We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, October 25. 2009
Redefining Deviance: Jim and Sarah D. aspire to acceptance in a world that has left them behind
This is a re-post of an NJ piece from a couple of years ago -
There are people living "deviant" lifestyles in the Northeast, and, sadly, they are frequently invisible and marginalized. After much searching to locate the most deviant family your reporter could find in western Massachusetts, we decided to interview Jim and Sarah D. We summarize our interview with this extremely deviant, euphemistically-termed "traditional family," here:
Social deviant Jim D. 42, leads what we might best term a paleo life, largely out of touch with modern reality and seemingly oblivious to the exciting opportunities of modern lifestyle choices. Married for 21 years, with three kids, Jim drives 25 minutes to work each morning in his 8 year-old Subaru sedan. A college grad, Jim, on his fourth job, is CFO of a medium-sized manufacturing corporation based in Pittsfield, MA, making around $120,000 per year, not including generous benefits.
"I worked my way up the ladder to reach my level of incompetence," he laughs. "The job is a daily challenge, so I try to meet it each day determined to have some fun with it, and to rise to the challenges with a can-do spirit, corny as that sounds. I go to work every morning wondering what sort of pitch will be thrown to me, and hoping at least to hit a single. When I get stuck and confused, I call Sarah to talk it over." Really? "She's my partner, in every way. We joke that by combining the two of us, we add up to one barely competent human."
Jim claims his wife is "great to me and for me" and says "I love my kids to death." They go to their Presbyterian Church together every Sunday, and they tithe. "Budgeting our tithing is a blessing to us," says Sarah. Jim and Sarah have a date night every Thursday night, and family Sunday dinner with his in-laws.
They have lived modestly, and have accumulated over $500,000 in their 401-K savings. Jim says "Business hasn't been loyal to its employees for 20 years, so you have to take care of yourself. That's fine with me. My Dad did it by always living below his means, which were minimal for a long time, and I do the same. Unlike my Dad, though, I doubt anyone will let me continue working as long as I want to."
What did his Dad do? "He quit high school to join the Army. Hated school. They stuck him in the Corps of Engineers. Then worked up to a construction supervisor as a civilian, which he still does. He will never quit work, although he could retire now if he wanted to. He owns three houses; rents two and lives in one. The job gives him something to grouse about, and gets him out of the house and out into the world."
When asked what were the most important things in his life, Jim answers "Knowing God and being a responsible adult male. Working hard, paying my bills, being a good parent and husband, a good citizen and a good friend." For hobbies, Jim and Sarah enjoy gardening, jogging in the Berkshire Hills, and cooking together. When their first child was born, they gave their TV away and have been without one since. "Brain rot," says Sarah. "It interferes with family time, and we didn't want the kids to be passive zombies."
Sarah was a grammar school teacher until the kids came. "I would never have married a woman who wanted to work while we had young kids," Jim says. "That's an experiment with human nature I would not want to subject them to." As the kids enter high school, Sarah is planning to return to teaching high school English this time, having made herself "an amateur expert" in Medieval and Renaissance literature over the past 15 years. "I polished up my French, and learned Italian." What's her dream job? "Teaching Beowulf and Dante."
"Unlike Sarah, I was the first kid in my family to ever go to college," Jim says. "My first day at UMass, my Mom insisted I wear a jacket and tie. That is how traditional - or out to lunch - my parents were then. Mom baked a huge layer cake when I got my admission letter. They were both children of immigrants, my Dad's parents from Romania and my Mom's from Ireland." He says "UMass set me up for a fine career, but I had no big dreams. I just wanted to be able to support my family, and to find a way to have a fairly good time doing it. Math was easy for me, so I majored in it, but I made sure I got myself educated as widely as I had time for, while staying on the Rugby team and without too many drunken nights. I took some accounting classes to be practical about the future, but I met Sarah in a Chaucer class. She was cute as hell, and I said to her after class 'I don't think I belong in this class.' She said 'Let's discuss it.' The rest is history."
Politics? As Sarah says "We go to every Town Meeting, and we speak up when an issue is important to us. We don't obsess too much about national politics. We are local." When pressed on the issue, they confessed "Well, we do listen to Rush when we have the chance, but we are usually too busy."
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Maybe they succeed because they love each other, and maybe they love each other because they each had individually--maybe with the help of their parents--made themselves lovable.
Great post, NJ.
I am SHOCKED that you would publicize this deviant behavior! Have you NO sense of DECENCY?? You need to wash out your fingers and your keyboards with which you typed this TRASH!!
Society must strive to make everyone feel welcome and accepted, no matter how perverted they are.
