MeFites do awesome things - why am I sitting here reading MeFi? March 20, 2002 7:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm having a mid-life crisis and it's all Metafilter's fault! This is especially upsetting as I'm only 31 and this means I'll be dead by 62. Honestly, though, the more I read about what others here are creating and persuing, the more I find myself wondering what the hell I'm doing with my life. Perhaps this is good, in that maybe this will motivate me to get off my ass and contribute something to the world. I'm just wondering, am I the only one who fells like this reading the 'filter? Is this actually a mid-life crisis or am I just going crazy?
posted by jonmc to MetaFilter-Related at 7:12 PM (154 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

This is on an "inspirational" poster that is hanging over my desk at this moment:

"It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:16 PM on March 20, 2002 [1 favorite]

It's a mid-life crisis, jon, definitely. But a happy and precocious one. Wait till you're 40 before you decide to give up altogether. You're at the best possible age a man can be. Enjoy yourself as much as others enjoy your company - even here on MetaFilter. You'll only die when you're 80, so you still have 49 years to go. That's 31 plus another 18 for good luck, bro!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:19 PM on March 20, 2002

To answer your question, yes. Every day I'm pretty impressed about what the people on this site do, or where they live, or how much more interesting their lives are. Maybe that's why I got so interested in the whole blog/MeFi world anyway, because my own life is a pale example of others. I've been feeling it for the last year (ever since I joined).
posted by eyeballkid at 7:44 PM on March 20, 2002

mr_crash_davis: I too love Despair, Inc.'s demotivational posters.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:45 PM on March 20, 2002

I think my midlife crisis hit about age 30 too. Turning 40 didn't seem so bad by comparison. I guess it no longer feels like a crisis after you realize it isn't the end of your life, even though it's nothing like you envisioned it would be.
--Aw hell, Jon, I don't know. I realized long ago my life has pretty much been one long identity crisis.
posted by StOne at 8:12 PM on March 20, 2002

Jon, I don't find it surprising at all that you would feel inspired by the different personalities here. My own writing career (such as it is) was definitely jumpstarted by hanging out in Usenet newsgroups, reading the prose of others, and rising to the implicit challenge. Having a forum to try out various voices and styles with almost instantaneous feedback from a varied audience was truly liberating for me as a writer, and it proved to be an bonafide back door into the magazine trade.

As for an actual midlife crisis, I think you might be a little young for that. If you find yourself falling in love with someone about 10 years younger, come back and we'll talk...
posted by MrBaliHai at 8:14 PM on March 20, 2002

I've been having a mid-life crisis since I was about 17.

(side note: Metafilter just mentioned on TechTV. They mentioned this link and said "this link comes from Metafilter. Or is it 'me-tafilter?'" Don't they know it's a double post?)

posted by Hildago at 8:15 PM on March 20, 2002

("MetaFilter-related"? If you say so...)
Some of these posters chap my ass! Can anyone recommend a medicated powder or something?)
(Hey, I'm just trying to cheer up Jon!)
posted by StOne at 8:17 PM on March 20, 2002

Hey Jon - consider this. The fact that you are here, hanging with all of us in our very favorite nook on the net, means that you, along with the other 14,000 or so of us, are cooler than anyone else on earth. No matter what we do, we all bring something special here, and that is ourselves. Also, if I may say this, replace the stoopid poster with something that makes you smile and see if that doesn't ease the crisis feeling a bit.
posted by Lynsey at 8:40 PM on March 20, 2002

Jon, you want to contribute something to the world, how about updating your blog as I am obviously not the only one who is curious about the different Metafilter personalities and lifestyles. :-D

posted by Tarrama at 8:44 PM on March 20, 2002

I knew a girl who, at 18, was convinced that 42 was the age which she should die. A midstream switch in schooling kept me from finding out if she had a midlife crisis at 21.
posted by NortonDC at 8:53 PM on March 20, 2002

Um, thanx for all the support guys, and don't worry I wasn't like standing on a ledge or anything, just thinking out loud in a "State of the Nation" kinda way. I was, of course also interested if anyone else ever got the same feeling here.
BaliHai's encouragement especially means a lot since he seems to have done and be doing a lot of the stuff I'm into.
Also, tarrama, I did this just for you, although I seem to have double posted to my own blog.(how embarrasing).

posted by jonmc at 9:05 PM on March 20, 2002

BTW, Bali, I fall in love with girls ten years younger than me(and older than me, and the same age) about twice a day. It has nothing to do with my midlife crisis, though, I'm just terminally girl-crazy.
posted by jonmc at 9:09 PM on March 20, 2002

Jon, also consider that although you are one of the 'oldest' Metafilter users, and I am one of (if not the) 'youngest', still I am older than you in years. But I am the one that envies you. Hell, you're jonmc, and that means something to me and a lot of other lurkers, readers and (obviously) participants. You've already accomplished a lot more than many have, and you've got plenty of time left to do anything else you want.

You're not going crazy. Like Miguel (yet another I envy) said, it's definitely a midlife crisis, but it's too early, and not necessary. With each year, I redefine my own concept of "old", and it's always a little bit ahead of my own age.
posted by yhbc at 9:14 PM on March 20, 2002

Funny, jonmc, but I think the opposite about many people here, that they do nothing and their lives are empty. I mean, it seems like most of the community is unemployed, from the founder on down. And other member's lives seem to consist entirely of posting to MeFi. I read MeFi because it makes me glad I have a life unlike y'all.

Heh. Just joshing. We're all super-cool, and I envy many Metafilterians occasionally.
posted by evanizer at 9:24 PM on March 20, 2002 [1 favorite]

I'm having a midlife crisis too, although I don't knows if it's because I'm a terminal MeFi lurker (it would feel pretty good to blame all of you MeFites for my feelings of doubt and "what's next?", but I think that my current predicament may be related to my usual timidity, confusion, and the very familiar search-for-meaning-in-all-the-wrong-places).

Naw, I've thought about it, and it's all your fault.
posted by readymade at 9:26 PM on March 20, 2002

disclaimer: evanizer's life is all photoshopped into reality. evan doesn't really exist. he is a photoshop construct.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:50 PM on March 20, 2002

posted by eyeballkid at 10:03 PM on March 20, 2002

I had the same feelings when I started reading this blog by kliuless. How different my life would be with a searchable blog of everything I was ever into since high school! What if there had been Macs or an Internet- I might still have my friends from college. But a few days later I watched a movie where Jackson Pollock was hanging out in a bar in New York with his buddies, and I wished that the isolation, creativity, and endless sense of time of life before computers would come back again for me, and realized it never will.

What amazes me lately is how so many people involved in intensely technical work can remain so keenly aware of what's going on in the rest of the world.

Here I sit lurking with this Arkenstone that reveals the electronic footprints of my former contemporaries. The ones who are still at the factory or waiting tables are invisible. I stare at the screen and see the addresses of houses, names of kids, published books, full professorships, patents, CNN appearances, a Broadway play, diplomatic posts, non-profits, solo operatic and symphonic performances, several million dollars in the bank, cardiology, eye surgery, and psychiatry practices, a Buddhist monastery to run, retiring from flying fighter planes, crop dusters, and hydroplanes, sitting on an Olympic medal for wrestling, taking photos in Hollywood, first Hollywood movie release, European tour and CD, testifying before Congress, software company about to go public, etc. Meanwhile I'm entering advanced "adultolescence" after being laid off from the dream websurfer job.

Wait a minute, you're user 58 on MetaFilter, you post all the far-out music links, you know where to get the Dr. Demento lyrics and you play in a band? Sounds like a life to me.
posted by sheauga at 10:10 PM on March 20, 2002

sheauga-tahks for the compliment,but I'm not in a band. I roadied for a couple local spedmetal acts when I was teenager, though. :)
posted by jonmc at 10:35 PM on March 20, 2002

I know how you fell jonmc. Sometimes it feels like everybody else lives a life of glamour, riding high in glorious tech/media jobs, surfing wirelessly from their Bluetooth PDAs, lounging around at SXSW (I still don't know what the hell that is), taking fabulous photos, wearing fabulous clothes, listening to fabulous music and meeting fabulous people.

Then I think about it for a second, and realise that they're mostly unemployed single Americans with expensive tastes, no cash and a lot of free time. Poeple who think that you have a life coz you've got a 2-digit user id. I realise that I'm getting paid twice the national average family income to sit here and type this. I'll go home and pull a frosty pint, play with my nieces, talk to my cat, cook something Thai and fall into bed with my wife.

Count your blessings, my friend - they weigh a lot more than blog-cred, an iPod and a account.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:52 PM on March 20, 2002

There was an article in late 2000 about people having mid-life crises earlier thanks to the dot com phenomenon. I think there's something to it.

I went to a college where everyone was a psychotic overachiever (although they desperately tried to hide it behind beer bongs and frat parties), and I remember thinking "the kid next to me is publishing a book; my next-door neighbor's an accomplished playwright; that guy's running a multimillion dollar business out of his dorm room - what the hell am *I* doing? I've wasted *all this time!*"

I was 18.

I still have that feeling at least once a week, and I actually think it's a good thing, though it has contributed greatly to my ongoing insomnia problem (which has, in turn, contributed to the frequency of my MeFi participation). It scares me to think that one day I might become complacent because I think I have all the time in the world, or i become satisfied with an existence that's less than what it could be. I think mid-life crises are only bad if they involve *denial* of the inevitability of death/aging (i.e. the stereotypical propensity to date much younger women, buy a sports car.) I don't think that's what you're talking about.

Take advantage of your mid-life crisis. Use it to think about what you really want.
posted by lizs at 2:15 AM on March 21, 2002

Well I have not had my mid-life crisis yet, so does that mean I will live to be at least 96? When I was younger I figured I would be dead before I reached 30, but I lived hard and fast for a lot of years. Only one bad habit hanging over from the fast life-smoking, which I am currently working on. Quiting smoking is harder for me than quiting drinking was.

jon, I am sure you can find many ways to get motivated from the folks around here. You already started.
posted by bjgeiger at 2:36 AM on March 21, 2002

Jon, I,m sitting here with a big smile on my face. Good for you!
posted by Tarrama at 3:11 AM on March 21, 2002

GOD! ALL you people are old! Try not to break a hip, grandpa!

*rides away on his Razor Scooter*
posted by ColdChef at 5:16 AM on March 21, 2002

This thread reminds me of exhausted, inebriated 4 a.m dorm room conversations many years ago, nights after the bars closed, music playing low in the background, red gel over the desk lamp whose beam was pointed out the window into the falling snow, drinking tea, putting out our cigarettes in the pot where my fig tree, Stoatgobbler, lived, and feeling with a sense of pleasant lassitude every single world-weary minute of our 22 or 23 years. Thirteen years later now, and I don't even know what the folks in the room look like.

