Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pat Benatar Was Right

Image from New York Times
   
      If plagiarism was an acceptable form of blogging, I'd eagerly pawn off Richard Friedman's opinion piece in today's New York Times as my own. He explains all the basic reason for my plight as an Unconventional Newlywed and why people don't understand why I exist in this state.

Richard begins my biography as so,

"TO love is to suffer; to be happy is to love. So must one suffer to be happy? This syllogism won’t win any prizes in logic, but it accurately describes a curious paradox of human behavior: the allure of unpredictable romantic partners."

      Let's extend this to unpredictability in general. Life, unpredictable. Let me count the ways my life is currently unpredictable:


1. Studenthood.
There is immense pressure to be wholly involved in one's desired outcome of graduate school: internships, extracurricular activities, assistanships, teaching, group studying, reading any and all forms of news and current events.


2. Part-time worker. 
Here again I will reference my darling New York Times in regard to my fluctuating work life at Starbucks,
"In the past, part-timers might work the same schedule of four- or five-hour shifts every week. But workers’ schedules have become far less predictable and stable. Many retailers now use sophisticated software that tracks the flow of customers, allowing managers to assign just enough employees to handle the anticipated demand."
To top it off, Starbucks customers are notoriously demanding during those hours on the job.


3. Newlyweddedness.
Who knew I would be a nagger of tidiness? My mother, maybe. That is just one of many curiosities Alex and I are delightfully discovering about each other daily.


4. Family matters.
Making a new two-person family is hard. It's be easier with the experience, insight and support from the existing stability of parents, brothers, aunts, etc...but they are across the country. We are on our own to figure this stuff out.


5. Career. 
I'm a full-time graduate student, remember?


6. Money.
Costs of living with a spouse are higher than living solo, for reasons such as an expected higher quality of life (ramen for two on a date night? Yeah, right). Plus, we both enjoyed our financial singlehood and are now debating how to tackle the interest accrued with a salary of one full-time worker and one full-time borrower of federal loans.

I could probably go on, but I am getting bored of thinking of all the ways my life is inconstant. Suffice to say, well, let's go back to Richard:

"For psychoanalysts, people who seem drawn to adversity, whether in relationships or in other areas of life, raise the legitimate question of whether they harbor an unconscious motive for suffering."

You're failing me, Richard! What else have you got?
"..there might be another way to understand the attraction of  [unpredictability], one that involves a quirk of the brain’s reward circuit, a primitive neural network buried deep in our brains that is exquisitely sensitive to various rewards, like sex, money and food."

Mmm, food. That's more like it.


      He goes on to explain that a life (rather, in the article, a partner) that is unpredictable may not offer consistent rewards, which is the accepted healthy ideal, instead providing rewards that are more valuable because we don't see them coming and don't know when they will return, if ever.

"...people experience more pleasure with unpredictable rewards than with predictable ones — but they may not be consciously aware of this fact."

      Except, I am quite aware of this fact. I created this blog just to let you all know how in touch with myself I am.

      Now, instead of puzzling about why I am married, in school and working at Starbucks instead of nursing a couple of kids, you know why. It's because I am being paid by my brain to do it this way.


...And, according to my friend Rich, I may be addicted.