Lifestyle Blogging

Penelope Trunk Knows How To Pick A Husband

Penelope Trunk, marriage expert, is once again telling women how to be married. Trunk is instructing women to choose a husband based on whether they want to work or not. Telling women that they must choose between being a mother or being a breadwinner, Trunk then explains our various options. These options are, in a nutshell: be the breadwinner, marry a breadwinner, or hire a couple of nannies.

If you pick the ‘both people work and hire a nanny’ route, Trunk says “you will need to find a husband who earns more than you” because if you don’t, you will just breed and flee:

Statistically your marriage is high risk if you and your husband are both in the workforce and you earn more than him because surveys show that you will resent him. This is not logical, or social, it is primal. Statistically, you will marry a guy who does not make as much as you and then you will have kids and get a divorce. Because women hate the feeling of out-earning their husbands.

Your other primary option, “Don’t bother with earning money”, still focuses on a husband making a lot of money – because women hate having to do all the domestic work if they attempt a part-time job (“The problem with this scenario is that part-time jobs don’t offer advancement or a lot of money, so you need to be with a guy who will work full-time.”):

You will have to work hard to not get resentful about this. And really, who could blame you? The best antidote for this resentment is money. If the guy makes a lot of money you can hire people to help you and then you don’t have to be upset that the guy is not helping you.

The other solution? Yep, pick a guy with money and just stay home!

…[P]ick a guy who will earn enough so that you don’t have to work. Because statistically speaking, you will not want a full-time job, and you definitely won’t want a job where you have to earn six figures, because that’s way more than full-time.

She includes helpful tips on how to choose a husband based on what you want to do with your life, a decision which Trunk seems to think needs to be made by the time you are 25. Telling women, “There will be people who say you can’t choose who you fall in love with. This is a lie, of course. There are a million people you could fall in love with. If one is impractical, just go find another,” she focuses her ’how to choose a husband’ strategy on the Myers-Briggs type indicators, which is probably about as reliable an indicator of long-term compatibility as astrological signs.

Trunk does remark that “there is no scenario where you have a big job but do not work long hours…And that is fair: why should you get a big important job and be home all evening for your kids when everyone else has to work twelve hour days to have big important jobs?” which is something I do agree with. But the rest of her advice seems so venal and calculating that I have to wonder exactly how she chose HER husband?




  1. avatar Miss Noir

    This bitch hasn't been wrestled into a straight jacket and carted off to the funny farm, yet?

    *eyeroll*

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  2. avatar I'm President Charley

    Personally, I like sharing the financial load with my husband. We chose each other long before our careers started, and have worked towards our current situation together. Choosing each other had nothing to do with money. There have been times when either of us out-earned the other, and instead of resenting each other, we appreciated that one of us made enough to keep us floating when times were tight. Because we are actual people.

    I am just now 25 and feeling settled in my career. Many of my friends (both older and younger) aren't in such a comfortable place, or are switching careers, or what have you. I don't see how her plan is even practical in such a timeframe.

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    • avatar zhnjg

      Seriously. I outearn my husband and I don't resent that. I should outearn him. I spent a helluva lot more time making myself employable than he ever did. I'd be pissed to no end if he outearned me.

      But I do want him to work on his employability, not so I can SAH forever but so we can tag team this kid thing. So I can take a break when opportunities arise for him, and he can take a break when opportunities arise for me.

      This girl needs to read her some Anne Marie Slaughter in Atlantic Monthly, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." Spoiler: the solution isn't just giving up entirely. Taking that job is key.

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  3. avatar NotThatKelly

    I cannot stand her. Seriously, seeing her name in the title of the post made me a little rage-y. I just hate that she puts up this crap as "advice" for people.

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  4. avatar kathy

    I agree with her, she tells it like it is, too bad people dont wanna hear the truth! Go Penelope! Tell it like only an Aspergers havin entepreneuer!! She is like a female Sheldon obsessed with society vs. workforce and success!

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    • avatar Miss Noir

      Um..... are you being sarcastic? My coffee hasn't kicked in.

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      • avatar kathy

        She is a nutcase, but I like reading her stuff. sometimes I even agree with her. Aspergers people see the world differently and its amusing.

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        • avatar rosie ruiz

          Her Asperger's is self diagnosed, for what that's worth.

