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September 20, 2009 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Tim Kreider, known to MeFi for his cartoons and essays is now regularly contributing to the Happy Days blog at NYT. His latest essay The Referendum has what you'd expect of a cartoonist, mastery of the one and two liner and getting to a relevant point quickly.
posted by a robot made out of meat (25 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the hardest things to look at in this life is the lives we didn’t lead, the path not taken, potential left unfulfilled. In stories, those who look back

-from his Relevant essay in "Happy Days"

Perhaps the life we didnt led could not be so, Chalk it up to not sizing up ones goals in a realistic manner.

people remember Lot,etc. for a reason, a reason they understood.
posted by clavdivs at 10:40 AM on September 20, 2009


love to cartoons though
posted by clavdivs at 10:40 AM on September 20, 2009


Though one of those friends cautioned me against idealizing: “It’s not as if being married means you’re any less alone.”

Earth to Tim: your friend is trying to make you feel better about your wretched miserable aloneness.
posted by fleetmouse at 11:08 AM on September 20, 2009


Some of my married friends may envy my freedom in an abstract, daydreamy way, misremembering single life as some sort of pornographic smorgasbord.


Mmm. Smorgasbord.

Earth to Tim's Married Friends: your friend is trying to make you feel better about your wretchedly routine sex lives.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2009


Excellent read, thanks for posting this. Plus, he mentions Light Years, which few people seem to do, and yet it's the single greatest work of fiction I've ever read in my entire life.
posted by hydatius at 11:26 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tim Kreider is absolutely fantastic.
posted by flatluigi at 11:27 AM on September 20, 2009


But there are also moments when some part of me wonders whether I am not only missing the biological boat but something I cannot even begin to imagine — an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to my senses.

Yes. Yes you are.

Excellent read, though. As parents of a 2-year old, my S.O. and i find ourselves increasingly putting our childless, unconnected friends under a more and more critical microscope. This essay has provided some much needed perspective.
posted by jadayne at 11:32 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a beautiful article.

When I find myself comparing my life to that of others, I remind myself - I am comparing my insides to their outsides. I don't have the full view of what they are living, what they are going through. And I never will.
posted by seawallrunner at 11:32 AM on September 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


fleetmouse: "Earth to Tim: your friend is trying to make you feel better about your wretched miserable aloneness."

From the article:

"hidden beneath all this smug certainty is a poignant insecurity"

---

"oh, Earth, yeah, long time no see! Hi, yeah that is pretty much what I was saying, thanks for the input though!"
posted by idiopath at 11:33 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


AskMe is a good resource for determining if "you won". Unfortunately, the more time you spend reading MeFi, the more you lose.
posted by anthill at 11:50 AM on September 20, 2009


Great read, thanks! I have seen both of the types of lives he describes, having married and begun a family in my late 30s. I feel my way is the best of both worlds! Nyeah!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:52 AM on September 20, 2009


I haven't read the article yet, but note the cartoon; it's a slightly different version of one he published back in '06. Can you spot the difference?
posted by Anything at 12:07 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Glad to see more work from Kreider, as I always enjoyed his cartoons, and this seems particularly well-timed for me, at 28 with what seems like the whole world getting married or buying houses or otherwise settling down. My initial reaction to that phenomenon happening around me was to feel a little bit of scorn, and it took me a while to realize that it was prompted by insecurity and uncertainty more than anything else, after which it cooled a bit. It still makes me a little uneasy (although I'm aware of how and why now), but I think coming to the realization that I was engaging in what Kreider calls the Referendum made me not feel the need to do it so much anymore, and to be a little bit happier as a result. Even though the base uncertainty (where am I going, and with whom? what am I doing, and with whom?) is still there, being aware of how it makes you feel and why makes it bearable.

It's a strange feeling, though, and I think it's one of those where it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you're the first person to ever experience it. I was talking with a friend a couple weeks ago about how it feels to reach the point in your life where, although many paths remain open, you become aware of the fact that certain paths are now permanently closed (for instance, if I really wanted it and worked my ass off I could be a doctor even getting started this late, but it's past the point that I could ever be, say, an astronaut). It's a humbling thing--and for people, like me, who have been privileged enough to have thusfar lived lives untouched by serious illness, poverty, violence, or the threat of death, the first brush with the finiteness of our own lives--and I think adjusting to it is an integral part of "growing up" well.
posted by Kosh at 12:18 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can you spot the difference?

Heh. I like the '06 one better. The woman's fantasy in the NYT version is sitting in an office angrily shouting into a phone, which doesn't make much sense. I know it's supposed to represent having a high-powered career, but....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:29 PM on September 20, 2009


Happy Days recently had a nice account of what a Vipassana retreat is like: Self, Meditating
posted by homunculus at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2009


Heh. I like the '06 one better. The woman's fantasy in the NYT version is sitting in an office angrily shouting into a phone, which doesn't make much sense.

I saw that and I thought "She's unhappy because she's stuck thinking about drama from work" as in, she was frustrated at the job and it's still on her mind.

I think I like the '06 one a bit better, too.
posted by delmoi at 1:35 PM on September 20, 2009


s parents of a 2-year old, my S.O. and i find ourselves increasingly putting our childless, unconnected friends under a more and more critical microscope.

Huh? I hope you at least *partly* understand how absurd and insulting that is.
posted by mediareport at 5:45 PM on September 20, 2009


mediareport: "I hope you at least *partly* understand how absurd and insulting that is"

As a childless unconnected guy I took it as a confession rather than a brag.
posted by idiopath at 5:46 PM on September 20, 2009


I think I like the '06 one a bit better, too.

You know that the NYT is wistfully sitting at a café table wishing it could publish the other version.
posted by dhartung at 5:53 PM on September 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


I guess I was looking for the part Krieder included - you know, the admission that "the Referendum gets unattractively self-righteous and judgmental" and all that.
posted by mediareport at 5:53 PM on September 20, 2009


I just heard something eerily similar; Wiretap's first official podcast started with a reading of David Eagleman's short story "Subjunctive." It was rather unexpectedly poignant & surprisingly resonant for, well, a comedy podcast.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:18 PM on September 20, 2009


Yeah, this rings pretty true to me. Although we mostly view our single friends (who are legion, for some reason) with a sort of baffled incomprehension rather than scorn. Anyway, the only time I personally get prickly about anyone else's choices is when people say (or write) things like, oh for example, "I have never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life." That's when I smile and say "well, it's a personal choice for everyone, right?" But what I'm thinking is "We'll take this question up again when you're old and infirm and getting ready to die alone and unremembered, you swingin' urban hip guy."
posted by rusty at 7:29 AM on September 21, 2009


As a guy whose parents have recently gone completely broke right at the beginning of their retirement, I'm starting to feel very cheated out of my deliberate choice not to have a wife or children. Looks like I'm going to have dependents anyways.
posted by autodidact at 10:01 AM on September 22, 2009


getting ready to die alone and unremembered

I really hate to be the one to break this to you, but "dying alone and unremembered" is pretty much the human condition. Good luck on breaking free of it.
posted by mediareport at 3:22 PM on September 22, 2009


When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did - in his sleep. Not screaming like the passengers in his car.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:03 PM on September 22, 2009


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