But it's a good feeling nonetheless.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:31 AM on March 21, 2002 [1 favorite]

the more I read about what others here are creating and persuing, the more I find myself wondering what the hell I'm doing with my life

You are a professional connoisseur. What would be the point of anyone creating anything, if there was no-one to sit back and appreciate it? You just need to take a little more pride in your work, and then everything will be fine ;-)
posted by walrus at 6:09 AM on March 21, 2002

31 seems about right to me. You've finished school, had a few jobs, are starting to look at the long haul in front of you. I had a wife, a child, a two-toned blue minivan, a pink house in the suburbs, a decent job, and I was miserable at 31. Is this what I'm going to be doing for the next 30 years? So I made some changes. It's been a tumultuous 4 years for me, but I'm pretty much on track to happiness now. Pretty much.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:30 AM on March 21, 2002

my fig tree, Stoatgobbler

Who thinks Stavros wrote that whole post just to mention his fig tree, Stoatgobbler?

I also have an abiding suspicion that in a room with a thusly named fig tree, there was a secret cache of 8-sided dice.

posted by Kafkaesque at 8:35 AM on March 21, 2002

MrMoonPie : So I made some changes.

What color is your minivan now? ;)

The grass is always greener, Jon. Even the most "with-it" person you see has their own issues that you can't even imagine. You have to build your own yard-stick to measure your life, because it'll never work comparing yourself to others. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.

posted by crunchland at 8:44 AM on March 21, 2002 [1 favorite]

clap! clap!
posted by whtsherbkt at 8:48 AM on March 21, 2002

"This thread reminds me of exhausted, inebriated 4 a.m dorm room conversations many years ago, nights after the bars closed, music playing low in the background, red gel over the desk lamp whose beam was pointed out the window into the falling snow, drinking tea, putting out our cigarettes in the pot where my fig tree, Stoatgobbler, lived, and feeling with a sense of pleasant lassitude every single world-weary minute of our 22 or 23 years. Thirteen years later now, and I don't even know what the folks in the room look like."(stavrosthewonderchicken)

Can this guy write or what? It's all in the commas, I know, but!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:06 AM on March 21, 2002

Umm..I turned 33 yesterday and I have been kinda mulling over the same thing ...half my life is gone, and I havent achieved anything lasting (I dont mean money!). To top it all, last year, my supposedly great career kinda fell apart and I am still trying to pick up the pieces. But I told myself, at least I have had great time so far and there is still time to create and leave something behind.

BTW, Mefi does have a very erudite and creative membership. And it does make me wonder, what have I been doing??
posted by justlooking at 9:44 AM on March 21, 2002

(my first metatalk post. be gentle with me, please...)

Jon, I can relate. From time to time, I've felt like an underachiever. Had friends (or, former friends anyway) that had risen to positions of (modest) power, others that became very successful at a variety of pursuits. Have considered my lack of motivation and ambition a character flaw.

It's not.

I'm 48. A lot of my more driven contemporaries now have health problems and broken marriages. Many have few interests, or time, outside of their careers. My life's greatest achievements are a 25 year relationship with a great woman, a beautiful son, and the ability to r-e-l-a-x and enjoy them. (seriously - some people are incapable of doing this)

I also switched careers to computers in my mid-thirties - I'm not a total slacker - so although it's difficult, it's never too late to change your mind about your direction.

Now, the metafilter community has inspired me to get more serious about writing - perhaps forestalling my mid-life crisis for another decade?
posted by groundhog at 9:49 AM on March 21, 2002

Taking part in the creativity?

For those of you who're feeling mid-life'd: I think we all get there eventually. It's called being burnt out. Happens more easily to some of us than others... I'm feeling like that after having been in college for five years and working full time.

My advice: Make some changes. Take up a new hobby. Join a gym that's aimed at doing something besides trying to shape you into the muscle-man that I'll never be... Like an indoor rock-climbing gym. If you're feeling a lack of creativity, go pick up an old or weird camera for $50 and run some film through it. If you aren't married or in something already, start a new relationship or go on a trip where you might meet someone. Throw caution to the wind and do something you haven't done before that makes your blood fuckin' MOVE. And then take a nap under a shade tree in the sun.

Creativity comes from having different experiences, and I think that's why the MeFi community seems so creative. We have two things that bind us together: A thirst for knowledge and discourse and our computer literacy. Other than that, we come from all walks of life. We have different interests, experiences, and goals. Some of us are HappyHippies(tm), some are in the middle of their career, some are just starting out (like me) or reading from the high school library's computer during lunch hour.
Not only are we from different places, but we're all going different places.

I'm still deciding what I want to be when I grow up. My friends jokingly say that I'm the most driven person they've ever met, but I'm driving in 100 different directions at once. Me? I'm happy just to be driving. I'll still be deciding what I want to be when I grow up after I retire.

*shrug* So. If you're feeling burnt out or midlife crisis-ed, just do something different. And Groundhog's got it right - Relax. It's not all about having the BMW and the house in the suburbs...
posted by SpecialK at 9:57 AM on March 21, 2002

Yay, groundhog and Special K! Excuse me if I go all Jewish on you but who's to know you won't die tomorrow, whatever age you are? Enjoy whatever is at hand and figure on at least 120 years here on earth. None of that "carpe diem" shit - but a little. Think of the grandchildren, already. Then die - you've deserved it. After that, if you've done right by yourself, those you love and complete strangers such as here on MetaFilter, believe me: it can only get better. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:09 AM on March 21, 2002

*quickly sells BMW and house in suburbs*
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:12 AM on March 21, 2002 [1 favorite]

I have one every year. I think that they are very good for you. Mine generally involves see whether I can still pull 21 year olds ;-) That keeps you young.
posted by RobertLoch at 10:45 AM on March 21, 2002

I think the next MeFi'er with a sense of humor should ask stavros for permission to use Stoatgobbler as her/his user name - what an awesome moniker. And hugs all around!
posted by Lynsey at 11:07 AM on March 21, 2002

Any permission requests for the use of "stoatgobbler" should be forwarded to the Silly Party.
posted by Marquis at 11:25 AM on March 21, 2002

Golly, this little discussion grew exponentially overnight. Interesting insights all around and of we got to behold the beauty that is Stoatgobbler.

groundhog- I actually never would have guessed that you were 48, I had you pegged much younger. But then again you live in Miami, which is where I was living when I realized I had left the youth demographic. So something's keeping you young.

Crash- I have the entire Despair, Inc. calendar, my man. Good call.

SpecialK-I tried joining a gym, but I didn't like it too much. You're not allowed to smoke there.

MrMoonpie - You've finished school(I didn't)had a few jobs(I've had over 30, no joke)...I don't have a minivan or a pink house though, so I guess I'm doing better than I thought.

Actually, there are certain pluses to approaching middle-age. Self-knowledge for one. I understand myself better now than I did at 21. I realize that I'm an idea man who needs to be part of a team to execute something correctly, for instance.(in other words, I'm a lazy f*ck).

I suppose I may never be rich, famous or brilliant, I'll just have to settle for being handsome and charming.
posted by jonmc at 11:32 AM on March 21, 2002

I'm 33 and my life has, for the most part, got better every year. (There was a dip in morale a couple years ago when I realized I wasn't going to be able to make a success of my dream of running my own business -- and had in fact run up a lot of personal debt trying -- but there was a rebound afterward which more than matched it.)

Coincidentally, I have not married or had children yet. I wonder if that's related to my general feelings of peace and happiness.
posted by kindall at 11:54 AM on March 21, 2002

Well, this is the most sucidal ideation-inducing thread we've had in a while. I think I'm going to go lock up the knives for a while.
posted by aaron at 12:34 PM on March 21, 2002

I turned 31 last week and things keep getting better. I think my mid-life crisis happened between the time I was 21 and 30, it was just disguised as having a good time but I was miserable and abusing my body. Within the last couple of years I straightened my ass out, met an amazing woman who I am going to marry, finished a degree, and started law school last fall and patched up a lot of messed up relationships. This is going to be my first real "career," and I could not be happier that I have finally found something that makes me happy and will allow me to finally pay my bills on time.
Although I am super busy with school, since I am doing things with a clear head I find I have more time to relax and enjoy my life.
I'm glad I got a lot of garbage out of the way early.
I love reading about what everyone else has done and just reading the articulate comments that some of you post challenge me to organize my thoughts and express them creatively. Unlike now.
posted by anathema at 12:37 PM on March 21, 2002

Speaking of aging, I will be 9000 days old in exactly one week.

That is all.
posted by iceberg273 at 12:47 PM on March 21, 2002

iceberg, you don't look a day older than 7671
posted by riffola at 12:56 PM on March 21, 2002

I turn 30 in a month, and I am married with children, and sometimes I wonder what would have been if I had no responsibilities....
There is an old buddist parable that helped me, maybe it will help you...

Once there was a man, who was seeking wisdom. He heard about a temple high in the mountains where all the wisdom in the world was said to reside. He decided that he must visit this temple.

Halfway there, he began to lose his way. He saw an old man carrying a huge bundle of wood on his back. He asked the old man "Do you know the way to the temple, I need to find myself".

The old man replied "You don't need the temple, I can tell you all you need to know, here is what it takes", and the old man set his burden on the ground, and stood straight up.

"But what do I do when I go home?" asked the man.

"When you go home do this" said the old man, and placed the burden back on his shoulders.

posted by patrickje at 1:03 PM on March 21, 2002

Anyone suffering from a midlife crisis might consider that they only feel this way because of their basic asuredness that they have a future before them, however bleak it may seem at the moment. Remove that basic assumption, and it all goes away.

Yes, you'll get accused of being fatalistic and dark, but on the other hand, you won't get too upset about either regrets or failings. A little nihilism can be a helpful thing.
posted by dong_resin at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2002

I think "this too shall pass" is a good motto.

There ain't nothing wrong with you that $100 won't fix, jon.
posted by Kafkaesque at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2002

How gruesomely timely this is; I'm one day past my own benighted 40th birthday. I have just recently come to suspect that perhaps I'm not immortal after all.

I can't begin to tell you how dissapointed I am.

I can't say that I'm having 'a mid-life crisis'; more like a half-time locker room review. I've become old enough to actually fit the pedantic curmudgeon image I've had all my life. I managed to escape the gray confines of corporate life that had me in 'angry young man' mode well into my thirties. I work at something I really, really enjoy.

But we pay for our choices, I suppose.

