Monday, August 3, 2009
My house reminds me of a submarine. Not in shape, size or function, but just in the way that there are many tiny spaces all alloted to different people and for different purposes. 6 people live here, and with one regularly visiting friend claiming sanctuary here often, and a family of four we keep inviting because they're ours now it's packed like an electronic device shipped from Japan, minus the styrofoam. Thank God we are never ordered to submerge, because without the fresh air from the windows I think I would suffocate even with sufficient oxygen. 6 people share one bathroom, one shower, one kitchen. Respect for common space is essential. Only one of us is still a kid, although she is allowed to learn to drive now, and does that well. She can drive but won't make a sandwich for herself and can't seem to cut her own cake or clean her own room. If her room were two thousand pounds of metal hurtling down the road and she drove like she lives in it there would be a path of death and destruction eight lanes wide.
So for the sake of the essay we'll say 6 adults in a house that legally has two bedrooms. Only two of us are concerned with maintaining the order and dare I say cleanliness of the ship. We are not ship shape. The rest of us use things, move things, make messes and leave derbis* everywhere.
Our current method of asking for change in the duty roster, change in the behaviors in common space does not work. It's not wrong, although sometimes it comes across as angry or frustrated (In Michael's case) or reasonable yet weak (in mine). We want people to change the way they live here, and we are met with resistance on all fronts. I don't know what will work, but I am intimately acquainted with what won't.
Before you give me some advice that uses concepts of "tough love" or "setting boundaries" or using ultimatum to achieve our goals, let me assure you that those are on the list of things that already don't work. More forcefulness, or negativity, or fully outlining exactly what the problem is and how simple common sense and manners are all it would take to correct our messy sub will not work. We are dealing with four very intelligent, willful, entitled and righteous adults who are used to the way things have been, and not being bothered with it, are completely content to carry on. One will make an excellent legal case for why their behavior is fine and no more should be asked of them. One will shut down and in their silence disappear into the environment much the way a chameleon will blend with whatever it sits on. One will get angry and pout and slam doors, and loudly declare that this is "fucking retarded." and one will argue and use logic to bait another into raising volume while losing efficiency through anger. All four are highly intelligent, did I mention that? They all know how to work their own brand of resistance to get through the moment of request and continue in the way that suits them.
We're the parents, which is like having a million dollars in Confederate paper money. We just can't spend that any more. We're the people who do what gets done to keep the machine well-oiled and running, patch the holes, keep it from sinking. We can call "Mayday!" all we want, but there is no one on the other end of the line. For the first time in my life, I am not the captain, I've promoted my husband to that rank, I am first mate, and I'm ok with that, if only here on the good ship Overpopulated. He is extremely frustrated, because while he can get a crew of ten to paint an entire apartment complex in an orderly and efficient way, he can't seem to get four people to wipe the counter after making a sandwich. Techniques that work with employees don't work with adult children living at home. We're going to talk to our beloved Dr. Kathy this morning, and I want to use all 55 minutes to get a new plan, something completely different that may work to change the way we all live here together. I plan to bring a legal pad and take notes, I am not above posting lists on the walls of my home if it comes to that. No kids, these aren't the star-charts for chores you had when you were little, this is the new operating procedure for this vessel and if we don't follow it we will sink from the weight of our disorder.
I wish it were the Good Ship Lolipop, or even Pequod but it's not. It's our leaky old ship that has been vastly improved in dry-dock lately. The crew is NOT going to be happy with the new directives, and while I'm sorry, I'm not sorry at all. We deserve to live in a nice orderly place, and that's what we will have.
The preceding 13 years of chaos have been created and fueled by me. I have never been a particularly orderly person, I'm an artist, and a writer, and live mostly in my own head. I do not say I want to return to some form of order I have ever accomplished in my own right, I say that I want something new, a vision that only Michael brought here with any ability to create. I have never met a person who is willing to work harder to make things nice, either inside or out. I have been guilty of mess-monster behavior myself, and really if I were honest I could divide our crew into five and one, not four and two. Honesty is the only currency I have to pay for my right to blog about anything at all. I have only recently joined the team for orderly behavior. Carry on.
We'll see what Kathy has to offer, and then like Monty Python we will come home and say "And now, for something completely different.
*My Grandmother's word, that's not a typo, it encompasses so much more than the more commonly used "debris"