Before you aim for someone’s job, look at the price they paid to get there

Whenever I write about grad school, someone writes in the comments about how I’m just bitter that I didn’t get a degree.

But what I’m really bitter about is that no one wanted to have sex with me. Some famous poet was a visiting professor, hitting on every grad student but me. And Leslie Epstein was there, who is not only king of the Jews but the father of Theo Epstein, a big name in baseball. Leslie said I’m the best sex writer he’s ever read. So why wasn’t he asking me for sex?

Probably because I’m the master of bad sex. There is no anal penetration that I cannot ruin with a piece of poop at the end of the paragraph.

So no one hit on me in grad school except maybe Susanna Kaysen. I was starving and homeless and she was getting movie deals that included Winona Ryder riders. And if I had not been so Aspergery I would have done anything to get her to edit my memoir – she is a master of the line edit. I’ll always worry that my memoir could have been edited better. 

But, to my point, what I learned while I was not getting hit on in grad school is to never write drunk.

I don’t want any of you to think that I am endorsing grad school. Here is another specimen from my collection of links about how grad school is a waste of your time.

I learned not to write drunk because everyone thought they’d write better drunk but they only wrote more like themselves.  So, if you’re a good writer sober, you’d be a good writer drunk, but you can just write sober. Why add the extra calories? Because when your book is published you are better off looking hot. Of course. Everyone is better off looking hot, especially if they want to fuck their boss.

I’ve been trying to decide if I am going to use the word fuck. My husband, Matthew – who now has a name on this blog- thinks it’s trashy. I want you to think that I’m interesting in bed in a sort of trashy way and that I say fuck all the time. But I don’t. I’m probably really boring in bed. I’m much better on paper.

Oh God – my editor is going to throw this whole post out for not being useful. He’s going to say, “Try writing something when you’re not drunk.” Even in the best case he’s going to say, “I have to think about it. I’m not sure if it works.”

Which always makes me write back “Fuck fuck fuck.” That is a common salutation to my editor. I’ll say “I need a post today! I haven’t posted in four days!” I know the world does not stop to notice when I don’t post in four days. But I feel like a failure. What am I doing if I’m not posting?

Well. I’m drinking.

In case you are wondering, Cassie told me to read this book Drinking: A Love Story, which shows how easy it is to become an alcoholic, so I stopped drinking for three weeks as a check-up. So I don’t think I count as an alcoholic. I’m just like one of those tiresome grad students who writes drunk except in grad school the editor is the classroom full of people who want to take you down, in front of the teacher, so the teacher will fuck them instead of you.

There is a rule for my blog: the more crazy the post is, the more useful it has to be. My editor follows this rule. I gave him this rule. By the way, he is not a rule follower. It’s ironic because he has this big job making sure his company follows FDA rules, he secretly sends me poems that are too hard for me to read but it’s clearly because there are no rules being followed. How do you judge a poem with no broken rhymes?

It’s okay, I think, to drink. Because I’m sad. I’m sad that my life has become driving my kids everywhere. I’m in the car more than 48 hours a week. It’s absurd. Don’t do it. It’ll ruin your life. So I’m sad. I came home tonight. At 11pm. From driving. And I have to drive again at 9:30 am. My experience of planting corn is pulling up behind the seed truck, and taking a picture, on my way home. And remember the 20,000 bulbs I planted last fall? I’ve seen them for about sixteen minutes. Because I’m never home. I’m driving.

You can’t have a nice house in the country and a good job in the city. You know that. I’ve told you a hundred times. But it’s just like how the preacher’s daughter is always knocked up: the career coach always has a life-destroying commute.

But here’s what I’ve learned, again and again: picking a career is picking a life. Look at the person’s life, not the job, and decide if you want it. If so, choose their career.

But watch out. I homeschool my kids and I have a husband who is home all day to help, and I live on a working farm and I have a great career. Who wouldn’t want this, right? But some nights, I come home and drink. People don’t tell you that. When you ask them how they got the career, they don’t mention how they drank a bottle of Chardonnay on nights when they drove too much.

