. Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, "To her illustrious list of literary accomplishments, Meghan Daum must now add brilliant anthology editor. And we feel her aloneness, and are with her, in that moment, as we have been for years, waiting to see which way she will turn next. The suburb/city alliance was, in my opinion, an unequal partnership between parasite and host, a dynamic permanently tainted by a sense that although the suburbs cannot live without the city, the city would hardly notice if the suburbs were all spontaneously irradiated by a tyrannical dictator of a distant star system. 24 0 obj <> endobj while others are downright hilarious." [/Pattern /DeviceRGB] I had a decent-sized apartment with oak floors and porcelain hexagonal bathroom tiles that were coming loose. /BitsPerComponent 8 Like a social smoker whose supposedly endearing desire to emulate Marlene Dietrich has landed her in a cancer ward, I have recently woken up to the frightening fallout of my own romantic notions of life in the big city: I am completely over my head in debt. And though I still had not hit the literary jackpot by producing the best-seller that would pay off my loans and buy me some permanent housing, I still felt I'd come out ahead in the deal. But both times I'd discarded the idea of moving there the minute the wheels hit the tarmac at LaGuardia. It is to be secure in one's ability to grasp these comparisons and weigh one against the other within a fraction of a second, to know, as my Jewish Manhattanite friends put it, "from stuff"—to know from real estate, from contemporary fiction, from clothing designers and editors of glossy magazines and Shakespearean tragedies and skirt lengths. Eventually, she winds up at a party hosted by a conservative magazine, surrounded by mostly young men—people who, like her, are fans of the libertarians and evolutionary biologists whose videos she watches compulsively. A couple of promising writers dropped out of the program and left the city. The music copyist and his wife had lived there for almost twenty years and although rent was the furthest thing from my mind at the time, I can now surmise, based on what they probably earned, that the apartment was rent controlled, perhaps $300 per month. %PDF-1.4 I installed a second telephone line for fax/data purposes. I would have gotten a job, started paying my bills, and averted my own impending car crash. Though it would be five years until I entered my debt era, my years at Vassar did more than expand my intellect. There are other days when the debt feels like someone else's cancer, a tragedy outside of myself, a condemned building next door that I try to avoid walking past. Everyone who’s writing essays professionally these days owes a debt to Meghan Daum, whether they know it or not. Also, who really cares about getting a Mother’s Day card? I knew several women and even a few men who were actively looking for rich marriage partners to bail them out of their debt. As in many well-to-do suburbs, if you're not in need of K-12 services, there's not much in it for you, and so virtually no one between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five can afford or has reason to live there. /Subtype /Image Daum has, in the past, been a near-perfect chronicler of the texture of her own experience. Rich were the handful of kids who drove BMWs to school. There’s no glamour, no Broadway shows, and no fancy restaurants. I worked for an anthropology professor for $9 an hour. Editorial assistants who earned $18,000 managed to wear Prada, rent time-shares in the Hamptons, have regular facials, and pay thousands of dollars a year for gym memberships and personal trainers. The traces of the earlier book, which Daum planned to call You Are Not a Badass, are most present in essays about campus politics and what she sees as the failure of the #MeToo movement to grapple correctly with women’s own agency and culpability. On this latest round of panic, however, I chewed on the idea for a while, decided that it was a good plan, and have pretty much continued to feel that way ever since. But there’s more to it than that, and Daum is so brilliant that I’m still shocked she hasn’t considered that congratulating yourself for toughness is much less important than making a world where toughness isn’t necessary. Like a lover to whom you suddenly turn one morning and feel nothing but loathing, my relationship to my suburban town went, in the time it took that elevator to descend six floors, from indifference to abhorrence. It was 1993, I was twenty-three, and I'd received a raise so that I was earning $21,000. /Type /XObject Some entries are heart-wrenching . Meghan Daum. Hear Meghan Daum discuss this essay and more on the Longform Podcast. Some of these articles were collected in her first iuok, My Misspent Youth (2001) She writes a regular column for the op ed page of There's room here for copious rationalizations and I'll make full use of them. Every once in a while, as a sort of gift to myself, I’d allow myself to turn him down.” In the fall of 2017, reading someone else’s Facebook post, she encounters a description of a similar situation, but at first she refuses to accept that it actually describes the same man who weird-lunched her, because the “post was about feeling victimized”—“not a word,” Daum notes, “I’d ever applied to my situation.” Rather than reckoning with the ways that women’s agency and their structural disadvantage can coexist, the essay ends abruptly, with Daum seeking comfort in the idea that her generation belongs to a different “species” than younger women who’ve grown up with the internet, as if this excuses her from further attempts to understand them. "To her illustrious list of literary accomplishments, Meghan Daum must now add brilliant anthology editor. As I try to sort out the origins of my present financial situation, I always come back to the feelings I had as a teenager in the suburbs and the ineffable hankering I felt to access some kind of earthier, more "intellectual" lifestyle. XD. Everyone who’s writing essays professionally these days owes a debt to Meghan Daum, whether they know it or not. More than any of her contemporaries, Daum staked a claim on the trickier-than-it-looks style that combines journalistic rigor with exactly the right amount of subtle humor. endstream endobj 28 0 obj <>stream I have a compulsive need to have fresh-cut flowers in my apartment at all times, and I'll spend eight or ten dollars once or twice a week at the Korean market to keep that routine going. Meghan Daum. There are even more times—every week, for instance—that I don't hesitate to spend money in a social capacity, $45 on dinner, $20 on drinks. Lately, my New York fantasy has proven a little too retro for my own good. Instead, I continued to hedge my bets. Name-dropping was my drug of choice and I inhaled the stuff. . I have to be out of my sublet by September 1. And even though I was having a great time and becoming a better writer, the truth was that the year I entered graduate school was the year I stopped making decisions that were appropriate for my situation and began making a rich person's decisions. Such expert marksmanship! These are broad categories. Hanging out at the Cuban coffee shop and traipsing over the syringes and windblown trash of upper Broadway, I was under the impression that I was, in a certain way, slumming. Her descriptions of the weird lunches, and dinners, are some of the most vivid narrative detail we get in this book. The nefarious force of wokeness also leads to rhetorical reliance on overdramatic language and profanity, which leaves us without meaningful weapons against the Real Enemy, Trump or whomever—she never quite makes clear what, exactly, she deplores about Trump, beyond saying that she has never voted Republican. Many of them lived in doorman buildings in the West Village or Upper East Side, for which their parents helped foot the bill. And with my ever-evolving sense of entitlement, that seemed more possible than ever.