Posts Tagged ‘Learn something new!

12
Feb
13

Learn Something New Every Day, Part 6: Couch Surfers

Neutral pronouns because stuff.

So we had two couch surfers last year, for about two weeks apiece. They’re both people I knew fairly well, who’d been kicked out of their previous abode and needed a quick place to crash and get their heads together.
For a lot of reasons, the Pirate House was a really convenient spot for them to stay, and they was willing to work for their keep until they could afford to contribute or found a different place, which was awesome because none of us had enough time at that point to get done all the things around that house that need doing. So in theory it should have been a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Somehow nothing quite worked out the way we planned. So here’s me working through some of the things that we could do better next time, assuming someone comes to crash while broke.

DEADLINES
-Two weeks just isn’t enough time, realistically, to put the trappings of a life together (job, transportation, paperwork, plan). If this happens again, we need to be prepared for at least a month of cohabitation and probably more.
-Two weeks is, however, enough time to adjust to how our household works.
-If someone is just starting out (i.e., no job, no car, no savings), there need to be benchmarks. “Have a polished resume in 1 week.” “Apply to x number of jobs per day.”

TRANSPORTATION
-Not having a key hinders someone’s ability to be out and about. Fortunately the Captain was mostly working from home during the time the surfers were here, but having a key allows someone to come and go as they please. (One couch surfer had a key because zie had a job and a car, and the other didn’t, because zie didn’t.) Maybe this is me having control-freak issues? Maybe we can only live with people who have allowance-of-control-freak-ability? Not even the Captain’s parents have a house key, and they’re in business together. This is potentially a personal limit but not a general one.
-The bus system is Baltimore is ASSTASTIC, and I know Howard County isn’t much better, although both of those are secondhand information. I’ve never been in a situation where I need to rely on it, thankfully, but as far as getting to things on time, it’s not a good option. We need to be understanding of this, and potentially make sure we’re available to offer a ride when a surfer absolutely HAS to be somewhere on time.
-That said, it’s not always convenient or even possible for one of us to give someone a ride, especially when asked at the very last minute (!). A surfer needs to understand that their host is not going to be at their beck and call. More about this in the boundaries section.

BOUNDARIES
-The Captain and I are both, to an extent, introverts. We need our alone time. Sometimes that means the Captain kicks everyone out of the living room to work on his laptop, and sometimes that means I kick everyone out of the kitchen to clean. We have this understanding of that doesn’t mean we don’t like each other, it just means we don’t want to be around people in general right now. So a surfer who spends every waking hour on the couch watching tv (!!) and gets affronted and hurt when asked to be elsewhere for a bit (!!!) messes with the mojo. Fundamentally, this is nothing more than a personality mismatch.
-If Daddy says no, Mommy is not going to say yes. The Captain and the Geisha and I do this thing where we actually communicate with each other about what’s going on in our house. So if one of us hears something, we all know about it in short order — when everyone’s on the same page about things, the machine that is our house runs much more smoothly. So a surfer who tries to go behind someone’s back to get what they want / complain about the situation / weasel out of responsibilities is not going to get very far, and is only going to put someone in an awkward position and get someone else pissed off.
-I work full-time. So does the Geisha. The Captain has his thing going on at home right now, and works better when he can plug away at it without distractions for eight-hour stretches. A surfer needs to be somewhat socially self-sufficient, and fairly unobtrusive. Which might mean staying in the guest room by themselves a lot.
-We were pretty good at establishing what isn’t OK, but we’re not as good at establishing what *is* ok, and what caveats we place on that. Cooking with our food is generally ok, as long as there’s enough to share. Coming to us with a personal problem is ok, as long as if it’s with one of us, the surfer is actually talking to the person they have the problem with. Asking for help with job search is ok. Asking how to accomplish a cleaning task, or for help with something that requires more than two hands, is ok. Letting me know “Hey, the way my days are structured doesn’t allow me to tackle large-scale housework, which is why I haven’t gotten around to vacuuming. Can we swap that out for something I can tackle in between doing other things?” is TOTALLY ok.
-A surfer needs to respect that sometimes, the people they’re staying with have a set way of doing things. And unless they’re paying rent, and living here for an extended period of time, they have absolutely NO influence over that. For example, the Captain is really bad at confrontation. That’s why he’s Good Cop and I’m Bad Cop; we make a good team but if we’re by ourselves, he’s kind of a pushover-with-ulterior-motives type of guy, and I’m kind of an asshole-with-├╝ber-high-expectations kind of guy. So when we’re tackling a problem together, we give each other moral support to actually face it and rein each other in to remain civil. While ideally people would confront the person they have an issue with, sometimes that isn’t the reality of what happens. In a roommate situation, sometimes things need to be resolved in a meeting and not one-on-one. (Usually, when the three of us have an issue, the people who have the issue with each other talk things through with the third person first, and then we all get together and hash it out with some mediation. It’s worked ok so far — things don’t always get resolved quickly, but they do get resolved together.) That is “how we do it.” AKA, “just the way things are.”

