Letter to every married mom that’s ever snubbed me because I am a single mom

July 12th, 2017
On my bad days, I hate you. But most of the time, I feel sorry for you.

I feel sorry for you because you’ve let yourself go, which is why you give me the once-over with a grimace whenever you see me. And why wouldn’t you? You’re not supposed to be sexually available. You have an owner. You’ve settled down, like a good girl. Anyway, who has time to primp when cleaning up the perpetual trail of chaos that the hubby and kids leave in their wake?

I feel sorry for you because you’ve gotten so insecure about letting yourself go that you’d snub not just me but my kid too. Really? You’re gonna take your sexual resentment out on a CHILD? Go ahead, enjoy your playdates, help the other depressed married moms out with some babysitting. Keep that single mom and her spawn away, lest she go after your fat, balding husband that you haven’t fucked in 2 years. Puh-lease. I wouldn’t touch that creton with a ten-foot pole.

I feel sorry for you because I know you have to ask for something 4 times and then shout before he hears a word you say. It’s like you have to turn into an asshole in order to get ANY help. And then you have no patience left for the little ones, who deserve it so much more than he does.

It hurts when you snub me. I’m also juggling kids and a household. Childcare is just as much a financial burden for me as it is for your family. I could use the same break you and the married moms give each other. If you got to know me, I think you’d like me. But you’ve already decided, so my kid gets shut out.

Maybe you think I don’t notice. I don’t give you the benefit of the doubt anymore. The other single moms and I get together and we dish about how snotty you guys are to us.

I wilt a little every time my daughter asks me for a playdate with someone whose mom I know will not reply. I say that I’ll see what I can do. It gets harder the older she gets, because she remembers who she’s already asked about. I tell her that I sent the mom a message but she is probably just very, very busy.

This is totally an American thing too — the foreign moms are way cooler to me. Why can’t you be more like the foreign moms?

I feel sorry for you because deep down you know how fucked up it is when your kid wants to play with mine and you make up excuses as to why they can’t. Cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

I feel sorry for you because you make your friends based on something as ephemeral as relationship status, and not based on anything real in your heart.

I feel sorry for you because he cheats on you. Not yours you say? Wow, you have a lot to learn about men.

I feel sorry for you because there is a 50% chance you will also divorce. And when you do, and you get snubbed by the married moms, you will realize what a shitty person you’ve been.

I feel sorry for you because you share a bed with the last person on earth you’d want to tear your clothes off. Yup, it gets old, no matter how good it once was. And now you’re both celibate and stuck.

I feel sorry for you because you can’t really talk about it — everyone is supposed to stop asking how everyone else’s relationship is once the rings are on. Is that why you drink so much?

I feel sorry for you because deep down you know you want to leave him, but the money, the money, how will you do it? It all seems impossible. And scary. No wonder you hate single moms. They did the impossible. What would you talk about at a playdate? When the married moms get together everyone dishes about how lame the guy they’re stuck with is. “The single moms wouldn’t get it,” you think to yourself. Oh but we do. And we aren’t afraid to say the unthinkable: “Leave his trifling ass.”

I feel sorry for you because he doesn’t appreciate you, and never will.

I feel sorry for you because what’s behind me lies ahead for you, and the fear of it keeps you trapped. The lawyers, the courts, the money. Yes, it’s awful. I know that going through it is still better than staying in a shitty relationship. But you don’t know that. So you stand at the edge, looking but never daring.

How NOT to pass your pre-employment drug screening

February 20th, 2017
tie-straighten urine-sample smoking-joint

I consider pre-employment drug-testing to not only be a violation of one’s right to privacy, but an extremely misguided way to judge a candidate’s fitness to do the job. Back in 2002 when I was in my twenties and the economy was in the toilet, I needed a gig badly enough that I was willing to put up with it. These days I would never consider working for an employer moronic enough to insist such a thing, but of course that’s a moral standard afforded with dumb luck and a bit more seniority in job-market. This post is specifically about Marijuana, no other substances.

1. Book it.
Find out as early as you can, and make the appointment as far out as you possibly can. You will need this time to get the THC out of your system, which lingers for 30-45 days.

