June 26, 2010

Random babblings: A chance encounter

Today was one of those muggy, hazy, hot and humid days that we get strings of in the mid-Atlantic area.  Had to get out for a ride anyway.  The tree-lined C & O Canal towpath, running parallel to the Potomac River for 184 miles, is the perfect spot in this sort of weather, tree-lined and shaded, though it is beset with large populations of gnats and mosquitoes.  And large numbers of people on summer days like today.  Ok, so it's close to perfect, but not quite.

Anyway, I got out for a ride today on the C & O.  There's a particular spot where the towpath runs past a parking area and boat launch.  At the far end of the parking area, an old road disappears around a bend into a wooded parcel of land created by the Potomac swinging away from the canal in a large horseshoe curve.  Of course, I followed it to see where it went.  Perhaps a mile or so back, the road suddenly ran up a steep stretch that I decided was too steep for such a hot day, so I got off the bike and began walking.  A couple dozen feet from the top, a doe suddenly stepped over top of the hill from the other side.  We both stopped in our tracks to stare.  Then, the tiniest little fawn I have ever seen came bouncing into sight, all skittery-legged and gawky.  The doe's attention was on me and she paced slowly back and forth, stomping and snorting to get a reaction from me, while the fawn tried to match her movements and keep her close.  I just leaned against my bike and watched, enjoying the sight of them and the sun shining through the leaves of the trees above them.  After a few minutes of this, the doe suddenly decided she'd had enough and was off into the woods in two bounds, leaving the fawn to follow as best it could after a moment's startled hesitation.  By the time I walked the rest of the way up the hill, they had disappeared through the trees.

This sort of thing just does not happen when there are other people around.

June 25, 2010

I am officially old and curmudgeonly

So last night, about 10:30 or so, I'm getting ready to go to bed.  As I was pulling back the covers, I suddenly heard a woman screaming, agonizingly, as if she were being beaten.  I listened for a moment, then threw some clothes on and went to open the front door to see if I could figure out where it was coming from.  On the sidewalk in front of the small park across the street was a crowd of teenagers carrying on, a bunch of girls judging by the sound of their voices.  I decided I wasn't in the mood for teenaged crap, so I yelled over to them to shut up.  One of them turned around and yelled back, "You want to fight, old lady?"  I just stood there for a moment, honestly flabbergasted.  I had no idea how to reply to that.

I should have said, "Sure, I love to fight teenage girls, it's my favorite thing! Lemme go get my switchblade and my num-chucks and I'll be right over!"


Then she yelled it again and I yelled back something about calling the cops and her friends flipped out and dragged her off down the street.  I went back inside, but didn't go to bed because I began getting paranoid that the mouthy one was going to talk her friends into coming back and throwing a rock through my window or something.  Finally hit the sack a bit after midnight, and spent the next five hours tossing restlessly.

Guess it's time to go buy a rocking chair and a shot gun for the front porch.

June 19, 2010

Can you tell me what I'm supposed to do?

Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little….   -  Tom Stoppard

It happens every now and again, at least to me if not to you.  Words form and flow out through mouth, pen, or keyboard, but just don't come out the way they were intended to.  They take on a life of their own, as it were, conveying a different tone or meaning than they had in the brain.  You can practically hear them laughing at you as they cause themselves to be misinterpreted.  They nudge the world in the wrong direction.  And then, of course, comes the response to these rogue phrases, which can leave you (or at least, me) sitting flummoxed by the disdain thrown back at you.

Happened to me once again just yesterday.  I'm sure it won't be the last time, but you would think I'd learn.  One thing I have definitely figured out, though, is to take a look at my reaction to these situations--  This time around, it was a mix of embarrassment that I had expressed myself so poorly, frustration that people couldn't see through my ill-chosen words to the real intent behind them, and hurt over some of the harsh things said in reply.  Such a combination of emotions makes it difficult to not lapse back into the sullen misanthropic state that I've spent the last few years struggling to climb out of.

So why do these occurrences affect me so deeply?  There is a part of me that's fully aware that I'm not alone in making verbal mistakes, that the people who really care about me won't be swayed by my misstep, and that the entire situation will pass from memory sooner or later.  But there's another part that I've realized resides in my shadow side--  A small, insecure bit of me that wants to be accepted and appreciated, that's terrified of ostracism.  I say that this is a part of my shadow because I've always prided myself on not needing the approval of others, on recognizing my own merits and having the assurance to stand alone if need be.  But in exploring the anger that I've carried around for most of my life, I discovered just what I was sublimating in my unconscious-- My social nature, that primitive part of all of us that needs to feel it belongs to a tribe of some sort.  I've had to admit that, as content as I can be alone, it does feel good to connect with people with whom I share common interests and values.  But once such a connection is made, difficulties in communication prick at this shadowy segment of my self and send it into a panicky, aggravated tailspin.  Do I try to explain myself, re-word my statement, clarify my intent?  Or will the attempt just dig me deeper into the mire?  Do I refrain and wait for my faux pas to become a distant memory?  Or will my silence also be misinterpreted?  Why are situations that are usually really quite trivial also so damned baffling? 

Well, somebody walked up to me,
but I didn't know what to do.
And then somebody said hello to me,
but I didn't know what to do.
Because I think that my words could get twisted,
so I bend my back over, take a gulp, be funny,
'cause I know there's nothing I can do.

Then my mother tried to pick me up
when I was sittin' down on the ground.
Something forced my little eyes to come open,
but I couldn't make out the sound.
It doesn't matter 'cause my eyes are lying
and they don't have emotion,
don't wanna be social, can't take it when they hate me,
but I know there's nothing I can do.

When my thoughts start to feel like mine,
they're taken from me, it seems to happen every time.
And the feelings that are fine for you,
there's somebody there
who doesn't think they are true,
So think of something new,
there's nothing left to do.

And then my idols walk next to me,
I look up at them, they fade away.
It's a destruction of a mystery,
the more I listen to what they say.
So does that mean that there's no more doin',
and there's no more thinkin',
and there's no more feeling,
'cause there's no right opinion...
So can you tell me what I'm supposed to do?