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The Weight of Regret

POSTED ON Mar 20th 2013 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Fertility

Why does the possibility of regret hang so heavily over us? A commenter over at the Cowardly Feminist asked that question last week. The blogger, Vesta Vayne, had written a post about her current angst over whether or not to have children. Always believing that she didn’t want kids, now in her early 30’s she has doubts.

We have many regrets in life. Why does the mere thought of this one about children hold so much power over us, especially women? Two points: first, decisions not to have children eventually become final for women. That eventually arrives relatively early in life. The possibility, even if only theoretical, continues for a man while a woman will have decades to live with the knowledge that she cannot produce children. Consider, even in the high-tech fertility world, many women trying to conceive in their late 30’s use donor eggs. That is, the early 30’s baby hunger isn’t about hormones but about timing. A woman has to answer the baby question. A man doesn’t.

Two, the desire to have children is, at root, about meaning and consequence. The childless often boast how they can jet off to some new adventure or otherwise order their lives as they please. That sounds lovely. Eventually, however, we all must reckon with our lives. If all we’ve only pursued our own pleasure, then our life feels hollow.  As one of my friends, another mom of four, once told one of the self-righteous childless on FB who threw down some challenge for us to justify parenthood, “Parenthood connects us to the infinite and eternal.” Becoming a parent forces us connect to something bigger than ourselves, to a life that we can look back upon and know that it meant something that we lived.

Having children isn’t the only route to meaning and consequence, just the most common one.  Those who either have no children regrets or have made peace with their regret, they created meaning and consequence in some other aspect of their lives, but it is hard to achieve. Compare the stories of Elizabeth Wurtzel and Liz Jones to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice And UK Home Secretary Theresa May. Rice and May accept and transcend their regret. Wurtzel and Jones despair. It might help to ponder why.

Related:

On parental happiness.

On “emerging adulthood.”

On waiting for the feeling.

On Peter Pan and late realizations.

37 Comments



  1. Megs said:

    Couldn’t agree more. Faith may also have something to do with one’s regrets. Faith that one’s life’s purpose has a higher calling than only casual relationships. Whether that deep relationship is with God, family, or dear friends, those relationships give our lives meaning. And one thing that must be said about being anyone trying to be a parent – your relationship with your children is not casual.

  2. Leslie Loftis said:

    In both the Rice and May links, they mention, almost in passing, that their faith helps. One could argue which comes first, but I’d bet that it is their faith that leads them to public service.

    It doesn’t matter that they don’t have children, they will not come to the end of their lives and wonder if they wasted their time. The person who remained childless because they wanted to continue to do what they wanted without regard for anything else, see the Wurtzel and Jones examples and I added another at the end today, they might wonder if they wasted life.

  3. edge of the sandbox said:

    “That is, the early 30’s baby hunger isn’t about hormones but about timing. A woman has to answer the baby question. A man doesn’t.”
    Vesta Vayne is sadly typical. Many women in her situation will still be able to have families, but quite a few will not. It’s also when “girls” start playing musical chairs with man they meet.
    It’s actually not true that men don’t have biological clock, it’s just that it hasn’t been recognized as such. Older father are linked to autism and schizophrenia in children. A 30-year-old man may believe that he has another 40 years to have children, but that’s not necessarily true.

  4. Leslie Loftis said:

    True men have a biological clock, but it isn’t as stark as ours. First, there’s a huge difference between higher risks for certain conditions and children aren’t possible. Second, men in general don’t know about their biological clock, largely due to the previous issue. They don’t act on it and, therefore, tend to recognize the consequences of waiting after the fact, when the baby has problems, when they can no longer conceive with their wife and are confronted with her grief at the loss of genetic children and explaining how their child is genetically theirs but not their wife’s, or when they realize that their parents are too old to be the active grandparents they remembered from their childhood.
    I’ve seen my husband cry once. My mother was crawling around on the floor with our tiny son. His mother couldn’t. In that instant, all of the old arguments about waiting for maturity, for total financial security, or for the perfect time, they all dissolved. Waiting for perfect wasn’t worth the cost.