I was a temp, it was the post-9/11 recession, and one of my staffing agencies finally had something for me at an Investment Bank downtown. A weekend graveyard shift, salaried, across the street from the wreckage that remained of the Twin Towers. Fucking miserable. But work is work, and it’s better than none. I learned about the piss-test at the end of my interview with the Presentation Center manager, who took herself, and all of it, very, very seriously. It was to happen after the paid two-week training I was about to start. In retrospect, I think this must be a deliberate attempt to let people cleanup and get the narcotics out of their system. If they were really trying to catch anyone, they would spring it on you, right? They outsourced the testing to a dingy little Diagnostics Clinic up on 34th street, and it was up to me to call and make the appointment.

2. Stop smoking, start exercising.
THC bonds to lipids (a.k.a., fat). When that fat is metabolized, the THC comes out in your urine. This tends to occur at a relatively steady rate, regardless of cleansing. Given that the half-life of THC metabolites is 7 days, most people will be below the testing threshholds in 3-4 weeks. So if it’s too late to have a smoke-free month before test time, you need to try to get rid of as much of the fat in your body as possible. Exercise like a mutherfucker, and:

3. Diet, and then STOP.
Because you want your body to convert your fat reserves to energy, instead of the new fat you are consuming, you need to reduce your fat intake in the weeks leading up to the test. A couple of days before the test, you want to keep whatever THC is still in your body IN, by slowing your metabolism down to prevent any more THC from getting into your urine, and providing new, un-thc-tainted sources of fat to metabolize. That’s when you STOP exercising, and start piling on the bacon. In a nutshell: get as much THC out of your system as you can in the weeks before testing, then a couple days before test time, keep whatever remains in.

What I did instead, is get one of the “cleansing” drinks from a smoke shop, which I drank the day before. I would not recommend this.

4. Piss in that cup.
Some people try messing with the test-taking process, but I’ve heard too many amusing anecdotes about this backfiring. Anyway, they test the temperature to make sure it’s fresh, so good luck figuring that out without it coming out of your 98.6 degree nether-regions.

I was given the privacy of a bathroom with a closed door, but I’ve heard of other clinics where you have to go with a clinician standing right next to you.

5. Screen calls.
Because if you fail it, you’d better have time to come up with a fancy excuse and hope they either don’t give a shit or will give you another shot. You need this crappy gig.

It was a week after actually working at the Bank, that they left a message on my answering machine (remember those?) saying I needed to retake the drug test. I didn’t pass — but I didn’t exactly fail either (there was no indication of THC reported). Instead what was flagged on my report was “Low Creatinine levels.” What is Creatinine? Creatinine is a waste product of protein metabolism. As an indicator of drug-use, it’s dubious. Women have lower creatinine levels than men, vegetarians have lower creatinine levels than meat-eaters, and people with low body-mass have lower levels than people of high body-mass. The point is, they are testing levels of all sorts of other stuff in your pee to make sure you aren’t trying to hide something. Color, pH, and creatinine, among other things.

SO my creatinine levels were low. Why? It could have been the headshop drink I ingested. But how would that lower levels of protein metabolism? My hypothesis is that I would have received the same results had I NOT ingested the headshop drink. Because I’m female, slender, and was vegetarian at the time. Had I known about Step #3, I might have escaped this fated curveball. I felt vaguely vindicated when bit of web-searching revealed that Delta was facing a lawsuit from one of it’s pilots who was fired over test results indicating low creatinine levels. However this did not help my situation. They expected me to re-take the test. Obviously, having presumed that no news is good news, I had reverted to my sinful ways.

5. WAIT before reverting to your sinful ways.
Everything takes time, including clinicians analyzing your precious piss, writing up a report, sending it to your manager, and her opening the email or snail-mail and deciding what it all means in the scheme of her painfully narrow world-view. Give it a couple weeks to filter up through the powers-that-be before you go packing your bong. Oh fuck it, you’re not going to listen to me, you’ve been thinking about that huge joint you’re going to roll for weeks as soon as you bust out of that clinic. Which is why you will need to:

6. Come up with an excuse to buy some time.
You will have to repeat steps 1-5.

When I called back to innocently ask what the drug test result could possibly mean, I had recruited my friend D to lend me his phone, which had caller-ID block. I knew from previous temping gigs that all the banks had caller-ID on all the phones. If I was going to claim I was out of town visiting family for the week (which was perfectly appropriate, given that my shift was the weekend shift and I was off on the weekdays in between), I’d better not call from a local number.

