Tuesday, July 10, 2007

carrots on sticks

Well, I was planning to enjoy a few laid-back weeks of unemployment, where I would take some non-credit classes, ponder my next career move, and enjoy some hysteria-free space in which to do long-term planning and make decisions. I will (hopefully) sell my home later this week. I need to pay off some bills and begin contributing to Wyatt’s upkeep on his place, but I envisioned having enough money to buy myself some time.

Current conditions forbid any such thing. “Nay, foolish mortal,” the fates chided. “Thou shalt not leave hysteria behind.”

At the very least, I need to get a part-time job just to pay for my own health insurance. And last week, my realtor showed us a house we’d like to be able to pounce on. But that’s going to be hard if I don’t have an income. A full-time one. Quick.

Last night Wyatt and I figured out that I need to get a job making $10 an hour for the house purchase to be a viable idea, seeing as how we’ll once again have two house payments until this place sells. But after my first attempts at job searching, it looks to me that jobs either pay minimum wage or the kind of salaries I can’t get unless I return to careers I don’t want any more. This house we saw has become a torturous carrot on a stick, which is flaunting itself in a tantalizing dance just out of our reach.

My better judgment tells me this dilemma is just more devil talking. That if we bent over backwards and sacrificed more peace of mind to get that place, we’d become obsessed with redoing the bathroom or the kitchen or ripping out the carpet or any number of other things. This is a classic game that people play with their own minds. There’s always another carrot on a stick. A discussion that Roja and I had about this game is chronicled in an earlier entry here.

I would miss all the people who live in this building if we left. I love having a social life, but not if it means I’ll have to make plans and drive somewhere to see people, so neighbors under the same roof are what have maintained my social health since I left home. I need people I can just bump into and chat with, and a move to a house in a new neighborhood could lead to a lonely existence.

On the other hand, the prospective new house has a yard. One that I could do grand Permaculture experiments in. Wyatt could make himself a chipping green, too. And if we wanted to install some photovoltaic cells or replacement windows, we could, without having to take it to the homeowner’s board and wait forever while the request got bogged down in a quagmire of discussion. If we get a leak, we can either fix it or not, but it won’t involve negotiating with the upstairs resident, or insurance companies who want to haggle about who’s at fault.

In my search for better methods of conducting life, I’ve visited intentional communities like Twin Oaks, Shadowlake Village, and Earthaven. Twin Oaks is pretty much what most people think of as a commune, and Shadowlake Village is a co-housing community. Earthaven is an eco-village, a community based on principals of sustainable living. I felt really at home in those places, and still feel wistful about what it might be like to live someplace like that. But I thought no, I could never live in a situation like this, because I can’t get along with other people well enough. I don’t want to be bothered with all of those meetings and endless sessions of discussion.

So I wound up here, in this unintentional community, with people from very different backgrounds and ways of doing things. While this affords me the kind of diversity I enjoy in life, it also creates some real problems. For example, people disagree about whether or not it’s okay to let dogs shit on the lawn or leave garbage by their back doors for days on end, and that makes for lots of trouble. I wound up serving on the Homeowner’s Association board because some things were pissing me off, and I got stressed out during clashes with another board member. It’s like I joined a commune in spite of myself and without many of the benefits.

We have no process for building – wide communication, other than the fact that board meeting minutes are posted in the entryways if people want to read them. Few homeowners turn up for our annual meeting. We have no process for conflict resolution if there are hard feelings about anything. And I believe we need to have such processes for life to really be good here, but I don’t know how to go about setting something like that up. People aren’t used to such, and unless they go into a living situation with an existing commitment to a process, they won’t buy into it.

Would living in a house in a neighborhood really be much different? Either way, my peace of mind is compromised. I can't get that house out of my head.
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The photo up top is of dew in a spider web strung between sprigs of juniper in a yard down the street.

2 comments:

Laurie said...

My four cents:

"That if we bent over backwards and sacrificed more peace of mind to get that place, we’d become obsessed with redoing the bathroom or the kitchen or ripping out the carpet or any number of other things." - probably

"the prospective new house has a yard. One that I could do grand Permaculture experiments in."
- THIS makes it worth it!

"I felt really at home in those places, and still feel wistful about what it might be like to live someplace like that. But I thought no, I could never live in a situation like this, because I can’t get along with other people well enough. I don’t want to be bothered with all of those meetings and endless sessions of discussion."
- could have said this myself

"Would living in a house in a neighborhood really be much different?"
- A little, but as long as you're crammed in with people, you're still going to have to deal with assholes from time to time.

Mildred said...

I think you just have to be patient with your house obsession. If it is meant to happen, it WILL happen, so relax, do some yoga, meditate with your mother (Earth). She will caress your mind and spirit, and rejuventate your soul. But you must listen to her...completely. A house is not a home unless your spirit is free from the trappings of "the American Dream". Start this process by envisioning your garden. How will you nurture it, sustain it, and make it bear fruit, or veggies? Picture the soothing colors of an ivy-covered picket fence and an old, weather-beaten adirondack chair under an old Oak tree, with the smell of wisteria wafting through your screened in back porch. Good luck, M.