  5. Heather said:

    Having completed a couple of major projects, I’ve been wasting my time watching true murder mystery videos, esp ones featuring the detective Joe Kenda. The victims are usually young UNMARRIED mothers, murdered usually by a boyfriend. Anyway, I think these young women are out, consciously or unconsciously, on the hunt for a man. These murders are I believe the result of unmarried sex and pregnancy. Are there any stats to back this up???

  6. Leslie Loftis said:

    I don’t know if their are specific stats on that, but there is tons of data on the flip side, i.e. the safest place for women and children is in a stable home environment with the husband/father of the children. Ari was on this a while ago. Give me a sec to find that email thread (alas, it might have been on the old, deleted comment boards) or drag her over here.
    BTW, what projects? Anything to read?

  7. Leslie Loftis said:

    Got it. From last year when I was writing about fictional heroines. Cleaned up for posting because ari and I aren’t meticulous editors in email. My comments in brackets.

    Penelope Trunk wrote a peculiar ( aren’t they all? [Yes. Yes, they are.]) article about yoga studios, marrying well, and so on. She says 20% of women have Myers Briggs scores that fit well with housework.

    Ann Althouse picked up one paragraph of that—nurturing women ought to marry high- earning men and stay home and raise their children—and then the commenters were off to the races. [I bet they were. Penalope and Ann is like an explosion.]

    Now, one commenter in particular made out a whole scenario where a nurturing female marries a dominant, successful man. Because he is successful, of course he is a domineering asshole—his words—and the super-nurturing female gets beaten, brutalized, tortured, whatever, until she flees with the children, suffers a divorce that strips her of all financial wherewithal, and lives onward in ignomy. Therefore, women ought not nurture so well, nor trust men.

    Which, if you think about it, is sort of a death threat—trust a guy, love him, raise his children, in a very feminine, competent way—and get killed for your efforts. Disappeared from your home and life is a form of socially dead. Nurturing is deadly.

    This is of course the whole theory of second-wave feminists, and they were quite non-charming about wanting to kill housewives— see Suzanne Venker on what people said to her mother-in-law Phyllis Schlafly—or any of the housewife as parasite quotes in Graglia (as she points out—this is the sort of thing German said about Jews, and racists about blacks—but no one else in modern society, not even homeless, drug-addled bums or criminals in jail.)

    The statistics do not bear this out: I’ve only read it in Ann Coulter—but the single safest place for a woman to live is in a house with her husband who is the biological father of her children. Everything else is dangerous by degrees. No question.

    Which ties into Twilight: really, it does, [I know. You are preaching to the choir.] which is why Twilight is so virulently hated. Bella, a very nurturing female sort, marries her very masculine husband and gets killed by his masculine prowess, more or less. That’s the feminist story. But it doesn’t end there: he saves her with his poisonous essence, and then she goes on to live a very happy life with him.

    Links:
    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2004/03/marriage-still-the-safest-place-for-women-and-children
    Note the differences in section 3.2 and 3.3. They wanted to downplay the section 3.3 overall data: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/chapterthree.cfm
    http://acculturated.com/2012/11/13/the-postnuclear-family-last-comes-marriage/
    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Marriage-Matters-Third-Conclusions/dp/1931764247

    Slightly related: http://frugaldad.com/2012/05/31/love-helps-how-relationships-and-marriage-affect-health-happiness-and-finance-infographic/

  8. ari said:

    Married women living with the biological father of their children are, statistically, the safest women in America. It’s in Ann Coulter, in her book Guilty, and probably exercised in an essay or two. We can name the number, year by year. It’s ( if memory serves me) under 1,000 women per year, total, across an entire continent.

    Women living with men who are not the biological father of their children are in danger. Her children, not related to the man, are about as safe as lion cubs in a nature video: that is to say, not safe at all. There’s a measurable death rate, a measurable violence rate, a measurable statutory rape rate.

    Even if it’s safe, the kids’ own body clocks go off- they suffer more diseases as adults, they die measurably younger than their peers. It’s a mystery how it works- but the bloodwork of a forty year old survivor of “adverse childhood events”- which includes the simple absence of a parent- is, apparently, a biological playground for epigeneticists, these days.

    And- it takes both parents- those hormonal fumes from armpits and sweat really do keep the young kids more neotenous. An unrelated male living in the house in close proximity forces an earlier puberty- boys and girls.

