Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lingering Adolescence

Adolescence, derived from the Latin word adolescere meaning "to grow up", is defined as a transitional stage of physical and psychological development...generally occurring during the period from puberty to 'legal' adulthood. For argument's sake, let's say it generally begins when one first attends high school and likely finishes when one is near completion of undergraduate studies at college (though the departure from the collegiate lifestyle often brings about its own set of changes like adolescence and forces one to adjust or acclimate to the "real world" per se). That is what I intend to explore; instances where adolescence lingers and adulthood has yet to fully coalesce. 

For instance, when a bright and athletic girl graduates from a prestigious East Coast college, moves in with friends to share an apartment after graduation, accepts a position at an established scientific research firm, but yet she somehow struggles with and stumbles through her newfound adulthood. Things seem to be going well for her. After a year or so at the research firm, working in a sales capacity, she decides to pursue a different avenue and joins a different company...incidentally, it is a more lucrative sales position. She dates and has a boyfriend. She spends time with her friends, the same group from high school and college, and spends time with her roommates. She maintains a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend for some time. They eventually dissolve their relationship and after some time passes, she begins a new relationship with another man, who incidentally works at the same company where she is employed at the time. 

He receives a transfer to another city and she contemplates relocating with him. She's now in her mid-twenties, only graduating from college a couple of years ago. It is a fairly big decision to contemplate. Should she leave the only people she has ever known and called friends or family behind? It is not as if she is relocating across the globe... Rather, it would potentially be an hour flight or perhaps a five or six hour drive. Her lease is up at the apartment she and her girlfriends share. Not everyone is certain they will renew their lease as her friends have begun or have been in relationships and are considering living alone or with their boyfriends. The timing seems impeccable... but it was not meant to be. 

Prior to making the move, their relationship dissolves for one reason or another. Instead of moving out of state or renewing the lease with her girlfriends, she finds herself newly single and moves back to her family home where she was raised. Fortunately, she is able to continue her employment without issue as the commute is not that difficult. She does not remain working at that company much longer and seeks out employment at a different company in a similar capacity. It makes sense at the time. Breaking up with someone you worked with can be embarrassing, even if they now work out of another office. After all, she's still technically in her mid-twenties and "job-hopping" is acceptable when one is first starting out...or at least when one is in their early or mid twenties after college, right?

Her new position is very demanding, stressful, and detrimental to her ego and self-esteem. She cries at and after work often, though always in private. However, she is determined to stick it out and make the best of it. She works in sales in a startup company that has the potential to open up a lot of doors and opportunities further down the road... but she has to find a way to keep her sanity while managing to appease one of the most demanding bosses that parallels or mirrors the likes of Miranda Priestly in the novel The Devil Wears Prada. She manages the emotional and psychological abuse from her employer as best as she can. During this tumultuous time she still resides at her family home and commutes daily. Part of the joy in her life is being able to see her mother on a daily basis and spend time with her. She is the youngest of four and shares a special bond with her mother, being the only girl. They share an almost obligate symbiotic relationship...  

Despite the trials and tribulations that her career throws her way, she battles another war at home: the war on cancer. Her mother has been quietly fighting the good fight and while she has relied on her daughter's emotional support during her pervasive medical treatment, the girl relies on similar emotional support, guidance, and friendship from her mother. After extensive medical treatment, her mother eventually finds herself in remission. No more cancer. No more invasive treatments, medications, and hospital visits. However, due to the girl's preoccupation surrounding her best friend's cancer (her mother) and facing the fact that she almost died, her work suffers. The "Miranda Priestly" like boss that the girl is practically enslaved to, eventually tires of the girl's worry and preoccupation with her mother's ailments. Her boyfriend tries to be supportive but is unsure how to help. He comedically nicknames her "Cinderella" after the Disney movie, since she has assumed all household duties in addition to aiding her mother's medically with minimal support or recognition from her family. He feels guilty when taking her our for an evening for dinner or a movie, though he knows she needs time away to clear her head. She has taken significant time to takeover household duties and ends up sleeping very little. She takes time off from work when she can... but unfortunately FMLA (United States Department of Labor Family Medical Leave Act) does not apply to secure or protect her job, since she is not yet vested. 

