Tag Archives: Isolation

Colony.

In September of 2014 I moved  into an intentional community. Based on “One Earth” principals, ( i.e. how could we all live if we only had one Earth to live on?”, it offered a sustainable, low impact lifestyle whilst offering a high level of walkability. I expected and assumed that most of the people who chose to live there would be doing so based on wanting to shrink their carbon footprint, reduce the amount of driving in their lives and reduce their levels of consumption and possessions. I wasn’t expecting a latter day New Lanark, or some Herbert Morrison style socialist paradise with everyone living in yurts and knitting their own yogurt,  but I imagined an open, collective-minded community with a strong spirit of identity.

Alas, this is far from the case. Most of the home owners appear to be empty nesters who sold their McMansions , bought something smaller and pocketed the difference. I think they were less motivated by the solar panels, ductless heat pumps and superb insulation than by the chance to trouser a substantial wad of cash, move into a new home and still be within a few minutes walk of the throbbing groin of Downtown.  To be honest, despite my jokes about the neighbours when I moved in, the overwhelming stench of Pachouli, stewed lentils and unwashed armpits would have been preferable.

Instead what we have  is society writ small. The owners already look down on we renters, as indeed do the developers, who distributed guest parking passes to the owners, but not to us.

There are a number of ways to spot members of the chattering classes, and I’ve seen several examples over the last few months: There are a  considerable number of young children here, not a bad thing in itself, but having to dodge abandoned toys and the like is irritating, especially in the dark, or when wheeling groceries from the car to the house. Indeed, an email was circulated asking parents to deal with the issue of bikes, toys etc left lying on the lawn and pathways overnight as well as the damage caused to someone’s garden bench by crayons and paint.

Now, if you were brought up by parents like mine, you would have been expected to tidy your things away at the end of the day and would have been taught how to be a decent member of society and be aware of other people. Guess what? These people aren’t like that. Their solution, so as not to spoil the creativity of their little darlings –  precious snowflakes all, no doubt – was to form a “Circle” , i.e. a Kaffee Klatsch to discuss the issue. This is their solution to all issues, though we never  seem to hear of any resolution. It appears to me that the circle jerks decide what they want, and the rest of us can go to hell.

The worst example of this is the parking. Each residence is allocated one spot with four guest spots available.  The Politburo – the biggest circle jerks of all –  has now decided that each person will be given a designated spot allocated allegedly on the location of their home and size of their car. When I read the initial email I had one hell of a job getting fragments of exploded bullshit detector out of the walls, believe me.  No doubt the best and most convenient spots will go to those who made the decision and their friends.

This, however, is not enough for some people.  Despite  being well aware of the parking situation before moving in, one couple recently announced that they would like to rent a second spot in the lot, and are willing to pay $50 – $75 a month. Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – A MONTH. You can’t find bicycle parking for that price. I knew that most of the residents were self important pricks with a sense of entitlement, but this just takes the biscuit. Preferably one that’s just been in a circle. I’m not sure who the people in question are, but I don’t think I’ve seen the husband. The guy must need a wheelbarrow to push around his enormous balls, and I’m sure I would have noticed that.

So what do I do? the kids love the place. On their first weekend here, my daughter walked to the library three times just because she could. They live in an area with no sidewalks and miles from downtown so I can’t say I blame her. It’s safe to let them go out on their own, and downtown is small enough that they can’t go far anyway. It’s handy for the boat and I love being able to walk to the store. In my previous house, any trip involved the car and if I forgot something I just had to do without, whereas here there is no hassle in popping out again, indeed, I often end up going to the store twice in one day. There’s no way I could find a place this new in a similar location for the same price, and moving off island would increase my gas costs and make it harder to see the kids during the week.

I realise that some of this is down to me ( see “I’m Coming Out”), and it’s been 18 months, so it’s a bit late to start making the effort, although I’m trying my best to be friendly to people. I’d hate to have to move if I can’t find a job before the money runs out, (see “Black Coffee In Bed”) but it might come to that. Despite what I’ve said, I really like living here – it suits my needs and is incredibly convenient and it’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived, apart from the kid’s house. I don’t have an upbeat ending for this post, sorry. Let’s just hope my next housewarming party doesn’t take place in a discarded refrigerator box. “Spare a talent for an old ex leper” anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m Coming Out.

“Ah, so that explains a lot” I hear you say. I know a couple of you were curious about the pink shirts. But before I go for the big reveal  (ooh! errr…) I need to backtrack a bit and start with a few questions.

With how many people from high school do you still have contact? University? Previous jobs? How many of your current coworkers do you regard as friends? IE with how many do you socialise outside work? How many neighbours do you know on a close basis and regard as friends?

If the answer to all of those questions is “None”, then welcome to my world. You see, I have this innate ability to bore the shit out of people, especially when talking about something that interests me. I have this incredible ability to antagonise people and turn them against me, to alienate them and say exactly the wrong thing ( usually what I happen to be thinking) at exactly the wrong time. I hate being in large, noisy crowds of strangers and really don’t like revealing personal information about myself and especially my kids. I keep myself to myself around people I don’t know and generally act with diffidence and an air of suspicion around strangers.

I’ve always been like that, I was always a loner as a child, and never part of any group or inclusive crowd at school, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve always done my best to avoid social situations. I go to my local pub, where I’m a member of an exclusive  group, but even with other members there, or on a crowded night I’m the one person sitting silently and reading “The Economist”. I can share a table and not say a word to the other people. How does that strike you?