    This works with snakes and frogs, too. A snake coming across a patch of frog eggs- the frogs will spawn tiny, perfectly formed frogs in the time it takes the snake to taste, scoop up, and begin biting down on the egg mess- there’s chemicals on the snake’s tongue- and then pressure- which forces the eggs into instant development. Biologists have filmed a snake eating an egg mess, and little frogs escaping from the crest of it’s mouth- that’s how fast it can happen.

    Women with children, dating around, are not safe. Try 1,000 incidents of harm in one city in America, per year. Possibly higher.

    Women who are in unconventional relationships- with other women, are, again, less safe by a huge factor. Their children, likewise, less safe than any other situation. Lesbians brutalize each other more often than any man hurts any woman in any type of relationship. It’s by some huge factor, too, and some huge degree of difference in violence and persistence. Oh- and lesbian violence also increases in the presence of disabilities- they beat each other up, especially if one’s in a wheelchair. And, for who knows what reason, they have health issues out the wazoo- so weak, vulnerable, perverse- and preying on each other. It’s a version of hell on earth.

    Men usually don’t beat women who are disabled. If they do, it’s on the news, because it is so rare.

    Polygamy- meh for the woman, heinous for routine healthcare for the kids- that’s worldwide, including the USA. Past that, depends. But, if you want children to flourish in a highly competitive market economy, your best bet really is monogamy. Resources, and all that.

    The children of a conventionally married, religious couple, in the USA today, are the safest children in all of history. This covers poverty, wealth, color, religious orientation- liberal, fundamentalist, creationist, parents who spank, anything– these are the children most likely to survive childhood intact, healthy and safe.

    And, the children of these unions are likely to have, not just safer marriages, but happier, more physically satisfying ones. They are less likely to suffer bacterial or viral diseases, or even fall prey to chronic conditions, or to die early of cancers. And, likewise, they tend to test better, read more, be more productive and reliable at work. Peter Schweizer, Makers and Takers. Health stats, from various sites, not usually referenced together, so feel free to track down research.

    So, when a woman says she deserves to be happy, and therefore, she ought to pursue bliss outside of her “boring” marriage, it’s worth asking her hard questions about how much she values this “happiness.” Does she value it more than the lives of her children? There’s a chance she will be a “happy” old woman who has stood at the graveside of all of her children, within her lifetime, or that her children will watch her lowered into her grave, far earlier than she ever intended or imagined.

  9. Leslie Loftis said:

    Early puberty. You’d think I’d remember that one. Loads of links here, including one on the correlation between early menses and absent fathers among the wealthy:
    http://americanhousewifeinlondon.blogspot.com/search?q=early+puberty

    Now, I must know, what exactly you are researching? The Oneida eugenics camps emails you are sending are fascinating and peppered with occasional reptile research. (ari, is the quote in the Alligator Eggs post, and now this—very interesting frog egg and snakebite factoid.) What story are you writing?

  10. ari said:

    and, can you add this to the big comment above? Marriage has an exponential protective effect: Married women are safer than “women living with the biological father of their children” by some factor of ten, if I did the math correctly. “WLWTBF” are ten times safer than women living with the not-biological father of their children.

    It bears repeating- Married is safer than not-married. The marriage can be registered at city hall, performed by a jp, completely secular- and it is still safer than “living with” – both “living with” and “living with and having children together.”

    Married, religious, likely a younger couple, less money, but, still, safer than co-habiting. And, the men are likely to have a larger income and savings set-up by retirement, even if they start out poorer, with less education, and less income.

    And- the only two statistics that are repeatable for marriage stability- married within six months to two years- and if the couple “prefers” to remain married. That’s it. They could have terrible communication, and still have a good marriage, to make fun of the benchmark set by family psychologists- “great communication” is great for married psychologists- and less than necessary for everyone else.

    I would think that commitment towards marriage counts in that two year window, for world-travellers, for instance, or mission work, and possibly law school.

  11. Heather said:

    And all of that makes so much sense. I think the children are some 40 times more likely to be assaulted by a step father (or mother) than by their own biological parent. There is definitely something to those fairy tales about the evil stepmother.