Much to my surprise, the unimportant and unimaginative HR person that had been tasked with managing me and my drug test snafu was NOT at all pleased when I cheerfully informed her that I would not be able to book another appointment at the clinic immediately, but would be happy to do so upon my return at the end of the week. So up the chain of command it went to the manager that had interviewed me, and my staffing agency rep got involved to smooth feathers and mediate.

6. Keep your cool.
The type of people that want to drug-test you are generally inflexible, unintelligent twats, and may want you to jump through a few more fiery hoops in order to justify their existence.

“BUS TICKETS??” I exclaimed. The bitch manager wanted to see bus ticket receipts from my fictional trip. My agency rep calmly explained that there was some suspicion on the other side. I complained that this was ridiculous and invasive and that I had thrown out the ticket stub. She asked if I could save the return ticket receipt. I said I could. This satisfied her and she said she would let them know.

7. Get by with a little help from your friends.
When I hung up the phone (D’s phone) after this last exchange I turned to him, flabbergasted. I think I started to cry. The tears dried quickly as despair was consumed by determination to weasel my way out of this. D remembered that some friends of his HAPPENED to be doing a gig in the same city that my fictional trip to visit family was, and he called them. They were coming back Friday night. They said they would save their stamped bus ticket stubs and get them to me.

8. Pat yourself on the back for a job well-done.
All I had to do was wait out the rest of the week. I had played their game.

The next day I got a call from my staffing agency rep. What a job that must be. Have you ever heard a little kid say they wanted to be a staffing agency representative for investment banking temps when they grow up? And you never will. She informed me that they rescinded the offer of permanent employment, and they would like to bring me on as a temp. Of COURSE — they had just spent all that money training me, and I was already well-liked both personally professionally amongst the raucous and easy-going weekend staff, who either didn’t know or didn’t are about the drug test. To let me go would present a loss of time and profitability. Or maybe they didn’t want to pay for another drug test. Maybe they needed to have the last jab, who knows. I happily accepted, for I had wanted to remain a temp anyway. It was a shitty job at a shitty time, and the following year during a slump when they laid off all the temps, off I went, never to be drug-tested ever again.

Where the fuck are all those people now I wonder.

On Hiring Male Escorts

June 8th, 2016
david B was not the first professional I’d been with. The first was J, whom I’d met years before, in London, at my first orgy. I didn’t hire J — we took a liking to each other at the party, and he informed me as we chatted, that he did escort work. I’m sure if I was supposed to pay he would have said so, but if I’d had to I don’t think I’d have been interested.

Some ten years later, I sought out B in the midst of my separation from my daughter’s father. Like anyone going through a divorce, I was an emotional wreck – too much of a wreck to manage dating or be dateable. I’d rebounded into a couple of exes, with mixed results. I wanted to get off, and get off well, but without any emotional obligation to anyone, or pressure to go further than I was ready to.

So I browsed backpage.com for a few months before mustering the gumption to contact B. His profile had caught my eye a few times, and with time I observed updates to his photos, details – at one point the addition of a website. This struck me as a sign of safety – for in this age of digital paper trails, should he be an axe-murderer, the profile would surely disappear after having committed anything suspect using it. Right? I didn’t know. I decided to send him a message requesting to book a massage.

He responded via email and then we moved to text message. He wanted a photo of me, which I sent. His messages appeared cautious. It got me thinking – in a society where their profession is illegal and socially ostracized, they have just as much reason to be scared. Having lived in Holland during my twenties, where the sex-workers have a union and healthcare, this saddened me. It was also comforting to know the person on the other end of the transaction was just as nervous. We arranged that I would come to his apartment for an hour-long appointment. As I recall it cost around $180.

On the day of, I texted a couple of friends that I was going to do this, and that if they didn’t hear from me by 6pm, they should call the police and send them to the address I’d been given.

