This and that
About the housing market
There’s this house we used to pass every couple days, depending on which route we took to walk the dogs. It sits on a big double lot, and in the space where another building could go, there’s a garden that’s only half full of plants; the other half is kids’ bikes and mannequins and supplies for maybe building scarecrows or forts or parade floats. An old yellow school bus sits at the back of the yard, and I struggle to see how anyone got it there so I assume it’s just been there forever. The building itself looks patched together, with wood and nails but also probably lots of tape. There are ladders unfolded and running up toward the roof, and an addition that’s only collected half of its siding since it went up a year ago. Nothing looks like it was placed all that intentionally, but everything looks at home. Two dogs and a little girl often roam the perimeter. The girl, who I’d guess is 5 or 6, has no problem wandering to the fence and striking up a conversation that’s some mix of wise-beyond-her-years and mystic witch child.
There’s that other house, also down the street but in a different direction. It’s currently on the market for an astronomical amount of money. I watched its previous resident move out last summer— he said he was going to Georgia— and I kept an eye as the new owner renovated. After they had torn out the kitchen and bathroom appliances, a back hoe rode up the driveway and into the yard to strip out every square foot of vegetation. It only took a couple minutes to mow down a collection of trees that looked like a little family, and now there’s a bunch of grass seed sitting in its place. In the back, they put in one of those 6-foot privacy fences that make it so you never have to see your neighbors and your neighbors never have to see you.
We did the house shopping thing back in the spring, and it reminded me that some people— a lot of people— really like sterile. Empty and updated rule the day. Weeds or bushes or trees or birds nests won’t do– life, but sanitized and unmessy and controllable, is what looks good on Instagram and Pinterest. Carpets of grass pumped full of fertilizer. Immaculately staged living rooms that make you forget that you own stuff, and that your stuff’s got to go somewhere. Think nothing of soul, nor generally of anything alive. If it’s not Put Together, don’t bother; The Market doesn’t want it.
I catch myself. I’m being judgmental, I know. The Buddha taught us all about non-duality. Like and dislike are a disease of the mind.
I enjoy cooking in an updated kitchen as much as the next gut, but still.
We all find teams to root for.
So while I’m here, groggy with illusion and hitting snooze on awakening,
let me explain my fandom—why I so love that first house so much,
with its overgrown vines, and bushes intertwined with Christmas lights, and an alien head with the top cut off that serves as a flower pot:
The entire place is a billboard, screaming,
Look! The humans here…
they still have some wild in them.
You Have a Story
We all do. Big, like “my dad didn’t take good care of me.” Small, like “one time I thought my brother got kidnapped in Wal-Mart.” Dog walking stories, love stories, breakup stories, I-just-retired stories, another-day-at-the-office stories.
When we tell our stories, we lighten our load. That, and we have some fun.
I recently re-named my writing classes accordingly. They’re now called You Have a Story.
I’m offering two new classes at the following dates:
Fridays, 2-4pm EST, 11/11, 11/18, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16
Mondays, 3:30 – 5:30pm EST, 11/7, 11-14, 11/21, 11/28, 12/5, 12/12
You can read reviews here. You can sign up at the push of this button:
If you like my writing, or the overall mission, please consider sending a little financial support my way.
If you’d like to contribute in some other way, just reply to this email and let me know.
Another way to support me is to simply boost the signal. It’s always helpful when you tell a friend.
I also decided to give Instagram a whirl, and I plan to post some of my writing/info about what I do there. Follows/likes/shares probably help get what I do in front of more people. @jonathanneeley. Sorry about all the freakishly clean kitchens.
Be well, and much love.
Thanks for reading Jonathan Neeley! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.