Manifestus

I used to think it was that I was getting older. I thought that, with the ‘gift’ of age and experience, came a certain hardening of the skin, a lessening of tolerance for seemingly juvenile actions, and so on.

Today, however, I learned something.

I was sitting in a car that would not start. Inside the house next to the car were two people who I had given a place to stay, free food, furniture, and much more. Both of these people had quite literally moved out under cover of night — from different houses, in different cities — to avoid paying me rent. One of them had snuck out leaving a phone bill of close to two thousand dollars in collect long-distance calls from prison, in addition to spraypainted walls, and many more gifts in kind.

In this car which would not start, outside a house of people who collectively owe me thousands upon thousands of dollars, to return to a home where I do not have heat or hot water; this is where I learned something.

I will never be able to surround myself with people who will do for me what I would do for them.

I used to believe differently, that the people I had chosen to spend my time with had the same views on friendship and community that I do. That they, too, believed in social responsibility, trust, respect.

They don’t.

Or rather, if they do believe in these things, these beliefs are not nearly important enough for them to be able to act in line with them. The two possibilities are functionally identical, and I’m not going to bother drawing a distinction between them.

After our heat was shut off here a few weeks ago, I had a very good conversation with my very good friend Charles. The conversation can be summed up very simply:

“How can I make significantly more money and accrue significantly less expenses than I am making and accruing now?”

During the course of this conversation, we realized that we had been having conversations on this topic, off and on, for about seven years; it seems plain to me that if you’re continuing to have financial issues of this caliber after seven years and several significant increases in workload and pay, chances are that the problem has to do with you.

With this in mind, I have taken a lot of time lately to think about my financial situation over the years, and why I keep ending up where I am. In this time, I’ve been increasingly distant to my friends and family — for this, I apologize, but it needed to be done — but after spending a lot of time examining things, I discovered something very alarming.

Without exception, every single time that I have had significant income and reduced financially to the point where I literally cannot afford a cup of coffee, I have been fucked over by someone. From the first time in 1998 to the last two years of nearly constant abuse and non-payment from the people we’ve been renting the upstairs to (The greater part of $10K).

I can count the number of people I have lived with on one hand who have always paid their share in full on time, or made alternative arrangements before money was due.

I wish this were an entry regarding rent and roommates. Then, the solution would be simple: get out of the landlord business. And I have. But the landlord business isn’t what this post is about, and it isn’t what the problems I’m having are about.

The landlord business is a not a problem, it is a symptom. The treatment I have received by the people I have been living with is symptomatic of the treatment I have received by the people in my life.

With very nearly no exceptions, every single person that I have spent a lot of my life with has betrayed my trust, or crossed a mutually-understood boundary of responsibility and/or respect. The only names I have been able to come up with are Leslie, Venk, Suzanne, Charles, and Tony Christofaro. Five people, two of which I have not spent significant time with in a while. If we’ve spent a lot of time together, and your name isn’t on the list, it’s not by omission.

These aren’t small things I’m overreacting to, either. These are things like hanging out with someone who has beaten the shit out of my girlfriend, or neglecting to mention to me that the person I live with is going to skip out on rent and leave me holding a lease.

I’m going somewhere with all of this.

Given that there is a strong pool of evidence to suggest that many of my financial woes would be cured by not trusting anyone with or allowing anyone access to my living space, and given that even my closest friends and family have done and continue to do things that I have a great deal of difficulty reconciling with a working relationship, the logical conclusion is that I should live (mostly) alone, and not involve myself in friendly relations. (There is a second option — lowering my standards — but I have tried this, ending only in resentment and misery.)

I am very seriously considering doing just this. Living (mostly) alone, and not spending time with anyone at all. Just writing, designing, working, playing games, spending time with the woman I’m going to marry. It sounds like a very nice life. Especially the having-hot-water-to-take-a-shower-with part.

I recognize that we’re all human, and we all have faults. I, having more than most, understand this. I know that a lot of people try their best to be a good friend/roommate/whatever, and that any failings they may have are being addressed in some personal discipline of self-improvement or whatever. I, too, try to be a better person each day than I was the last – but I do not have the emotional (or financial) fortitude to spend any more of my time being fucked by people who’re trying and failing to get their shit together.