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          • avatar Is this your homework Larry

            What a twit this lady is. When people diagnose themselves with Asperger's it makes me want to break things. My son has actual, diagnosed by doctors, Asperger's, but it is harder to gain understanding and help for him when there are all these self-diagnosed assholes trumpeting their opinions about the disorder all over the internet. Giving yourself Asperger's is not a free lifetime pass to be a tool. Argh.

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            • avatar Affiliate Lynx

              Well said. She does a disservice to people actually dealing with Aspergers.

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              • avatar TurkeyVulture

                Remember back in like 1997, when Multiple Personality Disorder was the fad self-diagnosis disease? Those were the days.

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              • avatar schmickschmack

                I have a reputation among my College of Education peers as the person who once went on a rant about how tired I am of ASD. Not that it's not a very real problem. It is. Not that I'm not going to have to deal with it, because I will. But the rate of incidence does not correspond with the rate of discussion about it in education circles; when my sister was in school for teaching 20 years ago, it was ADHD. And so so so much of it has to do with this self-diagnosis bullshit. /endrant

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        • avatar Miss Noir

          Yeah, I don't really see how having Asperger's makes sweeping, misogynistic generalizations about how women should live, okay.

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          • avatar swimminginvinegar

            +1
            Telling the world you have Aspergers because Dr.Google said so doesn't mean it is true or that you aren't full of shit.

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          • avatar Soos

            So I don't know this lady at all but my dad has Asperger's and he makes generalizations about everything all damn day long. In fact people with Asperger's cannot empathize so if this lady chose her husband based on what she's saying here it will only make sense to her for other women to do the same.

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            • avatar veda ann borg

              People with Asperger's CAN empathize. They are not emotionless robots. They have trouble communicating socially and understanding other people, but that does not mean they are incapable of feeling empathy.

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              • avatar Soos

                I agree. They are not emotionless robots. I know from first hand experience.

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            • avatar SmuggyMcSmuggerson

              People with aspergers generalise. Therefore, I have aspergers.

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            • avatar MrsG

              Aspies and Auties *can* empathize, they might need some interventions to help them communicate better and identify what other people's expressions and words are saying, but that's not the same as not having empathy. As well, not all aspies make sweeping generalizations. Its a logically inappropriate syllogism: All tables have four legs. My dog has four legs. Therefore my dog is a table.

              Penelope Trunk uses her self-diagnosed (and therefore suspect) Asperger's as an excuse to behave like a shitty excuse for a human being.

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        • avatar FatPanda

          Yeah, you know what?

          a) People on the spectrum do not exist for your amusement.
          b) She's self-diagnosed, so her pronouncement that she has it is about as valid as pronouncing herself the Queen of Sheba
          c) PEOPLE ON THE SPECTRUM DO NOT EXIST FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT.
          d) The bluntness stereotype of Asperger's isn't a "get out of jail free" pass for spouting misogynistic bullshit.
          e) SEE A AND C.

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          • avatar NotThatKelly

            I love you, FatPanda. PTrunk makes every negative thing out of her mouth about her self-diagnosed Asperger's. Any time she has a bad experience with a person, whoopsie, don't forget the self-diagnosed Asperger's. And she's passing it on to her kids, which is a whole other sort of awful ,at least for me.

            (For cross-referencing purposes, please see A, C, and E above.)

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            • avatar FatPanda

              Aw, thanks. :D Listen up, PT: Having Asperger's does not make you, nor does it excuse you from being, an asshole.

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          • avatar BelindaG

            She diagnosed herself, based on a careful study of google-bait search terms.

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        • avatar drmanhattan

          yeah can we not make generalizations about aspergers? I have a couple friends who are actually diagnosed and they are not assholes nor are they "amusing."

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        • avatar Affiliate Lynx

          She has Aspergers like I have all the different cancers I google whenever a body part acts up.

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          • avatar Is this your homework Larry

            Oh yeah, I have that same cancer every time I get sick too. Cancer of the search engine.

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      • avatar Leporis Aldjoy

        Didn't somebody mention that she was professionally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but had self-diagnosed her Aspergers the last time GOMI mentioned this lady?

        Also, why do I have no trouble remembering this fact, but can never remember any of my nephews' and nieces' birthdays?

