The X Plan

by Honolulu Mother

This blog post by Bert Fulks recommends a variant on the you-can-always-get-a-ride-home policy that I’ve seen recommended before (including on the Totebag) for the teenage years. He describes it thus:

Let’s say that my youngest, Danny, gets dropped off at a party. If anything about the situation makes him uncomfortable, all he has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (his mother, me, his older brother or sister). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within a few minutes, they call Danny’s phone. When he answers, the conversation goes like this:

“Hello?”

“Danny, something’s come up and I have to come get you right now.”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave in five minutes. I’m on my way.”

At that point, Danny tells his friends that something’s happened at home, someone is coming to get him, and he has to leave.

It seems like a good idea. What says the Totebag’s collective wisdom?

Advertisements

195 thoughts on “The X Plan

  1. I think this is freaking brilliant and plan to present it to DD immediately.

  2. We saw it a few weeks ago and told the kids about it. We had already told them that if they ever need a ride due to people drinking or whatnot that we will pick them up no questions asked, and will take their friends home as well.

  3. Either as a teen yourself, or as a parent, has anyone ever exercised something like this?

    It seems fine, but unlikely to ever be used. Or more specifically, do we really need these code words like some sort of confidential duress signal? I’m trying to imagine a situation where a kid can’t just text “Can you pick me up? Weird feeling about this place.” In fact, I actually imagine that option is more likely, since they won’t necessarily feel like they’re invoking the “Break Glass in an Emergency” Secret Plan.

  4. @Milo — my sense is that, at least with DD’s friends, there is much sharing of text messages, so someone hovering over a phone typing that out would likely be noticed and demanded to share. I like the idea of making it as quick and subtle as possible.

    Of course, she can also always text, “please come get me” whenever she wants, too. I just don’t necessarily recognize that as “immediate crisis” — since, in the world of the 15-yr-old girl who inhabits my house, “NOW” could mean “OMG this is so unsafe” or “but mom, I’m BOOOOORRREED” (and to date, luckily, it has meant the latter).

  5. The infamous story in our house is when my stepsis got blind drunk and used the lifeline phone call. There were consequences, though intentionally lighter since she was at least on the ball enough not to try to drive herself home. But that paled in comparison to how long it took her to live that down, since we all knew about it.

  6. My thought is the x is more discreet, quicker, and more likely to get a parental/sibling response than the usual. “I’m dying of boredom, hunger, exhaustion come get me NOW”

  7. We had something similar for DD: the code word was a girl’s name, someone from her k-8 school who didn’t go to the same high school, and the name was unusual enough that there weren’t a lot of them. She would call and say “mom, so an so wants me to go to this party, stay over night, etc. and I really want to” then she would say “oh by the way I saw Nicole tonight”. Nicole was the keyword that told me she didn’t really want to go to the party, and I would be the heavy who said “no, you can’t go!” This way she could save face with her friends, who were standing right next to her when she called.

    This worked several times for us, but then one night she told me she saw Nicole, and I forgot and started asking her “oh, great, how is Nicole doing?”

  8. I need this for play dates. Sigh.

    Possible future topic: how to discipline other people’s children.

  9. The only issue I have now is that all the teen’s know about the X plan so if you follow the script too closely, your teen will still be outed to his/her friends.

    SSK – that is a smart way to do it and I can remember many times using my “parents” as the heavy to get me out of things I didn’t want to do.

  10. I agree that friends are frequently looking over the shoulder of the texter. For my kids, the issue was more frequently friends pressuring to see if you can come over, or if they can come with you somewhere. So for us, “can N come too?” meant they wanted Nick to come, and “can Nick come too?” meant “say no.” I think the x plan is a good idea for a kid who might not be comfortable with their friends seeing them ask for a ride. A family member went through something with their high school child recently that involved a lot o back and forth with “um, me and friend are just going to spend the night here” and “tell me what is going on”, and eventually going to pick them up. High school sibling was brought along and sent in to assist with the retrieval of the drunk friend without the embarrassment of a parent barging into the party. I can see this x plan being a more efficient way to accomplish the same goal without other kids having to hear you talking to your mom.

  11. This is brilliant. I don’t agree that you should have to spell it out because I don’t think some of you with younger kids realize what preteens/teens see/do with phones once they become teens and preteens. The friends are smart, and some are nasty. If they want to see something that is on that phone – they will jump through hopes and lie to try to see what another kid is texting or doing on their device. If you think that even if you teach your own kid what to do/not do to keep their information private from other kids – good luck.

  12. Possible future topic: how to discipline other people’s children.

    This really depends on the relationship with the other people and with the other people’s child.

  13. ssk – I like your Nicole plan (funny about your asking how she was doing).

    When ours were younger, 3 of 4 of them called at one time or other and asked, “Can you call me back and say I have to come home now?” The Nicole idea would have been better – they wouldn’t have had to sneak away from their friends to make the call. (I like Nicole better than X because X seems suspicious if some other kid sees the text or overhears the conversation).

    Once mine got older, they could just drive themselves away, and the youngers could call the olders for a ride home. A few times, DSD got a call to go fetch DS from some party that had gotten out of hand.

    I did worry they wouldn’t call if they’d partaken in some of the bad activity themselves but later had a change of heart. So, years ago I stole an idea from a friend who used to tell her kids not to mess up, but that if they did, she expected them to “not also make a second mistake.” So, mistake 1 is drinking underage, and mistake 2 is driving while drunk underage (or some other decision made as a consequence of being drunk). She would give her kids credit for not making the 2d mistake, and they wouldn’t be in trouble if they called her for help in avoiding that 2d mistake. I haven’t had kids call me to help them avoid the 2d mistake, but we’ve had lots of conversations about this, so I would like to assume they have figured out ways to avoid 2d mistakes even without my help.

    Recently, I’ve had calls asking if I can provide legal advise to help various of DS’s friends who [fill in the blank]. I’ve been jokingly calling DS “Teflon” and reminding him to “stay in the shadows” but again, I’d like to assume he’s not calling for his own legal help because he’s stopping at Mistake No. 1.

  14. I love this, except for the letter “x”. Doesn’t anybody else use that for a kiss (and an “o” for a hug)? We’d use one of the 24 other letters.

    The full version includes an explanation of how peer pressure is often parental pressure–kids want to get out of it, but are afraid to tell their parents the situation they were in. Made sense to me, but my kid said it was bogus. Then again, he doesn’t see himself giving in to peer pressure either.

  15. “How to discipline other people’s kids”. Straightforwardly, with clear explanation of the infraction. At your house, you can insist on your rules, but eventually you have to start talking with your own kid about how they are to behave when others don’t follow the rules of your kid’s world.

  16. Making the parent the bad guy is ALWAYS ok. DD#1’s peer group is not so nosy about what did you just text, but DD#2’s is. This is the first year we have had to think about how to handle it with DD#2. The one time she wanted to leave “unannounced”, she went into the bathroom and texted me to text her saying I needed to come get her in 30 min. Then she erased the text to me before leaving the bathroom. She now texts me 1-2 cat icons when she gets some where to let me know things are OK, but 3 cat icons is SOS and I am to text her saying that I need her to call home ASAP.

  17. I love this, except for the letter “x”. Doesn’t anybody else use that for a kiss (and an “o” for a hug)? We’d use one of the 24 other letters.

    If DW or I texted xoxo or whatever to the kids for hugs and kisses, we’d never hear the end of how stupid it was.

  18. If DW or I texted xoxo or whatever to the kids for hugs and kisses, we’d never hear the end of how stupid it was.

    Aww, I’m sorry.

    I never would have known that the face with heart emoji is blowing a kiss if DS didn’t send it to me, and hadn’t explained it.

  19. This is a great idea. It doesn’t need to be an “x,” and families can create their own scripts to make it work.
    My only reservation is that this plan is necessarily a temporary one. When the kids are on their own, either because they’re driving or off at college, they need to have developed the ability to remove themselves from risky situations without relying on parents.

  20. I’ve always told my kids to just text me if something isn’t right. I think I was most concerned that they know this when they went on their middle school overnight trips, because I had this vision of rowdy kids trashing a hotel room or something. The only times my oldest has ever texted us suddenly to pick him up was when he was over at the house of a friend with a big dog, and he started wheezing (bad dog allergies).

