thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: money

slumps

I am trying to patiently wait out this period in my life, appreciating the solitude to a large extent but also hoping that this year is as lonely as it’s ever going to get. I feel like I have nowhere to go but up in terms of social connections!

http://www.webmd.boots.com/depression/news/20100929/unhappiest-people-are-in-their-late-30s-early-40s

Across Britain 2,004 adults aged 18+ were surveyed during the summer. They revealed that:

One in five of those aged 35-44 feel lonely a lot of the time, or have suffered depression. 5.1% say they have no friends at all.

Nearly one in three aged 35-44 think shorter working hours would improve family relationships

Communication is the biggest problem for over 800,000 35-44 year olds

25% wish they had more time for their family and 23% wish they had more time for their friends

14.2% of 35 – 44 year olds described their sex life as “dull” or “disappointing”

Tyler says 35 – 44 is when life gets really hard: “You’re starting a family, pressure at work can be immense and increasingly money worries can be crippling.”

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globe trotters

http://www.biographile.com/how-to-trade-awesome-for-awesome-qa-kristin-newman-himym/32312/

The idea that everything should be goal-oriented – with the goal for women so often being that we’re all supposed to get married and have babies, and if you’re doing something that’s not taking you toward that goal, that you’re somehow off-track or wasting time – I wasn’t ready for that when everyone said I was supposed to be. I worried, but that was the truth, and I hope that honoring that and not forcing myself to do something I wasn’t ready to do helps me have a happy marriage now. A lot of people get divorced because they feel that it’s time before they’re ready, and then they implode. I didn’t want that to happen to me. I watched it happen to my mother and some of my friends. Being single for a long time is like getting on a plane by yourself, which is absolutely terrifying: You’re alone, and you don’t know where you’re going. In life, we never know where paths are going to lead, but that’s the only way to happiness, right?

Interview here: http://www.gregfitzsimmons.com/2014/07/18/kristin-newman/

Her sentiments are nice, but as I’ve written before, she ends up getting married, and in the podcast interview discusses how she and her husband plan to have a baby someday (which is optimistic considering she didn’t marry until forty). I also couldn’t relate to her thirtysomething single life: the money she must have been making, the three to six months off a year for travel, the large group of globetrotting single/celebrity friends she was able to bond with when her other friends got married.

I did have a lot of fun going out dancing in my early thirties and then exploring L.A. in my late thirties, but friendships with people my age were few and far between and I was working like a dog through the economic downtown. I don’t know many single people who have had her type of life.

adding up

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/fashion/From-Joan-Didion-to-Andrew-Sullivan-some-writers-leave-behind-letters-when-they-leave-new-york-city.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

For Ms. Didion, in other words, money was simply an excuse. The reality was, in the relatively cheap New York of the 1960s, even a Vogue junior staff member like her — making $70 a week — could secure a centrally located Manhattan apartment with a view of, she thought, the Brooklyn Bridge (“It turned out the bridge was the Triborough,” she dryly amended) and pay for taxis to parties where she might see “new faces.” Sure, the early days were tough — “some weeks I had to charge food at Bloomingdale’s gourmet shop in order to eat,” she wrote. But in general, she could afford to hang around long enough to determine when she had stayed “too long at the Fair.” In sum, she could afford to fall out of love with the city slowly.

Not so for the would-be Didions of today. In their New York, the nice apartments with the bridge views tend to go to the underwriters of bond issues, not to the writers of essays for literary anthologies. The unaffordability of New York on a writer’s budget is a theme running through several contemporary variations on the theme.

I’ve been enjoying the book Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York written about in the article above; in doing so it’s occurred to me again that many of our stresses are caused by the fact that there’s just too damn many of us:

http://www.populationmedia.org/issues/population/

The world’s population is now more than 7 billion and continues to grow by 82 million people per year. During the last half-century, the world’s population more than doubled. Between 1960 and 2010, the world population rose from 3 billion to 6.8 billion. In other words, there has been more growth in population in the last fifty years than the previous 2 million years that humans have existed. Currently the rate of population increase is 1.2% per year, which means the planet’s human population is on a trajectory to double again in 58 years.

