Popular

OK, why is the friends post so popular? You’d think I have a thousand friends and they all read it trying to guess if it’s about them.

I’ll never get why some things get hugely popular and others don’t.

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Tiger Hunt

I’m proud of myself. I just maneuvered my way out of a developing meltdown of the “I don’t want a shower, I don’t want bedtime, I want caaaaaandy!!!!” proportions with a hunt for imaginary color-striped tigers. We hunted tigers all over the shower, then all over the bedroom, and then into bed, with happy giggles.

I’ve had a bastard of a day and still managed to come up with the tigers on the fly. I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Friends, 2

My friend is a SAHM. If she read this blog, we could ask her if she ever felt anything but 100% supported by me in that. And I know what the answer would be because I do sincerely and completely support her. Actually, all of my close female friends don’t work outside the home. And I sincerely and completely support them. I don’t start every encounter (or any encounter at all) with, “So. . . Had any job interviews recently? No? Why not?” I have zero desire to do that because interrogating my friends’ lives is the last thing I want to be doing. I have more desire to go canvass for Trump. And I really have no desire to do that at all.

As judgmental as I am on the blog, I’m the most non-judgmental, supportive and loyal person on the planet with my friends. If you are my friend and you want to paper all walls in your house with Putin’s portraits, I love you, accept you, and never question you. This is not a hypothetical. I have a friend who is a non-working, child-free, antifeminist, Ukrainian-hating Putinoid. And from her point of view, I must be a child-crazy feminazi Ukrainian nationalist and hater of Mother Russia. Ask her if it marred our friendship in any way.

To me, having people you love unconditionally is the whole point of friendship. What’s the point otherwise? To escape boredom? I have DVR and Netflix, I’m never bored.

I just don’t understand the concept of friendship that some people have. Isn’t it easier to accept that somebody is the way she is and enjoy the friendship without constantly struggling with the knowledge that she’s not you? I like myself a fair bit but I don’t need my friends to be me. They are different. And that’s actually a good thing.

Friends 1

I have a friend who is not in academia. We spend a lot of time together. And every time we meet (which is about twice a week every week), she asks, “Did you teach today? Did you teach yesterday? No? And Klara was still at school??? Why?”

Every time.

I have tried opening every encounter with a list of everything work-related that I’ve done this day. I have explained the tripartite nature of academic work (teaching-research-service). I have shown my publications. I have quoted my CV. But it didn’t work. When I meet her and her husband, they both go at me with this question, so I have to answer it twice in a day.

And it’s getting to me. I don’t feel any guilt over Klara being in preschool. She’s objectively happier doing fun activities with friends part of the day than stewing at home with me. The week before last, a chef came to school every day to teach them recipes. Klara learned how to make tiny pizzas, tacos, etc. Last week, they had a woman from the science museum who showed them science experiments.

“She taught us to make soda water out of gummy bears, mommy,” Klara reported. “It was pshhhh, bam!, into the ceiling!” I have no idea what this means but the kid seemed wildly enthusiastic.

This week they have a puppeteer who will teach them to make puppets and put on shows.

I’m not supposed to feel guilty about Klara doing all this fun stuff while I work on 3 articles in different stages, a new book, organizing a conference, and running a scholar organization. But I’m beginning to feel guilty. See this long post? That’s my guilt speaking.

Maybe other people would make a different choice, and good for them. But this is who I am and I just want to be left in peace by my closest friends to run my life as I see fit.

There is a point to this ranting, so wait for the second part of the post for me to get to it.

Wunderkinder

N watched a documentary about Soviet Wunderkinder, the “genius kids” who graduated high school at 11 / defended doctoral dissertations at 17 / broke Olympic records / received adult poetry prizes at 6, etc.

“So how did they turn out?” I asked N.

“They didn’t,” he said grimly. “They all died too young to turn out as anything much. Suicide, drugs, stroke. They are all dead.”

And to think we all spent our childhoods being made to feel deeply inferior to these kids.