Modern Madness

I went to a community presentation last night about “mindful parenting”. (Combine two trendy words and make a better trendy word!) The speaker began with information about how stress was bad for you. (Shocking, I know.) She included lots of big words about brain parts. (It’s science, I tell you!) Then she gave lots of tips and tricks for calming down (deep breathing, being grateful) for people whose lives are nutso, but don’t want to make any serious changes in their lives. She posted lots of pictures of the book that she was selling and her website where she was selling other stuff. She’s paid to give a talk and then uses the talk to make more money.

It’s a good gig. I want in.

But I suppose people are looking for answers in a world where 31-year olds work themselves to death.

We’ve kept our marbles by arranging the family with one real job and one flex job. For years, our parenting responsibilities were so extreme that it wasn’t possible to manage everything with two real jobs. Maybe if we had a full time housekeeper/babysitter, we could have done it. Things are getting easier now, but we’re still not ready for me to get a real job with a real commute. Ian needs someone to take him to all of his therapy, band practices, and doctor appointments. And his bus didn’t show up twice this week, so I made the 1-1/2 hour round trip with him. We can handle emergencies with the flex job.

But this system doesn’t work for a lot of families. So, they are breathing and looking for quick fixes.

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37 thoughts on “Modern Madness

  1. I find that I am much happier if I never go to school presentations. I go to: Open House, Parent-Teacher Conferences, and all band performances. Everything else I skip.

  2. I had a thought last night, relevant to this post and to Laura’s earlier one about UMC (some very U) members who don’t call themselves rich. One thing to consider is that the costs of some basic UMC accoutrements (i.e., tuition and luxury housing) have increased much faster than overall inflation. So UMC members who grew up UMC feel that they are not living as well as their parents, and they don’t feel rich. They feel stressed.

      1. “A common concern and source of disappointment for many of these financially successful 70-year-olds was the comparatively unsuccessful trajectories of now-adult children.”

        Choose a less expensive trip and take everybody?

        “The mother of a physician, for example, talked about how a young woman had lied about being on birth control and was now harvesting child support from her son.”

        An MD! *facepalm*

        “I also attended a semi-official “singles” gathering. Nine people showed up, all women. How did they get to be “single”? Most had been successful divorce plaintiffs 10-15 years earlier, which led one passenger to quip “That’s how they’re able to afford Crystal.””

        The statistically more common poor divorce plaintiffs are all home…

        I have to note here that Greenspun focuses an odd amount of his post on dysfunction, whereas the vast majority of his fellow luxury cruise passengers are there because they got their ducks in a row and kept them there.

        Because I have to ask, how much does he make/what does he do, and how much is his child support? If he’s paying his own way on this cruise, tsk tsk for whining in public under his own name.

      2. AmyP: That’s the only type of cruise that I could see doing – something related to an interest. Music (jazz, bluegrass, chamber music) or film or history. Otherwise it just feels to me like being trapped in a floating hotel.

      3. Oh, Philip Greenspun is lots of fun to read on money. He’s very public about things like buying his condo, renovating, buying and operating a plane, . . . .

        He started a company called Ars Digita in the first internet boom, and ran it on his own terms (say, for example, giving use of Ferrari to employees who referred a certain number of people). He accepted venture capital funding, and the funders eventually forced him out of the company, buying him out at a moderate payoff (on the order of 10-20 million). He’s frugal, on the scale of things, so that’s been enough for him to chose not to work unless he wants to.

        Some number of years (10?) ago he married, had a child, and then divorced. His ex-wife was awarded about 45K in child support, under a doctrine that imagined that the child should be able to to live comfortable with either parent. He challenged the case, lost, and became an advocate of the father’s rights movement, including supporting a web site on divorce law in different states and writing a book. Along the way, he seems to have decided that women get pregnant and have babies in order to extract money from men.

        (he now seems to have a second child, whose origin I do not completely understand — the first child is part of the divorce proceedings).

        I’ve followed him for years because he used to run a photo site, 20 years ago now? called Photo.net.

        bj

      4. he now seems to have a second child, whose origin I do not completely understand

        I thought the explained that to everybody now. Did you go to high school in Texas?

      5. bj said:

        “It’s Greenspun. I’m wondering if cloning was involved.”

        !!!

        I’m a bit of a student of the manosphere (terrible hobby, I know), and some of those guys love the idea of sexbots and artificial wombs.

        Even without that, given contemporary US law, with appropriate financial means, he could buy eggs, hire a gestational career and have a motherless baby of his very own.

      6. sandrat212 said:

        “AmyP: That’s the only type of cruise that I could see doing – something related to an interest. Music (jazz, bluegrass, chamber music) or film or history. Otherwise it just feels to me like being trapped in a floating hotel.”

