Harriet Fasenfest started this discussion over at the intro post, but I think it deserves it's very own thread.
Here's what she said,
"Oh but that I could call myself a punk housewife. I'm more your crusty ex-pat N.Y. still-talking-about-woodstock householder with grown kids and a husband who can't figure out what I do all this stuff (interminally slow learner). But I'm digging what's happening and I'd love to know more about how all this really works for you.
You know, I know, that you know, that there was the first book.** Now I'm thinking about the workbook cause I know going backwards and taking on all the skills and trades to make this work is hard when added to all our other commitments and lures of modernity.
So past the vision and the narratives are the real tools of home-ec. The budgets, the timelines, the storage, the meal planning. In essence, the nuts and bolts of a functioning home economy. So where do you get stuck. I'm wondering. I got some ideas."
(Harriet's first book, A Householder's Guide to the Universe, is a great read. I can't actually believe she joined my group. Lil ole Apron Stringz. How thrilling!)
I hereby proclaim Pat our Look-On-The-Bright/Fun- Side guy and say that with utmost respect. I'm feel'n you dude.
Julie - I second Pat's advise even though I know a person can get discouraged. It is so true that we are so busy and only able to conceive of community in the abstract. I have been reading about the history of subsistence farming and how need gave the folks reason to work together. They really depended on each other. Our notion of community is more intentional. And while intention goes a long way it can be abandoned when our attention is given to another horizon. In other words -- We're Fucked. Oooooooopppppps. Sorry Pat. I mean, it will be hard but we will figure it out. Of that I'm sure.
And Pat - Glad to help Debbie out.
Yeah Harriet and Pat,
I'm going thru a funk right now. Nothin's goin right. (true or not). I feel pretty demotivated right now. so just take anything I say with a grain of salt. So I'm off to shopping and some fast food bye. Just kidding (not).
This reminds me of an acquaintance of mine who I affectionately nicknamed, "Environmental Bike Guy." Voluntarily rode a bike everywhere--as long as the weather was nice--to save the planet. But, the second he needed to haul something, the weather was bad, etc... he was calling a list of different folks to come pick his ass up and take him wherever he needed to go. It would have been cool if, as Julie suggests, he took the hint and thought of something he could do in return... help with gas money, make dinner, fresh flowers... depending, of course, on the predilections of the ride-giver, but nada. He seemed to think it was fine 'cause said ride givers were "going that way anyway."
Word did circulate amongst folks, and he found he had to crack open the wallet and take the bus (hard to do in an area where bus service is spotty) after all, so his karma wound up getting the better of him in spite of his pinche cabron tendencies... If he'd just offered something up in exchange, people would have been a lot less resentful. So, Julie, I'm so sorry your neighbors didn't think what they could do in return, as I still believe most people operate within an obligation structure of give-and-take. I know I'd watch your kids if it were me...
Thanks for the uplifting words guys. My husband is putting together a work day, so we'll see what happens. Gonna bow out and just lurk around the discussion for now.
See Julie, Gypsy's story about the "Enviormental Bike Guy" demonstrates the "goes around comes around" rule perfectly. I'm the bright and sunny side guy so "Don't Worry, Be happy"!
Ahhh, I would like to say what goes around does not always come around and suggest we should not indulge that sort of thinking. Sometimes shit happens and there are no karmic retributions. I think the best approach is to say "oh well, better luck next time" and try not to loose the faith. Honestly, hope, faith and trust is for you - Julie, for all of us. It is the spirit we carry in our hearts that keeps us strong. We should not ask for proof for our faith but simply carry it in our hearts. I know that sounds a bit shallow but believe you me, it has kept me out of the emotional crapper many times.
And not to get all dramatic on you but..........my father was a holocaust survivor and he used to say to me - the minute you give up your are finished. I know what he was telling me and his stories of survival in the face of complete lunacy are extreme. But while I know not everyone gets such a big story of survival, his message can apply to all of us. There are times (present time included) when I want to say WHAT THE F@@@@@@KKKKK. I mean I could give a list of bullshit that is a mile long but, really, what good would it do? It is at time like these that I remember my father and catch myself. Not that things don't hurt but it is all relative and this too will pass.
