March 15, 2017 (Wednesday)

by Yule Heibel on March 14, 2018

We didn’t get as much snow as forecast, but what we got was incredibly solid, wet, heavy. We shoveled by hand at 4pm, when the wind was still howling and the snow was changing over to sleet. It felt like needles on skin every time you faced it. Since I’ve decided that I hate the snow blower M. bought, which we co-own, and that I won’t go over to [neighbor’s] house to use it if I can help it, we were hand-shoveling. And since it was so very wet and heavy, we shoveled a minimum “gangway” on the sidewalk, walkways, and driveway. We did clear the driveway opening completely, though, after which another one of those cowboy truck plows came by and closed us up again.

This morning it’s 19ºF and everything is chunks of ice. All the sidewalks need salting – they are sheets of ice. I frankly hate this bullshit. This libertarian dystopia, this fucking solo crap. It’s like a macrocosm of my microcosmic misery. I was nearly in tears again this morning over the meaninglessness of being confined like this. And what I mean by libertarian bullshit: there are no community rules or standards – or FUCKING SERVICES – on how non-motorway surfaces (sidewalks!!!) should be treated. It’s simply every man and every business for themselves. You want to clear your sidewalk? Go ahead. You don’t want to clear your sidewalk? That’s fine, too, because we won’t make you. But nor will we provide services to clear them. If there are any bylaws, there’s no enforcement. Anyone who decides to walk anywhere around here encounters a patchwork, and it’s actually dangerous to life and limb.

Consequently, I don’t know what to expect if I were to venture out to walk into town. Consequently (so the thinking goes), OF COURSE I’ll take my car – and so the vicious cycle of traffic (and mobility in general) by automobile at the expense of every other means is reinforced, as is the energy devoted to servicing that single means of mobility (cars). I don’t want to think about what happened to all the garbage that was still flying around all over the sidewalk on E.-street after last week’s trash pick-up and windstorm combo, days – a week, basically – later. It will now be snow-covered. If the state or municipal snow-cat cleared the sidewalk on this state route – a recently observed miracle which may or may not be repeated reliably (there’s the rub) – then the trash will have been shredded and flung about even more, but embedded also in ice and black dirt from the cars on the route, which is this morning again clogged with (speeding!) traffic.

So ugly.

In other words, all my patterns for community / communality are thwarted here. I would have to change massively, become an utter suburban (car-dependent) creature and drive absolutely everywhere.The other side of this problem is that we (in the US) have let cities deteriorate and become libertarian financialized each-man-for-himself places terrorized by the car, the limousine, the Uber, the private automobile enclosure (corollary to the privatization – the nullification – of public space, of the commons) to such an extent that moving to the city brings headaches of its own. Not to mention expense, unaffordable housing. Maybe it’s better just to be like Z.: drive drive drive. Get a cute new car and just scatter your sensory awareness into the 25 to 65 mile per hour zone of perception, not the 5 mile per hour zone that walking implies. Hey, what could go wrong? Gas is ridiculously cheap, and après moi le déluge.

It’s odd; yesterday, writing about [xyz-village] and its depressing winter season, and how this perhaps is re-triggered by winters here: I think in [xyz-village], too, the problem (for me, a small child) was immobilization. Summer, or good weather (and the wonders of fall), made outside escape possible and full of possibility. Winters closed them down. In a proper city, that shut down shouldn’t happen, irrespective of season. Here in New England it feels that it does.

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