Friday, July 27, 2007

Working at Home

In my "perfect communal living " fantasy, we would all stay home and work our little farm which produced a bumper crop of scientifically- grown sinsemilla, with which we would finance our entire enterprise. And, while we did manage to grow some nice sized back yard plants for baking Alice B. Toklas chocolate chip cookies, we never were able to create any type of business which utilized all our talents. Not that we didn't try. Our first attempt involved Donna, Steven and I. We called the business the Bay Ridge Human Resources Center, "a public service extension of Big Gray, with offices and rooms for individual and group communication. An extensive library and information service are at our client's disposal "(What? Come over to the house, hang out and read our books? People did that already. For free.) "Our personnel are trained professionals in such diverse fields as humanistic therapy (buzz word) counseling, body therapy, (Steven referred to one of his two clients as "the Hump")health education, planning, marketing, writing, editing and graphic arts." There was a lot more. Needless to say, we didn't get any business other than the two hapless victims Steven tortured.

After that, Donna and I worked together for a time soliciting advertisements from therapists, nutritionists and other touchy- feely characters for a New Age paper distributed in health food stores. (I forget the name) She also was an editor and wrote a few articles.

Barbara and her boy friend Michael who moved into the house at some point, were the most successful at working at home, (no surprise). When the craft store where she worked converted her studio to selling space, Barbara decided to build a studio in our basement. So, not only did she clean and paint the basement, she and Michael painted the stairway going downstairs, and while they were at it, painted the dining room and the bathroom under the stairs. All the work was done with taste and a perfectionist's eye (Barbara's). She even had a kiln put in with a separate electrical connection.She worked tirelessly throwing pots and teaching classes. Michael who was one of the therapists from Creative Quest moved his practice to Bay Ridge and saw clients in the office. I loved it, because it meant more people at home more of the time.

Joyce came into the house a year or two later and taught ballet classes in the front room.

While I was working at Circle's, I started doing workshops and seeing a few clients, myself. I had been training at the Gestalt Institute in New York. My practice never amounted to much though. I couldn't convince myself that I was any less fucked up than the people who were coming to me.

So in the end, Jackson who wrote his book at Big Gray and Barbara were the only two house members who worked exclusively at home. The rest of us all had other income sources. I guess, for an urban commune, we did all right. The fact that so many of us were at home so much of the time, assured that the house would always be welcoming. By and large, it was.


Michael said...

Big Gray was all about family and supporting each other.
Steven was conscripted to be a "spiritual advisor" before I came to live at Big Gray. I never would have voted to do that, since it gave away personal power. Those who came in after that decision, never saw him as anything more than an interesting guy, who could never live up to his personal responsibilities to the house ("If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him").Perhaps as a "spiritual advisor" he felt that he transcended the responsibility to pay rent! I felt that everyone of those I lived with, including the kids possessed talent and wisdom and had something to teach me, simply by being themselves. They will always be my brothers and sisters.

A word about Joe. Barbara recently had to have some scary surgery (she's fine and recovering nicely). We had to go down to NYC and we had several options as to where to stay. I immediately said, "let's stay at Joe's". Of course it was perfect. He opened his home to us, gave up his bed, fed and nurtured me while Barbara was in the hospital. A true SEVA attitude. Joe was Big Gray, not Steven Shorter.

Cheman said...

No, I don't think we wanted Steven to be a "spiritual advisor".We advertised for someone with the qualities of strength, gentility, leadership and spirituality. You had those qualities too. Big Gray didn't create Steven. Thanks for those nice words about Joe, by the way.