Saying Goodbye to the Sauce

I rarely drink. I’ve just never been into it and whenever I do, I immediately regret it’s effects on me. I find it hard to concentrate on what people are saying to me. And, of course, there have been worse effects than that.

Environment plays a role in how much we drink. When I started a new job a few years ago, I was invited out with the “cool” crowd. They were big drinkers. I figured I’d try that out to fit in.  I invited them over since I never want to drink and drive. I drank as much as I could and woke up to a hangover which was very unpleasant. THey noticed I was a “lightweight” and basically kicked me out of the group. It ended up for the best since they were “mean girls” and all ended up quitting by the year’s end and the workplace become a much better environment.

I realized that I haven’t had a sip of alcohol since leaving cohousing a year and a half ago.  I’m just not into it. Of course, another group didn’t seem to like that here at the beach too. The beach seems to have a party atmosphere.  But at cohousing it was easy to drink. First off, I didn’t have to drive home. Second, it was around a lot.  One person even got up and opened a bottle of wine (okay, a box) at a meeting at the common house when he realized it was going to be a long one. (He has since decided to leave cohousing to have more free time in his life and for his young family).  

I have some suspicions that all the drinking didn’t help us in our efforts of being a healthy community. Some people drank more than others (that I can see).  I saw another person take some swigs of a local wine when she was upset about a kerfuffle with her neighbor that hour.  I just figured I’d have to up my drinking.

So last night I had my first drink in a long while. I chose to try one because I was in charge of a meet up group in a restaurant to catch the parade route. Meet up is a great app to meet new people and do social events. The problem is that a lot of people RSVP and then don’t show up. It could be for getting lost, change of plans, or I didn’t show one time because I couldn’t find parking.  Either way, it’s hard to get a table at a restaurant when they ask how large your party is. I am honest and say maybe 2 or maybe 7.  This restaurant was no different – nervous I was taking up table space during a busy parade night.  I figured I better order a lot and spend a lot of money to make up for the lack of people. I ordered a fancy drink.  Then some people came.  

Immediately I regretted getting the drink. They didn’t drink and I could feel my mind clog up and speech slur. I felt like an idiot.  I also stayed after everyone left to make sure I drank enough water and got rid of that one drink before driving home.

I”m not trying to judge anyone. I just don’t like drinking. I have my other vices, to be sure.  But atmosphere makes a difference. For college, I chose a dry campus so I wouldn’t be around a party crowd. It was the right decision. Cohousing, you don’t get to choose your neighbors. At other intentional communities you can.  I’m just thankful that drinking is not part of my life now and I think I met some nice people last night who also  don’t make drinking a priority.  I’m done with getting fancy drinks. If I need to spend money, I’ll get a virgin one or another appetizer next time.

By the way, the holiday was a lot of fun!  Creative floats and lots of lights and holiday cheer.

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Things that go bump in the night

I got a thump on my door today – commonly known as a knock.  My shy neighbor wanted to see me. I was shocked. I figured I had bothered him by putting trash bags in the hallway to take away later – since the dog will chomp down into them if we leave them in the house.  

No, I wasn’t in trouble. He apologized but he bumped into my car while backing up yesterday. 

“Is my mirror okay?”

That’s the only thing I cared about. A few scratches no big deal but when I ran into a contractor van last year on the narrow beach streets I knocked out the mirror. Duct tape did fine until I recently went in for inspection and failed. It costs A LOT to replace a rear mirror!

He laughed about the mirror. 

So it’s all good but it made me think of how we bump into neighbors. I like condo living – bumping into neighbors. It’s not just unique to cohousing.

Another neighbor stopped by after getting groceries to see how I was since the loss of our beloved cat.  My dog sniffed his grocery bags and approved of the chicken he bought.

Even in a “regular” neighborhood, I backed up one time, distracted by seeing a hawks nest, and ran over the neighbor’s mailbox. I went over and apologized. He said he always hated that mail box.  His wife had chosen it.   It was a win win. 

After that he and I would talk on the dead end street with many neighbors. It was a very social neighborhood until one woman choose to babysit and got in a “kid” argument over the kid’s behavior with another parent. Business and kids ruined it. I thought that wouldn’t happen in cohousing but I was very wrong.

So, maybe just stick to all pleasure. No business.  Just fun. Or just be smart, unlike me, and realize people are people and super messy.

They may also bump into your car or mail box.

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What is your culture?

This is a great video. We all have a culture and when we get together either to live or work together, there can be clashes of expectations, perceptions, and cultures!