    As to project: I have worked for some years on a history/study of a small area of Argyll, called ‘Knapdale’. The website address is: http://www.knapdalepeople.com. And the latest part, exceptionally difficult to finish (it was the long winter), is about the Clan McMillan. I put in a very speculative part about a San Millan, mainly because I adore the Dark Ages/Celtic times. Back then, people knew what is important.

    Was it Anne Althouse or Megan McArdle who recently asked why economists continually point out that a university education will pay off down the road… while an early and continuing marriage will pay off in the same way? These are very unpopular thoughts right now. I am convinced that today’s chic and cool way of thought, supportive of all the lefty progressive ideas, are really down deep in the cellar, based on the ‘right’ to ‘free sexuality.’ And this goes back to Playboy, which supported the new zeitgeist that a man who did not marry, was not a suspect mama’s boy, but actually quite a cool fella, one who could have a great car, interesting vacations, a sophisticated sound system and many many women over the years. Now, women have their own back, with the “Vagina Monologues” (did you know that the playwright of that idiocy is very interested in 13 year old girls…).

    At my hairdresser today, I found out that the course on sexual awareness, at our local college, is run by a lesbian. The latter is scarey in the lesbian community because she likes S& M. Really.

    Anyway, I love ari’s essay, and will copy the whole thing (for my files)… my own family thinks I am crazy. Oh well.

  12. ari said:

    Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a whole book on your idea- she agrees with you, Heather.
    The Hearts of Men is the title.

  13. Heather said:

    Ari, I really don’t want to find that I agree with Barbara Ehrenheich.

  14. Leslie Loftis said:

    Ari, which argument, evil stepmother or early marriage?
    Heather, agreeing with feminists happens. There are nuggets of truth and insight scattered about the movement.
    Also, I have more of ari’s essay that I will post for you. I’m trying to at least edit it out of email conversation format, but my evening brainpower is failing me. Plus there are 3 not-slumbering-but
    -partying 7 year old girls down the hall. My attempts at organization have been futile.

  15. Heather said:

    A further thought, no doubt thought by BE also (grrr): the Kardashians, Lohans, etc., all the people gracing the supermarket mags.. they are exemplars for our New Women. I wonder if their boyfriends read them also, but are happy to reap the sexual and home made breakfast benefits that rain on them??

  16. Leslie Loftis said:

    Temporarily, sure. Eventually though, men don’t take we’ll to being only a sugar daddy or sperm donor. This usually happens when their kids get old enough that Daddy cares whether they respect him.

  17. ari said:

    The Playboy thing.

  18. Heather said:

    Ari, I was among the first “Feminists” of the late 60s and early 70s. In my library, I still have a hardcover copy of Shulamith Firestone’s “The Dialectic of Sex,”‘ Caroline Bird’s “Born Female,” and even Ti-Grace Atkinson’s “Amazon Odyssey.”

    Basically, the argument was that in The Movement (the one that would break the shackles of The Establishment), women worked at the gestetner machine, copying the men’s speeches and heavy thoughts. Thus followed a thorough ransacking the University Library, for Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s works, etc. ie, the pre-temperance movement of the 19th century. Abolition. Temperance. Pacifism. And in our time, Marxism. Good old Engels. The Family was the progenitor of class shackles, and therefore the Family must be destroyed. This would be the job of the vanguard of the Feminist Revolution.

    Really, the guys were having a ball. Women were sweeping the floor at the headquarters, and then adapted Maoist ideas into the ‘consciousness raising’ circles. It took off. Also, there was a lot of ‘movement lesbianism’ going around, not surprising if there are no men around at all. Hefner had freed the boys from growing up to be husbands and heads of families and corporation workers; now women would be able to have free sex, and raise perfectly great children in a communal setting (the “Harrod Experiment”), with no patriarchy to limit their minds.

    And if they could organize this, the movement cool kids got work in the university setting, and through tantrums and position papers, built a complex of social justice courses, with PhDs for all who could grok the arguments.

    And, they are all still there.

  19. ari said:

    WOW. Your website. WOW.

    That looks like a lifetime of work.

    I love the close-ups of statuary, and the portraits- who they are, what they mean.

