Mike: “I don’t want your money! Keep your money!” Ester. I can’t get that song out of my head—it’s stuck. It’s from 21 Chump Street, from the This American Life musical that just went up earlier this week.
Ester: That’s hilarious, MD. I haven’t listened to it yet but I’m highly susceptible to earworms so I’m sure that once I do I too will suffer from your malady.
Mike: So, it’s from their live show, and they have a video you can download if you want, and yes, I wanted it. The cost of it was $5, but they said that since the show was so expensive to make it’d be great if you could pay more. So I paid $20.
Ester: That’s great of you! Did you consider waiting to see how much you enjoyed the content before deciding how much to give them in exchange for it? I just signed up for Slate Plus, where you pay the site $50 a year or $5 a month to get upgraded content — podcasts without ads, for example — but that was after years and years of reading and listening to Slate content gratis. Their value had already been demonstrated.
Mike: I decided that $20 was a fair price to pay for something I listen to on a weekly basis and want to continue to support, so I paid it without waiting to see if I liked the video itself.
Ester: Right, that makes sense. You’re not paying for the video, after all; you’re rewarding them for their track record. I have done that too for TAL specifically. (I’m a radio dork.) But do you have other podcasts that you listen to and like and haven’t contributed to, even though they’ve asked? What’s your criteria for deciding which listening experiences to support?
Ester: Hello! Could you introduce yourself in a general way?
Rebecca: Um, I am a radical leftist extrovert nerd feminist Jew. I work as a fundraiser and communicator for a racial and economic justice community organization. I have lived all over the world and the East Coast.
Ester: And you are getting married this weekend!
Rebecca: That too! I am a “bride” and a “fiancee” (though I don’t identify as the latter). I am a partner to my partner as I have been for a while and a housemate and householder-homeowner-homemaker with three other people including said partner.
Ester: Your housing situation is unusual and — I think — fascinating. Can you describe it a little before we get into the details of the upcoming nuptials? Billfolders love real estate.
Rebecca: My partner and I were living in an awesome co-op house with four other folks, and our dear friends MB and JB also lived in an awesome co-op house. We all wanted to keep living the big-house-with-lots-of-people lifestyle and in several cases had done that from during college. So 10+ years into grownup co-op life I didn’t want to get married and disappear from my friends and really from myself into some partnered love/torture cave of nuclear family loneliness.
We talked with MB/JB a lot about living together and then there was this crazy confluence/opportunity: 3 sets of mutual friends own houses on the same block and we sort of happened on an open house on said block. The house was in some ways just another rowhouse but in others really ideal for a 2-family shared situation — like, there’s sort of 2 suites of bedroom/office/bathroom on the second floor, and a big 2-car garage, which is unusual in our city… so all of a sudden we were like OK let’s buy this thing. A week later (and a lot of fevered financial dealings, honestly) we had an offer accepted.
Ester: This, I should tell you, was always my childhood dream. To live with and among friends. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. But did you envision something like this when you were young, or younger?
Rebecca: This has been my dream as well, since let’s say college. It was always a little vague because it seemed sort of impossible: how do you find the right people who are also ready and willing at the time, etc.? I sometimes imagined myself in a bigger commune-y kind of thing but I like living in the city. I seriously feel very lucky and blessed to have these friends who were down for the whole idea and all of us are just having the best time. Lots of people’s response is like yours — they want this kind of thing too. It’s shocking to me that more people don’t try for it, but it is pretty unusual.
Ester: My best friend lived in an anarchist co-op once and she hated it; no one washed their dishes. And I lived on kibbutz once. It was less than ideal. But I think the reason a lot of people don’t try it is that it’s hard enough to mingle finances with one individual, a romantic partner — the idea of getting your money tied up with that of another couple can be pretty daunting. Money can kill relationships faster than anything, after all, except sex.
Ester: Hello Judah! Would you like to introduce yourself for the Billfold readership?
