thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: jobs

impressionism

Some interesting experiences this week.

I attended an event where I met a woman from Portland who has been living in Los Angeles for about three years. I’d guess she is in her thirties. She isn’t crazy about her job, she just broke up with her boyfriend and dreads reentering the L.A. dating scene, she feels like she barely sees her friends because they all live far from her, and she has no family here. She’s considering moving to an area of the country where she has family but fears she’ll miss the stellar music acts she enjoys seeing in L.A. easily and cheaply.

I told her what she is going through is perfectly normal, and I just went through it. She was visibly relieved, as was I to be reminded again that the pluses and minuses of living in a city this size are experienced by all of us transplants.

I met a man at this same event who got his degree just a couple of years before me but is now head of a huge organization. He’s gay and has a partner. It made me wonder that if I hadn’t spent a great deal of my twenties and thirties distracted and depressed by the idea that I should be getting married and having kids, as well as not taking my career seriously because I assumed I eventually would do so, I’d be in his position now. He methodically climbed the ladder while I questioned my career and choices and journeyed down several blind alleys. Yet I don’t regret my forays into living abroad, other career paths, and the private sector. I would probably always wonder if I hadn’t travelled those paths.

Finally, when I first started writing this blog I mentioned my envy of a woman I know, someone who got a pricey arts education, dropped out of working in the field after a year because she didn’t like the politics, married a man from a wealthy family and had several children, and then after decades of not working got written up for some artwork she’d done in a studio in her house. I think it’s pretty common for women who’ve been supporting themselves for decades to feel irked by the dilettantism of wealthy wives. At that point in particular I felt like I’d been toiling in the understaffed, unappreciated trenches for far too long.

Recently this woman’s artwork came up again, and this time I was able to shrug it off. So she’s dabbling and putting some pieces in shows like a million other artists. I could do the same but have little incentive to do so, as I already earn a living and have derived self-esteem from having a career and supporting myself. When I do creative projects, they are just for my enjoyment. I don’t need to sell anything, and I don’t have anything more to prove.

scripts

With these changes, the new sexual script has become:

Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl runs through her checklist: is he a one-night stand? (If so, say yes.). Is he someone she will still want to be with in a month? (If yes, then say no tonight but arrange another date.) Is he someone who can help pay the mortgage on the condo she wants to buy but can’t afford? (Flirt some more.) Is she likely to end up picking up his dirty socks and his student debt? (No way, unless he’s really cute.)

— June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family, p. 44

the hard way out

Agree with this comment:

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/jun/02/teachers-round-on-kirstie-allsopp-over-babies-and-boyfriends-comments

clouds9
02 June 2014 8:36pm

The problem is that it’s so much harder to go to uni and build a career after having children. Taking 3 years out and paying for it is impossible for most families. My own mum went to uni for the first time in her late 30’s but struggled to compete with the fresh faced young nqt’s in teaching. Many employers are ageist, especially to women so you could fall from one trap to another.

Theoretically I can see her point, it is easier to have a baby young and it comes with benefits. Going to university with life and work experience under your belt would also be a good idea for some people but in the real world I’m not sure it holds water.

the system

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/jun/02/kirstie-allsop-young-women-ditch-university-baby-by-27

“Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward. At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home, and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue.”

Allsopp says fertility is the one thing that cannot change.

“Some of the greatest pain that I have seen among friends is the struggle to have a child. It wasn’t all people who couldn’t start early enough because they hadn’t met the right person,” she said.

“But there is a huge inequality, which is that women have this time pressure that men don’t have. And I think if you’re a man of 25 and you’re with a woman of 25, and you really love her, then you have a responsibility to say: ‘Let’s do it now.’

uphill slides

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/01/help_us_thomas_piketty_the_1s_sick_and_twisted_new_scheme/

Today productivity continues to increase, but Americans work more hours per week than they used to, not fewer. Also, more than workers in other countries. Correct?

The U.S., even under the New Deal, was always a lot stingier than most wealthy countries when it comes to time off: whether it’s maternity or paternity leave, or vacations and the like. But since the ‘70s, things have definitely been getting worse.

tuesday afternoon

I saw Ali Wong do this bit live once and thought it was quite funny:

http://m.comedycentral.com/videos/video.rbml?id=f5a7qr

the sniveling

This passage perfectly encapsulates how I felt during my last dispiriting period on the job market, before I returned to my profession:

My parents… generation has watched the social infrastructure they painstakingly helped to build being dismantled and sold off, while at the same time having to rescue their offspring who cannot get an economic foothold. Even in our mid to late thirties, my partner and I are chronically financially insecure, always on the verge of packing up and moving back to our parental homes.