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    • avatar Office Worker

      *Rolls eyes out of head*

      Penelope Trunk does not truly believe this. She truly believes that she needs pageviews, so she writes the most inflammatory posts in the hopes that people tell everyone what a fuck head she is and they all go to her site.

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      • avatar CantCantCant

        Exactly this. Her income and career are built on publicity at any cost. I don't think she has any truly, deeply held values or beliefs beyond, "Look at me! Everyone must look at me!"

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    • avatar zhnjg

      My brother is real Aspergers and spent his teenaged years in a mental hospital after burning the house down. It isn't a personality trait. So, I'm a little skeptical of just how Asperger-y someone who doesn't have a diagnosis, isn't on meds and writes a blog. Just FYI.

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      • avatar Selva

        Aspergers manifests itself different in women and men. And it is a spectrum so not every aspergers men will have the same trait as well. Every Asperger's person is unique as it can be. That's why it is called a spectrum..

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  5. avatar bitches and gravy

    Is this serious? Is it the '50s?? I've been married 25 years this coming August and have ALWAYS made more money than my husband. Not divorced yet! When our kids were little, I worked Monday-Friday, 9:00 to 5:00, and he worked 32 hours over the weekend so someone could be home with the kids. It was tough, but it worked for us. Now that the kids are older, he's working the same schedule I am (still earning less), but he's almost always the one to cart the kids to and from practices and classes and whatever they have going on.

    It's worked for us for all these years. For this delusional woman to assume she knows the inner workings of what others' relationships are like is high-larious.

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  6. avatar Recycled Cutlets

    Two major problems: 1). Not every woman wants to settle down with a man and have kids. These are NOT the only lifestyle options available. 2). Was there an influx of wealthy, single, straight men that I didn't know about?

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    • avatar melondrama doesn't even have a blog

      THANK YOU. I cam here to say this. Not every woman is straight, or wants kids, or wants to get married, or wants to hitch her financial wagon to someone else.

      Also, what happens when a lady follows Penelope's advice and finds herself divorced, at 40, with two kids and no current job skills? Living under the poverty line! Yay!

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      • avatar Pfft

        Agreed. This woman is an idiot.

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      • avatar zhnjg

        I trumpet this all the time to my inlaws, who say the same thing for religious reasons. Who will take care of your kids if something happens to your husband and you have zero job skills? Their answer: the church. My response: do they know that?

        Good luck with your fantasy. I don't have the luxury of one since I already watch it play out in my childhood.

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    • avatar New Year New You

      WHAT!? No! This is the internet, didn't you know that all women now must be married and have kids in order to be valid? Take a look at the forums, take a look at every blog.

      It's 19532013 there in nothing else a woman could possibly fill her life with.

      God I miss the Madonna years.

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  7. avatar ilovecats1234

    Damn I've been approaching life wrong. I should just be running around lookin hot and popping out babies. Screw college.

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  8. avatar Cat Lady of the North

    Wait, survey says it's "primal" to hate your husband if he makes less money than you? Who were they surveying, monkeys?

    "Venal" and "calculating" seem too kind here. More like "misogynistic" and "idiotic".

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    • avatar mazen jar

      Yeah I love how being marginally more successful at a very, VERY recent system of work and compensation cues "primal" instincts.
      I don't know, I must be weird because I hate making less than my BF right now. I never see this acknowledged as something that can even happen or anyone cares about. it's always "poor menfolk feel threatened when their women make more than them!!" Uh, I have feelings too?
      And I do believe it is social. When I grew up in an area that promoted this kind of thinking, guess what I wanted to do with my life? Whatever everybody else around me wanted to do, which was stay in my hometown and pop out kids while daddy worked at (local big company). Then I grew up, traveled, expanded my horizons, learned about all different walks of life and found out what I REALLY wanted my life to be like. If that's not social then I honestly don't know what is.

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    • avatar Queen Ermahgerd of Snarxony

      Oh man, I love the idea of a monkey survey. Must be a nightmare trying to get them to raise their little paws at just the right time.

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  9. avatar chocolatepuddin

    Wait...wut?

    I mean, this sucks, because my fiance makes less money than me. Shoot. Guess I better call off the wedding since we're just gonna pop out babies then get divorced.

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    • avatar TurkeyVulture

      Yeah, girl! Whenever the bank account starts to look a little slim, my fiance slaps me on the butt and says, "Go write me another book! Daddy wants him some Jimmy John's!" We all know who earns the money in this relationship.