Remember that people will brag about what they’ve achieved, but they don’t brag about the price they paid to get it. So find someone who will tell you the worst parts of their life. Because it’s easy to see what’s great about someone’s life. But if you’re picking a career by picking a life, the only people who are useful to you are those who will tell you the bad stuff too.

My editor has been fired a lot before he got his job now. I don’t know if he’ll cut this paragraph. The thing is, he’s really good at work now. I like my editor a lot.  But if you asked my editor about what his life is like as an FDA rule enforcer, he would never tell you that he was fired from the military for misconduct. Or about the stealing. Or about how it feels like his marriage is ending.

You know why I love my job? Because I just want to write that truth. It feels good to tell you what I see. I know I don’t have the best social skills, but I see things clearly because I don’t worry that people will hate me.

But I worry that my editor will veto this post. When you look at my life, if you think you want it, remember that you will be choosing to live and die by your editor. If he cuts this post then me deciding to write while I was drinking was a total waste of time. If he approves this post, then I’m a creative genius. That’s how thin a line it is between career success and career failure for me. So when you’re choosing what you do, make sure you like the process. It’s a choice you can control.


106 replies
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  1. Ron
    Ron says:

    You’re “more crazy/more useful” rule is excellent, but you don’t seem to follow it in this post. My only take-away is “all things in moderation”, but I already knew that.

      • Penelope Trunk
        Penelope Trunk says:

        Great comment. Thanks. This could have been graduate school for me.


        • Fredric Alan Maxwell
          Fredric Alan Maxwell says:

          No, Hemingway shot his mouth off with a shotgun. His mother had sent him his father’s instrument of death years before, but I think he either hid it away or threw it away. I’ve stood at his grave and cried. Truly great talent.

          • Jim Henston
            Jim Henston says:

            >I’ve stood at his grave and cried. Truly great talent.

            Were you drunk? I mean the man’s been dead for 51 years 10 months and 11 days.

            There are other writers who are both alive and of equal or greater talent. Just like there are bands better than the Beatles, cooks better than Julia Child, and Architects better than Frank Lloyd Wright.

            It confuses me when people cry over the deaths of people they didn’t know and will never know. I suppose we all read The Old Man and the Sea in High School but we might of been better off reading Philip Roth. At least we wouldn’t be so depressed.

          • Joyce
            Joyce says:

            “It confuses me when people cry over the deaths of people they didn’t know and will never know.” People usually cry when they experience a loss. It doesn’t matter if the loss was actual or imagined, or if it happened in the past or at the present.

            I cried when I first read Charge of the Light Brigade, though I already knew those soldiers have already died. I think I cried because people still die in the name of their countries, even though it doesn’t have to be that way.

            So I think it was the same for Fredric Alan Maxwell. Hemingway did not have to die in such a senseless way. He could have lived and continued to write. Penelope’s post and blog show that we don’t have to suffer needlessly in our jobs or in our life.

          • Shivam
            Shivam says:

            Really these days, career is most important as we see all the guys emphasis in building their career first, other things later.. A complete admission tips and career options are providing by many site that can be a beneficial things for the students.

  2. Valerie
    Valerie says:

    No, the takeaway is, no one does anything in moderation. They just won’t tell you that.

  3. John Bayard
    John Bayard says:

    Agreed, and I would add: Look closely at the line of work/industry you’re thinking about getting into to see what the people are like before you commit time and energy to it. Occupations tend to draw certain types of people, an interesting spontaneous filtering effect which might not be apparent if all you’re doing is reading about it, or talking to just one or two mentors.

  4. Melani Ward
    Melani Ward says:

    I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the point of this post but as usual, you nailed it. I’m pretty sure this is the whole point – maybe this post could have been this one line, “That’s how thin a line it is between career success and career failure for me.”

    I think there is a thin line for everyone – that’s why you can’t just look at the job – you have to look at the life. Even better, don’t try to do someone else’s career. It’s an impossibility. And it’s boring. It’s like going into a hair salon with a picture of Jennifer Aniston’s haircut and saying, “I want that.” Everyone knows that’s idiotic.

    So the lesson here is every time you think you want to walk in someone’s career footsteps – think about the thin line and then go do your own version of your ideal career.