    My oldest had a party at our house yesterday. I just cannot imagine those kids getting into any weird situation. They literally sat from 2:30 to 8:30 playing D&D. We couldn’t even get their attention for a pizza order. These kids are total geeks. I worry when he gets to college because he won’t have seen many situations and we won’t be there to get him.

    My youngest is going to need a code for texting – that is, if she isn’t the one instigating the situation.

  21. We haven’t come to this yet. DD has persistent friends who want her to come over for play dates. They, IMO worry their own mothers who then email me asking if DD can come. The kids can play at school and see their friends every day. The mothers entire afternoons must be shot having to supervise these play dates.

  22. Scarlett- thank you for helping me put my finger on why this rubs me the wrong way. I think the focus should be on teaching kids how to extricate themselves from bad situations, how to resist peer pressure, etc. I don’t want my kids hanging around people that won’t let them leave when they want to. I don’t want to facilitate them being “in” with the cool kids, when that is not a beneficial relationship.

    It’s a pretty easy position for me to take since I don’t have any dependents with phones, at this point. Also, my imperviousness to peer pressure kept me on the straight and narrow through a large part of my tween-teen year – and also kept me pretty lonely, so YMMV.

  23. I honestly never remember having to call my parents as a teenager because I was in some sort of sticky situation, but then I was probably a really boring teenager. I went to parties sometimes but just wasn’t a big drinker and neither were my friends or boyfriend.

    My college roommate was a really big partier in high school and I remember her telling this story of how she had to call her dad when she was really drunk at a party because some boys were getting rowdy and her dad showed up with a baseball bat.

  24. Hmm…sometimes texting for help is an appropriate way to get out of the situation. Think, I rode with my friend to a party that he/she invited me to. This is not a good situation, but my friend doesn’t want to leave. What do I do? Options – Take public transportation (depends on where you are), use a service like Uber or taxi (depends on if it is available or if the cost is fealsible given the distance or other up charges), or text a friend or family member for a ride. The difference is using a code vs a straight up, I’m in a bad situation, can you come get me?

    Yes, decision making about not getting into certain situations is always better. However, situations are not always what they seem or people do not always respond or behave the way you would prefer. In college, a friend and I had an agreement. If we went on a date and something wasn’t going well, we’d call the other person, who was willing to come get us.

  25. I worry when he gets to college because he won’t have seen many situations and we won’t be there to get him.

    If he’s on campus, he can just walk back to the dorm. In certain ways college tends to be easier because you’re typically all physically crowded together in the dorms, frats, nearby restaurants/bars, etc.

  26. Mom always told me to blame her if I needed to leave, but I tended to tell people they were being a bunch of fucking morons and just leave. I often had several friends follow me. But I’m a flaming bitch. Mercifully DSS was a flaming bitch too and told his group of friends when they were being fucking morons and then just went home.

    I absolutely agree that having some kind of code to text is an excellent idea for kids who are overwhelmed by their circumstances, especially if older kids are involved and are exerting too much influence on the crowd.

  27. “Scarlett- thank you for helping me put my finger on why this rubs me the wrong way. I think the focus should be on teaching kids how to extricate themselves from bad situations, how to resist peer pressure, etc. I don’t want my kids hanging around people that won’t let them leave when they want to. I don’t want to facilitate them being “in” with the cool kids, when that is not a beneficial relationship.”

    Yeah, honestly, this doesn’t bother me. Of course we do all of that, too, and we hope DD has the confidence and self-assurance to handle that kind of stuff without needing us as backup. But there is a lot of growing up between the time kids may first have sufficient freedom to get into serious trouble and when they will be on their own in college (at least judging by the significant increase in maturity between 13 and 15). At 15, she might not be confident enough to manage things that will seem like no-brainers at 18.

    To me, this is training wheels as she moves further from my daily orbit, a way to let her practice spreading her wings, while still providing a safety net if she uses those new wings to get too close to the sun. It is exactly the same as when she was a toddler, and we hovered over every step on the jungle gym, ready to pounce and grab her if she slipped; but as she got her feet under her and got her bearings, we backed off a little more and a little more, until one day we found ourselves happily sitting on a bench chatting while she played on her own. It’s just that as they get bigger, so do the potential consequences. So as long as she’s still in my home, I’m still going to be sitting on that park bench, watching from a distance in case I am needed.

    And if I have to err on one side or the other, this is the one area where I’m picking the side that minimizes the risk my kid is in a car that gets wrapped around a tree or gets attacked in someone’s basement.

  28. You know how kids sometimes have overlapping circles of friends? My guy friends were mostly the Calc BC group, but they were friends with the guys who were merely the Calc AB group. And *that* group, for some reason, was heavily into explosives. I was hanging out with an extended group one day and the pyro guys were setting off homemade rockets. One of them set off a rocket that slammed into the garage door and ricocheted past someone’s head. They all whooped it up, but I was slack-jawed at the idea that the rocket might have hit someone square in the face. I told them they were a bunch of fucking morons and left, with a couple of my Calc BC male friends trailing after me.

  29. Austin/LfB – ITA. This isn’t the only arrow in the quiver, but it’s a useful one.

  30. RMS, I think I worry more that he won’t recognize a developing situation because he literally hasn’t seen anything more difficult than a dog giving him allergies.

  31. My parents had something similar for me. But in the age before cell phones, I would have to get creative. It was a “call and no questions asked” thing.

    I never had to use it. Like MM’s son I was a geek. Few friends.

    Yet somehow I figured out how to get out of bad situations in college. I managed to learn how to remove myself without benefit of a high school tutorial on the subject.

    I do plan on having something similar for my boys.

  32. I think even we adults sometimes rely on these subterfuges to get us out of difficult situations. The dept chair has a bad habit of calling us underlings at home, in the evening, wanting to blather for hours. You cannot get him off the line. So I developed a plan with my husband – when the guy first called, I would yell to my husband “its the chair, watch the kids”. And then, if I was on the line longer than 30 minutes, my husband would come up to where I was on the phone and say that there was something urgent in the kitchen and I was needed now. That way, I could get off the phone. It worked too.

  33. RMS – I have gone with friends to the beach for a picnic. Most couldn’t swim but they thought it was a fine idea to go out on the sharp rocks as the pre monsoon waves were lashing the rocks. I could swim but no way was I venturing there. Next thing you know one girl lost her footing fell in and had to be pulled out by two guys. All three were cut and bleeding from the rocks. We knew several teens who drowned to death.

  34. I did all kinds of really stupid stuff in high school. My parents had told me to call, you won’t get in trouble, blah, blah, blah. I never did. I was more interested in doing the stupid stuff. Which had led me to be on the Finn side of things – peer group really matters. I wouldn’t have done 99% of the stupid things if my friends hadn’t. I hope my kids aren’t as dumb as I was.

  35. “In college, a friend and I had an agreement. If we went on a date and something wasn’t going well, we’d call the other person, who was willing to come get us.”

    In college, my best friend at the time drove 2.5 hours each way to retrieve me from a frat weekend lake party that was starting to go wrong. I will never forget her doing that for me.

  36. I did not go to parties in HS and did not have a phone but my mom always said I could use her as an excuse to not do something. It was great. I’ve never been that susceptible to peer pressure but i frequently said oh my mom said i can’t do that.

    I love the code idea. Heck this would work for adults doing online dating as well!

  37. Training wheels is a perfect way to describe this plan. Kids will find themselves in situations they can’t handle and they need a safe exit strategy.

  38. One of my HS teachers also told every single class that he was available day or night to help us out of a bad situation, no questions asked. My mom’s youngest sister, who was as close to my age as my mom’s age, always offered to be a person that I could call to bail me out of bad situations or just to talk to about problems that I didn’t want to bring to my parents too. I always appreciated both, even though I never needed physical rescuing from a bad situation in HS.

    SIL has always offered to be that person for DS too, which is nice. She is significantly younger than DH & I, which makes her a better confidant than his old, lame parents. We’ve always told him that even if he doesn’t want to talk to us about something, that he has his aunts and uncles too.

    Hard to believe that this is something that we are going to have to be thinking about not too long from now. Where does the time go?

  39. I like the emoji version. I think that’s the one I’ll plan for with my kids. They may never need it, but you don’t want to find yourself wishing after the fact that they’d had a way to get out of a situation that went bad.

    As a college student or adult, you have more options for how to get from one place to another place and you’re accustomed to getting yourself around. So many high school students don’t really know how to get around without catching a ride with someone. I’ve actually always thought of teaching kids to use the bus system as another form of backup, so they never really feel stuck somewhere, but the text plan is much easier for them to execute and doesn’t stop running from late night to early morning.