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Being right is so wrong

I was on a zoom recently with lots of communitarians (cohousers, intentional community residents and wannabes).  One person said that they noticed that people who didn’t fit into cohousing moved out within one year.

I asked what made them not fit and they said “People who need to be right.”

I learned a few things that day.  One, how common it is that people know if cohousing is correct or not for them within one year. We had four families leave within a year, one right at a year, and three others at a year and a half (though I know one family knew before one year).  It goes with my firm belief that everyone should rent at first, if they can. See if this community is for you or not.  Looks like you should rent for two years to be sure.

The other thing that was reinforced is how cohousing tends to blame the victim. The one leaving. It’s all on  them. They didn’t fit. I see very few places that self-reflect and see how it takes two to tango.

I may be a bit sensitive since someone accused me of wanting to be “right”. That word was flown around. I never said that. I never even felt that.  I am not insensitive (in fact too sensitive) and I saw how most people thought what I did was wrong – and those who agreed didn’t speak up against the groupthink).  It wasn’t a matter of right or wrong but I chose an action and I didn’t expect the reaction. Once that reaction was there, I didn’t see a way of getting back into the fold.  I had made a mistake which all of us do. If you are a community, aren’t you supposed to forgive mistakes That’s what I was working towards and to explain how I came up to my decision.

No matter what I said, some never could listen. They heard I was mad. That I wanted punishment. That I wanted to be “right”.  

I just wanted some terrible actions to stop. That was it.  

I heard someone who is forming a cohousing community how they will work to solve problems. They brought up examples of communities that were problem solvers. Made me almost sign up right away. But then I remembered what happened to me.  What if you are the only one who is a problem solver? What if everyone else is super passive?

For most things it’s not a big deal. But this issue felt urgent to me and others (which no one likes to bring up – they like to pin it all on me when there is evidence of others who had the same solution).

That’s what being in the community can show you. Do your real core values match up with those around you?

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The Fast and the Furious Gone in 60 Seconds

It all started way back in the commune heydays. A man we will call Adam lived in the San Francisco  Haight district and fed the hungry with an all vegan, free restaurant.  Now, he is aging but still wants a community and the ability to feed the hungry.  So, his friend, Abel, told me about this idea. And it’s by the beach. So, even though I swore off cohousing and intentional communities, I thought maybe this time!

I got involved because they needed someone in the younger generation to recruit, document, and even run an education center.  I succeeded in recruiting and the recruit, Cain, went over there right away ready to work and be part of this forming community.  

He appeared on the property and everyone was friendly. There was Adam, his son, and a guy on the couch.  Cain felt welcomed and they put him up in their exercise room.  Cain had ideas and the energy to do environmental work. He enjoyed talking to Adam.  After a few days things started to go south.

First, the son asked the guy on the couch to help with a project now that Cain wanted to help.  The guy freaked out. Far as I can tell, he had been living there without lifting a finger and didn’t like the change.  Then, the son never liked his ideas and made it clear he was tired of hippie friends of his father being in his life (Like the guy on the couch).

The last straw for Cain was when the son wanted him to get on the roof with the guy on the couch holding the ladder. Cain didn’t trust the guy on the couch with a ladder so he packed up and left.

I never even got to visit the place. I had a feeling things were iffy. When I had a zoom call, the son said he wanted to please his father but no one could tell me how much property they had, where they’d put people, or if it really was a go. Now Cain had shown it was a no.  Adam wants the hey days back but his son controls the property.  His son, I suspect, didn’t like the unstable nature of the commune lifestyle and wants nothing to do with it now as an adult. He’s a Republican which I suspect may be a form of rebellion from his parents.

Cain ran off to visit his sister and is looking for another community and farms to volunteer at.  I feel sad that another intentional community dream is ruined.  At least this time I didn’t put much time, money, or effort in and I was cautious from the start.  Plus, now I have two new friends – Cain and Abel.

In case you are counting, I”m 2-0.  I’m seriously considering giving up completely.

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Will we all be shamed, Monica Lewinsky?

I googled public humiliation. I was trying to see how others dealt with being a scapegoat. I came across a great article written by Monica Lewinsky. She knows a thing or two about this.  I admire her work to stop public humiliation on social media and how she has taken back her voice and story.

It is awful when your voice gets taken away and others tell your story.