    Wow. the databases and files look so thorough.

    you have hardbound copies of the femininist classics? I’ve never even seen paper-backs. They are these invisible touchstones- other people who write books have read them, while us peasants in the sticks just have to hear about them. It’s sort of an intimidation factor- 5, ooo copies printed- none sold here. What are they like?

    Barbara Ehrenreich is a completely strange little woman. I don’t understand most of her experience. I really don’t understand when she says ‘ Of course…..blah blah blah…” The blah, blah,blah part I don’t ever get. The only thing I knew what she was talking about- she went to the Caribbean on Mardi Gras and drank herself silly with the locals. She thought because she was a leftist, she understood their lives. She wondered why they all disappeared the morning after. I don’t think she understood- she was crashing a local party, for one, with lots of cash, and for two, she’s a customer, and for three, the locals woke up and went to get ashes on their heads- all of them, including the ones so drunk they weren’t to hung over yet. I was in New Orleans in high school- same set-up. Even the high-school kids were drinking and partying at the parades- but come Ash Wednesday- sobriety and ashes and mourning.

    tif

  20. Leslie Loftis said:

    Heather, very cool site. I’m sending on to my father in law who is doing our family, just not on the web. He will be impressed.
    Re: hard bound books, funny you should mention not being able to find them–they weren’t that well read past their first printing. Even The Feminine Mystique, perhaps the foundational work, the “click” that started the Second Wave–did you notice that in all the 50th Anniversary articles, many feminist scholars and advocates, not regular women but the women who ply feminism as a trade, they were reading the book for the first time. I seriously wonder if only conservatives have actually read it since about 1970, which of course is how we know that feminism was never about choice, but certain choices. For the 50th, The Guardian ran a TFM reading blog, a “Pop Up Book Club,” because many of their writers hadn’t read it. Emily Bazelton and others at Slate posted some very revealing articles about how they hadn’t read it. (I commented late there because some of the last comments were too delicious to resist.) I liked this passage in particular:

    I mean, Friedan compares, at chapter length, the plight of women stuck at home with their kids to concentration camp victims. Sure, I’ve never had to sit alone with a mop and a crying baby and no Internet (side question: Was the problem that had no name possibly the lack of Wi-Fi?), [This might be the silliest aside I’ve seen in a feminist article and proof that the author must have speed read TFM. Loneliness and isolation was only a side effect of the problem with no name, and the wifi mommy blog solution is only treatment of the symptoms.] but that seems more than a bit extreme to me. In fact, as much as I found myself cheering at the stirring introduction and conclusion, for much of the middle of the book, I was muttering and angrily underlining what I found to be particularly judgmental passages. “A baked potato is not as big as the world,” Friedan writes, “and vacuuming the living room floor—with or without makeup—is not work that takes enough thought or energy to challenge any woman’s full capacity.” Sharp is right! Is it any wonder it occasionally feels like feminism has devolved into a spinning carousel of accusatory blog posts about how your choices aren’t the exact right choices (including your choice to blog about your choices), with this as one of our founding texts?

    Stephanie Coontz didn’t read it until Basic Books asked her to do a 50 year retrospective.

    I jumped at the chance. I was certain that rereading this groundbreaking book would be an educational and inspiring experience…. After only a few pages I realized that in fact I had never read The Feminine Mystique, and after a few chapters I began to find much of it boring and dated…. It made claims about women’s history that I knew were oversimplified, exaggerating both the feminist victories of the 1920s and the antifeminist backlast of the 1940s and 1950s.

    And the first review of Coontz’s A Strange Stirring:

    I am a young professor of sociology teaching classes on gender, marriage and social change — and I have never read Betty Friedan’s The Feminist Mystique. Like many women of my generation, I thought I had. I must have, I told myself. Perhaps in college? No. And it turns out that very few of my well-educated feminist-leaning friends have either.

    Considering TFM’s influence, anyone serious about participating in American intellectual discussion should have read the book. For a professional writers on feminism to not have read it—-their admission completely kills their credibility, and explains quite a lot about modern confusion over feminism.

  21. Heather said:

    tell your father that I started this ‘genealogy’ project when I asked a simple question of one of my ancestors: “Who were the neighbours?” And then, “Why did they leave Scotland.”
    That’s why it grew like topsy.

