Daily Archives: July 20, 2015

Do I Dare to Give a Peach?

Apologies to T. S. Eliot, J. Alfred Prufrock, and English majors everywhere.

Last week, in the middle of the afternoon, an ambulance stopped in front of the neighbor’s house. Many of our neighbors are elderly, so sometimes an ambulance is really a portend of the end of someone’s life. As I got my Gladys Kravitz on, the paramedics took the gurney in and came out in shortly, with the Mr. sitting up, looking quite alive, but not very well. Shortly after the ambulance left, the Mrs. and the Junior left as well. I was relieved the next day to see them arrive back home, but sad to see how frail Mr. was.

In the midst of this, it occurred to me, “I haven’t been a very good neighbor.” I don’t even know why their adult son lives with them. Is he a veteran who has PTSD and is unable to keep a job? (my working theory)  I’ve talked to the Mr. and the Mrs.  a few times over the past 16 years, but not many at all.

My experience of having my kids has meant that standing at the fence and chatting with neighbors isn’t something I’ve been able to do very much. If I did venture over, there were always little people behind me saying, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom.”

When I saw the Mr. go off in the ambulance, I decided I wanted to be more neighborly. Today, I walked across the street and knocked on the door. Since no one came, even though it was late morning, I hesitated to ring the doorbell lest they be in the middle of some medical procedure or other care of the patient. So I waited, and then walked back to my yard.


Later, I saw that Greg had brought me some peaches from Washington, which he knows I love. And I had a brainstorm. Take a couple of the peaches over to the neighbor. Now it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I felt more confident that I wouldn’t be waking anyone up, although since I have never been in their house, I don’t know what I was basing that on. As it happens, I caught them at lunch, but the Mrs. was clearly touched by my visit and my gesture.

She mentioned watching Kepler get on the school bus in the mornings and noticing that some days he goes out by himself to the bus, a sure sign he is growing up. We finished talking, and we hugged.

I felt wonderful about the connection I had just made with her. I’m not about to castigate myself for not being more neighborly with the folks here. The people on our street mainly keep to themselves. It is the culture of our street and has worked just fine for us. But I think I would like to have relationships with any of the neighbors who are interested.

When we first moved in, I visited my next-door neighbor and she told me during the course of our conversation, “I don’t need the neighbors. I have a life.” I guess that sort of set the tone for me. We did grow close to one family, but they moved away about five years ago.

This is one place where it’s never too late to start.

Eli Writes

When I was in high school, my favorite class – aside from the extremely entertaining Fantasy/Sci-Fi – was Social Psychology. This was an elective, and therefore only the students who were interested in the subject, took the subject. I’ve always found this to be a great system of education, because while there are admittedly those kids who will take the course because it looks like a “blow-off course,” as they are affectionately called, there are also many kids like myself, who took courses like Social Psych because we are interested in, well, social psychology. It was a natural choice for me and I never had to struggle to pay attention in the class because, for once in my life, I was listening to a schoolteacher talk about something I actually wanted to hear.

Time flew by in 45-minute increments as I sat inside Room 110, listening to my football-coash-slash-master-psychologist open up mysteries like John Wayne Gacey and Ted Nugent, explain experiments like Pavlov’s dogs, and go into great detail on each section of our brain, its importance, and location. There was always something interesting to learn in SP, and I gobbled up the information like a hungry beast. Quite the opposite from how I usually felt about school, this particular class felt incredibly practical, progressive, and meaningful. It was for that reason that I enjoyed it so much.

One such experiment Mr. Psychology Teacher spent a lot of time on in class was the Stanford Prison Experiment. Due to my brain, which acts like a sentient sponge and wrings itself out vigorously at the conclusion of each school year, I can’t recall specifics about names or dates. What I do remember is how the experiment worked, which is the best part anyway. Essentially, the professor assigned students to either prison guards or prison inmates, and used a school basement or something to create a makeshift prison. For (I thiiiink) several weeks, he and his colleagues watched as the tension built, and more and more unbelievable things began happening. The guards eventually started breaking rules, beating inmates, verbally berating them, essentially terrorizing the other students. The level of sadism that eventually surfaced, even in these controlled conditions, was utterly shocking.

The reason this experiment stuck with me so much is that much of my everyday life seems to be filled with thoughts and questions on how people would act in specific circumstances. There’s no rhyme or reason, really, I’m just curious and those wheels are always turning in my head, whether I want them to or not. For example, I wonder often how those around me, especially my siblings, would handle drug abuse in a different way than I have. Further than that, I wonder how we each found our paths, how our brains work differently to handle what life throws at us, and why I seem to be one of the only people I know to turn to mind-altering substances as part of my path. What causes that? Is it my traumatic head injury I experienced half a decade ago? Being a product of my environment? Bullying? Abuse? Or just feeling defective? Probably a combination of all of the above. The search for answers is neverending and rarely do I find some sort of satisfactory explanation – for anything! I chalk all that up to not even being 20 years old yet, though, and therefore not being ready to hear much of the wisdom which makes people older than me more well-balanced, for lack of a better term.

I realize this blog post has been sort of rambling and rather pointless, but hopefully not nonsensical. This is just a look into my brain and how it’s churning, working tirelessly, thinking all the time, looking for the answers and considering points of view. It’s just how I work. So there you go.