When It’s “Worth It”: The Ratio of Human Interaction

There’s an inherent calculation of human interaction that goes something like this:
(How much they improve your life) : (How much trouble a person causes you)
Put another way, it’s a ratio of Benefit:Cost or Happiness:Trouble.
Most people phrase this in an emotional context, but the meaning is ultimately the same. Personally, I find a simple mathematical ratio easier to convey than the amount of prevarication it would take to express such a thing emotionally.
When that ratio is consistently greater than 1:1, that’s a person who is worth “keeping”. If it’s only greater than 1:1 in some situations, then those are the only situations when it’s worth interacting with that person. When that ratio is consistently less than 1:1, it’s time to let that person go, and avoid him/her as necessary.
Naturally, foresight and personal preference comes into play, here. If a person is mostly troublesome, right now, but you foresee him/her being beneficial in the long term, then it might be worth keeping them around. If you’re OK with 1:1, even if it’s never greater than that, then that’s your threshold for deciding whether it’s “worth it”. Most people require a ratio much greater than 1:1 to consider it “worth it”. People with large circles of close friends that they consistently have problems with are less picky (requiring a lower ratio to be satisfied); whereas those who only really want to hang out with a few people who are particularly valuable to them are more picky (requiring a higher ratio to be satisfied). I’ve noticed that this level of “pickiness” directly corresponds with the amount of energy a person has for social interaction. Those who are more concerned with other things tend not to have any interest in those with less than, say, a 2:1 ratio of benefit:cost or happiness:trouble.
If you’re not providing at least a 1:1 ratio for someone, you’re doing it wrong. If you really want someone in your life, you need to provide them a higher ratio, and be sure that they’re doing the same for you, before committing to anything long-term.
Charity is an exception to this rule. (I’m using “charity” to refer to selfless love, rather than “giving money”, which, as an exclusive term, is a perversion of the original concept.) Charity is when someone offers you less than you would otherwise accept as a ratio of happiness:trouble, but you give that person your time, energy, and resources, anyway. You self-sacrifice for that person out of kindness. We can only do this to the extent that we have personal resources (time, energy, patience, emotional stability, money, etc.) to spare, and when we run low on this excess, we can no longer afford to give without receiving; otherwise, our own lives will suffer quite substantially. One only allows that for those we love most, such as family members. We give what we can, when we can, because we choose to; “obligation” is anemic to true charity, unless it’s someone we’re truly responsible for taking care of (such as an aging parent, a sibling in distress, or a child). Nevertheless, charity is what makes society worth having. We care for people who can’t give back as much as we give them, and, in turn, people do the same for us when we’re in need. Sadly, our society isn’t quite at the point when we can do this for each other very effectively (due to economics, and anger, mainly); but as we improve our way government and interpersonal interaction, this will slowly change–as it has been since the dawn of civilization.

How To Make Amends In 4 Simple Steps

It’s amazing how many adults don’t know how to do this, so consider it a “post-kindergarten education” for all of us grown-ups. Someone you know probably needs to see it, so please share!

1) If you had control over the thing that went wrong, then it’s your fault. If someone else also had control over it, then it’s ALSO their fault…but that doesn’t make it “not your fault”, so it’s time to fess up and take responsibility for your part in letting things go wrong. Step one is to admit you screwed up–to yourself, first, and then to whomever you caused trouble for. Don’t try to play down your responsibility (and don’t exaggerate it, either), because that will destroy trust and make the next steps harder. Don’t ask for forgiveness, yet, because at this point, you haven’t done anything to fix the situation.

2) Do everything you can to fix what went wrong. If you can’t fix it, try to compensate the person you wronged in an appropriate way. Money is typically NOT appropriate compensation, unless you deprived someone of physical wealth that they otherwise would have had/acquired. (This includes breaking something that belongs to someone else, or which is yours and would have benefited someone else.)

3) Ask for forgiveness. Keep in mind that unless you literally fixed EVERYTHING that went bad because of your screw-up (which is usually not possible), what you’re actually asking for is MERCY, not justice. Nobody is obligated to give you mercy (by definition!), so be grateful if they do. If they don’t, be understanding and act like a decent person, regardless.

4) Strive not to screw up in this way, again. The more you repeat your mistake, the harder it will be to make amends, in the future. If you ever completely fail to make amends, your relationship with a person will be permanently damaged.