Whenever I start to do something that unnerves me, I tell myself with each step “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. At any moment, you can say no and turn around and leave.” These were my thoughts as he buzzed me into the building.

It was like visiting any other friend’s place. The building was nicer than the one I lived in, but not immodest. Warm tones, decent light and lots of original woodwork. He was talkative, to a slightly nervous degree. He had a massage table already open in the center of his living room, one wall of which, was entirely mirrored. We discussed what I wanted, which was simple enough – a massage with release. I told him I’d never done this before. He said don’t worry, he was going to make me comfortable. I liked him. He was attractive, though I wasn’t all that attracted to him. I trusted him well enough to stay.

He left me to get undressed, which I did, and I laid down on the table. I think he asked if I liked the music but I don’t remember. He began with a massage. It was good. Not the best I’d ever had, but nice enough. It was platonic to begin with, and gradually became more erotic in quality and where he was touching. About 30 minutes in was when things really got going. He went down on me, which I was not expecting. He retrieved a conveniently located glass dildo, which I was also not expecting. I watched us in the mirror. I came several times.

We laid in an embrace on the table in the aftermath of my orgasms. I relished his lack of demand for anything, and for once, not reciprocating felt not only justified, but expected. We talked. I told him about the break-up, my difficult ex, being a single mom and all the subsequent stress. He remarked that I just needed to come, really really hard.

He left the room to let me get redressed. When he returned, he did not ask, but I took out the money and put it on the counter and confirmed with him that it was accurate. I didn’t tip. I probably should have, in retrospect. I was working but in plenty of debt and in the midst of a separation. I also felt, a little culpably, that I ought to be able to get away with it. Years before, when hanging out with J in the hot tub of that little spa in London, I’d asked about his orientation. His response was “Well, straight generally, but bi[sexual] for work.” I realized there isn’t really a market for heterosexual male escorts. The majority of clientele are male. B confirmed this as we chatted after – he had a few female clients, but most were men. Being an attractive and fit woman, I imagined that a session with me with no strings attached could hardly be considered grueling work in the eyes of most men, straight or bi, escort or not.

I left the building elated, relaxed, and triumphantly giddy. I was so relaxed that I forgot to text my friends, until I noticed a second message from one, saying that if she didn’t hear from me in 10 minutes she was calling 911. All’s well that ends well.

It was fun, and I’ve thought frequently about doing it again, but since that time, I only went back once, on the following Valentine’s morning, before rolling into the office with a smug grin. It has it’s pros and cons, like anything. It definitely made me feel a lot better about not having a lover on Valentine’s Day (or “Lupercalia,” as I prefer to call it, in the way they once did before the Church sanitized the amorous filth of the old Pagan holidays). As a single parent, it’s appealing as another solution to time-management in this extreme, daily marathon which leaves little time for dating. Anyway, I’ve never been fond of dating. I much prefer meeting people through work or extracurriculars, when smoldering attraction blossoms out of accidental familiarity. Purchased gratification definitely pales in comparison to THAT, so when I have a crush, my interest in escorts wanes. But I’d say I prefer this simple service to dating, online or otherwise.

The thing that deters me, is the awkward process and questionable safety. I could contact B again, but he ultimately he isn’t quite my type, and besides, what’s the point if one doesn’t go for a little variety? But every time I think of going back online to browse profiles and agonize over whether or not I’m going to be into the person, or like the way they smell, or whether or not it will be good, or safe, I throw up my hands. What I would prefer is a setting a little more like a salon, where one could select from a catalogue of screened men, or better yet, where there’s a few dozen meandering a wet lounge or game room or garden, such that one can see, smell and touch the merchandise before requesting a private room for a massage. It seems appropriate that this would be a place where one could get hair, nails, and facials done, and serves excellent tea.

The main obstacle of course, is the illegality.