Which of course makes the idea of this movie laughable (and I can’t help but think how much better off the planet would be with less baby food jars, diapers, toys, etc.):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/lifetime-lottery-infographic_n_5297746.html

The combined stressors of too many people competing for jobs, wealth inequality, and the lengthening lifespan (elderly parents to support, the idea of supporting one’s own self through all the extra decades)… it all adds up. It’s no wonder the number of childless women is increasing.

fallout

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/30/a_very_ugly_blame_game_how_great_recession_is_affecting_people_in_totally_unexpected_ways/

We should’ve been able to do that, but, in practice — and I think this goes down to America and Britain being such unequal societies — we weren’t able to do so. We find that there had been very grave consequences in terms of social engagement — particularly in Britain. We find that there’s great consequences in terms of mental well-being, which are at least as marked, perhaps more marked, in the United States than they seem to be in Britain. And we find that there are consequences too —certainly more suggestively, but there’s still a lot to convince me — in terms of family relationships and how people get on with their nearest and dearest. All of these things that we like to think that money shouldn’t be able to buy — friends, family, community — all of these things have been tainted by the social fallout of Great Recession.

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.

hedging

http://www.alternet.org/economy/marriage-becoming-luxury-rich

In short, a full explanation cannot look at the family in isolation from economic forces. Any attempt to respond to family change must include reconstruction of the script for the college educated, prompting investment in careers and marriages that can withstand the stresses of career changes, children’s illness, and geographic mobility.

[…]

At the top, increasing disparities among men and among women have made both pickier about potential mates and wary of early commitments that might limit future opportunities. Women used to “shop around” for successful men. Male executives used to marry their secretaries, who would take care of them at home the way they did in the office. Now both look for mates who reflect (and enhance) their own expectations about the ability to enjoy the good life. Two substantial incomes rather than one make the difference between the home overlooking the golf course and the modest tract house in the less tony school district, and even if money is not at issue, the stay-at-home spouse with the Ph.D. possesses much more social status than does a high school graduate playing the same domestic role.

College graduates still largely forge lasting relationships and they typically will do so with one another, but they hedge their bets by delaying marriage and childbearing until they have a better idea of where they (and the partners to whom they commit) are likely to end up—concentrating elite advantage in the process as overwhelming numbers of them raise their children in financially secure, two-parent families.

[…]

These economic changes, which have increased the dominance of high-income men at the top, marginalized a large number of men at the bottom, and reduced the number of men in the middle, have unsettled the foundations of family life. To be sure, the family does not change with the stock market ticker or the seasonal adjustments in the unemployment rate. Instead, shifts in the economy change the way men and women match up, and, over time, they alter young people’s expectations about each other and about their prospects in newly reconstituted marriage markets. These expectations go to the core of what many see as a shift in values. The ambitious college students, who are said to have mastered the “hookup,” know that attending to their studies pays off in terms of both marriage and career prospects and that too early a commitment to a partner or to childbearing may derail both. Yet, they still largely believe that when they are ready, a suitable partner—male, female, or the product of a sperm bank—will be there for them.

Women who do not graduate from college are more likely to see childbearing as the event that will most give meaning to their lives, and they are more likely to respond to experiences with unreliable and unfaithful partners by giving up on men and investing in themselves and their children. These differing expectations, treated as the subject of moral failings, women’s liberation, and cultural clashes, are a predictable consequence of the remaking of marriage markets. At the top, there are more successful men seeking to pair with a smaller pool of similarly successful women. In the middle and the bottom, there are more competent and stable women seeking to pair with a shrinking pool of reliable men. What we are watching as the shift in marriage markets rewrites family scripts and increases gender distrust is the re-creation of class—of harder edged boundaries that separate the winners and losers in the new American economy.

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

living rich

This one is aimed at Canadians but is still quite useful for crunching the retirement numbers:

http://www.readersdigest.ca/health/relationships/truth-about-early-retirement

For some of us, early retirement may mean a chance to pursue new areas of study or to work part-time in an area that interests us. For Sadownik and Robinson, it means living by the ocean, travelling and attending a rich menu of cultural events. Three years after escaping from the work world, both are glad they made the decision to retire early. “Take the leap,” advises Robinson. “It’s been a real gift.”

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