As a final note, this also applies to things that people like to claim “just happened”, like scheduling conflicts, not having money with to pay someone what you promised them, and so on. If you booked the appointment/promised money/spent too much money, you had control over that event. Please be brave and make amends whenever it’s needed! Your social- and family-life will be much better for it.

Prose Poem: A Smile And A Promise

Sometimes, when someone touches me, I flinch before realizing that I want to be touched.  Then, I think about it for a second, and convince myself that it’s OK, but by that time, the lovely person has already assumed that I had rejected her. I don’t know why it’s like this; it didn’t used to be this way, but somehow, across a distance of a few decades, a part of me has grown to expect things to turn out badly, even when the evidence before my eyes suggests otherwise.

Sometimes, I’m so terrified that one more thing will go wrong, that when I want to reach out and take a chance on an amazing person, I convince myself that there’s no point in trying, but don’t realize that it’s just my insecurities talking until the opportunity has already passed.

Somewhere between being hit by family members and foolishly marrying a woman who started abusing me within days of saying “I do”, I forgot how to accept the idea that, sometimes, when a person reaches out with her hand, it’s because she loves me, and not because she wants to hurt me until she feels better about herself.

I wonder why, despite the anecdotal evidence we see around us, we automatically assume that if someone is being hurt by a person of the opposite gender, it’s a man hurting a woman. I wonder why we assume that the only wounds that hurt are physical ones, and that the only real violence is the kind that leaves a mark.

I’ve read that nearly half of all domestic violence is perpetrated by women, but overwhelmingly, only men get punished for it. I think that this is because women are better at talking about their emotions and admitting to being hurt, whereas men are more likely to be silent when they’re in pain.

A friend once told me that he had been repeatedly raped by his ex-girlfriend. He was beside himself with shame because he had let her convince him that he deserved it, and still couldn’t quite shake the belief that she was right. He was a large man with a delicate heart, who couldn’t bring himself to hurt a woman, no matter what she did to him. He couldn’t believe that if he called a rape hotline, the person on the other end would even listen to his story without condemning him as a faker. So, I called for him, and screened out two hotlines who clearly believed that only women could be raped, or didn’t care if the opposite had, in fact, just happened, because this hotline was “just for women”. There were no hotlines for men. When I finally found someone who would listen compassionately and take what I was saying seriously, I gave him the number, but he never called, because he was too ashamed.

Still, I choose to love women rather than hate them—not because they’re inherently more pure or decent than men, but because if I didn’t make this choice, I might become bitter and angry like the people who have hurt me, who believed that they had the right to hurt me because, at some point, someone had hurt them. Sometimes, I wonder how many violent offenders have been created by people who thought they had a right to hurt one gender or another, in retribution for crimes long past. Ted Bundy hated women because at least one woman hurt him when he was a child; and how many men have been hurt by bitter women and over-zealous law enforcement officers because of the pain that abusive men have caused to women? Will the cycle ever end, or will we continue to say that our hurts are, somehow, more important, and act like our own rights are all that really matter, unconcerned with what that means for other people?

I would like to see people raising awareness for men’s issues in the same way that we see people raising awareness for women’s issues.

I wish that feminism were always really about gender equality, and not so commonly an outlet for women who are simply angry at the other half of their species. I wish that we would do away with terms like “feminism” and “masculism” as references to causes worth supporting or condemning, depending on which gender one identifies with. I wish people would organize “equalism” rallies and shout down people who show up with the obvious intent to support only one gender.

I see beauty in the ocean of yin and the fire of yang, and I believe that neither one should try to “convert” the other with the dogmas of academics or politicians. I see men taught to be silent and timid because they can’t communicate emotions as well as women. I see women being taught to be silent and timid because they lack the logistical talent that men tend to be born with. Whether we call it “NonViolent Communication” or “Management Training”, if it teaches someone to be afraid to speak up and be honest, then it’s broken and abominable.

I’m hoping to find someone who will understand that I’m afraid of what women might to do me, but am willing to offer my heart anyway—even if I flinch, at first. I’m looking for a woman who chooses to see me as a unique individual, and not a surrogate upon which to lash away the pain of past wrongs.