  22. Heather said:

    You know, I have a pile of early feminist literature, including Firestone, Atkinson, even Stanton’s “Bible”. Plus newspapers, etc. Do you want them? I am up here in the Yukon, and there is zero interest in this collection. I would pay to send them to you, or anyone who may be interested.

  23. ari said:

    You’re kidding, right? Do you have any idea how valuable a treasure trove that is? Even if you disagree in theory and in practice, that’s a big offer.

    Seriously?

  24. Leslie Loftis said:

    I call dibs on the Stanton stuff.
    Heather, you’re crazy. Not that Ari and I won’t take you up on it.

  25. ari said:

    I already have a stanton bible. at least I used to. richard might have “purified” my book stash. the rest, I’ve read of, I’ve read performance artists referencing this stuff, I’ve read academics. He’s got a stack of books of mine that he’s not putting up on the shelves, and he’s not bringing more shelves out of the garage to mend and then put up, so the books can find homes. He’s got his all up. Mine are off- kilter of his- but they are what I use. I mean, we all know the main currents of American history- but that’s not what I pay attention to. Someone standing up giving a speech- where’d his/her speechwriter get those ideas? Those ideas last longer than the speech-giver, by a huge margin.

    And, yeah, seriously?

    we can pay postage. I think I get the bank-card on Wednesday, to send stuff out. It’s ridiculous- I’ve a package to London, that I don’t want to explain- it’s to a Twilight Mom, who is a guy, who did some writing out work. I sent a scarf to him, and he didn’t pick it up in time, and here it is, two years later- and I need to re-send it. The post office in London had shipped it back, quite promptly. The postal worker at the counter was sneering at him- they had just changed the pick up from four weeks to three- and cut their hours, and who knows what else- malicious mischief, any way you frame it. It’s going to cost more to ship it, than to have bought the yarn for it, by a factor of three. I thought I’d have books up on Amazon, and earning private income, by now. This block is terrifying.

    On the good side- the Oneida stuff, once it filtered down- it was like I could hear a true middle A in my head, and the visual was of a bullet in analysis- the grooves lining up. I know something that other people don’t know, very smart people- Mr Goldman, Mr Murray- it kind of sings in my head. And, I can back it up, so I don’t need to be fitted with a tin-foil hat.

    And, I think I’m now a fan of memorizing brute giant loads of information. I know I couldn’t have made these connections without having the nerve cells sitting their, knitting and eating crumpets, waiting for the new, exciting stranger to enter their parlour and tell them about the wilds of manufacturing towns in America.

    I’m thinking the poor kids will have stuff they will be obliged to memorize this summer. The book of James, maybe chapter one of John, some poems. Mathy stuff.

    The stuff the guy wrote- Scoundrel at Twilight Moms, was what was going on in the scene where Edward first proposes to Bella. I couldn’t suss out the emotional negotiations going on. He’s brilliant. Really, he’s seven different types of brilliant about Twilight. He’s an accountant in London, and he keeps getting on the wrong end of the employment stick- but he’s really good at what he does, I think. I don’t know. I just know the Twilight essays. By them, he ought to be permanently employed doing something analytical and imaginative at the same time. No idea what, since I don’t ask about his life outside of Twilight essays, but something.

    At least one Twilight Mom got her scarf promptly, in good order, and it’s in use. It took a full summer to knit. Then I fulled it, it shrunk, and it looked like a month’s weekend knitting. This summer- I’m going to get a swimsuit and swim, rather than knit in the shade, maybe.

    At Big Stacy, a man was telling me about how he was homeless. He came to Austin. He used the shower at Big Stacy to clean himself. Then he started swimming. Then he was swimming every day. This helped him stop drinking, then stop taking drugs, and then get a job, and a place to stay. He swims every day. He said “The best way to get a swim-suit body is to swim.”

    There’s a woman there who brings wild-flowers and leaves them in the old restroom, near the shower. I started over-hearing her conversation when she was talking to her friend. ” I’m sleeping with a real cowboy. He’s the first white guy I’ve slept with in ages.” I mean, how could anyone not listen, after that? She’s, like, sixty years old, and looks every day of it. She had flowers clipped into her hair. She had a drinker’s voice.

