Are Responsible People Missing Something?

This morning I opened my inbox to several shidduch suggestions. There was the 29-year-old guy from Australia who worked in Argentina then Germany then moved to Israel where he plans to live and learn for many years to come. Not so bad, just not for me.

Then there was the 30-year-old guy in California who has four college degrees plus various technical certificates who wants to go to medical school–but not ’til next year. Until then he’s learning. Oookay. He won’t finish paying back his student loans until he’s dead.

Then there’s the 31-year-old guy with the Harvard Business School degree who is learning while dabbling in stocks on the side. There’s a waste of a degree.

How did guys cop out of life before learning became a Thing?

When I complained to my flatmate, she pointed out that 30 is a really lousy time to have a job. “Who in their right mind gets a job when they’re young? It’s the best years of your life! Why would you waste it working all day? Get a job when you’re 80 and can’t do anything else anyway!” she ranted. She might have been upset about doing lesson plans on Sunday.

I hear her point.

Do these underemployed guys know something we don’t know? Who the heck needs a 401k anyway? By the time we retire we’ll either be in a welfare state or the world will have collapsed. Right? Wrong? Why the heck don’t so many 30-year-old men have jobs?!

Postscript: [added 2/19/2013]

Since it is apparently unclear who this post is targeting, I will add the following anecdote.

Yesterday, someone told me, “I went to college, I got a degree, I did the Real World job thing, and I didn’t like it. So I went back to school for a masters in dance therapy. It’s a lot of fun and I’m looking for a position in a hospital working with sick kids.”

This was a non-Jewish woman. She did Real Life, she didn’t like it, but she didn’t have the option of retiring to live on her independent income. So she considered carefully and switched careers.

Jewish men, however, do have an alternative. And that is to retire from Real Life to Learn. When I see a guy with a degree in something boring who is learning, my radar goes on. If he’s got a year of work experience, it starts blipping.  If I’m on a date and he makes a face while saying, “I guess I have to get a job now,” well, that pretty much says it.  And if he’s got a year of experience, then got another degree, then worked briefly again, then decided to learn… Seriously, am I the only one who sees this as a sign?

Don’t get me wrong, Jewish women do this too. I often hear singles claiming they just want to be housewives. Run a finger over their windowsill — does it come away clean? Is there nary a dish in their sink? Do they spend their recreational time over the stove? Do they adore children and want to spend all day with them? Rarely. They just don’t want to work. Since learning is not an option, they just have to hope for a rich husband instead.*

Hm… maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m just jealous.

*Before someone jumps down my throat about disparaging housewives: I think it’s a wonderful thing to have a homemaker. And there are women who genuinely want to be there for their husband and kids. But when a woman says, wistfully, “I would make a great housewife” shortly after hating on her job, I suspect her motives.

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You Can’t Win (Unless You’re Clued In)

Diagnostic Criteria for 299.803 Social Asperger’s Disorder
[The following is from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM IV]

(I) Qualitative impairment in social normalization, as manifested by at least two of the following:

(A) marked impairments in the use and comprehension of social conventions
(B) failure to develop career aspirations and dress preferences in lockstep with peers
(C) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share and duplicate the life experience of the peer group

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

(A) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal for the demographic
(B) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, functional routines or rituals in opposition to non-functional social conventions
(C) persistent preoccupation with purpose, point, or utility of behaviors
(III) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of interaction with the given peer group.

(IV) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (E.G. single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

(V) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

(VI) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasively Weird Disorder or Antisocial Mania.”

Do you ever get the feeling that everyone else in society was issued a manual at birth, or maybe upon graduation, but somehow you were left out of the distribution list? I imagine this is how an Aspie feels when everyone is laughing at a well-turned bit of sarcasm. Which is why I decide to call it Social Asperger’s.

Every now and then the fog of incomprehension that often hovers between me and today’s yeshivish/ultra-orthodox Jewish norms lifts, and I see the light, and a big “Eureka!” pops out of my mouth. I bask in smugness at unraveling the mystery, when suddenly I realize: everyone else knew this all along.

I had one of these “aha” moments while rereading this post last week. In the post, I complain that I’m branded as “immature” and “unready for marriage” because I don’t have plans for a career yet. This struck me as unfair because my flexibility was what left room for a spouse in my life.

I laughed when I reread it because now I have the opposite problem. Having chosen a field, I’m considered too nerdy or smart to date anyone in any other field. Having launched a career, I’m now considered too career-oriented and geographically bound to date pretty much anyone.

Catch-22, right? You just can’t win. I mean, what kind of career would have satisfied these Women? Only one that’s more obviously transplant-able and non-ambitious. Like masseuse maybe?

Or – oh. I see.

OT, PT, SP, and SE.

Ooh. I get it. Now I get it.

Man, I am slow.