Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Message is Unclear

When I was falling in love with J, I was also becoming an anarchist. It was a heady combination. I felt that life as I knew it was breaking apart, exposing something infinitely more wonderful.

One of the first things we did together was travel to Washington D.C. to protest the IMF. This was one of those protests that you hear about in the news and the reporters are always saying, "the protesters' message was unclear." To anarchists, this media cliche is both a conspiracy and a big joke. The joke is that to us the message is clear, obvious, and constant: stop being such fuckers. Another world is possible.

But which world?

At this event we were arrested and held without charge for over twenty-four hours, along with hundreds of other peaceful protesters. A funny thing about this is that now, almost nine years later, a class-action lawsuit has gone through against the D.C. police. The officers who arrested us on one of our first dates us have now helped to pay for the home we needed to close on so we could move in in time for our second child to be born in the kitchen, anarchist style. At the time, though, it wasn't nearly so funny.

Besides being wrongfully arrested, we also met a Mormon punk named Kermit who followed us home and started living in our house. He was crazy and a huge mooch, but also kind of charming in a classic punk-with-a-fake-British-accent way. He was always playing the guitar and singing an improvisational song called "My Father is a Colonial Imperialist (and Here Are the Reasons Why)."

Kermit was always chasing various women, and at one point he actually got a high-school punk girlfriend who came over to our house with her friend, who was a film-making student. She was fascinated by all of us. She told us that she would like to make a film about our lifestyle. "What lifestyle?" we asked. "You know, the dumpster diving and...everything. The whole lifestyle," she said.

I'm not sure how to tie this together, but I think it has to do with some of the disenfranchisement that I often feel. To me we live the normal way (or at least a normal way). I don't really get why other people are the way they are. And yet, for some reason, we are the ones who have a "lifestyle", and our message is perpetually unclear.


  1. This may sound kind of asshole and I don't mean it that way. It's very funny in my head. I think it is awesome that the government bought your house in payment for you being wrongfully arrested as an anarchist. That's a special kind of irony I like a lot. :D

    The reason it is a lifestyle choice is because the "American Dream" means constantly pursuing more money. If you aren't on that track, you are a different one. A "lifestyle" one. Just like in the other post where you muse about finding a way to get paid for what you are doing. You are living in a way that is not like the "American Dream" and you want to learn how to market it. You recognize that you are on a different track it just feels weird to think of yourself that way. :)

    The thing I am most conflicted about with moving to Pittsburgh is I think you and I would have had an interesting friendship. :) I'm extremely mercenary about money. I make no bones about the fact that I've done enough living under the poverty line and it sucked thankyouverymuch. You are making lifestyle choices. You are choosing to be happy with less security.

    That's a lifestyle. :) The message is unclear because you haven't figured out for yourself what it is you are doing that your lifestyle affords you. You haven't really figured out how to think of your life as a big win yet. I think it is, for you. But the baby stage sucks. :( It doesn't sound like you get a lot of help.

    When the babe is more like 3 I bet you will have very different feelings about Unschooling and being poor. :)

  2. I know that this is a thing I have made different choices about. The weird thing, for me, is that in a lot of different areas of my life I've made individual different choices. All of them make sense to me. But I feel like especially the conglomeration of all those choices really makes me stand out from most people, and I never intended to do that. So it's strange. I feel like many people look at me and my lifestyle and think that I'm trying to be strange or get attention. Really, I'd rather feel like a normal person and have an easier time interacting with mainstream people, because there are a lot of them. But I like my life more than I want that, I guess.

    I think we would have had an interesting friendship, too. For that matter, I think we do have an interesting friendship. For someone who makes so many strange choices, I'm really pretty open-minded. I like friends who are different than me (I pretty much have to). That said, I'm a lot more mercenary about money, myself, than I used to be. I'm pretty ready to get paid. Thus the speculation about whether my "lifestyle", which people seem to regard as so exotic, has any market value :)

    And yeah, a lot of my current stress is baby related. As far as help, I think I probably get at least the usual amount...J only works part time, and we go to great lengths to be equitable about the other time...there are just so many things to do with that time, like wash dishes. But I'm starting to think that at least one of my kids has pretty high needs, and I'm sure the baby days are stressful for most parents. Blah, I don't know.

    I would love to be able to have mom/parent friends. I dream of living more communally and having other families to hang out with during the long days. I think that would make things about 80% easier for me.