I'll never be rich; I'll never even be well-to-do, unless that pick-six pays off this Saturday. I gave myself a gift of a gym membership as a birthday present to battle back against the Battle of the Bulge I've surrendered to for the last decade. I find I cast a guilty eye down the hair coloring aisle every time I hit the supermarket. "The Rejuvenator"...

I watch 'Pokemon'; how much more juvenile can I possibly get?

My time - and choices - for settling down are starting to hit the timberline. I can take on another man's family by marrying a divorcee; I can date women in their late twenties, who are impressed enough by my patter and semi-acceptable salary enough not to realize I should be making at least $20,000 more at my age; or I can philander with another man's current wife. And the sound of the refrigerator humming undisturbed in my 'bachelor apartment' is driving me to the point where any one of those three choices is perfectly acceptable.

Life - it's interesting at every age.

I can't wait to see what's next...
posted by Perigee at 1:19 PM on March 21, 2002

Timely post for me as well. Driving into work the other day, the tought passed through my mind "What the Hell am I doing here?" Not just at this place of work, but working period - spending 80% of my waking life away from my family in order to care for them just seems somehow wrong. I'm 34, have a great wife and daughter, and some gray hairs peeking through just now. Of course, I have no good answer, but that seems to be part of the whole point of life, no? Figuring out what we're doing here...

And coincidentally, someone forwarded this to me today. Apologies if you've seen it before, but it seems appropriate:

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2" in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full?

They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into he jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. "Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, your children - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

But then, a student took the jar which the other students and the professor agreed was full, and proceeded to pour in a glass of beer. Of course the beer filled the remaining spaces within the jar, making the jar truly full.

The moral of this tale is:

No matter how full your life is, there is always room for BEER.

posted by kokogiak at 1:44 PM on March 21, 2002

Perigree - Don't do that, have those married women introduce you to their single friends. Worked for a number of guys I know... jury's still out on me, but we'll find out someday soon.

As for the gym memberships - I did -not- mean Gold's Gym or 24 Hour Fitness or whatnot. I climb at Portland Rock Gym three nights a week, and I'm starting to get my friends addicted to it because it's a good workout, it's cheap, and it changes constantly, so there is no such thing as getting bored. And it gives you an excuse to by and play with little precision-machined bits of metal. Pumping iron is for those who aren't creative enough to get any other experiences.

I guess what's odd is that I think I'm more of a straight than a lot of my friends are. I have five really close friends. One is an office manager, one's still in school and freelances web design, two are newspaper reporters for small town papers, and one just started her own local music group promotion type company. Me? I'm a web designer/coder for a medium sized company and I go to school full time. Bo-ring. Most weekends I need to stay in to get my homework done or my car waxed or some other little bit of trivia that goes into maintaining a life.

But I also enjoy doing that... I love making things look good with my own two hands. Call it a hobby. I want to buy a house once I finish my Bachelor's so that I can tinker with it and re-do stuff. I'm weird like that. I love doing things that give me something in the end -- like web design instead of playing computer games, hand-washing/detailing my car instead of taking it through the carwash, fixing something in my apartment (and getting my landlady to give me a discount on the rent because of it...), etc.

I guess what I was trying to say before I started babbling (First sign of aging? My 22nd birthday is Sunday.....!) was that I do what I enjoy because I enjoy doing it. I don't need a relationship or to go out to bars for companionship because I'm busy enough with myself and my own stuff. Occasionally, I'll get introduced to someone of the female persuasion who'll tag along for a while. Not sure yet if I'll end up keeing one or not.

The thing is, who cares. I have skills. I have hobbies. I have things I enjoy. A year ago, I didn't, and that's what got me into trouble again and again. Figure out what's missing in your life and what makes it work to the point where you're comfortable, and what you need to do to get there.

For me, it was how I felt about my appearance (rock gym!), me feeling a need for a relationship (Fixed by developing some hobbies), and the conditions I was living in (Moved out of the dorms, back in with my parents for a few months, and then into an apartment...). Also, two years ago, I turned off the television for good and I think that made me a much happier person. I also stopped lying to myself and to people around me... I was helping a woman cheat on her fiancee at one point, and let me say, that just gets you nowhere.

Oh yeah, almost forgot! Stop worrying about money. Live within your means, and if you can't, figure out how to change your means. You have -no- idea how much that chaned how I felt about myself... (I actually still live outside of my means, but now I get others to pay for it...) My boss's wife just introduced me to a gal, and on our first date, when we were figuring out where to go for dinner, she pulled out a wad of coupons... I knew then that we'd see each other again. ;)

Ok. Lecture from the 21-year old to the 30 & 40-year-olds complete.

On preview: So much for typing this whole damned thing, because kokogiak just shot down my whole new-age feelin'. :-P
posted by SpecialK at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2002 [1 favorite]

Even the most "with-it" person you see has their own issues that you can't even imagine.

It's true, I do.

posted by croutonsupafreak at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2002

Seriously, though, I think you're experiencing an inferiority complex, not a midlife crisis. Either that or I've been having a midlife crisis since the age of 12. (Eek, I'm 24 now. I guess my time is up. Been good knowing you. Croak ...)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:00 PM on March 21, 2002

Sorry to hog your spotlight SpecialK - them's the perils of long posts ;)
posted by kokogiak at 2:06 PM on March 21, 2002

specialK: Stop worrying about money

This is very easy advice to give for a 21 year old to give. The advice is not practical when you have two kids, a house payment, medical bills, and your car breaks down.
posted by patrickje at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2002

Special K is 21? Shit, he's so smart he sounds as if he's about to die. I put all my money on him. What is with the Karls here on MetaFilter anyway?

And kokogiac - How beautiful. For that alone you might well go to Heaven - but you probably knew that already as you've done this kind of stuff before. :)

Sheez, what did you people have for breakfast when you were tiny?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:08 PM on March 21, 2002

Some of the replies in this thread have made me feel truly humble, not to mention worthless!
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:50 PM on March 21, 2002

Miguel - I had Rice Krispies in milk, which didn't help any - I'm high-functioning autistic, and part of what's messed with my body chemistry is that my brain interprets Capsin, which is a milk protein, as an opiate. Fun, 'eh? Oh, and I turn 22 on Sunday. *searches for grey hairs*
And really, I only sound good on paper (screen?) In real life I'm really a huge spendthrift geek, and my 18 year old sister (and roommate) hates me.

Patrick - How you do it's up to you. *shrug* I'm not qualified to give financial advice, because like I said above, I know I'm living outside of my means, but I know it and I can deal with it. One of my buddies is 30 and drives a BMW and has a rolex, and just took out a -third- mortgage on his house. I have no debt, my savings are growing bit by bit, and I just started a 401k. I clip as many coupons as I can, date girls who approve of using coupons to save money on dinner, I buy generic brands, and I buy what few toys I get myself on eBay.

kokogiac - Don't worry about the spotlight, wasn't mine in the first place.

Buddha - In which way? Some of the middle-age guys make you feel humble and worthelss, or some of the overoptimistic oddballs like Koko and me?
posted by SpecialK at 4:01 PM on March 21, 2002

Oh yeah, and standard disclaimer:

All advice is subject to your own unique set of circumstances. I don't have your problems, and I don't let you see my problems. I just report on what worked for me... you've got to get off the couch and decide for yourself what worked for you, and you're more than welcome to talk about what has worked or you think might work for you.
posted by SpecialK at 4:06 PM on March 21, 2002

That's 9 "you"s, "your"s and "yourself"s if you're playing along at home.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:35 PM on March 21, 2002

Hey, two of them were "you've" and "you're" ...!
posted by SpecialK at 4:48 PM on March 21, 2002

posted by SpecialK at 4:48 PM on March 21, 2002

important advice: if you use a coupon to pay for a dinner out, always tip the waiter for the cost of the whole meal. he worked just as hard as he would have if you paid full price.

also, it impresses former waitresses, and there are lots of us out there.
posted by rebeccablood at 4:54 PM on March 21, 2002

I had Rice Krispies in milk

Believe the hype!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:22 PM on March 21, 2002

rebeccablood: THANK YOU! People just don't seem to ever get that! Also, if you have a problem with your meal, and the owner takes the dish off your bill, TIP FULL PRICE!

You'll be a better person.
posted by ColdChef at 6:07 PM on March 21, 2002

jonmc, if you didn't know how old you were, how old would you be? (forget the source of that quote, dammit..) Point being, it's never to late to declare that it's time for a change. use the inspiration of the other Mefilterians as a spark. as mentioned previously, though - the grass is always greener...

I grew up in nursing homes (family businesses), and you'd be amazed at the number of people who, at the tail end of their lives, would pick up something new and try to make a difference.

There ain't nothing wrong with you that $100 won't fix, jon.

Kafkaesque - just wanted you to know that I caught the Tom Wait's lyric and it brought a reeeallly big smile to this aged 35 yr old.

Great thread, teamMeFi!

posted by crankyrobot at 7:16 PM on March 21, 2002

ColdChef - Maybe it's just semantics, but to me the meal is the whole experience, of which the food is but a component, so if a service aspect of the meal results in some of the cost of the food being removed from the bill, it is entirely possible that the server was the cause of the trouble with the meal. Recently in a Red Robin our orders were not submitted by our waiter for 20 minutes after taking them (by his own admission, and it was not busy), he attempted to make up for it by "gifting" us with fries that were a part of our order anyway, and when the food was finally served it became clear that when he finally got around to submitting our order he left out whole dishes. Charges were removed from the bill, and neither of us felt compelled to base the tip upon what we ordered.

We tipped, but the tip was small, deservedly small.
posted by NortonDC at 8:24 PM on March 21, 2002

Kaf : there was a secret cache of 8-sided dice

Nah, that was high school. But with rye and coke.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:40 PM on March 21, 2002

aaron: Well, this is the most sucidal ideation-inducing thread we've had in a while. I think I'm going to go lock up the knives for a while.

Hey, we finally agree on something. God this is depressing- especially since I've always thought of MeFi as a place where people aren't cut from the same cloth as most folk. This isn't inspiring- it's yet further evidence that I am as fundamentally screwed up as I imagined but never really wanted to believe, that I'm just plain broken. Fuck....
posted by hincandenza at 8:41 PM on March 21, 2002

aaron & hincandenza - jeez, I'm sorry! Drunkenness makes a great alternative to suicide-come over to my place I've got some Allagash Tripel...
posted by jonmc at 8:48 PM on March 21, 2002

and the owner takes the dish off your bill, TIP FULL PRICE!

And if you order a sandwich, tip as though you had ordered the lobster, coz carrying a plate to your table is carrying a plate to your table, regardless of what's on it.

And if you order something like a Coke, but change your mind and make it a juice, tip as though you had ordered both - the wait-person had to write the both down, after all. Hell, add extra coz they had to cross one out.