  40. What do the rest of you do if a play date (or other event you are supervising, like sports practice or scouts) goes bad, and for some reason you can’t send the perpetrator home?

    One of DD’s friends lost it and started hitting everyone, and the parents weren’t answering their cell phones so I couldn’t send the kid home. (Kid is 8.)

    What should I have done?

    What would you want done if it were your kid hitting everyone?

  41. I was reading “No one cares about crazy people” by Ron Powers. His son has probably one beer but loses control and results in severe injuries to the boys friend. Everywhere the boy is labeled the drunk driver. It was later than the girls curfew and he was hurrying to get her home. Her parents wouldn’t give her an extension. Not quite sure what that meant. It was quite tragic for his son and family.

  42. Sky – I suppose I would segregate everyone and/or use screens to create little zombies that stop interacting with each other. And because I don’t have a big investment in the perpetrator’s future development, I wouldn’t worry about rewarding the bad behavior.

    With younger kids (not my own), I have definitely put them in time out. That is as much to show my kids what behavior is not tolerated. However, a kid hitting everyone seems like a either a kid with big problems or a really malignant situation. I assume you know it wasn’t the latter, or you would have fixed the situation.

  43. Also, back to the main topic – I agree that texting for help is a good idea, it’s just the subterfuge. Perhaps because I am fairly convinced I would forget which emoji means what or whether Nicole is a real friend or a pretend friend. I can’t remember who likes sweet potatoes and once a week I screw up lunchbox cheese selection in a way that is hard to forgive. So, adding more layers of complexity seems like a bad idea on a practical level, if not ideologic.

  44. Sky – If I see things headed south, I try to step in and re-direct with a new activity and/or snack. If things worsen, I would pull the kid aside and explain the rules in my house. If the behavior didn’t improve, I’d have a new buddy or segregate them until the kids’ parent arrives. I’d also make clear that this would be the last time we’d be able to have the kid over. I’d tell the parent what happened at pick-up. (I’ve only had to do this once, re-directing has worked all other times.)

  45. @Sky: Snacks and separation. If that doesn’t work, I tend to treat visiting kiddos sort of like my own, in that I’ll give them a little more slack, but won’t hesitate to remove them from the situation if things are going south and “nice” isn’t working. I follow my mom’s approach: you are a good kid, so if you are acting up, you must be hungry or tired; therefore, if a snack doesn’t work, you must need a nice nap/rest/quiet time. :-)

  46. It was well beyond the “let’s all have a nice snack” point: I told the kid to stop hitting and back off from the others, and the kid turned and smacked me.

    At which point I put everyone in the car and drove to where we were dropping the kid off, and waited.

  47. Sky, I would have handled it as you did.

    As the mother of one challenging child, sometimes losing friends/visitation privileges is an important lesson about why behavior is important.

  48. Sky – I think you did the right thing. Did the kid’s parents say anything to you? Did you discuss it with your kid?

    I like the different codes or ways to get out of a situation, but the biggest thing to me is this:
    Once he’s been extracted from the trenches, Danny knows that he can tell us as much or as little as he wants…but it’s completely up to him. The X-plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgments and ask no questions

    I think a kid could know that they could call a parent but still worry about the aftermath and will choose staying in the bad decision. It’s great to figure out the code to get out of the situation, but I think it is even more important to know that there aren’t going to be additional consequences. If a kid is willing to call their parent to get out of a situation, I think they have learned from that situation.

    I also like how Ivy mentioned having a non-parent as someone who would be there to help. I should do this for my siblings’ kids.

  49. Sky – I would have put the kid in his/her own space and, if the parents didn’t respond right away, also would have put them in the car right away. Good grief!

  50. I like the X plan. I have never heard of a kid strike out at an adult. I would have transported him as well.

  51. Sky – how old was the kid? If 3 or 4, I would just separate for a while and try again. If older, I would do what you did. Although I have never had an older kid try to hit me! That is a little crazy.

  52. Why don’t shoe stores sell rain boots anymore? Are Hunter boots comfortable enough to walk in? I might get some from Zappos. But seriously, I went to three shoe stores, and nary a rain boot.

  53. I don’t find Hunter’s particuarly comfortable and I rarely find shoes uncomfortable. But they rub on my inner arch and give me blisters. It is possible that they do not fit me properly.

  54. RMS – I don’t find Hunters to be all that comfortable to walk in, but the shaft is a little snug on me, so that may be part of the problem. For walking, I like my short Bogs much better – I have worn these hiking many times, and I wear them for my walk commute. They also provide much better traction than the Hunter boots. Obviously, not as good for walking through tall puddles, but they are very waterproof up to the ankle anyway.

    http://www.zappos.com/p/bogs-seattle-solid-mid-black/product/8333903/color/3

  55. DW spent a bday gift card from my mom on a pair of Hunter boots. The first pair she ordered online was not comfortable, but she exchanged them at Nordstrom for a different pair and likes them.

  56. I guess I’ll try a couple different brands from Zappos and send the bad ones back. Thanks!

  57. I’ve had duck shoes from Columbia that I liked. No idea how well they will go with RMS’ clothing choices, but they worked with my jeans.

  58. “In college, my best friend at the time drove 2.5 hours each way to retrieve me from a frat weekend lake party that was starting to go wrong.”

    Was it common for people to have cars in college?

    When I was in college, not many kids in the dorms had cars. Among other things, there was a dearth of parking.

    DS is looking at colleges in urban areas, and I would guess that many of the friends he makes there will not have cars, in part due to the lack of parking.

  59. Sky, did you ever let your kid have play dates, or for that matter, anything else to do with that kid after that?

    I think you handled it about as well as could’ve been handled.

  60. “Was it common for people to have cars in college? ”

    I did, beginning sophomore year. Only seniors could park on campus, so I parked it across the river, and would walk back. Usually, you wouldn’t get more than about 100 feet before some passing driver would figure out where you were headed and pull over to give you a lift.

  61. RMS – I bought mine from LL Bean. The Hunter boot did not work right with my height and thick calves. Look for the Wellies.

  62. I had a car, but it was pointless trying to park on campus. I parked waaaay off campus and walked. Usually my house was within a mile or two of campus and walking was easy. If I timed it right I could grab a bus.

    When I was at UNC-CH, parking on campus was a non-starter. I lived about a mile and a half from campus so I just walked. One hot North Carolina summer I was wearing a white sundress with a black geometric pattern. As I walked home, it started to rain (it was about 95 degrees). The dress became saturated and the black print began running. When I got home, I looked like a drowned rat in a wet-sundress contest with a really psychedelic black and white pattern.

  63. Sky – we had two kids get in an altercation that became physical this weekend. The sweet nice boy from down the street that I refer to as my third child due to his frequent visits punched my son’s friend in the face. Son’s friend has a mouth on him and I have no doubt that he probably said something really awful to him before but was shocked there was actual hitting. Both were in tears and I tried to hear both stories, give them water, encourage taking a breath/break and reminding them that staying up late at a sleepover does not lead to good decision-making. Half hour later, they were past it and back to playing video games.

  64. DSS had a car, but he only used it to get to the grocery store or to visit his girlfriend at the college 2 hours away. Otherwise he walked or biked.

  65. “Was it common for people to have cars in college? ”

    Underclassmen – not common, and it was actively discouraged. Upperclassmen – yes. The frat weekend incident was junior year & we were roommates in an off-campus house. I went to college in a small town, so most things were walkable/bikeable, but there was no public transit or private taxi service. I had a car my junior & senior years which I needed to get to my internships. My senior year internship was at a manufacturing plant in the middle of the country next to an elk farm and a state park.

  66. I had a car beginning winter quarter freshman year. Parked in the covered garage beneath the dorm patio. Paid about $2.50/week, billed each academic quarter for the permit. A lot of things were available a relatively short walk south of campus, but I had a car, could get/afford a permit, so I went for it.

  67. A lot of people at my undergrad had cars. We didn’t drive to class, we used them for going off- campus.

  68. No one at my undergrad had cars except super rich people – I knew 2. Some were even rich enough to park in the resident parking spots and get tickets EVERY.DAY and not care!

  69. I have driven the kid to school once more, but am not sure if I am going to do it again or just refuse without explaining.