I’m hoping that, somewhere, the word, “partner”, really refers to equality in all things—regardless of who has which talents, or who makes more money. I would like to see a world where it’s considered normal to be a “stay-at-home dad”, where people consider such a position to be just as honorable as working at a technology firm. I want to see a world where men and women both have the freedom to take on stereotypical gender roles because that’s what makes them happy, or to do something entirely different for the same reason.

I would like to hear it called “manly” to give a woman a foot massage.

I would like to hear someone say, “I am woman, hear me roar”, in a quiet voice, before kissing a baby.

In a perfect world, we would hear laughter at this poem, because all of the above is a ridiculous re-hashing of the past, but for now, let’s just share a smile and a promise.

Love Is

Love is wanting to take her out to eat, but knowing you can’t afford it, and offering to cook, instead.
Love is opening your heart instead of your wallet when it would be easier just to spend money.

Love is when you know that you could get into bed with her just by being shallow, and insisting on getting to know her first—even if that means losing the opportunity, forever.

Love is seeking a “yes”, rather than avoiding a “no”, and being happy with whichever you get.
Love is knowing when to say yes, and being patient until then.

Love is seeing that the lawn hasn’t been mowed, but thanking him for doing the laundry, instead of complaining about the yard.

Love is when you say a kind word when an insult might be more appropriate.
Love is swallowing your pride and saying you’re sorry.

Love is writing something sweet on a post-it every morning before work, even when you’re mad at each other.

Love is giving your partner the last piece of chocolate.

Love is giving someone a massage when your own back hurts.

Love is cooking food that you can’t or won’t eat, because you know he likes it.
Love is eating “burnt offerings” with a smile, and then asking for seconds.

Love is abandoning a closely-held belief because it hurts someone you care about.
Love is choosing to support your partner’s eccentric ideology, even if it doesn’t entirely make sense.

Love is being unafraid to discuss religion, politics, or anything else—and always being willing to change your mind when a good point is made.
Love is choosing dialectic over of debate.

Love is when you give without caring whether you will receive.
Love is when you work a job you hate, so you’ll both have a place to come home to.

Love is dancing badly to terrible music, and enjoying it anyway, because it was your partner’s turn to choose the night’s activity.
Love is observing “date night” no matter how busy you both are.

Love is sitting through an embarrassing class or lecture so that you’ll know how to please her.
Love is learning to be satisfied, whether he figures it out or not.

Love is knowing when to hold her close, knowing when to give her space, and realizing that you need to ask, because you don’t have a clue.
Love is answering him patiently even if you think he should know better; and sometimes, love is admitting that you don’t have a clue what you want, either, and deciding to be OK with not getting it.

Love is accepting the love that is given, even when you don’t speak the other person’s language.
Love is learning the language of your partner, and giving him what he wants, rather than what you want.

Love is realizing that whatever love is, it’s definitely not what’s in movies and popular novels.
Love is reading those novels with her, anyway, no matter how silly you think they are.

Love is sitting through all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, even though neither of you can keep up with the subtitles, and she keeps pausing it every few seconds so you can read them.
Love is making it worth his while to keep watching.

Love is setting reasonable but firm boundaries and sticking to them.
Love is respecting each other’s boundaries.

Love is accepting the sovereignty of another person, while also accepting the sovereignty of yourself.

Love is offering olive branches until the whole orchard dies.

Love is forgiveness.

Love is wishing she would quit smoking because you want to be with her a little longer,
But still watching the sunset through a cloud of burning ash, because that’s how you can be here with her, now.

Love is the act of changing the bed pan of someone who doesn’t look like the person you married, and realizing that the good times are still happening.

Love is almost dying of a broken heart after the funeral service,
But deciding to keep going because you know that she would want you too.

Love is the blue sky, and the trees, and the fresh flowers over your new bed.

Love is smiling at a stranger as you plant some fresh flowers on the grave of your ancestor.

March 2nd, 2014

I Want You

I only want you if I can make love with your mind;
I want the sweet liquid that’s born between your eyes.

Wreathed in gorgeous hair, with a delicate, sloping nose,
And perfect lips that reveal petals of tender pathos,
I want to sip your soft persuasion
And hear you vociferate felicity.

I only want you if I can kiss your soul and feel the Goddess hold me close;
I want you to invite me into the sanctum of your heart.

Concentric circles, and mountains, and valleys
Dip to the hot, red core that lies within.
I want to hold our dales together,
And create a paradise for two lovers.

