Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wanted: New Neighbors - UPDATE included

So, I put up with your three miniature shetland ponies you call children romping overhead at all hours. Most of the time, I don't even say anything (except when I have a migraine or am sleeping). My roommate endures your loud television over her bedroom at 5am. We're nice that way.

So, this morning I'm not amused to have water running down my bathroom wall, peeling away the paint and dripping into the hallway through the doorframe. Luckily, the cat staring at the dripping gave me a heads-up before I walked into the full mess.

Now, I know you told the maintenance guy that "you just got the water down in the tub because it was backing up", because I heard you say it.


I heard the water running full-blast for at least twenty minutes after I woke up. I thought you were taking a shower, NOT RUNNING A BATH. God knows how long it ran before I got up for work, but what kind of moron starts running a bath and doesn't notice it for so long that it leaks through the floor to the apartment below?

Of course, these are just the people upstairs. We're not discussing the two "brothers" who live in the building next to us that play the bass in their stereo loud enough to shake, rattle and roll the deaf into the new year.

Who raises people to live like this when others are so obviously affected by their stupid actions?


They have moved out. Who says prayer doesn't change things? The guys next door finally went when the roommates got tired of the police showing up for noise complaints. They left in the night, we don't know when. Kinda too bad, we like some of them.

Sunday I noticed the upstairs neighbors taking lots of small items and packing it in their cars. So I deviously asked if they were having a garage sale or something, but no... they were packing. The next morning, my car was blocked in by a huge moving van.

I wasn't upset though. Instead I did the happy dance on one leg. I'll be late for work if it means you're leaving.

Don't get me wrong, they are nice people. They are just loud heavy-walkers with little consideration for others. And they call themselves Southerners.

Fast Forward, Rewind or Play?

Some of these posts are "recycled" from another blog I had that I no longer maintain. Deal with it.
Everyone wants to go backwards or start over. I find this to be a frustrating attitude. It’s like people don’t realize that things happen for a reason. You couldn’t be the person you are today without the experiences that got you there. Good, bad or otherwise benign – all of your past culminates in your present and adds to your future.

Still, everyone seems to want a rewind button. I personally think it’s a lack of faith to even consider it. Does that seem to be a non sequiter? Bear with me. Faith is a foundation and I’m not talking religion here because I don’t care what you believe in so long as you believe in something. Faith is that belief in more than human beings; that there is something or someone more powerful available to help you along the path of life; and that there is a destination for life that goes beyond a 6-foot deep hole and a eulogy.

With faith, the rest of the world has a chance of making sense. All the horrible things we, as humans, do to one another actually have a place in the grand scheme of things. I’m not saying that we necessarily understand that great plan, but the knowledge that it’s there provides hope. With hope, the past becomes a stepping stone to a better place.

If there’s a plan, and I have faith that there is, then even someone hurting me has a place in it. I may have to suffer for a moment so that they can move on to the next step in their part of this enormous production. One day, I’m sure I’ll be the one hurting someone else. The best we can do is acknowledge, learn and avoid repeating mistakes to make our future path smoother.

So, going back gains you nothing but a different set of mistakes with potentially better or worse outcomes. Of course, there are those people that don’t want to go backwards, but instead want to just quit where they are right now. The past was so bad to them that they can’t foresee going forward.

In both of these cases, the root of the problem remains the same. People have an inability to let go of the past. They walk around holding their hurts, grudges, anger and memories like medals of honors pinned to their bare skin. They wallow in the rationalization that if their parents, siblings, extended family, friends, schools, churches, or neighbors had only been better, nicer, smarter, richer, prettier or holier they could have a different life. However, since that isn’t the case, they are doomed and there is no reason to go on.

Sounds pretty foolish when you read it, doesn’t it? I’ve always believed you “be a living example”. In other words, if you’ve come from the gutter, fallen in the gutter, currently abide in a gutter – your goal in life should be to demonstrate to others how to escape the gutter. Everyone takes a different path to do this. For some people, the gutter is something tangible like drug abuse or criminal behavior. In some cases it is poverty or lack of education. Even a cycle of abusive relationships is a type of gutter. Bad family history? Gutter.

Whatever your gutter, you can climb out of it. Because there is hope, you can work towards a better place than where you are currently. It might just mean climbing onto the curb for a while, but hey – it’s not the gutter, right?

People don’t seem to think this way. Let’s say your family has a history of alcoholism and poor money management. You have a couple choices, you can either learn from this family history or repeat it. Even if you do repeat it, you now have the knowledge to recognize the problem and potentially have the solution already in your past.

Erasing that only makes you as dumb as your ancestors who have already walked that broken road without the experience of what such a life could bring. This is only my opinion of course. It’s all based on faith, hope and an unwillingness to dwell in the past. I can see the gutters I’ve sidestepped because of my experiences to date and I’ve pulled myself from the ones I wasn’t smart enough to avoid. I just hope that anyone watching me is learning from my life so they can improve theirs.

Living examples don’t erase the past, they push the dirt into a mold and make it into bricks to build something from. So, let me ask you, are you a living example, another person wishing for a rewind button that doesn’t exist or a quitter unwilling to give true life a try?