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  10. avatar rosie ruiz

    She divorced her first husband even though she lectures others on why it is better for kids if their parents stay in unhappy marriages and she put pictures up on her blog of bruises that her second husband gave her. And that's just to start.

    She makes Mandajuice (phew, stinky!) look like a paragon of sanity, consistency and healthy boundaries.

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    • avatar Nope

      "She makes Mandajuice (phew, stinky!) look like a paragon of sanity, consistency and healthy boundaries."

      I'M CRYING.

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    • avatar kellogg

      I don't know who Mandajuice is, but I keep reading it as "man jaundice"

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      • avatar The fattest fat who ever fatted

        I thought I was the only one who did that.

        This is what it sounds like when doves cry.

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        • avatar KERFETUS

          I don't think I'm laughing at this whole thread just because I'm tipsy. I think you hams are just ham-larious.

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  11. avatar ringo

    is this the divorced woman currently living with a guy who hits her? and the women who moved her special needs kids to rural wisconsin and then was shocked SHOCKED! that the school system there is pretty basic/

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    • avatar Andrea

      Yes, she calls him her husband but I guess they're not legally married because he's worth so much and she has absolutely no money (despite claiming at one point that she gets $15k for her speaking engagements.)

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      • avatar Cap'nCrunch'sBitch

        I've been following this whack-job for a couple of years. I agree about the self-diagnosis on the Asperger's. What I don't understand is why "The Farmer" hasn't been arrested for domestic abuse when she posts about it (including pictures of her injuries).

        I detest her. How anyone with half a brain cell finds her a credible role-model for "how to succeed in business" is beyond me.

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        • avatar The fattest fat who ever fatted

          Being an accredited armchair psychologist, I suspect that our Penelope has a bit of the Borderline Personality Disorder (Aspergers, my fat ass). She reeks of it, in fact. I have sympathy for those with the disorder, but they also wreak utter havoc on everyone around them.

          Were she to call the cops and they were to ask who landed the first blow, I don't think the answer would be The Farmer. I think the answer would be that Penelope smacked him first, or that he bumped her as he tried to leave the room after yet another night of her haranguing him into the wee hours of the morning, preventing him from sleeping. There's no excuse for anyone ever to strike another person in a domestic argument but even her own stories indicate she either pushed until she got pushed back, or that she exaggerated her claims of abuse (her infamous and lunatic article about how women can cause their own domestic abuse comes to mind, as she backpedaled when she realized her readers took her seriously and wanted The Farmer's head on a stake).

          I detest her, too. She's not even a hate read anymore. She's fucked in the head in a way not even an unmedicated Dooce can touch.

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          • avatar TurkeyVulture

            Didn't somebody upthread say that she actually did admit to being diagnosed with BPD?

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            • avatar The fattest fat who ever fatted

              I have a miserable attention span at the moment so I probably missed it. If anyone reads this and has the link to PT admitting to BPD, I would love to read it even though I swore I would never read her stupid site ever again.

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            • avatar Hrm.

              According to this post she talks about being diagnosed with aspergers and BPD. She specifies that she was diagnosed with BPD by a professional but she doesn't specify whether her aspergers diagnosis is professionally or personally diagnosed. She has a link about being diagnosed with aspergers however the link leads to a page with 8 different posts about her having aspergers. I'm not about to read all 8 posts of her nonsense to figure out if she ever says.

              http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2012/02/22/how-to-improve-your-life-with-pharmaceuticals/

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          • avatar Amaryllis

            BPDs need an abuser the way a junkie needs his next fix.

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  12. avatar Andrea

    For the record. I outearn my fiance (and most likely always will), and although I'll NEVER say it out loud, it does make me sometimes want to point at him on payday and say "hahaha haha"! Where she got that garbage about "Because women hate the feeling of out-earning their husbands" I have no idea. It's completely untrue and I think she just made it up.

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    • avatar Cat Lady of the North

      Boy, this is probably going to come out wrong, but I'll try anyway.