CONTRIBUTIONS
-In general, the minimum costs of having a couch surfer include: less room in communal spaces, slightly elevated gas/electric, slightly elevated water*. If they’re not able to provide their own food, that costs the hosts money. If they’re given access to non-required amenities like tv, internet, and mailing address, those cost the host a set amount of money, and the costs are divided among three people but being used by four. At minimum, a surfer should contribute at least enough to defray the costs of their living there; ideally in a longer-term arrangement someone would be contributing labor equal to their full part of household expenses. (For example, a quarter of rent/bills in the Pirate House can be paid for with 12-15 hours a week of housework.)
-A surfer should be able to contribute something of value, regardless of situation. Our surfer thought a coffee grinder would be useful. It really wasn’t, since we rarely buy whole bean coffee, and already have a coffee grinder anyway. This is something that needed to be negotiated better.
-A host should not expect a surfer to be psychic. I think we kind of fell into that trap: “We have a routine, these things are automatic for us, OMG WHY ARE YOU DOING THINGS THAT WAY INSTEAD!?” Which we tried to correct for with a Google Document about housework. And, like the first point, two weeks was just not enough for those habits to fall into place. The only thing that would have helped more here, honestly, would have been more direct clarity and communication. So when the main communicator/go-between (me) is at work fifty hours a week… that doesn’t really happen.

PERSONALITIES
-I really just don’t think we can functionally have this setup (housekeeping in exchange for room and board) outside of a d/s context. I want things done my way, dammit! The dishwasher loading diagram is non-negotiable. I would feel right training someone who expressed an interest in domestic things, submission things, service things, and wanted to be held to a high standard of household service. I would feel wrong trying to train someone who was NOT interested in those things, i.e., a mostly vanilla roommate. But then they would be doing things their way, which is the wrong way as far as I’m concerned, and I would be unhappy and when I’m unhappy I get nitpicky and when I get nitpicky people get offended. So that’s just not going to work.
-This might be different if it was more of an employer/employee relationship than friend-crashing-on-couch relationship. But I have some degree of trouble acting as an employer with friends outside the house (things get weird with the Geisha at work sometimes because I’m her manager; we get things done but it feels awkward) and I’m not sure how I feel about having a business relationship inside my house.
-Realistically I want a house big enough for a separate servants’ quarters.

*For the three-month billing period which contained the two weeks one of the couch surfers was with our, the bill TRIPLED. I’m not sure how that was managed.

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23
Jan
11

learn something new every day, chapter 5

(Right well really it’s every month more like)

January 6: Driving up to Crusader’s house for D&D (by myself, since I was coming from work and everyone else was already there). Thought process while driving up/past:
1. Oh shit, that’s a lot of fire engines.
2. Damn those people standing outside look cold. They haven’t got coats on.
3. Fuck, that’s flames coming out of the chimney.
4. Well, looks like it’s fairly contained and under control. No need to stop.
5. (hyperventilate sob hyperventilate sob hyperventilate sob)
6. Huh. Panic attacks make it hard to drive. I really ought to pull over.
7. *Calls the Captain* “Hi honey. I’m having a panic attack. Can you talk me down?”

January 19: Driving to work on 100E.
1. That giant plume of smoke up ahead could be a fire, accident, or idiot semi.
2. “I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer…”
3. Flickers of flame on the ground. Upright beams, charred and still burning. Chimney. Fire truck. No people. Ground is black.
4. Nothing more to be done and the FD is already there. No need to stop.
5. (hyperventilate sob)
6. No. I’m not going to be late to work.
7. “I will not fear. Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will let it pass over me and through me. When the fear is gone, there is only me.” * Rinse and repeat.
8. OK, my voice is steady again. Just keep driving.

I do the same thing going over the Bay Bridge, actually (usually it’s just whiteknuckles on the steering wheel but the Bay Bridge is HORRIBLE and it’s the quickest way to Storyteller’s house). Depending on who’s with me. I’ve found that if Crusader is sitting in my car (January 2nd) I can actually carry on a conversation with him. He and I ended up talking a lot about fear and religion (and relationships, kind of) on the way back one time and we’re a lot more alike than our political views would suggest.