Horses, Cows and Sheep: Honk Honk

I hate people who can't drive. I know you've said the very same thing, likely about me, but honestly - I don't care. I can drive. I've had two accidents EVER and both were caused by other people. (Technically one was caused by a spider, but we won't get into that.)

When driving down the street there seem to be three types of drivers and at one time or another, we've all been one of these people. Imagine you're going down a three lane... err, lane and riding a horse. It's a nice horse, nothing flashy like those damned Arabians but a sound quarterhorse (Bays and Paints are lovely) with good speed in the straightaway. (Besides, Arabians are expensive and high maintenance. They are high-stung and cost a bundle to fix when they go lame. And they always go lame.) You're riding along when ahead of you in your lane is someone riding a cow.

Now, cows have the potential to be quite fast. Ever seen those bovines stampede? Me either, but I hear it's a sight. I'm a city girl and if ever cows stampede here, I'm going to have some serious issues with the city planners. Anyway, so you're riding along and there's a cow. It's plodding along. Not necessarily a slow animal, but why is it in the horse lane? It's obviously not traveling at the same speeds as the horses. (Unless you've confused a mule with a horse or you're riding a draft of some sort that's older than dirt, you know the ones - they looked like they were frisky three-year-olds but they have dyed manes and are drugged up so they look like they are in shape.)

You look around, thinking to pass the cow behind the next thoroughbred to zip by you, but instead you see another cow traveling just fast enough that you can't slip past. Or worse, it's a sheep. Sheep travel in long lines behind a cow that seems to be moving quickly to them. Sheep are stupid that way. They will follow whomever is in the lead, but they don't have the discernment to follow behind a horse that will get them where they are going in a timely manner.

So you and your excellent steed are stuck in traveling hell. Cows and sheep everywhere you look. This is my experience driving on the interstates in the Baltimore/DC Metro area. In Virginia, there are a lot of people either riding cows or pushing along nags that need to be retired to pasture. In DC, everyone is lost. It's not that big of a city, but seriously - you could wander in circles for days. Plus, they are all on sheep. I'll give Maryland credit, they mostly ride horses there - from nags to racers, but most of them have bad seats and no riding etiquette.

Horses, cows and sheep - God help you if one of them turns up lame.

Other people

My family is Southern. That's right, a capital S is required. Not only are we Southern, but our roots are the Southern Genteel. You know, the cotillion-having, who-are-your-people-asking, butter-wouldn't-melt types. If we were white, we'd be rich to boot, but we are Creole and that's a whole other ballgame.

Anyway, my family is Southern. Which means I was raised with certain tenets:
1. Do not wear out your welcome. (Friends, family or stranger alike - you spend a little quality time and always leave long before they start hinting for you to go. Always think about the fact that they may have other things to do.)

2. Manners are your responsibility, not someone else's. (The idea that most people are not raised right is instilled at birth. We, on the other hand, know how to be polite and considerate. Even if it kills you, the person is your enemy or they are rude to you - you will be courteous or else.)

3. Spare the rod, spoil the child. (Originally this was a religious thought, but it's basically part of the Southern charm. If you're raised in fear of your parents and other authority figures, you're less likely to be a problem child later in life. At least that's the way it worked in my house.)

4. Don't show up empty handed. (Wedding, party, house-warming, football game, sick friend, just passin' by - doesn't matter. Have something with you. I'm not entirely sure why, but this is a hard one to shake.)

5. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. (to their face. Because, while Southern people are as nice as can be to you in person, they can outgossip anyone you know. In church. During service. With the pastor's wife. About the pastor.)

Now, these aren't all the Southern tenets that make us who we are - there are too many to list. I'd have to write a book and even then, it would differ from place to place. The gentility of New Orleans differs greatly from the Southern charm of Atlanta or the brisk intelligence of Virginia.

I've just noticed that I spend a lot of time commenting on, reacting to, or feeling guilty about being rude to other people. I have tried to figure out where that sensitivity has come from and realized, it's a Southern thing. We're raised to think of other people first.

Of course this does not explain my road rage, frustration with repeating myself and lack of empathy for stupid people. I think it's part of living up North for the latter half of my life.

Damn Yankees.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Straight Line or Crooked Path?

The fastest way from here to there is a straight line.

Think about that. That piece of wisdom only works if you know where "here" is and where "there" is supposed to be.

I'm currently reading a book called "What Got You Here, Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith. He discusses 20 things successful people do that worked to get them to point A but will actually prevent them from gaining greater success.

I'm guilty of about 12 of these. Suffice to say, as I'm reading the book, I keep thinking - but if the fastest route is a straight line then I would think you'd keep on behaving the same way. Now then, let's be clear the fastest route would be considered the most efficient route in some circles. Certainly the most cost-effective or best use of time, but is it really the best route of all.

I look at my life and know I did not take the fast route to my level of success. I'm not super-famous or rich, but I have my personal level of achievement. However, to get here, I took the most non-traditional, round-robin, convoluted, mistake-laden route possible.

I think I'm better for it, however. I'm smarter than most people my age about things only experience and wisdom can teach you. Instead of waiting for life to happen to me, I happened to my life. For good or bad.

This is just a ponder for me, at the moment, but I will revisit this idea in more detail later. Right now, I have a book to finish.