Apples and Oranges Can Be Compared

Apples and Oranges?Something occurred this morning that made me question the limitations, if any, of my reflections yesterday. Mind you, I recognize that the thought process that follows from therapy is an ongoing process and that, just as one person’s mantra may not work for someone else, I can’t expect a “one size fits all” solution for every situation. However, “Stop, now think…” is as good a place to start to try to put into perspective this morning’s annoyance.

You’ll recall how I recently railed about my neighbours’ kids. Well, today being Sunday, I wanted to sleep in. I have to be fully awake and working by 9:00 each weekday morning — certainly a reasonable time and not as early as many people I know — so, on weekends, I enjoy staying up late and only getting up between 10:30 and noon. I guess it’s a tip of the hat to my ways of old when I was a certifiable night owl.

After going to bed well after 3:00 last night, I was brutally awaken shortly after 9:00 by the kids upstairs playing. That’s when I felt it, as I tried but failed to turn over and pretend I wasn’t hearing the noise: yes, that ball pressing against my belly, a.k.a. my anger.

I should mention before going further that, after I wrote that post in which I ranted about others’ kids, I asked my building’s super if I was within my rights to complain and she said that I was, so I mustered up the courage to knock on my neighbour’s door. Of course it wasn’t the least bit nasty and the father said, in his very broken English, that he would try to teach his kids not to run in their apartment. The noise level, which on a scale of 1 to 10 was around 9 when I complained, went down to about 6 or 7 until the little devils finally went to bed. However, it remained a 5 until dad himself went to bed, for he walks heavily enough to make the light fixture in the kitchen — one of those long, ugly fluorescent thing — rattle each step he takes while in his own kitchen.

I’m starting to understand that the anger (or resentment in this case) stems from my sense of being powerless. My thoughts become completely irrational, not to say a wee bit too maudlin for my liking. I question my super’s decision to accept having little kids occupy an apartment where there are tenants below, but then I recognize that everyone, including (or especially) kids, has a right to housing. I start thinking about moving out, but then a flurry of other thoughts cascade all at once: I shouldn’t be the one to move out; what if I move out and find myself in a similar situation or worse; I can’t afford to pay more than I’m paying now and, if Kijiji and Craigslist can be trusted, I can’t get much better than I already have; besides, I like this location in this neighbourhood; I hate moving with a passion; I’m just being a curmudgeon; I have the worse luck with neighbours; maybe they’ll move out on July 1st; this has been a theme in my life for more than a decade, but maybe I’m the one who’s in the wrong…

When I finally dismiss all the maudlin thoughts, I’m left with one thing: powerlessness. As part of my exercise of getting rid of the noise that surrounds me, I developed a plan to take back control of my finances. Compared to a lot of other people, I’m in pretty good shape in that sense despite having coasted and payed little to no attention to that matter. However, after spending a whole day crunching numbers in a spreadsheet and my banking website, making both optimistic and pessimistic projections and acknowledging that I earn considerably more than the national average for someone living alone, I concluded that I will never, ever, be able to afford a mortgage. That might not be the case if I had been at my current job in the decade I worked as a freelancer, for I would have been able to build equity before housing prices doubled in that time. But I can’t turn back the hands of time.

Some might argue that I am not as powerless as I think, that I “only” need to find a way to earn more, or that I should just find myself a guy to shack up with in order to become a DINK (dual income no kids). Indeed, the minute I pretended that I had a partner earning only full-time minimum wage, a bunch of possibilities opened up on the mortgage calculator I was using. I was floored when I saw that!

As I was brushing my teeth and making some coffee upon getting up this morning, I merged this personal conclusion with the whole “Occupy Wall Street” movement that’s been taking hold of late. The middle class really is disappearing! In a different time not that long ago, my parents, with a comparably more modest single income than my own, managed to afford a car, a house, and four kids. That’s unthinkable today. I think of my best buddy at work: she has two kids, her husband works as well and, as I’ve come to figure out, is quite prudent financially and rather old-fashioned in the sense that she manages to make her kids understand that choices have to be made.

My goodness, what a meandering road! I mean, how the heck did I manage to make connections between Occupy Wall Street, diminishing buying power, and fucking kids waking me up too early on a Sunday morning? Maybe I’m crazier than I think!

No, instead I think that the apple/orange displayed with the post is an extremely apt illustration.

What bugs me is that this sense of powerlessness seems associated with material gain. But I think that’s just the appearance. All I’m really yearning for is more control over something that’s fundamental: my home. I just can’t come up with a viable solution right now.