We Don’t Make Ourselves


One of my grandmother’s favorite sayings, usually while excusing someone for something stupid or mean they’d done, or even more for continuous counter-productive behavior, was “we don’t make ourselves.”

True as far as that goes, and in the deep intersection between nature and nurture, it’s often very hard to tell who did what.

One of my kids tests off the scale for verbal reasoning/competency.  One of my kids tests off the scale for math.  Hint, they’re not the kid you’d expect, either for their professions/interests, or from interaction with them.

Partly, I think, because would-be verbal son is so introverted he’s not been around people enough to polish his verbal fluency.

Thing is, he could have, if it were a high value for him and he wanted to do it, get over his introversion and learn social graces and sociability.  I know. I acculturated pretty completely, (I’ll never acculturate as completely as if I’d grown up here, because a lot of the learning we do is before we can speak, but I’m say… 95% of the way there, and no worse than an American who spent his first year or two away from the US with foreign relatives, which you know very well happens) and culture is laid so deeply in that it’s not, but it acts like inborn characteristics.

Now breaking your habits of mind and behavior is hard. It feels like going insane. Our minds have all sorts of safeguards in place to prevent that happening, from distrust of what is strange, to the deep, abiding comfort of habit, which pulls you towards routine, which forms a great part of what you are.

You can’t do it without sufficient wish, sufficient will, sufficient motivation.

But it can be done.

We don’t make ourselves, but we sort of do.  Take the innate differences between male and female.  I realized how massive they were when younger son turned 14. I’ve always been an unusual strong female (perhaps not now. Years of illness have taken their toll.)  I don’t remember, anymore, how much I could lift at 30, but I remember the trainer telling me that it was more than the average male.  And I had greater endurance.  Which I already knew because through the many, many house moves of our thirties, Dan and I would consistently do most of the work, long outlasting any male friends who came to help (and in one notable occasion doing as much as an 8 person team of professionals, because yeah, we were paying but it had to be done sooner than they’d manage.)

HOWEVER that was in a time when I was in exceptionally good shape, and it’s not normal.  When younger son — who is a bit more inactive than the rest of this family and at the time had flab instead of muscles — turned out to be able to dead lift a 100 lb. cement sack when I couldn’t.  And I was in actual decent shape.  And he’d just started getting the call from Mr. Hormone, betrayed by a fall in voice register and a sudden and — to his mother startling — hairiness.

I.e. I know that males, including very young males get an advantage from testosterone that I simply don’t have.

If I wanted hard enough however, I probably could have maintained the strength of my younger years and be “stronger than the average male” (probably just stronger, not you know, overwhelmingy stronger.) which would still cause me to fold like wet kleenex when faced with a male with a modicum of training or in good shape (which I’m going to guess doesn’t describe the “average” male.)

I wasn’t willing to do that.  On this side of recovering from serious and prolongued illness, I’m doing my best to actually exercise. I don’t however have any interest in becoming exceptional at strength (if it’s possible, still, at my age, which I doubt.)  I just want to be in reasonable good shape, because I have better things to do with my time.

So, what is this in name of?

Oh. We don’t make ourselves.

There will be some time in your life when you’ll either come up against something you really, really want and aren’t good/strong/smart enough to get.  Or the thing you always wanted and were smart enough to get will disappoint you so greatly, break you so badly, that you won’t be sure you still want it, much less keep chasing it.  What was once interest and desire and the ability to work insanely will turn into “anything but that.”

I don’t know anyone my age who hasn’t experienced times like this at least once: either in career or in work, or with their children.

Sooner or later we all hit the wall and become profoundly broken and find it hard to take one more step, make one more attempt, reach for the brass ring once more.  My friend Dave Freer blogged about this.

You will experience this, even if you’re not a writer.  You will hit this wall. You will find yourself lost, with the beloved thing now an object of aversion, something you will give anything not to do/be/be around.

What then?

Obviously in the case of some marriages, some professions, even perhaps some living situations, for your sanity, for your peace of mind, for your survival you have to walk away.

But what if you don’t have anything to walk away to? What if you molded yourself into this thing you wanted to be for a lifetime, and you have no other goal, no other dream?

Well, then, again to quote grandma, you must forge your gut into a new heart. And you must march on.

Because you have nothing if you give it up. And you die. You either die physically or you kill a part of yourself. And you can’t go on.

No marriage, no career, no child rearing will be as it was in your dreams.  When you embarked on this, with flags flying and trumpets blowing, be fair, you had no clue what it was like.  You didn’t even know what it was truly like.

Just like no plan survives engagement with the enemy, no dream of “I want to be/do/create” ever lives up to the image in your mind.  And every career field, filled — alas — with humans is filled with suckitude and failure.  If you run from this, you’ll meet it again, sometimes over and over again. And you’ll die lost and embittered.

Forge your gut into a new heart and go on. Older, wiser, experienced, prepared.  And make the thing you love into as close as possible as what you imagined.  Ransom yourself from the depths of bitterness and horror and tiredness.

Be not afraid.

And I too will take my own medicine.


