Day 1, Week 8: The House that Jack Built

I wanted to be a stunt double. Everyone I knew was so afraid of danger, but danger was everywhere. I reasoned that it didn’t make sense to be afraid. The only way ‘round was through.
Whenever I struggled to understand consequences and their causes, my father would read me the story of The House that Jack Built. He wanted me to understand that everything was connected and that we could always find the truth if we asked the right questions and paid enough attention to the story that was unfolding.
A few months shy of graduation I found a program online for aspiring teachers. You were picked to live in a house (renovated rectories and convents), teach and, simultaneously, live in community. Corps members subscribed to four pillars: 1) teaching as service, 2) faith-based community, 3) spirituality, and 4) simple living.
There were retreats, field trips, and rats. There were arguments and accusations. There were choreographed dance moves, Karaoke performances, dry ice, hymns, and confessions of faith. We had Catholic mass, failed science projects, and car accidents. There was canoeing, country line dancing, a fifteen-passenger van, and swing dancing.
There were stereotypes and perceived racial slights– screaming matches and silent treatments. We talked about consumption and waste and not owning more than we needed. We prayed, meditated to Latin chants, and worshiped.I thought of it today because we’re struggling for time, space, and community.
We spent some time this weekend gathering more resources (books from the library on art history, community organizing; books on inequality, race, and culture). We spent some time walking and researching cities. More on urban planning and community development, best practices for creating energy efficient, walkable cities.
We watched Minimalism: A Documentary about Important Things and spent some time looking at the history of the Project Row houses in Houston. He likes tiny houses and maximizing space. He wants to recreate Harlem.
In the film they talked about Project 333, which challenges you to dress with only 33 items or less for a 3 month period. The 33 items include all clothing, outerwear, jewelry, accessories and shoes. You should choose your favorite 33 pieces that you can “live, work, and play in.” It doesn’t include underwear, sleepwear, or workout clothing. There’s a P333 Community pinterest board, and you can use #Project333 on instagram.
I’m excited to start! I have a suitcase full of clothes that I’ve been meaning to donate and more that I’m hesitant to sort through. I have stacks of books I’ve never read, but I keep them just in case I get inspired. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to visit the library this weekend, to start integrating it into the routine instead of creating unnecessary expense.
(If you’re in the Houston area and want some free books, I have a stack I can give you. Otherwise, I’ll take them to Half-Price and try to get some store credit).
Week 7 Successes 
There hasn’t been any significant progress this week. We continue to do well with no TV weekdays, but a few weeks ago we backslid because Netflix released the final season of Haven and I couldn’t wait. Since then, there was only one other slip. He had a rough week last week, so we watched an action film on Thursday.
Research for upcoming posts is slow. Halfway through I realize I have hundreds more questions and decide that what I would share wouldn’t be enough. Education issues have taken a backseat to the other ongoing issues, especially since they affect my students’ lives and the lives of the people I care about.
I didn’t prioritize family this week or make it over to my parents’ house like I’d intended. I’m looking forward to seeing my niece and nephew next weekend. No plans yet for an Austin visit to see my brother.
Writing/organizing habits are inconsistent, but I’ve added more notes to the planner. We’re working on our spreadsheets so we can simplify our load and create more work, more efficiently.
Week 7 Failures
More of the same, but the documentary and yesterday’s library trip helped.
We started doing Rose, Bud, Thorn more regularly so we could be more intentional. Whenever the weather cools down he starts to hate the city again. The struggle.
We wasted a lot more time than we meant to, but not on purpose.
What were your successes this week? What were your failures? Who wants to join me for Project 333? 


Author: Anj.

Hi! I'm Anj. Thanks for visiting my page. I'm an aspiring writer, former teacher, and Houston native. I've worked in education for more than 15 years. This blog was inspired by (1) my first year teaching experiences and (2) my lovely student loan debt. Feel free to connect if you'd like to share a story about race, power, or privilege.