human nature


Have you ever stopped to consider what your key chain says about you?

If a stranger looked at mine they would know that I own a foreign vehicle — based on the manufacturer’s symbol on the car keys and door lock remote.

By the mini silver abacus, which also includes a small gender symbol, one might surmise I have some interest in Asian things and/or math and that I’m a female.  All except the math image would accurate.

I also have two library cards,  a CVS card, a grocery store card and AC Moore Rewards card attached. From this you might guess that I like books and crafts and shop at a chain grocery store.

Finally I have a three fairly indistinguishable keys (house and office) attached and I’m not sure whether this tells anything about me unless you have Sherlock-like sense of observation.

What is on your key chain and what might it say about you?

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Have you ever looked out your window and seen someone staring in?

I live in a basement apartment in a nice and mostly quiet neighborhood. My unit is conveniently on the same floor as the laundry room, which has no curtains over the small window in the far corner of that room.

Well, the other night I was moving a tall stack of my washed clothes to the dryer when I noticed my next door neighbor had a light on in his side room. Having only glanced that way, it occurred to me that there was a shadow of his head and that he might have been looking in at me doing my laundry. (luckily I was dressed decently this time).

I should add that this person, like several of my other neighbors, is a busy body who seems to know my business whenever we happen to chat while waiting for the bus. He’s the kind of person who calls the police when a car parks facing the wrong way on his street, or moves a garbage bin to the other side of the driveway so it won’t be on his part of the lawn (which is the part that is on a public access area with a sidewalk).

I finished putting the laundry in and headed back to my apartment, the entrance of which is the opposite way from the small window.

Glancing over my shoulder, I couldn’t help but notice that the shadow was still there.

I couldn’t help myself.

I turned around and squinted my eyes to see if I was imagining it. To see better I started walking toward the small window.

All of a sudden, the shadow of his face turned and his room went dark. I can only surmise that he saw that I had noticed him peeping in on me, the nosy old man, and had turned off his desk lamp to hide himself.

My upstairs neighbor had once warned me that she’d seen him looking down from his windows at our house — toward my apartment windows. I hadn’t believed her until the most recent incident.

It’s been a week or so since that occurred and the event had passed out of my mind completely until Tom and I (yes that is his name. Ironic isn’t it?) ended up on the same bus. I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t give me any eye contact on the bus or even say hello in response when we passed each other. It wasn’t until later that night that it occurred to me that I may really have caught him in a frequent act of peeping in on me and he was embarrased about it.

As far as I see it, it serves him right the old bugger.

I have a talent for social blunders — blurting out statements that I later realize would have benefited greatly from a little forethought and consideration.

Luckily, I have friends who know this about me and see through it. Hopefully, they realize that my intentions are not malicious and that most of the time I strive to act properly and compassionately, be loving and contribute to the world around me.

I’m also quite scatter brained. It would be easy to say it’s because I’m self-absorbed. Whether this is true is up to conjecture (and I do not deny the possibility).

But I think it may be more accurate to say that I am easily distracted and therefore often fail to observe social cues and other events. I’m convinced that my mirror of self-awareness is not always facing the right way.

For example, today I searched the work pantry in vain to find a spoon with which to eat my yogurt. I was in a rush to get to a meeting.

Sitting at the round table with a fork and yogurt in hand, I looked down and saw a spoon next to my notebook.

I thought to myself, “I don’t remember finding a spoon.”

I set down my fork, took up the spoon and started eating without putting any more thought to where it had come from.

It wasn’t until my co-worker later joked with me about not thanking him for finding me a spoon that I learned he had set it down on the table and I hadn’t even noticed.  *Blush*

Yet sometimes, I am capable of slowing down my brain to observe my surroundings and enjoy LIVING here and now. It’s not until afterward that I reflect and wonder how it came about and what a wonderful life it would be if I could to exist in that world all the time.

So my company is renovating the bathrooms on our floor to make them more energy efficient or some such thing. As a result I have to take the elevator up or down one floor to use the facilities.

First of all, it feels silly to be taking an elevator to go up or down one floor partly because it makes me feel lazy. Also, in the amount of time it takes to get an elevator I could have taken the stairs, used the facilities and already be washing my hands. I would take the stairs but the stairs don’t allow you to get onto any floors except the lobby.  I’m guessing that’s for security purposes.

But a more interesting phenomenon has occurred as a result of the need to take a trek.

It seems I am so in the habit of getting into the elevator to either go to the lobby or the 10th floor that when I get into the elevator after using the “facilities,” I find the doors opening to the high-ceiling marble ground floor lobby and I’ll realize that out of habit I hit the “L” button. It’s happened at least five times this week.

I’m guessing that by the time I’ll have created new pathways in my brain to remember to hit the 10th floor button when I’m on the 9th or 11th, the bathrooms on my floor will be open for use again.

Anyway, that’s just another observation I thought I’d share. And here’s another one. Ok, to be honest one of the reason’s I’ve been so bad at writing frequently is that I’ve felt guilty about never updating you on the inauguration. For the sake of us all and because that was nearly a month ago. I’m going to admit that there will probably never be a part II.  My apologies.

There are bad pick up lines and there are worse ones.

I was shopping at a local Latino grocery market where the prices for fresh produce and meat are particularly low because Latinos, statistically compared to many other cultures, cook among the most at home and for large families. In other words, they buy so much produce that those kind of grocery stores are able to buy food at lower prices and pass the savings on to customers.