I didn’t feel a fraction of what she did but being shamed by a group I thought would be my “family” forever, was bad enough. I wonder, will this happen to all of us? Is that the culture now? Humiliation? Lack of compassion? Afraid to talk to each other and hear first hand accounts? Trying so desperately to find the “right” side, that you can’t sit in the discomfort that everyone did their best?

I’ve noticed on the Neighborhood app that a lot of people post about rude things people said to them, or horrible things people are doing.  I appreciate the posts on “suspicious” people if they really are dangerous and not just fear of “outsiders”, but this public humiliation thing makes me nervous. 

We can all just be out doing our lives when someone films us and puts us up on the Internet to be shamed.  Makes you afraid to live!

I know that what goes around comes around and the thing that bothered me the most at our cohousing community was the fact that no one noticed that how everyone treated me would be repeated someday, maybe one of them would be next? The truth is I didn’t notice myself.  We had a meeting months earlier on an issue in the Common House and one person felt attacked and another called the discussion ‘cruel”.  I assumed we’d process and work it out but we never did.  

So, can we stop humiliation and shame and be a new world of questions and compassion?  That’s my holiday wish!

Monica in her own words, 2014

https://www.vanityfair.com/style/society/2014/06/monica-lewinsky-humiliation-culture

Posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, group think and cults, other blogs and websites, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So this is Christmas, Yoko Ono?

Why do so many people hate Yoko Ono? I think it has to do with the Beatles breaking up. Maybe the other band members didn’t like her but I bet there were other reasons than just one of the member’s spouse..

I thought of her because I don’t particularly like her voice in the song “So this is Christmas” but I don’t hate her. I just don’t like that version of the song but I like the message and other versions. Now that the radio is playing Christmas music (they never play Hanukah or Ramadan or Diwali songs), I remember which ones I like and ones I don’t. For the record, I can’t stand Santa Baby by Madonna but love Eartha Kitt’s and anyone else’s version. Same with Wham – any other version of Last Christmas is fine.

I tried to look up how Yoko Ono has felt all these years. Being hated. Being blamed for something that probably wasn’t her fault  Being a punch line. I’ll have to wait and see her autobiography, is there one yet?

All I know is it’s simple and easy to shift blame and stress onto one person.  Cohousing sounds like it would only attract mature, deep people who would never do that. I found out the hard way.

I hope your holiday season is stress free and if you don’t like someone’s singing, just change the station.

The BMI Holiday Countdown: John Lennon, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” | News |  BMI.com
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Live and Lose even in cohousing

As you can tell, I write a lot. I’ve kept a diary since I was 13 and enjoyed writing before then. But this post is difficult for me to write.

I thought our cat, Garfield, would go to the vet, get some meds, and perk up. His sister, Boo, acted lethargic and wasn’t eating about a year ago and they gave her meds and she was fine.  Garfield was a different story.  I thought he got into my too salty turkey. Nope, he kept not acting himself or eatting. So we went back to the emergency room and then the regular vet. She prepared me for the worst – a cancer mass in his stomach. Yet, I still had hope as I brought him to get fluids and stay overnight and get blood work at the Animal Hospital again.

I was driving home, planning to write on my blog about Garfield when I got the call. Come get him. It’s bad.  Take him home to say goodbye then make decisions. Incurable cancer.  I sobbed. Got myself enough to get the boys and go back to the Animal House.

I hoped the fluids would make him our perky Garfield. No, poor cat was really hurting and just lying around. I googled it and some cats in pain, don’t want to be petted. That was him – wanting to be alone.

I fell asleep and dreamed Garfield was cold in a snowstorm.  In the morning I called the in home hospice who come and take your pet away.  Less stressful than going to the vet.  So, yesterday was tough.  I cleaned the house (a rare occurrence) since physical labor seems to help with grief.  I keep trying to postpone death or fighting it off but it always wins.  That lack of control makes doing something like cleaning seem like we may have  some say in our lives.

I know you can schedule a birth (c-section) but I never thought of scheduling a death.  I set my timer for 4 to stop and have time to prepare but the vet called and said she’d be there early. I set the timer to his death.

We went out in the deck.  I don’t call it a patio because that’s close to the word catio which I built for him and his siblings in cohousing.  Ironic I thought they’d finally be safe. They wouldn’t be outdoor cats anymore since the HOA had rules on numbers allowed outside.  But it hasn’t protected them much from the Grim Reaper.  Dulce died soon after the catio was built, and now his brother, Garfield.