134 thoughts on “We Don’t Make Ourselves

  1. You do you realize the lateness of this hour, do you not young lady? Out hobnobbing with ne’er-do-wells, I’ve no doubt. I will have you know we’ve ne’er-do-wells in plenty right here and no need to pursue additional.

    1. We were getting things ready for older son’s wedding on Sunday.
      And I have a blinding headache due to glasses being wrong. Alas, not getting fixed before wedding because lenses not in. So…

              1. In lieu of an exploding deathstar, can there be fireworks on the 4th?

                I am not suggesting an Ewok for a ring bearer. Nope, never crossed my mind.

                1. It is the feast day of St. Florian. Patron of firefighters, also helpful against floods and for brewing beer. (Also the saint day of a lot of people named Antonia and Antonius, and of the noble Polish smith, Bl. Michael Giedroyc.)

            1. N.B. – May 4, 2019, marks the 150th anniversary of the debut of the first all professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, who ran off eighty-one consecutive victories to begin an American pastime. May this marriage be similarly successful.

              How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Turned Baseball Into a National Sensation
              This Major League Baseball season, fans may notice a patch on the players’ uniforms that reads “MLB 150.”

              The logo commemorates the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who, in 1869, became the first professional baseball team – and went on to win an unprecedented 81 straight games.

              As the league’s first openly salaried club, the Red Stockings made professionalism – which had been previously frowned upon – acceptable to the American public.

              But the winning streak was just as pivotal.

              “This did not just make the city famous,” John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian, said in an interview for this article. “It made baseball famous.”

              Pay to play?
              In the years after the Civil War, baseball’s popularity exploded, and thousands of American communities fielded teams. Initially most players were gentry – lawyers, bankers and merchants whose wealth allowed them to train and play as a hobby. The National Association of Base Ball Players banned the practice of paying players.

              At the time, the concept of amateurism was especially popular among fans. Inspired by classical ideas of sportsmanship, its proponents argued that playing sport for a reason other than for the love of the game was immoral, even corrupt.

              Nonetheless, some of the major clubs in the East and Midwest began disregarding the rule prohibiting professionalism and secretly hired talented young working-class players to get an edge.

              After the 1868 season, the national association reversed its position and sanctified the practice of paying players. The move recognized the reality that some players were already getting paid, and that was unlikely to change because professionals clearly helped teams win.

              Yet the taint of professionalism restrained virtually every club from paying an entire roster of players.

              The Cincinnati Red Stockings, however, became the exception. …

          1. Somewhere along the line I had heard the wedding was to be the end of March. This coming Sunday is as far as they can go without running into April. 😉

      1. Putting personal pain and preparations for uniting of two families ahead of us??!! I yam mortified. Where are your priorities?

        Seriously, please, please, please TAKE THE COMING WEEKEND OFF. Starting at least with Thursday. Post pictures if you are absolutely compelled to, but spend this time fully engaged in ending your son’s engagement properly.

        Y’know, back when I used to work night shift one of our favorite activities when Sunday morning papers arrived was to make up captions for the pictures accompanying wedding announcements. Oh, we were cruel, we were callous, we were snarky, we were entertained.

          1. Thirded – your son’s wedding is way more important than we are, .

            ((shakes broom at Sarah))

            Go and pay attention to the more important things in life. We’ll be around, but, G-d willing, your son only gets married once.

      2. Sympathies on the glasses. Had to deal with off-spec vision last year, and my eyes still aren’t terribly good at working together.

          1. 59 for me. Had a really good surgeon, and modulo the discovery of A-fib with the second procedure, it was smooth. Did the second one 2 weeks after the first.

            FWIW, I had the did the dominant eye lens optimized for distance, and the other closeup. If I had to do it again, I’d go with both for distance. Now, both eyes focus close up because of other procedures, but the fact that they match (more or less) does help.

            1. Hmm…I had my nondominant eye done for distance. Dominant eye will need surgery, probably within a year. I’m considering getting that eye done for close-up. OTOH, it’s naturally myopic – cataract notwithstanding, I can pick out pixels on anything short of an Apple Retina display at about 10 inches. But I’m losing contrast to that damned yellow-tinged fog.

              1. The downside to the mixed focus is the fact that off-the-shelf reading glasses are useless. OTOH, I have some interesting astigmatism that makes those suboptimal, anyway. The corneal buff-n-polish helped, but the old scars went below the surface as well as above. It’s surgically fixable, but it’s not bad enough to bother with.

                1. Mom’s had cataract, lens, and something relatively in the last 5 years new, to “lift” eyes or prevent lids from interfering, on both eyes. She went from all but blind till I find my glasses super thick, to barely needing them at all.

                  Legally she can drive without them but is just out of full 20/20 and the reading aspect, she feels safer with them. She went for distance correction both lens and uses standard progressive in her glasses.

                  She said her doctors said she should just adapt to not using glasses, except reading. Her take “I’ve worn glasses since I was 4. I’m expected to start adapting at 84? WTH?”

                  1. I’ve not felt comfortable with progressive lenses, though the current closeup bifocals are set at about 10″. It’s much too close to use with the computer, so I was/am working without glasses. I had the ophthalmologist do a 22″ focus Rx and got single vision glasses (actually 2 pair of safety glasses, one pair for the computer and the other for the shop). Still adjusting to them.