And if you only order a single course, but others have entrees, tip as though you had ordered two courses too - that second trip was to your table, after all.

And don't forget to tip extra if you try a little something off somebody else's plate. You should have ordered your own, so its like stealing if you don't.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:03 PM on March 21, 2002

I realized I was getting old when, on the eve of my 26th birthday, I remembered that Orson Welles made Citizen Kane when he was 25. When I was younger, I planned to have my first major feature film under my belt by that age, or else I would be a failure. Well, the time had gone and, even though I had two college degrees, several short films, several long video films, well over a 500 artworks and several New York exhibitions under my belt, I felt vaguely like a failure. Is that rational? I think no matter what we accomplish, and how much good we do, it is never enough. Perhaps this chronic sense of dissatisfatcion is what keeps us going.

I have always loved this quote. I think it applies to most everyone, even though it is specifically about artists:
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression in unique.

If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."
--Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille
posted by evanizer at 10:03 PM on March 21, 2002 [2 favorites]

Hey, Obiwan, take it outside...

Hincandenza - Sorry to hear that it depressed you. May I ask why? I thought it was a lot of people saying that they were feeling depressed because they thought they were getting older, and a lot of other people saying, what, we need to get older? Try this, worked for me.

Technical support for the human brain... it didn't come with a manual, you know.
posted by SpecialK at 10:05 PM on March 21, 2002

If you can afford it, tip extra all the time. Tips-wise, it costs you next to nothing, and it pays their bills. A lot of single moms are waitresses. And when you are a solid 20%-er, they remember you. Service improves dramatically, and that's what it's all about. I absolutely love it when I walk into a restaurant for lunch and, without my asking, they have a drink for me by the time I've got my coat off - that makes every time I've tipped extra worth it. "Your vodka and tonic, Mr. Fes - would your guest like a cocktail this morning?" You have no idea how great that feels :)

And be NICE. No finger-snapping to get their attention, you butthole. Waitresses are people too, and if you cause them problems, they will definitely have the funkiest scab-picker swabbing out garbage cans in the back come up and hawk a greenie in your chow.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening

"Agnes? There can be only ONE!"
posted by UncleFes at 10:38 PM on March 21, 2002

evanizer, beautiful quote.
posted by bingo at 10:39 PM on March 21, 2002

How bout the old Tom Lehrer quote:

"It is a sobering thought that by the time Mozart was my age he had been dead for three years" (apologies for any misquote)
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:53 PM on March 21, 2002

Yup, for one brief shining moment hincandenza and I are as one. This thread makes it seem that there are only two real courses one's life can take: Immense success at an extremely early age (sub-30), or a life of ... being a lesser human being and spending the rest of your life feeling ennui about it. And I most assuredly have not taken the former course. I could hardly be any lesser of a lesser human being at this point in my life. There's not a single poster above I wouldn't trade places with; even the ones deeply questioning their lives above have at least lived and experienced enough to have something to look back upon. I'm still waiting for life to start.

And it seems that this thread, and Metafilter in general, is full of people from the former group, the young successful elites, and that's by being here I'm nothing but a poseur, and never will be anything but a poseur. I feel like I should just accept that I will never be anything but someone with a dead-end job, few friends, growing old alone ... and staring at a computer screen living vicariarously through the posts of people that are far "better" than I could ever possibly hope to become.

That's not a life I want. Damaged and broken.

I'm not sure how close this post comes to how I really feel after reading this thread, but right now I don't really care. I needed to stop, for once, pretending to myself for once that I'm a decent writer and instead just type.
posted by aaron at 11:09 PM on March 21, 2002


I don't see how anything can qualify anyone as a lesser human being. There are many paths through life, and yours and mine are just two of those paths. You seriously think most MeFi'ers are young successful elites? And spending 2-3 hours a day at MeFi?

The reason I come to MeFi, and the reason I assume others come here as well, is the sense of community. I don't really know anyone here, but I enjoy, listening to other people talk, and having them listen to me. It's cathartic.

As for being a decent writer, you're probably in the top 10% here at MeFi.
posted by patrickje at 11:30 PM on March 21, 2002

I've gotta go with patrickje here aaron, you're probably one of the most universally respected people around here. If anyone should be doing their own blog, it should be you. If I can get off my lazy ass and start posting, surely you can, my man.
posted by jonmc at 11:49 PM on March 21, 2002

aaron, hincandenza, lighten up! "Enjoy your life," says my buddy tending bar in Grand Central Station. *donning her birka to go visit to that neat guy at Cornell* The point of listing all those overachievers was, so what? Vivisimo offers a variety of choices for the "human brain" "technical support" manual we all so desperately need, including:

-- A huge Banned and Controversial Newsgroups Page (crashed my browser)

-- Art Quotations on Freedom

-- EFF Student Thesis on Web Communities in 1994

-- The Marijuana and Hemp Network Newsgroups Page

-- This set of disclaimers about a mission involving aliens and the Hoover Dam

-- Wearable Computing

-- ( MidasMulligan's Company??? What is this? And what are they doing in Afghanistan? )
posted by sheauga at 12:25 AM on March 22, 2002

Sheauga, I love ya, but there's nothing's more annoying and useless than pop psychology. "Lighten up"? Are you kidding? Do you honestly think peoples' innermost thoughts and feelings can be altered in the slightest by such empty platitudinal one-liners? That reading those two generic words are going to cause us to break free of our emotional shackles and start running through the fields of daisies with the kittens? Especially when it's give more as a command than as a suggestion?
posted by aaron at 12:39 AM on March 22, 2002


A day doesn't go by when I don't think the following thoughts:
>Why me?
>I wish I could suck my gut in.
>I wish that I could bone that chick.
>Are there any oreos around?

There really is no point to those thoughts, except that life is composed of millions of moments. Sometimes the most difficult act is moving to the next one. I know none of this will cheer you up too much, but maybe it might.
posted by patrickje at 1:01 AM on March 22, 2002

True hopelessness is not painful. It's numb.
If you're hurting, aaron, it means you still have something to lose.
I don't expect that'll make you feel any better, but it is the reality of your situation.
There is, just because you can suffer, still a hope, however unseen, of something better.

By the way, I'm not striking out at anyone here in particular when I say this, I'm really not, but people who instruct you to 'lighten up' should get face cancer, you dick.
posted by dong_resin at 1:48 AM on March 22, 2002

I don't see "being wonderfully successful in life" and "suffering ennui about being a suboptimal person" as being an either/or sort of dilemma, either.

By most classical metrics, I've lived a truly blessed existence. I got to be alpha-geek of my high school and get into my first-choice college and graduate with a major and a minor in four years. I spend my days getting amply-compensated for doing something I really like (writing code) and my nights merrily plugging away at doing something I truly love (writing prose). Somewhere along the line, I started up a successful webhosting company as a side project and found a massively wonderful and infinitely supportive girlfriend. Success at every turn. Life should be peachy.

But many times, when I look around MetaFilter at length and see the vast array of material that everybody is busily toiling away at, I am humbled and am overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of substance there. So many people visiting the faraway lands I never had the motivation to go to, writing the novel I never did make time for, spearheading the projects I wish I'd thought of. Doing the things I wish to do and doing them better than I ever will. It's disquieting. At its worst, it eats away at me. It riddles me with doubt about "gee, I bet I probably could've accompished [action] if I hadn't pissed away all those evenings [something frivolous]."

(I realize that a "hey, I feel sucky, too!" message probably isn't the most helpful or healing thing in the world... but an extension of empathy is all I have to offer.)
posted by youhas at 2:46 AM on March 22, 2002

Speaking of aging, I will be 9000 days old in exactly one week.

Now, what old sexist writer-guy was responsible for saying that the 'perfect age for a woman' is 10000 days? I can never remember that stuff.

(I think he was also quoted as saying that the perfect age for an iceberg is 9000 days, but that could be apocryphal at best, or a ~bald-faced lie~ at worst.)

I'm still waiting for life to start.
aaron, buddy : don't wait. You'll end up waiting forever, man. This is too public a forum perhaps for this, and I only know you through your words here, but all I can say is that life rewards you and punishes you in equal measure whether you sit at home or go off and try to Do Great Things. You'll meet pain and disappointment no matter what. But nothing - nothing - worth having was ever handed to anyone who just waited for it. Bite in, tear off a strip! It might taste like hell, but at least you'll have a story to tell later...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:31 AM on March 22, 2002

I said : pain and disappointment

Uh, and joy too, friends, joy.

Life is good. Rich, poor, together, alone, happy, sad, drunk or fucking sober, life is sweet.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:54 AM on March 22, 2002

aaron/hincandenza - you need to be aware of one important fact: we're all compulsive liars.

But really - everyone's life is unique, it can't be compared with another's. Although we're all rich, young and fabulous here at mefi, *cough!* I think there's a fair amount of putting our best face forward in our comments. Like the man said, don't judge a book by it's nicely displayed cover.

You both deserve credit for being honest about the way you feel.

Now, as one of the old farts, a bit of fatherly advice: acts of kindness SOMETIMES, not always, but sometimes, are returned in unexpected ways and can open new doors. Sounds like a fortune cookie, but I've seen it happen.
posted by groundhog at 6:09 AM on March 22, 2002

True hopelessness is not painful. It's numb.

Dong_resin, an Elizabeth Barrett Browning fan? I like you more every day, d_r.


people who instruct you to 'lighten up' should get face cancer, you dick.

To translate from the dongresinese, depression is a disease, qualitatively and quantitatively different from even the most intense unhappinesses of healthy lives, although the latter can sometimes trigger the former. Despite the best efforts of generations of psychologists, psychiatrists, patients, neurologists, nurses, artists and other interested and concerned persons, perhaps the best working definition we have of depression is "the inability to get your shit together". Telling someone who is clinically depressed to "lighten up" or "pull yourself together" is worse than useless, it is damaging to that person in many ways.

I don't mean to diagnose aaron or d_r at a distance here, and I'm not having a go at sheauga, but if you're not sitting there nodding your head right now, count your blessings and don't ever say that shit again, 'k? Thanks.
posted by sennoma at 7:07 AM on March 22, 2002

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:09 AM on March 22, 2002

It doesn't matter how much you've accomplished or how sucessful you are - you can always feel jealous of what of others have done. Everything worthwhile takes a committment of time and energy. Every time you make that committment to something, you're simultaneously committing not to accomplish a thousand other things which may be just as worthwhile. Every hour I spend practicing guitar is an hour not spent fighting world hunger, learning a foreign language or earning money. Every hour I spend with my girlfriend is an hour not spent practicing guitar or getting better at programming. So much for breadth of accomplishment. As far as depth of accomplishment - any field worth your time has more to learn or accomplish than any human being could manage in a lifetime. Since we all have different priorities, there'll always be someone ahead of you in whatever direction you want to look. That's only a bad thing if your self-worth is dependent on being ahead of everybody else.