In essence, if she had either remained employed at her prior company (despite the embarrassing boyfriend breakup situation and possible HR issues, though she was in the "right" in this instance) or been employed by her current company for 12 months or more, she could invoke FMLA protection and take time off to care for her mother without the fear of loosing her job after exhausting her accrued vacation or paid time off. You see the girl is very emotionally sensitive. It is difficult for her to hide the sadness she feels. It is difficult to remain strong when you almost lost your best friend, confidant, and mother so young due to cancer. Yes, there were days when she came in on a Monday morning still hungover from weekend antics... but what twenty-something has not experienced that? Again, she is still in her mid-twenties and yet, has experienced vastly more than many her own age. The good news? Her mother is in remission. The bad news? Her boss terminates her and she looses her job.

It ultimately was a blessing in disguise for her. She no longer lived in constant fear of her mother's health or imminent demise. She also no longer feared the wrath of her boss and no longer had to work 55+ hours a week. She decides to join her boyfriend, who she had been dating for about a year, at his lake house about an hour or so away from the childhood home where she resided. It began as spending the late spring enjoying the lake. Spring turned into summer. It continued as the seasons changed and they stayed to watch the leaves turn to gold and fall to the ground. They stayed for the first snowfall and made occasional trips home to their families for the respective holidays. They returned to watch the first snowfall and stayed to skate on the frozen lake and venture to the mountains to ski. The two of them made the occasionally used lake house into a real home. Her boyfriend worked from home and consulted for a few local businesses in town. She found part-time work in the town working at a restaurant. It was idyllic. She applied for and was later offered a teaching position, which was splendid. Since her background was in education, though she had never pursued it previously as a career, she found a new appreciation and desire to teach. They stayed to watch the tress and flowers bloom while the mountains turned green once again. There was no stress or worry like she and her boyfriend had experienced in the past, though it would inevitably come knocking.

Both she and her boyfriend needed to return to their childhood homes after spending a year or so away. Her mother's cancer had returned. His father had had serious complications from surgery and had developed dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Chrohn's disease, and a myriad of other health issues where he was unable to care for himself and maintain his independence. After a tremendous fight with cancer, her mother passed away 6 months after they both returned home respectively. The girl's world was shattered. Both she and he lived separately. They both resided at their respective childhood residences, left to pick up the pieces and try to move on with their lives; both together and independently. Now in their late twenties and approaching thirty, they both wondered where to begin, how to rebuild, and what to do next.

The once bright and exuberant girl became unmoored after the death of her mother. Adolescence was gone, yet adulthood had yet to fully coalesce. She remained stuck...unable to move. She was paralyzed. There is a grace period for grieving...and it came and went; passing her by and leaving her behind. It became pathological. It is like when adolescents are growing up in their twenties: there's an acceptable time when being a mess is charming, interesting, and fun. Then, inevitably, one hits their late twenties and what was once considered charming is now considered obsolete and juvenile. People lose respect for you. They grow tired of you and your issues or baggage. They tire of your sadness and excuses. They begin to wonder why you are the last to grow-up, take responsibility, and move forward with your life.

These are the same people that she formed as her new family or friends when heading off to college. Those relationships and friends typically carry you into your twenties. And then suddenly, when people start coupling off in a very serious way, or choosing selfish things over the group, and if you aren't there yet and making the same 'selfish' decisions, it is devastatingly traumatic. Why? Quite simply because you are watching the people around you make decisions for themselves and what they need, as opposed to what the group is doing or wants and you watch them move forward with their lives while you remain behind.