Most of us take for granted the protection under the rule of law we enjoy at our jobs. Escorts and their clients don’t get to partake in this protection, and subsequently must operate furtively, while exposing themselves to undesireable risks. It’s pretty absurd, given that the transaction, between consenting adults, does society no harm. One could easily argue that marriage is merely the same transaction but under a contract involving a ring and a house instead of cash. Or that it isn’t much different than one person buying dinner for another preceding intercourse, or the pebble that one penguin offers to it’s would-be mate. After reading the Kama Sutra I felt quite convinced that the only difference between a wife and escort is that one is full-time and the other freelance — which is of course, a personal choice, and subject to change with circumstance.

I find others quick to argue that sex-work is dehumanizing and abusive, and that it encourages human trafficking — how can I possibly compare it to that sacred institution of love? Is it as sacred when it’s Russian mail-order brides or Middle Eastern children sold into marriage to pay off family debts? I know too many women that stay in bad marriages because they simply cannot afford to leave. The titles are different, but the abuse and objectification looks much the same. Like ownership of one human being by another. On the flip-side, and a lighter note, there are many great love stories involving concubines. Both Jesus and Siddhartha shacked up with brilliant whores.

Like seemingly all social problems, it boils down to income disparity. Were the income disparity between men and women the world over not so great, the sexual repression that comes inherently coupled with economic oppression would not be present in marriage or prostitution, and women would not feel compelled by financial necessity to enter into any transaction involving their bodies that is contrary to their health and happiness.

So I’d like to live in a world where I can go get head while getting my nails done, on the condition that sex-work is well-paid, well-respected, and well-regulated, and the plethora of living-wage jobs and social services mean that the choice to sell sex is not a last resort, but truly one choice among many, to which one can always turn on one’s heel and say “no.”

Coupon – 70% off Enzo Labs services

June 25th, 2015

If, like me, you’re uninsured, your physician should already have one of these coupons for you. If NOT, download it, print it up DOUBLE-SIDED and in COLOR, and then send it in with your bill and reduced payment. FYI, this is not an official distribution of the coupon, and I’d probably get in trouble for posting it online (or at least told to take it down), so follow instructions. I’m posting it because the last time I needed to get my annual just-to-be-safe slew of STD tests, my midwife didn’t have the coupon, and it was a royal pain in the neck to get the bill reduced.
Download the PDF with front and back
If you prefer the raw images, these are 600 dpi PNG format. You will need an image-editing program such as Adobe Photoshop to print the correct size (4.2″ x 5.4″, or 10.75cm x 13.77cm) Download Enzo_FRONT.png
Download Enzo_BACK.png

Chakras and Architectural Space

October 27th, 2014
Jung believed that when a person dreams about their home, it’s a direct metaphor for the psyche.[1]

In our waking lives, the home as a reflection of self hardly requires of a jump. Regardless of whether you prefer the terms of Architectural Psychology or Feng Shui, it’s plain across rhetoric and culture that our structures are as much a canvas for expression as they are determinants of our mood, health, and relationships.

I started thinking about the architectural significance of the chakras while living in a house with a dozen other adults. My partner at the time and I had bought the 4-story, 4-unit home with the idea of architecting something more inclusive, supportive and dynamic than the traditional nuclear family. As we worked to create a sense of community in the evolving patchwork of private spaces, public spaces and roommates, I poured over blueprints of schools, hotels and ashrams — while trying to figure out why it just wasn’t working.

Living with anyone can be difficult. I once heard a comedian say that there are two choices: loneliness, or irritation. Most of us in the western industrial world first experience non-familial cohabitation when we are but adolescent maggots blindly feeling our way through relationships, careers and life, and simply too broke NOT to have roommates. Armed with little in our conflict-resolution toolbox, we hobble our way through differences, or throw up our hands to resignedly despise our roommates. So we work hard, earn more money, and eventually move into a half-decent studio or one-bedroom, to more properly begin our next quest: settling down with a romantic partner, maybe to have children, but especially so as not to die alone. And once we do, whether it’s married or living in sin, we receive a shocking reminder: living with anyone can be difficult.

Now, obviously it’s not all bad, or we wouldn’t bother at all. Coming home to a gaggle of roommates watching a movie, or a lover who’s cooked you a meal, or your little one rushing at you with open arms, can be heaven. And it’s hell to clean their hair out of the shower drain, discover someone has eaten all your organic imported chocolate, or be kept up by your neighbors having loud sex the night before your presentation. Depending on the nature of the relationship, some activities are more easily shared than others, some transgressions tolerated more than others.

