Lately I've found myself reveling again in my ghosts of teen-angst past. I'm sure it's not just the marketing push behind the recent Nirvana Greatest Hits that's made me dig out my copy of Incesticide and listen to it constantly. And I'm pretty sure it wasn't a feverish delirium that lead me to rent Pump Up the Volume when I was nursing a slight cold recently. (For the record, I followed my shirtless Christian Slater revelry with a Freaks and Geeks Marathon.) I've come to the conclusion that I have a pretty severe case of mid-20s angst. Unused to this phenomenon I've been turning to my old angsty security blankets. Because it's a lot more familiar to be wrapped up in the struggles of misunderstood loner vs. the pretty and popular than to deal with the reality of being a 25 year old on unemployment, watching movies all day. But I realize, now unable to watch My So Called Life for more then a minute without getting incredibly annoyed, I have matured and so has my angst. And perhaps my angst would be better handled with some appropriate material. Thusly, I delved into two classics of post-college angst: St Elmo's Fire and Singles.
Mid-20s angst in the '80s was apparently nursed by a lot of liquor and cocaine. While I haven't found either of those things to blast away any of my financial or career woes, maybe it's because I'm just not trying hard enough. Demi Moore's Jules Jacoby was a stand out character in my angst marathon because she dealt with her uncertainty in these very flawed ways: snorting coke and getting into lots of debt. Watching Jules flail around the screen made me say to myself, "Wow, she may have great clothes, but at least I'm not having a mental breakdown where Rob Lowe is the only one who can save me." In the end, the characters in St. Elmo's Fire decide to make the yuppie move from gathering over beers on Friday to brunch on Sunday, apparently symbolizing their newfound maturity. Unwilling to give up my rowdy alcoholic friends, the St. Elmo's solution did not heal my angst.
Mid-20s angst in the '90s was apparently nursed by lots of coffee and boob jobs. While I like the coffee sentiment, I feel my boobs are big enough as is, thank you. Though I spent most of my time while watching Singles giggling at Eddie Vedder's acting and Matt Dillon's wig, Dillon's Cliff Poncier jived with my own vision of mid-20s angst more than Kyra Sedgwick as a non-profiteer with a miscarriage, or Bridget Fonda as a 22 year old (ha!) waitress with enough money to get her chest enlarged. Cliff is that band dude with six jobs who spends most of his time dreaming success will fall into his lap and the rest of it delivering flowers. Though bandless, I do dream regularly that success will fall into my lap, and right now courier is starting to look like a real, vital career choice. Ultimately, though, the angst in Singles is all solved by love, and I refuse to believe that coupling with another miserable person will somehow banish my worries about getting into a decent graduate school.
It seemed that no movie could quell my mid-20s angst. This manifestation of angst appeared to have no universal battles, no succinct solutions. Without the unifier of the high school setting, angst seems to be able to take so many forms. And while I contemplated this, listening to my high school mix tapes, it dawned on me: being an adult is hard. Movies about becoming an adult are weepy and boring. And then I knew what my self-doubting, career-choice-questioning ass needed: scripted goofiness and attractive teens. I'm renting Empire Records tonight!