Why Angst is Awesome

I was an English major and have read many of the great works, both prose and poetry.  

Shakespeare?  Check.
Steinbeck?  You betcha.
Twain?  For sure.
The list goes on: Faulkner. Poe. Kipling. Fitzgerald.
Want to congratulate me yet?
Woolf, Yeats, O’Connor, Cummings, Dickinson, Gibran, Tolstoy, Emerson, Plath.
What can I say?  I did a lot of reading (and skimming) in college.
But I have a confession. 
My favorite genre isn’t covered by any of the writers above.  It’s not even as classy as chick lit, though I wish it were.  No, my go-to reading belongs to the diciest of genres; it’s that angsty melodramatic stuff of tween dreams.
That’s right, I love Young Adult fiction.
Here are the facts:
  • As a kid I had a copy of Judy Blume’s Forever hidden under my mattress, like every other 13 year old girl in America in the late 80’s. 
  • I may or may not have planned my weekend plans around the release of each book in the Harry Potter books.  In college.
  • Being able to teach Young Adult literature like The Giver  and The Secret Garden was definitely one of the reasons I became a middle school teacher.  Realizing that I would never be able to add books like Prep or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to the curriculum may be the reason I left the profession 3 years later.
  • The Twilight series pretty much robbed my children of their mother for a week, which is how long it took me to read all of the books. 
Interesting tidbit: there is a server at a local restaurant who looks EXACTLY like Jacob.

      May I take my shirt off?  I mean your order?


  • I am currently putting off starting “The Hunger Games” until I have the time (and childcare) to commit to the series. 
The thing is, my obsession — and let’s be clear, that’s what it is — is not just limited to Young Adult literature.  It’s any public media involving teens, be they musical (“Glee”), supernatural (“Smallville”), or just drama-laden (“90210”). 
Case in point; my girlfriends from college and I once spent a weekend lounging on a blow-up mattress in my living room, watching every single episode of My So Called Life.  One of us was pregnant with our second child.  I’m not alone here, people.

He wasn’t smart but he sure was pretty.

And for the record, Jordan Catalano (circa 1995) is the only man I would leave my husband for.  Except for maybe Jacob from Twilight (Team Jacob. Root, root!), which is why I dine at said local restaurant about once a week.  Shame.
Don’t even get me started on Veronica Mars.  I had never watched a single episode until I discovered it on my Netflix “Things You Might Enjoy” queue.  I watched dozens of episodes, DOZENS!, over a period of about a week.  Oh Veronica, you pithy, witty sleuth.  Had I been a fan while the show was on TV you can be sure I would have revolted with fellow fans when the show was canceled without a proper series finale.

We’ll never know how it ended.  *sigh*

Pacey Witter.  Dylan McKay. Lloyd Dobler. Kevin Arnold. I loved them all.
Angela Chase. Kat Stratford. Allison Parker. Donna Martin. I wanted to BE them all.
So what is the draw here?  Why am I, an intelligent woman, mom, and professional, drawn to such drivel?  What is it about these high schoolers that hooks me?
It’s possible that watching Finn obsess over choosing between Quinn or Rachel is a lot easier than apologizing to my daughter or making time for the important moments.

But really?  I think it’s the melodrama.  Teen angst is so simple.  It’s all angst-athon, all the time. 

Gratefully, I don’t have a lot of turmoil in my life these days.  There were a lot of years when my ‘people picker’ was broken.  I consistenly chose to share myself with the wrong kinds of friends, co-workers, significant others.  I was addicted to the drama. 
I’ve spent the last decade systematically ridding my life of these uber-dramatic folks.  I bid a fond farewell to anyone who was emotionally unavailable, actively or passively critical, or overtly imbalanced. 
So maybe I use teen books, tv shows, and movies as a safe substitute for the drama that I no longer have?  Who knows.
The upside is that at least now you know what to get me for my birthday…

Seriously, does this guy EVER wear a shirt?

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