This is the first death since leaving cohousing.  Dulce’s death tested my neighbors and they came through with generosity and kindness.  Other tests did’t end up as well. Yet I”m also realizing you have no control over how people act and react and my happiness is not dependent on others.  I know it’s taking awhile and I”m still shocked how they did react to something I did to try to help. I didn’t expect that reaction and would’ve done things a bit differently. Yet, the reason I acted is still there. This week I got a taste of how they felt – in denial.  I was in denial about Garfield’s death until that call.  Denial felt good. There was hope. Nothing was really that’s bad.

I realized that’s why my cohousing neighbors were so calm. There was no problem and then when I made the call that there was, there was shock and anger at me and never did deal with the issue. It just makes me sad that their denial has meant more problems, especially for new families that move in.

It’s nice when you get a chance to walk in someone else’s shoes. And now I have new neighbors who have said their condolences for our loss of Garfield. He was a sweet cat and I have a hole in my heart.

I also have been thinking of that phrase – It’s better to love and loss than never to have loved at all.  I had a friend in Italy who told me it was stupid to have pets because they will die.I thought that was odd especially coming from him since he was a bit of a Don Giovanni (Italian version of Don Juan) who didn’t mind lovers coming and going (pun intended). But I also have thought of it in terms of cohousing. Was it good to have tried and lost? It is for me since now I”m (slowly) getting the idea of utopia out of my life.  And maybe I don’t have the right temperament to deal when it’s not what I expected. I’m not good at denial except around death.  I woudl have to lower my standards and realize they are just neighbors. But I also was extremely hurt by all of them and they are in denial about that (or don’t care).  Maybe it was worth it to love and lose. Other places take that risk too – some are almost utopia and others have lots of turmoil.  I do know I don’t want a hardened heart. I’ll never give up on love and relationships and bringing more love into this world, whether it’s for a neighbor, friend, lover, family, or a cat.

Garfield’s mother decided that our backyard was a safe place for her litter and it was a gift to us to have her kittens in our lives.  Garfield and his siblings showed up unexpectedly.  Sometimes that’s the best way to get the best things in life.  He gave us pure love and we tried to give it back, even in his last moments.

Posted in death and mourning, grief and grieving, pets in cohousing | Leave a comment

warped studies on cohousing?

Here is a study on cohousing and cohousing like places. As I read it I wondered how valid these studies can be. Do they ever talk to the people who left? Those who stay are obviously happy with their community and that’s fine but it doesn’t help the world to try to push cohousing on everybody! And why is it the only solution to loneliness? Cohousing is so hard to afford and get built in the first place, why not put energy into the 99% of housing and neighborhoods and form connections there. Plus, running a building is not always community building – the disputes can tear people apart.

https://newsroom.northumbria.ac.uk/pressreleases/innovative-housing-can-help-tackle-loneliness-3148548

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Cat nap

I”m up late.  It’s half past midnight. My usual bedtime is around 9 but I stayed up late last night. I learned a tip – it costs twice as much if you bring an animal into the 24 hour vet after midnight. So my cat was out by midnight yesterday. Now I”m staging up to give him his every 8 hours medicine. It’s called love.

And worry. We don’t want to lose Garfield like we did his brother when we moved to cohousing. That is a bad memory for the whole family. The prognosis looks good this time but he’s still not eating.  I’ll keep waking up and sleeping strangely until he’s all better.

When I got home last night I was ready to plop into the bed but I left the medicine in the car.  I went to retrieve it at midnight and found a treat. A neighbor was up with her dog – throwing a ball back and forth. I asked if she is up late often. She replied she sleeps at four hours at a time, wakes up for awhile, and returns to sleep. We discussed how we heard this may have been normal at one time before we all started banker’s hours.

It’s happened before, where I bump into a neighbor in the parking lot, or the mailbox, or the conference room and we chat at any old time. I realized this is the life I was promised at cohousing but never realized.  It wasn’t just Covid but the fact that the common house was a bit of a trek in the dark and we had a few sightings of animals I preferred not to meet in the night. One early morning I stumbled in the dark to the parking lot to go to work and heard noise. I asked, “Is that a person or a bear?”  I was relieved when it responded, “Bear” Good for a laugh but the real bears had walked between cars at other times.

So one night I was up late during a black out and I felt alone and then dismayed to see other coho neighbors were up but we were each in our own houses. How did I know they were up? One sent out an email to all of us about the black out and the other posted in the Neighborhood social media app.  I had heard that cohousing meant going to the common house at any time and meeting up with neighbors, even insomniacs. I didn’t find that. Blame it on the bears?

Garfield Nap Attack | Etsy
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