  5. redrock
    redrock says:

    no,actually at quite a few schools you would get fired despite tenure for sleeping with your graduate students.

  6. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    …so…would it be horrible to pay someone to drive you, so you could write while you’re in the car…or coach in the car, and not have to pay attention to the road?
    Because 48 hours is not only a time suck, it’s a soul suck. Get someone else to do it for you, and you can do what you want/like to do (read/write/work) while you’ve got all that time.

    Sarah M

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m thinking about that for next year. Maybe you’ll see an ad for a driver on my blog. But honestly, the idea of spending a whole day with another adult makes me want to die of social skill exhaustion. That’s why I haven’t done it. It’s very awkward to have to talk to the person – because I don’t want to. And it’s very awkward not to talk to them, because it’s not very good social skills. Matthew says anyone who was driving me would understand. But I don’t know….


      • Steven
        Steven says:

        Yes, your driver would understand. Just get one that is happy with you being you.

        And yes, the world notices if you don’t post on your blog.
        The World = me

        • Marie (INFP)
          Marie (INFP) says:

          Me too, me too… I notice and sometimes sit at my desk hitting refresh endlessly and then I give up and mander over to the Homeschool stuff and then to Mailbag and back to the blog one last time hoping and then I storm out the office and go get a sandwich…

          The days when I come back and theres a new post is like a rush of blood to the head and I start to breath easy for the first time that day.

      • brenda
        brenda says:

        Penelope, this is easy. Hire a driver with Asperger’s, or an ISTJ (I am ISTJ and from reading you I think maybe Asperger’s too). Commuting like you are doing is exhausting and truly soul killing. There is someone out there who has the same social skill set as you and would love to have a job helping you. Just find them.

        I don’t get mad when you don’t post, I just miss you.

        • Heather
          Heather says:

          This is true. An INTP/J driver will not want to chat with you. They’ll want to be lost in their thoughts while they drive.

          • lhamo
            lhamo says:

            Agreed. INTJ here. We don’t drive much, as we don’t have a car here in China. But when we drive back in the US DH always wants to talk. Drives me nuts. I’m perfectly happy listening to my NPR shows….

        • Fenn
          Fenn says:

          Or an INFJ (which I am). I would be happily lost in my dreams, fixing the world while not having to share anything with you. Also, I love driving…so basically, I’m just begging you to hire me.

      • Ria
        Ria says:

        If you pay for a driver, then they are your employee and you make the ground rules – such as “don’t talk to me” – which is the point of a barrier between the driver and the passenger(s). Or hire a service instead of a driver, and then the driver has a boss that is not you, and you are the client instead of the boss. Also, the driver shouldn’t talk to you, if they do then they are trying to be your friend and not focusing on their job. Then you just ask the service for a different driver. I think hiring a driver would be a brilliant decision. They find the parking spots. You just get in the car in the morning, no worries about keeping an eye on the gas gage, or having your license for that matter, and get out at night – maybe already drunk! Great post. I will remember that if I think I can handle the tough parts of a job, or that the tough parts are not that tough for *me, then I am on the right track. Thanks!

      • Sarah M
        Sarah M says:

        I think he’s right along with everyone else–you’re the boss. When I think of a driver that is paid to drive–they aren’t paid to talk (unless they are) and the person in the back does whatever they want. If ‘the boss’ want to talk, fine, the driver talks back, but if not, not.

      • Louise Fletcher
        Louise Fletcher says:

        I agree 100% with Matthew. The person who drives you will understand if you tell them right upfront. Then you’ll be able to use the time however you want and some of this stress will drain away.

        My problem would be that I’d need to keep asking the driver if we could stop for the loo and I’d feel embarrassed about that!

      • Miranda
        Miranda says:

        What if you got a driver who has Aspergers just like you? Then you would both be comfortable not interacting with one another, right?

    • Michael
      Michael says:

      That’s a great idea. Just sit in back like the Lincoln Lawyer, do your work, dictate, take calls…

      • GingerR
        GingerR says:

        NO, no, no.