I only want you if you can face your fears;
I want to kiss your hand and shed a tear together.

Though the world may shake,
And the earth may crumble beneath us,
I want you to hold my gaze,
As we boldly speak our truth.

I only want you because we’re equals;
I want to cross our sabers and salute one another with pride.

Sharp, flexible, and shining,
The blade is swift because a swift hand wields it.
I want to feel your steel upon my skin,
As unwavering and gentle a calligrapher’s brush.

I want you to know the ocean within me;
I want your moon to overflow my shores.

Spires, cliffs, and jagged boulders,
Salty spray above heaping kelp;
I want you to burst my levees
And surround my lonely island.

I want you because I love you;
Because your eyes are deep, like galaxies.

I want you because I sense you;
I feel like I’ve met you, before.

I want you because you push me;
I flex in your mirror image.

But I only want you if you want me;
Because freedom is the most beautiful thing of all.

Open Letter To My Horrible Roommates (Or: “How Hippies Can Be A-Holes, Too”)

This is an ugly post, detailing the awful way in which some of my housemates have behaved.  Some of their behavior involves the abuse of children.  Much of this post is dedicated to the background of how I ended up living with these jerks.  To read the letter, please see roughly the bottom half of the post.  I strongly believe that such behavior is only allowed to continue because people in my position keep quiet.  Today, I’m speaking up.


First, some background.

On June 7th, I moved into a home with some people who were interested in starting a Non-Violent Communication (NVC) community.  This sounded really cool.  There were to be 7 adults and 4 kids living in a 100+-year-old house in a good part of town.  Two of the adults are really nice, neat people whom I respect quite a bit, and was excited at the prospect of living with them.  The others seemed nice and reasonable enough, as well.  (I still respect and generally like one of those with whom I’d not previously been acquainted.)  We agreed beforehand that the only “cause” of the household would be NVC.  Sadly, a week before we moved in, some of the roommates who had come up with this community idea abandoned NVC (emotional and communicative non-violence) in favor of adding stuff that we all had to live by–after we’d all given notice to our landlords, and had no time to find a new place.  This includes living and promoting Quaker ideologies, not having a TV in the living room (which forced me to give away $300 in related equipment, since there was no space, elsewhere), subscribing to a particularly naive form of environmentalism (“let’s not put liners in the trash can; instead, we’ll spray them with water several times a week, during the worst drought in recorded history;” and “let’s keep the windows open while the AC is on, so we can get ‘natural’ air in, and still be nice and cool”), and other unreasonable demands.  Those who refused to follow such ideals, they said, were going to be kicked-out forcibly (evicted).  Of course, this is illegal, and in violation of numerous verbal agreements…but the threats remained and intensified throughout June, until something truly absurd happened toward the end of June.

(Please note: I have nothing against Quakers, in general, and fully expect that the people mentioned in this post are grossly misrepresenting their religion, just as people from all walks of life sometimes use their beliefs to justify bad behavior.  I hope, one day, to get a chance to discuss theology with someone who can represent this religion as it’s intended, as I tend to find substantial wisdom in all faiths.)

Part of the ideals they were insisting on having followed was “consensus-style decision-making,” with emphasis on CT’s method.  (I’m not including this person’s full name, to avoid possible liability.)  Despite my reservations about letting this man preach his cause at me, my less-kind roommates decided to invite him and his partner, Wren, to dinner, so they could meet me, and so I could hear their message.  I was not OK with this, but was simply so tired of saying “no” for the last month, and having it ignored that I agreed, anyway.  (Note: the root word of “consensus” is “consent.”  Ironic, eh?)  So, my roommates and some of their friends came to dinner at my dining room table, and so did CT and Wren.  At this point, I decided that I just didn’t feel good about being forced to meet someone for the purpose of being preached at.  I’d agreed to read their book at some point, and consider it on its own merit, but that was as far as I was willing to go.  So, I stayed in my room and put a “Privacy, Please” sign on my door.  A few minutes later, someone ignored the sign and knocked.  With a muffled groan, I let Cedar enter, and told her why I was avoiding the gathering.  The conversation, in brief, went something like this:

Dane: “I’m in here because I don’t feel genuine about meeting people under coercion.  At some point, I might like to meet them, when Meagan’s not trying to ram them and their method down my throat; but at this time, it’s just not OK.”

