Why Karen?

I keep seeing the Karen memes and tweets. Everywhere you turn it’s, “Way to go, Karen,” or “Do you want to talk to the manager, Karen?” Why Karen? What age demographic are people trying to hit with this insult? I always thought they were going for the 40 year olds, maybe early 50s. I’m 51 and I don’t know very many Karens. I can think of two off the top of my head. I had to check my Facebook friends list and it turns out I have three of them on my list, so bump that number up to five! I know a lot of Jennifers though. Also, a lot of Angies and Stacys. And quite a few Julies and/or Julias, now that I think about it. Amy is another popular one.

Rarely known fact: I was this close to being named Heather. It was between my actual name and Heather. My mom said at the last minute she decided she was going to go with Heather but then my dad showed up with a gift that read: To Baby Sam. So Sam it was. I was so damn close to having a normal name.

The meme makes me think they’re going a little younger than the 60s generation, and while it does have a point I think if you’re going to generalize an entire generation the smarter bet would have been on Jennifer. It was the top baby girl name from 1970-1984. Fourteen years, folks! So far no other name has matched the popularity or staying power of Jennifer. Like I asked in the beginning, how old is this Karen? 30s? 40s? 50s? If she’s anywhere from 36-50 she really should be called Jennifer. Maybe even Jen.

Perhaps they’re reaching even further back- 1969 and earlier. That may very well be, but the number one baby name in 1969 was Lisa. Followed by Michelle, Jennifer, Kimberly, and Melissa. Surprisingly Amy came in at #6. I thought it would be higher. Rounding out the top ten were Angela, Mary, Tammy, and Laura. To be fair Karen did come in at #13. 

After doing some research (aka Googling the top baby names for 1960-1969) it turns out the insult may have some teeth behind it, depending upon how old this Karen is. As it turns out Karen was actually a fairly popular name in the early part of the 60s. Early, being the operative word. It wasn’t Jennifer popular but it was the 4th most popular name of the 1960s.

It peaked at #3 in 1965 and held onto the #4 spot in 1960, ’62, ’63, and ’64. It was #5 in popularity in 1961 and 1966, and then slid to #6 in 1967 and down to #9 in 1968. As I said previously, it came in at #13 in 1969. Like I said, it was no Jennifer.

I’m back to asking: How old is Karen? if she was born in the 60s Lisa was the overall #1 girl name, followed by Mary and Susan. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use one of those names instead of the #4 name? Maybe Karen is always in such a pissy mood because her name came in at #4 instead of #1. But we don’t hear anything about bad attitudes from Kimberly, Patricia, Linda, Donna, Michelle, or Cynthia, do we? Those were #5-10 in case you were wondering.

And if she is younger, born sometime in the 1970s, you would be better off calling her Jennifer (of course!), Amy, Melissa, Michelle, or Kimberly. Lisa dropped to #6 in the 70s. Heather, btw, was #8.

I think Karen is more popular now than it was in its heyday beck in the 60s! Way to go, Karen.

A New Word of the Year- Attitude

I wasn’t going to do another word of the year. Last year was a disaster. Change. Look what happened!

I’m not going to say I’m a witch, but I kinda think I am. I once had a dream where I predicted who won the World Series. Another time I was wondering about a person and how they were doing. Next thing I know my mom says she saw this person’s obituary in the paper. I made some comment about dorms at our extension college in that same time period. Shortly thereafter there was an announcement that they were building dorms. That was the first time my mom accused me of being a witch. And then there was the time I used magic to stop a bird that was flying straight at my car. My daughter will testify on my behalf.

We were living in Virginia. We were on our way to her gym for practice and we both noticed this black bird, probably a crow, that appeared to be flying straight towards my driver side window. It was coming in fast, too. I remember taking my hand and making the “STOP” motion, you know, like you see in movies. The part right before the person finds out they have super powers. I kinda swirled my hand around and did the hard stop. And then the bird swerved. Rock Star looked at me and I looked at her and she said, “Did that just really happen?”

So there you have it. I am probably a witch. I’m not very good at it obviously. I have no control over my powers. Yet!

Anyway, I thought long and hard about doing another word. Change resulted in a worldwide pandemic. That was a little more change than I had anticipated.

I decided on attitude. I think I did change things up in my life last year. I lost weight. I began running. I’ve reframed things that have happened. Now it’s time to get a new attitude.

I’ve always thought I was basically a pretty happy person and that over the years Jerry Lee dragged me down and sucked the joy out of life. Over the last few years though I’ve noticed myself always looking at things negatively. Instead of cheering myself on and telling myself I can do this, I find myself saying I’ll never be good enough; those good things will never happen for me.

The part of my life that is the most disappointing has been the job prospects. I’ve always felt like there was no hope. Middle aged women with no work experience the last fifteen years don’t get great paying jobs. That’s been my attitude.

It’s been an attitude of defeat. I want to change that. I want to have a more optimistic attitude when it comes to the job prospects because honestly, that is about the only thing I would change about my life right now. I want to be financially independent. I realize that I’m going to have to take those reigns and make it happen, whether that’s going back to some type of schooling, or finding a different job within the bank, or outside of the bank. I’m hopeful that when our reviews come up that there will be more talk of becoming a project manager and that it will happen sooner rather than later. Regardless, it’s up to me; I can continue to complain about the job but that won’t change anything. I need action and I need a new attitude, one that tells me I can do anything. One that encourages me and says that I am a great employee and an incredible asset to anyone who hires me.

