Muddled in Upstate

I am constantly bombarded with new trends in food, fashion, social media and entertainment, as well as world news and information, that I sometimes want to pitch all my beauty products and go hike the Appalachian Trail. Thatís saying something because I havenít camped out since climbing Mount Mansfield in Vermont back in 1973.

Seriously. With each tidbit of knowledge I cram into this middle-aged brain, I alternate between the excitement of a new revelation and an overwhelmingly helpless sense of being way too far behind to catch up. The latter muddles everything like the limes, sugar and mint that go into a mojito, a cocktail that was all the rage in 2006, but probably not that new to anyone anymore.

Nothing is new for very long you see, and thatís just it: Keeping up is next to impossible. Those of us born before the mid 1980s missed out on the magical power dust that enables young people today to rapidly manipulate their thumbs and scan their eyes upon minuscule keyboards and screens. This microscopic element makes it possible to gobble up knowledge like feeding fish on a summer pond. ďOh, Iíll take that cool app because it will help me see where my friends have been. Did you see that YouTube show? Let me follow this or that fashion blogger so I can grab the sales before anyone else does,Ē they say.

I donít understand exactly how it works, but I feel like the younger generation is taking our hard-earned money by way of discounted prices on new products and services that are especially advertised online and in stores only they know about ... money for which we has beens had to work. Thatís not to mention how shamelessly todayís techies indulge themselves all day long being mega stars in their own hand-held commercial worlds.

Iím in the slow lane for sure. I recently had to ask a friend what Ďvaca pixí were, only to find out it was an abbreviation for Ďvacation pictures.í Another friend recently told me she found a deli that makes fresh mozzarella every morning. I didnít know that was possible. Iím so busy trying to keep track of what floats my boat and charges me up for another day in the second half of this journey that I canít possibly follow abbreviations, restaurants or any new trend. Writing and staying healthy is filling the bill. Minding the homestead and providing educational, recreational, love and support to the family take up the rest of my time. From there on in, man, most evenings itís just plain dark thirty and Iím ready for bed.

When I visit family or travel to business functions in U.S. cities like Houston and Orlando, or talk to college friends from the suburbs of New Jersey and Connecticut, all of their chatter has me feeling like Iíve been living in some sort of third world country here in the foothills of central New York. I hear people complaining about the same things, like the price of college, printing money and our Big Brother government, but most of the outsiders I meet express their excitement for restaurant vans that drive freshly made meals through their neighborhoods, real estate bargains, philanthropic endeavors in Haiti and Africa, music, movies and museum shows and hybrid cars. I recently sat next to an Ivy League-educated executive from India on a plane who said Americaís successful corporations will most certainly bail out its failing governments, and that I shouldnít worry about skyrocketing pensions and welfare costs. Really?

I donít see outsiders experiencing the daily stress of living in the same way those around me do in upstate New York. Ask any small business owner their cost just to employ people let alone to keep the doors open and you will hear tales of taxation, regulation and hidden fees on everything they do. Talk to any dairy farmer around here about low prices received at the farm gate versus skyrocketing inputs for fuel and equipment. Our property taxes are the highest in the nation, we have burgeoning workerís comp, Medicaid and pension liabilities, a declining population, school boards cutting curriculum in order to facilitate mandated student and teacher evaluations, young adults with insurmountable college debt and rampant crime related to mental illness and opiate abuse.

I often feel so far away from mainstream anything, especially what new billionaire genius is producing, directing and starring in what new movie or television show that is (Didnít you know?) based on a real life, billionaire genius who is inventing space ships. How could anybody in upstate New York possibly focus on Hollywood when our own sources of entertainment like snowmobiling, boating, hunting and fishing now carry cost-prohibitive licensing and registration fees? Thatís not to mention how depressing it is to see falling down homes and barns in our towns, garbage strewn along the roadways and teenagers pushing baby carriages into the county office building.

Maybe itís just the talk I hear and the local news I read, but people in my community have little, if any, time nor energy to keep up with the world spinning around them. Yes, the innovations and inventions will keep a-coming, but capitalizing on them depends mostly on your frame of reference, not to mention state, in America.

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