According to the Vedas, there are 7 types of relationships corresponding to the chakras. Or perhaps better put, our relationships are ruled by certain chakras, some more than others. If our social realities are also ruled by the daily structures we physically inhabit, what is the relationship between architectural space and the chakras? How can our homes be designed to create a socially harmonious flow of energy exchange that bonds and comforts, without crowding or irritating?


Click to enlarge

The sketch above is a brief summation of the chakras and areas of a typical western home with which I thought they corresponded. I’d be interested to see a cross-cultural chakric breakdown of dwellings, but for now, I can only write from my experience living in the US and Europe.

The progression from the first to last chakra suggests a continuum from highly private, intimate and subjective, to shared, public, and objective. The highest chakras connect us to a great number of beings. The lowest connect us with fewer, in our most intimate relationships. Changing diapers or having sex are things we share with a special few. We’re likely to share a meal more casually – though probably not with just anyone. Books and lectures connect us with a great many, across time and geography. Our spiritual pursuits connect us with everything. Relationships ruled by the lowest chakras require a higher level of trust and shared values than those ruled by the higher chakras.

When I talk to people about communal living, one of the first things they blurt out is that they would need their own bathroom, and sometimes, but less often, kitchen. I noticed while living in a house teaming with other adults, how annoying it could be to share these amenities with others that aren’t intimate familiars or who didn’t share the same values (like cleanliness). Anyone with a toddler knows how messy that first chakra can be, and a private toilet for parents and child is more likely to be comfortable for a budding family and everyone else. Sharing a kitchen is something I usually enjoyed, whether it was making coffee in the morning or breaking bread in the evening — provided it was happening with people that followed a similar diet to myself. By the same token, I noticed that I almost never got to know people with whom I did NOT share a bathroom or kitchen, and it was an odd kind of estrangement, despite being a mere staircase away. There was a common area on the top floor, but it instigated only superficial contact when we threw parties. There were occasional conflicts in how it would be used and maintained — people wanted to cordon off studio space for their disparate crafts, and once after performing a major impromptu childproofing sweep, I unwittingly earned the ire of a childless roommate that didn’t like the new furniture arrangement.

My conclusion was and is that in domestic relationships, shared resources and shared values are critical to constructive, harmonious, long-term social bonding. If the group shares a common pursuit, be it parenting, painting or pilates, they are more likely to find parity in their preferences for the arrangement of space and allocation of resources. It’s a surprisingly far cry from the kind of Marxist theories that were partially responsible for my initial pursuit of a community-oriented living situation. According to Engels, labor is the basis of all relationships:

“the development of labour necessarily helped to bring the members of society closer together by increasing cases of mutual support and joint activity, and by making clear the advantage of this joint activity to each individual. In short, men in the making arrived at the point where they had something to say to each other.”[2]

This is not to say that parenting, painting and pilates are not laborious, but these days, the thing we do for a living isn’t necessarily the thing we value or define ourselves by. It can be, but not always. Gone is the tribal work-collective, where we labored together for shelter and sustenance, along with it’s collectivist habits. In its place is the nuclear family and the office, each with their fair share of shortcomings, each in flux.

The following diagrams represent a few layouts driven by consideration of the chakras as the driving design factor. Public and private spaces are organized around individual needs for privacy surrounding lower-chakra activities and inclination towards social connection surrounding higher-chakra activities.


1. Rough beginnings with NY as my context. Space in NY is scarce, and one is often boxed into a rectangle. Inhabitants have the option of one or two-bedroom units, all of which spill out into the central shared areas.


2. Pie in the sky: This circular layout offers some more flexibility in combining and separating spaces. For example, if a couple has a child, they could eventually expand into the next unit fairly easily, or two families could spread across 3 units, with the central unit shared by the kids.


After designing the second one, I realized that it’s not unlike the arrangement of many old European squares, with a central meeting point surrounded by restaurants, and residences tucked away on the upper floors.


