Saturday, September 15, 2007

Kids Back in the House?

As far as I know there's never been a sitcom about a brainy college graduate with a brand-new degree in philosophy who moves back home with her parents and gets a job as a cocktail waitress (high heels, fishnet stockings) at a bowling alley in order to support her true life's desire, which is to write fiction. Her parents try not be annoying. Being Baby Boomers, they're in no position to hold up their generation as an example of youthful focus and practicality. But, hey, they are parents. They've learned a few things along the way and so have all their friends. So the long-suffering graduate has to listen as a rotating cast of hippies-turned-grown-ups impart their life lessons. And if one more of them tells her about the scene in The Graduate where Dustin Hoffman is advised that the future is "Plastics!" she is going to scream.

The brainy college graduate is my daughter, Cait, and I must say it's been fun to have her home again. (We weren't entirely surprised by her return; according to one report I read, about half her peers have made a similar move.) Despite familiar surroundings, she's been shocked to discover how much there is to know about life that you don't learn in college. She's even written an essay about it that appeared in Newsweek, accompanied by a photo of her holding a cosmopolitan on a tray.

Recent graduates are on a steep learning curve, and it's always easier to hear advice when it's from someone else's parents. So perhaps you and I might collaborate on working up a hard-earned wisdom archive. What are your choice life lessons from the first years out of college? What did you have to learn the hard way? How long did it take you to figure it all out? Think of it as Life 101: Orientation for Graduates.

Possible chapter titles:

Waitressing, Bartending, Temping, and Other Things You Can Do with Your Philosophy Degree
Taxes for Beginners: Save those Receipts, You Can Deduct Job-Hunting Costs
Breaking the Latte Habit—Now that it's Your Own Money
Insurance and You
How to Squeeze Three Roommates into a One-Bedroom Apartment
Don't Trust Every Landlord You Meet on Craigslist
Should You Move to San Francisco (or some other youth mecca)?

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