Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reality?

Bear with me, if you will, please. This is going to appear disconnected at first, but I really do believe it will make sense by the end.

Years ago, when The Sims first emerged on the PC scene, my daughter played with it and liked it. She thought I would, too. On her recommendation, I went out and bought a copy. She was right. I created a little family of Sammy and Elena Magnet and eventually they had two children, Lucy and Jeffrey. They were good friends with the Goths and, in fact, at one point Sammy and Mortimer had a brief affair. We were redoing our kitchen at the time, and as you could probably guess, the Magnets had the poshest kitchen available at the time. That was a long time ago.

For the past few weeks, I've had this inexplicable urge to play with The Sims again. And I've felt kind of sheepish about it. Seems I should have had my fill of it back during the kitchen remodeling. And it's not a very mature activity for a sixtyish woman, now is it?  Well, no matter -- I couldn't give in to this urge anyway. (1) I can't find the discs and (2) That was back on a very old operating system (Windows 97 even) and that original version of the game isn't very compatible with Vista.

No matter what we read in the papers or hear on TV news, the Economy is impacting more and more people all the time. Little businesses are closing on the avenue. Friends talk of acquaintances that have been downsized. Friends themselves have been downsized. Construction is down, and that is seriously affecting a certain small architecture practice I'm familiar with. Even at my school, as student families are hit by the economy and job loss, enrollment has been decreasing (remember, this is an independent school with a hefty tuition) to the point where we are now staffed for an enrollment that is many students greater than we actually have. Some administrative restructuring has occurred, resulting in job loss, and there could be more restructuring or downsizing of staff yet to come. It is difficult. It is stressful. My friend Polly tells me about a woman at her church who has lost her job; she is no longer young and her technology and other skills are minimal -- yet not eligible for Social Security now or even for unemployment compensation due to the nature of her place of employment.  Polly and I both wonder what is going to happen to her.

My son and his wife, making the transition from a microscopic condo to a sweet townhouse, have been beset by all kinds of difficulties with appraisals, real estate personnel of questionable competence, unanticipated expenses (such as having to board the dog in the kennel on days when the condo was being shown and they were at work), and other complications. "Hi, Mom," his phone calls still begin. But the usual wryness of tone has been replaced by real adult concern and perhaps even anguish as he feels powerless in the face of unfamiliar turf and issues coupled with his growing responsibility as an expectant dad.

All at once this morning it hit me. Little wonder I've had an urge to play The Sims again. To have Sammy and Elena reconcile after his foolish fling. To befriend the Newbies. To refit the bath with a glorious new tub. To be picked up by the carpool promptly each morning and be returned each evening, earning a promotion by expanding the skill set and making additional friends.

To have a sense of some sort of control, some illusion of security, even just in a game. Because there certainly is none these days, in Reality.



13 comments:

Pat Deck said...

FREAKIN' AWESOME POST!!!

Boy did you ever hit the nail on the head, Nance. We all need control in an out-of-control world, and computer games like SIMS or even the dreaded Farmville on FB provide a tiny piece of that. We can escape to a world where we make the decisions and we get predictable outcomes. When you think about it, our quilting does that too. We plan a project, we do the work, we finish it & admire the finished product. If we mess up, we just "unsew" and do it over again. Other people look at it after we're done, ooooh and ahh and say "nice work". That's a mighty satisfying thing in a world where nothing is ever over, the blows just keep on a-comin' and you always feel as though someone else (and I'm not talking about God) is steering your ship.

I find I'm doing a lot more praying than I used to.

Jo in TAS said...

What a great post! We're faced with uncertain times ahead and so much pressure is on us. The escapism that computer games gives us lets us unwind and forget our troubles for brief time and helsp reduce the stress and anxiety we all seem to have these days.
I feel for those just buying their first homes and starting families, it's a hard slog even during the good times.

Salem Stitcher said...

Oh, that explains a lot that is going on in my own head. The need to put together puzzles seems to make sense now. It's something I can solve and has a definite and fulfilling resolution that I can see coming. Maybe I need to check out The Sims.

soggybottomflats said...

