Cleaning, Day 11: Dreamin’…

April 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm 1 comment

Bed is made.  Kitchen is NOT clean.  I’ve been doing computer work all day, and the kids have been busy destroying the house wherever I don’t happen to be.   For Zack and Noah, this endeavor included some kind of water experiment in the kitchen, and now there’s stuff everywhere.  I’m going to TRY and tackle it tonight before I go to bed, but I’m already pretty tired and all I want is to go to bed.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate where I live? :/

Hate is a pretty strong word, and I wish it didn’t apply in this case.  I mean, to be FAIR… where I live is not a terrible place, and it obviously has a lot of perks.  We live in a pleasant suburban subdivision in a 2,000 square-foot, two-story home.  And I do like our home.  It has four bedrooms, two and a half baths, etc.   I guess I don’t love it in the sense that I’ve ever thought I would want to live here forever, but I don’t consider it the house’s fault that it lacks certain things I have always wanted (read: a big porch).  We have done a lot of work on it since we bought it, too… hardwood floors, fresh paint, new fixtures, stuff like that.  So I can take a good deal of pride in it, at least.  We have family nearby, which is usually a nice thing, and we have a good social group through our church.

But I definitely do NOT like my subdivision.  I think I mentioned that I started Project Common Ground and pitched it to my subdivision board; I did this primarily because in the four or so years we’ve lived here, we haven’t really met more than a few of our neighbors.  We know the Ks on one side of us from church, and we know the Ss on the other side of us, because they have actually taken the trouble of introducing theselves.   We know the Ls behind us, because our kids play with theirs and our dog has nipped three of their kids >_<, and somewhere in our subdivision we know the Ds and the Bs, because both families attend our church.

Take out the church members, and that means that out of 497 other families who share our subdivision, we have only been able to meet two.   And one of those doesn’t like us (which is, admittedly, understandable).   I don’t know that I would find this as troubling as I do, except that my kids play with subdivision kids on our street and the one behind us, and I feel a little wary because I don’t know the kids or their parents.  When Zack first started taking his schooling through MoVIP, we decided to try to correct this by holding a backyard barbecue and inviting the families of the kids the boys play with in lieu of inviting classroom pals.    We hand-delivered the invitations because we didn’t know everyone’s names, and then hoped for the best.   The only family that came was  one that was brand new to the subdivision.

Fortunately, my family was also invited, so it wasn’t a complete wash.   But it was disheartening all the same.

The subdivision is actually comprised of about 500 single family homes and about 100 ‘villas’.  The subdivision has existed since 1985 or so, so most of the established residents are retirees, and nearly all of the residents of the villas are elderly.  We all share a community clubhouse, pool, and a recreation area featuring a (somewhat baffling) fenced-in game court and two lakes.  The clubhouse is manned during the week by a very crotchety old lady whom we call Nasty Betty, and her somewhat more pleasant daughter, Jean.   From what I understand, Betty lives rent-free in the villas as compensation for being there during the week to answer phones and snark at residents.  Jean draws an actual paycheck, but she doesn’t live in the subdivision.  However, just to make it a little more confusing, Jean is an identical (and I do mean IDENTICAL) twin, and her SISTER lives in the subdivision.  It’s really creepy to think you see Jean and greet her, only to be met with a confused stare.   Jean’s sister, as it happens, is not nearly as pleasant as Jean is.

Anyway, when I conceived of Project Common Ground, I naturally wanted to set up a website for my own subdivision.  What a ridiculous mess THAT was.  First my subdivision president told me to come to the subdivision board meeting, and I went through three weeks of preparations, recruited equipment, etc. only to show up find that no one had bothered to show..including the president.  He then grudgingly consented to let me come present to the Recreation Board the next week, and they took me apart.  “What about the people in the villas?” they wanted to know. “Many of them don’t own computers or can’t use them.”   They also said that others had come forward with a similar offer and they had always turned THEM down… and besides, they didn’t feel entirely comfortable ‘entering into a business situation with a resident’.    I found that interesting, since the Recreation Board doesn’t seem to have any trouble billing ME for money every year.

The validity of their concerns aside, their overall treatment of me was unkind.  They were, frankly, downright rude from the moment I walked in.  Nasty Betty was the one who unlocked the door, and she greeted me with, “Who are you?” and then informed me, “We aren’t going to have a quorum tonight, so you might as well take all of that and go home.”  I had to explain to her that I was just making a proposal and that the president had invited me to come speak about three times before she sniffed the air comtemptuously and stopped harassing me.   Then the president, who had seemed to be supportive when he invited me, suddenly became the one attacking my proposal.  I guess I shouldn’t have felt hurt, but I did.  I was trying to offer them this website for free, and even offer to let them have a percentage of the advertising.   Oh no no!  We would be taxed on that money!  We can’t have that! I mean, we’re already taxed on the pool passes!

Uh…okay.