I will not live for friends, family, or community that does not return – at the very least – their mutually agreed obligations. This is no hyperbole; when I take home $3500 in a month and spend $3200 on other people’s rent and bills, I am literally living for other people, and with that said, I don’t consider social and personal obligations any less important or binding than financial ones. The inverse is true, if anything.

So if we don’t talk again anytime soon, or I turn down that coffee date, you know why. It’s nothing personal, but it’s time for me to stop pretending that the people around me are something that they’re not.

48 thoughts on “Manifestus

  1. Good. It’s about damn time.

    I’m happy for you, Jai. I’m happy that *you* are going to come first, for a change.

    And as for those two people in that house: I think I know who you mean. If I’m right, one of them screwed me over, too. When that happened, it was just about the last time I ever REALLY trusted anyone financially.

  2. awesome post… very eloquent and to the point… i’m glad you decided to cut out people who drain you… hurray! *hugs*
    xxoo

  3. You can’t live life for other people if they don’t pull there weight Throw the fucker out on there asses… I was in the hole 7200$ beofre I started doing that!

  4. understandable.
    For me,me being fucked over has left me closing circles.
    I will never forget and I talk about it a lot what you and yours did for me last year.Your support saved my life.

  5. That is similar to why I did live on my own for a few years, and why you guys are some of the only people I haven’t cut out of my life. Hell, I tried living with someone again and got heavily financially and socially fucked for my efforts.
    It’s also why I didn’t take the offer of moving in upstairs from you guys, I didn’t know if I could find work in Ottawa. I wanted to move there to be honest, but not at the cost of being a parasite.
    I don’t appear on that list, I hope it’s because I’ve never had the oppertunity to spend significant amounts of time with you. I accept that I can’t, because at this point to do so would be to become what I hate. I’m lonely but I accept that, because if I want the smallest footprint I can have, then I must be this for now. It’s also why I say I’d love to follow you guys overseas, but I can’t until there is work there for me. I can’t trailblaze it, I’d have to follow. I want my impact on lives to not be measured in dollars owed.
    I hope one day I can make that short list, only because I want to spend so much more time with all of you.
    Once again I find too many words are ruining what I’m trying to say. Hugs to all of you from me. Take care of yourself.

  6. God I hate sketchy people. I spent one year with sketchy people, and never again.
    I reccomend the “living alone with the woman you love” bit. Great idea, and take responsibility for no one else’s life.

  7. What abotu your brudda?

    — on a more serious note, I see and know exactly what you mean. I stay pretty far away from people, but I try to help out when I can. There was a golden rule that’s been dulled over time, soemthing about never mixing money and friends, because when the bell rings, you may find that you have neither.

    I remember you, back in the olden days (hell, I still have pictures with you in them from the old TattleEvents) and I remember thinking that you seemed a lot like me, but more … people-oriented.

    Maybe it’s time we switched?

  8. sounds like a strange definition of “friend” that some people have.

    makes you wonder if they know they’re parasites.

  9. A few years ago, I learnt that people should never be trusted with money unless you feel comfortable cutting your losses. That’s no excuse to be anti-social, mind, but it really helps to refuse to give people chances to fuck you over in the first place. Nobody holds it against you is you don’t do people fiscal favours.

  10. xbox is warmed up and so are the new wireless controllers. NbaStreetJam session is requested……..or required……
    as for your post brother…………………………
    Its about F@#*ing time.
    Lock and Load.

  11. heheh awesome! he could use some competition ;)

    hopefully i’ll be feeling up for hanging out soon too! he has a show next Tues [playing live at the club] so i’m not sure how much work is left to prepare, but we’ll get him there for some one on one…let the trash talk begin!

  12. “I know that a lot of people try their best to be a good friend/roommate/whatever, and that any failings they may have are being addressed in some personal discipline of self-improvement or whatever.”

    sadly i believe you’re very wrong, here.