Square in Komarno Slovakia.
Image from album.sofeminine.co.uk

Square in Prague.
Image from prempoint.blogspot.com


A friend of mine pointed out that my design is also similar to a kibbutz. [3]



Steve Jobs was occupied with the redesign of the Apple Headquarters up until his death in 2011 and envisioned a circular ring of open workspaces, surrounding a greenspace. The layout of amenities was designed to create happenstance social interaction between colleagues.


Rendering of Apple Campus 2

There are of course, infinite possibilities, and every social group will develop it’s own coda on what should and should not be shared. If there is to be fluidity between the chakras, between the private and public, collective and neo-liberal, the space must be easily combined and partitioned. For this reason I included a lot of pocket doors to allow spaces to be opened and closed frequently and liberally with minimal spatial interference. Soundproofing is critical, which means 6-inch walls between units and soundproof doors. The provision of individual bathroom and the most meager of kitchen facilities allows each unit has to operate autonomously, with an incentive to use the more elaborate shared kitchen and living areas. All of this is to reflect the reality of the modern self: independence and solitude are available and well-supported if desired, but joining forces with others is a more complex and enriching way to navigate daily life.

While the socioemotional benefits are appealing, the economic reasons for a redesign of the family that scraps our current architectural conventions are far more compelling. There is no shortage of skepticism on the subject of communal living (which I suspect is a relic of McCarthyism), despite the fact that the nuclear family is a post-industrial phenomenon, historically too impoverished to exist before the wealth of modernity made it possible. I still consider it impoverished. After nearly going bankrupt when my daughter was born, the need for co-located collaborative family support became glaringly apparent. Two-income families are buckling under the cost of childcare, and having a child in the US increases one’s statistical chances of bankruptcy three-fold.[6] Teaming up for childcare swaps or nannyshares with the immediacy and ease of knocking on someone’s door is just one way families could ease the financial burden of starting a family. While living in the house with a group of adults, I discovered that 10 people can very easily and comfortably share one vacuum-cleaner, one juicer, one iron, one printer, one broadband internet connection, various power tools — I’d estimate roughly a 50-75% reduction in common household expenditures (accounting for the need of a higher-quality appliance or service to handle the increased load). The equal marriage rights movement has opened the question of what a “healthy” family looks like – to which there are many right answers. The rate of marriage continues to decline, as women’s income goes up. I don’t suggest that we should attempt to return to collectivism; We are postmodern, we are neo-liberal, we have personal property. But this doesn’t mean we need to be alienated, isolated and artificially impoverished in our two-bedroom, one-or-two-parent households.

I believe our homes can be run with the efficiency of our profit-oriented organizations, by operating on industrial principles like specialization, professionalization, economies of scale and co-location. Replace co-workers with a group of moms (or dads, to be gender-neutral, but to be fair and give credit where credit is due, it is vastly more moms that I witness exhausted and overwhelmed by the demands of career, housework and childcare). It begins to look something like Adam Smith’s pin factory: While one makes breakfast, another pops out to the store to get more coffee, another watches the kids (who are busy entertaining each other, and subsequently require less attention from their adult caregiver), another cleans up, and the last one takes a shower — blissfully uninterrupted. Imagine a home where there’s always an extra set of hands to hold up one end of a shelf while you drill the other side, and help with moving a piece of furniture is never further than a knock on a door or a call across the courtyard. This is not to suggest that it’s all roses. There will be differences and disagreements, and these will require commitment, the right tools, and daily work to resolve — just like a marriage.


Sources:

1. Man and His Symbols. Carl Jung, 1964. (Ed.) Dell Publishing

2. The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man. Marx, K., 1895. Progress Publishers, Moscow

3. Kibbutz & Archipelagos. 2010. www.deconcrete.org

4. Why Our Ancestors Built Round Houses – and Why it Still Makes Sense to Build Round Structures Today. Rachel Ross 2012. inhabitat.com

5. Towards Collaborative Community. Paul S. Adler & Charles Heckscher, 2005. www-bcf.usc.edu

6. Interview: Elizabeth Warren – The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke. Books of Our Time. Dean Lawrence R. Velvel, 2004. www.youtube.com