a house, a lawyer, & a book club

okay, i know i have some woo woo hippie friends (i mean that in the most loving way possible). if this describes you, if you are the kind of person that believes that putting positive energy into the universe can influence events to some degree, please put some energy out in favor of jared & i getting the amazing little house we looked at yesterday. that’s all i’m going to say about it for now. i’m sure i won’t be able to prevent myself from going into a lot more detail when we know whether or not we got it.

i will say that while we were walking over to the showing, i tried to give jared a pep talk on impressing the landlady so she would want to rent to us. it was pretty much the worst pep talk ever. it consisted of saying, “all right, dude, don’t do your usual um uh yeah awkward jared thing.” as it turned out, the landlady herself was cut from the same cloth. there was a lot of “um uh yeah”-ing going on. it was kind of like she & jared were having a completely subtextual conversation i did not understand. but there were some hopeful signs. she said we should talk to the current tenant before we move in about the utilities. “before you move in”! that’s good. she said she would “shop-vac the spiderwebs in the basement before you move in”. “before you move in”! she said, “you guys seem like you would be great for the house.” yes! we would be great for the house! & jared thought her eyes lit up a little when i said we were planning to have a baby. if i was a landlady & had a choice between renting a house to a nice little new family comprised of two 31-year-olds & a baby versus a 20-year-old college student, i know what choice i would make. let’s hope she feels the same way. she looked pleased after she gave us the spiel about how she prefers to keep the one parking space emergency parking only (ie, park on the street if you can) & i explained that we don’t really use our car much anyway. she seemed intrigued by jared’s environmental history work. this house was so beautiful & so utterly perfect for us. keep your fingers crossed!

i met with the county legal services yesterday in the hopes of figuring out how to handle filing a complaint against our current landlord for illegal retaliation. it was a complete waste of time. i explained the whole situation & the lawyer dude said, “well, we don’t really do much in the landlord-tenant field. i don’t really know how to help you.” so i decided to seize the opportunity to ask if he knew whether or not having a baby would impact my disability benefits at all. he also had no clue about that. then he said that our household income exceeded the limit for free county legal services anyway.

that kind of blew my mind. i’m on disability & jared is a graduate TA who only gets paid during the school year. our “assets” consist of a used car & a couple of savings accounts that will be completely decimated by moving, traveling this summer, & pre-natal care down the road. we live frugally during the school year so we can afford traveling expenses during the summer. we’re either going to have to sublet an apartment in boston this summer (in addition to paying rent on wherever we are living in kansas) or we’re going to be spending a lot of money on plane tickets (in the event that we get the house i love but fail to sublet our current place, meaning we are paying for two kansas apartments simultaneously, meaning that jared will have to go to boston alone & stay with friends, & i will have to fly out to see him if we want to be together at all for the summer). i kind of wonder if the lawyer dude did the math wrong. it’s weird to think that being responsible savers & planning ahead as much as we can with our limited incomes is counting against us.

another thing that was weird was feminist book club the other night. i was facilitating a talk on second & third wave american feminism. i structured it so that everyone went around in a circle & shared any perceptions they had–good & bad–of these movements, & then i gave a brief talk on the history of them, including the current events that sparked them, the divisions within them, the critiques they have faced. then we discussed. as usual, the discussion strayed pretty far from the source material or even the topic we were ostensibly discussing. i’m cool with that. it’s a little weird & sometimes i think we could have more focused discussions if people actually did the readings & stayed on topic, but people are going to talk about what they want to talk about & i can roll with that.

the weird things is that people seemed to want to talk about how “calling people out” for saying or doing oppressive, fucked up things is counter-productive. to be fair, it was only a couple of people saying this, & they were getting a fair amount of push-back from other people (including myself). but still. it was really, really awkward trying to have a conversation with a couple of young, privileged, white women about how alienating it is to have said privilege be addressed by marginalized people. there was a lot of, “why can’t people just behave rationally, instead of getting all angry?” &, “maybe someone had one bad experience with a white person or a class privileged person, but that doesn’t mean they get to take it out on ALL white people or ALL class privileged people,” &, “when people yell at other people for saying something fucked up, it’s really ineffectual. it just makes the person defensive,” &, “what’s wrong with holding someone’s hand & being nice while you’re walking them through how they’ve fucked up?” seriously. those are all direct quotes.

i mean, i am all for balance & nuance & turning a critical eye on everything, including the ways that people in radical communities call one another out. i have written before about how sometimes it seems like more of an exercise in the person doing the calling out making a big show about what a great ally they are as opposed to actually seeking to effect any kind of real change. but that’s not even what these ladies were talking about. i tried several times to be like, “let’s not pathologize a potentially healthy anger response that a marginalized person may have in response to oppressive comments or behaviors,” &, “being called out doesn’t make you defensive. you choose to respond in a defensive manner & you have control over that reaction.” but i don’t know if i made any impression.

this is not to talk any kind of smack on feminist book club. i am enjoying the hell out of attending a weekly gathering of feminist-minded folks & having thorny & surprising conversations with people. it’s always interesting & it’s usually a lot of fun too. but thursday’s discussion did veer off in a strange direction.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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