      The idea that women "hate" their lower-earning husbands is bogus. The idea that it's some kind of "primal" instinct, to boot, is even more bogus. But there is a (teeny, tiny) nugget of truth amid all the crap. Some of us grew up surrounded by images and messages of traditional patriarchy - men being the primary (or sole) breadwinners chief among them. Heck, that's not even an out-dated cultural norm judging by posts like Penelope's. Anyway, to some extent, you end up internalizing these messages and ideas, even if you subsequently realize that they are BS. At the same time, people occasionally feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, which is when the inner bratty child tends to come out - "why can't someone else deal with all this?? I don't want to, don't make me!" As a woman, that can then translate into "why can't my husband deal with all the hard stuff, isn't that what he's supposed to do?". Of course, if you're an adult, you realize that you are being ridiculous, and you go tackle your responsibilities. Alternatively, if you live in Penelope-land, you start resenting your husband for not letting you behave like a child.

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      • avatar Andrea

        "At the same time, people occasionally feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, which is when the inner bratty child tends to come out – “why can’t someone else deal with all this?? I don’t want to, don’t make me!” As a woman, that can then translate into “why can’t my husband deal with all the hard stuff, isn’t that what he’s supposed to do?”.

        Ok, this, I completely agree with, no question. But also, I think that I would feel this way sometimes regardless of how much money I make/don't make. You know?

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        • avatar Cat Lady of the North

          I think that, as a primary or even sole breadwinner, there are additional responsibilities or worries, whether related to job security, financial stuff, etc. But I agree, most people feel that way at some point, and it's not limited to women either.

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      • avatar zhnjg

        You're really just acknowledging that women like the comfort of patriarchy. But that still doesn't matter. I also like the comfort of, say, never giving BJs and always being on the receiving end. Doesn't mean that's how I should behave.

        I get annoyed with being tasked with the dishes too often as much as I do with having 42 deadlines at work. I complain about it all. At least when I tackle a responsibility at work, I learn and grow from it. Housework is NOT fulfilling.

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        • avatar Cat Lady of the North

          Not exactly. Both men and women may ocassionally want the comfort of knowing someone else is taking care of things, when things get rough. I am not saying people act on that feeling necessarily. The difference is that patriarchy plays up to that for women, giving them a socially acceptable means of, well, acting on it. Some may do, lots don't.
          Patriarchy infantilizes women. Sometimes, when s**t has hit the fan, not having to deal with your responsibilities can seem momentarily appealing... until you realize that everything else that comes with it is SO not your cup of tea.

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    • avatar zhnjg

      I also do smug internal happy dances when I check my bank balance. Take that, inlaws who blanched when I went back to school, or kept asking me when I was going to quit my job to have babies. My husband couldn't pay the bills if he wanted to.

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  13. avatar eeee

    Her repeated use of "big important jobs" makes me pretty sure she's never had one. My kitten stopped phrasing things like that, opting for "career" or work responsibilities," by the time he was, like, 9.

    If above comments are true, then she reminds me of someone I used to know - preaching with the zeal of the newly converted about a way of life she didn't have, and subconsciously knew she never WOULD have, and raging at anyone who dared to disagree with her in any way.

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    • avatar LickedRandisCake

      I hate the whole thought of "big important jobs" to be honest. What some might consider big and important - say CEO of a company, I don't think much of as far as importance. Big? I suppose of "big" pertains to salary. Important, I don't know, there are tons of CEO's out in the world. Fireman, policeman, ER nurse, someone working for the Peace Corps, military, those all qualify as important jobs to me. As I always tell the young'uns who come in worried that some "big, important" person is going to be annoyed about something....that woman/man isn't going to sit any closer to God in heaven when she/he dies just because she/he was a CEO.

      I also disagree that highly paid people should automatically sacrifice other aspects (like family time) of their lives. I make more now, work less hours (and work from home) than I have in my life. You know how that happens? You work your butt off in lower paying jobs, sometimes doing thankless grunt work, until you, step by step, job by job, elevate your skills and knowledge to a point where you are in demand.

      Finally, as far as the bulk of her nonsense. I've seen all kinds of women over the years and, while I have to admit I've known some who have resented their husbands for making less, I've seen far more who just want husbands who work hard, no matter what they make and who are equal partners with the rest of the responsibilities. I have a friend who has been married twice. She's made more than both husbands. The first sat around, took side jobs when he felt like it, did nothing around the house. They divorced. The second has a steady job, though makes much, much less than her. But he works hard every day, then comes home and shares the domestic responsibilities with her 50/50. That marriage is working just fine.

