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Dogs in a Rat Cage: arg1211's Personal Finance Blog
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Home > Dogs in a Rat Cage
 

Dogs in a Rat Cage

October 14th, 2005 at 05:14 pm

My current living situation is not ideal. It is workable, but certainly not what I had in mind when I graduated from college (almost) two years ago.

John, Jeff, Brian, Sue, Gwynn and myself live in a 1400 sq. ft. duplex in the middle of the Nowhere, North Carolina. (No, that's not the name of our town, but it might as well be. For those keeping score, we live between Cary and Chapel Hill, NC.) John, Brian and I live on one side while Jeff, Sue, and Gwynn live on the other. Each side of the duplex has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room and a kitchen with a "nook" for the washer and dryer. There is also a rickety deck on the back of either side. Our side has a grill, a chest freezer, our recycling bins and several plastic totes of my soapmaking supplies. I think the other side uses theirs to store trash, recycling, and container composting stuff.

Now, I know for some folks 700 sq. ft. is a dream come true compared to where they are now or where they have lived in the past. If it were just myself and John, or myself and Brian, I would completely agree with those folks.

However, this is not the case.

John has owned his own house previously, but always had roommates to help pay the bills. I've had nothing but dorm rooms. Brian has lived with roommates all of his adult life. You would think that we would know how to scale down our material goods by now.

Nope. Not by a long shot.

I once read an article on MSN Money called "The Hidden Cost of Too Much Stuff," by MP Dunleavey. I am a firm believer in scaling back one's life to live in a simpler manner and reduce one's ecological foot print. However, doing so is turning out to be easier said then Smurfed, as it were.

John (whether he wants to admit it or not) inherited not only money when his mother died (God rest her), but her packrat tendency as well. He has at least two 4-bedroom houses worth of stuff stored in the barns at his property up the road. I've tried to get him to go through it little by little so he can slowly diminish the amount of clutter up there, but to no avail. He works at night and sleeps during the day, so finding time to search through metaphoric MOUNTAINS of stuff is darn near impossible.

Brian calls himself a "collector". That's all well and good when you have your own house to store or display it all in. On the other hand, when you're living in a cramped space with roommates, do you REALLY need 11 plushie dragons, 5 plushie teddy bears, 3 dozen comic book hero figurines, 5 decorative katanas, two computers, 3 chest of drawers, a laundry steamer that you only use once very six months, two racks of DVD's and CD's, three bookshelves crammed with books, and exercise machine that you never use and the gods only know how many boxes stored under your bed and up at the barn? Personally, I think not.

I have had many packrat roommates over the years, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I picked up the habit myself. I figure I was doomed from the beginning anyhow, since both my grandmothers and my grandfather had the "Save it! You never know when you'll wind up needing it," mentality.

I know a large amount of the living room and kitchen clutter is mine. I have an experimental soap batch drying on the shelf above the dryer, clean laundry waiting to be folded littering the living room, boxes of supply shipments remain unopened and crammed under the coffee table, and my once clean and beautifully organized bookshelves now resemble something out of my 3-year-old godson's nursery room nightmare.

When I was concentrating solely on being a "hausfrau" (so to speak), things were ALWAYS clean. Now I can't remember the last time I was able to sit on the couch without having to move piles of clothes first. I can't remember the last time we all sat down at the kitchen table for dinner together. Heck, I can't remember the last time I made something for dinner that didn't come out of a Betty Crocker box.

The clutter is costing us money because when we can't find something, we wind up having to buy a replacement due to time constraints and what not. It is also cutting into my productivity because I have to stop and clean up the house before I have space enough to get work done. That takes anywhere from one to four hours to accomplish. I could be making soap or lotion or printing labels with that time. Lather, rinse, repeat every flippin' day.

*sigh*

I can't seem to convey to the guys how important it is that we ALL pitch in with cleaning the common areas, such as the bathroom, the kitchen and the living room. Brian says that if he didn't directly make the mess, he shouldn't have to clean it up. Well, you use the bathroom, do you not? Would it kill you to clean the bathtub/shower once in a while?

You eat the food I cook, do you not? Would it kill you to help me clean the kitchen more than once in a blue moon?

You walk through the living room to get to your bedroom, do you not? Vacuuming it wouldn't cut too far into your online World of Warcraft playing, would it?!?

John tends to be only marginally better, but having a leg to stand on in that arguement is difficult. Part of me feels like since he is the primary bread winner right now that I should do more of the grunt work around the house. Yet, another part of me feels that if I had more help, I'd be bringing in more money.

It feels like a no-win situation.

Speaking of which, I need to change over the laundry and load the dishwasher. Later days.

2 Responses to “Dogs in a Rat Cage”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    You guys need some rules...
    1. whoever cooks, does NOT have to wash pans/dishes or set the table....
    2. Rotate the cleaning - say, vacuuming twice a week, with each of you taking one week...that way, you know who's responsible for that week (post it on the fridge door, that way, no matter how bad your memory is, you can't forget! - plus, this kills arguments, it's THERE, you can't argue whose turn it was)

    I live with my sister and niece, I know how difficult it is....believe me!! - good luck!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I totally feel for you. I used to live in shared households and I know you are always going to be as clean as your messiest person. You can set rules and punish or withhold cleaning, but if you are anything like me you will break long before the messy person even gets disgusted.

    The big key is to keep your sanity somehow. Keep a clean uncluttered refuge that you can enjoy. If someone disturbs your space, like decides to store plushy toys in it, sell the offending item on ebay or craigslist and keep the proceeds. Warn first, but if you pull that trigger once you won't be pulling it again.

    My favorite memory of the shared household was of two pig-sty housemates leaving on a vacation for ten days. They left the place a mess - there wasn't clean dish in the house. I cleaned for an entire day. Then after the house was clean, I took pictures. And finally, I had the vacation of basking in the pleasure of a clean house for nine days. That and the pictures helped me keep my sanity for years.

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