    While the kids were all fighting over control of a toy, I think a kid that age ought to have enough self-control not to hit either my toddler or me. I know siblings with that age gap do get into physical fights all the time, but I know at that age my friends and I knew better than to hit a smaller kid from another family. (There is a 60 pound weight gap between these two, not the 15 pounds between the oldest and youngest at my house.)

  70. Yeah, fighting with siblings is totally different than hitting a smaller child from another family or a parent!

  71. Sky – is this kid also at school with your kids ? Concerned about your DD being around rock throwers, hitters etc.

  72. Rocky – these are my “dress” waterproof boots – snow or rain – not for hiking but comfy to walk in.

    I also have knee high rubber waders and winter hiking shoes.

  73. We had this policy (pre cell phone) for our teens. Pick up any time any where no questions asked AND NO report to parents of any friends ferried home or seen puking on the lawn. This latter condition meant we could not sign the private school parent pledge, because my kid’s safety came first, and I wasn’t going to risk them being unwilling to call because a friend might get in trouble.

  74. I love my Hunters, but they make A LOT of different styles now. You have to try different styles to find the right fit.

    If you want to try on rain boots, I see rain boots in the department stores around here such as Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Lord and Taylor. I wonder if it’s a regional thing, but they’re sold year round around here.

  75. @Sheep Farmer my friend with the two WPI sons just heard today that the younger a senior got a great job in writing sophisticated software programs for gene data analysis. The elder is a civilian Navy employee doing robotics. Not sure if your DD has made her choice yet.

  76. The 8 old HIT A TODDLER?! Wow, that’s way beyond what I would consider normal kid scuffling. And then to follow it up with hitting an adult . . . that may be worse than the neighborhood kid who cash disappeared around (the kid was maybe 10 at the time?), and I wouldn’t let him in the house after the second time it happened.

  77. Sky – We had a similar situation around here with an older neighbor/bully. The one difference is, my toddler bites. Natural consequences and all that (though I pretended to be horrified at the time, DH and I had a good laugh later).

  78. Méme,
    When we visited WPI, the admissions person said 91% of the students who were not going straight to graduate had jobs lined up within two months of graduation and the average starting salary was in the low 60s. That really impressed me and DD. We are going up there next month for an overnight and an accepted student day. The overnight is for girls only; boys have theirs another night. The president is a woman and she is working hard to get more girls to go there. She sends out special tweets/emails just to the girls that have been accepted. The current boy/girl ratio is about 65/35. RPI was only 25% women, which was one of the things that turned DD off about that school.

  79. Sky – I have no idea what I’d have done in that situation, but I think the way you handled it was excellent.

    RMS – I love my Hunters, which is to say I love the hand-me-down Hunters I got from DD after they took such a beating at the barn they now are partly held together with duct tape. I find them quite comfy to walk in, though the longest I’ve walked in them is about a mile. They do get very hot though. If I were going to buy another pair to walk in, I’d go for the lower cut ones–mid calf.

  80. I never knew I needed rain boots until I read this thread. ;) Those Bogs look nice, and could fit the bill for urban walking if they’re comfortable. I have these Ryka Aurora “water resistant” sneaker boots for hiking and just bumming around. Very light weight and comfortable.

    “I guess I’ll try a couple different brands from Zappos and send the bad ones back. ” — That’s my MO, sometimes different sizes of the same style.

    The popularity of having a car at college varies a lot depending on the setting and demographics. Obviously urban settings mean most students don’t have cars.

  81. So we’re going to spend a week in July in Bar Harbor / Acadia with my parents (and their dog). We found a pair of adjacent waterfront cabins with steps to the rocky beach and frigid ocean waters, but a good place from which to launch kayaks. We’ll also bring our bikes for the Acadia NP loop.

    Just looking at the drive on MapQuest….whoa! :) I’m leaning toward going through PA, NY to Hartford rather than MD’s 95 to NJ Turnpike to GW Bridge, even if it’s longer. For starters, it will probably save about $70 in tolls.

  82. Sounds nice, Milo! The NYC GW bridge toll is $15, but only going one way heading into the city. I wonder if some of the other tolls along your route are similar, so it may be cheaper to drive back home that way.

  83. CoC – It’s that, but also just the stress and traffic. I think I’d rather take Maryland’s 270 up through Hershey and Harrisburg and then over. DW might veto this, however.

  84. I love Acadia and Bar Harbor. It is one of my mother’s favorite places so she would take us there as often as possible. We didn’t like the drive because it’s so long, but that was long before electronics of any kind.

    I wanted to go at the end of August, but there was no interest from DH or DD.

  85. Milo – LMK if you need tips for where to stop, how to drive, and what to do. We are up that way frequently, might be nearby in July. :)

  86. @Milo — I am totally with you on that route. It is very, very easy to lose hours on I-95 for road construction, an accident, or just plain traffic, especially on a summer weekend. I mean, I’ve had hour-long backups just for the turnoff to the Delaware Memorial Bridge — and I wasn’t even taking that exit!

    When I go to my dad’s in NC, I take 70 west to 81 S; even though it’s nominally an hour longer, I have lost more time than that on I95 S of DC (last time my dad tried 95, he had a 3-hr backup S of DC — so much for time savings). Just too many opportunities for 95 to screw you over in this part of the world.

  87. @Milo – you probably saw it, but the Sunday NYT magazine had an article about the Great Loop. It is aloof and somewhat like an anthropologist examining the ways of a weird tribe, but interesting.

  88. “Raised for meat?”

    Yes, and I guess the antlers according to the Minnesota Elk Breeders Association.
    http://mneba.org/why-elk/

    @Milo – I would definitely avoid I-95, especially in the summer. It’s not that far out of the way, time-wise. Even one traffic jam & you could lose a ton of time. It’s horrible along the shoreline, and I-84 rarely had traffic when I lived out that way.

  89. Ada – I agree with your characterization:

    She doesn’t think very highly of her subjects:

    American boaters, on the whole, are middle class; the pastime is most popular in the inland Midwest. But even within the hobby, Loopers are a subset. In harbor, they’re made visible by their multicolor burgees — white flags for boats attempting a first lap, gold for one Loop and platinum for two or more. Think of them, perhaps, as R.V.ers of the water — the sort of people who pay a mortgage on a three-bedroom home, trade it for a floating apartment and call it freedom.

    Or Florida:

    Back on the water, the wind was too strong to write by hand, and the sun was too bright to type notes on a screen, so I found myself forced into a retirement of my own. I lounged up top on the white vinyl cushions, using binoculars to look into houses and study the back of Tim’s head as he drove. The shapes of Central Florida were rectangular and flat. The colors were blue, and green, and green, and green. Nonsense flora lined the banks of the river — lanky palms with feather-duster heads, low and creeping prehistoric ferns. I went downstairs to look up “Spanish moss,” then back outside into the hat-hostile wind. The orange groves were dotted with doll-size fruit. The houses on the shore all had huge screened-in porches, airy cathedrals to exurban comfort.

    From her own account, it seems she spent most of her time onboard asleep. She napped all afternoon, woke up early the next morning, showered, went back to sleep until 11, and was dozing off the second afternoon. She sounds like a depressive:

    A few years ago, just out of college, I had a long stretch of illness that took me much closer to death than I would have liked. Since then, I’ve lived life by a strange system of accounting, stockpiling experience like some shopping list for meaning. People have long sought fullness from their lives, but lately it has felt easiest to fill mine up by force: to bet a few hundred dollars on a trip to visit friends, to wager I’ll find meaning in a life-changing brunch. I concretize my efforts by posting online, leveraging the life-packaging apps at my disposal. Here I am, going for a jog, investing in the wellness quotient of my days. Here I am again, on a lazy Sunday morning, mandatorily reflecting on tranquillity and peace. I’m of the same kind as those millennials in Power & Motoryacht, flaunting my thirsty pursuit of carpe diem.

    At times, this system of living can feel good — it’s more productive to actively reckon than to sit by and wait for satisfaction to arise. But most of the time, my system just feels bad. By checking off boxes against some abstracted timeline, I tend to think too much about what comes at the end. But here on Let It Ride, in my own pseudoretirement, I found it strangely easy to give up this train of thought.

    She thinks about herself way too much.

  90. And she doesn’t know the difference between a feature article and her own personal journal.

  91. “Think of them, perhaps, as R.V.ers of the water — the sort of people who pay a mortgage on a three-bedroom home, trade it for a floating apartment and call it freedom.”

    How condescending can you get?

  92. “Nonsense flora”

    I thought we were paying billions to keep this in place and protect Florida’s environment.

