Athena Scalzi

Revisiting Conan Gray

Athena ScalziBack in August, I recommended some songs to y’all by an artist named Conan Gray (which you can find here). Though I generally like all his songs, I recommended four that I particularly loved, and today I’m here to talk about just one.

The one I want to recommend and discuss today is called “Generation Why.” While I like and can sometimes relate to Conan Gray’s other songs, this one in particular just hits different. It’s painfully relatable, and so catchy!

Here’s the lyric video:

So let’s break this down.

Starting with the title, “Generation Why”; this obviously is referencing Generation Y, aka Millennials. Being the age I am, I am the very youngest of Millennials, and pretty much the oldest of Generation Z, or the Zoomers. This is something I struggle with, and I know other people my age do, too. We don’t fit. We’re the inbetweeners, and don’t know who we should try to be like. Do we follow the trends of Generation Z, or are we too old and look like total dorks? Do we include ourselves in the blame when older generations call out Millennials for “ruining everything” and spending too much money on avocado toast?

So, “Generation Why” is relatable straight off the bat.

“This town don’t got much to do”. Hmm, what does that sound like? Oh yeah, my hometown. The whole area I live in, honestly. There’s nothing to do! It’s so boring here all the time (this is also why his song “Idle Town” is relatable, as well).

“Cause we are the helpless, selfish, one of a kind,

Millennium kids that all wanna die,

Walking in the street with no light inside our eyes.”

I mean, that’s so real! Everyone my age has this innate desire to just, not be alive. Not all the time, usually, but our humor is very death-centered, at least. We joke about jumping in front of buses and “committing not alive”. It’s just how we cope with all the trauma and death around us, I think.

“Cause at this rate of Earth decay,

Our world’s ending at noon,

Could we all just move to the moon?”

Again, so real! Our planet is dying, more and more everyday, and we are experiencing the effects of climate change and global warming in this very day and age. It’s such a big deal that it’s impacting my decision, and many of my friends’ decisions, about whether or not we should have kids. Should we really bring children into a world that is burning alive?

Not to mention all this talk about colonizing Mars so future humans can live off-planet. Like, we’re really considering moving to a whole other planet instead of just fixing ours?!

“We’re livin’ night to night,

Since we’re bound to die.”

Uh, yeah, that’s like my whole mentality. It’s hard to picture the future when, like I said, the world is dying and everything seems bleak and hopeless. And it seems like I’m not the only person my age who has this mindset. So we take it day by day, live night by night, because the future is not guaranteed. We’re hyperaware of our mortality.

Anyways, this post was really just to dive deeper into the meaning behind a song I really like, and explore what the lyrics mean to me. I hope you enjoyed the song, regardless of if you can relate to it or not. And have a great day!


Big Idea

The Big Idea: Katherine Cowley

Appearances are deceiving. This is especially true in Katherine Cowley’s newest novel, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet. Dive in to her Big Idea, and learn how there can be more to a person than shows on the surface.


The first time I read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I was eleven years old. Though I don’t remember much about that reading, I apparently liked the book, because I read it again a few months later.

By my mid-twenties, I had reread Pride and Prejudice several times and watched multiple film adaptations. (I value my life, so please no one tell the Keira Knightley haters that I prefer the 2005 film version.)

As often happens in fiction, I found myself drawn to the protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet. Not only does the narrator give us an inside perspective on a protagonist’s thoughts and choices, which creates a natural draw, but there was so much I admired about Elizabeth specifically. She loves books, she is witty and clever, she can be defiant of authority figures, and she’s insistent on making her own way. And of course, she gets her happy ending. What is not to love about Elizabeth?

But in 2013, as I re-watched the 2005 film I noticed—actually noticed and focused on—her younger sister Mary. While the other four Bennet sisters are all beautiful or clever or silly or popular, Mary is the forgotten, often-overlooked middle child. People laugh at her and mock her and demean her. She either says the wrong thing, or she cannot come up with anything to say at all.

Poor teenage Mary Bennet. If she lived up to the expectations of those around her, she would end up an awkward spinster living with one of her married sisters and being laughed at for the things she says and how she plays the pianoforte.

By the end of the film (which admittedly does flanderize Mary, playing up her awkwardness more than Austen does in the novel), I made the decision that everyone was wrong. Mary Bennet was more than everyone around her thought.

But if that was the case, who was she really? And what would she go on to do?

I could not stop pondering these questions. And one of the things that helped me clarify my thoughts was—believe it or not—social media.

Because I’m an older Millennial, social media did not really exist in its current iteration when I graduated from high school. (No regrettable teenage photos of me and my peers forever entombed on the Internet—yay!) I lost track of most of my classmates from the two high schools I attended, except for the handful of people I occasionally emailed or lived close enough to meet up with. But once Facebook and Twitter became too big to ignore, I got accounts and was suddenly social media friends with everyone I had known years before.

While there are numerous problems with social media, one thing I was struck by was how many people had defied everyone’s expectations.

In the high schools I attended, there were plenty of individuals who, as teenagers, were overlooked and forgotten. Some were mocked or bullied. Others were circumscribed by the many categories we use to define people (the soccer girls, the druggies, the funny kids, the band kids, etc.).

Now, as adults, a lot of these people had moved past these categories and the often-confining restrictions that came with them. And seeing this brought me joy.

Ultimately, this turned into the Big Idea for my book: who you are and how people perceive you when you are fifteen, eighteen, thirty-five, or seventy-two, does not determine who you really are and what you can do with your life.

As I considered this, I began to focus on the positive side of Mary Bennet’s traits. She’s a deep thinker, even if she doesn’t always express herself fully. She’s inquisitive, observant, and aware. And the fact that she often goes unnoticed? Well, in some cases going unnoticed is desirable.

Like, for instance, if you are a spy.

I knew, at that moment, that I had figured it out: Mary Bennet was a spy for the British government.

The idea simmered in my mind for years, as many of my ideas do. Then, in 2017, I decided that I was going to turn it into a book. And so I wrote a story about how Mary Bennet solves a murder mystery.

My book has a dead body on the seashore, a mysterious castle that’s not actually a castle but is built to look like one, clandestine meetings, a grand ball, beautiful dresses and ragged cloaks, and the ever-present fear of Napoleon Bonaparte invading Britain.

Yet ultimately, the book is about Mary setting aside the expectations of those around her and becoming the person that she wants to be.

The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter


A Quick Musical Interlude

I found the record label called Daptone Records, based out of California, which records bands in a very 60s sort of way, particularly via its Penrose imprint. I’m enjoying what I’m hearing and thought you might as well. Here’s a couple tracks for you.

— JS

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