I started laughing when I first began reading, because I too am familiar with that game. The diversions are endless, aren't they?
I am awaiting my baby boys' first child, he's 31, only married for nearly 4 years, and it scares the hell out of me. He has no college education, just wasn't in the cards, he says. I think he hated school that much. How is he supposed to raise a family on a job at the blood bank?
Haiti gets devestated by an earthquake, little boys are murdered in the night because they are willing to die for "the brotherhood"...omg, what have we done to our kids?
No favors by giving them our fortunes or deeding them our land holdings or even withholding the punishment because the kid will turn us in to CPS.
Drinking alcohol will kill you slowly, drugs are a sure way to prison....
so bring on the SIMS! My favorite was Leisure Suit Larry, I think he went after hookers or something, lol. I am a little twisted and I quilt.

And I quilt...
hugs, sister with a needle and PC
and my secret word is: belost
lotflol

altar ego said...

Sigh. It's no fun at our age to face financial hardship, but I think we have the advantage of life experience to help us cope. I feel for those younger folks, like your son, like our son and his fiance, who struggle to find any work. Meaningful work? That would qualify for miracle status.

Suffering may produce endurance, which may produce character, but living with and through so much uncertainty is hard on us all. What gives me the most comfort is that we're in good company. There are worse places to be!

Penny said...

I read far too many blogs but your particular blog is one that is worth every second. Your writing is wonderful. Thanks!

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I've been spending way too much time on the computer and trying to figure out what part of that I could cut back on. But I had forgotten the reasons why I've been doing this until I read your posting. I'm not playing any games on the computer, but reading blogs, etc. I think that it feeds my need to connect with people, even though I'm somewhat of an introvert. On the 'net, I'm in control of who I interact with. I think that your posting will help me figure out what I really need to do.

During a difficult time of family interaction about 9 years ago, I did a lot on the 'net, overtly knowing that I was escaping from reality. But now I think I'm just escaping from taking some chancy steps into new areas of creativity in my sewing.

Laurie said...

Very true.

I've been thinking, in the weeks since I started quilting again, that quilting is kind of the same way, yeah? A way to create order out of chaos, and to take something meh (plain fabric) and turn it into something beautiful, functional and WARM, in every sense of the word.

Vivian said...

In last Sunday's NY Times Business Section, there was an article by Lawrence Cheek, who lost his job when the newspaper he worked for closed. On the positive side, he realized he now had the time to indulge in his hobby -- boat building.

Many of the things he talked about regarding the process of boat building totally relate to making a quilt; saying that "building a boat offers no paycheck but teaches the much about the values of work" and requires the maker to master "a positive attitude, patience and perseverence" to get through the many mundane tasks to complete the project.

He ends the article by saying that when the boat is finished the maker is left with "an object of great beauty and substantial utility" that "ruins us for less important paying work."

But I believe that his hobby, like my quilting ruins us for paying work because unlike your average job, when you make a boat or a quilt you have complete control over the means of production and ultimately the success of your project -- which is what tends to ultimately frustrate all of us about the places we work for.

P.S. The complete text of the article can be found here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/jobs/10pre.html?scp=1&sq=Lawrence%20Cheek&st=cse

Tanya said...

Thank you for a very thoughtful blogpost. The economy is falling around us here too and I wonder what will happen to others... to us... to the young people preparing for the world (my college kids included) but nothing for them to go into. "Well, don't give up. That's not going to do anyone any good. Be prepared to be needed somewhere."

"Need". There is so much neediness right now. There are so many people that need to feel needed. Why can't we figure out a way to put the two concepts together...?

Guenveur in Kent said...

My grand-daughters got me into SIMS a few years ago and I made a family and they all starved to death.
I was a child during the Great Depression and everyone was struggling. We had lowered expectations but my father always had a good job, and by today's standards we were "poor", I guess. It was a very frightening time for my parents, with five children. I don't know if today's young adults can do without, having always had everything they wanted, besides everything they needed and not imagining that things could get this bad. It is not a good time and I feel a lot of sadness for all of those who are losing their jobs, their homes and their hopes. I think that things will get better, but it is going to be a hard time for all of us. Maybe we'll learn to support each other the way folks did during the Depressionl.

Expat Hausfrau said...

Very funny, but ultimately poignant and well written (as always) post. I have noticed that when things get particularly stressful for my eldest daughter with school, friends, and just the general angst of being a teen in these crazy times when all she hears from her teachers is that the economy is plummeting, and art is no practical career to pursue, she pulls the old SIMS out again. One night I asked her if she liked it because it gave her a sense of order and control, and she looked up at me solemnly and nodded her head. My heart broke a little.

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