Our challenges are also different. For one person, quitting smoking might be a greater accomplishment than starting a successful business. One of my greatest sources of pride is my music - yet from a professional standpoint my playing is competent at best. (From the standpoint of a good session player, it's not even that.) I'm proud of it precisely because I'm not naturally talented at music and I've had to work a lot harder than most musicians just to reach adequacy.

If you're really feeling down on yourself for what you haven't done, there's a couple of possibilities. One is that you're being realistic - you haven't done what you want to do and are really capable of. In that case, your frustration can be a useful motivator to get out there and do something you always wanted to do. Just remember to enjoy the trip & not get too obsessed about the destination. The second possibility is that you really have made worthwhile progress in your life, but your internal programming or biochemistry has got you attacking yourself anyway. (If your own brain wants to put you down, it can always find an excuse.) In that case, the road may be even tougher. You can reprogram yourself - therapy, meditation, medicine, yoga, spirituality can all be useful tools - but it's a long slow process. Be patient with yourself.

posted by tdismukes at 7:13 AM on March 22, 2002 [2 favorites]

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:19 AM on March 22, 2002

Say, thanks, sennoma. I wondered after the fact if my comment was a tad much for this congenial thread.
Uh, the first bit, I mean, not the dick part. I wasn't speaking specifically of people insensitive to depression as a disease (although that certainly applies), I'm just sick of such mindless, knee-jerk advice as "Hey, cheer up." Really? Great. Say, why don't I also buy low and sell high? Then I'll be cheerful and rich. Can't beat that, can I. How easy everything is! You dick.

Am I a Elizabeth Barrett Browning fan? Not as such, I had to go look her up, which is one of the main reason I love MetaFilter/Talk, the opportunity to make up for a south Florida public high school education. Every day I run into something interesting here from those more cultured than myself. Pretty interesting so far :

Ask God who knows. For frequent tears have run
The colors from my life, and left so dead
And pale a stuff, it were not fitly done
To give the same as pillow to thy head.
Go farther! let it serve to trample on.

Kind of a Cure vibe to this chick, huh.
I'm reading on.
posted by dong_resin at 8:22 AM on March 22, 2002

~Grin~ It sounds like we're going down a Nietzschian path here; comparing the few Ubermench to the remaining 'Bungled and Botched'.

I have never had a stomach for Nietzsche.

We make choices, and, for the record, I wouldn't change a single one. Sick, but true. Success is based - at least to me - on whether you can like the moron you see in the mirror shaving in the morning. And I have to admit an abiding love for the lug. ~Grin~ We can't have it all, and if we did we'd be shallow and stupid. Our flaws make our directions, and our directions make us the complex people we are. I guarantee if you are rich, fat and happy, you'd be off watching television, and not contributing your own intellect and angst to a group like Mefi.

Value your flaws. They are the things that most forge you as an individual.

If we did not feel pain and regret for past opportunities lost, and paths not taken, we would be somehow less human. I couldn't live in perfection. I wouldn't want to.

(Did someone remember to put on the inspirational music behind me?)

In the end, we are who we are, and even our insecurities and vanitys play a vital part in our growth. Example:

Ex- Surgeon General C. Everett Coop was once head of the Childrens Hospital in Philadelphia. At that time, he proclaimed me to be doomed to be retarded at age 5. Apparently the skull fused closed prematurely, and it was my doom to be zippy the pinhead.

I have spent the last 35 years proving to myself - and to him, though he will never know it - that he was dead wrong.

I guess what all of this is trying to say is... being one of the 'Bungled and the Botched' is what makes us human. And Superman doesn't exist.
posted by Perigee at 8:27 AM on March 22, 2002

Dong and Sensei, I think we should lower the drama level a bit. Sheauga was trying to be supportive, not dismissive.
posted by rodii at 8:30 AM on March 22, 2002

aaron: You know what really sucks about being "immensely successful at a very early age"? You realize very early on that none of it counts for shit. Other people can tell themselves, "well, if I just had this thing, or if I had just accomplished that thing, or if I just had more friends, then I'd be happy". "Successful" people don't have that lie with which to console themselves.

I've probably been what most people would consider immensely successful. But at the height of my supposed success I found myself struggling with feelings similar to what you described. There have been periods of personal blackness so dark they border on numbness - border on, without actually crossing over that line, thank God. I make no claim to have experienced the worst possible depression, and I couldn't stand to denigrate the feelings of those who truly struggle by comparing their experiences to my own. I've experienced just enough of this to know that I cannot possibly complain...

A friend of mine here at the University of Michigan has had the good fortune to work with some incredibly successful people. People who would not only blow us all away with their intellects, but who are also attractive, happily married, and immensely wealthy. The beautiful people we all dream of being. You know what? They're largely miserable, though they almost never show it to anyone (even their spouses). They're miserable because they're lonely, because they feel this void in their life that success and money and accomplishment can't possibly fill.

The bottom line is, success, money, looks, self-confidence, friends, even relationships cannot possibly make you happy. These are all good things, mind you. They are wonderful in their place. But, before these things can matter at all, you have to find a purpose in your life. In my experience that purpose can only come from God.

Only once you've "had it all" do you realize how worthless it all was in the first place. That's true for everyone. (If I weren't a Christian, I'd probably be a nihilist.)

Some people will tell you that becoming a Christian will make you eternally happy, forever and ever amen. That's just not true. Every time I have abandoned God, tried to find my own way and sought fulfillment in my success, I've been faced with the utter futility of it all. The utter futility of life without God. It's what brings me back to Him.

Perigee is right. Superman doesn't exist.
posted by gd779 at 8:33 AM on March 22, 2002

To be clear: I hope my last post didn't sound preachy. I hate it when people are like that.
posted by gd779 at 8:40 AM on March 22, 2002

I understand where Sheauga was coming from, rodii, and I hope I made it clear that I wasn't calling her a dick. I was speaking generally.
posted by dong_resin at 9:20 AM on March 22, 2002

To be clear: I hope my last post didn't sound preachy. I hate it when people are like that.

If you can find a way to tell people that purpose in life can be found only through God without being preachy, you're really onto something. But I haven't seen it yet.

Sometimes I envy the religious, but the fact is that the idea of God just won't work for a lot of people. A lot of Christians say that the only way they find purpose in life is from God, and if you ask them what their purpose in life is, it's to serve God. It all seems kind of circular to a lot of us.

Also, without casting aspersions on anyone's religion, I find it hard to accept the notion that you can find purpose in life through a relationship with someone who may or may not exist and not find a purpose in relationships with real human beings. I get a lot more satisfaction from my relationships with my children and friends than I ever got from what I thought was a relationship with God back in my born again days. YMMV.

Besides, some people really do find happiness through success in their careers or in wealth. It's easy to look at these people as shallow, but if they're happy, it's just as easy to see them as lucky.

I think that a large part of a person's happiness is due to factors that he or she is born with. I've heard it said (I'm sorry that I don't remember where) that happiness is due 50% to innate characteristics and 50% to factors you can control. So some people are halfway there to begin with, and they have a big advantage. Which isn't to say that you can't have a dramatic effect on your own happiness, only that people who are unhappy aren't entirely to blame.

I also think that one of the factors in happiness is intelligence. I think that the smarter you are, the harder it is to find happiness in things or ideas that work for most people. So intelligence, in general, tends to have a negative impact on happiness. Or at least makes it harder to find things that make you happy.
posted by anapestic at 9:29 AM on March 22, 2002

rodii: I wasn't out to harsh anyone's mellow. Well-meaning people who want to be supportive often do unwitting damage with comments of the "lighten up" kind, and I think it's as well to spread the message.

dong_resin: yeah, Robert Smith probably sat around reading EBB a lot when he was an angsty teenager. :-) FYI, here is the poem that made me think you might be a fan.
posted by sennoma at 10:25 AM on March 22, 2002

but all I can say is that life rewards you and punishes you in equal measure whether you sit at home or go off and try to Do Great Things.

Dude ... (I can't believe I just used the word 'dude'), I'm BROKE. Nobody will hire me. At ALL. Until then, there's nowhere for me to go. And I lived in NYC for 12 years, was even in the dotcom mess for a while. But I was locked at the bottom of the totem pole the entire time, and was generally as much of a failure then as I am now "just sitting here." I appreciate the advice, but please don't think I haven't tried, for many years.
posted by aaron at 11:25 AM on March 22, 2002

Oh, and what anapestic said. I'd give away half my IQ points in a second if I could. Stupid DOES = happy and content.
posted by aaron at 11:28 AM on March 22, 2002

aaron, my man, if reading this thread has taught me anything it's that having people listen to and understand you is one of the more rewarding things in the world. I'm not naive ebough to say that money and success aren't nice-but succesfully expressing your thoughts and having those thoughts take action in the real world is even cooler. Look at the episode with Joseph Sabia, that was MeFi at it's finest and mostly your doing. You should be at your blog pounding out editorials like a madman, my freind, and your userpage to the contrary most of the time I agree with you and I'm not even a conservative.
posted by jonmc at 11:37 AM on March 22, 2002


Stupid DOES = happy and content.

I disagree, and I'm not sure that that was what anapestic meant either. The stupid people you are thinking of as happy don't have the opportunity for deep contentment that you do, if you have so many IQ points that you'd still be functional after giving half of them away (I'll have them, by the way, if you find a way to do that!). If a person is so "happy" with the superficial things that mainstream society uses to measure success (wealth, fame, &c.) that they are not looking any further, then I maintain that they will never really be happy or content. You with your enormous brain may indeed face an uphill battle to find the things that make you happy, but you can understand the way the world works at a level that will let you really fill that hole inside you.

(Just so no one calls me "Pangloss" -- I'm not saying this will happen automagically. There are, after all, more factors than your brainpower at work here. I'm just saying that the possibility exists.)

posted by sennoma at 12:05 PM on March 22, 2002

aaron: what kind of work are you looking for?

If you can find a way to tell people that purpose in life can be found only through God without being preachy, you're really onto something. But I haven't seen it yet.

posted by gd779 at 12:43 PM on March 22, 2002


I went to look at your homepage and my firewall blocked it. I know the firewall uses cyberNOT for content filtering, although, you don't appear to be in the list. Luckily, I have admin privileges, so I just logged in as admin, but I just thought you might like to know.
posted by patrickje at 12:43 PM on March 22, 2002

gd779, no need to apologize. There are a hell of a lot more religious people in this world than there are atheists. You made a suggestion, as are many people here. We don't have to agree with each other, because every one of our lives is different, beautiful, its own way.

jonmc, I'll tell you what my one friend told me a couple weeks ago when I felt like shit. "Baby steps." When the world feels overwhelming, when you feel like there's so much to do and so little time, just sit back, relax, take a deep breath, and take a baby step forward.

