Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.
I think that old Max was on to something in regard to more than just politics. As my wedding day grows ever closer, I've been thinking about what is going to happen after that day. I've come to the conclusion that most of life is the strong and slow boring of hard boards.
Fiancee S. and I are just getting started. We're both only about three years in to our respective professional careers. First cars are being paid off. School-based debts are being financed. Furniture is gradually turning from the thrift store variety to the Ethan Allen and IKEA varieties. It is like we're both actually in our mid-20's by societal standards -- it's odd how much my parents keep saying "and none of this would be a problem if you were 10 years younger."
I suppose they are right. I got my Master's degree in Computer Engineering 10 years ago. I didn't even own a car at that point or any furniture. I think that my share of the rent on my first off campus apartment was something like $450 a month (there was an extra $25 because of the view). That truly was starting from ground zero... and I don't even like to think about how much money I probably could have made during the following seven years with just that Master's degree.
I look to an acquaintance, M. M. is 23 years old, and works in the IT field. He got hired by a telecom and e-mail hosting company when he was about 19 years old and is good enough at what he does to hold on there after the tech bubble burst. I don't know how much he makes, but it is a LOT more than the average 23 year old who doesn't have a four year degree (oh the late 90's when a geek without a college degree could make buckets of money...) He owns two cars, a '69 Opel GT and an SUV. It is only two because he just sold his BMW. Oh yes, he also has a motorcycle. He's just moved home with his parents for a short while so he can save up for a downpayment on a house.
Alas, Fiancee S. are not 10 years younger than we are. Certain biological realities must be faced. Chief among them is the fact that we can't wait 10 years for our finances to settle out while we play at being the young, happy married couple. Besides, if Paul Krugman of the New York Times is correct, the Social Security System will sink irrevocably into a sea of red ink in less than 10 years... and taxes will inevitably rise as the bill for Republican follies over the previous 30 years finally comes due.
So, I find myself thinking about how we're going to be able to afford a downpayment on a house (or even a condo) in the next 5-7 years while also probably having one or more children. This is the part where the slow boring of hard boards comes in. I have to remember that things must be taken in slow increments. This year, I finally get the key parts of that home theater system I've wanted for three years. In a few months, I get that trip to Hawaii that I always wanted. All the while, I try to save a few dollars here and there. I also try to meet a few personal goals -- like getting in better shape.
I fear that the situation may require a change of venue. The computer industry pays very well in the metropolitan area where Fiancee S. and I live. Real estate prices are climbing even faster, however, passing beyond insane to beyond sanity. This sort of thing may have been fine five years ago when a new Internet millionaire was minted every week, but, the computer industry is only just now showing signs of revival after a three year slump. All that means is that I'm three years further behind in the economic arms race to buy property. No, it may be a better idea to go where land is cheaper.
In any case, I think the key to staying young is knowing that dreams can come true and personal change is possible, even if it does take a while. I need to hold on to my youth.
on 2004-02-12 at 5:51 a.m.
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