Cedar: “Why don’t you go in there and tell them that?  I’m sure they’d understand.”

Dane: “OK.”

So, like an idiot, I assumed that these hippie-teacher celebrities would have sufficient humility to accept that while I’d like to meet them under different circumstances, now was simply not a time when I was interested in their company.  I came over to the table and explained this to them from a crouching position, in a soft voice.

At first, it seemed promising.  They replied to the effect of, “We were not aware that this gathering has a coercive element!  Sure, let’s do this at another time, under different circumstances.”  So, I went into the kitchen, got a plate, grabbed some food, and began walking back into my room, as I said I would.  Then things started to go badly.  (The below is paraphrased and abbreviated.)

CT and Wren (indicating agreement with one another): “Now that I think of it, I’m not OK with you going into your room while we’re eating out here.  In my culture, breaking bread is a sacred thing, so having you go into your room while we’re sitting at the table doesn’t feel right to me.”  (What culture this Californian white guy was referring to yet eludes me.)

Dane: “OK, I’ll sit at the table.”  (At this point, I sat down in an empty chair.)

CT&W: “I feel really wrong about sitting at a table and eating with you unless you’re ready to schedule a date to get to know us better.”

Dane: “I’ll only feel right about that once Meagan stops trying to force you and your method onto me, and after I’ve had a chance to stop being so irritated about it.  I don’t know when that will be.”

CT&W: “I’m not OK with that!  Here we are, sitting at this table, and breaking bread together, and you’re not ready to extend us your friendship!”

Dane: “I understand that you’re uncomfortable about this, and that you see eating together as a sacred event among friends.  I’m sorry, but I just can’t set a date, right now.”

(This part of the conversation repeated for several minutes, with CT and Wren getting more and more animated, loud, and angry, as the conversation progressed.  As is the nature of the NVC method, I made a point of reflecting their feelings before adding my responses.  CT and Wren don’t like the NVC method, and my using it seems to have triggered a somewhat unpleasant reaction, as below.  I have an unusual capacity, which people sometimes comment on, for keeping a calm tone of voice when being yelled at, and as such, never reciprocated their volume increases.)

CT&W: “You’re just repeating what we say, and then re-stating what you’ve already said!”

Dane: “I’m trying to show that I understand your position.  This doesn’t mean that I have to change my own, and I would appreciate it if you would respect my decision.”

CT&W: “I’m just not OK with sitting here, at this table, with someone who’s not ready to extend his friendship to me!”

Dane: “In point of fact, it’s my table.”  (In hindsight, this wasn’t the most diplomatic thing to say…but I’d really had enough, by this point.)

CT (yelling): “I don’t have to sit here and take this!  I’m leaving!  Wren, if you want to stay, you can, but I’m leaving.”

At this point, both CT and Wren left in a huff, slamming the front door behind them.  The other people sitting around the table were absolutely shocked by this.  These two are commonly billed as being foremost “gurus” of effective community communication training, and here they were throwing a tantrum and storming out because I wouldn’t be coerced into being their friend.  We sat around for a few minutes talking about this as a household, until Dan, a friend to several house members, said to me, “I’m impressed with your ability to eject obnoxious people from your home.”  Then, Meagan began yelling, addressing me, and starting with, “I think you’re obnoxious!”  She said that she’d “decided yesterday” that I’m leaving, and there was nothing I could do about it.  (I still don’t know what prompted this decision, but her poor behavior toward me the day before suddenly made sense, once she said this.)  She said she was leaving the house, and would not come back until I was gone.  I replied that I accepted that she believed that I was leaving, but that I had no plans of moving out.  She stormed out, and the rest of the housemates and guests expressed horror at her behavior.

Then the really odd thing happened. The next day, Jack and Maggie (wonderful people) left town for two months, as they’d been planning to do.  A few hours later, Cedar pulled me aside, into a bedroom of a roommate who was also out of town (Heather), and said the following (paraphrased/abbreviated):

Cedar: “I can’t handle the presence of a male who might take charge of meetings accidentally (referring to a meeting about kitchen stuff where nobody else volunteered to facilitate, and I was asked to take notes), because my ex-husband was verbally-abusive to me.  Also, Meagan has said she won’t come back until you’re gone, and I have a pact with her to help her work out her issues, so you have to leave.  This is not a negotiation.”  (The italicized text is her exact wording.)