Anyway, with a grocery cart of potatoes, leeks, carrots, onions, lemons and limes, kale, avocados bananas and plantain I was perusing the meat isle.

I was looking over a stack of “young chickens” wrapped in plastic on yellow Styrofoam plates when I noticed a man had approached and was not looking at the chickens but facing and looking directly at me. I continued to peruse.

“Nice chicken,” he mumbled.

 Unsure if I heard him correctly I said, “excuse me,” and looked up.

He had black rimmed rectangular glasses he was wearing a light blue dress shirt unbuttoned at the top and his skin was smooth and the color of mahogany (I know this sounds cliche but that really is the best way to describe his complexion). He had beautiful dark eyes and on a quick glance I saw his hands were ring less. He smiled.

“These are nice chickens,” he said, a little louder this time, and nodded toward the pile of poultry carcases.

“Yes they are,” I replied, unsure what else I could say and I turned back to face the stack of naked chickens.

I was pretty sure he was trying to say something to start a conversation with me but I was completely thrown off by his pick up line.

 By the time all this had registered and I had decided to try to talk some more I turned my head back in his direction and he had gone back to a grocery cart, never having taken a chicken, and he was turning down the cereal isle.

He glanced my way before turning down the isle and he disappeared.

Unsure what else to do, I also turned and went down the spice and baking supplies isle, also without a chicken in my cart.

I’ve been acting the part of a fool lately.

The problem is that I like human interaction too much.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I get a high from making new friends. Where it gets into dangerous territory is that sometimes I don’t want to lose that feeling.

Sometimes I get the idea of getting to know someone so entrenched in my head that I forget to take it easy and let things progress organically. It’s part of my personality, you see, I am a pursuer of things. It’s my profession.

If, say, I want to get something done, I find every way possible to make it happen. I’m trained to be a hunter (of news) and unfortunately sometimes that leaks into my personal life.

But I had time to think about it this weekend in between choir concerts and spending quality time with my family. And I penciled it all down in tiny two-columned scribble on the back of a photocopied sheet of music.

Unfortunately, I can usually only interpret my scribble up to 48 hours after putting it to paper. So my deep thoughts have been lost to time.

But from what I can recall of my musings, I realized that I keep hunting shadows without letting myself get to know the person(s) making the shadow. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Therefore my new goal for the new year — and by that I mean starting yesterday — is to take it easy.

If, say, I’ve made a few efforts to hang out with someone who I would like to befriend and it doesn’t work out, I figure it’s up to them to make the next move.

Am I completely off with this idea?

Taking care of the elderly is like trying to maintain an antique car. No matter how much TLC you give them…. eventually they are going to give out. My mom once told me that.

I grew up in a nursing home. My living room was where the elderly patients sat and watched TV. They used my bathroom, ate in our dining room and often even celebrated Christmas with us. You get the diea.

There are times in my life when I realize that I have to step back from the family drama and just let things happen.

I’m not sure whether this is such a moment, but my hunch is it might be.

My paternal grandmother isn’t doing so well. She’s 93 and living with my uncle in Santa Cruz, California. My uncle takes superb care of her and he also makes sure she gets to go out and see plays, go for walks and attends classical concerts (so much that many of the professional instrumentalists in Santa Cruz know my grandma by name).

He also takes her to the church where my grandma gets to visit with an Indian lady about grandma’s age. The two women have known each other for many years since both their husbands worked and traveled together. Grandma’s eyes just sparkle when she sees her girlfriend at the church. They will just sit there and hold hands during all the service.

Uncle’s love, dedication and unselfishness astounds me and makes me respect him all the more.

I add here that Grandma Hartman is my soul mate, one of a very few in my life. It will be very hard to loose her.

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But grandma is old. It’s as simple as that.  And I’m sorry if this sounds cold but, taking care of the elderly is like maintaining an old car– it’s mostly guesswork, it requires a lot of TLC and no matter how much you take care of it, the car will give out eventually.

Well my uncle (and my aunt) now is faced with having to plan what to do when Grandma dies.For the first time he has found out all the numbers he will need to call My dad, who wants to imagine her healthy, wants nothing to do with making funeral arrangements. And my guess, although it breaks my heart, is that he won’t be able to visit her in the state she is in. It would break his fragile heart.

Oh dad that I could be your strength, but I can’t.It was all I could do, with strength granted to me from God alone, to help heal the hurt that has built up between my father and his siblings. I fear that there is nothing I can do to stop that from happening again when grandma dies. Their sorrow will be so strong that they will lash out and re-open those freshly closed wounds. And I will not be able to mourn at the funeral because I will be doing everything I can to keep things at peace. But to honor Grandma, that is what I will do.

I force back the tears even as I write.

Grandma has asked “uncle” to let her die at home. I don’t think he quite knows how his house will haunt him when she’s gone but that’s something one can only understand after they’ve had someone die in their house.

So here’s my decision.

I can’t fix the issues that have been built over yearsand years between the siblings no matter how much I know they love each other, I don’t think it will be enough.

I can’t make my father run to grandma’s side. It has to be his choice. And I understand why he can’t because I’m not good at goodbyes either. I also know that he’s had to attend the funeral of every elderly person we had at our nursing home and that with each funeral it drove all of us a little madder. Perhaps that is why I revel in my youth so extremely–to fight the inevitable.

So I’m letting it go. Writing this entry has been healing. I see now that anything else would be futile. I can only be there for those I love and that is what I am now determined to do.

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