May 3, 2006
Crossing the Rubicon of the Moment
Wow. So although nothing is definite, Ksenia and I made a fairly significant lifestyle decision last night... (no relax, not that one, or that one either.)
Friends of hers have worked at a senior residence for many years. Their basic deal is a free small apartment, life insurance, and an extraordinarily tiny stipend in exchange for being present half the times the office is closed, from evening 'til morning, and being a contact in case of emergencies and on call for some basic tasks.
A similar opportunity looks like it might be opening up at a different residence, one in Newton. And last night we talked and decided to apply.
I'm acutely aware of the potential upsides and downsides of this... upsides are: of course, the "free rent" aspect. It seems like that could be tremendously freeing, in the sense of providing a "secure base" for the foreseeable future. If there came a time when we decided or were forced to live on savings for a while, it would stretch much further in a situation such as that where the primary requirement is "being there".
Another upside-- and I understand that this could pale in a hurry-- is an almost public service angle to it, becoming a core stalwart for a community of folks in the 7th and 8th innings of their lives. There's risk to that, of course... from just having to be there for residents in emergency situations, being brave and constant even if they're scared and freaked out, to even the possibility of the "we haven't heard from grandpa for a few days, could you check up on him?" call leading to being the "first responder" for tragedy. And surely a group of Seniors is going to be a mixed bag, they won't all be the loveable ol' codgers from the movies. Some will be cranky, some might not like us, some might be... well, a lot of things. There will be dead lightbulbs and clogged toilets to deal with. On the other hand (and this is still in the "might pale mighty quick" category) I think there might be a poetic grace in learning about this part of life, in terms of my own mortality. (Heck, there might even be pointers in how I'd like cope with my own retirement plans.)
One final plus is that it's a chance for Ksenia to gain a measure of independence for herself that she doesn't have now. Right now, we live in "my apartment", and some of the cohabitation has been a product of utility. To be maybe too blunt, there are parts of my experience, ranging from moving around a lot as a child to the death of my father to my divorce to the way I never did "play the field" after the divorce to certain known differences in needed affection and attention levels between Ksenia and me to my general uncertain and wishy-washy nature that leave me unable to be certain about the future I want for myself and for "us". I love Ksenia, I dig her family.... I've made no progress in my Russian, I'm still a giant "let me work on this project" pain in the ass to be around from time to time. Anyway, it seems like this kind of position, with her as the official representative but with an understanding that we would be interchangable there, levels things out in certain ways, and seems like that could be a good base for figuring out what comes next.
The location is kind of interesting, a stone's throw from a T stop at the end of greenline. This would put me further from some of my closest friends, but on the other hand, for the group of friends who rely on public transportation to come see me on gaming night life would be easier. And of course, the T would mean more independence for Ksenia, since a T stop is tremendously more covenient than having to hop a bus to the T. We'd also be nearer her family and my mom, assuming and my mom isn't relocated this summer. (I also have an inkling that Newton might be an easier driving stomping ground for her, which again might help her build more independence.)
So, the downsides:
Rightly or wrongly the first thing that comes to mind is the size of the aprartment, a one BR likely a number of notches down from my current digs. Suddenly, my vague touchy-feeling ideas and work about how nice it would be to have a post-house-owning clutter-free life would be put to the test in stark fashion. I've lived in small places before...this shoebox Mo and I shared in East Arlington comes to mind... and it wasn't too bad but it will definately require a deliberate scaling back.
Secondly is the time commitment. Our friends who have been doing this for a decade have to forego a certain number of social events over the years. Life will have to revolve a preplanned schedule, and you have to hope that the other couple doing the same thing in the same place will be ammenable to schedule rearrangement and swapping. Plus, it's the full time the office there is closed, namely 5PM to 8AM, so I might have to be more flexible with the time at my current job.
Third, of course, is the responsibility angle... it's a bit hefty, though like I implied earlier it seems like it has its Pros and Cons.
So, those are my thoughts. I'm welcoming feedback, though I guess (finally!) a feeling of not wanting to hear too many dissenting opinions is able to balance my usual urge to scurry around querying my friends and families "is this a good idea?" (A strategy which has some positive qualities, like being legitimately interested in other people's experience and thoughts, but also some negative traits, like being a way for me to avoid full responsibility for my decision.)
And who knows, this might be an almighty putting the cart before the horse, since we might not even get the position. Still I think it's good to be aware of the implications before things are definitely set.
Random note: I could have sworn there was an arthouse movie called "Crossing The Rubicon" in the early 1990s, where I learned the term, but IMDB only knows one made in 1997.... oh wait, it must be To Cross the Rubicon. Abswers.com talks about the phrase for people who might not be familar with it.
Link of the Moment
In the things I posted 5 years ago department, Seanbaby's Hostess Page is still one of the funniest things online (or at least the links with the dots that have the commentary) and if you're in a hurry, Batman and the Mummy is still almost pee-your-pants funny.
Product Search of the Moment
Things I wasn't aware of the market for, via Froogle: explosion proof refrigerators.