I’ve spent a lot of time this week with my sister, who’s home for Thanksgiving, and the other day she asked me a question that I’ve been pondering for a few days now:
Are you a hipster?
It’s a label that I vehemently denied, but then Nora pointed out that one of the primary signs of hipster-hood is denial of hipster-hood.
“Hipster” is a label that’s been around for a few years now. The way I would define it is a youngish person who comes from the same socioeconomic background as the yuppie but claims to reject consumerism, listens to obscure music, laughs derisively at common American institutions like college fraternities, Taylor Swift, Bud Light and The Gap, and often wears tight corduroys and pointy shoes.
It was very important to me that I not be called a hipster. They’re just such a freakin’ smug bunch, ya know? I catalogued my evidence to the contrary: I’m not covered with tattoos or piercings, I don’t know a whole lot about indie rock; I don’t date guys with ironic mustaches; I’m not a vegan; I don’t live in Logan Square; I don’t ride a fixed-gear bike. I work at a Catholic school, for God’s sake, and adhering to the religion of your parents is one thing that any self-respecting hipster would never do, because laughing at the long-held traditions of your family is one of the central tenets of hipster-hood.
But Nora had one piece of evidence that could not be denied: I’m getting my MFA in fiction writing, which admittedly is a very hipsterish thing to do.
The truth is, people usually make assumptions when you tell them you’re getting your MFA in fiction writing. It’s not like you’re getting an advanced degree in law or nursing or education: accepted practical degrees which will naturally lead into a job or a pay raise. So when you tell people you go to school for writing, the look on their faces often indicates they think you’re silly or self-indulgent or perhaps a little strange. Sometimes they think you’re cool and alternative: that you take the road less traveled and prefer to blaze your own artsy path in the world. And often, they think you’re a hipster.
But again, what is so bad about being a hipster? I don’t know. I guess I associate them with wanting to look like artists, and being less interested in actually creating art. Which is the whole reason why I’m paying so much money to earn my MFA: to learn how to create the best art I can create, and then to go about creating it—without the help of a fedora hat or a PBR.
But, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit: this debate took place at Revolution Brewery…a gastropub that makes artisanal beers….in Logan Square. And maybe, just maybe, I was wearing a weird hat.
That’s the thing about older sisters: they’re usually right.