  93. I suspect the “nonsense flora” is that that has been added by the residents that she doesn’t care for.

  94. There’s just such a wasted opportunity with that assignment. There are so many topics that readers would be interested in:
    1) costs
    2) types of boats
    3) weather
    4) sights
    5) historic and economic significance of the whole engineered lock and canal system throughout the country
    and on and on…

    And they send this petulant Millenial to sleep half the day and bitch about how she’s not fulfilled in her life.

  95. @Milo – Not only is she whining about how unfulfilled she is in her own life, but she’s sneering down her nose at those who have found a level of contentment through an activity that she does not find worthy enough. I agree – missed opportunity.

  96. Ivy – And also at boomers in general, the only generation for whom “401(k)s go according to plan.”

  97. That said, I don’t think I want to do the Okeechobee Canal, either. And why would you? The Keys look so beautiful, at least from what I saw recently on HGTV’s Island Life.

  98. “I thought we were paying billions to keep this in place and protect Florida’s environment.”

    Louise, you know (I hope) that I adore you, but: What?!! The legislature, the governor, Big Sugar, and developers are hell bent on destroying the very fragile environment down here, and unfortunately, it’s the only damn thing they’re good at.

  99. I haven’t read far enough upthread to know who wrote that copy, but my guess is that the “nonsense” plants might be mangroves, which are hella necessary, and sadly disappearing.

    I thought we were paying billions to keep this in place and protect Florida’s environment.

    Nope. Florida voted in a referendum in 2014 to set up a fund to buy land to keep in environmental trust, sort of the state’s own Nature Conservancy. If you read up on the algae caused by excessive nitrates released by sugar plantations, you will very quickly see that part of the problem is the state’s refusal to buy land South of Okeechobee. With a governor who refuses to permit the words “climate change” be uttered by anyone in the course of their govt. job, you can rest assured that absolutely nothing is being done about it. 1 or 2 years ago, Congress voted to continue subsidizing insurance rates for homes on the shore, which cost millions, so their owners will be OK.

  100. Milo – perhaps you are not familiar with the NYT magazine? It does not purport to be a guidebook or of any kind of use. It is to help you relish the emotions of being someplace familiar yet exotic. There was another piece in the same issue with some disdain about Mt. Rushmore, and adoration of taking care of a kid in an airport. Like total utter joy in taking the little tyke and waiting out a 6 hour delay.

  101. Ada/Scarlett, I think it depends on how “not right” the situation is. If several kids are threatening physical harm, I’m more than happy to airlift mine out of there. He has no plans for drugs and alcohol, snorts at the kids in his school who talk about using them. If he landed in a situation that he wanted to be rescued from, I can easily see it coming from innocent/naive actions on his part. He doesn’t have friends that drive yet, but will soon. I think the most likely scenario is something like this: he’s getting a ride with someone who has always seemed responsible, and that person pulls out beer or whatever, takes a drink, tries to get my son to have some. Even before the level of intoxication, that kind of risky behavior would already set off alarms in my kid’s head, and he’d really want to get out of there. I’d be glad to pick him up, so the only question is if he is straightforward with the driver. I’d like him to be, but if he isn’t, having a plan B is great.

  102. I have driven the kid to school once more, but am not sure if I am going to do it again or just refuse without explaining.

    I absolutely agree with you just packing it in when you did. If my kid had misbehaved like that, I’d want to know. If people just cut the kid off, the parents will pick up that there is a problem, but won’t know what, so can’t deal with it.

  103. Ada – This is in reference to a nine-year-old, so the author’s obviously projecting:

    By the time we pulled into the Mount Rushmore parking garage, after an eternity of winding, everyone was exhausted and starving. The park’s restaurant was closed for renovation, so we settled into a sort of triage-unit cafe next door. We ate in tense silence. The food was bad. I drank a beer called Honest Abe Red Ale, the can of which featured a picture of Mount Rushmore below the slogan GET SICK-N-TWISTED. Our son complained, bitterly, that his plastic cup of applesauce was “hot.” “I don’t want to be here,” he said — and that “here” seemed to encompass everything: the cafe, Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, America, the 21st century.

    Why are all these authors so unhappy?

  104. I believe Sunset Magazine and USA Today already hired all the happy travel writers.

    Also, I think the 9-year-old children of NYT writers are prescient.

  105. Milo – not sure if you subscribe, but the articles in Sail magazine are excellent, especially for a magazine that is rather thin. I come away with useful information every time about boating.

  106. Thanks, Saac, for adding a little meat to my post. Unfortunately, even what you wrote is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a real tragedy.

  107. Mia – I’ll check it out. I’ve subscribed to Cruising World and Passagemaker. They usually have interesting articles, fluffy boat reviews, and even the ads can be enjoyable and informative.

    This NYT section is just too much. The contribution from Hawaii is no better than the others. It’s as if the Times held an essay contest for who can be the grumpiest, most miserable person amidst an otherwise perfectly happy and fortunate life.

  108. W/hy are all these authors so unhappy?

    Probably for the same reason all the models in upscale ads look miserable or intimidating.

    As compared to the midrange catalog models who look happy and unthreatening.

    Maybe it’s yet another variant on stotting — ‘we’re so rich we don’t have to look happy to be enviable.’

  109. That’s interesting, HM. I was thinking it was some sort of prerequisite to intellectuality, at least for people who have lived lives of privilege or advantage.

  110. I finished the whole Looper article. Can you imagine what Tim & Karen thought about this millenial writer who spent a couple days on their boat mooching their food, complaining, and being useless? They must have regretted volunteering. I would love to hear what they thought of the article – so much whining about how hard her life is & how she will have to work until she dies. MY GOD. I want to slap her/make her read MMM. Also – I would imagine the canal route through central FLA is probably not the most scenic part of the Loop.

  111. OK, I read the article, and I now actually think it is a somewhat-poorly-pulled-off attempt at a fallible narrator. I think she starts off trying to convey her own preconceived bias, a/k/a floating trailer parks (i.e., setting her un-thought biases out at the beginning, so that she can take herself down later). And then the navel-gazing is supposed to convey that she is realizing her own go-go-go achievement-oriented and super-thought-out (“curated” – my least-favorite new use of an old word) approach is empty, and that there is pleasure and satisfaction to be found while traveling slowly and interacting with normal people, and that even Trump supporters (gasp!) are decent people who are good to hang around with.

    The problem is that she gets in her own way, because she doesn’t see what she doesn’t see. Even as she is trying to convey herself as learning to appreciate her hosts, she continues to emphasize the distance between them by pointing out how she will never have the same opportunities yadda yadda. So you can’t really get the sense that she has come around and now has the insight to see that her initial look-down-the-nose-y-ness was so off-base.

    Tl;dr: it could have been clever and insightful, but her blindness to her own blindspots got in her way.

    Oh, and I was totally wrong about the “nonsense” flora — I think she was trying to say that it looked like something out of Dr. Seuss or the Jurassic era.

  112. I couldn’t even get through the Hawaii article. I think that was by far the worst, although I did feel sorry for the kids who were dragged to Mt Rushmore in February.

  113. LfB – I get what you’re saying, and there may be glimpses of that trying to peak through if she could ever find a decent editor to send her back to a re-write, but:

    “I think she starts off trying to convey her own preconceived bias, a/k/a floating trailer parks(i.e., setting her un-thought biases out at the beginning, so that she can take herself down later).”

    But that’s not what happened. It’s the opposite: her preconceived bias was that a 50-foot boat is a yacht, therefore its owners must be rich, and rich is synonymous with fancy education, progressive politics, and physical fitness — all traits distinctly lacking in her hosts. This discovery was the biggest surprise to her:

    Tim maintains that most are not “fancy yacht people.” “Yacht,” in broader culture, has a starched connotation, but here on the Loop it’s just another type of boat that satisfies the limiting height and length clearances. American boaters, on the whole, are middle class; the pastime is most popular in the inland Midwest. But even within the hobby, Loopers are a subset.

    You thinks she’s surprised by their happiness. I say she is far more surprised by — and not a little bit resentful of — the fact that middle-class Midwesterners in three-bedroom houses who vote for Trump and wear Crocs should be able to retire at all to their floating condos on what is essentially a 6,000-mile lazy river around the Eastern half of the United States, all while she is unable to achieve what she wants from life, in no small part because she doesn’t have much of an idea what she actually wants, and she has no savings in the meantime.

