Maid by Stephanie Land

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Scott 2
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Scott 2 »

I think Jacob would rather not host a dredging of Stephanie Land's deeper past from internet caches. I can respect that.

I need to remember that even in a memoir, the author is telling a story. The book portrays much less autonomy, support and opportunity than she really had, based upon the deeper web footprint. She is creating a voice for the poor, but via a colored portrayal of her lived experience. I believe a large minority of the population is trapped in a Plato's cave of poverty, but she was just visiting.

Understanding what it is, I guess I'm ok with it. In hindsight, her character in the book is largely one dimensional. That's probably a good indicator there was more to the story. IMO the added detail would have made for a more interesting book, but probably wouldn't garner the same viral response in our current socio-economic climate. Clever writing.

She's gone viral a couple times and has become a public figure. I think the upcoming Netflix series will multiply the scrutiny:

https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/maid-s ... 203410433/

I'll definitely watch. It will be interesting to see the Stephanie they portray.

ffj
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by ffj »

Memoirs and autobiographies border on uselessness in my opinion.

That’s sounds harsh, but they are almost never true as far as complete context. My wife likes to listen to audiobooks by various people recalling their lives and to a person they conveniently fail to discuss their less than desirable traits or past actions. I don’t guess that’s a failing on their part as it’s to be expected, but what value is it to tell a partial story?

It looks like the people that created shameless are going to produce her show. I could never watch shameless because at the time I was working and dealing with situations like the characters lives. It’s fucking depressing. And real, unlike the show that glamorized horrible behavior.

I’m ranting so I’ll stop.

Alphaville
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Alphaville »

i’ve never seen the american shameless, but the british one was hilarious, and thankfully short, so no sharks were ever jumped.

i agree that she was a middle class person temporarily visiting poverty. poverty is real, and it’s really difficult, but middle class people are terrible at handling it because:

1) they generally don’t have the training or stamina to perform physical labor as a way of life
2) they think the work is “beneath” them, and resent it. they want to be special!

if you ever need a cleaning person for your home i highly recommend a salvadorean lady with a peasant background who will knock a 4h project down to 2, receive cash directly instead of via parasitical entities, make enough bank to support herself plus her family back home, will always be grateful for the work, and will never talk about your archeological dildo collection on television (or whatever secret shame you’re into).

immigrants get the job done 💪💪💪

jacob
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by jacob »

I just finished the book and reading it reminded me or at least supported my systems model for "living in poverty" which is mostly based on first-hand (not personal, but seeing and talking with people stuck in it) knowledge. Getting government assistance, for example, really is its own kind of part-time bullshit-type job complete with driving and waiting in line for hours to get a few things done for low rewards. It's likely designed that way for a reason.

(As a side note, I come from a family of cleaners. My mother and my grandmother were/is a cleaner, mostly institutional, and the rest of the family has helped out over the years for extra money. Attitude really depends on one's level of resentment for the job. I think from the perspective of poverty, cleaning falls under the low-pay, odd/random hours, no benefits umbrella similar to other jobs in the service industry. It's that part which is relevant. In the book the cleaning stories like Porn House, Sad House, etc. was just a gimmick appealing to reader curiosity to drive the overall message. "Write what you know".)

It's possible to describe poverty in a very general way using ERE terms. Indeed, in many ways poverty is the opposite of good ERE systems design and when reading the book or when listening to "the latest development" from "X living in poverty" I often go "Nooooo don't do that" or "Okay, this is clearly the best choice here, so I bet X will do the exact opposite but I don't how to convince X otherwise".

Poverty has a lot of heterotelic behavior. A lot! However, so does normal consumer life. It's just you can't afford to take heterotelic actions when you don't have income. For example, saying that there's not enough money for gas at the gas station and then buying two cups of coffee at the same gas station. Using a windfall to buy a restaurant meal to "feel normal" and celebrate "not having to think about money for a while". This is absolutely normal but also self-destructive in the greater scheme of things both financially and cognitively. While this stands out as a sore thumb to me the person going through it and making the decision literally does not see the problem or see it as a problem. So it continues...

Poverty also tend to have one or more major liabilities associated with it. Again, it's not uncommon for the salary-class to pick up a money/resource-sink (like a yacht, a horse, a drug addiction, a child, or a deadbeat relation) but when living in poverty, such liabilities are not affordable. Thus they compound the income problem. Examples include unplanned pregnancies with random person. Abusive relationships. Taking on [multiple] pets or extra cars (think vet/car bills). Supporting another person. Dealing with housing that is sized according to wants rather than needs. Paying for education that never leads to useful degrees or degrees at all. The point here is that this is often a case of pursuing some dream (e.g. "motherhood", "homeowner", "carefree YOLO person hanging out in cafes", "starting a new life elsewhere to solve all one's problems", "organic food eater") and then failing to meet it due to a limited budget rather than looking at the limited budget and then seeing what options there are with that constraint.