Judah: Hi Billfold, my name is Judah Bloom and I am a new car shopper and, hopefully, owner.
Ester: And you are related to me!
Judah: That, too. I am your youngest brother.
Ester: That makes it sound like I have 15 younger brothers, each cuter and more princely than the last! But I only have you. Luckily, you’re great!
Judah: Well thank you. I am just trying to avoid the “little” brother routine that typically arises.
Ester: Yes, we middle children are notoriously insensitive to the feelings of our younger siblings. ANYWAY. You are not little; you are in fact almost 30, are you not?
Judah Yes I am. I am turning 30 in August and have been working a steady job for the past, almost three years.
Ester: Let the record show: You are a millennial with a strong work ethic. You’re virtually a unicorn! What other markers of traditional adulthood can you offer? Can you cook yourself dinner?
Judah: If ordering online or turning on the microwave count, then yes, absolutely. However, I have been a success at living by myself and going to work everyday, which is an achievement.
Ester: In this day and age, that basically warrants you a Nobel prize. Or, as it happens, A NEW CAR! So tell me about your decision to purchase an automobile!
Judah Well, the car I am currently driving is an 11-year-old Acura RSX (two door hatchback) that I got from my parents. It has taken me cross country 3-4 times and been with me for as long as I have been able to drive. However, it is reaching old age and becoming untenable/not financially viable to maintain.
Ester: You mean it’s time to put it in a home?
Judah: I was actually going to try to find it a nice farm up north to let it run around with other old cars.
Meaghan: Hi. Happy Friday. Did you do your 1 Thing yesterday, which was to cook?
Ester: I did, actually, Accountability Partner! Thanks for asking. The casserole came out nicely, but, I don’t know, a little on the bland side? I’ve never made tuna noodle anything before; I guess it’s supposed to taste like comfort food. Have you had time to cook at all, what with the new baby and your crazy family hanging around?
Meaghan: Ha, you mean my crazy family whom I love and adore in case they are reading this? A little bit! I kind of got in the bad habit of not cooking when I was pregnant, and generally not doing anything because I was growing a human, DAMMIT, so I am trying to become a contributing member of the household again, which is weird!
Ester: Oh, pshaw, don’t bother. You’re contributing! You’re feeding / holding / bonding with THE BABY, to whom you are sun and earth combined. You are Gaia, mother of all things. Gaia don’t cook.
Meaghan: Ha, my boobs are his sun and earth combined.
Ester: Right, one boob is sun, one boob is earth.
Meaghan: Scarily accurate. HA! Okay but my question is why did you want to cook a tuna casserole? That is amazingly nostalgic. I have never made one but definitely ate them as a child.
Ester: See, I never ate them as a child. My mom didn’t believe in that kind of food.
A friend of mine recently completed five months working the night shift in a Manhattan office. This week was his first of working full-time during normal business hours. I checked in to see how he felt.
Ester: How’s it going, Mr. Daytime Man?
Adam: Hello! Yes, here I am. It’s a little hard to focus. Lots of people around. Also the internet happens all day during the day, whereas at night it really doesn’t happen very much.
Ester: #truth.Tell us what your gig used to be like vs. what it’s like now?
Adam: In January I started working here at night. My hours were 6 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Ester: VAMPIRE HOURS.What was that like? Did you chat with janitors? Who did you take breaks with around the water cooler?
Adam: Right, sure. I was basically Count Chocula for our generation. I would describe it as silent and lonely, though actually a pretty good environment for focusing on your work. Also, I figured out pretty quickly to work Sunday-Thursday instead of Monday-Friday, because there is literally nothing more depressing than arriving to work in an office full of people about to leave for the weekend.
Ester: That makes a lot of sense!So what else did you learn, being nocturnal?
Adam: I dunno. I’d always thought of myself as a pretty nocturnal person who likes to stay up late and sleep late but I found working the night shift VERY VERY VERY HARD.
Ester: Explain how!