Et les amis de votre génération?

This is what my clique from junior high school has done. Two of us, including one servidora, were tracked to Ivies, two to state R1s, and one to the CSU system.

Tracked to Ivies: went to state R1 that was public Ivy. 1 Ph.D. obscure professor, 1 B.B.A. worked, married, dropped out, raised family, is philanthropist.

Tracked to state R1s: 1 dropped out of Ivy after freshman year, married, raised family, divorced, finished college and M.A., teaches middle school. 1 slow B.S. from state R1, M.A. from another state R1, married, raised family, divorced, teaches high school, is the only one besides me who has been continuously employed (and the of the two of us, only I have been continuously employed full time).

Tracked to CSU: slow B.S. from CSU, worked, married, dropped out, raised family, is artist.

Results: Ph.D. interdicted biological reproduction and also marriage, but this is also the most self supporting person; divorces cause the M.A.; marriage reduces likelihood of graduate education and also slows progress to undergraduate degree; only those with a graduate education are working. And what are we all working at? Teaching.

And I repeat: in this group it took the Ph.D. to be continuously employed full time, and the M.A. to get full time work that would support a person; college alone actually seems to be the ticket to not working. The highest standards of living are also maintained by those who finished college but do not work.

What seems most singular to me in all of this, however, is that although only one besides me holds the B.A. or A.B., everyone else went to science or business at that level, but both of the M.A.s are in Latin American Studies and their holders speak Spanish. I did not tell them to do this. Is it an odd coincidence, or is it just the way of the world?


9 thoughts on “Et les amis de votre génération?

  1. It’s a small sample size. I haven’t kept up with my friends from junior high, who were not my high school or grade school friends (thanks to jerrymandering of school districts), but I’m sure all half-a-dozen or so went to college; I know one is an office manager in Marin and one is a journalist. Of my high school friends (female), two have the PhD and are professors, one has a law degree and is a grant writer, one is a nurse, one became a math teacher but had to stop working because of lupus, one is a housewife. The first four have public-Ivy degrees; the last two are CSU. I don’t know if the nurse ever married. The rest are married; the math teacher had a brief starter marriage and re-married more happily. I think the other professor is in the process of divorce. Only the nurse and I have not reproduced. Again, it’s a small sample size, but the differences could be generational, locational, or random noise. Your friends sound more like my students. Oh, and my K-3 best friend dropped out of high school, got GED, married and had children, went to college, became K-3 teacher—she’s more like your group, but minus the divorcing. I’m about 7 years younger than you, I think: is that enough time for social changes such as stronger emphasis on women’s having careers, later marriage, and greater expectation of co-habitation before marriage to take effect?

    1. I think so, yes. Small sample, these are the ones I was closest to and am still in touch with fairly regularly. Hattie (age 70+) my blog friend is surprised that we, born in 1956 and 1957, were not raised to be more career oriented and so on but no.

      The only one of us with a working mother is the only one of us besides me who has always worked. Let us look at fathers: 2 mega-alcolholics of whom 1 committed suicide; 1 mega-authoritarian GE executive; 1 hip botanist (father of the artist), 1 private HS teacher and con man who abandoned family and had the kids literally starving, as though it were the 18th century and he were Rousseau or someone.

      College friends I am still in touch with constantly involve: 1 M.S. scientist, married late no kids, retired early (at 52!) due to workplace issues, is now 58 and cyclist; 2 Ph.D. besides myself, all obscure professors, 1 (the man) never married, really enjoying life; 1 now (at 55) going into phased retirement due to workplace issues; 1 M.A. high school language teacher, married with children and her husband is abusive and cheats, but is rich.

      Only one of these people (the one going into phased retirement) had mother with job/career. Fathers: 1 PhD mentally ill suicide, 1 MD alcoholic recluse, father of the only man in this group died when he was in high school and perhaps this is why he is so happy-go-lucky, 1 rich patriarch; then my father.

      What *shocks* me about all of this is how many people did not get even as far as I have. My graduate school friends, the ones I am in touch with as friends are more happy and varied but some of them are just people I made friends with during graduate school, not people from my program.

  2. Ah. I was starting to think about parents, especially fathers, though more in terms of social class and religion than anything else. I have little idea about the junior-high fathers, but of the others, my K-3 friend’s parents divorced; her father was in construction, a working-class Jew; her mother was Gentile. The friend married an African-American man; perhaps, as the child of what was in those days considered a “mixed” marriage, this further mixing didn’t bother her as it might some other people. Two other sets of parents could be summed up as New York Jewish intellectuals; one of these, the set in which both were CSU professors, divorced; the other just bickered a lot. These spawned the ex-lawyer and the nurse. The Irish Catholic liberal-intellectual couple (1 public-Ivy prof) divorced (child = other professor). The math teacher was adopted; both biological and adoptive parents were Prods, and divorced. The housewife’s parents were immigrant Jews, the father being the ne’er-do-well younger brother of much richer men. Mine were midwestern Prods, lower-middle-class by the skin of their teeth. I was going to guess that we were a somewhat more Bohemian group (on average) than yours. No alcoholism in these families, but the divorces were associated with a lot of dysfunction. Only one of the mothers had a career all through; another divorcee acquired a career (had laid it aside for child-rearing and fac-wife-ing); the others had jobs, in some cases on-again off-again. My male friends would be another whole story. I have few friends from college, and 2/3 of those were my TAs. My grad school friends were, on average, of higher social standing than myself, but with similar or greater degrees of family dysfunction; most though by no means all are now academics. One lawyer, one high school teacher (male), one dependent on husband, one has family money and odd interesting Boho jobs.

  3. “I was going to guess that we were a somewhat more Bohemian group (on average) than yours.”

    The K-3 friends or their parents? I am trying to learn how to define Bohemian.

    1. Oh, all of them, really. They stepped aside from their original social class, in one way or another; no executives or fancy-pants scholars among them, but a combination of working or lower-middle-class people who wanted to move their children up, and intellectual class who moved from the East to the wild west.

      1. For Bohemians I have some 19th century writers and Valle-Inclán, people of the 20s and the 30s, and the Beat poets, and I am betting the early Cortázar, living in bad rooms in Paris and doing weird jobs and looking at art and frying eggs! Jack Spicer!

        I will have to do a class study on my original five.
        Artist: family money, Valencia Hotel in La Jolla.
        My family: centuries of middle class-ness, mostly, but with lots of degrees.
        High school teacher: lower middle class, nurses, mechanics.
        Middle school teacher: lower middle class, schoolteachers.
        Philanthropist: big business class.

        Religions: high school teacher raised Catholic, middle school teacher Presbyterian, rest of us had actual practicing Protestants and Jews in family generations ago but were unbaptized heathens.

  4. Your comment about your friends having learned Spanish reminded me of several of my friends from elementary school – of our little group of women, I’m a PhD and 2 of them are good high school Spanish teachers. We were not yet learning Spanish when we were all friends, even.

    1. Then it really is a trend! Americans are becoming bilingual! My college roommate, a scientist, has also learned Spanish and is really good at it!

      1. The ex-lawyer and the other prof both have very fluent Spanish. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the nurse has acquired it, as well. The housewife has fluent Hebrew.

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