        I felt the same way (that it was a sort of floating human veal-fattening operation) until I started hearing about themed cruises. This was the article that opened my eyes:

        http://www.ukulelemag.com/stories/uke-in-n-cruisin-part-vacation-part-immersive-workshop-ukulele-themed-cruises-are-taking-off

        I’ve never been on a cruise before, but having big kids that I’d like to travel with, I’m suddenly awake to the charm of having meals, hotel and transportation taken care of and not continually hauling luggage around.

        The other cruise that’s caught my eye is something like this:

        https://www.princess.com/find/searchResults.do?subTrade=RNO,RSR,VER

        That’s Berlin, Tallinn (Estonia), St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo in 11 days without the misery of moving kids with suitcases and continually packing/unpacking. There are also some itineraries with Gdansk, which would be very nice, given the children’s Polish heritage.

        We’ve never taken the kids anywhere more exotic than Vancouver and it’s been 18 years since I’ve left North America, so I would really appreciate getting spoon-fed Europe.

        Husband is kind of meh about travel (as he has to do so much for work), but even he likes the idea of doing a British cheese tour.

      7. AmyP – that European tour sounds great! A friend of mine takes cruises every year. She’s on one in China/Japan right now. I’m still a sceptic but an open-minded sceptic. That ukulele one looks amazing! (I have two ukulele players in my bluegrass group).

        Quick music digression – the cottage next to our lake cottage is owned by a retired gentleman who plays early recorder music for fun. He has other talented recorder musicians over periodically for an entire day of renaissance ensemble music. Such a pleasure to listen to – motivated me to dust off my clarinet (performance major in university).

        We spent three weeks in Italy in 2016 and drove all over, staying in apartments. I was a bit meh about the road trip part but I’d so do it again.

        Another friend moved to London 15 years ago and is enjoying the proximity to the continent. Two weeks ago a weekend in Spain, another in Italy and also another in Tallinn.

        Vancouver is far from exotic! 🙂

      8. sandrat212 said:

        “AmyP – that European tour sounds great!”

        Yeah, it really resonates with me for a lot of reasons–my family history, husband’s family history, places I’ve been, etc.

        I may actually cut the kids’ Polish grandma in on this at some point.

        “A friend of mine takes cruises every year. She’s on one in China/Japan right now. I’m still a sceptic but an open-minded sceptic. That ukulele one looks amazing! (I have two ukulele players in my bluegrass group).”

        I see there are bluegrass cruises, too, along the same lines.

        https://bluegrassandbluewatercruise.com/

        “Quick music digression – the cottage next to our lake cottage is owned by a retired gentleman who plays early recorder music for fun. He has other talented recorder musicians over periodically for an entire day of renaissance ensemble music. Such a pleasure to listen to – motivated me to dust off my clarinet (performance major in university).”

        Fun!

        “We spent three weeks in Italy in 2016 and drove all over, staying in apartments. I was a bit meh about the road trip part but I’d so do it again.”

        Yeah. We wouldn’t drive in Europe (especially not Eastern Europe–you’ve seen the Russian dash cams?) and I know from experience that trains with kids can be challenging. It was pretty challenging even just when my husband and I did a sort of late honeymoon to Germany, Austria and Poland back in the late 90s. We did fine, but we had a lot of local family help with logistics for about half of our trip.

        I find family travel in the US hard enough that I would appreciate some hand-holding, especially if I’m the only adult.

        “Another friend moved to London 15 years ago and is enjoying the proximity to the continent. Two weeks ago a weekend in Spain, another in Italy and also another in Tallinn.”

        Nice! Tallinn is really charming–we had a brief side trip there when I was studying in St. Petersburg.

        Side brag–I’ve also been to the Tatar Khan’s palace in Crimea:

        https://www.rbth.com/arts/2016/08/20/an-oriental-tale-6-facts-about-crimeas-bakhchisarai-palace_622623

        “Vancouver is far from exotic! 🙂”

        Yeah.

      9. dave s.,

        So I’ve been skimming through his posts, and my conclusion is “bright but obtuse.”

        For example, he thought that North Korea must not be as poor as they say, because Pyongyang is so clean and tidy-looking.

        (The AmyP answer to that: repressive governments can make things look good for visitors because they’re repressive and have vast amounts of free slave labor available to make things clean and tidy.)

