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"I pray that I will find a ready penny when my comeuppance comes …"

Our home, The Villa Vatta Schmaltz, might be best described as the sum of its kludges. The midnight fixes that were never formalized the following morning. The interventions completed by unqualified technicians. The misunderstood instructions. The leftover parts. I might be slightly less than fully-qualified to even own a home, let alone expect myself to maintain it, but I have not always found myself in a position where I might contract with a qualified technician, so I'm forced to perform some fixes myself. I wander around the Ranch Supply or The Home Despot, every bit the homeless waif, for my home stands in that moment broken and I've been called to fix it. I might hold a notion about the source of the problem but I don't know the nomenclature, so I attempt an explanation to a hostilely disinterested clerk. I might as well be speaking Ukrainian for all the good my describing does. I'm very likely to be led to a dreaded part of the store, a part filled with tools and materials I've truly never seen or even imagined before, and abandoned there, much worse off than I was before, when I just didn't have a clue.

I call my preferred method of fixing everything TheSecondOrderSolution.
It entails absolutely no knowledge of how to actually fix anything and entirely relies upon acceptance, often the radical kind, for it resolves by simply accepting the way things have become. While some might call the thing broken, TheSecondOrderSolution considers it evolved, as if entropy really were in charge. If a fuse blows, it heralds an opportunity for a little doing without. Life becomes like a giant Jenga game where bricks continually disappear yet the structure keeps standing, trembling. About as close to actually fixing something that breaks as TheSecondOrderSolution allows might be something akin to sticking a penny behind a blown fuse, a dangerous but all too common resolution. I'd warrant that the majority of fuse boxes feature at least one penny, like the one in the house where I grew up had. If not behind a fuse, then one sat at the ready in the bottom of the box, and the reason for this was perfectly understandable. Fuses only blow when it's impossible to buy a replacement, on a Sunday night after eleven, for instance, and so a strong SecondOrderSolution remains the only route to go if you've convinced yourself that you really need that electric water heater to be heating water the next morning. We keep a penny in our pocket. It's as close as we have to a superpower.

And so our homes evolve, survival of the fittest style. The fits would give any qualified inspector fits, so we generally avoid inviting any of them in. We live with something similar to accumulating guilt, the sum of our past ineptnesses and acceptances. We know we're sinning but remain helpless to avoid it, for we must get by, and getting by, abiding, cannot exist beside deep dependence. We're independents here, pioneers, if not precisely cut off from civilization, unwilling to ever allow ourselves to become fully civilized. We're feral homeowners, every damned one of us, and we revel in this condition, this state. It's what make us great in our own minds if not precisely in practice. When my weedeater broke last June, I quickly decided that I'd never really needed the damned thing, anyway, and resolved to just set it aside and fall back into a more natural state like before they were invented. A perfectly respectable SecondOrderSolution. Later, though, I second-guessed myself and ordered parts and even managed to install them, a harrowing process involving bushings. Once I'd reassembled it, though, I realized that I'd somehow lost the spool that holds the string, the soul of the whole damned thing. I have not yet found its soul, lost as it apparently was due to my initial indifference. My home has become the sum of similar acquisitions thanks to my SecondOrderSolutions.

It's a well-known fact that the by far most successful projects are the ones never started, for these reliably avoid all of the usual problems that every project ever started experienced. The next one will be no different and one might suggest that an easily accessible key to happiness lies in simply avoiding projects, especially any that seem to promise grandeur. The grander the promise the greater the peril, and while it might seem that feral homeownership might prove even more perilous, that peril's less certain, just probable. That project will be trouble, guaranteed one hundred percent, and each little difficulty encountered will increase the probability of another absolutely necessary SecondOrderSolution, which will even further advance entropy's long, slow spiral downward toward disaster. But the final comeuppance will very likely seem to occur completely by chance, just after eleven some otherwise perfectly ordinary Sunday evening. I pray that I will find a ready penny when my comeuppance comes and that you, too, can find one handy when your demise arrives.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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