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Archive for July, 2009

>On being a JV

>So the end of the year has posed much time for reflection and conversation over the past 12 months. Especially since I’m bound for another year of $80 a month, I’ve been thinking a lot about what has it meant to live simply. So here are a few thoughts.

* Living simply has nothing to do with living in solidarity with the poor. Being poor is not simply financial poverty, but a poverty of resources. I have family, education, etc. I will likely never be “poor.” The “poor” would also think you are ridiculous living in solidarity with them, because they don’t want to be poor.

* I can never really complain about money. For one, I chose to make $80. If you include my community stipend, it’s a little less than $400 a month for all my living expenses. And there has hardly been a time that I’ve really lacked anything. Your money goes where you chose to spend it.
Granted, my money goes to the bars a good bit, which is why I’ve been sharing contact solution the last month and John brought me home a tube of toothpaste from the homeless shelter. (Sorry to let you know the truth, Mom and Dad.) Really, I’m just waiting on my bonus ($250!) at the end of the year to restock necessities. I just don’t want to spend my last two weeks in Spokane sitting around. Especially not while Harry Potter is in town.

* I’ve forgotten what luxuries really are. It’s a luxury to go out for coffee, not a necessity to ‘meet up with someone.’ Going out to dinner, or to a movie is a luxury. And when you do it once a month instead of once a week, it tastes a lot better.

* I haven’t missed what I can’t afford, because I have 7 housemates. I don’t run to Starbucks on the way to work, I make a pot of coffee every morning for whomever wants it. We don’t go shopping, we try on each others clothes. We hardly go to the movies where you have to sit in silence in a room full of people, we rent movies and play “chick-flick bingo.” (10 points for shopping with the best friend, 15 points for the break-up-you-know-won’t-last, etc). Friends are free, and having friends who are poor makes hanging out cheap.

* People are usually more generous to JVs than to people who are actually poor. I don’t know why. I think more than a few people spent the $40 we got for Christmas on beer.

* I have very few needs, and many wants.

* Bike commuting is great, but when you don’t have a back-up such as a car, waking up to a flat tire is not enjoyable. Also, bike commuters can be snobby. Once, Kelly and I went to a Bike-to-Work week pancake breakfast, in our work clothes like we normally do. Everyone else there was wearing their spandex and jerseys. We felt really out of place, especially since we probably bike to work on average way more than everyone else there! (December, January, and February were the only months I didn’t bike to work at all.) Heck, I even biked in two inches of snow mid-April.

* Churches that have free donuts after mass is where JVs will end up going.

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