Sunday, July 10, 2005

Is it worth a fight?

I hate it when my brother Daniel is right. Actually, I don't hate it when he's right all the time. I just hate when he's right and I hadn't asked for any advice in the first place.

Here how things stand with my roommate Mindy: I've only interacted with her once or twice since she got back from her camping trip and it was very pleasant. I didn't detect any lingering resentment over my requests for some space in the kitchen or over my rearrangement of some of the cabinets. We moved in together because we get along and that dynamic has seemed to be in evidence. I think that Mindy simply has a different perspective on possessions. She is less deliberate about them. Probably, if I dig deep, I could find an argument for how her perspective is actually better than mine in some ways. But I don't really feel like proving myself wrong right now, even as an academic exercise. Maybe Jesus would, but I just don't want to.

I say that she has a different perspective because when I get to the house, I find things in positions that I would not prefer them to be. For instance, there's usually some sort of food item left on my refridgerator shelf. It's a paltry thing, but the point of having my own shelf is so that they don't eat my food. If they're used to getting their own food from my shelf, what's to stop them from mistaking my food for theirs again?

However, I am trying to keep in mind Don Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz, in which his pastor convinces him to live in a group house after years of living by himself in order to challenge his skills at loving people like God loves him. It's disasterous. He's so self-centered after living by himself that he gets up and leaves the room in the middle of conversations and dumps his roommate's clothes on the floor when they've been left in the dryer. He's not being mean, he just doesn't realize that he'd being offensive. He is the epitome of the word inconsiderate: he does not consider the needs or motivations of other people.

I do not want to be Don Miller in this time in his life. I want to be considerate and loving. Also, I know that when you let little things like that bother you, you turn into a character from Seinfeld. So, right now, I'm just quietly moving whatever is on my shelf to another shelf. I don't think it's done with an intent to annoy, so I'm trying not to get annoyed.

When I moved in, I put my DVD player on the floor next to the TV with every intent of making it a communal DVD player. Mindy said to wait to hook it up because she had a bigger TV that she had been meaning to put in that required a different shelving arrangement. Totally fine. However, she put together the new set-up last night and simply stacked the big new TV on top of my spindly little DVD player. I've taken these things apart at The Exchange to recycle them and I can tell you that they are not designed to support a lot of weight. However, I tried to approach it like the food on my shelf: she didn't set it up that way to break my stuff, she just didn't think about it.

I said, "I tried" to think about it that way. However, I called my brother immediately upon coming home and seeing this and asked him if HE thought it was a bad idea to put a big heavy TV on top of a flimsy little DVD player. Instead of aggreeing with me that my roommate had made a cataclysmic error in judgement, he had the gall to say that it probably wasn't a big deal. In fact, he pointed out that DVD players were actually pretty cheap. I began to argue with him on that point, actually near tears, citing the ferry ride and my financial circumstances. He paused, shifted the tone in his voice and said, "Is it worth a fight?"

He tells me that he doesn't read my blog. So, how did he know I had been fighting perpetual frustration with my roommate? Was I projecting that much? Is he just that good?

So, I calmed down. It wasn't worth a fight. She didn't do it out of blantant disregard for my personal property. I actually did move the DVD to the top of the TV, using a tray that I found in her office in a rediculous set-up. However, I did it with a calmer heart and a different intention. Also, I did not leave a snarky little note pointing out the change which would have been blameless in its word choice but accusatory in its tone. I feel pretty good about that.

We've interacted more since then and I'm not sure that she even noticed. Or, if she did, she's also decided that sometimes keeping it to yourself is a good roommate policy.

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