      10. dave s.,

        I’m kind of enjoying my trip down the Greenspun rabbit hole. Whee!

        http://blogs.harvard.edu/philg/2017/07/20/refugees-dont-love-the-baltic-countries-as-much-as-mom-and-i-did/

        “In all three Baltic countries I learned that having sex with the richest person in the country would yield only about 200 euros per month in child support (if they’d come to Boston for a week, for comparison, and had sex with a dentist, they’d get a wire transfer of $3,333 per month for 23 years under the Massachusetts guidelines…”

        Don’t male dentists tend to be respectably married with children? Where are all these swinging bachelor dentists?

      11. Men do realize that when used properly condoms are quite effective, right?

        When I hear men (or anyone) vehemently complain about child support, I always wonder how much they actually love their children.

      12. B.I. said:

        “Men do realize that when used properly condoms are quite effective, right?”

        And specifically men who work in healthcare, went to school until they were starting to grey, and make $200k a year?

        How often do men who fit that profile have children out of wedlock?

      13. Yes, I thought Amy might enjoy the Greenspun rabbit hole. I hadn’t really understood where he was going, but the description of the manosphere makes sense.

        I do feel bad for his daughter, though. All of the info is so public, and directly associated with his name. If I’d written stuff like that, my kids would have known about it all.

      14. Greenspun’s is one of the blogs I read fairly regularly. Now, I got married once, we have three kids and those are my only kids, we are still married and I expect will be when one of us dies. So the stories about playboy dentists (!) are only odd and sort of titillating for me. But he has primed me to see an issue here. Here in the DC area: two utterly heartbreaking stories about murderous violence by men against women who are pregnant by them – I’m assuming that these guys were motivated by fear of child support payments, at least in part:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/slain-pregnant-high-school-teacher-remembered-for-giving-students-hugs/2017/09/14/8ec63e7e-9952-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html?hpid=hp_local-news_wallen-1045am-245pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.05e944601292

        http://wtop.com/prince-georges-county/2017/09/dc-man-charged-attempted-murder-poured-gasoline-pregnant-girlfriend/

        And: a story from the NY Post about women seeking to become pregnant to extract money from men:

        https://www.pressreader.com/usa/new-york-post/20170528/281870118390643

        “Hampton Bachelors Foil Gold Diggers With Vasectomies”

        In the local wave of revulsion for the HS teacher’s murder, the Post came up with: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/maryland-case-undercores-fact-that-homicide-is-a-top-cause-of-death-for-pregnant-women/2017/09/15/9c4d5b62-9a39-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html?utm_term=.85e03984201a

        In focusing on the child support obligations of fathers I’m guessing that legislatures have not been thinking very much about the incentives, including for murder, which these obligations create. This plays out mostly at a grittier level than we live at in the Greater Levendee Co-Prosperity sphere… however Google Boris Becker and ‘the most expensive five seconds of my life’ and you get less gritty.

      15. In focusing on the child support obligations of fathers I’m guessing that legislatures have not been thinking very much about the incentives, including for murder, which these obligations create.

        States should lower the amount of child support men pay because they might be tempted to kill the mom? Makes sense.

        It’s mind-boggling to me that many men think they are entitled to casual sex, to not have to worry about birth control, and shouldn’t have to bear any responsibility should sex result in a child. Don’t want to pay for the care of your child for 18 years? Easy, don’t have vaginal sex, get a vasectomy, or be absolutely resolute in supplying and using condoms. Don’t want to do that? Quit your whining about how life is so very unfair.

      16. scantee, I’m with you on the unattractiveness and culpability of Mr Love ’em and Leave ’em. And I have regularly recited to my boys, ‘Don’t be silly, wrap your willy’.
        But, one of the two young women in the articles is dead, and the other is maimed for life.
        So my view is that this is a place where ‘ought to be’ and ‘is’ lead in different directions.

      17. dave s. said,

        “In focusing on the child support obligations of fathers I’m guessing that legislatures have not been thinking very much about the incentives, including for murder, which these obligations create.”

        Eh, there’s historically been a lot of pressure on expectant bachelor fathers in the US, be it social or legal. It’s arguably getting off easy just to be expected to provide financial support rather than choose between lifelong marriage or lifelong embarrassment.

        Interestingly, the murder/attempted murder stories you mention do have historical precursors from pre-child support days.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_American_Tragedy

        In Theodore Dreiser’s novel, an ambitious young man lets his pregnant sweetheart drown in order to clear the way for him to marry up.

        “Dreiser based the book on a notorious criminal case. On July 11, 1906, resort owners found an overturned boat and the body of 20-year-old Grace Brown at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. Chester Gillette was put on trial and convicted of killing Brown, though he claimed that her death was a suicide. Gillette was executed by electric chair on March 30, 1908. The murder trial drew international attention when Brown’s love letters to Gillette were read in court.”