One's peers have moved on with their lives and you're stuck in that post-adolescence / pre-adulthood persona... the last of the Mohicans. This was her. Her friends were not dealing with grief, sadness, depression, and death. Instead they were engaged, getting promoted, becoming married, and having their first child. Her girlfriends had not lost that special bond with their mothers, let alone lost their mothers to disease altogether. Her friends had no idea what was on the horizon for them in their own lives, as she explored this unknown territory seemingly alone. Her own biological family and siblings even turned on her, failing to understand the depths of the disease of depression and offering little patience. This was the tipping point for her.

Which brings me to my point. We rarely ever know when we are doing something for the very last time. We just know when it is over... kind of like our adolescence.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Switching Your iPhone To T-Mobile? Think twice.

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press. iPhone™ Apple Inc. T-Mobile™ Deutsche Telekom AG
Thinking of brining your current or old iPhone to T-Mobile? I suggest you think again...

Normally I do not involve myself in such trivial musings, however T-Mobile has become rather aggressive with its slanderous media campaign primarily against AT&T. I'm not even going to go into detail about their bogus so-called "bandwidth" television commercials involving various zombies, icemen, and otherwise 'slow' or 'behind-the-times' characters. I mean seriously, does anyone actually believe that T-Mobile "4G" allegedly has 50% more bandwidth than AT&T? Did T-Mobile forget that they have only recently begun implementing HSPA+ increased backhaul? Perhaps they did.  They rolled HSPA+ increased backhaul much later than AT&T...and only in small and limited areas. T-Mobile has very limited 4G-LTE availability only in a few select markets and is hoping to launch additional markets in late May or June 2013. But I digress... Thanks to a variety of reasons, you probably won't want to bring your iPhone over to T-Mobile's network (even despite the discounted monthly rates).

The biggest issue with porting an AT&T iPhone 5 (and various other phones/makes/models of smartphones including the iPhone 4) to T-Mobile is compatibility with the T-Mobile network. They have been working very quickly to "upgrade" the network across the country to support the frequencies used by the AT&T iPhone. However, until that is completed, the phone you bring over to T-Mobile will be limited to the slower 2G EDGE (or HSPA+ if you are lucky) and won't work with T-Mobile's faster 42Mbps HSPA+ network. For example, if you currently have an AT&T iPhone 5 and cancel your service and have your iPhone 5 unlocked (preferably prior to terminating service with AT&T), your phone would only be compatible with T-Mobile's slower 21Mbps HSPA+ network in about 50 cities across the country and only a handful of cities that support T-Mobile's LTE coverage. If you are not in the handful of cities with T-Mobile LTE nor the aforementioned 50 cities with their slower 21Mbps HSPA+, you will be forced to skip 3G altogether and end up using T-Mobile's 2G EDGE service on the rest of their network footprint. Doesn't sound so good after all, does it?

Want to switch your Sprint of Verizon iPhone 5? You're in the same boat as the other customers that are limited to the 21Mbps HSPA+ network in those 50 cities... and you will also be out of luck in T-Mobile's LTE markets as well, as your Sprint or Verizon iPhone 5 just doesn't support T-Mobile's version of LTE. Have a Sprint of Verizon iPhone 3 or iPhone 4? Those won't work at all. The only solution? Buy an iPhone 5 from T-Mobile directly and you will have access to their 42Mbps HSPA+ network, the 21Mbps HSPA+ network, and the LTE network where available. According to Apple, they will not be upgrading current units to be fully compatible with T-Mobile's network... The upgrade will only apply to new iPhones sold after April 2013 for T-Mobile's network.

The reason for this rant? Truth in advertising... I do not wach much television but I become very upset when I see these advertisements from T-Mobile that are clearly manipulating some outdated study and are duping people out of their hard-earned money. If I honestly thought it was a good buy for consumers and that consumers would be happy after they "jumped ship" from AT&T, I wouldn't say a thing... I only write this because of the year and a half I spent in wireless sales... and no, I am not simply an AT&T loyalist: I just call it like I see it and let the facts speak for themselves. 

iPhone™is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. T-Mobile™ is a registered trademark of Deutsche Telekom AG