    I’ve lived life by a strange system of accounting, stockpiling experience like some shopping list for meaning. People have long sought fullness from their lives, but lately it has felt easiest to fill mine up by force: to bet a few hundred dollars on a trip to visit friends, to wager I’ll find meaning in a life-changing brunch. I concretize my efforts by posting online, leveraging the life-packaging apps at my disposal. Here I am, going for a jog, investing in the wellness quotient of my days. Here I am again, on a lazy Sunday morning, mandatorily reflecting on tranquillity and peace. I’m of the same kind as those millennials in Power & Motoryacht, flaunting my thirsty pursuit of carpe diem.

    At times, this system of living can feel good — it’s more productive to actively reckon than to sit by and wait for satisfaction to arise. But most of the time, my system just feels bad. By checking off boxes against some abstracted timeline, I tend to think too much about what comes at the end. But here on Let It Ride, in my own pseudoretirement, I found it strangely easy to give up this train of thought. With a full life already behind us, it seems easy to trust that the rest will follow suit. Tim and Karen float forward in an easy routine, secure in what is here and unafraid of what may come. This sort of security used to be a promise, and I feel glad to have tried it, if just for a few days and maybe never again.

    You think that, somewhere in this, she’s trying to say “I need to be more like Karen and Tim.” I think she’s saying “Well, nice enough for them, those simpleton Boomers with a “full life already behind [them],” but it would never work for me.

  114. Fallible narrator and self-reflective Bildungs stories about ones own development are getting harder to write, because everyone is sick of them. Isn’t a blindspot, by definition, not visible to the person who has it?

    I still haven’t read it (don’t plan to), but Dr Seuss/Jurassic sounds like mangroves to me, and maybe cypress trees (with Spanish moss). Kirk Munroe, on pg 76 here, would agree with her general assessment, as would many of the people cited in the first 100 pages of the book. It’s worth reading. https://books.google.com/books?id=olHjhlx0Em8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Grunwald+the+swamp&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiN2fTe3_nSAhXLQiYKHbsODIAQ6AEIHDAA#v=snippet&q=Munroe&f=false

  115. Jesus, she seriously needs to get a job at McDonald’s or something. Take her mind off her problems.

  116. Milo, those two passages–especially the first one–read to me like “I thought/lived x, but now have found out about the good in y”

  117. “but now have found out about the good in y”

    Except:

    This sort of security used to be a promise, and I feel glad to have tried it, if just for a few days and maybe never again.

    pretty clearly states that the “good in y” is good only for them — for Tim and Karen, for people whose 401(k)s worked for them (as opposed to now?), for people whose lives are already lived. The good in y is not good for her, and it’s not an answer to her many problems.

  118. “I say she is far more surprised by — and not a little bit resentful of — the fact that middle-class Midwesterners in three-bedroom houses who vote for Trump and wear Crocs should be able to retire at all to their floating condos on what is essentially a 6,000-mile lazy river around the Eastern half of the United States, all while she is unable to achieve what she wants from life, in no small part because she doesn’t have much of an idea what she actually wants, and she has no savings in the meantime”

    This I agree with 100%, and I think it is that resentment that makes the article, in the end, unsuccessful. I think she was surprised that she liked Karen and Tim so much (because Trump! Middle-class old people! Who worked in a totally generic business in a totally generic mid-American city and followed traditional gender roles! You mean they’re decent people too?). And she was somewhat embarrassed to see herself as much more like the useless entitled Millennials in that article cited — she saw herself illustrated in that story, glass of rose and all; worse, saw that laughed at by Karen and Tim; and worst of all, she *agreed* that it was worthy of mocking (the “standing around realizing she was completely useless” bit was a nice metaphor). All of which was heading down that path of, oh holy crap did I get this wrong. Enlightenment beckoned.

    And then she pivots back to “well, great for them, because *they* got this by pure luck/being born at the right time, whereas *I* and my compatriots are totally screwed by all you damn Boomers who sucked up all the money” — and, boom, we’re back in entitled twit land.

  119. Huh? She’s glad to have tasted it, even if it’s not going to be her regular diet. How does that say it’s only good for them? She’s going back to her daily grind, I guess, and doesn’t know what’s going to come at her in the coming decades, so it’s not for her now, but from this little bit I don’t see the condescension.
    I still haven’t read this thing, am just looking at the passages posted here. It’s interesting to me how we can look at the same few words and get such different meanings.

  120. So, she was born in 1992. She’s 25 years old. She went to the School Where Fun Goes To Die (U. of Chicago) and majored in English. She’s a writer full-time.

    Tim Bartel spent two years at Lakeland Community College studying computer science and wound up as “Manager POS Application Development at Sherwin Williams”. I have the impression the Bartels are in their late 50s.

    Just more details.

  121. “She’s 25 years old. She went to the School Where Fun Goes To Die (U. of Chicago) and majored in English. She’s a writer full-time.

    Tim Bartel spent two years at Lakeland Community College studying computer science and wound up as “Manager POS Application Development at Sherwin Williams”.

    As a former boss liked to say: “Checks with chart.”

  122. I agree with LfB at 1:14. What struck me most was her astonishment that the marina guy lent Tim a truck to get to a dentist. Being that I live in a more multigenerational and otherwise supportive fashion than many people of my educational/social stratum and age cohort (despite the fact that I live in a godless elitist bubble), maybe my family of all generations doesn’t see life as such a lonely struggle.

  123. “What struck me most was her astonishment that the marina guy lent Tim a truck to get to a dentist.”

    I was struck by that too because I didn’t think it was at all odd either.

    I highly doubt that she “doesn’t have anything”, and if she doesn’t – it’s not because life is unfair for 25 year olds or writers with elite degrees. I have a feeling life has been very, very good to her (see “Checks with chart”) and yet, constant whining. I just can’t take that kind of thing anymore.

  124. This thread will give you some idea about boaters’ estimation of the Bluewater line:
    http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s27/bluewater-yachts-21888.html

    “I highly doubt that she “doesn’t have anything”

    She mentions that it’s a big deal to spend a couple hundred dollars to go visit friends for a weekend. She seems to be a gig writer/blogger, and may have enormous student loans.

    “and if she doesn’t – it’s not because life is unfair for 25 year olds or writers with elite degrees.”

    Agreed. She could go do corporate communications for Sherwin Williams.

  125. Well, she has Rory Gilmore beat by a country mile, because she’s already published in the NYTimes Magazine. “Freelance writer and sometimes journalist, contributing work to the New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine’s The Cut, Lucky Peach, Vice, Gawker, WIRED (forthcoming), and other good places.”

    “Selected work at jamielaurenkeiles.com
    Represented by Marya Spence at Janklow & Nesbit”

  126. This is interesting:

    We wanted to calculate how many feature stories the top magazines in America assign every year, and how much they typically pay their writers for the assignments. The list was only going to be for the top publications in America–the ones that pay between $1.50-$5 per word and that comprise the top tier of journalism. These are the magazines that line the shelves of airport bookstores everywhere and the ones that we write for pretty regularly. Think The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Atlantic, Wired, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones, O, The Atavist, and the dozen or so other magazines that sits on the tops of toilet tanks and the tables of dentist offices from Seattle to Orlando.

    It was back of the envelope math at best, but as far as either one of us could determine, it was the first time anyone had tried to figure out how biG the pie was for long form freelance writing in America. There are hundreds of amazing writers in the country, delving into stories that drive the national conversation on everything from politics to the cult of celebrity to human rights abuses to cutting edge scientific and technological discoveries. These are the types of pieces that we make a living on, and ones that, frankly, we feel are important to write.

    After ten minutes listing the average number of features in each magazine multiplied by the number of issues annually we had a number: 800. On average these stories would run at about 3000 words and pay $1.50 per word. It was only a ball-park estimate of the overall freelance writing market cap. But it was also a rather depressing one. Let me put this in bold so it stands out on the page.

    The total market for long form journalism in major magazines in America is approximately $3.6 million. To put it another way: the collective body of writers earned less than Butch Jones, a relatively unknown college football coach, earned in a single year.

    $3.6 million. That’s it. And the math gets even more depressing. If we assume that writers should earn the average middle class salary of $50,000 a year, then there’s only enough money in that pot to keep 72 writers fully employed. And, of course, those writers would have to pen approximately 11 well thought out and investigated features per year–something that both my friend and I knew was almost impossible.

    http://www.scottcarney.com/2015/01/feature-story-market-cap-writer-wants-think/

  127. “It’s all about the prestige and exposure, baby.”