        You aren’t supposed to be hiring someone to drive you so you can work while you’re taking your kids places! This is time you spend with your kids. Yes, you may listen to the radio or an audio book, or sing, or argue or not talk, but you aren’t supposed to be working.

        The whole point of spending hours driving your kids around is that you are with them. Quit bellyaching about the time spent driving your kids. This is the stuff of parenthood. In the scheme of things it is a blip in time. Instead of outsourcing it, a choice you have criticized in others, do it.

        • Sarah M
          Sarah M says:

          Driving isn’t spending quality time with the kids unless they are engaged in a conversation (which, in 48 hours, is NOT probably happening for the that whole time). It’s draining for everyone.
          She’d actually have MORE quality time (actually talking to them face to face) if she had a driver, along with being able to work/read/write while they wanted to do something else, like play video games.
          Sarah M

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            This is the most persuasive argument I’ve heard for a driver. I really appreciate this logic, Sarah.


  7. CL
    CL says:

    You know that your commute time is insane. You’ve tried various methods to make it sane, and you have not yet succeeded in reducing it to a level that doesn’t drive you to drink. 48 hours of driving per week is more than the 40 hour work week. It’s placing a ton of stress on you. Maybe you should cut back to 2 things per kid – I know that Zehavi’s music is very important – and rest. It’s going to stress out your family if you are stressed out – I know that you’ve read N. Christakis’ work on networks and how obesity spreads through them. Unhappiness also does. You do need to facilitate your boys’ interests and put them in places where they can thrive, but it’s taking a huge toll on you and it eventually will take a toll on them.

    Make someone else from Darlington drive your oldest to the Cave of the Mounds. There has to be some way to hire someone to reduce the amount of hours that you are on the road.

    • Melanie
      Melanie says:

      This is my thinking, too. I don’t know Penelope or her situation as well as you apparently do, CL, but her choices seem completely untenable. She might question her assumptions about what is necessary here. She talks as if she has no choice about this and she certainly does.

  8. karelys
    karelys says:

    So I just went from being indecisive to being smart in light of this post.

    I want a lot of things.

    I want to have an exciting life.

    But honestly, my life is so nice and happy. I am not sure I want to pay the price. Actually, I am sure that I CAN pay the price but I am not sure it’ll be worth it in the end.

    I’ve had so many issues trying to grow emotionally and out of emotional pits that I found myself in the past. Wanting to die has been a very real problem. The upside is that if I don’t find something worthy of scrapbooking about (I hate to scrapbook but I think of my life in terms of what will make it to the scrapbook) if I die tonight, will I have been so happy once today? Would my life have been worth it?

    So far, life is full of solid chunks of time growing and being happy and being so mad. And then being mad makes me be better.

    And part of this happens because I have a job that pays enough to have a roof over our heads and leaves me with enough time to be fully alive. I have time to fight with my husband and make up. I have mental room to think and resolve issues in my head.

    I am trying to make things better, improve whatever I can. But sometimes I am not sure that if I try to patch a spot it will rip the entire cloth.

    So I am not indecisive. I am just cautious and protecting of my current situation that though not ideal (nothing is) it’s such a happy one.

  9. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I disagree that the driving is driving you to drink. People who find comfort and enjoyment in drinking drink, and that doesn’t make them alcoholics. If it weren’t the driving it would be something else. You are awesome at multi-tasking and have to be an expert at making good use of your time to accomplish all that you do. If you were not productive during this time I think you would do something different. I admire all your efforts put into the lives of your children. Drunk or sober, I will continue to be a fan.

  10. Amy Parmenter
    Amy Parmenter says:

    This is so great because it’s exactly what I tell the interns who of course want to be reporters (because they really just want to be on TV). I try to get them to look at the life they are choosing, not just the job. ‘So…you want to be working when your friends are out socializing? you want to be working when your boyfriend/husband isn’t. You want to be working weekend nights..or going to bed at 6p so you can get up at 130a and blow dry your hair and put on makeup and leave your kids to go stand in the rain..or snow.. to cover a fire?’

    It’s a fine line between not wanting to dampen their dreams but also wanting to be clear about their ambitions. Anyway – don’t look at the job, look at the life. Love it.