                    1. I was warned not to get progressive at Costco because they wouldn’t be as good/current as what you could get at full cost places. I haven’t had any problems with them. Then I’ve only gotten them there.

                      Personally I hate, despise glasses. Always have. I need them for driving. Arms getting a bit short for small labels at grocery stores. Otherwise, I rarely wear them at home*. Dropped contacts when I had to start using reading glasses to program. When wearing glasses, I just took them off for programming, and still do for reading or any computer stuff. Don’t know what will happen long term with the glaucoma (currently not affecting vision, just drops for pressure.)

                      * At home we have a game everyone gets to play “Where did mom leave her glasses, this time.” Occasionally the youngest cat “helps” by hiding them; well he knocks them off whatever I laid them on then bats them under something (darn cat).

                      My mom pays an obscene amount for her glasses, partly because of where she gets them, partly because her old glasses, even tho newest plastic based, were so thick and heavy, the thinnest heavy duty frames were Expensive (capital E intended). Even tho her new lens are considerably thinner she can’t consider less sturdy frames. She goes for the titanium bases. Getting her to go somewhere else with her prescription … never mind not a battle willing to fight.

                    2. I started wearing glasses at 8, so it’s no big deal. Used contacts for about a decade, until I got a fleck of laundry detergent in my eye. I noticed that all of the people at the eye doctor’s office had glasses and started thinking. Not trapping dust of any kind behind a contact seemed to be A Good Idea.

                      I can’t wear stainless, so titanium is my go-to metal mount. I’ve started using an independent optician, after several years of the in-house optician that my ophthalmologist has. Walmart has a good vision shop; $SPOUSE is very happy with their selection, service and quality. Costco is too far for us to use them anymore.

                      I stopped using the Transistions photo-chromic lenses. The lightening is very slow when it’s cold, and my shop/barn is barely heated in winter. Not a good combination. I use the old man style over-glasses for sun now. (One eye developed a paralyzed iris post surgery. It’s a lot better now, but still has a ways to go.)

                    3. Had glasses since I was 8, progressives since maybe 60 +/-, finally got enough cloudiness to do cataracts at 74. Still gotta get a YAG treatment on the left lens, it’s not quite sharp, otherwise they’re both 2/2 – not 20/20 b/c they’re both near-vision, because I’m spending 10+ hours a day on computer screens and it’s really nice to forego the glasses during that time.
                      Now if I can just get my optician to admit the left lens order was screwed up!

                    4. I’m with the Progressive lenses. Had ONE pair and they made me dizzy, because I evidently scan a lot. Maybe it goes with the natural speed reading.


                    5. Progressives & scanning/speed reading …

                      That one I wouldn’t know. I didn’t get progressives for years after they were initially recommended (forget about progressive contacts, tried them for all of 10 feet.) As long as I could remove the glasses to work and read, why? I finally caved because it was a PIA to constantly remove my glasses to read fine print labels on items in stores; that and my arms were getting too short for that fine of print, despite good lighting … Still don’t wear glasses do read a physical book, on Nook App, or Computer stuff. Rarely use them for watching TV.

                      Driving, yes, use them, definitely. Use them outdoors, if for no other reason they auto tint. Have over sun glasses if the tint isn’t enough (cold snow), or because windshield prevents them from turning.

                    6. The YAG procedure was the easiest one of the bunch that I had. The other eye was done as part of another procedure, but the YAG took more time getting ready than actually doing the blasting. OK, it felt a little weird feeling like the target in a first-person shooting game, but it was painless and the after effects were minimal. Might have had a few floaters for a while, nothing distracting.

                  2. Probably a Blepharoplasty. Most people who get them need them for droopy eyelids.

          2. Been there, did that. I started developing symptoms at 52; by 55 I wasn’t safe to drive and had the surgery in both eyes.

            Just got word yesterday from my eye doctor that the membrane they slip the cataract implant in front of has started to go cloudy in my left eye. I’m scheduled for a laser procedure that will supposedly fix it on the 10th of April. He also says I shouldn’t be surprised if it happens in the right eye.

        1. Also sympathies on the glasses. Nothing makes a headache like a wrong or slightly out of whack prescription. And nausea thrown in just for kicks even when the prescription is right if it is a big difference from what you had before. Please dear hostess go and celebrate with your son and his bride. Best wishes to the (soon to be) happy couple. As noted we’ll amuse ourselves with the carpapult and other attractions here in the dungeon while you deal with actual matters of importance.

      3. > glasses being wrong

        Happened to me four times out of the last four prescriptions.

        Supposedly 90+% of all lenses worldwide are made by the same company now. Their quality control blows dead road kill.

        1. Supposedly 90+% of all lenses worldwide are made by the same company now.

          One of the great down sides of a monopoly — no competition to keep them on their toes.

          1. I wonder if safety lenses come from a different vendor. The plastic ones are relatively thin, though the bifocals were a puppy-mother to do–the lab had a few tries fail break-test.