  13. Perhaps so. Or, at the very least, perhaps it’s time we grabbed a coffee and commiserated.

    Also, I would like some of these pictures. :)

  14. i completely understand what you mean. i have the same problem. since i’ve moved out of my parent’s place, i’ve always been taking care of or covering for someone. although there have been good times that have come out of this, when you stop to look at the end result it’s always the same: you’ve lost friends and you’re broke. one more reason why i will never again put myself in that situation. glad you’re doing the same. you’re too good a person to let yourself be in that position.

  15. *nod*
    Every time I got left holding the bag my dad would say “why do you trust people?”
    It happened in Toronto and it happened in Ottawa and it has happened… yeah, I can relate.
    Y’trust people ’cause y’have to in order to get things done within the community. A lot of people are selfserving, selffocused and selfish… and while a little of that isn’t bad, a lot is crippling. To those they interact with. And then, rather than face the problem and discuss a solution, they run. And [try to] hide.

    Y’re right… there are few people who approach friendship and community as you do. And, unfortunately, that approach is easily abused.

    The trick is learning to say no, being firm in business situations, being just and growing a little bit thicker skin.

    Room mates… y’get rent up front and when they give you excuses, out they go. Legally. Bills can be chased in court, though honestly, if they can’t afford the phone bill then what will you get from them? So things go into individual names: lockdown. Be a little more selfish yourself. Focus on what you and yours want. The community will still be there after…

    Trust, but with contracts.
    Be friends, but don’t do business dealings with friends without something in writing [those of us who actually put stock in word and reputation, in face and handshake, we’re few and far between these days…]

    Pull out that big stick you normally keep hidden away and offer to use it. Creatively *heh*

  16. I know that Shannon (I can’t remember exactly how she spells her LJ name) has the originals, and I was the mere vehicle that scanned them….

    Uhm… next week (and weekend) is all right… so let me know what time is good for you. E-mail is the gmail: lactam …

    I’ll see if I have backups of those images… if I still have them, they’re on diskette… I’ll have to plug a drive in… ack…

  17. I can count on one hand how many true friends I’ve had in my life, excluding my sexual relationships.
    Knowing that most people you come across (like myself) are simply acquaintances, can make things much more bearable, especially if they fuck up. While people who WISH to help others, friend or not, will continue to exist, at least they semi-know what they are getting themselves into.

    Good luck with the pullback. It can work wonders. Heck, I’ve been doing one now for about eight months. If you find that this action works, perhaps it won’t simply be a pullback, but instead a way of living.

  18. Yeah… Bonehead, Vanity Flair, Dr. Dave, Azeem Fizban …

    and then there’s all the people who were on TattleNet who are now on LJ: HeartovMidnight (damn, I can’t remember what it is exactly), Demon is .. [info]oni_neko … uhm… yeah…

    It seems that those were the bygone days… Apparently [info]sloot has bumped into Dr. Dave (I think), recently…

    It’s one of these things that you go through in your youth that you’re not entirely proud of, and you’re sure as hell happy that there isisn’t a means by which it was backed up (unlike the forums on the internet, which seem to be backed up almost into perpetuity).

  19. That’s the problem, really … isin’t it?

    Those who some consider “friends” and who other consider “parasites” may lack the ability to empathize (oooh, I bet my spelling’s wrong there) and realize that they’re doing some “bad” along with the “good”.

    It brings to mind something that I’ve been wondering for a while. It’s generally a good idea to get some feedback from your acquaintances about interactions with other people… sometimes, you may now know that there is ill will until you look through another’s eyes.

    Trouble is, it’s hard to find a disinterested observer.

  20. I know how you feel.
    I am ready to move on, get my life together and stop just existing, and start living. I knew I couldn’t do that where we live now, so me and graham are moving, and I cant wait.
    people borrow money, never pay it back…shit happens that is just so stupid and hard to deal with on a regular basis.