  11. Somewhere out there
    Somewhere out there says:

    Well, I think you (Penelope) are wonderfully honest and hot (Compliments to the farmer!).

  12. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    “I know the world does not stop to notice when I don’t post in four days. But I feel like a failure.”

    I notice. But I don’t get mad at you.

    Remember, P, feeling like a failure doesn’t make you one. Give yourself a break. xo

  13. Erica
    Erica says:

    I think this post is a Rorschach test — whatever point you takeaway came from inside you, rather than from the post itself. But I do think it’s brilliant. I can’t believe the last three paragraphs made it in. I’m thinking your editor was drinking on the job too.

    Also, I think that you’re never going to find someone to tell you about the drinking, terrible hours, low pay etc. on an informational interview. But if you read fiction or memoirs written by people who did that job for a while, it’s all there. The problem is that all work sucks, otherwise people would do it for free. And most jobs have terrible hours, low pay, and/or drive you to drink. The question is why we expect anything else out of life.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That part about the Rorschach test is so fun. A great compliment, I think. So thanks. And thank you for noticing how much my editor puts up with. I really adore him. I don’t say it in a post because he’d cut it. So I’m sneaking it in here.

      One other thing about your comment: I don’t think all work sucks. But I think all things worth doing in life require giving up something else. And that sucks. So all things worth doing are hard.

      I think a lot of people do work they hate so they don’t have to give up something else, but they don’t acknowledge that they are choosing to give up doing work that is fulfilling. Everything is a tradeoff.


      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        “I think this post is a Rorschach test — whatever point you takeaway came from inside you, rather than from the post itself. But I do think it’s brilliant.” – I agree this comment from Erica is a great compliment. I haven’t thought of the Rorschach test analogy before but have thought other posts have this quality which engages readers to comment.
        I don’t think using the word “fuck” within the body of the post is that big a deal. It’s kind of hidden. When you use it in the title, that’s when I’ll really stand up and take notice!

  14. Me
    Me says:

    Boy, this is a new level of boring. So, you–the boss–are concerned your “editor” will not publish this? You don’t have a grasp on reality (in more ways than one). He probably realizes “editing” you for real means he loses this cushy job he has of looking for typos (though your readers have to help out a lot so maybe your editor is drinking, as well). I wouldn’t blame him as he must be really bored.

    Go ahead & drink up. Hope that keeps you off the road, at least.

    And you probably weren’t sexy enough for a prof to risk losing his/her job over way back then. Try hitting on some old guys/gals who can’t get anyone to have sex without paying for it.

    I know you don’t seem to grasp this concept, but it would probably be better for your children to stop writing about your problem of having to poop during anal sex or that saying or writing “fuck” is your idea of being “stimulating” & “interesting.” Hope their father is more stable.

    In fact, if I were the non-custodial parent & the custodial parent were writing this (boring) crap that your children will be able to read I’d be in court trying to get full custody & get supervised visitation for you. You sound pretty much in your own world of delusional thinking if you think it is a good idea to homeschool your kids or write about your inability to screw a prof being why you failed at grad school.

    Get some help. Aren’t you in therapy? Drive to a therapist & really help your kids. Quit the music & fix their mother. You need help! Seriously.

    • Honey
      Honey says:

      Such a long comment for hating the “boring” post so much. Asshole.

      P, keep being fucking awesome.

  15. LC
    LC says:

    I was flipping through Decisive, the lateset book by Chip & Dan Heath. There was a vignette about someone making a choice between a job offer at a start up with more money and a lot less personal time vs. staying in Chicago and taking less money – but having more time too enjoy her life. She took the Boston offer to her bosses and got a counteroffer. Their point is to determine your values and ask “and” rather than “or” when making a decision. Ultimately, it’s a values question – you value your child’s musical development over your time.

  16. Kat Alexander
    Kat Alexander says:

    Writing is good when I can’t stop reading it.
    This piece created a new category: so-good-that-it-must-be-forwarded-while-reading-to-at-least-five-people. Bravo.

  17. stonerwithaboner
    stonerwithaboner says:

    “Probably because I’m the master of bad sex. There is no anal penetration that I cannot ruin with a piece of poop at the end of the paragraph.”

    hahaha-that is the funniest thing I’ve heard all month!