            (I was also shocked at how cheap the safety lenses are. Basic frames, and I could get single vision for $70 a few years back, and the bifocals only cost $89. OTOH, the titanium frame ones I have now cost a bunch because titanium.

        1. CNN Chyron: Rubin’s new book tells how the Alt-Right subtext in My Fair Lady gave an eight year old PTSD. (Do I need to say ‘satire’?)

          It may say something about me that the first thing that comes to my mind for a go-to wedding movie is Zulu.

          1. It is a fact which should be self-evident to any but the worst unwoke, that My Fair Lady is an assault, of the gravest kind, against women. From the triggering title (both “Fair” and “Lady” are highly problematic and the possessive “My” with its overtones of chattel ownership is outright dehumanizing) to its Classist premise — and the fact that the male roles clearly dominate the play — render this so-called musical a highly offensive work of oppressive art and all productions of it should be met with protesting mobs cadres of the woke women of the world.

            I regret that time does not facilitate an in depth discussion of all the ways in which this relic of a justly despised patriarchal society but just thinking about it has me so upset I must retire to my safe space and colour pictures in my illustrated works of My Little Pony and of Care Bears.

            1. The Wokes would ha ONE point; the original play has Eliza being too smart to stay with that Pig, Higgens. I believe Shaw said later that he thought she would marry Freddie (who she could manage ruthlessly).

              1. That just might explain how Freddie Eynsford-Hill came to become the famously misogynistic consulting detective.

                “Peter Jeremy William Huggins, known professionally as Jeremy Brett, was an English actor. He played fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in all 41 episodes. His career spanned from stage, to television and film, to Shakespeare and musical theatre. He is also remembered for playing the besotted Freddie Eynsford-Hill in the 1964 Warner Bros. production of My Fair Lady.”

      4. My congrats to your son and daughter-in-law-to-be, also, good wishes, better wishes, and BEST wishes for their happiness (and YOURS).

  2. Yup. Sometimes, you reach the goal. Do the Impossible Dream. And start wondering, “What’s next?”

    I think the only people who have to deal with this on a routine basis are high-end athletes and career military. The day you don the uniform for the first time, you know there will be a day when you doff it for the LAST time. And that day will probably come before your 45th birthday, almost certainly before your 50th.

    Figuring out what to do with yourself after that can be a bit of a challenge. Yeah, sure, you can get a potentially quite lucrative job, but it’s never the same.

    1. Heh. One of my favorite science fiction quotes. “You climb to reach the summit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down!”— Stanislaw Lem (The Cyberiad)

          1. Do yourself a huge favor. When you get to “The Fifth Sally (A) Or Trurl’s Prescription” (aka The Steelypips) read it aloud. It’s like “The Sing Song Of Old Man Kangaroo “ from THE JUST SO STORIES; a prose poem, full of wonderful rhythms. At least the transltion my Lady brought into our partnership does.

            When you think of it, the translation of something like THE CYBERIAD is amazing. Like the translation of the Asterix comics,mwhich manages to keep most of the punning and word-play more or less intact.

    2. I think the only people who have to deal with this on a routine basis are high-end athletes and career military. The day you don the uniform for the first time, you know there will be a day when you doff it for the LAST time.

      As an armchair psychologist, I’ve often wondered if this is what’s going on with Tom Brady. He’s clearly got all the money he needs, he’s accomplished pretty much everything that can be accomplished in his field, yet he keeps saying, “No way!” to retirement. My guess is that it’s because he loves the rush of adreniline he gets on the field and knows that he’ll never get it any other way.

      Or, to borrow from Lady Gaga: “He lives for the applause…lives for the way that they cheer and scream for him.”

      1. Very probably. He’ll likely play until either his arm plays out…or he’s offered a good coaching job.

      2. One of the more interesting ideas Misty Lackey had in her Diana Tregarde books was presenting entertainers as being psychic vampires feeding on the energy rush from performing.

    3. There’s another whole category of people who hit this: women who hit the top of their career. The highly determined, highly trained, bright women who tackled on the challenging career, and “won”: made partner in the law firm, made it through med school & all the training to become doctors, etc… only to realize that their biological clock has almost run out while they’re grabbing the brass ring, and the ultra-competitive, ultra-high-workload job isn’t satisfying or fulfilling.

      Which would be why women drop to part time or exit the professions in their thirties in droves, and start IVF and focusing on kids.

      1. Nonsense! Everybody knows that “Baby Lust” is just a patriarchal myth. I see it exposed in the news all the time.

      2. They’ve been told They Can Have It All. And they can’t. NOBODY can. There are trades you make in life. Take one path in life, and a lot of other paths close behind you.

        1. Take one path in life, and a lot of other paths close behind you.

          I recently was reminded that twenty-five years ago this spring Michael Jordan turned his hand to baseball. Not very successfully. Sure, he was a great athlete, sure, he had an incredible work ethic. Didn’t matter. Baseball and Basketball are very different, especially if you ain’t pitching (N.B., in the Fifties Gene Conley pitched for the Boston Red Sox and played for the Boston Celtics: see footnote.)

