Hi, I’m Sara, and this is Tiny Revolutions, a weekly-ish dispatch of personal writing and links about becoming who you are. Reply anytime, I love to hear from you.
Greetings from Minnesota. I’m back here for a visit with my sister’s family for the first time since last fall. I have spent a fair amount of time here since the start of the pandemic. A year ago this month, when the initial shit was going down, I came in anticipation of the lockdown. I knew that an extended period of time alone in my apartment with nowhere to go and no one to talk to in person would not be good for my mental health, especially given we had no idea how long it would last. And it was a good choice – I ended up being here for five weeks initially, then came back two more times over the following months for a couple of weeks.
We exist peacefully together, my sister and brother in law and their two young boys and I. We’re all just good buddies. I wouldn’t say I’m especially helpful with childcare, but anytime small children are involved, having an extra set of adult hands around is useful. Plus I’m an excellent baker, a good quality in a houseguest.
This time I’m here because I felt like the well had sort of run dry and needed to be topped up. What well? It’s hard to put my finger on one thing, but some combination of too much work, not enough work, too many screens, too little human contact, too much pressure to make use of the enviable amount of time I have as a childless adult, etc. etc. But honestly? I think my real problem was just too much “me time," because god, I am so sick of myself.
I feel like by now we’ve all read a lot about how, for some of us, the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and play, which is insidious and true, but what I’ve been feeling most keenly lately is how I’m just really, really tired of my own shit. It’s exhausting, and frankly, after all this isolation, I would rather deal with some other people’s shit for a while, hence this midwestern sojourn.
I really enjoyed this recent issue of Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter about reconsidering the idea of communal living.
“Even people who come out on theoretical top of this personal choice pile — because of income, race, inherited wealth, credentials, location, home equity — are still miserable. Everyone’s doing their own dishes and we’re all lonely. So what would other ways of living look like? We often don’t have to look too far to find them: they’re in our immediate histories, even in our immediate proximity, in everything from babysitting co-ops to barnraisings. You don’t need a lot of resources to start them. You just need an abundance of imagination, enough to overcome our current understanding of what the rhythms of daily life should look like.”
I currently live in a shared house with two other people, a decision I made last summer after six years of living alone, and it’s been a truly refreshing change. My siblings and I have often talked about buying or starting some kind of family compound so we can be around each others’ kids as they grow up. My girlfriends and I have often talked about buying a big old house together where we can live Golden Girls style in our retirement. Somehow it seems that living among people you love has become part of the zeitgeist.
I’d like to think that this pandemic has made us all appreciate the ways in which our real life, in person communities matter. Or how, if they’re lacking, it’s high time we get out there and build them. I’ll be curious to see how things on this front do or do not change as we come out of this year of pods and quarantines and all things virtual.
On to some other things I thought were worth sharing this week.
If you’re interested in the coliving trend, Supernuclear is a great (if infrequent) newsletter about what it’s like to start and live in a coliving community, with case studies of existing ones people have built.
“Emotion lets us know what things mean to us, instantly. We don’t make decisions based on our rational analysis of the situation, we make decisions based on how that rational analysis makes us feel.
This is not to say that logic – rational analysis – doesn’t play a part. It does (hopefully). But it’s not emotion vs. reason, as we’ve been led to believe since the time of Plato. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. And after all the logical analysis, emotion is the ultimate decider.”
A fascinating interview with writer Lisa Cron about her new book, Story or Die: How to Use Brain Science to Engage, Persuade, and Change Minds in Business and in Life.
New favorite Instagram feed: @depthsofwikipedia. Can’t beat this tagline: “Wikipedia is weird!”
(Don’t be a crab!!)
Just three lovely things from nature:
A poem from Frank Bidart.
That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, as always.
p.s. The weekly Zoom meetup is on hold while I’m in Minneapolis – the Tuesday night sessions will resume when I’m back in LA. Don’t let that stop you from writing!
I'm happy you are with your family in Minnesota. A few months ago I wrote about my perfect living situation. I'm just going to steal from there for here, knowing it is as much a pipe dream as anything else I wool gather about....
Sometimes I imagine my perfect living situation would be in a little shack, where I spend long hours sitting and writing and thinking, with a river or stream nearby, with an outdoor sitting area, and there are raised beds full of flowers so that at certain times of year the entire space actually vibrates with the buzz of visiting pollinators. Bird feeders, a few chairs, a table. I'm visited regularly, for days even at a time, by the people I love most, and who love me the most, but even they recognize that for me to maintain my sanity I need stretches of time and space all to myself. Not because I don't like company, but because I suspect the weight of my brooding presence can be difficult on others, and I'm often at my best alone where I don't feel I am bothering anybody.
Within walking distance of my shack is some big organic farm run by hippies and queer people and artists and Indigenous healers teaching people about native plants, the whole bit, and I'm just the grizzled old graybeard who doesn't hardly know shit about anything going on there but putters around helping out in exchange for a basket of food now and then, can effortlessly drive a stick shift, and is a pretty good source for dropping wisdom on all the troubled young people who are just getting started, who are wondering when they need to give up the itinerant life of hoboing along and get a "real job," and a “real life” and I can wave my ink-stained old hands extravagantly and say, "But this IS the real life!"
What you love is your fate. Thank you for that very thought provoking poem.