She recognized that this is how friendships begin: one person reveals a moment of strangeness, and the other person decides just to listen and not exploit it.
One. Do not promise when you’re happy.
Two. When you are angry, do not respond.
Three. Do not decide when you’re sad.
I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.
I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything.
The “romantic-sexual/platonic” love dichotomy leaves no room for the real emotional nuances people experience in their attachments, and I think that it often causes us to live with simplified relationships not because we want to or because we have simple desires and feelings but because we have no experience, cultural context, or language to accommodate a complex social life or set of relationships. This is why language is so important. This is why words and labels matter. How can you have the kind of relationships you want with anyone, if you don’t even have the words to accurately express how you feel? Hell, half the time, people don’t even understand their own feelings and relationship desires because what they feel is not simple at all, but the only relationship framework they know makes everything seem simple and clear cut: romance and sex go together, friendship is separate from both of those things, couplehood/primary partnership is exclusive to romance and sex, etc.
But if we are to accept the possibilities and realities of asexual romance, primary nonsexual/nonromantic love, nonromantic sex and sexual friendship, romantic (nonsexual) friendship, queerplatonic nonsexual relationships and sexual relationships, etc…. we have to drop this way of thinking and speaking about relationships and love in a romantic-sexual/platonic dichotomous way. None of those “complex” relationships fit into that model.
My father had taught me to be nice first, because you can always be mean later, but once you’ve been mean to someone, they won’t believe the nice anymore. So be nice, be nice, until it’s time to stop being nice, then destroy them.
This whole notion of doing only work that you love has always affronted me but I’ve lacked the articulation to be able to explain my objections. Only the top levels of developed world society can really consider that as an option. Almost all of the world has to labor just to survive. It just has always seemed so snobbish to me to think that people should all aspire to having only rewarding work to do to support themselves.
I believe in the reward of doing honest work in an honest way—that’s satisfying to me, even if I can’t always say I enjoy it. My work is not significant or important on a global scale, and I know it. But I do it pretty well.
I’ve probably told you the story of my wonderful professor, Russ Kelly, in my first year of college. One day he brought in a newspaper article about the wage increase for garbage workers in San Francisco that had recently passed. He pointed out that someday, even if we did well in college, that we may end up doing something like that because it paid well and we needed the money. But he said that a liberal education is for the enrichment of your heart and your brain, and it’s meant to give you something to think about, and a way to think about it, for the rest of your life. And he said that if someday you work as a garbage collector, you can enjoy thinking about Plato.
That’s the kind of advice that was actually helpful.
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
Let’s examine a traditionally male-dominated role that is very well-respected, and well-paid, in many parts of the world — that of a doctor. In the UK, it is listed as one of the top ten lucrative careers, and the average annual income of a family doctor in the US is well into six figures. It also confers on you significant social status, and a common stereotype in Asian communities is of parents encouraging their children to become doctors.
One of my lecturers at university once presented us with this thought exercise: why are doctors so highly paid, and so well-respected? Our answers were predictable. Because they save lives, their skills are extremely important, and it takes years and years of education to become one. All sound, logical reasons. But these traits that doctors possess are universal. So why is it, she asked, that doctors in Russia are so lowly paid? Making less than £7,500 a year, it is one of the lowest paid professions in Russia, and poorly respected at that. Why is this?
The answer is crushingly, breathtakingly simple. In Russia, the majority of doctors are women. Here’s a quote from Carol Schmidt, a geriatric nurse practitioner who toured medical facilities in Moscow: “Their status and pay are more like our blue-collar workers, even though they require about the same amount of training as the American doctor… medical practice is stereotyped as a caring vocation ‘naturally suited‘ to women, [which puts it at] a second-class level in the Soviet psyche.”
What this illustrates perfectly is this — women are not devalued in the job market because women’s work is seen to have little value. It is the other way round. Women’s work is devalued in the job market because women are seen to have little value.
It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.