Dane: “Is there anything I can do to assuage your fears?”

Cedar: “No.  This is non-negotiable.”

Naturally, only she, Heather, and Meagan had gotten a say in this (with the other lease-holder, Lauren, abstaining), despite the obsession about “consensus” that had been displayed for the last month.

Later, she said that I was being asked to leave because several of the people living here are “raging feminists” (her words).  Then, in emails to me and the other house members, she said that I was being asked to leave not because of gender discrimination (since that would make her look bad), but “to preserve the values of the house.”  Translation: “You’re not a Quaker, and not my type of environmentalist, and have no interest in acquiescing to my ideals, so you have to leave.”  (The emails expound upon this point at great length.)  Heather, who’d been out of town since about a week after we moved in, decided, without ever having spoken to me one-on-one for more than about 30 seconds, that she was going to side with Cedar and Heather on the issue, since she, too, is a Quaker, and has known Cedar for quite some time.  (The others in the house, including Lauren, are basically agnostic, but are quiet about it, and avoid conflict almost pathologically.)

Since then, I’ve made it clear that I’m not leaving, and Cedar, Heather, and Meagan can’t make me.  I’ve spent the last two months trying to get people to de-escalate this conflict, and have made every effort to be friendly to my house mates, including striking up pleasant conversations when I see folks in the common areas, and sharing tasty food for no reason at all, other than to be nice, and hopefully to re-kindle frienship.  Lauren, Maggie, and Jack seem too afraid to speak out against these three militants, since it could involve losing their own ability to stay here, as well as having the others make their home-lives miserable.  Cedar, Heather, and Meagan have done everything in their power to make me miserable and assert dominance over me (including Heather buying a redundant phone/Internet account, and convincing everyone to switch over to it, so I’d have to pay the entirety of the old account’s bill, at the locked-in contract rate), while constantly using NVC language and making small platitudes, so that it would look like it’s all “OK,” and to avoid cognitive dissonance.  Today, I decided I’ve had quite enough of their hypocrisy, and wrote the following letter, emailed to all the house members (as well as some folks whom I’ve been employing as witnesses for legal reasons), posted it on Facebook, and am now posting it here.

Oh, and did I mention that one of the horrible roommates is now sleeping with two out of three of the other lease holders?  She seems to break up with one or the other of them on a roughly bi-weekly basis, leading to some “interesting” household interactions.  (I’m on the lease, as are the other roommates, but as a resident, not a lessee.  The wording of the lease technically makes me, Maggie, and Jack “tenants” with all the same rights, and none of the legal/financial responsibilities.  We have no subleasing agreement with the lessees; our only legal relationship in this matter is with the property management company.  This has not prevented C., M., and H. from trying to evict me, anyway.)

The Letter

Some of my roommates are nice, considerate people (Maggie, Jack, Lauren).  The others are exceptionally horrible (Cedar, Heather, Meagan).  This is an open letter to the horrible ones, including pictorial illustrations of the crap I’m having to put up with.

Those of you who have been following this drama are aware that they’re (Cedar, Heather, Meagan) trying to evict me because my beliefs are different from their own, and I don’t wish to acquiesce to their Quaker ideals; and, in Cedar’s words, because some of them are “raging feminists,” who can’t handle having men around who speak their minds.  (This gives real feminists a bad name.)  Supposedly, the “theme” of this house is community and emotional/communicative nonviolence.  I have yet to meet a household full of more emotionally- and communicatively-violent individuals.  They’re also big into “environmentalism,” but gripe at me for asking them to close the windows when they have the AC on.  This letter is my way of calling them on their hypocrisy and expressing a big “WTF?!” with regard to the messes they expect me to clean up.

Fair warning: this post contains evidence of child abuse/neglect/endangerment, and will probably make your blood boil.

Today, Cedar, Heather, Meagan, “Sai” (not his real name, I assume), Maggie, and Lauren went on a trip to the hot springs, somewhere north of here.  True to form, the horrible ones of the group made sure I wasn’t invited, but that everyone else was–which isn’t really a big deal for me, given the poor company.  I made one request of them before they left: please don’t leave me a mess like last time.  Below are pictures of the mess they left, this time.

