Episode 48: With Patrick (On Humanism, Being a Teenager, Schools, Social Anxiety, Music and Freedom, Family and Fatherhood)


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"Man Who Sold the World" Nirvana, Unplugged in New York (Bowie cover)

"Given to Fly" Pearl Jam, Yield

"Hunger Strike" Temple of the Dog


Patrick and I attended the same schools, from elementary through high school. Our paths diverged and we knew of each other more than we knew each other after a while. This talk was intriguing for that reason. Patrick was a unique personality within our school, a musician and theater kid, but I didn't really know him. In this conversation, we catch up on the last 25 years.

Q. What does it mean to be a "humanist"?

Humanism as a way of adding dimension to atheism.

Growing up in the Episcopal church, Patrick's father was a key member of the choir and Patrick recalls a moment when he was twelve when he looked out at the parishioners and questioned the integrity of the ritual.

Q. Did anyone actually believe in the message they were singing?


After High School - Working

Patrick briefly attended community college and worked his way through jobs, gaining experience. Applying for jobs without a college degree. "It takes someone to stop and actually read a resume to appreciate what your work experience means."

Searching for Independence as a teen
Schools: Tracking and Inequality and Arlington


Moving to DC and then back to Boston - Jamaica Plain


Family: Dogs and Cats

Patrick has two cats. He also has a 12 year-old child.

Patrick gained experience with infants and toddlers working as a "Mother's Assistant." He loved the Babysitter's Club books.


8th Grade: Kurt Cobain's Suicide

We recall the time of Kurt Cobain's death (we were in 8th grade) and Patrick discusses Cobain's influence.


The Sound of Freedom

Nirvana, Pearl Jam, punk shows

Patrick started attending punk shows at The Rat in Boston at 15.


Social Anxiety: How to Not Look Not Cool

The exhaustion of people trying so hard.

Patrick supports his child dealing with school drama.

"There are people that are waiting for that 1% of genuine emotion to come out of you because that's 1 more percent to make fun of."


Social Media: Persona vs Actual Life

Patrick and I discuss the complications of living a genuine and honest life, and how social media is often a projection of unreal life.

"Everybody is struggling in some way. Everybody. Providing the support for everybody can only uplift the group. Let's help with that."


Undiagnosed ADD - Until Adulthood

Patrick got A's and D's in school. If he wasn't interested or struggling with the topic he would give up. He was never diagnosed with ADD because he wasn't "bouncing off the walls."


Teaching Teenagers - Jonah teaching high school


Student Experiences - Schools

Jonah Gets Accepted to College Early...Then Stops Attending Classes After Lunch


Working Life: Patrick's Experiences

"I kind of still don't know what I want to be when I grow up."

Graphic design. Copying. Temp Jobs. Help desk computer support for an architectural firm.

Patrick's knack for understanding people and social skills helped him in working at a help desk, sort of as an IT translator.
Moving back from DC, Patrick was a stay-at-home dad for a while and he explored website design. Patrick continues to work for a web design company.

"I will watch YouTube videos on CSS tricks at 10:00pm on a Friday, because that's what I like to do."


Fatherhood: New Dad, Daycare

Three days old, she had a crying fit that lasted 20 hours.

Daycare was tough. She was three when we moved back to Boston.

"I'm a good father. I'm a shitty daycare provider."


At the Park: "Maybe I'll nod."

One of our parent friends now came from those moments at the park.


Connecting: Patrick Has Social Anxiety

Patrick sometimes gets stuck in his head. Jonah can relate.


Not Reading Books, Not Exercising

"I fill my day with distractions."

"A fiction book is a fantasy and escape is necessary, but I never do it. My wife reads all the time."


Humanism: Patrick is Really a Scientist-Humanist

Promoting humanism as a parent. Fairness. Multiple sides of every story. A bully in 5th grade.


How Did You Meet Becca?

Jonah explains that everything is interesting to him.



Being in your body and getting out of your head.


Creating Community and Parenting


Childhood: What Would Patrick Ask His Parents?

Patrick wonders what his parents actually thought his life was like as a teenager.


Upcoming 25th High School Reunion

End of Talk

Thank you for listening to Jonah Asks.

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Resource for Teens and Families: Youth Mental Health Project


Derek Thompson, writing about the epidemic of Teen Depression, for The Atlantic


Promoting Inclusivity and Wellness in Schools: Mindful Schools


American Humanist Association


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