Thursday, September 27, 2007

Architect: It's not a career, it's a LIFESTYLE

I began dating my husband in college while he was still getting his first degree in architecture. The classes were geared towards preparing students not for the profession of architecture but for the lifestyle of architecture. They had things called "studios" that ran from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and so forth, you know, to help these students understand they were selecting a career that demanded your life.

I met architecture students---including my husband who was dating my friend Lynn at the time---for the first time my freshman year. One of my good friends from high school was an architecture major, and my roommate (the second one, after the first one, recently released from the loony bin, tried to stab me) had a cousin also enrolled in the program. So between these people we were somehow sucked into the world of architecture. I should have known it would be my destiny, but I kept diligently dating engineers who had bright, well-paid futures.

I always lived very near to campus (which architecture students never seemed to be able to do for some reason, and who often lived in bizarre corners of old houses or something...maybe more preparation for the life ahead?) and more than once a bedraggled architecture student would show up at my door looking more sad and pitiful than any college student ever should for academic reasons, "Julie, I haven't been home in four days. Can I use your shower? And do you have any food?"

You know how it is, your maternal instincts kick in and you can't help yourself. So, despite every warning in the world about how if you feed a stray it will stick and word will spread, I always offered warm food and a hot shower.

I often congratulated myself on my wisdom in ultimately selecting a liberal arts degree. Not to mention, ironically, that my degree easily outearned my husband's for most of our marriage. I know, liberal arts trumps architecture. The world is on its ear.

When my husband graduated, with two degrees and more debt than I could fathom, he found that while he was well prepared for the theory and lifestyle of architecture, he lacked the practical skills firms wanted in the sagging and horrible job market we both graduated into (coming out of college into a recession sucks rocks, for the record). So, he went back to a trade school for another year of education.

It was all worth it because he found a great job with a nice firm and was very happy. He met a couple of firms here or there that weren't so great, but for the vast majority of his career, he's worked for his current company, which really has a great heart. They actually care about employees. Plus, he enjoys the work he does there, because they have a focus on green design and design schools. He likes that, a lot, and he has his LEED certification so he's officially an environmentally friendly architect. His schools are very, very cool. And safe for kids and the environment!

But, it's still architecture, which carries a specific lifestyle.

I married into the life.

Architects are in my experience really nice and cool on the whole. But, at the end of the day, they are architects which means they are married to their careers. Which makes me The Other Woman.

The one holding down the home front and raising the kids, that is.

After a number of "oh yeah dude that is SO MY LIFE" conversations back and forth between me and the awesome Lotta, and many suggestions of "we ought to have a club," Lotta finally Made It Happen.



Here's the scoop, straight from Lotta:

Julie and Lotta would like to introduce you to the new support group for women married to Architects (or "Draftsmen" or "Project Managers" or "People that should really freaking unionize"). We would organize some meetings but we're so busy single parenting, and too broke to hire sitters

To join this group and display our symbol you must meet the following qualifications;

1. You will have logged at least 100 This Old House viewing hours. Ask This Old House will also be admissible.

2. You snort and/or guffaw every time the lead character in a movie is a wealthy architect. Bonus points if he's carrying a drawing tube or leather portfolio.

3. You find yourself admiring the drivet on the new strip mall and refer to drawings as "renderings".

4. The plumbing, electrical and or any invisible means of support in your home are top notch, but your sofa and chairs are from 1997.

5. Phrases like "bid document" send chills up your spine as they are synonyms for "overtime" and "going in this Sunday".

6. You find it impossible to get a straight answer from your husband as he's so used to evasive language at work. "Well you could look at it a couple of ways", would be an example of this.

7. Most of you and your husband's mutual fantasies start with the phrase, "When I get my license".

8. You find yourself wishing for a voodoo spell that would allow you to posses your husband's body during their annual review/raise period.

9. You've mastered the art of nodding and looking interested when husband talks about the latest release of AutoCad or MicroStation.

10. You plan on strangling the next person that claims having an architect for a husband is almost like being married to a gay straight man.

11. You look wistfully at women who get to make decorating choices without checking in with the committee.

12. At company functions you find yourself unable to tear your gaze away from the 60 year old architect with hair growing out of every orifice.


*To the folks that find our members ungrateful: Trust me we all know what gems we have in our husbands. They are the hardest working guys we know. It's why we are willing to have $7.89 in our checking accounts. And watching them fix things around the house is our porn.


This all came after I cried tears of relief to Lotta that someone understood my marriage and life after reading this post: Mental Mama.

We do love, support, and appreciate our talented and creative husbands, especially on the days we actually get to see them.

If you'd like to join, just comment! And take the badge!

(If you don't qualify to join, we'll consider Supportive and Auxiliary members.)

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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11 comments:

Aliki2006 said...

This was priceless, Julie.

I'm not married to an architect, but I still appreciated this post!

thailandchani said...

Very clever! :)


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

Mary-LUE said...

I love how the Google ads are designed to pick up key words in posts. Yours are currently adverting architecture schools. I find that hilarious in light of the content of this post!

A support group sounds like a good idea to me.

Do they have one for widows of guitar-playing, work-traveling, NASCAR watching husbands. That's the one I need to sign up for!

Of course, he might retaliate and join the Married to a constantly talking-blogging-complaining wife support group.

Magpie said...

My brother is an architect. I might have to send this to his wife.

Lawyer Mama said...

I know many, many architects. None of them wealthy. The engineers do better money wise! I'm also a construction attorney, so I can *almost* feel your pain. I'm not an architect's wife, I'm an architect's lawyer. So I'll have to join your auxilliary group!

bubandpie said...

The "no Mike Brady" graphic is just too, too funny.

slouching mom said...

Well. I think as someone married to an engineering professor, I qualify as an Auxiliary Member.

Kellan Rhodes said...

I'm not married to an Architect, but my husband owns his own business (Electrical Contracting) and he is married to his job as well. I have played second-fiddle to his work from the very beginning. I get it. I have two daughters that are highly artistic and I have often mentioned architecture as a profession for them - they don't seem interested at this point. We certainly need architects - imagine what buildings, bridges, houses, interstates ... would look like without them! I'm sorry for you wifes of these professionals - but I do appreciate their talents and contributions.

Kyla said...

I think marriage to an architect would kill me. I much prefer marriage to an IT guy...24/7 tech support free of charge! Gotta love it! LOL.

ewe are here said...

This is hysterical.

Funnily enough, all the architects I knew when I lived in Hawaii were doing verrrry well financially. Engineers, on the other hand, in spite of the hype, don't always earn as much as you might think.

mpearl said...

I can relate. My husband owns his own company in the construction industry. I really thought the decorating comments were particularly relevant to my situation. My husband looks blue collar most of the time so the gay thing never comes up. They would never know he is so much better at the color schemes in our home. As for the money, well, that comes and goes. Just like my husband. If he's gone we have money...if he's home , well there ain't nothing in the bank.
Count me in!