Friday Jukebox: Matt the Electrician’s “College”

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  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
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    says:

    Did I really want to ruin my life because I wasn’t willing to ruin my life?

    At 32, that’s pretty early nowadays to come to that moment.Report

    • Avatar Maribou in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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      says:

      Not even the first time I’ve felt that way, actually. Just the most recent.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Maribou
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        says:

        16, 20, 24, 29. Four waves.

        At 29, I stopped altogether shooting for “happiness” and started shooting for “satisfaction with occasional bouts of joy”.

        It was a workable tradeoff for me, and even wound up re-aligning the targeting mechanisms so that I get a lot more happiness than I thought I would.Report

        • Avatar Maribou in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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          says:

          Interesting. (Seriously, interesting, not just discussion-board-comment interesting.)

          For me those things (happiness, satisfaction, more-than-occasional bouts of joy) have always been wound up tight together. I get all of them, or none. Mostly what works for me is to stay in the moment as much as I possibly can. Future planning goes orthogonal to that, which is why I find it so noxious. However, I continue to have more of all of it than I ever used to imagine was possible. In 2005? 2006? I wrote a blog post in my private blog for our anniversary thanking Jay for not only being the chief catalyst of my happiness, but for raising the bar on what happiness meant.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Maribou
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            says:

            I’m not certain, and I don’t want to derail your post into a discussion of the drawbacks of the patriarchy for the dominant members, but there is a drawback.

            It seems more common in my experience for women to have to go through more waves of internal conflict than men, regarding how they’re supposed to juggle their home, work, educational, career, and self-regarding activities. I don’t envy this, myself, to be clear. You have the myth that you can have it all, and you have to struggle with resolving that myth to reality.

            Men – even guys like me who had a stay-at-home Dad for a goodly chunk of my upbringing, who had a major breadwinner who was the mother instead of the father – we have the greater culture hammering at us from about 2 until we die that we will work. For the guys who crack that mold, it’s a huge amount of internal and external work to do so. For the rest of us, who don’t crack it for whatever reason… it’s just sort of assumed. You register for the draft. You work until you die, unless you get lucky. There is no myth that we can have it all, we never thought that this was possible. That makes it a lot easier to assess tradeoffs at a much younger age, because you have less… hope? Wild optimism? I dunno how to phrase that properly.

            I never had any problem considering being the stay-at-home Dad, myself, but it was always regarded as an option for my significant other to take if it worked out for everybody. It was always in the back of my mind as “a decision that can only be made by either necessity or extreme luxury”. A constrained option. Entailment.

            Times like these made me wish I was 10 years older so that I would have had the time to write this stuff out of my head in a way that is clear.Report

            • Avatar Maribou in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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              says:

              *head-tilt*
              Perhaps it is a result of my cross-gender socialization at a young age (like, 3 or 4 years old until 7 or 8 years old, when I spent ALL my time with men), or perhaps it is a result of being the caretaking oldest in a family of 4 and not wanting kids, or perhaps a result of how sick my dad was and my mom working 60 hour weeks as a teacher for most of my late childhood and adolescence…. but it NEVER occurred to me that I could have it all, or that as a woman, I should expect to do so. (Maybe it’s just that I’m those extra 5 or so years younger than y’all?)

              Nor that I would ever not work; I’ve been employed continuously since I was 18, and employed continuously full-time since shortly before I turned 22, other than for the 1 year mentioned above, where I worked 15 hours a week and went to school full time.

              Which is not to say that I disagree with your generalization; more that for whatever reason, I can relate to it. So, I don’t think that’s the reason for the difference?

              (If you were talking about Jay raising the bar on my happiness as having a drawback for Jay… well, no – the reason he raised the bar is that I grew up in a catastrophically dysfunctional family, and had no idea of how happy people could actually be until I was several years into being so. Nothing to do with the patriarchy, I don’t think.)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Maribou
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                says:

                It NEVER occurred to me that I could have it all, or that as a woman, I should expect to do so.

                I grandly and sweepingly admit to an observer bias, here. I know a great many PhD wieldin’, high-falootin’-private-college-undergrad-degree-totin’ women. Some of the things I’ve overseen or overheard at various alumni meets admittedly don’t generalize at all. #whitepeopleproblems, you know?

                On the other hand, I know a decent chunk of folk from dysfunctional families and with all the not-awesome that comes with that, they all do have a huge advantage over the privileged folk in the “shit got real at an early age” department, so your experience isn’t entirely alien to me, either. Most of the feral guys I know were guys, though.

                I doubt there’s any real wisdom coming out of my pie-hole, here. Anecdotes and observations at best.

                At any rate, if I was giving an 18 year old advice I think a good solid is, “You’re going to ask yourself this question probably a half-dozen times in the next decade and a half… ‘Do I really want to ruin my life because I wasn’t willing to ruin my life?’ It’s a lot more common than, ‘Will I hate myself if I don’t grab at this opportunity?’, which is the trite thing that people will make speeches about at graduations, but the first question is a lot more important. I don’t really have much in the way of good advice for answering that question except ‘Don’t try to answer that without having at least a couple of good sounding boards to bounce off what “ruin your life” means to you when you ask it… because outside observation will maybe save you from a lot of agonizing and maybe a couple of really bad decisions, too.”Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                says:

                I think I will probably understand your point better when I’ve had more than 3 hours of sleep (yes, again)?

                I am totally behind your last paragraph, as long as we stipulate that at the end of the day, the best use of sounding boards is sometimes just to figure out what you yourself actually believe is the right thing to do.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I’m the 2nd luckiest man on the planet, dear. The only reason I could possibly see someone not being jealous of me is if they were jealous of you.Report

  3. Avatar weinerdog43
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    says:

    Maribou, thank you for that little essay. Never forget you’ve got those of us out in the ether whom search for good stuff like this. Well done.Report

  4. Avatar WSDave
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    says:

    Wow. I feel old. I remember seeing Matt the Electrician was clean shaven.Report

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