          Jordan learned that in Baseball they couldn’t just “give him the ball” but he had to wait for the opportunity to come to him. Aggressiveness avails naught on the diamond. Moreover, the incredible peripheral vision which allowed him to “see” where everybody on the Court was – and would be – at all times was the opposite of the tunnel vision required to lock in and read the spin on a baseball hurtling toward the plate. Becoming so highly skilled at Basketball meant he couldn’t compete at the top levels of Baseball.

          You can build muscle for power or agility but rarely for both. EVERYTHING in life entails trade-offs and anybody telling you otherwise is selling you snake oil.

          Footnote: Conley played 11 MLB seasons from 1952 to 1963 for four teams. Conley also played forward in the 1952–53 season and from 1958 to 1964 for two teams in the National Basketball Association. He is best known for being one of only two people to win championships in two of the four major American sports, one with the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series and three Boston Celtics championships from 1959–61.

        2. Worse– “can” is an option.

          More like “Must have it all, or you are a failure.” And kids or family MUST take back seat.

          1. Brings up a point – the anti-senescence / longevity research being done suggests we (well, you young’uns, actually) may be seeing 120yr full-functional lifespans before long. Which will make solving the problem of PLANNING to have two or more sequential careers a common problem, and one our society needs to get good at solving.

            1. If that lifespan comes to pass I expect a stronger emphasis on doing the baby thing first for any female-genitalia-plank-holders so inclined – lots and lots and lots of research says poppin’em out in the early years is way better all around, and if you’re going to live to 120, college and career have plenty of time to proceed in sequence after the kids get grown.

              And I imagine that will be a seismic shift to modern society: Resetting decades of female empowerment dogma will not be a trivial exercise.

                1. That would require considerable thought on my part. I mean think about it. Option I: Infancy, Childhood, Elementary school, college, marriage, children, THEN more education, career A, education, career B, education, career C, Retire? Or part time college and children, or no marriage, college, children (not a good idea), etc.

                  1. And the differing dramatic tensions between individuals, or cultures within society at large, who make a social more of doing it in one sequence vs another … yay, universe-building!

                  2. Two conflicting pressures.

                    One, the younger the mother at age of first child, the faster the population growth.

                    Two, mothers with a ‘good’ education seem to produce more together children. (This I’m less confident of. It must have been based on some sort of social science study, and that could have easily had some sort of issue with the career/career/career types selecting themselves out of the pool more at higher levels of education. On the other hand, growing up I got a lot from talking with my mom. Add in credentialism and objectively horrible forms of education…) There is definitely a point where younger means too immature to be rearing children.

                    1. Sounds like the a permutation of the “having kids early is bad” or the infamous “fewer kids makes them mire well adjusted” studies that didn’t correct for basic social issues, like out of wedlock births with multiple partners.

                    2. Possibly they also judged the children by such criteria as whether they were highly educated.

                      (I have heard of a study that literally said that the daughters of housewives were worse off because they were less ambitious — or, in other words, more likely to want to be housewives!)

                2. Dunno – there might be considerable pressure for women to freeze their young eggs and thaw them when they reach their fifties (especially if uterine replicators become an option.) That keeps the school to career treadmill churning and avoids the gals discovering how unfulfilling careers are. By the time they reach fifty they will be (or so they will be told) more relaxed, more mature, more prepared to give their little ‘uns the nurturing they need. And their corporate lives will have been steeped in bitterness and frustration over the lies, broken promises and the accumulated knives.

                  Of course, once school administrators and teachers find themselves confronted by fifty-something tiger moms who are veterans of corporate wars the propaganda for delayed delivery might get some push back.

                  1. Yeah, but I still think freezing eggs, or sperm, has a detrimental effect on them. Don’t have enough evidence to prove it yet.

                    1. IVF kids have a much higher rate of “problems,” even ignoring losses. (For obvious reasons.)
                      That said, for those obvious reasons, it might not be technique related, and I don’t know if anybody has broken it down by specific method.

                    2. And Mom is exposed to more issues as well at a higher year count of pregnancy.

                      Even if they get the higher end issues figured out so that a productive lifespan of 120 is routine, solving the lower end issues that make women having babies in the teen-to-thirtyish range much easier all around means a lot more research in areas that have nobody looking at them yet.

                      And I also note there are implications of any status preference assortive mate selection by women when the candidate pool includes youngish-looking healthy dudes who have been earning and careering and status gathering for the past 65 years who have 50 or 60 more to go. That might mean the whole May-December thing gets stretched quite a bit further.

        3. Worse, they’ve been told they can Have It All and Do It All by themselves. Because God forbid success should require commitment to a partnership.

          1. It’s been a while since I stepped into a government office (WIC was especially bad for this), but… the sheer amount of propaganda push I saw trying to convince whatever woman was around that she was being abused and here are some helpful options was really disturbing. My husband felt like he was in enemy territory whenever he went instead. (Yeah, signing up was a mistake on a number of levels, we know better now.)

            Then… when I worked at Legal Aid, it was a different tine of the fork–that is, we’d help anyone under income guidelines without assets or custody issues with their pro-se divorce. But abused women–them, we’d represent as lawyers. And were apparently proud of there being “no quantum of abuse” required. And even if there were, the sheer vagueness of the abuse guidelines at the seminar they sent me to–if there’s a woman in the country who can’t claim it, I’m surprised.

