KJ Hannah Greenberg

Among Generations

I long believed that I was a Baby Boomer but have been corrected that I belong to “Generation Jones,” i.e., that my place is among men and women birthed at the end of the Boomer Era through to the beginning of the Generation X Era. Nonetheless, a rose will always be a flower whether it’s a damask bloom, a tea rose, or a David Austin Juliet. Analogously, I will remain a safta whether I’m counted among an economically influential generation or among one that was birthed during Europe’s postwar reconstruction.

I don’t glow (except after bouts of physical fitness) and I do manifest “rosettes” of varying sizes (yes, I wear elastic-banded skirts; my shape has fluctuated over the decades at least as much as has my bank account.) It’s easy to grasp that I’m neither of the Mature Generation (as are my mother and my in-laws) nor am a Millennial/from Generation Y (as are my children, except for my youngest who, apparently, counts as Generation Z—ostensibly, their kids, my grandkids, are Generation Alpha). More exactly, I’m confounded as to in which box I belong.

All things considered, though, on the one hand, per my being a Joneser, my parents were prosperous in that they owned a house and a car. To boot, we ate meat during weekdays. I’m just not convinced that’s the correct rubric for me.

See, on the other hand, my husband and I “graduated into a long period of mass unemployment and deindustrialization. Adjusted for inflation, [our] wages have barely budged all [our] working lives.”1 Essentially, we overlapped with young Boomers and old Xers. Consequently, Computer Cowboy and I have been flummoxed by decreased benefits as well as by workplace ageism. Nevertheless, since we two suckled on the American Dream that was touted following World War II, and, for the most part (Hubs has remained on the cutting edge of high tech for decades), lacked the knowhow and vivacity of job seekers who were just a few years younger than us, we might be correctly placed, there. “[E]xperts underline the importance of distinguishing between the post-WWII demographic boom in babies versus the cultural generations born…between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s.”2

Interestingly, today, Jonesers constitute a significant per cent of the population.3 We’ve had many contemporaries with whom to share our vocational and other timebound challenges. Be that as it may, most things being unequal, I believe, ultimately, that while classifications can point us to empirical “truths,” such ordering truly remains useless for understanding individuals.

Consider that some of my agemates were born into more limited means than me but others were born into relative luxury. Further, those friends of mine, who were born into large families, lived with hand-me-down clothes and with dinners consisting, essentially, of peanut butter sandwiches, yet developed atypical emotional intelligence. In contrast, some of my other mates, such as the gal whose father was a bank executive, lived in homes that might be so grand as to occupy an entire block. As pampered children, they didn’t need to cultivate typical social skills, and, from what I’ve heard over the decades, never did.

Anyway, as things go, half a century has passed since my childhood. My relationships with associates whose families were struggling, akin to my relationships with peers who were well-to-do, have faded to haziness.

As per my spouse and me, we experienced economic highs and lows. He entered the workforce before the software bubble burst in the 1990s. I became a professor when “minorities,” e.g., women, were sought as tokens used to satisfy government mandates, i.e., to enable public colleges and universities to continue to receive federal funding. For a while, the two of us became conspicuous consumers (we bought a washing machine, a sofa, and a used car!)

As is normal, life cycled. My husband moved among three companies in as many decades. I left academia for full-time parenting. Our pecuniary well-being, then as now, ebbed and flowed.

These days, my partner remains a software architect. Every so often, he works toward fluency in a new computer language. For my part, I’ve skipped from full-time teaching, to part-time teaching, to continuing education instruction, to private workshops, to my current status; nowadays, I’m focused on fulfilling book contracts.

I’m not sure what our respective job streams indicate about the generation to which we “properly” belong. I do know, however, that regardless of with which group of folks we’re most likely to be seated, my dear one and I will continue to work, and, more importantly, be continue to be grateful for our blessings.

  1. Teresa Bryan Peneguy. “Jonesing for Prosperity.” Quora. 2018. Accessed 4 Jul. 2023.
  2. The Jones Group. “Generation Jones: Between the Baby Boom Generation and Generation X.” com. Accessed 4 Jul. 2023, 6.
About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.
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