Anyway, I walked away feeling not just disappointed, but humiliated.  And the fact that the board has still not been forthcoming with either a newsletter or a budget rundown has not exactly improved my attitude about them.  Other residents I’ve spoken with briefly at garage sales and such have echoed my feelings about this, and I was especially piqued when I called to ask for a copy of our bylaws and covenants, and was snarked at by Nasty Betty because ‘printing that thing off costs us money, you know’.  By law, they HAVE to supply us with a copy of these things when we move in, so that we’re aware of our legal rights and obligations… but no one did, in our case (surprise, surprise!).  Apparently here, they expect the former owners to supply copies of this information to the new owners, but they make no effort to ensure this happens and get peevish when it doesn’t.

Occurs to me, you know, that if you made that document available on a …oh, I don’t know.. a SUBDIVISION WEBSITE… you could bypass that cost issue entirely.  But maybe I’m just being silly.

Suffice it to say, I am not a huge fan of my subdivision board now.  But I don’t necessarily feel it’s any worse than a lot of other such organizations that exist in suburban subdivisions.  The fact is, unless you’re moving into a brand new development, the odds that you’ll know many of your neighbors even after living in the place for a few years is surprisingly slim.  Everyone just gets up, gets in their cars, drives to work, drives home, goes back in the house.  The kids are the only ones who interact with each other freely.  Almost no effort was made to meet or greet us when we moved in, aside from the S’s and the Ks, who live right next door.   I doubt many other people even realized we’d moved in.  I know *I’m* clueless about who is coming and who is going, and I would actually be interested to know.

The truth is, after a subdivision is settled in, there develops a peculiar culture of isolation.  Not only is it difficult to interact with your neighbors; doing so actually becomes sort of passe’.  Privacy is the order of the day, and from that comes defensiveness and judgmentalism.   That crappy neighbor and his dandelion-strewn lawn and his fence that keeps falling down!  That stupid dog two doors down that never shuts up.  That teenaged brat on the corner who drives too fast…  Everything gets really negative in a hurry, and we all seem to be offending whether we mean to be or not.   It’s really frustrating.

And I hate it.  I hate being all alone with 500 other families.  I’ve spent almost my entire life in the suburbs, and I have never, ever liked it.  Instead, from the time I was little on, I’ve dreamed of living in a small town…or just NEAR one.  Truth be told, I’d be happy in a doublewide trailer in the middle of the woods if I had the right company, but as it is with the kids and all, I’d settle for a smallish town where social circles overlap enough that you actually know who lives in that house over there.  I don’t even have to LIKE that person; I’d just like to know him or her by name.

I have been giving this line of thought a lot of play lately.  For a long time I thought I’d like to move to Sullivan.   It’s about the size I think of, and it has just enough amenities to be liveable without sacrificing the small-town charm.   There’s even a house there I admire, though it’s not up for grabs or anything.  My parents own property at Woodland Lakes that they’d probably sell me for cheap for the purposes of building a house, but I think if I would want to live that far from town, I’d want to own more than an acre.  Still, it’s an idea.

I’ve also been thinking about going back to teaching…  Not in any serious way, I guess, since Lucas is only two and still needs me at home..  But as early as next year, I could technically go back, assuming Susanna would go into full-day Kindergarten and Luke could go to full-day preschool.  I’m not a huge fan of either of these, and never have been… but considering our money issues of late it might be worth thinking about.  The problem is, of course, that given the current economy even jobs for science teachers are getting to be hard to come by in the urban/suburban districts, and competition for the jobs that do come open is fierce.   And THAT is assuming you’ve been in the classroom all along, and I haven’t.  I’ve been out for nine years.

So I started perusing the job listings in the NOT urban/suburban areas.  I found a job listing in a little town called Danville in Illinois. (Most of my teaching experience has been in IL, so..)  It’s a cute town, very proud of itself.  Turns out it’s where Dick and Jerry Van Dyke grew up, as well as Gene Hackman and a bunch of high-ranking sports players whose names escape me.  Something about the water in Danville, I guess.  The thing is, the housing out there is phenomenally low-priced.  I found this beautiful tudor-style home for sale there… 3500 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 3 baths…on three acres, right on Lake Vermillion..and it looks like a country estate in England, I swear.  Cost?  $179K.  Unreal.  That’s only a little more than MY house cost.

The Danville district has two science openings and both have been open for over a year.   Again, given the kid issues I mentioned, this is hardly any good to me at the moment, but still.   I guess it’s just nice to know that such places exist, and maybe I should start looking at what it would take to move away from here to a place like Danville.   The living costs are so much lower there, besides.

Ah, dreams…  Well, anyway..

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Entry filed under: Cleaning, Successes. Tags: , , .

Cleaning, Day 10: Money Matters… Cleaning, Day 12: Derailed…

1 Comment

  • 1. Melalvai  |  June 5, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    You might read “The Geography of Nowhere” by James Howard Kunstler. I haven’t read it myself. I started to read another book by him, “The Long Emergency”. He convinced me that reaching and passing peak oil is not going to happen as smoothly and peacefully as most of us would like to believe. However I also don’t think it’s going to cause the end of civilization as we know it or rip the USA apart.

    So I don’t know what this other book is like, but he mentioned it in “The Long Emergency”, and it sounds like it would speak to you.

    If you read it–let me know what you think.


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