I married young. What are the rest of you waiting for? – Slate Magazine

Marriage these days signals that you’ve figured out how to be a grown up. You’ve played the field, backpacked Europe, and held a bartending gig to supplement an unpaid internship. You’ve “arrived,” having finished school, settled into a career path, bought a condo, figured out who you are, and found your soul mate. The fairytale wedding is your gateway into adult life. But in my experience, this idea about marriage as the end of the road is pretty misguided and means couples are missing out on a lot of the fun.

I married young. What are the rest of you waiting for? – Slate Magazine


Before having children, and provided we’ve moved on a little from the maelstrom of adolescence, it is possible to think of ourselves as good people: patient, kind, loving, tolerant. A few years of parenthood strips us of these illusions and we see ourselves in the raw: capable of fury, rage, pettiness, jealousy — you name it. For children confront us with the infantile aspects of our own personalities, the parts of ourselves we’d most like to deny, and we can hate them for it. Worse still, they can thwart our wish, even our need, to feel loving and effective.

That’s Edward Marriott on ambivalent parenting. Cf. Megan McArdle:

I wonder if we ought to re-examine our commitment to happiness. It seems to me that there’s possibly some merit – if we persevere and have the sense to learn from it – in the other-orientation that is (good) parenting. It’s fine to go through life happy, in other words, but I suspect we also want to go through life without becoming big fat self-absorbed jackasses. Children really help in that regard.

To be sure, there are too many parents who, despite their children, remain narcissistic nimrods. But the nature of parenting is to beat that out of you. There’s just no time to spend on ourselves, at least not like we would if we didn’t have babies to wash and toys to clean up, usually in the middle of the night, after impaling our feet on them.

People are inherently self-centered, and especially in a peaceful, prosperous society, this easily leads to self-indulgence that in turn can make us weak and ignoble. There’s something to be said for ordeals – like parenting, or marriage, or tending the weak and broken – which push us into an other-orientation. When we have to care for someone, we get better at, well, caring for people. It actually takes practice, after all.

Relationships are complicated, but happiness in a relationship isn’t: It’s just wanting exactly what you have. Wanting something else is dispiriting.

Paris Review – CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Preface, George Saunders

When I was in my twenties I had this plan to go to El Salvador and write about the experience. I had no money, didn’t speak Spanish, but this was “my dream.” I stopped by one day to see a friend of mine but found only his father home. I’d never spoken to this man before, not really. He was a truck driver, a father of eight, always went around in a white T-shirt and a pair of Buddy Holly glasses. But this day, we talked. I told him about my El Salvador plan, expecting him to find it indulgent. But instead he said, “You know what? You have to do it.”

“Yes,” I said, with the force of revelation. “I do. I really do.”

“And you know why?” he said. “Because you know who you’re going to blame if you don’t?”

I did know.

“Myself,” I said with a knowing smile.

“Bullshit,” he said. “You’ll blame your wife and  kids.”

I often thought of this conversation when I was stealing time from Radian to write this book. If I didn’t, I told myself, I was going to become a bitter old-fart version of myself, blaming Paula and the girls.

So I stole like a mother. I wrote in the bathroom, I printed using the company printer, I turned away from my Kodak report to jot things down, I edited while waiting for an offsite groundwater remediation system to purge, I sometimes blew off a full afternoon when I was feeling ripe, although usually, when that happened, I’d take work home, just to be fair.

(Cf. Amy Poehler.)

It’s been a few years since I’ve read any Saunders, but I’m really excited about his new book.

Paris Review – CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Preface, George Saunders

Both male and female INTPs may end up feeling guilty for having forsaken their social duty in favor of their own Introverted needs, perhaps not having satisfied either. While feeling true to themselves, they may be thinking, ‘I’ve screwed up again.’

Ha! Man oh man. Took the words right out of my mouth. I found this when I was reading Type Talk at Work yesterday. Definitely worth flipping through.

One is the Loneliest Number – NYTimes.com

I’d never considered this side of having children later in life. From Julie Shulevitz’s essay excerpted in the link above:

What haunts me about my children, though, is […] the actuarial risk I run of dying before they’re ready to face the world.

Older parents die earlier in their children’s lives. […] A mother who is 35 when her child is born is more likely than not to have died by the time that child is 46. The one who is 45 may have bowed out of her child’s life when he’s 37. The odds are slightly worse for fathers: The 35-year-old new father can hope to live to see his child turn 42. The 45-year-old one has until the child is 33.

One is the Loneliest Number – NYTimes.com

It seems to me that the ears that are listening make more difference than the way the music sounds.

Will Oldham aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy. This notion applies outside of music, too. Also? He put on one of my favorite concerts of all time a few years ago here in Atlanta. Brilliant dude. Excited to read this new book. (via Austin Kleon)

When people bypass simple solutions to write to someone like me, that tends to mean there’s an ulterior motive on board.

Caroyln Hax. Ha! Awesome.

Mad Love: The Surrealism of the Supernatural Romantic Melodrama, Part One « The Third Meaning

I hadn’t considered this. Socio-cultural roots of the modern fantasy melodrama?

Part of what makes supernatural romantic melodramas stories of amours fou, arguably, is how they go about addressing a fundamental problem for the love story in the contemporary social context: how do you erect obstacles between the couple? If they are in love enough for us to be invested in their situation, how can you have a plausible enough obstacle for them to have to overcome in order to be together? Unless you want to do a period picture (be it Thomas Hardy, Far from Heaven or The Notebook), class, nationality, religion, and other aspects of social background just aren’t sufficiently convincing barriers to a Western audience, even if really they should be; we have all been raised, mostly by movies and pop songs, to believe that True Love Conquers All.

Mad Love: The Surrealism of the Supernatural Romantic Melodrama, Part One « The Third Meaning

Abebe: Why Frank Ocean’s Coming-Out Was Unique

It’s become, I think, a straight American commonplace to want to dignify same-sex relationships by treating them the same way we would heterosexual ones — which means that when someone tells us, for instance, that he’s gay, some of us who are straight might silently assume his relationships are not just as valid as ours but fundamentally the same as ours. As habits go, it’s politically useful and often accurate, but it also means we don’t see much mainstream discussion of the way that figuring out a sexual identity, via any one of the million different paths we all manage it, influences a person’s experience of love itself and the stories they have to tell about how it feels.

Nitsuh Abebe, as thoughtful as ever.

Abebe: Why Frank Ocean’s Coming-Out Was Unique

Rarely do I have any shittiness that stays shitty. I either resolve it or walk away. Rarely do I let shit linger.

Basing your friendships on what people have to offer, vs. what you want from them, can make them closer than they’ve ever been.