Model Homes

People don’t sit outside their homes anymore.

I’ve always loved houses with wraparound porches, but what’s the purpose for those anymore? Sitting outside, enjoying the view from your street just seems strange. When I walk through my neighborhood, I occasionally meet another walker, but for the most part, I rarely see anyone outside their homes. When I encounter humans outside their homes, they are either landscapers, or homeowners, checking their mailboxes. I mostly see people coming or going home.

My neighborhood is quiet, interrupted by a barking dog here or there–sometimes my dogs–or the muted sounds of a car engine. Aside from that, it seems pretty deserted. This appearance is deceiving because there are people living in the houses. The houses and lawns are well-maintained. It’s just not customary for people to “live” outside. It’s not just my neighborhood, but this is common in many, if not most, neighborhoods across America.

Even as I lament about this absence of “outside living,” I wonder if I’d like it. Probably not. I don’t interact with my neighbors that often aside from a wave so I don’t know how I’d feel seeing them sitting outside. We planted trees in the backyard so we could sit on our deck in privacy.

Model homes are used to sell properties. They are staged with furniture but not with people. When people move in, they stay inside.

 

Death, a thought.

Today while sitting at a stop light on the way to a tutoring session, I was gripped by the reality of my impending death. I was mindlessly listening to an interview on NPR. Incidentally, it was a repeat of an interview I had heard the morning before. A few stop lights back, I had wondered if NPR replayed interviews. This was an interview with a candidate for governor who was waxing and waning on about his view of the issues. As he remarked how in 150 years, some issue would or wouldn’t be on the minds of people, I had a palatable sense that I was going to die one day.  I became very uncomfortable and filled with dread.

It’s not like death had not crossed my mind before. For some reason, I felt the pull of it very clearly. Well…not the pull of death so much as the stark realization that death was coming one day. I felt slightly claustrophobic and alone at that moment. I then thought that my life was somewhat insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I’m a regular person with an outsize imagination, but regular nonetheless. For some reason, I thought of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince and his death. He was known, loved, and revered by many. After his death, many mourned, but life went on. Other famous figures crossed my mind, and I thought the same thing. The light changed to green and then I thought that death was just that a thought. I had students to instruct and appointments to make. I entered into the intersection and made a left turn.

Overreaction

youreoverreactinynavy_fullpicI received an e-mail alert from the public library. My account was being charged for a damaged book I had recently returned.

This e-mail came on a leisurely Saturday morning. I’d slept in and had a plan to write most of the day after breakfast. Once I received the alert, my calm spirt left, replaced by a reactionary, anxious spirit bent on righting this grave injustice.

My mind recalled what has happened. I had reserved 4 thick SAT preparation manuals for my daughter. They sat on the dining room table for days until I forced her to begin studying using the volume I gave her. One of the manuals was for the redesigned SAT. This and the other books were never opened because she was talking the current SAT. Some time later, we returned all the books except for the one I gave her to study.

How could we damage a book we never cracked? Aha! Someone else had damaged it and returned it to the library. The personnel didn’t notice until I returned the book. I phoned the library branch to get to the bottom of this.

I must include some background. For almost 8 months, I worked at the public library part time. I know how something like this could have happened. Surely if I spoke with someone there, they could help me. I phoned the workroom. When the person answered, I launched into an explanation. The speaker cut me off. Apparently the library wasn’t open. She directed me to call back at 10 am. I name dropped, asking for the branch manager, but she wasn’t available. The person I spoke with was the Assistant Branch Manager, who began working there after left.

My breathing was shallow. My heart was racing. I had to right this wrong. I couldn’t sit down to write because I was too wound up. Instead, I made some breakfast and my coffee. Then I began practicing my monologue. Remembering that I knew some people on the inside, I texted a friend who worked there and asked if she was working. I briefly explained what was happening and then asked if the branch manager was in too. She told me she wasn’t working and she wasn’t sure of the manager was working that day either. Explaining that the branch manager was very stern on these issues, she didn’t give me hope that it would be resolved in my favor. I assured her I would be a pest about it.

Finally at 10 am, I phoned the library explained my situation and the person on the other end removed the fine, blowing all the winds out of overreacting sails! While I was happy for this outcome, I realized that my reaction was not appropriate to the situation. There was no need for my elevated breathing, anxiety, and willingness to argue this to the ends of the earth. No one should be made to pay $25 for something they didn’t do, but I hadn’t even given the organization a chance to right the wrong. That I corralled a former coworker in the fray was not good either. After calming down and asking her how she was doing, I learned that she didn’t even work at that particular branch anymore.

This over the top reaction gave me a temperature of my own inner atmosphere. I am subject to flights of irrationality at times especially when my sense of right and wrong are threatened. I immediately gear up for a fight expecting that “there will be blood.” This is not good. I am generally even-tempered and calm. At times, though, I do overreact at least internally to misunderstandings like this. I’m going to do better. Recognizing this as an area of growth is key. Awareness is good.

Iron and other metallic needs

I signed my husband and I up to give blood on Friday. Our appointments were thirty minutes a part. Once I was stuck, pierced like Snow White, the iron reader came up low for me. I needed 10 more points to make the cut. The nurse stuck me once again, this time in the other hand. This time my iron was higher, but alas, not high enough.

I was disappointed, but determined to enjoy the time. While my husband continued through the process, I drifted over to the recovery table comforted by the greeter that I could try again in January when they were back. I kept the conversation going where the topics meandered and flowed around school, teaching, giving blood platelets, the last time we had given blood, and the greeter’s volunteer experience.

Finally my husband was done and by then another guy wearing a UGA shirt was as well. I knew the conversation would soon turn to football and the recently departed (from UGA) Coach Richt. When we left, we took pictures in the nicely decorated City Hall, inside and out.

Upon returning home, we collected the teenager and dove into thick traffic in search of more Christmas tree lights.

I will try to give blood again. I’ve been successful in the past. Since then, I’ve loaded up on spinach, chickpeas, and Farina.

NaNoWriMo Maybe

Hmm…I’ve been thinking. Perhaps I’ll do NaNoWriMo this year. Isn’t there a summer camp edition? A work colleague and I were talking about that today in the breakroom. She brought it up, inquiring if I’ve ever done it.

“No…I signed up, but never did it,” I said, “We should sign up together for encouragement and competition.” Then I offered some funny quip about us lifting each other up.

She doesn’t know I’ve self-published a book, but I’ve told her about my other writing, namely fanfiction. I wasn’t serious about us going at it together. I’m tired of being a perpetual champion or convener of groups.

I’ve begun some brainstorming. Oh, I have a long way to go.