The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 March 2006

Non-technical support

Found at just muttering:

On a personal level, being loved by partners, friends and children is so important and yet it's difficult for people who live alone or have no partners or intimate friends because no one asks after them on a regular basis. It must be easy to feel as if no one cares what they do or how they are. And that must make it hard to stay interested in eating well or staying fit or anything much. If we live a long time, many of us will be there, so I wonder what would work well to keep from feeling sad or meaningless?

I've been there for quite a while and I'm only a quarter of the way through my fifties.

Some of this I attribute to living in Oklahoma most of those years. I wrote this last spring:

Much of what we think of as the Oklahoma character originated out in the countryside. On the farm we learned the basics of fatalism, that a few hours of horrible weather can take out a season's crop; in the small towns we learned that for every person who is content with his lot, there's another who wants out.

I am not particularly content with my lot, but I play the cards I'm dealt, and some hands inevitably are better than others.

Besides, I have always placed a high value — perhaps too high, by some folks' reckoning — on being as self-sufficient as possible. It should surprise no one that this particular stance informs both my politics and my personal relationships. Nor am I overly fond of small talk: should someone ask "How are you?" my standard response is "Compared to what?"

Trying to find meaning in this existence is a tricky business. I have never been in a position where I could define myself in terms of what I do for a living: the jobs I have held have been occasionally, not too often, remunerative, but never, ever more than marginally fulfilling. That leaves about 120 hours a week to work on the issue, and I see two approaches to the situation:

  1. Do nothing and shrug;
  2. Write about a million words on the off-chance that it might actually matter.

Welcome to Plan B.

Posted at 12:03 AM to General Disinterest


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I must have the hugest ego. The only times I've fallen into that "no one cares about meeee" rut is during thankfully infrequent bouts of depression (and these seem to be hormonally based -- in other words, if I am having a depressive "time of the month" I just wait a few days and then I'm back to normal). At all other times I'm with Sartre -- hell is other people. Having a steady job in a big, we-never-stop-caring corporation also keeps my basic misanthropy chugging along nicely.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 9:03 AM on 19 March 2006

Oh and as for meaning -- of course, the universe exists to entertain me, so how can my existence be meaningless? ;)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 9:03 AM on 19 March 2006

Obviously I should be taking lessons. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 9:12 AM on 19 March 2006

Actually, inasmuch as I wrote that thing right around midnight, it probably sounds a lot more forlorn than my life would seem to justify. And I have fewer of these moments than I did, say, four years ago, which I attribute to (1) getting out of those miserable flats where I spent nearly a quarter of my life and (2) not going bankrupt in so doing. While I'm hardly perky, I do seem to give off a bit less gloom these days.

Still, "fewer" does not equal "zero."

Posted by: CGHill at 9:32 AM on 19 March 2006

I'm much better now that I live in a normal apartment in a different town than in a converted garage efficiency (which wasn't very efficient) in the town I grew up in. And if I do move on, I'm thinking small house, two bedrooms (one for an office), a bit of yard -- best of all, no connecting walls with neighbors!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 9:46 AM on 19 March 2006

Precisely what I was looking for. I wound up with a three-bedroom house, though still on the smallish side (1060 square feet), and after figuring the tax advantages, it wasn't a whole lot pricier than my old 930-square-foot flat. Yes, I'll have to replace the water tank eventually, but the central boiler at the flats was failing all the time anyway.

And not having to share a wall — well, it may not be bliss, but it's not far from it. The New Urbanist types who think we all ought to be living in high-rise rabbit warrens to reduce "sprawl" should be forced to live in a center unit surrounded by subwoofers on all sides.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:03 AM on 19 March 2006

The New Urbanist types who think we all ought to be living in high-rise rabbit warrens to reduce "sprawl" should be forced to live in a center unit surrounded by subwoofers on all sides.

They'd be happy as clams, as long as they could believe everyone else was in the exact same boat.

For some among us, contentment means everyone else they know suffering their own version of hell.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:37 AM on 19 March 2006

I'll have to replace the water tank eventually

I suggest you go with the (unfortunately pricier - like three times as much) instant-heat things. No pilot, no water tank, and a constant heated supply as long as you want to run it tankless water heater.

Since you live alone and probably don't run the washer, dishwasher and shower simultaneously, you could probably get by with the less expensive (but still much more so that a water tank) single-appliance model.

You can also install it yourself (getting the old tank out is the hardest part) thus saving a large bundle of cash on the professional install.

Posted by: unimpressed at 10:45 AM on 19 March 2006

I've actually looked into some of the tankless models, and freeing up the closet space where the tank resides is probably enough to justify the expense all by itself.

However, since the old tank isn't causing any problems — it's just, well, old — I can wait.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:57 AM on 19 March 2006

I wasn't suggesting that you change it now. I'm a firm adherent of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought.

If/when the water tank goes out in this place, I'll definitely go with the tankless variety. I like taking very long, very hot showers and need them because I'm so sore after a day at work. As it is now, I'm out of hot water long before the soreness goes away.

Posted by: unimpressed at 11:29 AM on 19 March 2006