            (It’s not *technically* limited to women. But it’s facile and counterproductive to make a point to include men, especially when abusers so often try to turn the tables around and claim *they* were the ones being abused, just because the woman wasn’t acting like a model victim. So really we’re talking only about women.)

            (I’m a little amazed I made it out of that seminar without making a scene, but I guess I knew from the beginning I was going under deep cover and headspaced for it.)

            Anyway, I seem to have gotten off on a tangent. But I think it’s all part of the same ball of wax–convincing folk they can do it on their own with no effect on outcomes is Step One, convincing them they’re being abused and thus leaving is the Only Right Move is the next.

            It… is a remarkably cynical scheme against the foundations of civilization. But, I fear, effective.

            1. It had been my impression that for many contemporary women (with or without ladybits) the mere knowledge of the existence of men constitutes egregious and intolerable abuse.

              The absence of men from their lives also seems to be abuse.

              Men are their theology’s equivalent of Lucifer (who, they will assure you, is male.)

            2. When I was pregnant with Robert they tried to convince me I was being abused at the doctor’s office. The evidence? I refused to have an abortion, despite having pre-eclampsia. AND Dan always came in with me for appointments which in their view was “controlling.”
              Or you know, I didn’t want to kill my child and Dan and I are actually sort of joined at the hip (still.) Meh.

    4. There’s also foreign missionaries. One is going to eventually need to pack up your overseas house, sell or give away most of your possessions, say a final goodby to the people you have devoted your life to, and leave your overseas home & ministry for good.
      True, one may have opportunities to return for visits, but it’s a different thing altogether.

      1. I’ve seen some of it upon completing a major project. All the concentration and focus on getting it done, and when it is done, a) you figure out what you could have done better, and b) you have a heck of a mess to clean up. The mess can be literal, or figurative–it takes me a week or so to get the supplies and tools reorganized after something really big, and then I need to do the back-burner stuff that’s now frontburner.

        1. Life is a series of lessons in moving on, although many fail to learn those.

          Your kingdom is not of this world and your true glory days will come after.

          I’m so old I remember when this guy was not full of himself, before he became convinced he was Woody Guthrie come again.

        1. A lot of missionaries from the immediate post WWII expected to die on the field… and found out that due to the variations of employment contracts, visa agreements, foreign labor laws and the like, they were going to have to return to their home nations once they hit retirement age.

  3. “<I.No marriage, no career, no child rearing will be as it was in your dreams.”

    This is, to my thinking, probably a good thing. Makes such things so much more interesting (provided you learn to not sulk at the cake proving to be a lie.)

    It isn’t as if dreams have much in common with reality.

    1. You don’t have much to do with *what* you are… but you can still choose *who* you are.

      Long ago, Thor Heyerdahl wrote about having some equipment stolen from one of his Polynesian expeditions. When the chief found out he came down to Heyerdahl’s camp and apologized; “God made us poor, but we have to choose to steal.”

  4. She’s doing it in order to paint us as rude — she don’t care whether that’s what we’re being.

    Representative Full Stop
    By Sarah Hoyt
    I have decided that henceforth and for the foreseeable future, the woman who calls herself Ocasio-Cortez and who is more descriptively titled Occasional Cortex shall be known as Representative Full Stop.

    The name has its origin here: My last name is Ocasio-Cortez. Full stop. That’s my name.

    I’ll first confess why this nonsense irritated me: When she says things like “No, you can’t say “Cortez.” I’ve never used that in my life. “Cortez” is referring to someone else. Even if they‘re trying to be rude + wrong, my dad’s last name was Ocasio anyway. (His name was hyphenated too, though.)” She’s assuming that we give a good g*dd*mn what her dad’s name was.

    Most of us are aware that Spaniards have their mother’s surname last. It’s a cute habit that has bitten me in the butt because Portuguese don’t do that. And yet, proto-politically-correct people in Ohio in 1981 assumed so and assume they were gratifying me by handing me a diploma that has Silva as my surname. Look, Representative Full Stop, we don’t care. You’re an American, born in America. You have the arrant presumption of thinking you can serve as a representative for Americans, but you wish to hold onto to this nonsense that your surname is not your surname because it wasn’t your dad’s name? Pick a surname, your mother’s or your fathers, and make it your surname. We don’t care which. Resolve it between the two still-functioning brain cells in your otherwise empty head.

    Yeah, sure people have the right to have hyphenated surnames and dual surnames. And most people will try to accommodate them, and that’s fine, but in the end, it’s like trying to accommodate people’s chosen pronouns. We do it because we’re nice people and we try to be polite. But you don’t have the right to demand that people address you in a certain way. That’s compelled speech, and you can’t make us. You’re impinging upon our first amendment rights and our right to tell you to take a hike. If what we call you is an insult — like, say, Occasional Cortex — you can be offended. And you can call us names back. But just because someone forgot your double-barrel hyphenated moniker, you don’t have the right to dictate to us that this is your name “full stop.” Oh, yeah? You and what army, Representative Full Stop? Come to my street and make me.

