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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Not trying to make homelessness a theme of this blog, but....

I was out this evening making a run to drop off some movies at Blockbuster and pick up a few things at the grocery store. Our house is about 2 blocks off a major road (Gallatin Road for you locals) and from there, just about everything is within a few blocks, so I hadn't driven far. We can easily walk to the grocery store, drug stores, take out places, etc., if we want.

On the return trip, there is a swarm of blue lights. I counted no less than 13 police cars, plus an ambulance and a fire truck. The road is blocked off in both directions. I pull into the parking lot of the strip mall where the Blockbuster is located and drop off my movies. Down the street, I see a crowd of spectators gathered in the parking lot. While I'm doing the obligatory return-the-DVD loop through the in and out doors of the Blockbuster (What's the deal with that anyway? Do they really think I'm such an impulse buyer that I can't make that loop through the store without renting something else?), I ask the teenager behind the counter what happened outside.

"Homeless guy got hit by an SUV."

Whoa. That seems to sum it up. You can guess who wins that contest.

I walked across the parking lot and got the news confirmed from some of the people milling around out there. There were cops everywhere. Apart from parking their cars to block off the road, I don't see many of them doing anything but standing around like the rest of us. One cop has a spray can and is walking around all the scattered detritus and spraying circles around where it all ended up. There must have been a crumpled grocery cart somewhere because there is just so much stuff spread all over somebody couldn't have been carrying it all.

I don't know if the pedestrian was killed or not. He must have been carted off already. It's hard to imagine anyone walking away from that unscathed. I call him a pedestrian'cause I feel guilty summing it up that way: Homeless guy vs. SUV. But on my way back across the parking lot to my car, two or three drivers who have pulled into the lot to turn around and try to find a way around the road block ask me what happened and like the teenager I say "homeless guy got hit by an SUV."

What else can you say?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jumpsuit guy's name is David (see the post entitled "Sitting" for an explanation of who he is). That's my name (not that I have a monopoly on it). Kinda weird.

My wife met me for lunch today and parked the car at a meter on the street right by jumpsuit guy's usual bench. He said "Hello" and was waving to our son (daughter was at pre-school). Moments earlier, before we'd gotten out of the car, he'd been having a rambling conversation with someone who wasn't there. My wife of course strikes up a brief conversation with him. I'd managed "good morning" after all the times I'd walked past him on the way into the building, but nothing more than that. She can effortlessly interact with anyone. After I'd left, she found out he had grandkids. You don't think about homeless people having family.

I remember reading in an art book once that you haven't really seen something until you've drawn it. Likewise, perhaps you haven't really noticed someone until you've written about him.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Introversion. Or Why I'm Amazed Anyone is Reading This.

This blogging is a curious thing. I'm writing stuff about deep personal beliefs, thoughts or experiences in a forum literally available to a billion people. But since I haven't told a soul about this blog, it's not much different from my own private journal. It’s perfectly safe - just better formatted that a journal. Except for my wife. She knows of it. Bum Bom BAAAAAAANNNNHHHH (In case you can't tell, those are foreboding chords of doom).

That's the funny thing. She started this whole blogging business and I only created one so I could post comments on hers. (See one of my first entries on here for more about that - Or not. It wasn't very good). I tell no one about mine. She e-mails a link to her blog to the neighborhood mom's group, her writing group friends, tells our neighbors and her sisters about her blog. And then links to mine (yipes!). That was cause for a few freak out moments and I thought about telling her to drop the link. So then I would have a blog that no one except my wife knew about with no links to it. My publicist wouldn’t approve.

My options are therefore to write in total obscurity or remain linked to her social stardom and run the risk of who knows who reading this stuff. I decided to forge on naked and exposed to the world. Her blog still links to mine, but doesn't call it "her husband's blog" anymore. I guess that's out of a sensitivity for my privacy. But I'm still connected to her blog which everyone in our life knows about. So once again she is my missing link to humanity.

I've been amazed on occasion to open up my blog and find, Heavens to Murgatroid??!!!, comments! Comments I say! Universally they come from people who read her wonderful musings about motherhood and life (see the link on my site to her blog - what am I saying? you just came here from there) and I guess out of a well-placed appreciation for her point of view and interests decided to follow her links to other blogs.

That's such a perfect metaphor for our life. Most of the people in my life are there because of her. Or now because of our daughter. (We have yet to see whether the 13 month old son will also be a social magnet.) For my charming daughter's 4th birthday party, she and my wife consulted on the guest list and came up with 27 kids to invite. I think 26 came. Gee. Who do you think she takes after socially? I don't know if I've had 26 friends in my entire life. My wife? We can't go to JifffyLube without running into someone she knows. She has friends that she began a relationship with simply because she kept seeing them in some of the same thrift stores or coffee shops she frequented. Saturday we stopped at a yard sale and she had this long conversation with a woman she was sure she knew. Best they could tell, a couple of years ago my wife took our kids to a playground where this woman (who was nannying at the time) took the kids she was watching.

Me? I can stand at a bus stop every morning next to the same guy for 6 months before I find out what his name is. I can work in the same building and ride the elevator with someone for years and never have a conversation with them. She’s bosom buddies with the guy from the drive through at McDonald’s.

In case you haven’t figured it out. She’s an extrovert. I’m an introvert. One of the multitude of ways we are total opposites. See her recent blog entry from a couple of days ago for more about this.

And for more about introverts and why we’re so saintly for putting up with the rest of you, read this fun little piece.

I do think the author isn’t serious. Most of the time. If I were him I wouldn’t be. Most of the time.

I don’t dislike people. I’m not afraid to speak in public. I don’t think I’m visibly awkward in social settings (at least not so much anymore). Much of the time, I just can’t imagine why on earth I’d want to talk to this person I don’t know. Which is a convenient way of not getting to know many people. Usual dinner parties at our house involve my wife and daughter chatting about every incredible topic you can imagine with whomever is visiting while I set the table. At some point, if she has to go upstairs to put the baby to sleep, I might manage to ask them a few questions and possibly discuss a common interest before she returns and the maelstrom of communications whirls off leaving me flattened, dusty and bewildered in its wake.

I really do not intend for this to be a criticism of her or to sound bitter. Honestly. We are just so different. After 4 hours of intense conversation, she’s empowered, energized and bubbling and has a hard time going to sleep. I’ve probably enjoyed myself, but I’m longing for an isolation tank to hide in for a week or so before I have to speak to anyone else again.

Marriage and parenthood are interesting experiences for the introvert. I love my wife and children and find when I do have an evening without them at the home, I often feel lost and empty. But that doesn’t mean the incessant present-ness of a highly precocious 5 year old, the physical invasion of an active 13 month old and the social explosion of communication that can be my highly extroverted wife don’t feel at times like an amphibious assault on every shore of my being.

I wish I had more energy for people. To forge many deep and abiding friendships. To be fully engaged with my kids every moment I’m at home. To throw myself unreservedly into connection with my wife during the last final hours and minutes of the day before sleep. But more often than not I seek refuge in the pages of a book before bedtime or some decompression in front of the tv.

And I wonder how skilled my wonderful wife has become at finding ways for that not to seem hurtful and offending.