The greatest, and worst, thing about life is that it's based upon inertia. When you're in a rut, you tend to dwell upon the hole your in, and spiral further into the abyss. On the other hand, you take a couple baby steps like washing your car, feeding the cat, and cleaning your kitchen, suddenly you're moving again. Baby steps is much too short to dwell upon how others' lives are better; the key to life as i see it is simple, keep it moving. No matter what...move it forward. Whereever it takes you, know that you control your life, and not the other way around.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:00 PM on March 22, 2002

Thanks for the info, patrickje. I wonder why your firewall blocked me; could it have anything to do with my massive stash of pr0n?
*watches as site exceeds bandwidth limit for first and only time* :-)
posted by sennoma at 2:47 PM on March 22, 2002

could it have anything to do with my massive stash of pr0n?

I doubt it, looked everywhere and didn't find any... :(
posted by patrickje at 3:25 PM on March 22, 2002

BlueTrain expressed exactly what I was going to say, "Baby steps."

I also express it as, "Now, do the next right thing."

I'm 41, have had great success and great failure, and I'm grateful to (insert deity of choice, or not, here) for the experiences. And if nothing else, I have stores to tell. And there's not enough money in the world to entice me to go backwards, even if I could. I still plan on watching cartoons and eating Cap'n Crunch on Saturday mornings well into my 90's.

And if anyone reading this thinks they're depressed in a clinical fashion, then run, do not walk, and get something chemical done about it, even for the short term. In my darker periods, the things that helped me are the things that help me now - physical activity and volunteer work. Doing things for those less fortunate (and there are ALWAYS less fortunate in your neck of the woods) is a great way to take your mind off your problems. The endorphins from walking, working out, etc., are a natural mood elevator.

Baby steps. Do the next right thing. Take a walk around the block. Spend an afternoon at a food bank.
posted by ebarker at 5:07 PM on March 22, 2002

aaron - sorry. I truly intended no offense. As for me, last time I was unemployed and totally without prospects, I borrowed the money for a plane ticket and came to Korea to teach English.

That'd be an inspirational story, perhaps, except the job really sucked.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:06 PM on March 22, 2002

Since the subject of depression, and exercize has come up, I will second or third that: even a 40 mile bicycle ride into the non-scenic south Bronx can do wonders.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:43 PM on March 22, 2002

What ebarker said.

Currently, my get well prog includes prozac, strong tea and metafilter. I'm going back to work monday - to the boss whose practices have put me off work for over a month, but hey, the medicine lets me act like i just don't care - mainly 'cos sitting round at home increases entropy and isolation.
However, my gym pass hasn't seen the light of day for ages: when I'm down, I don't wanna be out.
I can't stop thinking of success wheezes - to get me riches, success, a different job or a partner - but it's the lack of endorphins which curtail the implementation thereof.

Aaron: let it pass, it may do soon. Don't be shy of your doctor. Don't let whatever shame or pain gathers in the darker corners grow: casting light on the corners reveals that they're empty.
And most vitally: Keep posting so those who are interested, and those who care - psychically, distantly, but genuinely - can keep in touch. Don't be afraid to say again in some thread or other place, "this is the real me, I'm a miserable mofo today". A lot of us have been there, I still am there witcha, and my emails on my user page. Be honoured to correspond.

posted by dash_slot- at 7:32 PM on March 22, 2002

I'm not sure where exactly this morphed into a discussion on clinical depression and an automatic assumption that's what's going on with me or anyone else in this thread, but it's certainly not what I'm talking about. I'm not sitting here feeling depressed because I'm only a middle manager instead of a VP or driving a Toyota instead of a Lexus. I said what I said because I meant it.

Let me make it clear. I'm living at home with my parents. Only my mother is working. Nobody will hire my father because of age discrimination, and I can't find any desk jobs here in this high-unemployment area; I can't take any hard labor, or even something that would require me to stand and move around for 8 hours at a time like McDonald's on doctor's orders until after I start a major diet, which I haven't been able to start till now because of liver problems that weren't properly diagnosed until all of 10 days ago. Now I get to wait another month to even start the diet. And I have a LOT to lose.

My computer barely runs. It's ancient. It's got so little hard drive space I need to spend an hour a day manually ripping out old email and stuff by hand to keep my account from being shut down. It's got no ram. The CD-rom drive (not a burner, just a reader is about to blow out. I can't afford even to upgrade the RAM from 96MB to 256.

I can't even listen to any music to chill out except stuff I can stream through the tinny speakers of this machine, because we have no stereo. It fell apart last summer, and we went to Circuit City and put a nice $600 Sony on layaway ... a week before my father was laid off.

When I moved out of NYC, I was forced by circumstances to essentially leave on a train in the middle of the night, because I had no money, no friends to help me pack and my parents refused to help me at all. As a result, I lost EVERYTHING I EVER OWNED, except for one duffel bag full of clothes and a couple of books. My ENTIRE LIFE, every possession, was taken from me. (It may ... MAY still all be in a warehouse there somewhere, or my landlord may have thrown it all away. I don't know, and I'm afraid to ask unless I was able to go on an hour's notice to get it all back if they said it was still there.) I can't even leave the house without looking like shit, because all I have to wear are cheap sweatshirts and sweatpants from JC Penney every single day because it's all the clothes I have that haven't long since been worn out. (It's been a year and a half since I was driven out of NYC with that duffel bag.) We can't afford to buy any new clothes for me.

And these are just a few examples. I'll spare you any more.

Am I depressed over all this? Hell yeah. But my point in listing all this is to attempt to prove that I'm not just "feeling really down, bummer dude," or that it's some chemical imbalance. I do have some depression, but it's mainly the fact that my life is in a seriously FUCKED situation, and that's why all the discussions in this thread about other peoples' lives are so personally painful for me, and why I'd trade with any of you in an instant, no matter how ennui-filled you might be about the state of your life. Cause right now, on a qualitative and quantitative basis, I think I'm literally at the bottom. Okay? It's just that simple. I can't do the most basic things the rest of you do every day, and being unable to do them fucks you up. Period.

And I'm not trying to say I don't appreciate any of the recent suggestions about how to improve mood and stuff, or any of the posts to me in this thread further above. It's just that it's 5:35 am right now, I'm dead tired, I wanted to go to sleep two hours ago, but this thread is probably going to scroll off the front page sometime on Saturday, so if I don't bang this out now as fast as I can, I'll never get to clear the air at all. It's not about doctors and endorphins. It's about my situation, and the incredible hell I've gone through trying to get out of it, largely without success thus far.

So...that's all. Good night. See you tomorrow. And anyone who posts any snarky personal attack as a response to this post is the lowest form of subhuman scum.
posted by aaron at 2:41 AM on March 23, 2002

Honesty is like beauty to me. But I can't feel sorry for you, aaron. In fact I envy your courage. I think you're right to complain and right to think you deserve much more.

Advice is garbage if you don't know someone and can't be there every day to see how he or she is doing. I'd still suggest you do something that doesn't require you to change in any way. I.e. write. First a blog; then an article; then a book. Something you don't need money, clothes or other people's approval to do. Something which doesn't require you to leave the house or get a better computer.

A blog would be a great starting point because people could help without knowing you or spending money on - by visiting because they're genuinely interested in what you have to say. Who knows what that could lead to? I dunno - but thanks a lot, pardner!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:42 AM on March 23, 2002


Geez, am I the only other [not coincidentally also unemployed] person getting that minor point? Yes, Aaron and I should run around picking daisies and writing poetry and sucking the marrow out of life. And then when we're done, we'll wrap ourselves in old newspapers while sleeping in the gutter because we're flat broke and we don't have jobs!

Excuse me while I print out this thread and hand it to my landlord next week in lieu of April's rent- I'm sure he'll be thrilled. Then I'll print another copy, fry it up, and eat it for lunch.

Fuckin' christ hell, it's amazing how much we can take for granted those things in our lives that are currently effortless. If you have a job right now, telling someone who doesn't have one- who is so broke they basically are losing all their material possessions and every shred of stability and self-sufficiency they've ever known- that the best thing for them is to "write a blog" or "dance like no one is watching" is such unbelievable bullshit. This isn't Mr. Snuggleworth's Group Therapy Session, it's the cold hard real world out there where you can't feed, clothe, or house yourself with warm fuzzies and weblogs.

Here's a thought: if someone tells you they're unemployed and desperately broke, help them out. Wishing them good luck is like peeing on them when they're down- you might feel relieved but they're no better off for it. First, see if they're in your zip code. Find out what they do, what they're skilled at, and then start calling all your friends, co-workers, aquaintances, and see if you can find out an inside lead for a job- you know, an actual, money-paying job.
posted by hincandenza at 7:03 AM on March 23, 2002

hincandenza, give me 6 numbers, I shall use them for the U.K lottery on Wednesday, you get half of any winnings.
posted by Fat Buddha at 11:13 AM on March 23, 2002

Well, anyone who was having a midlife crisis before should be feeling much better about themselves now, eh? Thanks for the benchmark, aaron.
posted by crunchland at 12:10 PM on March 23, 2002

Thanks, Subhuman Scum Man! It's all so clear to me now!
posted by aaron at 12:25 PM on March 23, 2002

Ge-e-e-e-zus crunchland, that was despicable.
posted by nikzhowz at 5:00 PM on March 23, 2002

Hey, all I was saying was that aaron's story should give people a little perspective and realize that whatever petty problems they might have (like having a mid-life crisis at 31) are pretty insignifigant compared to what some people have to go through.
posted by crunchland at 5:23 PM on March 23, 2002

Oh! Well, that's different.

<Litella>Never mind.</Litella>
posted by aaron at 5:43 PM on March 23, 2002

aaron: I'd give away half my IQ points in a second if I could. Stupid DOES = happy and content.

I never thought you were that smart anyway. So maybe you're happier than you think.
posted by bingo at 6:29 PM on March 23, 2002 [1 favorite]

Way to kick a down-on-his-luck man in the gonads, bingo, that's right kind of you.
posted by kindall at 9:25 PM on March 23, 2002

Sounded like tongue in cheek to me, kindall.

