And lo. Came the holiday period and the vengeful return of old patterns. Asymmetric connections. Being kicked; pushed aside; worthy of attention only when something is needed or as a time filler. Nothing new; same old same old. On the plus side: it's not universal. On the negative side: I don't need this weight on top of everything else I've been dealing with.
But this post isn't supposed to be whinging about some or any of that in detail; I'm sure it'll happen, but not today.
Instead... this year. 2009.
I have in the past mentioned the concept of ELP (Economize, Localize, Produce) as a response to the coming unpleasantness. The Greater Depression is nosing into the tent somewhat earlier than I had expected -- I had hoped for another two years.
The short term disability I've been on (and is ending this weekend) has been a good dress rehearsal for the Economize axis of the equation: living on half your present income. Of course, I get the full strength exposure now with no formal income (but a few weeks of severance pay; enough to hopefully make a transition). I still need to do better on Economize, but I at least have an idea how to accomplish this.
The final axis (Produce) is problematic. I'm in an urban setting, and my skill sets are intellectually-oriented in nature. I don't have the social or commercial network around me to make an immediate transition to a directly productive vocation. However, acquiring some knowledge of practical matters is handy. The garden is obviously insufficient to support the house in any substantive manner, but it has been an excellent learning experience, and being even infinitesimally self-supporting has been uplifting.
I have some further ideas on how to fulfill the Produce axis within my skill set. It hinges off the "get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy" angle rather than being directly productive. It is skewing my job search considerably.
In the middle is "Localize". I think it's possibly the most important and the most difficult axis of the three. Modern society and especially the urban environment is a complex overlay of globally-functional but locally-broken social networks. Everyone has friends and connections, but they're generally not the people next door. Supporting local vendors is one step, but it has to go further; rebuilding local social networks of all types.
In examining some of the Old Patterns I am beginning to suspect that the highly distributed nature of my social network is reinforcing the patterns. My mobile phone's address book has numbers from no fewer than 12 countries and almost as many time zones. Even in a still-highly-interconnected world, the sparseness of the network makes it fragile and susceptible to distortion.
so... Localize the social network. But how? There are some massive hurdles in the way. First and most minimally is the simple fact that it's winter; always makes physical social interaction less trivial than strolling out the front door.
Next: recovered though I am, I'm still not completely comfortable with my physical level of recovery. My endurance for brightly-noisy environments is lower than it was before surgery. Not sure why that is. Maybe some rehabituation is required. My physical shape (or at the very least my own perception of it) is not near what it was in the summer. Being on medication the forbids the generic social lubrication of alcohol (even in casual social situations) adds a few more bricks to the barrier.
Not having any stable income and therefore in forced Economize mode is another large obstacle. In a better world, already adjusted to lower expectations and no longer partying like it's 1999, it wouldn't be, but we're still in the Happy Motoring society facilitated by seemingly endless cheap energy. Most social interaction requires expenditures.
Alone, any of these I could overcome. Taken all together, it seems a daunting challenge.
But that -- I have decided -- is the task for 2009. Relocalize a social network.