Fast Forward to my second year at business school. Due to a freak confluence of events, I was able to attend one of the social evenings ( I know what I said, by my ex hated the school and everyone associated with it so attending was a major “Fuck you!” in her direction).  I was standing near the bar, minding my own business and not talking to anyone (no surprise there) when someone walked up  behind me and asked me “Are you ########?” I was, so replied in the affirmative to a not especially tall, strikingly attractive blonde woman who  introduced herself as the person who regularly sat behind me in Accounting class.  I had no idea who she was and indeed had no idea she and I had even been in the same room. She explained that she’d wanted to meet me after asking around and gleaning some information from people who knew me. She refused to give any names, but I had a pretty good idea.

We got talking, and I have to admit it was the most enjoyable conversation I’d had in a long time, as my companion was ( and indeed still is) an incredibly vivacious and forthright spirit who simply crackles with energy. After a while, she hit me with what I can only describe as the greatest pickup line in the history of humanity. Don’t get ahead of yourself: at the time she was engaged, and now is married. Even if she’d been single, I was still married, nevertheless, it was a question that made her one of my all time favourite people. She looked me in the eyes and at point blank range asked “Do you have Asperger’s Syndrome?”

Holy shit! And this barely half an hour after speaking to me for the first time. I pondered for a few seconds before replying. “I think so”.  You see, I  have an online friend who once sent me a link on an online diagnostic Asperger’s test, and I came up as on the spectrum, not enough to make me an internet billionaire, or even a slaughterhouse designer, but on the scale for sure.

Fast forward again to my best friend’s wedding (see “I Knew The Bride…). There were plenty of people from school there, and both my sweetie and I expected plenty of opportunities to socialise and catch up with people. Oh boy, where we wrong. Let me give you two examples. We ran into some people in the lobby and the subject of Chichen Itza came up. We mentioned that we’d booked a trip for the Friday with a company that only does small groups, and the response was that they were planning to visit the site as well. Our trip consisted of us and four Germans, and who should we bump into at Chichen Itza, but the four people we’d talked to just a couple of days previously. we said some quick hellos and then didn’t see them again. One of our group celebrated his 30th birthday on the last night, and we were informed of this, but guess what? We heard no more, not even a quick “Hey, we’re off to such and such a bar, why don’t you join us?”  In fact, during our entire stay, despite everyone knowing which room we were in, not one person included us in any event or gathering. In fact, apart from the bride and groom, no one even gave us the courtesy of a full conversation. See what I mean?

I will admit that the wedding reception may have contributed to this, but not to anything before: you see, we were at the table from hell – I wouldn’t have chosen to be at that table had my life depended on it. One couple I don’t talk to because of their bizarre opposition to having medical professionals present at a birth, one woman I thoroughly dislike ( entitled, spoiled princess), one woman who treats me with contempt and one couple who are pretty decent, but totally silent for most of the time.  It was a big, noisy crowd with a lot of strangers, so I wasn’t at my best, and I will admit to having drunk just a little too much. One guy, a posh Londoner really got on my nerves and I got into a bit of a spat with him, but wtf? Apparently the anti modern medicine said “Nice to see you” when he arrived, but damned if I heard it. I spent most of the evening trying to work out why he shook my hand.

At some point, the speeches began, and that’s where I lost it. The father of the bride, a thoroughly lovely man, spoke about his daughter, and how much she meant to him.  This got me thinking (never a good idea) about my own daughter and if I’ll live long enough to see her wedding day ( see “My Death”). I came over all maudlin and remained at the table drinking as everyone else moved towards the dance floor as the Mariachi band arrived. I drifted over to the back of the crowd out of boredom and couldn’t help  myself from bursting into a few rounds of “Sing when you’re winning,you only sing when you’re winning” when the band struck up “Quantanamera”. You can take the boy out of the football ground, but you can’t take the football ground out of the boy.

By the time they were done, my sweetie was not in the best of moods, as you can imagine. I assumed we were staying, but she pointed out that it would just be dancing from then on, and I hate dancing. I can’t dance. In fact, I’ve seen people on fire move better than me, or as I prefer to say “Charlie don’t surf”. I collapsed into bed, a drunken mess, and that’s all she wrote.

I won’t even go in to how I ruined our close friend’s Shivaree  when I ran out of steam and went to take a nap, blocking access to the bathroom by locking the bedroom door – I’ll save that for another post.

Come Thanksgiving, and things were not much better. We watched “I Heart Huckabees”, one of my sweetie’s favourite films, but I just didn’t get it and kept waiting for the plot to start. My advice: don’t, because it doesn’t. We had a bit of an argument about it and I turned in, again, slightly tired and emotional. The next day at breakfast she said “I think you have Asperger’s Syndrome” to which I replied, “Yeah, I know I do”.

New readers start here. So this is my question: Wtf do I do? Do I embrace it and damn the torpedoes? Do I hide it and pretend to give a shit or to be enjoying myself?  I  don’t see how therapy would help, but what would? Seriously, how do I avoid being even more  isolated than I am already? How do I tell  the people I know – they sure as heck don’t read this blog!

Write your answers on the back of a bottle of 26 year old single malt whisky and send it to ……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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