So keep the faith and let everyone else face off with their own spiritual destinies. My best advise is to learn from your mistakes and do not let it bitter your heart. It may be trite to say this, but we are always part and parcel to the folly of life. It is not ever or only "them" that is at fault. Oh that I wish it could be that easy. I always look for the blood on my own hands before pointing a finger. As much as it pisses me off, I always find blame a cheap mistress. It might get you through a night but will not give you comfort for the long haul (and hell if I did not just make that saying up).
Forgive me my preaching. I just want to suggest you try and stay on the sunny side of the street if only because it will keep you strong, or stronger.
"As much as it pisses me off, I always find blame a cheap mistress. It might get you through a night but will not give you comfort for the long haul (and hell if I did not just make that saying up). "
You need to start a book of:
geez, can't a girl take a few days off? where do i even start adding my 52 cents here?
i think i'll start with julie. i can exactly imagine the radical DIYers you're talking about. i think we've run with some similar crowds. do they patch their dumpster dived clothes with home tanned road kill cat leather?
the thing about people who are doing something "amazing" is that they usually are followed by a long trail of folks who have quietly given like you and your man. unfortuanately (and this is something my man and i argue about) it seems like in order to do "amazing" things, a person has to be very selfish. they have to put their own desire (to accomplish greatness) above everyone elses. even if thier desires are altruistic, it often comes down to self-centeredness, because they want to be the one who did this amazing thing.
and i don't mean to knock the personality type either, these "selfish" people get some real shit done. big shit. shit that little people like you and me who dilute our energies, will never accomplish. i think it takes all kinds in this world, i really do believe that.
i think it's a kind of common personality type in the punk (and i mean real punks, not "punk housewives" like myself) crowd. so bent on dropping out, that they don't pay much attention to anyone else.
anyway. sorry you are in that position julie. i know exactly what you mean about giving without outright asking for a return. that's a gender issue as well, in a lot of relationships. of course it is always best to just be clear with yourself and everyone else about what you expect and what you need. of course, that's damn hard for instinctual givers like us.
keeping faith is good if you can find it, keeping positive is good. but short of that, just keep on keepin on.
on the "need" issue. there's need and then there's need. a lot of what y'all are talking about is only sort of need. i think sort of need doesn't necessarily do jack shit. real need does. projecting into the future that you might need these skills is fine, or needing to be thrifty to reduce your debt, but that's all quite different from your children haven't eaten for 3 days. sadly, i think that's the kind of rock bottom we'll have to hit before real, true change occurs. (you can call me 'the black cloud of the group')
i've thought a lot about need, because i grew up with much more need than my kids will ever know. we always had food, but we truly couldn't afford to buy that toy at the store and food for example. my kids will never (i don't think) experience that. so i have to impose a more abstract thrift. "you cant have that toy because some little kid in china worked in slave like conditions to make it, and i don't want to support that, and anyway you have so many toys already that our house is a disaster, and what will happen when you are done playing with it and stays around on this earth for another 2,957 years" just doesn't roll off the tongue so easily as, "it's that or eat, kid"
i'm afraid that there is no substitute for real need. but then, like pat says, real need doesn't always inspire the best decision making...
re: Shannon Hayes' book, i'm with Harriet. as a "writer" (haven't really come around to the fact that i are one yet) i know that it's extraordinarily difficult to champion something without making people who don't do it feel like you think they're a failure. i mean, i try really, really hard, and still often read over my posts thinking i sound upity. i've been thinking a lot about this lately, i think it's based in the essential duality of our culture, we can only think in the terms of Right vs. Wrong. i feel like there has to be another basic way for our intellects to function, but i honestly can't figure out what that would be.
i think Shannon did a great thing with what she had, her personal perspective. her book doesn't "speak" to everyone, but no book ever does. Shannon and i have a very different style. she likes to use big words, i like to use four letter words. different strokes fer different folks. i suspect that she has changed some lives for the better, given some women/people the very intellectual defense they needed against a certain cultural background. she has taken all kinds of hell for what some viewed as her anti-feminism. i think she did the best she could in the face of such critics.