These two behaviors interact. Dealing with liabiilties adds an extra cognitive load that becomes another liability as small problems get ignored ("Check oil light is on") and become major problems ("Transportation breaks down.") which turn into cascading problems ("Can't get to work."). Any extra income then goes to paying off "the bills" that were incurred due to lack of income rather than saving for a rainy day.

(In contrast ERE is very much about doing the opposite. Avoid major liabilities and pursue homoetelic goals to develop the capital vector.)

I do need to emphasize that such behaviors are more normal than not. However, they don't become problems when people have "good paying jobs" to pay for them. Someone making $100k/year can afford a lot more self-inflicted liabilities e.g. drug-abuse, spontaneous SUV purchases, bad relationship outcomes (random pregnancies, alimony, abuse, child-support), raiding the 401k, ... and still do reasonably well by consumer standards.

Liabilities also don't become problems to the extent that the person has relatives (or spouses) with enough income to bail out these liability decisions. (This, I think, is why people are often unwilling to move for opportunities. There's resilience in being part of a mutual support network.) Insofar someone with a tendency for heterotelic generation of major liabilities has enough income, they stop being in poverty and become in fact a good consumer. This for most is indeed something they strive for.

In short, I see the same kind of heterotelic and liability-oriented decision making in poverty-level consumerism as I do in higher-income consumerism. It's just more visible when living in poverty.

In some sense, ERE provides a solution to poverty. After all, by avoiding liabilities and designing for homeotelic actions, we live rather well spending less than the poverty line. However, to get from here to there or rather there to here, a person must reinstall their cultural operating system from consumerism to producerism. Experience shows this is difficult for most people but it is especially difficult when one is stressed out by having to support more liabilities than one can afford. ERE (the movement) is reasonably effective in throwing stranded starfish back into the sea one at a time, but it's not suitable for getting all the starfish back into the water. That would require a cultural paradigm shift.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Hristo Botev »

jacob wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:17 am
However, to get from here to there or rather there to here, a person must reinstall their cultural operating system from consumerism to producerism. Experience shows this is difficult for most people . . . .
Indeed it is. I really like the operating system analogy; that works even for someone like me who is not tech-oriented in my thinking.

Also, according to Google no one has ever used the word "hometelic" before. Am I understanding correctly that means, e.g., having a phone (flip, or smart, or hanging on the wall) for the sake of communicating with people, and for no other reason? Whereas a heterotelic example for a phone would be having whatever the flashy new thing is (currently the iPhone 12 I believe) not only to communicate, but also because (and perhaps primarily because) what the phone represents, what it says about you, etc. (or, perhaps, needing a car and opting for the Acura instead of the Honda, and new vs. used)?

Alphaville
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Alphaville »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:45 am
Also, according to Google no one has ever used the word "hometelic" before.
it’s homo.

hometelic means one is heading home [badum-tshhhh]

ertyu
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by ertyu »

homotelic (homo = one, telos = end): when different aspects of your life work synergistically towards a common goal. Heterotelic: an action which detracts from the pursuit of a more important goal, or which serves one goal but hurts another goal. An iPhone 12 would be ERE heterotelic because it might serve the goal of feeling fancy and showing off to your friends in an excellent fashion; it might serve a hedonistic goal, e.g. you enjoying the shiny fast experience of using the phone -- but it would detract from your goal of financial independence both because it costs a lot in and of itself and because it is then used by the company to rope you into cloud and app subscription plans.

Soending on a restaurant dinner "to feel normal" might indeed help you feel better in the moment, but it detracts from the long-term goal of freeing oneself from the debt-consumerist trap.

jacob
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by jacob »

@HB - Try googling homeotelic instead ;-) See section 5.1.2 in the ERE book.

ertyu
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by ertyu »

oh so i didn't actually understand it right. back to the book we all go

Hristo Botev
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Hristo Botev »

My bad, I mistyped. But in my defense, so did Jacob. What I searched in Google was "homoetelic"
jacob wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:17 am
Avoid major liabilities and pursue homoetelic goals.)

ffj
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by ffj »

Attitudes within the ERE mindset have almost all the answers to "poverty". Assuming the interested person has a normal intellect and a functioning body.

The trick is getting people to adopt the behaviors that will set them free. If your daily habit is to smoke weed then perhaps you could replace that habit and the money it consumes with cooking a healthy meal that will feed you for the entire day. Both affect motivation and attitude but only one choice is worthwhile. I bring up that example because that was her lifestyle when she became pregnant and subsequently a single mother. I'm not arguing causation necessarily but I can't imagine living your life in a fog helps with decision-making.

I think personality type has a lot to do with whether someone will even entertain the notion of ERE. I remember having to cash my paychecks at a grocery store because I didn't have a bank account when I first entered the workforce full time. They would charge a fee of course, which made me quite unhappy as I wasn't getting paid much to begin with and every dollar was important. So I vowed to save up enough money for a minimum deposit to open a checking account with a bank and never touch the minimum to avoid any more fees. And to be able to cash a damn check without trouble.