    That doesn’t pay the mortgage. And prestige and exposure to do what? At best, she’ll get more assignments from NYT Magazine, maybe the New Yorker. And she’ll still be poor.

  128. That doesn’t pay the mortgage.

    Yeah, I know, I was kind of being facetious.

  129. Good thing she has an elite degree to fall back on. The supply & demand for freelance writers is out of whack. Or maybe it’s not since there still seem to be plenty of people following that particular passion even though the pay stinks.

  130. Chances are good that either she will eventually move into something better-paying (maybe the corporate communications job suggested above), and an impressive-sounding publication list will help her get there, or in 5-10 years when she finds herself married with a baby on the way they’ll decide she should stay home ‘because it just makes so much more financial sense!’ and she’ll put out a navel-gazing piece on modern motherhood about once a year so she can tell herself, not to mention the other parents she runs into at the playground, that she’s a writer and her most recent piece was in ___.

  131. I would be annoyed if I had let someone ride along in my boat and then they wrote that article. Boaters are generally a happy bunch and willing to be helpful. We have borrowed cars and tools and talked to all kinds of people on travels that we don’t normally think to do in “normal life”. We rented a 10+ year old Toyota hatchback with a nearly flat tire and stuffed 6 people in it to tour an island and we were grateful to have the wheels and ability to explore…even if it meant we didn’t find the blue hole we were searching for and instead came across what looked like some old grow houses. I admire a lot of millenials for being more adventurous than most prior generations but I hate the angst and teeth gnashing. We are fortunate to be where we are in the times we live in.

  132. Her surprise about someone (a stranger?) lending you a truck to go see the dentist does not surprise me. I initially found this type of generosity to be a somewhat unusual practice common among boaters and pilots — two groups of people who travel around without towing their cars with them. I could see where someone unfamiliar with that culture would be surprised.

  133. The author writing about her depression: For two years I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, outpatient programs, therapist appointments, and fits of despair …

  134. So, just another day at University of Chicago. KIDDING! No, that’s terrible, I’m sorry she’s had such awful mental health issues.

  135. If the Bartels feel slighted by her article, one hopes at least that they don’t take it personally. She’s kind of a character. Here she writes about never having a Coke until she was 24:

    Over time, mere aversion gelled to a stance. By mid-grade school, I was not drinking Coke in the same sanctimonious way as the kid who fake coughs at smokers outside the supermarket. I was that kid too. I protested school Christmas parties on the grounds of church and state, rallied against Pokémon trading on the playground, and voiced my objections to reality TV in a wan and sniveling tone trickled down two decades from Kurt Cobain’s (already wan and sniveling) CORPORATE MAGAZINES STILL SUCK. I grew to hate not only Coke itself, but its co-branded inclusion in rib marinades at chain restaurants, and the deployment of its logo on fake-vintage tin signs in the clearance section of Ross Dress for Less.

    By college, I’d evolve to hate both Coke and its haters. “Capitalism hegemony unpack parse deconstruct Grammatology,” I’d yawn. I didn’t even have a television. I experimented heavily — sexually, chemically, ontologically, pretentiously — and my successful avoidance of Coke (the soda) became my one surviving trump card in a game of Never Have I Ever. It was no longer a stance but an extension of my identity. You don’t just give up being Catholic or liking Radiohead.

    In short, I was awful. But in hindsight, I concede: It’s relatively easy to opt out of universality by opting in to something more fringe. If you want to know something few humans have known, you can go to space; or fuck your brother; or take up heroin, or the priesthood. For all our fascination with those tireless weirdos who crack the narrow band of human experience, it’s easy to forget that, on a fundamental level, becoming an anomaly just means signing yourself up. No disrespect to junkies or Neil Armstrong, but taking action is easy compared to total and passive abstinence. So many choices are made on our behalf before we’re old enough to opt out on principle. Even the snob who doesn’t have a television probably caught an episode of Sesame Street at some point. Most American vegetarians ate meat before cultivating politics and/or food-based affectations. In twenty-four years of never trying Coke, I’ve done something remarkable just by doing nothing.

    But the takeaway, to clarify, is not to conflate the remarkable with the laudable. Just because it’s noteworthy to fuck your brother that doesn’t mean anyone should be expected to clap. Over time, it becomes burdensome to sustain so much specialness, and soon you find yourself eager for the latest blockbuster, sympathizing with the ticky-tacky folks in your hometown, and choosing your shoes on the basis of comfort. Or at least, that’s where I’m at right now — exhausted from holding the pose for so long — which is why I’m ready to drink my first Coke.

    I can only imagine how tiresome four days stuck in a boat on the Okeechobee Canal with this woman must have been like.

  136. Milo, after the “advertizing” for it here? No thanks! As I said, my comments were on the passages people copied over. From what you all have said, I gather that she thinks readers will see themselves in her, that she’s telling what every normal/common person would experience, but her definition of normal/common is off and contains more whining per day than most people do on the whole loop. I have no desire to see if that’s my impression.

  137. Wow. Just wow. It is like printing your diary filled with angst and drama that you would like to forget a few years later. I think I am glad I am not compelled to write.

  138. I loved the Mount Rushmore story. We’re planning on making the trip next summer. I don’t really want to go, but the kids want to go, and the part of me that wants to go feels like it is one of those childhood torture trips that one should take. I made the trip when I was 8 with my best friend’s family. I’m not a big road trip person so driving 8 hours to see faces on rocks seems pointless yet a very Midwestern American thing to do.

    I’m pretty sure this will be the summary of our trip:
    I felt a rush of emotion that was not patriotism but awe: awe at human weirdness, at our capacity to create, in the actual world, such an improbable and unnecessary artifact as this. Why had humans done this? Why did Mount Rushmore exist?

    “Oh, it’s a nice little mountain thing,” my son said appreciatively, and then he asked if we could leave.

    To be fair though my kids will probably love it. Their grandparents took them to visit attractions in Iowa last summer, and they had a blast. The biggest attractions were going to see an artist who is working on painting a patriotic rock in each of the 99 counties. They also saw a giant popcorn ball (or maybe it was twine?). They had to come home before their cousins, so they missed out on the matchstick museum. DH said that was what all of his childhood vacations were like.

    I haven’t read the Florida boat one yet.

  139. Maybe we should have a post after our summer vacations so we can all write angst-filled NYT-style reports about our trips.

  140. Milo, here’s another little pebble for your shoes: we got a pool when I was between 7th and 8th grade, and also got some lounge chairs for the area around it. They have been repainted and erwogen at least once. In a text she just sent, I thought my sister was proposing new ones. She is not. Those are good chairs and work well. ;)

  141. SM – my in-laws’ formal living room furniture (the stuff that never gets used) is of similar vintage. It’s the 1980s middle-class version of Country Colonial, with that thick and rough-feeling blue fabric on a simplified Chippendale sofa. And dark, dark stained wood.

    Nobody has ever seen any reason to replace it.

  142. tcmama, is your family going to watch North by Northwest before going to Mt. Rushmore?

  143. Finn – DH and I might watch it again. I think the kids are a little young. I was at the movie theater last week and there was an ad saying that they’ll be playing North by Northwest in the theater next month. That’d be fun to see.

    We are still a year out before taking the trip. Maybe I’ll have my minivan by then. The kids want to see Bison. I’m sure we’ll stop at Wall Drug and the Corn Palace. I remember liking Deadwood as a kid. I suppose we will try to see Crazy Horse too. I am sure I’ll enjoy the scenery and it’ll be a good trip but I’m not very excited about it. I’d much rather go to a city on vacation than drive hours through the prairie. Please send trip suggestions!

  144. It’s so funny that Wall Drug and the Corn Palace are so well known, mostly because of where they are. My maternal grandparents moved to Wisheck when they got married around 1920. I’ll ask Mom if she has any suggestions. There really isn’t much there. The year we visited relatives in SW Minnesota, my little sister got so bored she yelled “MOOOOOOOO” every time we passed a cow through the whole state of Iowa. Whether that’s hysterically funny or so annoying it makes you hysterical probably depends on perspective.

  145. SM, Driving home from college one roommate and I would moo and wave. It was a stupid joke that I can’t even remember the origin of (but likely involved beer), but now I can’t drive by cows without thinking “moo and wave” in my head.