  26. Leslie Loftis said:

    1. Who is the Twilight accountant? Answer by email. You never know, small world and all that.
    2. You should have told me. Yasha could have taken it last week and mailed from there.
    3. No one reading this thread believes you have writers block. You have plot block. Huge difference. I’m told I’m a good plot buster or beta reader. Actually, I’m told I’m a great beta or a detested beta, but you can take con crit, so we’ll be good. Just email about the plot problem and let’s see what we can discuss.
    4. Have you seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? A retired secretary for the spy group helps bust the mole due to her impressive command and recall of tons of raw intel. You could do that.

  27. ari said:

    What is the Harrod Experiment?

  28. ari said:

    Ahh! My eyes!!!!

    I googled Harrod Experiment. It came up with Harrad Experiment-book and Movie. I want to spray down my computer with Lysol, after reading some reviews. AHHH.

  29. Leslie Loftis said:

    Oh thanks for that. I didn’t really want to know that.

  30. Heather said:

    I remember talking to a woman whose life was changed by reading the Harrod Experiment… poly amory, a group of men and women, and there is a child whose eyes are multi coloured, glistening because it was a product of the Harrod Experiment. It was all about Free Love, with no obligation (ooohhhh obligation… ughhh), just orgies all the time. Robin Morgan, a poet of the time, got into this. It was a time of experimentation definitely.

    Once, in Toronto, in the 1970s, I came across a woman who was living in a commune (of course), who was a Maoist. She very seriously was implacable about freeing the peasantry (in Canada.) She had a very nasty looking expression on her face.

  31. Heather said:

    in what region of the world do you live? I believe Ari lives in Texas? And Leslie?

    You see, I am a hoarder… of books. I have a library. A real library. Like with a couple thousand books at least, plus files of stuff that interest me. The Feminist section is up sort of in storage, on the top shelf. Articles I saved from the early 70s. Also, a lovely binder with copies of feminist magazines. I tended away from Marxist stuff, to “Red Stocking” stuff, and have a couple of copies of “Feminist Revolution” by the Red Stocking collective.

    You are so great, Ari: the lysol thing. And you are correct.

    I have been looking at my Library and wishing I could off load some parts of it, and this looks like a great opportunity. Just tell me where I should mail it.

  32. Leslie Loftis said:

    I’m in Houston. I travel to Austin often. Ari and I met at the school for coffee, something we’d like to make a habit, so you can mail to either of us. (Will it shock you to learn that we just kept talking, lost track of time, and I missed my meeting?) Addresses by email later. Ari, I want Stanton and the binder of feminist magazines. Oh and on your last, since I know you type in a word program and then cut and paste, I believe your last was a continuation of our email thread. You pasted into the wrong window, which is so something I would do.

  33. ari said:

    how on earth does one get a job of listening, without any degrees? and half-time, anyway, for kids.

    and, well, that whole lack of immediate judgment. We’ve a new pastor. Richard called him in the first 30 minutes. The interim- I got him wrong, top to bottom, until schooled by someone else. He wasn’t volunteering to shake us straight up and grim. He was asked by the associate pastor- she thought he’d agree to promote her, rather than do his job and facilitate us finding a new, right pastor. He was retired already, when he came here at her request. He had a hip replacement, but he’d been walking around in level 7 to 9 pain for months, in addition to getting his heart pacemaker replaced. He has felt terrible for 2 1/2 years at this point. Of course his sermons will be dark. He’s in a dark place that he really, if he were worldly and sensible, ought not be in, at all.

    I didn’t like the associate, but I just thought it was me- no, it was global selfishness. Richard’s job involves sizing people up on first meeting. He’s bleak, but usually right.

  34. Heather said:

    check this out: senior college women, been through the meat grinder,
    http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/04/meet-the-swugs-of-yale-women-washed-up-at-21.html?mid=twitter_thecutblog

    And washed up at 21 years of age.

  35. ari said:

    Oy, is this sort of the push-back on that “marry young in the ivies” note ? Like, they cannot get married because they are rode hard and put away wet? They are slags? Ergo, any Princeton man would be frightened of the calluses’n’cooties down there?

    I keep reading, and the books keep bumping over state school kids. I’m kind of puzzled, since I attended a state school.