I want to focus on attitude because I think it’s so important. I remember that story of those shipwrecked with The Endurance and how a positive attitude resulted in all members of that party being rescued. 

I think about all of the graduating seniors in the Class of 2020, and probably 2021 as well, and how well so many of them coped with the unfairness of the situation. So many of those kids never got to play their sport their senior year. Three years they waited their turn to be the top dog and when their turn came it was cruelly taken away. Valedictorians that never got to give their speech, or gave it online where who knows how many people even heard it. Prom kings and queens that never were. Last rites of passage for seniors that never happened. No walks across the stage. Instead schools offered to put signs in the seniors’ yards, or parents would hang their senior’s robe between the glass storm door and the front door so everyone could see they had a graduating senior. 

I know my attitude was pretty much, “You can take your yard sign and stick it up your ass. I want to walk across the fucking stage and get my diploma. Screw this bullshit!”

But so many of these kids handled it all so well. In some instances there were some very sweet tradeoffs.

The kids back in Utah who were in my kids’ old school district were all adopted by former teachers. I don’t know exactly how this worked because I know the school my daughter would have attended easily had a graduating class of more than 800. It is a huge school district and they keep building high schools. There must be at least 6 of them now. Not all have 800+ seniors but that’s still a lot of kids. Anyway, each student was adopted by one of their former teachers who dropped off a basket or bucket of goodies to the student.

I thought that was very sweet. It would be lovely if they could continue to do this even during times of no Covid-19, but I understand that it would undoubtedly get expensive for these teachers. And what do you do with the kids who haven’t gone to school in this district very long? I look at my own daughter who switched schools her junior year. Who would have adopted her?

The old me would have applauded these new traditions and thought they were they nice additions while simultaneously wondering what was going to happen to the real rites of passage for your senior year. This new me is trying to change my attitude and be okay with only the new stuff.

So I’m trying to embrace the Halloween candy slides that people built, and the parade of cars that would honk as they drove by the birthday boy or girl. I’m trying to appreciate the smaller, more intimate weddings that so many were forced to have if they wanted to marry in 2020. Realistically speaking if a couple was able to roll with the punches and was more focused on the actual marriage instead of the huge wedding and reception that’s a good thing. Maybe there will be fewer divorces with this round of weddings in 2020.

It’s very easy to have a bad attitude. I think it builds upon itself. It’s much more difficult to have a positive attitude.

I think back to being moved downtown. The supervisor who was moved with us tried to lift our spirits and encourage us by telling us to think of it as an adventure. Looking back on it now it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was. The equipment was actually better. There was a place to eat lunch that wasn’t my car or my desk. Yes, walking those few blocks through bad weather sucked. Dealing with crazy homeless people wasn’t fun. Plus, we were separated from everyone else. Truth of the matter is we’re still separated even though I’m back at the Ops Center. We still have people out and working from home. And it wasn’t like we were stuck in a dungeon.

Being split up in our department is still rough. I feel like pretty much my entire time in Overdraft has been spent flying by the seat of my pants. My partner works from home so any time I have a question I either need to call her, message her through Teams, or send an email. It’s not the simple, easy, leaning over your cubicle and asking a question. There is no having her watch over my shoulder as she teaches me something new. I can choose to look at this as a horrible, dreadful inconvenient thing (which it is), or I can choose to look at it as an opportunity to solve problems in a different way and a chance to spread my wings. It’s very easy to choose the first one and concentrate on the negatives but my desire is to change my attitude and focus on the latter. I am being given an excellent opportunity to show my bosses that I can be counted on and that when put in a sink or swim situation I am able to swim.

We don’t have a lot of perks in our department but what we do have is a huge Ops Center Christmas potluck each year. I was fortunate to be able to attend my first year. Last year I missed due to a family funeral. This year it was canceled due to Covid-19.

Normally our department has a white elephant gift exchange. This year, with the social distancing measures in place, we had a virtual Christmas party instead.

They brought in boxed lunches from Jimmy Johns and those of us who wished to participate drew names for a Secret Santa.

We all logged on to our computers at noon and spent the next two hours online, eating our lunches, sharing traditions, and talking about Christmas related things.

We also had a cubicle decorating contest, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, and daily holiday trivia. We collected donations for the local women’s shelter and received tickets for any donations we made, plus any correct answers to the holiday trivia and on the day of the party one of the supervisors drew names for various prizes.

It was not the Christmas we were used to but it was an effort to celebrate the season and to recognize all of us.

I frequently joke about the fact that I will get over whatever it is that is bugging me; I just need to be dramatic first. It’s so true; however, this year I’m going to try to work on my attitude and take the less dramatic path. I’m not saying I will be perfect each and every time, but I often hear things about how you can choose your attitude and which would you prefer: Being happy or being upset? I want to choose to see my blessings instead of focusing on what I don’t have. What is that they say? Comparison is the thief of joy? So true.

Let’s put these witch powers to work and conjure up a brand new, hopeful, optimistic attitude for 2021.