    Having grown up in a Latin country, I KNOW what a double-barreled last name means. It means you’re from a “good family” and you’re “someone.” Representative Full Stop will just have to learn that we’re Americans. We’re all someone, our families are all good, and we don’t have superiors. The bastards ain’t been born.

    She thinks we call her Cortez because we want to be rude. …

    1. No, when I want to be rude I call her Occasional-Cortex. Or Dumb Beeotch. There’s a few more but they’re NSFW. ~:D

    2. And then the dingbat referred to how things are done in “Latinx culture”.
      She really is a gift, isn’t she?

          1. Yah. And at the end of WWII, many aid packages were sent to German civilians, labelled “Gift of the people of the USA” – a lot of frauen und frauleinen who were Very Nervous about opening them, or so I was told by one who was there.

              1. Yeah, I know! This was from a German language instructor who was a Prussian girl during WWII, made her way to England, then to USA.
                In fairness — before we blame habitual American insularism — it was really unpopular to study German things (like language) during the war. So I guess it’s reasonable that the company making the “gift” boxes didn’t take time/didn’t want to provide a translation on the box.

  5. “But what if you don’t have anything to walk away to? What if you molded yourself into this thing you wanted to be for a lifetime, and you have no other goal, no other dream?”

    Well, that can be extremely inconvenient. Because when the dream dies, you’re still going to wake up tomorrow morning, and you’re still going to be hungry by noon at the latest.

    I’ve seen that show probably four times now, had the horse shot out from under me three times. Last time I shot it myself and left it in a ditch to rot. Still alive, mofos. It hurts like Hell for about a week, then dies down to a dull pain in my ass.

    “No marriage, no career, no child rearing will be as it was in your dreams.”

    Yeah, this is a very important point right here. Children do not (cannot) conform to your wishes and expectations, moms and dads. They will often -try- to be all you wanted them to be, but that will usually suck for them and eventually for you.

    Love them for who and what they are, and give up that “dream” right now. Kill it before it eats you and your kid. Shoot it and leave it by the roadside for the buzzards.

    “We don’t make ourselves.”

    Absolutely true. But since we are cognizant beings with Free Will and opposable thumbs, we can RENOVATE. And for those of us old bastards with crappy joints, there are aftermarket replacement parts. ~:D

    1. Career-wise, I learned long ago and preach it today, that everyone needs at least a couple of strings to their bow — a couple of ways, preferably different enough that that the same recession is less likely to take both of them down, to make your bread. And while you’re at it, you may as well pick things you can enjoy doing at least part of the time, so you never have to hate getting up in the morning.
      That may help, a lot, when the time comes to retire from your primary vocation, b/c most of the stress is from the unknown, the “but what’ll I do now?!!”

    2. My dream for the kid is for her to make it to 18, reasonably educated, without any major psychological problems, and still on speaking terms with me. If I can do that, I’ll say that I’ve done okay.

  6. Funny you should say we don’t make ourselves. This came over my feed this morning. “The genomic history of the Iberian Peninsula over the past 8000 years” http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6432/1230 Interesting that the Y chromosomes had been almost entirely replaced from the original population about 4000 years ago. Looks like the Iberian maidens got made by the invading men groups.

    I see the ‘broken’ rather frequently with career military, and occasionally in some other professions where the people typically define themselves by their profession. When they retire, they don’t know how to redefine themselves. And they fade and die long before their time because they’re, “Not the man I used to be.”

    1. I’m torn between a nifty-fit over looking at stuff as far from Christ as we are, but in the opposite direction, and raising an eyebrow at the chances of a single Y being found over centuries in fewer than 300 samples.

      I can’t get tge report on my phone, did they check mDNA?

      1. The problem is worse than any paleontology reconstructions; as at least with dinosaurs and prehistoric megafauna, there usually are a lot more remains, as few as they are, compared with prehistoric human remains. Hard to assemble the jigsaw puzzle with only 3 pieces. But we’re humans, we do good pattern recognition, even if the patterns are faulty, or non-existent.

        1. Oooh, am I reading this right, they had TWO studies, on had more rrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaally old samples and had both ancestries?


          So there was both in the old samples, then only one, then only the other, and one of the responses I found trying to fing the study text said it was a kinda low number of (usable) Y samples, not sure if they were nuts because they also talked about the rise of the patriarchy.

          1. Patriarchy is the best -archy!

            Turns out that deep prehistory is basically filled with political experiments in the stupidly horrible part of the design space. Experiments so horrible, that they eventually were erased from the collective racial memory. Then we also got rid of collective consciousness and most psychic powers, because those opened up even better portions of the political design space. Long story short, by the time we have history, patriarchy is everywhere, and patriarchy is one of the top ten, maybe top five, inventions in human history.

            That’s why the archeologists, anthropologists, and historians have blacklisted me from publishing in their journals. Would you be willing to take on my suit against them for wrongful prevention of commerce?