...all kidding aside, there are those who accuse ALL happy folks of being willfully blind and hopelessly self-centered. Can't help but think of that Anthony Daniels description of Kerouac --'the only authenticity is misery', et cetera, blah blah.
There is behavior the State can not tolerate, it leads people from the Way of Correct Thought and Right Deeds. Tolerance must not be abused.
Sorry, been reading DPRK news again.
On the face of it, this family seems independent, happy, hard-working, interested in the world, responsible, balanced, and loving. How can such a thing happen in Bush's Amerikkka? Furthermore, isn't this family's contentment proof that they need a tax increase?
Tax increase, degraded services, more & more corrupt, expensive, inept government at all levels, yes yes yes --that's what this optimistic American family needs!
They tithe and go to church.Anyone think that George Soros does that, unless you consider Move on .org tithing.
It's scary to think there are people like that everywhere, operating under the radar, unnoticed.
Deviant behavior to aspire to. I'm still working on it.
Glad to know there are others out there like our family. Was it child abuse to not have a TV till our child (now 34 yrs old) was a teen? He surely thought so at the time, but now thanks us! He relies on his "socially frugal" upbringing now to help raise his four girls. Married a Nebraska farm girl and they are continuing this deviant pattern...being close to God, family and those in the local community.
Is anyone counting us who live the simple life? Do we count? We do vote......
good show, milabro --takes rare courage to ban the tube.
Too bad the Endandered Species Act probably doesn't apply to this pair.
I am retired and 67 years old. I grew up in a small town in the Midwest which was totally surrounded by farms. We had a few factories in the town as well.
The life they lead is almost a carbon copy of the life when I was a kid. I think the first television in the neighborhood came when I was about 15 and we didn't get one for another couple of years. The federal government was there to protect the country as a whole and the locals took care of everything else. There were 3 bars and 35 churches in the town.
The funny thing is that when the federal government decided, after WW II, to show the rest of the world what the US was like, they decided to make a series of movies of actual small city life in the US. My home town was selected as the typical US way of life and they made a series of 6 movies in the late 1940's showing daily life and Sunday going to church and the shops and schools and parks - the whole megillah.
I wonder if the feds decided to make the same thing now, where would they pick and what would the movie look like. I know that I would actually prefer to live the life back then than a lot of what I see now. Some things have changed for the better but for the most part there was a respect for each other and for the self that is missing now in the way the US is presented to the world.
thanks Buddy...but rare courage? More a total disgust at the offerings of the mass media!
Have to say nothing has changed much....
I really have to agree with you. I have a TV which gets turned on for maybe an hour or two a week. I tried a few of the other shows and just cannot begin to get interested in them. I watched some of the news shows and decided that throwing something at the TV was more expensive than just turning it off.
I remember when I was young there some great shows on with really good actors. I remember Playhouse 90 and Hallmark Hall of Fame and Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock. Compare and contrast with some of what is on now.
I think we are not that rare....the mass media would like everyone to think so, but we ARE out there. Under the radar, just living our lives quietly. Some are dedicated Christians, some are "retired hippies" (like self), some are just sick of the whole consumerism that is force fed through media marketing. WE ARE NOT FREAKS! We are those who will retire on our own savings, support the American ideal (as our founding folks saw it), raise our families quietly, vote without fail, and continue to support (though massive taxation) the rest of the country. We are the backbone.
I think all genuinely happy people are family-centered but not self-centered. My family is the center of all I do -- it isn't everything I do. We are kind of insular and I'd like my teens to spend more time with their peers, maybe even date when they are old enough (around 27 or 30).
Love begins at home...and we hope it spreads from there.
I sense these people must be very bitter to lead such a lifestyle and not see the hope and change that are all around them.
On the contrary, it strikes me that these people look at the "hope and change" around them and decide to opt out. I don't blame them. The "hope and change" I see around me here in NYC is a total debacle. We have a "hope and change" president who doesn't seem to realize that he is supposed to preside rather than campaign all the time. We have a congress and senate that are totally out of touch with the public and go out of their way to stay out of touch with the public. Whyever would anyone want that kind of "hope and change" in the first place.
I was being cynical, referring to one of the statements that our Dear Leader has made about people who don't support his agenda.
However, there is a question to me how long the lifestyle of the Ds is going to last, given where this country is going. It's largely a fairy tale compared to what's going on in my neck of the woods. Certainly my family is barely keeping its nose above the flood waters, and most of Dear Leader's plans, along with those of his local cadre that have a death grip on our local government, seem calculated to drive the last productive members of society under, all the while calling them names.
The fact is that when the consumers (the ever-expanding welfare class) outnumber the producers, and the consumers control the government, the society will go under.
"Mom and Dad" as well as "husband and wife" have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker
Tracked: Oct 14, 17:31