    But- they keep asserting they are elite institutions. They are tricked out preacher’s colleges. Seriously- they all have divinity schools- that’s the foundation of the college, except for Columbia, which started as secular. Columbia also has, historically, had it in for Catholics and Jews. Like, the story about Columbus thinking the world was flat- that was a fictional story- that Columbia promoted as true, so as to slag those squinty- eyed, knuckle-dragging Catholics. The main Ivies were divinity schools. Which, I think means Biola, in Los Angeles, could be a major university on the West Coast within a couple of generations- 50 years or so. They generate missionaries who go places. That’s pretty much how you end up with sophisticated alumni who press for serious professors.

    That’s what’s so interesting about the stuff I’ve been poking around in: the founding families on the Northeast- if they had a failure of a relative- a failed farmer, a failed soldier, a bankrupted shopkeeper, a failed newspaper printer- they would endeavor to secure an appointment as an instructor at the college their family founded. So, the failures shuffled off to professorships. Okay, so, supposing they stick around- which they did- and they ended up on hiring committees- which they did- who do you think they would hire? A successful businessman, to teach business? A writer who is familiar with success? Or someone who knows how to sigh and anatomize failure gracefully? A brilliant industrial chemist- or a theoretical ghost-hunter. They weren’t really successful at sciences until they imported all the middle European scientists when the Nazis got excited. ( And- the Nazis were using the ‘science’ built at Ivy League schools- no kidding.) ( One Woodrow Wilson, pressssident of Princeton, comes to mind) ( Creator and Enforcer of race-based gov’t hiring) Lowell, the Massachusetss literary grandee, ran his car and his new wife into a tree, to try and kill her, because he was so jealous of her talent. She was from a mining camp in Colorado, if I remember correctly. Something Western, aspirational, and poor. He was from a trust-fund in Boston. The Lowell Mill fortune.

    I mean, I know that they slag the 300+ kids in a starting freshman class. But the front two rows are the competitive kids. The professor knows this. The other kids can watch and learn, and study, and become ambitious study hounds. Study skills can be taught. The kids who pass? Maybe they want different areas of focus? or different professors? It’s hard to imagine the ferocity, without having seen it at work- which is sort of like that PM question session. I can’t imagine running a President through that, for instance.

  36. Mitch Mitchell said:

    I’m answering two parts of the post in separate ways.

    You’re right in saying men have more time… or do they? I’m married and we have no children and we’re both on the edge of the middle 50’s. When I’m no longer around there goes the legacy, the name, and chain if you will; my part of the family will be totally gone, as I have no siblings. Sure, I could divorce my wife & hope for a younger partner, but is that really a viable option if I love my wife? So, in a way, if I want to have a child I really don’t have more time or any real options that are ethical.

    On regret… I’ve had a few. lol We tend to start regretting things more as we age, but we regretted things and opportunities when we were young as well. Not asking that certain someone we had a crush out on a date, not learning how to study better or work out or putting money away in savings are things we start regretting by the time we graduate from high school; scary isn’t it?

    The funny thing is that even people who have achieved great success find things they regret. Gorgeous people are always finding something they don’t like about themselves. Musicians are always thinking about the song they didn’t write. I think it all comes down to whether people allow their regrets to stop them from trying to do anything else. Other than that, we see our regrets, acknowledge them, and move on.

    At least we hope so.

  37. Leslie Loftis said:

    “Sure, I could divorce my wife & hope for a younger partner, but is that really a viable option if I love my wife? So, in a way, if I want to have a child I really don’t have more time or any real options that are ethical.”
    I was hoping someone would bring this up. It’s true, but the man’s window is tied to his morality, your decision to remain faithful to your wife. Not all men are as moral, and the analysis and perspective is different even if they are.
    Funny related tale, but when I was pregnant the first time and Calvin had started bopping around, I of course started asking Yasha to feel the baby kick. The first time he did, he started laughing at me. He said it was just odd watching me be so joyful, calm even, about another being boping around inside me. He said something like, “Women think this is perfectly normal. But if you told a man that he had another human growing inside him he’d freak out.” He then acted out a freak out, which hurt because it really hurts to laugh that hard when your ab muscles are distended.

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