The entirety of what you see on the dining room table was found in Cedar’s room when I peeked in to make sure the windows were closed before turning on the AC.  Many of these dishes and flatware items are mine, and I’d been looking for, and inquiring about them for weeks, to no effect.  Since I’m having company over on Saturday, I decided to take them downstairs and wash them, rather than waiting for Cedar to do them, probably some weeks/months from now.

As I gathered these items, I also noticed a large amount of food on the floor (which isn’t my problem), as well as a number of prescription pills that had been spilled, and could easily be eaten by the children and animals who live here (4 kids, 4 cats, and one dog–the latter being mine).  An ~8-year-old girl with type 1 diabetes lives in this room, with Cedar, and is frequently left home, alone, or without an adult who has been made aware of her presence, or been trained in giving emergency insulin injections (in the case of fainting, seizures, strokes, or other emergencies relating to blood sugar problems), and often without the girl knowing where her mother is, or when she’ll return.  She and her brothers are often left without food while her mother is away, and sometimes they ask me for food so they don’t have to go hungry–which I provide out of ethical obligation.

Side Note:
There is also a person living here (Meagan) who was engaged in hitting her live-in boyfriend, “Spectrum,” just a few months ago–and who is now living with 3 teenage boys, some of whom she babysits and tutors, at Cedar’s request.  She has recently invited her new boyfriend, “Sai,” to live here, without asking the rest of the household.  He’s a nice guy, and seems to have no idea what he’s getting into.   I’ve been told by someone I trust, who works with sick children for a living that all of this constitutes neglect, and possibly abuse and child endangerment–but that it would do little for me to report it, unless there was an acute issue in-progress for the police/CPS to witness.  So, the kids get to keep suffering.  😦
(End of side note.)

The mess you see in the pictures includes:
-A dishwasher full of dirty dishes, which nobody saw fit to run before leaving.
-A stove covered in dirty pots, pans, and other implements.
-A sink full of dirty dishes.
-A laptop and cables left on the floor, which pose a tripping hazard.
-Three full trash cans, two of which I emptied just yesterday.
-Four clean plates left in the cupboard–which is to say, what was left after Cedar hoarded the rest in her room.
-A 6-foot by 4-foot table covered in dirty dishes, cups, glasses, and flatware found in Cedar’s room.  The moldy quesadilla is a particular gem.
-A dish drainer overflowing with clean dishes that nobody bothered to dry/put away before leaving.
-The ant problem is back because my roommates don’t clean up after themselves.  (See below.)

The last time my roommates went out of town, far worse things happened.

-Cedar threw an overnight birthday party for her 16-year-old son, including her 14-year-old son, and about three of their friends.  She left the following morning, leaving them all in the house with just me, after I told her I’m not interested in watching her kids.  She didn’t bother to shop for food beforehand, so her youngest son went hungry.  (He didn’t like the kinds of food I had on-hand to offer him.)
-I was left with over three dishwasher loads of other people’s dishes, many, but not all of which were from her son’s party.
-Her son’s friend badly scraped his knee, and didn’t know how to treat the injury.  At the request of the kids, and to prevent infection, I applied water and hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound, then antibiotic ointment to disinfect it.  There were no bandages in the house (that I knew of), so I used a clean paper towel and packing tape to cover it, then instructed him to change the dressing at least daily and seek medical help as soon as he was able.
-Nobody bothered to make proper arrangements to take care of their cats.  The cat box was so full and smelly that I had to clean it myself, so my Dungeons and Dragons guests would stop gagging.  I had to give the cats water and food.  Had their owners bothered to coordinate with me, they would know that I keep the doors locked when I’m sleeping or absent, and as such, whomever they intended to come and take care of their pets (since they said they didn’t want me to do it) would have to call before doing so.  Evidently, the people who were supposed to do the job could only come at night…and I’m not OK with folks I don’t know well walking into my home at night, when I’m asleep, without my permission.  (Really, who is?!)
-The kitchen was full of ants and cockroaches because my roommates kept leaving food on the counter tops and floor.  I dealt with it by putting insect bait/poison around the perimeter of the house’s ground floor.  We were pest-free for several weeks after that, but now they’ve returned, for the same reason as before.

This stuff really pisses me off–and I’m still floored at how some of my roommates are so obsessed with “saving the world,” and yet fail to make the most basic efforts to take care of their kids, pets, and home.

“Being a good roommate 101: CLEAN UP YOUR OWN FRIGGIN’ MESSES.”

End of rant (for now).



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