    You should pursue a career in comedy!

  18. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    Penelope, one thing I really like about you / reading your writing is how much you prioritize finding meaning over avoiding vulnerability. Every sentence of brutal honesty puts my mind at ease from dealing with a world of people that all want to hide their darkest thoughts.

    A quote from Carl Jung: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

  19. Norm
    Norm says:

    This post is like a beautiful train wreck, if that’s even possible. I have read it almost 5 times in just the past 10 minutes just to make sure I didn’t miss anything! It’s great and I can’t take my eyes off of it. Sorry to compare it to a train wreck, but that’s what I did. At least it was a beautiful one. Also, I’m an ISTJ, and if I lived in Wisconsin, I’d drive you everywhere and would just have a book playing in my ear so I wouldn’t have to talk either. I’d be great at it. No talking, just self entertainment and no expectations. There’s gotta be someone willing to do it. Post it and I guarantee you’ll get plenty of offers.

  20. rebecca@midcenturymodernremodel
    rebecca@midcenturymodernremodel says:

    Here is what I am taking away. I have made choices all my life to not take a job that involved a commute. Because I didn’t want to waste my life in the car. For me a commute was anything farther than 6 milles. Not kidding. Now I drive my kid 11 miles one way to high school (in horrible traffic) and commute an hour away one way, once a week. I have put more miles on my car this year than in the past ten. I know it doesn’t sound like much but I have fought long and hard, and made sacrifices to avoid commuting. Penelope you must stop driving. It is totally a ridiculous waste of time. I would drink a bottle of wine every night too. Seriously. I want to for the most part, but don’t. Except on the two hour drive days. UGH.

  21. Brant in Braselton
    Brant in Braselton says:

    IMO, after a certain age over 30, you decide depending on your career and gender, pace or the control of spped at which your life moves, this has got to be a top priority in one’s life…because the speed you move at affects not just you,but your family and close friends…and your impact

  22. Irving Podolsky
    Irving Podolsky says:

    “Before you aim for someone’s job…”

    You once explained how and why you pick titles – to lure internet searches, and that those headings rarely have a close alliance to your content.

    So based on the this title, again I was reluctant to spend time reading about jobs. Silly me. I forgot it’s just a tease.

    What did I find when reading this?

    Penelope fucking exposed herself AGAIN!

    As a fellow blogger and follower for years, I think I know why you write this way. But before I comment on that, I want to say that I’m glad the farmer (with a lower case “f”) is now Matthew. His identity wasn’t a secret anyway. Now he’s a little more real. He deserves that. He’s number two in your story, with Melissa in a supporting role.

    Okay…next thought.

    You say you don’t worry that people will hate you. I believe that. I believe that because any criticism coming your way is buried by your need to be noticed – to MATTER, to be SIGNIFICANT, positively or negatively.

    I understand that. We all need to matter. We all want to be significant to others. LOVE is first choice but ATTENTION isn’t a bad runner up.

    Well you’ve accomplished that. You grabbed our attention. But as I’ve mentioned before, PLEASE protect your friends and family who are supporting your wants. Be kind to them. Hold their privacy close to your heart if they ask you to do that. It’s really important.

    I’ve known a few women who enjoy making adult movies, and they are moms. I’ve always wondered about their children…what would they think about their mother.

    I’ve also known a few grown children of mothers who were prostitutes. They rarely talk about their childhood and we intuitively stay away from talking about that.

    I mention this because one of the comments brought up this idea about repercussions and I can’t shake it. How “public” can you go when a family is involved?

    That said, I know that any ADULT who signs up for your ride already knows they’ll have their privacy pitched through your truck window as you drive, drive, drive…seeking the Land of Peaceful Souls.

    You many never find Peace, Penelope. Nor will I. But maybe that’s our job – to report and describe the quest for others. To admit and confess we’re all fairly fucked up, but we’re family — all of us, if we’d just see it that way.

    Problem is…too many refuse to see it that way. They just don’t get it.