lastly, this is totally awesome. i love that this is what happened with this group! i think about all this stuff a lot, and i love having other voices in my head... gets lonely in there sometimes. wish i had time to go on a real bender with this.
and i know there are lots of folks out there reading along just as interested, with just as many great ideas to share, but no time to do it. please don't feel intimidated by our long-windedness!!!! anyone's welcome to jump in here, with just a few thoughts. even if it doesn't feel related to the current direction of the discussion. if you have a minute, throw your potatoes in the soup!
oh, alos, hellyeah on the prioritizing, Pat.
note to self:
1. accept you cannot do everything
2. figure out what's most important
3. get off yer ass, and off the computer, and do it!
And on the subject of potatoes, bad asses (or... off your assers) and accepting/or not, what you can/or cannot do....I just turned over the freak'n bed to plant the freak'n potatoes with my freak'n bad neck and twitching nerve head cause my son (#1 -- aka "the artist") didn't find the time because, well, because. So hell yeah, I totally needed some help but hell no I did not get it and hell yes I planted those potatoes cause I'm bad ass if I do say so myself.
As for visionaries, please accept this disclaimer....I'm gonna sound like an asshole now.
I'm not sure what makes for one but what I do know is that I often feel that people who do not want to do the work themselves often look for others that do and glean/suck off of them. This is a sensitive issue I know and I will no doubt offend but somehow this issue gets us back around to want and that if someone wants something bad enough they will figure out how to do it and not expect others to do it for them because sometimes they, the folks doing stuff, (like CJ suggested) are off on the next thing they are interested in cause that's the way their mind works. I had a friend that would want to work with me on projects and then drop her end and say, boldly, "people like me look for people like you cause we know that when we don't follow through you'll pick up the pieces." And yes, we are still friends but I don't collaborate with her all that much anymore.
Furthermore, I can't tell you how many people have made me into some kind of role model, followed me on my journey (one couple said they bought their house just so they could be near one of my cafes -- oh shit, where they disappointed) and then got all disillusioned when I was just human and fucked up as the next person. So I try to tell folks not to do that, not to put me on a pedestal. I can't take the pressure. In fact, I go out of my way to tell folks how messy and odd my life is so they don't project a single one of their stories on to me. Of course not everyone is as neurotic or seemingly self absorbed as I am (did I tell you I wrote a book and made a dvd????) but I gotta say, it hurts when people get all offended by my actions. I am just one of those people that is not a great team player. But neither do I ask folks to do all that much for me which might be where I might get some slack on being a self absorbed asshole (wonder where the son #1 gets it). My husband says, I'm a doer. I think about what I want to do and then I'm off. Hope I'm not sounding way egotistical but I suspect this is one of the problems with community. Not everyone is at the same place at the same time and we have the ability to chart off on our own courses cause few us really have much need anymore. I suspect I'm rambling now but there it is.
As for Shannon. No disrespect but I think she spent way more time apologizing for living this life then she needed to. My attitude? My life my business. Deal with it.
And toys vs. food? Mom used to tell me about eating flower petals during the war in Germany cause there was nothing else to eat. Both my parents came from worlds that I could only imagine but rather not. So whenever we would whine about not having something we would simply get the look. Not that that stopped us or that my brother and I ever really understood what raising post war second-generation children in an American consumer culture must have been like. OMG, how nutty must that have been? We just wanted what all the other kids got but didn't. So I made my dolls and had infinitely more fun I'm quite sure. And if you're not wanting to sew me a dress out of a gunny sack (or the tanned road kill cat skin - good one) about now I don't know what else I gotta say. If you do please remember to cut on the bias cause I find that shape very flattering on me.
CJ, we have missed you and your 52 cents but we know you got a life and we encourage you to live it.
Now off to the chiropractor where I will hide my dirty fingernails lest she starts a-lecturing me.
Next post - something about nuts and bolts, maybe.