Things I learned: It doesn’t matter where the prayer comes from or whether it’s made up or cribbed from a movie/book or copied directly from [holy text of your choice]. What matters is that it does what you need it to.
…Also, the consequences of getting bindrunes tattooed on you may happen unexpectedly quickly. (The consequences themselves are not unexpected. This is WHY the spider.)

* Having now looked it up, yes: Your foaming at the mouth is justified. This is inaccurate as far as the novel is concerned. It is, however, accurate to my memory of it at the time. Having both read the novel and seen the movie at least a year and a half ago, I paraphrased. It worked anyway, so there you go. The complete and accurate litany against fear.

15
Aug
10

Learn something new every day, chapter 3

The Captain and I went to Summer Masquerade Ball with Burninator this past Friday. I got to see LittleDarling for the first time since probably last summer, ran into someone I knew from university and some of Kaos’s friends, met a few new people, hung out with Kitsune, bummed a smoke and got two drinks bought for me.

The week prior, Burninator had taught me to make leather masks. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

*ahem.*

So I spent most of the week painting (and sewing the Captain’s costume too, but mostly painting). Somebody had the bright idea to dress up as Loki, and put himself in a mask. Pics to come. Prior to leaving the house, I set my altar book (D’Aulaires’ Norse Gods and Giants. I fucking love picture books.) to the story of the rebuilding of the wall. In which, dear reader, Loki changes into a mare to seduce away a Jotun’s workhorse.

Apparently Friday night was the friendliest I’ve ever been. I talked to new people, danced, and was generally loud and boisterous. Some with the mask on my face, some with it on my head (wearing glasses over it was a pain in the ass) and some with the mask nowhere near me.

15
Aug
10

learn something new every day, chapter 2

Well, now it’s more like learn something new every week.

EDIT: And post about it a month later.

A preface: For a long time I’ve had a bit of a fear of guns. (The Captain takes advantage of this in his own special way.) I’m not exactly sure where it comes from originally; recently it’s been because thinking about shooting myself had become a coping mechanism (yes, I got help.)

Couple of weekends ago I went shooting with the Captain, the Geisha, and the Crusader. The Crusader went over safety first.

1: The gun is always loaded.
2: Even when it’s not loaded, the gun is loaded.
3: Never point at something you’re not going to shoot.
4: If you’re not shooting, the gun is pointing at the ground. Not at your feet, not in the air.

Then he taught the Geisha and me to use the .22 long rifle. It was actually not that difficult once I got the loading action down. I stuck with that one most of the evening, although they also had me try a shotgun, a handgun, and a gigantic scary Lee-Enfield rifle, which left a bruise on my shoulder.

Afterward, we cleaned everything we’d used and hung out with the Crusader’s dad and brothers for a bit. I kept the spent shells so I can make a necklace, although I might need more of the tiny .22’s for spacers.

This makes two irrational fears the Captain has helped me get over. I don’t have to like guns to know how to use them, though.

#

POSTSCRIPT

There was also an ancient revolver that came with us, but didn’t get used because it was rusted to shit. The Captain says it’s probably from the early 1900’s, and it’s been sitting unused at his parents’ house for freaking ever. He cleaned it while we were at the Crusader’s house. Last week he heard it whispering and decided it needed to hide somewhere.

17
Jul
10

Learn Something New Every Day, Chapter 1

HIGH HEELS

I’m going to kind of condense the past couple of days into one. I’ve started learning to walk in heels. They’re only three inches, but it’s more than I ever walked in before (wearing them to bed once or twice doesn’t *really* count).

I have good posture when in flats, men’s shoes, boots, platforms, flip-flops, barefoot, you name it. Ten years of martial arts will do that to you. Apparently, three inches of sexy sexy heel with adorable peeptoes can make me slouch. Maybe I’m just not used to being this tall? I’m none too fond of being taller than the Captain. The Geisha and I were walking around the mall the other day and she had to keep jabbing me in the back — “Back straight! Tits out! Stick ’em out! Like machine guns!”

My feet aren’t developing *horrible* blisters, so these probably fit well enough that the only issue is that I don’t know how to walk in them. My feet were in pain by the end of the first day, but my calves felt like they had gotten a good workout. I wish they made heels that worked out your upper thighs.

I wore them around the house yesterday for about five hours. By the end of it my feet didn’t hurt, exactly, but they sure were numb. I think it helped to wear a long skirt instead of pants, because it’s easier to let my hips swing when they feel less constrained.

Today I only wore them for a little bit, because I spent most of the day sitting on the Captain’s bed filling out job applications. After having them on for half an hour my toes were going numb, so I figured I would take a break and maybe resume practicing on Monday.

Once I’m good enough with three inches (and have a job, so I can afford to buy more shoes) I’ll hop up on the stripper pole at the next play party *grin*.