tuedsay-Saturday for my whole family. I knew move in day wasn’t going to be a happy day, but I didn’t realize it was going to be a nightmare.

 

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Record for fastest assembled & unassembled dorm room? Span of 5 days.

 

I came home and had to reevaluate what I wanted to do about school. I was lucky and was able to reach a deal that would get me into GMU. I went to community college for a semester and then transferred to GMU  for the remainder of my time in college.

Yes, all of that was necessary background information to know before you understand why I feel like I’m living Farmville 2.0 right now.

I recently moved into a house with roommates, so I am finally getting the away from home experience as well as also having roommates experience that I didn’t have when I lived at home while in college. Living in Cape May is easy because I love the beach and the town’s familiarity is comforting. Plus with friends and family close by, it’s not as isolating.

I wasn’t resistant to having a roommate in college, I actually would have had a wonderful roommate in my friend Abbey, who blogs at Idle Ginger Manuscript (yes we are still friends). I was resistant (at first) to having roommates in Cape May, because it would mean living with strangers.

But when I found a place that needed a third roommate, it was a beggars can’t be choosers situation. And I’m glad I went along with it because Chelsea and Max are awesome people. The place I’m living in is a farm style house, complete with 1.5 acres of land, two goats and two chickens. The house however, does not have air conditioning.

 

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My room in the new house. It’s been fun to get new furniture to decorate.

 

Another part to Farmville 2.0 is living without air conditioning. When I was supposed to go to Longwood, I specifically requested the only dorm on campus with air conditioning. Virginia heat can get ugly and I don’t know how the dorm would have felt had I stayed into the heat. But now I’m living in a house without air conditioning – but I do have a window unit in my room.

I’ve never been one to handle heat well and when my room was 85 degrees the other night, I wasn’t happy. But The AC unit did it’s best and by the time I fell asleep it had cooled down to mid-seventies. But I fell asleep and that’s all that matters. It’s an adjustment for sure, but it is worth it to get to stay and work in Cape May fulltime.

I think the thing I’ve learned since I’ve moved to Cape May from Virginia and then from one place to another in Cape May, is that you can’t always be comfortable. Part of life is trying new things and being more open to that – and as cliche as that sounds, I’ve come to realize that not all change is bad if you put yourself in a positive mindset – which is something I lacked during Farmville 1.0.

*Bonus fact – for as small as I thought Farmville was at the time I moved there – the 2010 census said the population was 8,216 people. Versus Cape May in 2010 was 3,607 people. I think it’s all about perception.

College lite

Before I moved here, I came to visit in October for two weeks. One night while I was watching TV on the couch, I had a moment of panic. Did I really want to move here full time? Would I be lonely and isolated during the offseason? Would I miss my friends and family so much that I would spend too much time being homesick? The moment passed as quickly as it came, and I brushed it off as an unrelated, side effect of worrying about my impending wisdom tooth surgery

And as I biked to dinner a few nights ago to meet friends, I realized that in the few months I’ve been living here, that I have never once felt isolated or lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family, friends, and cats a ton, but I haven’t felt that homesick or panic again.

 

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Solo adventure outside of Cape May.

 

When you don’t go away to college and live at home, you miss out on an experience that is “supposedly” life-changing, according to some people. And sure, not having parents to supervise your every move and hover over you at all times might be nice, but I never had a problem with that.

But now I feel like I’m doing “college lite” without the actual schooling. I’m working full time as a front desk clerk at a motel and spending my off time reading, writing, binging on Netflix/TV and going to the beach. I have friends here, albeit not exactly in my age range (which is a fact, not an insult, because it doesn’t make a difference).

Is this where I saw myself after graduation? Yes, definitely. I was prepared from my summers here, what it would be like to be alone in a big house. And I like it and it has worked for me. Of course, just as I get used to it, I am moving out in the next few weeks – into a house with two really nice roommates. A must do, in order to stay through the rental season of summer and continue to live and work here.

 

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Backyard of the new place.

 

I’ve never claimed to be a typical millennial. I have often done things an unorthodox way.  And I’m about to make an even bigger change in my life than moving to New Jersey, bigger than starting a healthier lifestyle and bigger than leaving pretty much the life I’m used to living behind. I’m moving into a house with roommates, on 1.5 acres of land that is also home to two chickens, two goats, and a dog.

So needless to say, I have quite an interesting summer ahead of me and there will be a lot to write about.

I’m excited!

 

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Mom and her new goat friend aka my new roommate.