        “A strikingly similar murder took place in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in 1934 when Robert Edwards clubbed Freda McKechnie, one of his two lovers, and placed her body in a lake. The cases were so similar that the press at the time dubbed the Edwards/McKechnie murder “The American Tragedy.” Edwards was eventually found guilty and also executed by electric chair.”

        http://harveyslake.org/text/story_amtragedy_01.htm

      18. “Berlin, Tallinn (Estonia), St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo”

        One of these things is not like the others.

        I looked at the itinerary, and it says “Berlin (Warnemunde).” That’s, um, a bit like saying San Francisco (Carson City). Or New York City (Albany).

      19. Doug said:

        ““Berlin, Tallinn (Estonia), St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo”

        “One of these things is not like the others.

        “I looked at the itinerary, and it says “Berlin (Warnemunde).” That’s, um, a bit like saying San Francisco (Carson City). Or New York City (Albany).”

        I was wondering about that, but I’m not really that excited about Berlin or Germany, so not a big disappointment.

        Here’s a bonus clip from If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), one of the great classics of packaged travel:

        .

      20. “I was wondering about that, but I’m not really that excited about Berlin or Germany, so not a big disappointment.”

        What, no 11D meetup?

  3. I hate the current trend towards psychology citing neurobabble. Rarely in lectures about stress/behavior/learning is the reference to “brain parts” (probably prefrontal cortex, sometimes the amygdala) actually relevant. I was surprised recently to learn that there are real scientists (I get to decide who is “real”) studying the relationship between the brain and cognitive function and gut bacteria, which I would have certainly dismissed as pseudoscience if not for the apparently real scientist studying it.

    1. I know – it sounds “woo woo” but it’s real. The biology version of “so the earth isn’t the centre of the universe”. Opens up a lot of opportunities for research/treatment for mood disorders, etc.

  4. I think comparison to UMC family of origin might be a reason for stress for some, I myself might feel that way if our family income had tracked that of my family of origin, but I am vastly better off economically than my family of origin, including in paying for housing/tuition/etc. But, I think at least two other features contribute to stress — one is efficiency, which also means no flex. If people are at the edge of their ability to complete the tasks required of them, there is stress because any minor glitch can throw the whole machine awry. My ability to cope (and the stress related to the coping) is vastly improved because our life has a fair amount of flex in it (in time and money). The second reason is our exposure to so much more. I myself went to a high school which the wealthy of our city attended. But the scale of difference is vast in my children’s lives, compared to my own.

    1. bj said,

      “But, I think at least two other features contribute to stress — one is efficiency, which also means no flex. If people are at the edge of their ability to complete the tasks required of them, there is stress because any minor glitch can throw the whole machine awry. My ability to cope (and the stress related to the coping) is vastly improved because our life has a fair amount of flex in it (in time and money).”

      Yeah.

      There have been times when our family was running at full-capacity with little flex, but it’s not a sustainable way of life.

      One more Greenspun thing:

      He seems really oddly (and repeatedly) judgy about divorced mothers who get a whole 2 out of 14 days off from parenting.

      That’s weird in conjunction with his hard push for 50/50 default custody.

  5. Greenspun used to be a kind of interesting to read (I first discovered him as a photographer, and then enjoyed his description of his startups boom and bust) but has become bitter, anti-woman and sexist since his divorce and his subsequent litigation over child support payments. I hope his daughter doesn’t read his blog.

    His blog post on high end cruises, which started out kind of interesting (average age 70+, mostly couples, many on their first marriages, and wealthy enough to pay 20K for a vacation) very quickly morphed into complaints about about divorce and child support (based on the discussion of the 10 singles out of 900 people). That seems to happen to many of his posts these days. I wanted to hear more about the oldie couples. I was surprised that the 2nd marriages are only a 10 year differential. But, maybe he meant an average 10 year differential v an average 2 year differential.

  6. Well, I would say one source of stress for umc genxers would be the trend of intensive parenting. 70s moms threw their kids out the door to walk to school. Couple today’s overscheduled kid with a two job household and you have a stress factory

    1. Yes, the scheduling and the driving kids all over the city is a huge time sync. I’m seeing the kids start driving now and it makes a huge difference.

  7. “.. one real job and one flex job. For years, our parenting responsibilities were so extreme that it wasn’t possible to manage everything with two real jobs…” We did one consuming career and one which was less so, and hired quite a lot of help when they were young. And date nights didn’t happen for a long time. For quite a while my take home salary barely exceeded our costs for the woman who was caring for the kids during the day (but it yielded the health care, and those years are part of my pension entitlement now, clearly the finances worked). Not all-consuming, but not a lot of room for error, either.

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