Bringing up a family on a modest income, improvising and making do, work was then a source of pride and stability, a solid base on which to build. Now, for us, the pressure of precarity demands a new sort of virtuosity and a different outlook… Work is no longer a secure base, but rather a source of anxiety and indignity, both a matter of life and death and utterly meaningless, overwhelming and yet so insubstantial it could run through our fingers. It is normal to feel under threat and undervalued, to feel snivellingly grateful to have a job, any job. We must be sure not to take work for granted and yet be willing to be taken for granted ourselves. We endure a similar level of “making do”, but without the home or kids, and without the security of regular employment. We can barely live independently now. How will we be able to bring up children, or support them in similar circumstances? The future is no longer something to look forward to, but something to dread.

Again, from my family I inherited no world-shaking political beliefs, just a desire to be part of a community, to do a useful job which was not driven by private profit and to cultivate outside interests rather than be defined by a 24/7 career. Such an attitude, far from being revolutionary, used to be the norm, even a non-attitude. But now the tide has come in, and anyone with such eccentric ideas finds themselves stranded way out to sea on a sandbank with the waves lapping at their feet and the vultures circling above. By maintaining the same moderate position we have become radicals by default. Smiling swimmers beckon toward us (“Come on in, the water’s lovely!”), but we know that we are in a contradictory no-win situation: our future survival depends upon immersing ourselves from head to toe in an ideology which we know is poisonous.

— Ivor Southwood, Non-Stop Inertia, pp. 76-77

recolonization

I started writing this blog two-and-a-half years ago and the changes that have slowly come over me during that period have been profound. To wit:

1. When I get up in the morning my first feeling isn’t “Why get out of bed?” but the desire to fire up my computer and read my favorite websites and blogs and do a little writing.

2. On the way to work I practice Spanish via listening to audiobooks– I haven’t let full-time work prevent me completely from pursuing some other long-term goals.

3. I no longer have the sense, as I did throughout my twenties and thirties, that I’m waiting for the “main event” but it isn’t happening. When I was younger I would get distracted for long periods of time by interests and hobbies but was often hit by the feeling that another year was passing and I was still in the same dreary position. I had chosen my career out of practicality and had never expected it to be my whole life. At some point it was supposed to either end or be supplemented by a husband and kids. That expectation is gone and with its disappearance has arrived the anticipated relief that the wait is over.

4. My solitude has become gold. Being social is still valuable and gets me out of my head and introduces me to new ideas, but having alone time feels like the bigger treat. When occasional loneliness strikes I reframe things so that I view time with myself as the ultimate luxury. I truly have become my own best friend and have to fight not to see other people as an imposition. The upsides are that my expectations of other people have become almost nil so I never stew anymore over perceived slights, and I don’t feel the need to verbally “vomit” everything I’ve been holding in when I do have conversations. Part of this change in perspective is that the conversations I have with other people, while enlightening, are rarely as rich as the conversations I would like to be having and that I have with myself (and in my head with other writers).

5. I have meditated nearly every day for close to two years. That probably factors in.

6. After my recent bad experience with having a roommate, I no longer want one.

7. I have “recolonized” my mind while at work. As I’ve written recently, I’ve had to rein in my personality on the job. At first that felt painful, but it’s amazing how easily I’ve since adapted. What keeps me sane is the idea that my mind is still my own, even while on the clock.

open books

I was listening to, yes, a podcast the other day, and the woman being interviewed said she never listens to music or watches TV anymore– all she does is listen to podcasts.

I can relate in that I have no idea why I’m paying for cable. I rarely turn on the TV anymore. I still listen to a lot of podcasts, although I’ve cut my listening down from what it once was.

One of the reasons I like podcasts so much is, like everyone else, I’m stressed out and busy and podcasts allow me to multitask. Along those same lines, I, like most people these days, have little time for long, intimate conversations either in person or on the phone, so podcasts fill that hole.

The other thing I’ve realized, though, is that podcasters (and celebrities in general) are rewarded for an honesty and an airing of dirty laundry that the rest of us can only dream about. As the competition for jobs becomes ever fiercer, the average citizen must build a carefully crafted image that allows for no vulnerability, no strong opinions, and no mistakes.

Podcasts allow us to vicariously experience humanity in all its messy complexity, a messy complexity that, in our personal lives, we must keep under wraps.

investments

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0199916586/?tag=saloncom08-20

In Marriage Markets, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn examine how macroeconomic forces are transforming our most intimate and important spheres, and how working class and lower income families have paid the highest price. Just like health, education, and seemingly every other advantage in life, a stable two-parent home has become a luxury that only the well-off can afford. The best educated and most prosperous have the most stable families, while working class families have seen the greatest increase in relationship instability.

Why is this so? The book provides the answer: greater economic inequality has profoundly changed marriage markets, the way men and women match up when they search for a life partner. It has produced a larger group of high-income men than women; written off the men at the bottom because of chronic unemployment, incarceration, and substance abuse; and left a larger group of women with a smaller group of comparable men in the middle. The failure to see marriage as a market affected by supply and demand has obscured any meaningful analysis of the way that societal changes influence culture. Only policies that redress the balance between men and women through greater access to education, stable employment, and opportunities for social mobility can produce a culture that encourages commitment and investment in family life.