  23. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    I am totally obsessed with your blog. Creatived genius is right. Your Aspergery-ness enlightens the rest of us: “I know I don’t have the best social skills, but I see things clearly because I don’t worry that people will hate me.” That’s my favorite line. It’s hard not to see things as we wish they are rather than as they actually are.

  24. Gary
    Gary says:

    Damn, P, you are a hoot! Complete honesty will get you reviled and applauded. I’m considering the price you are paying–but beginning to not care. Tally ho! G

  25. Satya
    Satya says:

    I’d like to publicly high-five your editor for prioritizing honest writing over his own privacy. And also chime in on how lovable you are to ISTJs.

  26. Deb
    Deb says:

    Two things that i discover from your post is that it is more enjoyable than useful & your honesty to share the truth & here is the difference between this post & other random blog post. Your feelings could poised us to do better things in life with dare. Your expression is as perfect to fit to this post that sometime i could use it as my motivation. Thanks.

  27. Razwana Wahid
    Razwana Wahid says:

    I agree totally with what you have written in your post, Penelope. However, how conscious is lifestyle impact when someone is moving in their career? Do we all make career choices with a concrete idea of how it will impact our lives?

    And how many people start resenting their job because they had not anticipated these impacts?

    As for people being honest about this – it’s worth asking the question candidly. It shows an analytical approach to career choice.

    – Razwana

  28. Leah McClellan
    Leah McClellan says:

    Crack me up. Wish I had time to make more intelligent comments, but saying I loved this one will have to do.

    I was going to tell you something about an experience in grad school, but then I thought no, I’m not Penelope Trunk and just can’t blab out all that crap like you can and make it funny or interesting :)

    I do think fuck is a good word when used in moderation though :)

  29. Marie
    Marie says:

    OT, but: I am going to give ‘Drinking: A love story’ to a friend who is an alcoholic and thinks nobody knows.

    • Karen
      Karen says:

      I twould have picked Cabernet. Plus, red wine has some health benefits, all the better to lie to yourself, although PT is being much more honest than I’d probably be when drunk!

  30. Amy K.
    Amy K. says:

    A driver might be worth trying. But finding just the right driver sounds like a big undertaking unto itself. And a driver doesn’t alleviate the issue of being in the car way too much. If there’s traffic, you’re still stuck in it. If the car breaks down, you’re still on the side of the road instead of home. You still have to manage arguing or cranky kids.

    I am not able to look at a screen or a book in the passenger seat without getting carsick.

    Trying to “have it all” comes at a price–a lot of stress. You live in the country but want urban cultural opportunities for your kids. It’s tough! The benefits of both are obvious. It’s the in-between (all those miles) that sucks.

  31. Anna Louise
    Anna Louise says:

    Penelope, fire the cello teacher. This is ridiculous. Enjoy your farm and let your kids enjoy it. Boys need to run, not sit in a car playing video games.

    My rule is – one activity per kid, within 4 miles drive, and games on weekends must involve running and must last not more than 1.5 hours! (baseball is out)

    If they are going to sit in a car then I highly recommend audiobooks. I’ve been playing history audiobooks such as Story of the World as well as How-to-be-an-entrepreneur types of audiobooks to prepare them for the world.

    • Nobody
      Nobody says:

      Or… couldn’t you find a cello teacher to come to the farm? You might need to pay them more, but then you don’t have to find someone to drive you, risk getting carsick trying to read while they’re driving, stress about whether they’re going to want to talk to you, and your kids don’t get stuck in the car for long hours either?

  32. Anna Louise
    Anna Louise says:

    The title on this blog post is great – but the post could say a lot more on that topic. I’m ready for part 2. What price do doctors, pilots, lawyers, and entrepreneurs pay to get where they are? And how about professors, coffee baristas, and welders?

      • Anna Louise
        Anna Louise says:

        Interesting. I am not surprised that the price of entrepreneurship for women is divorce. But interestingly for me it saved my marriage, because my husband and I became entrepreneurs together. It gave us something positive to focus our energy on. A common goal.

        Now 8 years later the biz is stable and I just want to homeschool my kids. So I hired a friend to do my job at work.