  146. tcmama, there were some suggestions for Milo when he was contemplating an RV vacation that reached the Mt. Rushmore area.

  147. We’re actually doing the South Dakota road trip this summer. DW grew up there and wants to show us her hometown along with all the sights.

  148. Denver, you must let us know what “all the sights” in South Dakota are.
    The Black Hills are in the Dakotas, but I can’t remember where they are in relation to Rushmore. I thought they were really cool when I was 11. Rushmore was just sort of “oh, someone did that”, about what you would’ve heard if you showed 11-year-old me a table or shirt someone made.

  149. Tcmama, the Milo roadtrip discussion is here, starting on 8/22 at 3:32pm:

    https://thetotebag.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/fired/

    Quoting myself:

    “I also found the leg through southern WY fascinating because I’d read a lot about the plains Indians when I was in MS, and actually seeing that area and many of the landmarks I’d read about was interesting.

    The latter suggests that one way to make the trip more interesting is to prep the family so they’ll have some familiarity beforehand. This is not unlike watching a bunch of Disney movies before going to Disneyland or WDW, so many of the characters and attractions will be more relevant, or watching North by Northwest before going to Mt. Rushmore.”

  150. Ian Frazier, the New Yorker writer and author of “Lamentations of the Father” (“For we do not do that, that is why”), wrote a wonderful book about his trip to the Great Plains during the late 1980’s. “The Great Plains” was originally a series of New Yorker articles — this ties in neatly to the previous discussion regarding the economics of freelance writing — and though dated, is quite enjoyable. Frazier grew up in Ohio, and one of his goals in The Great Plains was to spotlight a region that many regard as the ultimate flyover country.

    His “Travels in Siberia” is also a good read. His style is the polar opposite of the unfortunate whiner in the NYT Magazine. Not as consistently hilarious as Bill Bryson can be, but he has a real command of the language and is sufficiently humble to keep himself firmly in the background of his writing.

  151. Scarlett, you comment about the Great Plains and Siberia reminded me of The Americans. Are you watching this season, and do you like it? This is the first season that we are watching with with a week between each episode since we binged the other four seasons. I think the acting remains solid, but I am not sure if I am enjoying it as much now that I have to keep waiting to see what happens next.

  152. My one trip to Mt. Rushmore could have been in the “trip fails” post a few days ago. Summer after first year of law school, I had a clerkship, but for only half the summer. So when the O’s traded Eddie Murray to the Dodgers, and my friend from San Diego invited me to visit, I decided to take the long way home, visiting friends/family along the way.

    [Insert standard trip issues here — overheated car in west TX, followed by driving all night to San Diego when it was cool enough for the car to run; car window falling off track so couldn’t stop with all worldly possessions in car; flat tire at midnight in Coos Bay, OR; speeding ticket on way to Spokane; etc.]

    I had godparents in Corvallis and former roomie in St. Paul, so I decided I’d drive by Devil’s Tower (from “Close Encounters”) and Mt. Rushmore and stay somewhere on the other side for the night. Drove by Devil’s Tower, didn’t stop. Drove to Mt. Rushmore; road up was much longer and winding than anticipated, hadn’t eaten, was very glad to get to the top. Got there 15 minutes before they turned the lights on, waited. They turned the lights on: nothing. Solid fog — couldn’t see a damn thing.

    So I drove down the mountain to the other side, stopped at several hotels — nothing, all booked up. Called a few more — also booked. Because, hello, summer! I ended up driving all night across S. Dakota, until I hit I think Sioux Falls, where I found a hotel at like 6 AM. Boy, was *that* a sleep-inducing drive.

  153. DH is interested in visiting Mt. Rushmore, but I’m hoping I can distract him with shiny things until he forgets his original plan.

  154. DH and I were just thinking about a land adventure once we are done with our sailing. I am envisioning a Mercedes/Dodge van/RV thing with two bikes on a rack in the back and a kayak strapped somewhere and going to the national parks and taking our time. This would likely be once both kids are in college and mostly launched.

  155. @tcmama – I think you are making a good choice NOT going there in February like the author. :)

    Dh wants to go to Mt Rushmore. I know how much he hates road trips, and I have actually been to SW Minnesota/SE SoDak, and therefore, I can picture how miserable he will actually be on this trip. Regardless if we fly part of the way, it is a long way from anywhere. This is NOT DS’s style of vacation either. And I have other trips that I would much, much rather do in the next 5 years (SoCal, NoCal, Jackson Hole/Yellowstone, Europe, New England/Quebec, etc). So like RMS, I am hoping this idea will fade out & die.

    I do still have a coonskin cap that I bought at Wall Drug in college. So there’s that.

  156. “DH and I were just thinking about a land adventure once we are done with our sailing. I am envisioning a Mercedes/Dodge van/RV thing with two bikes on a rack in the back and a kayak strapped somewhere and going to the national parks and taking our time.”

    You and I think a lot alike.

  157. Lauren,
    I like this season, especially the lack (so far anyhow) of cringe-worthy graphic sex scenes. Was very excited to see an old friend appear last week. We will be out of the country for most of April so will get to binge-watch when we return.
    I have a bad feeling about the Vietnamese kid and his Russian “friend.”

  158. Oh, and I agree that having to wait for new episodes is not fun. Have these folks learned nothing from Netflix original series??

  159. tcmama – we did the Black Hills family trip a few years ago. It was an awesome trip. I can give you some tips and even the vrbo that we stayed in…it has a trout stream in the backyard, which was perfect for fishing.

  160. “I have a bad feeling about the Vietnamese kid and his Russian “friend.””

    Me too.

  161. I have been kind of bored by this season of the Americans. I have hated what they have done to Paige.

  162. And where is Henry? He’s onscreen less than Richie Petrie was. Doesn’t even get to wash up for supper.

  163. And where is Henry? He’s onscreen less than Richie Petrie was. Doesn’t even get to wash up for supper.

    If it’s like soap operas, he’ll go upstairs 5 years old and come back down next week at 16.

  164. Ivy, when my family went to My Rushmore, it was in a rented RV. I was 8 (got that wrong earlier). We visited the relatives in Southern Wisconsin who we saw every year, then the ones in SW Minn, then Rushmore/Crazy Horse/Black Hills/Corn Palace (I forget the order) and then went to Glacier National Park. We spent a few days there, then drove down to Yellowstone and then straight East to home. It was a three week trip. Skipping all the relatives, you could probably do it in two. It would get family members who had to see a carved mountain there, and your forbearance would be rewarded with the national parks you want to see.

    Besides, what does anyone do at Rushmore? Climbing on it is not permitted, there is no Maid of the Mist equivalent, it isn’t interactive. Has a museum been built there? Really, even if you’re fascinated, there isn’t anything to do but stare at it. I can’t imagine anyone doing that for over an hour. Caveat: it may have changed or I may have forgotten.

  165. tcmama – CofC has my email (i think she still does). Feel free to drop me a line and I’ll give you the scoop. The Black Hills has so much to do other than Mt. Rushmore.

  166. “Besides, what does anyone do at Rushmore? Climbing on it is not permitted, there is no Maid of the Mist equivalent, it isn’t interactive.”

    FWIW, this is how I feel at art museums.

    “Has a museum been built there? Really, even if you’re fascinated, there isn’t anything to do but stare at it. I can’t imagine anyone doing that for over an hour. Caveat: it may have changed or I may have forgotten.”

    I think the scale of the project is impressive. I’m always fascinated and amused by the time period of, oh let’s say early Industrial Revolution through World War II, when the thinking was that it was man’s objective to *conquer* the wilderness, and bend it to our will for our economic gain and expansion, or even just our amusement. People didn’t build the Transcontinental Railroad putting out press releases trumpeting how they sought every effort to “minimize their footprint, and work with the landscape.” No, if there was a mountain in the way, they celebrated blowing it up so it was no longer in the way. From what I’ve read in Bryson’s book, Rushmore seems like one of the last great symbols of that ideology.

    Also, I’ve mentioned before how one of the reasons I like driving over flying is I like to really feel the scale of a place in a way that floating over it in a sealed tube just doesn’t give you. I’ve never been there, but I want to drive across South Dakota to feel that immensity. It’s not unlike people who want to sail across oceans.

  167. Milo, I felt the immensity driving out here. When the kids are older, we may follow the Lewis & Clark trail back out here. For now, the drive to Yellowstone with a not-fully-potty-trained toddler will feel immense enough.

Comments are closed.