c is for cat

Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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And the other thing is that we who are not football players and athletes rarely got the kind of motivation applied to high-performing jocks. They get the awe-inspiring pep talks and the tough love but hard-won pride and camaraderie and cheerleaders and very, very clear markers of success–the State Championship Ring has importance second only to the One Ring in the FNL mythos. The intellegentsia has no mechanism for that.

Being a classical musician did that for me, I think, barring the cheerleaders anyway. Not academic, exactly, but a pursuit for the intelligentsia nonetheless.

And I suppose I have had a few academic pep talks, come to think of it. I always remember the one from my undergrad tutor which started "my dear girl, I don't think you realise what league you're in..."

I'm not saying no one ever motivated me or gave me encouragement, but I do think that's different than the coach mentality. But I imagine what you're talking about re: musicians would be closer.

This is the background for my Netbook, which I do most of my writing on:

"Everyone is a latchkey kid now."


So technically, I wasn't really a latchkey kid. I was the daughter of a CS prof and a stay-at-home mother, at least until I was 13 or so. They were absentee in other ways (as in, neither of them should have been trusted with the care of parakeets, much less children. Or maybe not absentee enough. Anyway.)

But what I notice about the undergrads I work with is that they seem to have much closer, much more dependent relationships with their parents than anyone I grew up with. I'm not saying they helpless - they're a bunch of hardworking, focused kids (did I mention I mostly work with pre-meds?) But they seem to have had much more structured lives in their teens, and from that a lot less sense of how to figure out problems on their own when they arise. A lot more internships and prepatory coursework... and a lot less figuring out how to get back from two cities over in the middle of the night after a bussing fiasco when your parents think you're having a slumber party at your cousins. Or how to feed yourself for a week on $10 and a case of ramen, for that matter.

My adolscent martial arts students... well the ones who go to the local Montessori school are a fairly self-reliant bunch, if not in quite the street smart sort of way I'd been thinking of above. But OMG, their schedules. They have activities, often multiple activities, every single afternoon. I'm not sure if latchkey kids == unstructured time on their own, but the parenting via benign (well, hopefully) neglect is how I've generally thought of it.

Regarding the whole coaching thing. I got a bit of that on the academic side. Though... look, I've had a couple of excellent academic mentors. But much of the academic encouragement I've gotten over the course of my career has been kind of toxic. Like I need to be more high strung and perfectionist. Mostly what I got that was actually useful was in the martial arts. Y'know, keep coming back, even when things are going badly. Work at it for the sake of working at it, not for some kind of external reward... and then go for being absolutely the best you can anyway. And come back the next day anyway. Not any of this OMG are you squandering your talent?! bullshit.

I make my adviser give me a drunken pep talk once a year about how the research we do is not pointless crap. It involves ants, bricks, walls, and at the very end (and a several beers) I am convinced that my work = SCIENCE! Of course I went to a Big Ten for my phd, so there is a greater crossing of academic and athletic than there is perhaps elsewhere. I also study media, so perhaps I have greater need for these "your work is not shit" talks than people in other disciplines.

Anyway, I'm so glad you aren't in academia mostly because you wouldn't have time to write your awesome fiction if you were, and that would be a grave loss for me, personally, and I don't need to read any more academic articles than I already do. So... THANK YOU.

Even as someone who is in no way an academic or a writer, "IS YOUR DISSERTATION ABOUT NETFLIX? THEN TURN OFF NETFLIX!" is pretty solid advice, if I strike out "dissertation" and sub in "life."

More of the same from Steve Pressfield

Writer famous for bellicose self-help books on writing:

my TV parents were Gomez and Morticia Addams..

That's the set I wanted...

I did have coaches for debate and science olympiad and math team and god remembers what else. The encouragement of the type in the second image you posted? The butt-patting and go team and all that jazz? Yeah, I got that (my science olympiad team even had a squad of boosters who traveled with us to tournaments, and although they didn't have cute short-skirted uniforms and pom poms they were the distributors of caffeine and candy bars), and it was traumatizing. Possibly my coaches were just bad at coaching, but it still took the better part of a decade to recover from their "help." I'll take the kind of quiet encouragement and one-on-one mentorship I got in grad school over team spirit and you'll do these speed drills or else I'll put you on the second string and second place is the first loser.

At Buttercup House, we put Friday Night Lights in the same narrative category as The Wire. We've watched one season of both and then had Dancing with the Stars chasers. However, within that first season-- the rainy mud-field game, and Tyra, and the joy and the horror and HOLY SHIT they pull it off.

Thank you for pointing out this Tumblr site! I finally finished watching Friday Night Lights last week and it was *amazing*. I love this show, and it totally blindsided me when I got into it because on the face of it, it's a show I should have no interest in. But it's about people--real people--and the difficult decisions life throws at you, and making mistakes and bad choices, and the power of supportive relationships... And I also realized, close to the end, that a lot of the guys on the series, if not all of them, are idiots, albeit well-meaning ones, with women and friends that put up with a lot of their crap but help them become better people. That's probably a gross oversimplification, but it happens often enough in the series that it highlights the lack of relationships like that in most other shows.

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