  33. katie
    katie says:

    i kept reading this post because i had no idea how it was going to end, and as you always say, that’s what makes writing (and life) interesting. today i turned down a fellowship offer for an MA program and it scared me to push send on that email. i wanted to keep the MA as a fallback because my organization is downsizing, and now i will have to job hunt without the time and ego cushion of the MA. i wanted this MA so i could become more creative and intellectual.. but really i want a job that lets me be creative and intellectual, and i know in my field that this particular MA is not going to help me to that kind of job as much as a year of work experience would. so now i don’t know how my own story will turn out. but i believe in the process because i make myself visualize the end result– a cool, creative job. and the end result is also the reason you drive your kids 48 hours a week– cool, creative kids.

  34. Angela
    Angela says:

    I’m from west suburban chicago. My husband is a cattle rancher in Idaho. When we first married about seven years ago, my kids and I moved to the ranch. It was fun. It didn’t last.

    The kids and I are living back in Chicago where they go to school and are near their dad. My rancher husband visits when he can. In the summer he can’t travel much – farm stuff – so the kids and I are out there on the ranch as much as possible.

    When my husband and I first got married, I think people took bets on us not lasting. It felt that way because we did not have a lot of support in his community. But the funny thing is we actually get along great now and the kids are thriving. Interestingly, we’ve even seen quite a few of the naysayers around us falling apart.

    My point is, I say do whatever you want to do. It’s nobody’s business what you do. You are the expert for your life and family.

    • Katie
      Katie says:

      This makes sense to me!

      I think a Penelope landing pad in Madison / Chicago (pick one or the other) to spend three days a week would be a good idea for so many reasons. The kids don’t need to live on a rural farm every day of the week, and no one need to spend so much of their life in the car. Childhood is so finite, you have to figure out a way to invest in it rather than spend it.

      Angela, good for you and your family for finding what works for your family!

  35. Anna
    Anna says:

    Penelope, I love your blogs, but sometimes I wonder to myself, ” Why am I taking advice from someone that doesn’t see how destructive it is to put their family through that kind of commute.” Your kids need a relatively happy, relatively calm mother and home life more than any of these extras. If you really have to have your kid go, hire the diver to do all the work, and then skype for the lesson. Sorry for the unsolicited advice from a huge fan.

  36. Alessa
    Alessa says:

    I am envious of you.

    As you said above “…I see things clearly because I don’t worry that people will hate me.” What a beautiful freaking statement.

    I dream of not worrying about what people think of me or if they hate me. How do you do this? Have you always been this way?

    My people pleasing bullshit is killing me.

    Please explain so I can learn how to not care if people hate me?

    • Anna Louise
      Anna Louise says:

      Alessa It takes an INTJ (or ENTJ?) to not give a shit what people think and to not worry about the consequences of speaking freely. But it can make for a lonely life…women INTJs don’t have a lot of women friends (if any). So one minute we don’t give a shit and the next we kick ourselves for being so annoying that we don’t get invited to parties.

      I saw a play The Misanthrope which put this in a new light for me. It shows clearly the shortcomings of being blunt and of seeing things for what they really are. But as an INTJ I am a huge bullshit detector and I can’t pretend. I’m not an actor. I don’t lie. If you ask me something I’ll tell it like it is. I try to tell myself to be good and put a positive spin on things for the comfort of others but then when asked a question I fail fail fail to spin it. I need a spin coach!

      • Gary
        Gary says:

        Anna Louise, I think you’re convincing me that this quality is natural–not learnable. This should make things simpler for me now, but I still worry about my image. Thanks, GS

  37. Charles
    Charles says:

    It’s so coolly outrageous when a woman writes ‘fuck’ numerous times. If a man does it it’s just coarse.

    I have news for you, Penelope: you’re coarse and you’re right, you’re boring.

  38. Gary
    Gary says:

    There are so many people who say they value and appreciate honesty, yet they judge and try to shame a person who delivers it. I know you aren’t perfect, P, but neither am I or anyone else. I’m not drinking your Kool-Ade, either. Continue as you are until you find a better way to live your life, and ignore your judges. Your blog is too valuable to a lot of fans, including me, to ruin it by trying to please your detractors.

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