Author Archives: RE:Action Jackson

I Can’t Believe It’s Not MTV! — Part Two

In my last entry, I vaguely outlined the general atmosphere of “the habitat”. I call it that because no other word seems to fit. The place is a collective of intellects and styles beyond what I could have imagined possible. It’s been strange, but there seems to be a common sense of well-being, and everyone shows genuine concern for each others’ mental and physical well-being.

As I said before, I’ve only made vague references to what actually happens here in the house, but I can tell you that each one of us brings something different to the table. We have been without internet for the last 3 weeks, and we have been forced to turn to each other to help pass the time. Video games have been in the forefront: anything from Left 4 Dead to Dance Central. Most of the bonding I’ve done with the other housemates has been in front of the Kinect or with a controller in my hands.

What a better way to bond with your housemates than by learning to shake your hips on Dance Central?!

Since togetherness is what holds a house together, its a good idea to make laughter a commonplace occurrence around the house. Everyone loves to laugh, and after a long day at work with crawling into bed in an empty house not an option, laughing is a welcomed substitute.

Here are a few things to consider when looking to install a sense of community to your household.

1. Make an Achievement Wall.

Games are fun and a common way for people to burn up free time. A concept that’s been introduced in recent years called “Achievements” have given gamers a chance to log their career as a supr l33t h4ck4r every step of the way. This concept translates very well to real life as well. Throughout your life as part of your new community, there will be mishaps and adventures shared between you, so mark the buzzworthy with a witty achievement. Did someone’s brother set the kitchen on fire? Assign the housemate a color and go to the Achievement Wall with a Sharpie and write “Dante’s Inferno Unlocked (+25) Have a Guest of a Housemate burn something in the kitchen” and keep score. Do the same for all the housemates, and fill the wall with your antics. At the end of your lease or when a housemate departs, calculate their gamerscore and have an event in their honor. Let the games begin.

2. Have a game night.
I know it sound corny, but games bring people together. It’s a way to relieve tension and amuse ourselves when things get a bit heavy.  What better way to unwind than pwning a herd of noobs with your housemate…or better yet, your housemates themselves in friendly competition. If you’re going to play video games, don’t play them alone. It’s an addiction, trust me… my thumbs are permanently bent.

3. Have a movie night.
Sometimes we just want to be entertained, so the movies are a welcomed alternative to Street Fighter on occasion. Get together and go catch a flick: pick a genre not a title. Take a vote, and dive into the night, and see where you end up. Make your roomies a staple of life not just background noise. Leave the house.

Anything else you come up with is fair game, just make sure everyone is on board. Find ways to make everyday adventurous with your family, and it’ll pay off in the long run. No one likes to be bored.

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not MTV! — Part One

Right now the place is almost empty, save for an entertainment center packed full of DVD’s, a television, various consoles and their libraries, and a few pieces of furniture. It’s a small 3 bedroom unit on the east side of town, and we are 6 individuals from 6 different walks of life building a launching platform for the rest of our lives. Bigger things are on the rise, but the present weighs heavy on our minds. It takes teamwork, sacrifice, compromise and trust to keep the wheel turning fluidly. The machine requires constant maintenance and attention to ensure it doesn’t breakdown.

However, as with any machine, if it doesn’t break at some point, it never worked right to begin with. Everything is built with an upkeep requirement. It’s the nature of the beast. So, as with every community, the people work together to create acceptable terms of cohabitation. It thrives on a merit system that carries penalties for violating. Everyone assumes the risk of stepping on each other’s toes from the moment they agree to share living space with another human being. This is true of family and friends alike.

We are currently in our third week of our first year in the apartment and already we’re seeing signs of our potential strengths and weaknesses. People are opening up and bonding over daily activities, but withdraw and regroup behind closed doors when tensions rise. While drama has been mild up until this point, we all seem to agree on how to resolve grievances while still maintaining group morale. In this endeavor, we have been successful so far.

I believe these individuals to be members of my extended family, so in turn comes a respect and desire to perform well when they’ve chosen to trust and rely on me. The feeling is mutual across the board, and that seems to be the glue that holds us together. While we make mistakes, everyone works to see the other’s point of view and adjustments are made along the way, just as it would happen between family members sharing a home. The major difference is financial responsibility, but money alone does not satisfy the need for interaction and compatibility among peers. Housemates must be able to achieve a level of comfort tolerable enough to allow for extended periods of social interaction, otherwise they may become secluded and withdraw into their respective corner away from the group. When your environment houses so many unique creature,s it’s likely you may not find a time to be alone in between everyone’s various schedules.

Somehow the level of interactivity among housemates hasn’t declined much since the initial move. After close to 20 days of living together, everyone is starting to find and establish their comfort zones. With any luck the trend will continue and patterns throughout the house will sync. Once they adapt to each other the unit will be more effective and it will enable us to accomplish larger tasks in the future with more ease.

It is with these facts in mind that I compose this document. Perhaps for no other reason but my own curiosity, I will attempt to map the journey objectively to discover what it takes to establish and maintain a micro-community such as ours. I’m sure I will learn just as much about myself in the process, but most of all I’m hoping that others might be able to learn from our examples whether or not they be what to do, or what not to do. Either way, if the information contained within this informal study leads to some measure of success beyond myself, it will be well worth the experience.

Take a few things into consideration before accepting in a new housemate!

If you’re considering moving in with a large group of friends, or maybe just one, or even a group of strangers needing the income, here are a few things you should consider before moving forward…

1. Learn about your housemates. Let’s face it, people are people whether they’re people from the street or within your own home. Part of life is interacting and experience interactions with other people, so don’t be afraid to ask questions of your potential housemates. Find out what interests them, what their hobbies are, what kind of music they listen to, and the like. Take into consideration that these people are going to be an involved part of your life from the moment you put your first box on the moving truck, so make sure they are people you have no immediate conflicts with. Know the difference between what you consider tolerable behavior and what could possibly become a deal breaker.

2. Establish a set of house rules. People need rules, so make sure you come together as a whole on what the law of the land is going to be. Be respectful of everyone else’s needs, and remember that part of the game is compromise. Realize that you’re expected to tailor your existence to some extent to adapt just as the rest of community, so be the ‘All for one and one for all crowd’.

3. Function as a team. Every movie has a behind the scenes cast, and in this flick, everyone has to pitch in to keep the cameras rolling. No one is your maid, and everyone should be expected to share the chores around the house. If necessary, you can even set-up a chore schedule that assigns individual tasks in rotation across the board. Share the weight!

4. Keep your word. This goes for the house rules and your financial commitment. Establish a budget and cost then adjust accordingly if more is needed. Distribute the responsibility equally and make payments on time or before their due dates. Keep in mind that most likely your budget will be tight, with success or failure riding on everyone meeting their commitments. You never know if your reliability with the rent might make the difference between penalties or evictions.

5. Trust the people you chose to live with. Nothing will tear a group apart faster than deceit or distrust. Remember that you’re all going to have to depend on each other in order to survive in a questionable world, so make sure your team will back you to the bitter end. You never know what will happen tomorrow, and these may be the people you have to turn to when the stars seem to align against you. These are your potential rays of sunshine on a cloudy day, the shoulder to cry on, or the partner to game. Levity is good: keep it light, keep it fun, keep it real.

These are only a few pieces of advice I can grant thus far in the game. It’s only just started and I have so much more to learn about the people I live with and myself. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: it’s not going to be boring. I hope it’s not boring for you, too!