Besides, if we can't laugh at the unfortunate, then, what next, no laughing at rape victims? Holocaust survivors off-limits?
I don't want to live in that world. C'mon.
posted by dong_resin at 2:54 AM on March 24, 2002 [1 favorite]

bunnyfire has my bike...and can she peddle
posted by clavdivs at 9:35 AM on March 24, 2002

posted by y2karl at 11:32 AM on March 24, 2002

SO youuu have my zeppelin album.
posted by clavdivs at 12:26 PM on March 24, 2002

Sounded like tongue in cheek to me, kindall.

Really. I have a hard time imagining that, and I think someone in aaron's position would have an even more difficult time. I'm sure that "I never thought you were that smart anyway" is not quite what he needs to hear right now, even if it's meant in jest.
posted by kindall at 12:33 PM on March 24, 2002

Hearing aaron's plight reminded me how many things in life suck when they are beyond your control. You kind of have to write off the things that happen for no reason, and roll with those punches. The problem is, when a series of things beyond your control happen all at once, it can be overwhelming, as it definitely sounds in aaron's case.

Thankfully in my own life, a lot of major changes have been things I had some control in, decisions I made. The things I can't control seem to come every once in a while, but two or three together in a short period can ruin anyone's life. My parents are currently going through some serious shit beyond their control after my dad had his stroke. They've now sold their 30-year-old business for pennies on the dollar and their home is on the market. My dad is learning to walk with a cane and dead left side of his body while they both wonder what they will do for income in the next few months. One event has changed their lives forever (and mine as well, though not nearly as directly).

Aaron, if I could offer anything to remotely help out, it'd be to try and focus on the things you can control. It sounds like you're dealing with a lot of shit you have no say in, and those are the impossible problems to solve. If you can figure out what things you do have a say in, examine the things you're doing and learn from any mistakes in the past, you might make some headway into getting things back on track. I'm not a praying man, but I'm pulling for you. Though I've found fault with you from time to time, you've always been an intelligent person and I hope you find some work soon, you certainly seem like someone that can benefit a company in some way.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:57 PM on March 24, 2002

Hincandenza, whose eminently quotable quote--as in help them out--gets my applause here. My situation is grim enough itself and I can testify to pointless thoughtless cruelty of free advice. Especially the useless get a dishwasher gig or job at McDonald's kind from friends who then dump you when you find yourself suddenly homeless out of fear you might ask for some real help. There is nothing more smug, sanctimonious and worthless as that sort of free advice. Not all given here has been such, however... aaron, my heart goes out to you.
posted by y2karl at 2:41 PM on March 24, 2002

Hey, all I was saying was that aaron's story should give people a little perspective

Here's some perspective for you, aaron:

Your parents are still alive, and one of them has a job. You have somewhere to live and clothes to wear. You get enough food to have a weight problem. You have access to medical services.

You aren't forced to do physical labour, and being unemployed is not a crime. You have received an education that allows you to read and write. You have a personal computer (and thus electricity), net access and the freedom and skill to use both.

You live in a country with a social security system. You have free access to libraries, museums and art galleries. You are free to criticise your government. I'm guessing that you are free to run for office. You can probably vote. You are free to practice a religion of your choice, or not to have a religion at all. You are free to have as many children as you like.

You haven't been tortured, and nobody is trying to kill you. You can go outside without stepping on a mine, or taking a sniper's bullet. You have clean water, sewerage and somebody takes your garbage away. You won't die of starvation or from a contagious disease. All of the above apply to everybody you love.

You're better off than the vast majority of the world's population. I'd hazard a guess that 90-something percent of people are worse off than you.

Nonetheless, you appear to think that 96mb of RAM, a single-income household, putting up with streaming audio, a treatable medical condition and wearing gear from JC Penney's are problems worthy of a despair that makes one of bunnyfire's down-swings look like indigestion.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:14 PM on March 24, 2002

Speaking as a person who actually has run for office while unemployed, been unemployed without seeking elected office, and lived under third world wartime conditions:

Unemployment can be just as stressful as wartime.

It doesn't have to be this way, but Americans are more concerned with defending "the freedom to fail" than with providing a decent social safety net for all inhabitants. Even Bill Gates realizes you can't tell people, "Let them eat computers!"

Thanks to Matt for his supportive, helpful attitude towards everyone here who is out of work. Although it's much easier said than done, I agree with him that it's a good idea to just do the little things you can for yourself and your loved ones, then let the rest go. So many people in this world are critical of others, it's always a pleasure to finally run into a few who offer encouragement.

posted by sheauga at 5:47 PM on March 24, 2002

obiwanwasabi, wouldn't it have been much easier to just say 'fuck off, aaron' than typing all that?
posted by darukaru at 6:30 PM on March 24, 2002

Obiwanwasabi, why are you spending so much time complaining about aaron's post? Don't you realize how much better you have it than the rest of the world? Think how happy a starving child in Africa would be to be able to read aaron's post!
posted by daveadams at 7:28 PM on March 24, 2002

Obiwanwasabi is right ... at least my health is going to improve, while he obviously has steadily progressing incurable brain cancer.

But if anything, his ultra-left-wing hate makes me prouder to be a conservative than ever, because at least I follow my beliefs, rather than just spout them. Take your ultra-left-wing hate, obiwan, and shove it up your ass, or else join the Peace Corps and put your money where your giant mouth is. You dick.

Oh, and I expect to receive a large package next week containing your computer, all your clothes, and enough money for me to start the medical procedures I need immediately, instead of waiting in line for weeks. What? That packaing is not going to arrive? Well, of course not, because you're just talking the talk, not walking the walk, like most ultra-left haters.

Oh, also, you're a fucking idiot about how the United States works, like most foreign assholes.. You think I'm getting social security? You don't get that in this country unless you literally CAN'T work for a medical reason. People refusing to hire you isn't a valid reason. And gee, wasn't the US supposed to be such a dangerous contry with all these guns around? I thought I DID live in a place where I rish getting shot when I walk out the door. That's what all you lefty haters tell us every single day.

You're a fucking hypocrite. Go away. Die.
posted by aaron at 7:52 PM on March 24, 2002

Yeesh...getting perspective on life is definitely a good thing. Yet, being a complete cock about it usually isn't very persuasive.

Hell obiwanwasabi, I agree with you. There are millions dying in the world from starvation, disease, and war. It's true that we are living relatively worry-free lives in comparison.

But this is where we part. This thread is about venting; the whole "MetaHealing" that we occasionally need. But acting like a fucking dickhead, at this point, is just low. It's unnecessary; it's arrogant; it's self-righteous to the highest degree.

aaron and hincandenza, all the best to you and your search for a job and some stability. obiwanwasabi, try targeting people who have the ability to kick the shit out of you in person. Your anonymous, vicious attacks only show your low self-esteem. Get some friends man.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:29 PM on March 24, 2002

Geez, we agreed for all of like 2 days. Even if obi is a "hater", why paint him as an "ultra-left-wing" hater? There's nothing "left" or "right" wing about being unsympathetic- and besides, in general I'd say that compassion for the plight of others is more of a left-wing trait (as opposed to a libertarian/conservative notion of "Let the chips fall where they may".).

Your attack on obi is uncalled for, no matter what your situation. I mean, don't let your personal issues affect the vitriol with which you talk to other people, aaron.
posted by hincandenza at 8:30 PM on March 24, 2002

I dunno. Sounded like rather conservative criticism to me, and there's nothing in his past posts to bring to mind the term "super-lefty." It's all standard parental kinda stuff: Save some dough, get to the library or whatnot, kwitcherwhinin', there's people starving overseas, etc. I remember when I was having a harder time finding my way (I'm in school now, but doing well. We're talkin' a few years ago here. Still, only ramped up to 265 MB last month, on a machine put together from scratch.) I heard this kind of talk all the time. At least no one told you to move to the big city and go into some business you'd hardly care about (say, cell phones), or how you need a job over $150,000 just to make ends meet what with possible future children and all (sure, OK) and should get it together awfully quick. Or did you get this speech? Has anyone told you that, oh, you can buy generic brands of this and that and live on $4 a week, and buy all your clothes from thrift shops, even though god-knows-what went on inside those pants?

That said, there's more than a smidgen of truth in the more basic version of said speech - if you're from W.Va, you're like me, a Miss. native, in being one of the few people from your place of birth with a college degree. Only 10 percent of the citizens of the county of my birth have s college degree. I've lived in the Miss. Delta, a land that progress mostly forgot, and know what extreme poverty looks like. All things considred, I feel lucky, even if I have to make a dollar stretch now. But you don't want to hear all that right now, right? Suggestion: Don't talk to anyone that way yourself in the future, then, unless you know that person well and there's a last-ditch intervention going on. Even then, show some restraint.
posted by raysmj at 8:46 PM on March 24, 2002

Lovely. Just lovely.

I didn't attack aaron. I didn't complain about his post. I wasn't trying to persuade anybody about anything. I simply pointed out that he has a lot to be thankful for, and that perhaps his 'depression' wasn't proportional to his problems. Now I'm a 'cock', 'left-wing hater', 'vicious', and I have 'brain cancer'.

While you may well have other very serious problems, aaron, I could only go on those you chose to share, and they're pretty fucking minor compared to the problems some people have. 'Boo hoo - I only have streaming audio' - cry me a fucking river. Just my opinion of course - you're welcome to provide me with a problem more serious than being unemployed in the world's richest nation while living with your parents and spending your day surfing the net.

As for putting my money where my mouth is and 'walking the walk':

- I currently support my out-of-work brother-in-law, his wife, and their three kids. 'Support' means they live with me, and I pay their bills.

- At 15, I was homeless and unemployed. I worked my arse off doing everything from putting up posters to sweeping floors to loading boxes to building barbecues to picking up trash in carparks at 4am to pay my way (no moving back with my parents for me) and matriculate. I got a Band One TE score - that's the top 1%. I'm not especially smart - I just worked and studied my fucking arse off.

Then I worked my arse off again to get through uni. I did it all with loans - no grants - and I paid them all back. I ran out of funds, but I had bills to pay, so I swallowed my pride and got an entry level clerks job. I did it in the middle fo the biggest recession this country has had since the Depression. I got it by walking the streets, knocking on doors, and working for free to prove myself.

I cam from somewhere a hellava lot worse that where you did, and I worked my way to where I am today. I never complained - not once. Counting my blessings, and realising how bad it could be kept me going while I walked around a mall with a plastic bag and gloves picking up cigarette butts.

- My entire career has been spent working with Aboriginal people, providing support to my country's most disadvantaged citizens. I'm talking people who don't have housing, water, electricity or food, let alone a fucking job.

