Slacking, building and choosing

Tech geeks that we (some of us) are, we have decided the primary communication between house members will be on Slack, a messaging app.

“What?” you say, “Your primary communication method isn’t speaking face-to-face?” Sure, sure, that would be very civil and touchy-feely. But no, we prefer to message each other making no sound but a vibrating notification, like passive-aggressive bots.

At every house meeting I say: “You all know that blah blah blah.”

Housemates: “No, I didn’t know that.”

Me: “But I posted it on Slack! Why does no one read my Slack messages!”

Housemates: “Well if it was less than 72 hours ago, we might not have read it. Remember the rule about 72 hours.”

Me: “It was a month ago.”

Housemates: “Then maybe we’ve forgotten.” (Ok, they didn’t actually say this).

Me: <Grrrr>

Tonight I was sitting with Harry and I mentioned that I posted the dinner with the neighbors to the #calendar channel of Slack. If you aren’t familiar with channels, think of them as ongoing e-mail threads with particular topics, or themed chat rooms. Harry said he wasn’t on that channel. He didn’t even know about it. My own husband was ignoring the channel I created.

“Did you invite everyone?” he said.

“Yes, I wrote @channel.”

“That’s not how you do it,” he said. He opened the channel. “Wait, is anyone even on this channel?”

The channel showed a long history of Eliza dutifully posting every house event since April (APRIL!) and every scheduling change.

May 23rd – Eliza: House dinner tomorrow (Monday) at 7:15. Enchilada casserole.

June 8th – Eliza: Scott, the blinds guy, is coming Wednesday at 2 to install the missing blind.

June 10th – Eliza: Scott, the blinds guy, changed his appointment from Wednesday to Thursday at 1:30.

You know when you suddenly realize everyone has left the room while you were facing away, and you’ve been talking to yourself for the last 2 minutes? Make that the last 4 months!

Color me sheepish. Now I know why Wes inexplicably did not know I had scheduled regular Tuesday night house dinners. And why no one moved their things away from the windows for the blinds installation. And why everyone was ignoring me. Sorry, everyone. My bad.

On another note, I’m boiling a sponge now because it smells like a rat died on it. This is no knock on anyone’s personality, but could we just please, please, PLEASE squeeze out the sponge and place it in the holder when we’re done using it? That’s really my main wish in life.

Things in the house are going more or less smoothly. Anna’s planning a garden party. She showed me the plans tonight and they look exciting. They look like the kind of thing I would never have thought up myself. A mud bath for the children? Herb gardens in dresser drawers? Wow! Some of us doubt that our party will accomplish all she has planned, but I very much hope to be proven wrong.

We’ve had scaffolding and floor covering in the living room to install sound absorbing acoustic panels on the ceiling because we have a grave echo problem. The stairs have cardboard on them that make a cracking noise with each step. Not like cracking eggs; more like cracking granite. You can no longer sneak up the stairs to spy on your children. While scaffolding and thunderous stairs aren’t an ideal match with young children, the project has had big benefits.

The main advantage of the construction is that Chris the Task Rabbit is now in our house every day pounding on our ceiling. You couldn’t ask for a more pleasant companion. Jeremy chats with him for hours at a time and he never complains or makes snarky comebacks. Today I overheard Jeremy taking things to the next level with Chris. The ellipsis in the following quote indicates it was preceded by 79 minutes of Jeremy talking.

“…and after we do this work we can build a house together.” Jeremy said to Chris, “Then we can all live together.”

I love that Jeremy is so keen on Chris. I also love that, to his almost-four-year-old mind, building a house and moving in with a guy who installs your ceiling panels is just a normal activity.

Jonah calls Nate “Da-da”. Nate is not his dad. He calls Audrey “A-da” and Anna “A-na”. Always with excitement. He calls our nanny, Glenda, “Hola” because that’s what she and I say whenever she arrives. He even says “Leif” and “Mina” sometimes. What does he call himself? “This.”

We had this housemate outing that Audrey planned. Biking and a picnic! Nate, Anna and Leif couldn’t make it to so it ended up being just my family and my sister’s family.

“Only our two families,” I said to her as we coasted in the sun on our 2-wheelers, “But not our parents.”

“Our chosen family,” she said, “Parents are your given family, but then you have your chosen family.”

“Only I didn’t choose you,” I said.

“I didn’t choose Mina either,” she said.

“I didn’t choose Mina either,” I said, “Or Wes, or Jeremy or Jonah. I only chose Harry.”

“And I only chose Wes.”

“Hm.”

We pedaled for a while, having exchanged these not necessarily complimentary remarks.

“But we chose to live together,” I said. Ah, that’s the important bit. Chosen family.

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