That's a simple example but I knew many, many people that would just accept the fee and go on. Sort of like the marshmallow test.

So I don't worry about others that raid their 401k's to pay for a vacation, or buy vehicles that cost more per month than a mortgage. I don't think it's natural for them to examine why they have no money and they struggle, but I get irritated when they start complaining or projecting onto others their troubles.

ffj
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by ffj »

@all

I had to look up the word too. First time I've encountered that one. Forsooth, haha.

Alphaville
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Alphaville »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:15 am
My bad, I mistyped. But in my defense, so did Jacob. What I searched in Google was "homoetelic"
it’s not your fault. i blame english, greek prefixes are tricky because the spelling mutates semi-randomly it seems, especially with the weird vowels

eg this copypasta from wikipedia, shows “home” as valid. there’s also “homoe” and “homoio” (wat):

hom-[32] same Greek ὁμός (homós) homiletic, homily, homogeneous, homograph, homologous, homology, homonym, homophobia, homophone, homosexual, homozygous

homal-[33] even, flat Greek ὁμαλός (homalós) "even", from ὁμός (homós) "same" anomalous, anomaly

[...]

homoe-, home-[34] like, similar Greek ὅμοιος (hómoios), ὁμοῖος, ὁμοιότης homeopathy, homeostasis, homeothermy, homoeopathy, homoiotherm, homoiothermic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_G ... nglish/H–O

Alphaville
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:17 am
Paying for education that never leads to useful degrees or degrees at all.
she’s an interesting case here because she got $60k of student debt for a creative writing degree from somewhere in montana.... which normally it would be an utterly foolish thing to do, especially in her situation, because writing success is black swan dependent.

nevertheless she lucked out, but the chances of another person replicating the same model are... incredibly slim.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I think the core problem is that most people don’t have primary goals that are as achievable as financial independence. For instance, if your primary goal is “Have a happy family” then you might be less likely to boundary dysfunctional relative. Because we are social creatures, most goals, including financial independence, require the co-operation of other people, but FI only requires co-operation at the overall population level of “maintenance of rule of law/ capitalist system” , whereas “Have a happy family” might require that a specific individual stops drinking too much.

Also, because I married/had kids relatively young for my peer group, I knew a lot of single Moms, and only some of them stayed stuck in poverty, and a lot of it had to do with other forms of capital that aren’t well measured by government surveys or tax returns. For instance, the gorgeous one who was just barely smart enough to get a degree in exercise physiology went right from the cinderblick compound of family student housing to house in upper-middle class suburb.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by classical_Liberal »

jacob wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:17 am
they stop being in poverty and become in fact a good consumer. This for most is indeed something they strive for.
I've spoke of this on many occasions before, but used the term "running from poverty" to describe it. I have many friends who have been in poverty, then succeeded in raising their income to reach middle class. They end up with all the standard consumer class associated trappings, maybe even more than average to make the point clear. This behavior is encouraged, both by society at large and by showing those in their sphere they have made it out.

They often become that "other person" who is relied upon to help friends and family who have not been successful at increasing income, or else they lose some of the previously held social sphere. Interestingly, these people (in my life anyway) often find that reaching this point does not fulfill whatever they thought it would. Now their stressors are just a different. The same ones folks in the FIRE movement are running from. I find this phenomenon very similar to what happened to myself, who was taking the FIRE route, saving for many years towards the FI goal, all-the-while thinking reaching that goal will be the overarching life fix. Then finding as it approached, it would not be the cure all.

I agreed real change needs to be at the "operating system" level vs an imagined end goal solving problems.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

There is also the fact that there is a fairly large proportion of the population, not represented in this forum or the author of “Maid”, who will simply never be able, or again able, to support themselves, except perhaps in a “make work” subsidized situation. I am going to guesstimate 10% easy.

Scott 2
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Re: Maid by Stephanie Land

Post by Scott 2 »

It's too easy to blame the person trapped in the cycle of poverty for their problems. Some, as @7Wannabe5 alludes, will never have the means to escape. In some respects, the author's cleansing of her personal story does them a disservice. She just worked harder and ground her way out to freedom. Why can't the other poors? Never mind the other advantages she doesn't mention.

I come back to wishing she had more deeply explored her heterotelic behaviors - especially the layers behind the decision making. IE - note the weed heavy 20's, recognize that it was self medication of PTSD from her accident in the teens. Explore her early family dynamic more fully, extrapolate how that lead into the pattern of abusive relationships. Etc. I don't know if the author has the depth of self reflection to articulate it all, especially at the time of writing her story.

I think even a fully rational person undergoing her experience, could end up on the same path to poverty. It's more complex to sell as hardship, but those layers are what makes it interesting. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th level effects of events in her early life. Getting at those small onramps to the poverty cycle, could highlight high leverage opportunities to disrupt the systemic cultural problems.

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