Come where I've come from, do what I've done, get where I am today, see the suffering I've seen, and then you can come talk to me about how bad you've got it. Shove that in your lazy the-world-owes-me-a-living-and-256mb-of-RAM ass and smoke it, you no-hoper sponging whinging bludging lard-arsed pissweak excuse for a human being.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:04 PM on March 24, 2002

Whoa - I was channeling hincadenza for a second there :)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:09 PM on March 24, 2002

obiwansabi: I'd believe your paean to character-building a little bit more if you showed some, well, character.

The fact that you would read this thread as an opening to pile on the abuse, and then try to wink it all off with a smiley, is pretty ironic considering all the good you do for disadvantaged Aborigines.
posted by rcade at 9:19 PM on March 24, 2002

That said, there's more than a smidgen of truth in the more basic version of said speech - if you're from W.Va, you're like me, a Miss. native, in being one of the few people from your place of birth with a college degree.

Actually, I don't have a degree. I got sick and was forced to drop out after three years, and they took away my scholarships and loans, so I couldn't return. Also, when I got better I was offered a job that paid me more than I would have made starting out with the degree, so I went for that instead.

And what rcade said. You could be the second coming of Jesus himself, obiwan, and you still would have blown it with your offensive armchair quarterback diagnosis of me. I will not take patronizing shit from you, nor anybody else.

Your attack on obi is uncalled for, no matter what your situation.

When you are attacked first, on a system where the rules say anything goes, you are absolutely entitled to fight back.
posted by aaron at 9:35 PM on March 24, 2002

Matt and y2karl, thank you for your REASONABLE, rational posts. I appreciate them.
posted by aaron at 9:47 PM on March 24, 2002

aaron- I've been where you are, my man. After my initial dive into the tech industry, thigs were going gangbusters and it looked like it would never end, so when my better half said she wanted to go to to get her master'ss degree I said sure figuring it would be easy to find another well paying job in my field.
To make a long story short, I was wrong and spent 8 months on the couch eating Vienna sausage and developing a close personal relationship with Judge Judy with a gnawing sense of hopelessness growing in my gut. just to get my juices flowing, I took whatever temp work was avialable, which included spending a day working the ticket booth at the Pennzoil 500 and a rather bizarre evening inventorying 400 pairs of thong underwear in a clothes shop in little Havana. As weird as those jobs were, they were also fun in that I got to hang out with other people and get my work muscles flexing again. I eventually wound up at the same company I had started with,and while things aren't as good as they were back in 1998 they are getting better. I have a job, good frends IRL and(in MeFi) a place to flex my intellect.
If I had known this thread was gonna cause you so much greif I would never have posted it, honestly. But you are obviously a bright talented guy and my instincts tell me that things will turn around for you. Just get out there and do whatever is available to put some change in your pocket and pursue whatever inspires you(blogging, cello playing, coke-bottle collecting whatever) on your own time, things won't be perfect but you will feel more alive, trust me.

Good luck, bro.
posted by jonmc at 10:00 PM on March 24, 2002

Actually, I don't have a degree. I got sick and was forced to drop out after three years, and they took away my scholarships and loans, so I couldn't return. Also, when I got better I was offered a job that paid me more than I would have made starting out with the degree, so I went for that instead.

Sorry. But you had a opportunites to earn a degree (at say, a state college - that's where I went, and am earning a PhD now) that few people in West Virginia will ever have, sad to say. Not that makes it any easier for you, but it's true nonetheless. Look, I still have people who went to elite or at least much more expensive universities - and who grew up learning to disdain anything remotely associated with Miss. - treat me like dirt or second class. Then I had a major accident my last year in college, was laid up for months and ended up being virtually forced to work (if I wanted to write for a newspaper) in the Miss. Delta, the poorest region in America. How do you explain that to people who've taken a straighter path? You can't. I could end up with a major Fulbright, say, and certain people would still look down on me (even if I reminded them that, say, Fulbright was from Arkansas and once a segregationist).

But who gives a rat's ass, y'know? Worrying about your own self before anyone else's opinion is the first step toward getting out of your whole, or hell, or rut, or what have you. (You can never get that totally out, I don't think, but you can channel the energy elsewhere.) It sounds bad to say it, maybe, but in a few years you might even have an advantage in having lived way out of the mainstream. I know that it's a large part of what makes me "me" now. Not pop psychology here. Just realism.
posted by raysmj at 10:05 PM on March 24, 2002

You know, obiwan, what puzzles me is why a veritable saint like yourself -- a little Aussie battler who's fought all the odds and come up roses -- a self made man with a hard earned degree (ooh, a University degree! Swoon!) -- an exemplary human being who spends all his income on others and devotes his working life to the underprivileged -- what puzzles me is why such a superior individual would feel the need to kick a bloke when he's down?

I didn't attack aaron. I didn't complain about his post. I wasn't trying to persuade anybody about anything. I simply pointed out that he has a lot to be thankful for

I call bullshit. If you really wanted to point that out, you could have done it without adopting the snarky cry-me-a-river tone, you self righteous prig. Nobody needs a holier-than-thou arsehole like you to remind them that there's always someone worse off.
posted by sennoma at 12:06 AM on March 25, 2002

a self made man with a hard earned degree (ooh, a University degree! Swoon!

Pull your head in. What degree? I said I went to university. I also said I ran out of money. I came out with good grades in a swag of first and second year subjects - no degree.

what puzzles me is why such a superior individual would feel the need to kick a bloke when he's down

I tried to help him up by pointing out everything he had going for him. He bit me. So I went for the other 'good old Aussie tradition'- giving back twice as hard as you got it.

And where the hell do you get off with that 'superior individual' crap? I'm not superior at anything, except that I know what I want and I work hard to get it.

If you really wanted to point that out, you could have done it without adopting the snarky cry-me-a-river tone

Why bother? I make no apologies for being pissed off whenever I see some lazy prick suffering from diseases of affluence complaining about his lot.

Nobody needs a holier-than-thou arsehole like you to remind them that there's always someone worse off

aaron doesn't need somebody telling him how it's OK to be down coz he's soooo hard done by - he needs somebody to tell him count his blessings and do something with his life, or to stop fucking whinging already if he's not going to do either.

I'd believe your paean to character-building a little bit more if you showed some, well, character.

I have zero interest in 'character-building'. That was his parents' job, and they've obviously failed. Alas, it's come back to bite them, empty their refrigerator, and tie up their phone.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:49 AM on March 25, 2002

I tried to help him up by pointing out everything he had going for him. He bit me.

Bullshit, as I said. You were letting everyone know how tough you had it and what a fucking Spartan you are.

So I went for the other 'good old Aussie tradition'- giving back twice as hard as you got it.

I wish you wouldn't keep letting on where you're from. It's embarassing.

Why bother?

Why indeed -- why not just open up the floodgates every time your venom glands need emptying; why not indulge that mean streak any time you feel like it? Which part of "community" in "community weblog" did you not understand?

aaron doesn't need somebody telling him how it's OK to be down coz he's soooo hard done by - he needs somebody to tell him count his blessings and do something with his life, or to stop fucking whinging already if he's not going to do either.

Oh yeah, you've got all the answers, haven't you smart guy? It worked one way for you, so anyone whose life doesn't go that way, anyone who doesn't meet your arbitrary standards, must be worthless and fair game for a kick in the nuts. I guess you never got anything through luck or unwarranted privilege, and you can take personal credit for every aspect of your situation in life. (Hint: hasn't your work with Aboriginal Australians taught you anything about how being down is not always about character flaws, and about that unpleasant little piece of reality known as "circumstances beyond one's control"?)

In any case, what I don't get is why you are so worked up over aaron and his situation. He's down, a few people here felt like throwing some ideas and support his way -- how does that harm you? Why the need to lash out?

posted by sennoma at 2:27 AM on March 25, 2002

I'd just like to say that after all this unpleasantness, I'm hoping aaron doesn't bail out on MeFi again. I've enjoyed having him back.

OK. Please resume kicking each other in the genitals, if y'all feel inclined to do so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:48 AM on March 25, 2002

STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by evanizer at 4:57 AM on March 25, 2002

Obiwan: Contrary to your claim that you've never complained once during the Charles Dickensian life you heroically overcame, I'm guessing you're not very happy about having an unemployed brother-in-law, sister, and three kids living in your house.
posted by rcade at 5:22 AM on March 25, 2002

Sheeesh, time out folks. Basic human psychology 101 - we're mostly only able to perceive fortune or misfortune from the standpoint of our own experiences. The guy with a well-paying job wishes he could trade with the guy who has a fun, personally satisfying, well-paying job. The guy with a crappy, low-paying job wishes he could trade with the guy who has the well paying job. The guy with no job, living with his parents wishes he could trade with the guy who has a crap job. The broke, homeless guy wishes he could trade with the guy living with his parents. The guy starving to death in a concentration camp wishes he could trade with the homeless guy. We should all be happy because we're not starving to death in a concentration camp, but it's hard to think that way because of how our brains are wired.

Aaron's going through a rough time right now and it's pretty natural that he's bummed. (I don't know him well enough to know if he's prone to depression when he's employed and doing well.) Obiwan has apparently been through some much rougher times and it's not suprising that he might be inclined to not think Aaron has it so bad. Given that he's bummed, it's not surprising that Aaron would take Obiwan's patronizing tone as a personal attack and lash out. (Although, Aaron, "lefty"? Obiwan sounded more like a righty to me, if anything.) Given that he perceives Aaron as not appreciating the good fortune he has, it's not surprising that Obiwan would argue when Aaron lashed out. That being said, Obiwan, you can argue your point, which I think is a valid one, without the personal insults. I think this has been an excellent thread, with good points being made all around by just about everyone. No need to wind it down with name calling.

On previews -rcade makes a good point. Obiwan, sounds like you've had a remarkable life, but if you've never once griped to your mates about the crap you had to deal with, then you're even more remarkable. My guess is that chewing out people you don't feel are qualified to complain is your form of complaining. ;-)
posted by tdismukes at 6:07 AM on March 25, 2002

Actually what obiwanwasabi did is constructive in a unexpected kinda way. At age 20 I had gotten my dumb ass kicked out of college for spending too much time drinking and girl-chasing and not enough time studying. Landing back on my ass in my parents house, I moped around and worked a night job in an industrial bakery.
One day my old man saw me moping and said, 'What's with you?"
"I dunno, It's just that I'm 20 years old now, and I figured I'd have my life on track by this point..."
"What?!"My dad broke in,"Son, when I was 20, I was in Fort Benning with a rifle in my hand, not knowing if I was gonna live to see 21 without any prospects waiting back at home, so quit your bitching!"
Kinda snapped me back to reality, which is what I think obiwan was trying to accomplish.
posted by jonmc at 8:04 AM on March 25, 2002

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