      I should point out too that, the ladies that did resent their husbands or boyfriends for making less, were the kind that felt you had no worth if you didn't have a "big, important job". They are also the ones who I call terminally ambitious. Never truly happy or settled, ever. Get a car, need a fancier one. Get a house, need a bigger one. Get a guy with a job, start ragging him that he needs to move up the ladder faster. It never ends.

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      • avatar TurkeyVulture

        Amen on all points, girl.

        My ex-husband earned about $85K a year, but he was a lazy fuck and I was always terrified that he was going to get laid off because he didn't work hard or take his job seriously. And then he did. By then other issues were already at play, and I knew the marriage was over regardless.

        My fiance is a full-time student with a part-time job and a Reservist in the military. He doesn't earn a lot -- even his deployment to a war zone didn't earn him nearly as much as it should have, because the military is sadly underpaid. But damn, he loves to work, and he puts everything into whatever job he's got to do, whether it's his part-time day job or getting 4.0s in all his classes. (Well...most.) When he's done with his history degree, probably the best income he can hope for is a teacher's salary, which, as we all know, is criminally small. I never expect him to earn much. I expect him to get joy and personal fulfillment from devoting himself to work that he loves to do.

        *IF* we ever decide to have kids, I think we'll be modeling for them something much more important than a relationship that follows some 1950s proscribed gender-role b.s.

        He's a good catch. I'm lucky to have him.

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        • avatar Pfft

          If he stays in reserves long enough and can handle being a school teacher
          Yall will be in good shape. I work as a civillian in branch of the military and lots of peeps I work with are older and nearing retirement and to generalize ... they all are in good shape financially. What this ding dong Penelope doesnt talk about is that lots of people survive and are GASP happy making less in non "big jobs" who still have families and marriages and enough money to live good lives.

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      • avatar eeee

        You've articulated my thoughts & feelings on all this much more clearly than I ever could have. A great big resounding "THIS" to all of it.

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    • avatar CantCantCant

      I'm pretty sure she's never had any real jobs besides "entrepreneur." Her CV is a shitshow of false starts.

      And Penelope Trunk isn't even her real name.

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      • avatar AQNR

        Her legal name isn't even her real name---she changed her last name for some weird hippie-dippie reason.

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        • avatar eeee

          I've changed my first and last name, for different reasons but at the same time. I picked my current last name at (more or less) random, and made "the name everyone has called me all my life" my legal first name. Both names are legal as well as real.

          I've never heard of her before this post and based on it, and the comments, I wouldn't give her a Ziploc bag full of warm cat vomit, but "her legal name isn't her real name" - well, that's just being silly.

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          • avatar AQNR

            Your last name isn't GreenHeart because a tree spoke to you, though, is it?

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            • avatar eeee

              No, but if it were, and if I had the court docs to show for it, it would still be my legal and real name. (Although if I told the judge that I was choosing the name because a tree spoke to me, I might only be signing it on my commitment papers.)

              True stories: I know someone who changed his first name from Brian to Ozymandias. I know someone else who had a friend change his name to something with like 14 parts, most of the middle bits Tolkien-esque or "hippie-ish," and a first name of Saxon, last name something like Vylenz. ("Sex an' violence.")

              A third person, who I *really* admired because she was in the military and dealt with all the associated angst over her unusual name, changed her name to something like Watertiger. One word, no space, her entire name - no first/last, just the one (compound) word. Those weren't the people's ORIGINAL names, but they were their legal names and real names. Just because it's silly doesn't mean it isn't real.

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              • avatar Cordelia

                I was doing a search for my friend's name, Saxon Vylentz and came across this post. I am wondering who your friend was who was named Saxon.

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              • avatar Cordelia

                Sorry. That should read...who your friend was who knew Saxon .

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            • avatar eeee

              ETA: Not to say that any of my examples were silly; I do think one of them was but I'm not saying which one. The other two had, to my mind, valid, fairly serious reasons, and put a lot of thought and time in choosing their new names; the other person had valid & fairly serious reasons in their own eyes, if not in mine, but still put a lot of thought and time into the decision.

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    • avatar SmuggyMcSmuggerson

      Ive got to say, when I heard the phrase 'big important job' , straight away I thought of my own- high school teacher. I don't think that's what she means though.

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