    I think graham would agree with me when I say that we would like to see you and leslie sometime soon……if we aren’t on the ban list that is…

  21. some ppl tell me i can be cold or insensitive. your post reminds me why. it is only by keeping ppl at a distance, and keeping it all “short and sweet” that i can supress the rage when i am faced with dealing someone who i know is not interested in *me*, but rather interested in what i can do for them, and only for the length of time it takes to extract what it is they need.

    it is hard to let go. by habit, in the past, i have usually gone out on a limb for ppl, frequently without so much as a thank-you. i am slowly learning that i should only do so because i want to, not because it is the right/humane/courteous thing to do – it is fucked up that it is the way it has to be, but it has become a survival issue, physically and emotionally.

    i wish i could say something more encouraging.

  22. this is a great post. i’ve been out of the loop for the past week looking for a place to live – thanks to a my own experience of fucked overness (well, 1 of 2 GIANT ones). but yes, people will use and abuse generosity to their maximum extent. it’s been my big lesson this year . . . and it’s been a shit few months, but at least I know i’ll only trust very very few people every again.

    no one will get shit from me ever again unless i truly feel i know you and trust you. and even then I could be wrong.

  23. Crap.

    You were the last holdout. Now, charity is officially dead.

    RIP

    The worst part about parasites is that they are often the people that seem like they are on the verge of doing great things, or of finally getting their shit together — if only they had a little bit of help to get them over the hump… It’s not until you’ve given them all they push they needed and they are still where they started from (and you’re a lot further behind) that you realize that no amount of energy you pour from yourself into them (be it emotional, social, or financial energy) will make any difference to them. They will just keep taking and taking and taking until you set boundaries and limitations. Then, it’s amazing how fast they disappear from your life. Been there, done that, and I’m still paying the price for having gone along for the ride.

    I’ll repeat here what I posted in [info]dirtybunny‘s LJ:

    Everyone needs help in some way or another. The best we can do — if we want to help — is learn how to recognize those people who would benefit most from what effort we can give. It’s a gamble though. And like gambling, if you don’t want to go into irreperable debt (in this case, it’s social and emotional as well as financial), you can only gamble what you are willing to lose. If piling the resources you are thinking about betting up on your front lawn, and metaphorically setting fire to them would not leave you in a bad state, then it’s safe for you to gamble. If not, you can’t afford to, or you need to find a game where the entry stakes are lower. Sorry to drag the simile out so far, but it’s a good description for how I’ve felt when I’ve “invested” more than I had into relationships or activities that I believed in (but seem to have been unique in my commitment to, and have been left holding the bag, over, and over, and over again).

  24. and remeber the tattledays…. Luke’s (purplehaze at the time) is still around too, dunno if he does LJ but i got him on AOL.

  25. Put em right out on their tails. I had a few people do something similar to me, i haven’t spoken to them since, nor have i seen them since. Which is fine with me.

    If people are willing to take advantage of you financially or in any way, they’re not worth the time.

    Just remeber, even though there are wankers out there who’ll leave ya holding the bag, there still are people who’ll be there to back ya up when the chips are down, so to speak.

  26. i was only occasionally invovled…got introduced though Denise & Hound…that’s where i came in to BBSing w/geeklove and whatnot…i was Liezel [F.M. Busby reference] i think back then.

  27. Apparently he does… I just can’t rightly recall what his lj name is. I saw him on New Year’s, tho’ … briefly, but I did see him.

    Oh, and A Cold Glass of Milk is here too… but you knew that…

  28. the littlist of the fizbans :) Death Fizban. AKA warren :) aka “damn he’s short for his age”. Ring a bell? You’d know me if you saw me :)

  29. please, my name is not on that list because we haven’t spent a lot of time together, or at least, not in a long time. please, tell me i haven’t fucked you over and never been told about it. i mean, i know i’m horrible at keeping in touch, but…. <3

  30. You haven’t fucked me over. We just haven’t spent that much time together, compared to the people I had in mind when writing up that list. I was more referring to the spend-every-day-together-for-years kind of friends.

  31. yeah, i’m not sure if you’re still feelin this but i’m feelin it now.
    i give all my cash away to people that suck and try to buy them hangouts but then a real friend calls me out for dinner and i cant even scrape up bus fare. i have never been this broke before, so it never bothered me as much, like if i spent hundreds on other people that never gave back, it still wasn’t *all* my money.
    sorry i stuck you with that cab fare. you know i’ll get you back.
    xo.

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