    2. I see the ‘broken’ rather frequently with career military,

      Yep. When I was in the Marines, a Master Sargent was forced out after over 30 years in the Corps. He had lived in the barracks for (practically) his entire time in the Marines. It was rather sudden and he didn’t have anywhere to go and had no idea what he was going to do, so he killed himself. It was sad, and should have been obvious (it may very well have been. I never got the impression that the top end of that command cared.)

      1. The top of the command food change do not truly “care”. First, those broken parts aren’t being used by the military anymore, so their loss isn’t of importance. Second, they consume national resources that might otherwise go to the military-industrial machine, which means if we let them die off, the bigwigs may be able to increase their share of the pie. Finally, broken widgets walking around and protesting or even just asking for some help are hard to ignore; as in the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Dead people don’t squeak.

        If I come across as a bit cynical, well, that’s my perception.

        1. On the other hand… it’s not as though a person doesn’t know they’re going to retire. Knew it for the last 30 years even.

          I do sympathize a great deal, I do. Just the idea of having choices and having to make them makes me stressed. The fun game of “if I won the lottery?” causes stress (it’s still fun, but) because I’ve never in my life really done more than whatever was put in front of me, move to wherever the job was, and dealt. I honestly don’t know what I want to do because what I WANT has always been irrelevant.

          So I sympathize with not having a “self” when suddenly forced to find it.

          1. it’s not as though a person doesn’t know they’re going to retire.

            If you aren’t planning for retirement from your first day of work (if not sooner) you are in for a world of trouble. Social Security is not going to provide much and it will not be providing that mite for much longer.

            But retirement is not just leisure, it is the leisure to pursue interests not dictated by career. It is a good idea to start prepping those interests by the time you reach fifty. Develop interests that offer rewards not offered by your job — some years back the Wall Street Journal had an article on CEOs who did carpentry and furniture refinishing, jobs that provided immediately perceivable results as contrasted with the often abstract, often several years results of corporate decision-making.

            Heck, with modern perspectives on mini-breweries and pot consumption it is possible to turn your beer-drinking and reefer madness avocations into lucrative retirement activities.

          2. I’m sure the Top (Marine Speak for MSGT) expected to retire eventually. His “strongly-suggested” (or else!) retirement came VERY sudden after an unfortunate incident that made higher ups look bad (and yes, alcohol may have been involved, although it was mostly a scheduling issue in my opinion).

        2. There’s also up-or-out, which is I believe less of a thing in E-land than O-land, but still, that was a Master Sgt. slot that “they” can promote someone younger into.

          And I have no direct gouge on this, but I imagine nowadays the PMC recruiters would come knocking once word went around the senior-NCO grapevine, if the TLA people didn’t get there first.

          1. No, up or out applies to enlisted too.

            High year of tenure for AF E-3 and below is only 8 years. E-4 is 10 years.
            You have to be at least E-5 to make it to 20 year retirement. Army Marines, and Coast Guard require you to be E-6 to make it to 20. Navy has to be weird. They require you to be E-5 to make it to 16 years active duty, but you can get to 20 in the reserves; but as an E-6 you can go to 22 years both active duty and reserve.

            1. Is there an “out” number at the top end – i.e. Was the MSGT above timed out as an E-8?

  7. When I read “We Don’t Make Ourselves,” I thought of a wise saying my daddy told me: The reason you have a belly button is to remind you that you aren’t a self-made man.

  8. I had that moment in college. I wanted to be a rocket scientist, invent a fusion reactor, create a quantum computer, etc… I found out that I’m not nearly good enough at math.

    Now, I’m learning to _use_ a quantum computer and that math makes my brain hurt (n-dimensional linear algebra with complex numbers). In my defense, it’s been almost 30 years since I’ve done any math.

    I plan on being an author when I retire. Sarah’s Write a Novel in 13 Weeks series at PJMedia is what brought me here. I failed at that, but I wasn’t trying very hard. It at least got me from “thinking about it” to “words on page”.

    1. I’ve had the moment a lot. First time in HS when I figured my dream of becoming a Veterinarian. No way I would have survived pre-med academically. Barely survived Forestry – pure stubbornness. Even Computer Science was daunting. Already have a math based degree and I had to take MORE math? WTH. Long term it was Computers for me. Took 30 years before the shine and luster wore off. The last few years … yea, there was a lot about the job that mumbling (quietly/silently) “Two weeks notice”, or “This is the right thing to do. What? Going to fire me?” was not uncommon.

      Granted it was related to avoiding certain client(s) calls VS actual programming tasks, but still not nice to the guys (they got stuck with them.) Hey, ultimately they got stuck with “them” anyway. Just was doing them a favor letting the guys get used to the problem clients before I left (looks innocent).

      Ah, well, who am I to kid. I was tired of dealing with the clients that you gave a smidgen of free help & they bullied you for more, or contradicted, repeatably, what they wanted. To the point I was sending emails with an original request and paid invoice for that request, with a note, that the sub-departments can’t have it both ways. Decide, or plan on paying a lot for the changes to make both sub-departments happy. Somehow never heard back, go figure. Guys might have latter, but I didn’t.

      Do I miss programming. Yes. If they came to me with triple my old salary for me to come back … No. Is there a price? Not happening. Why bother.

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