Print Story But what if we don't belong anywhere?
By technician (Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 12:07:58 PM EST) (all tags)

We were sitting in the back room of the little beer and burger joint that I try to go to at least once a week, sometimes twice, despite the fact that it sits pretty far away from work, on the edge of a neighborhood that I'd love to be able to live in.

It usually takes two beers, but we always get to the same topics: music, or places we've lived, would like to live, or live in now.

He asks me, why not just move somewhere else here in town? Some place you like?

Because, I say. That's guy thinking.

See, I don't much like the neighborhood we're in. It's a first world white guy complaint. I'm lucky to have a place, and have it be pretty well made, and live in an area of relative political and social stability with, like, food really close by.

But we're on the very edge of town, and the neighborhood itself is a subdivision with houses crammed into tiny lots surrounded by two major highways and a lot of commercial property. Our neighborhood has a Dollar General, a Sonic, and an Auto Zone. The houses range from passably bland to run down. In the last seven years, crime has gone down quite a lot...we rarely have killings in the area, and personal assaults have dropped to one or two every quarter. Our house, built in the mid-80s in twenty minutes for $40, is worth about $20k less than what we paid for it and about $70k less than what we've put into it. But I didn't buy it for an investment, I bought it to be closer to Dell.

Now I'd rather not be there. I'd rather be in town, or a lot closer to it. Somewhere in a north central neighborhood near the new commuter rail. Some place with more lot for a decent garden. Closer to town for decent commute options. Not in the sprawl, but not downtown.

Or, the other way: right the hell out of town, on twenty acres of scrub oak and pine.

The wife and I, we go on these modern home tours, what with both of us being fans of modernist architecture. We both want solar power, geothermal heating + cooling, gray water recovery, cisterns, and food production. We want the house to be hyper efficient, LEED certified. We want it to be as small as we can possibly get away with, something 1000 sq ft or less. We've talked about having three separate structures, each one tiny (500 sq ft or less) arranged around a courtyard with a protected water source and breezeways, with master switches to kill power in each structure when it isn't being used. Houses with heavy adobe walls that have a courtyard.  We have all these great ideas, and you know what? All they are is depressing. More ideals that I'll never live up to, in places I'll never know.

My wife has done a LOT of work to make our house as good as it is, and it is pretty darn good. If it were somewhere else, I'd invest in the solar panels and the rest. As it stands, the house is worth more than the neighborhood can support; it's a gem in a pig sty. And she's invested more than just time and effort. She's emotionally invested.

That's the difference, then, and it seems to be a gender issue but it may just be a majority of gender issue. As a guy...maybe as a technician...I see a problem (don't like where our house is, don't much like the house) and a solution (sell it, and rent or buy or build another in a place that makes more sense). As a wife, my wife sees: he doesn't like the house that I've spent so much of my time and effort and heart on improving, so he must hate me. It's an unsolvable problem.

Sam asks me, why not just sell the house and move to this neighborhood here? There's plenty for sale, he says.

I say, Sam, you know the problem. There's no solution.

We both finish the pints we have, and get half pints of high alcohol stouts, and talk more about other cities to live in, about myself and the wife leaving Texas for some place where her career might have teeth. All these places I don't want to live are all the places that she can find work.

Everyone in Austin retires to Portland, Sam says. It's like a sister city.

Yeah, and I tell him about wanting to move to Seattle or Portland, and we drink more.

White people, he says. What the fuck is wrong with us?

I dunno, I say.

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But what if we don't belong anywhere? | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I know... by atreides (4.00 / 5) #1 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 12:12:26 PM EST
White people, he says. What the fuck is wrong with us?


He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

ghetto 7!!! by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 12:31:57 PM EST
His Majesty FTW!

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
See by technician (4.00 / 2) #8 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 06:12:49 PM EST
On a completely different note by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 12:50:27 PM EST
I'm in San Marcos in October (yes, I plan that far ahead). Hope to see you and the Emperor, since I'll fly in/out of Austin.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

oh man by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 01:24:25 PM EST
I love your theoretical house idea.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

Which one? by technician (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 04:51:43 PM EST
The three tiny houses? That's my favorite: three tiny structures around a protected water source with adobe walls around the whole shebang. Each structure has a purpose, and when not in use is shut down / made passive.

Solar + wind + geothermal passive colling / heating + having a nice big tree right in the middle of it...and maybe a decent 10 acre plot adjoining.....

[ Parent ]
my brother by garlic (4.00 / 1) #13 Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 10:50:08 AM EST
Just looked at installing geothermal heating/cooling in Milwaukee. He didn't end up doing it because the payoff was more than 20 years in the future. He's willing to be a nippy if its cheaper eventually,but he's not willing to pay for it.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, the price by technician (2.00 / 0) #15 Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 01:09:30 PM EST
is pretty staggering, mainly due to the depth they have to drill.

[ Parent ]
Houses by kwsNI (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 01:55:09 PM EST
Despite the money and effort I've put into my houses, I've never really had a problem leaving them.  They're just buildings and the work I put into them are to improve the time I live there.  In the past dozen years, I've lived in 3 time zones, 4 states, 5 cities and 6 postal codes.  Strangely enough, I'd still say I have an emotional attachment to my home - I just feel like I can pick up and move to a new home with little problem. 

Speaking of moving, now that I'm settling in here in Dallas, I may have to start seeing what we can do about a TX Husi meetup sometime early this summer. 

Indeedy. by technician (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 05:08:11 PM EST
Early summer would be about right. Anything after May is too damn hot.

And yeah, I've never been committed to a location. Even if I've put money into it, I did that to improve my time there, however long or short that is.

Maybe if I keep showing up with these ads for places like this or this, I might get somewhere. Into a new version of the same problem, probably.

[ Parent ]
Wow by kwsNI (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 09:35:09 PM EST
Those are some sweet houses.  I love the price difference between Austin and Seattle. 

May would probably work for me.  Guess I should post something. 

[ Parent ]
You know who ELSE needed more Lebensraum? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 10:03:52 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

I know that burger joint by johnny (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 10:44:08 PM EST
I know that house and I know that wife.  I like all three of them, a lot.

As to your situation, I have no bright solutions, other than, um, play the lottery?

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

(Comment Deleted) by mellow teletubby (4.00 / 1) #12 Fri Apr 01, 2011 at 03:56:52 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by mellow teletubby

to make a place someone loves a writeoff by garlic (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 10:53:20 AM EST
Could take major damage, if its not impossible.

[ Parent ]
But what if we don't belong anywhere? | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback