Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Conversations with Neighbors

Ah I didn't post! I had much of this written up and then I dropped the ball. Oh well, that isn't unusual. I'm picking it up again.

The weather has been pretty wintry this week, and classes were cancelled yesterday and today due to snow. The weekend was far worse though - we got ice!

So my Fall Count for the 2013-2014 Winter season is ever increasing. I was at three - one fall downtown, one walking Ripley, and one in a friend's driveway- until this weekend's ice storm. My count is five now. I got bruises. We should appreciate dry sidewalks and roads more than we do; ahhhh traction!

Recently I have been thinking a lot about a potential move. Now, the logistics of that would be problematic if I end up going to Bangladesh this summer, but right now I'm in still in the decision making stage. My main motivation is that I feel like we could find somewhere a little (though not dramatically) cheaper, especially if rent here goes up again like it did last year. My second biggest motivation is the carpet. There is a spot where Ripley seems convinced it is perfectly okay to go on (it's not okay). I suspect this is due to previous pets going in this spot (it is the only spot in the whole apartment she wants to go on) and since we were told there would be new carpets when we moved (um, no, not even remotely new) this has disappointed me. Also, it would be nicer to be a little closer to campus - I could save some decent money if I could walk or bike to campus.

Okay, well, I suppose none of that is all that interesting (I'm grasping at straws here) but it terms of weighing the pros and cons of moving (cons including logistics, and, of course, the actual move), one big con to moving has been weighing on my lately. I love this neighborhood. I feel safe here and it is such a nice little community. I hardly go a day without talking to someone, and there are some neighbors I see and talk to almost on a daily basis. Granted, I know them by the name of their dog rather than the name of the human, but I still think that's a pretty good track record...

We, as humans, are not meant to live next door to strangers. If you don't believe me, I recommend reading the The Moral Animal by Robert Wright. It is very readable, and is full of fascinating discussions regarding a lot of the reasons humans act the way they do. Why do we go after certain partners and not others? Why is there a double standard for women; a Madonna-Whore dichotomy? Why do we have friends? Why do we feel guilty or jealous? Why do some people have low self esteem and others massive egos? This book tackles these topics - and many more - from an evolutionary perspective. As in, we evolved to be the way we are. And we did not evolve to live next door to strangers or crowd onto subways full of people we've never met. When you think about it, this makes sense, and I think it explains a lot of our anxieties (if you read the book, it will explain it a lot better...I think it is a good read for any and everyone).

Anyway, I value my small daily conversations with my neighbors, and I am reluctant to give that up to move to a different neighborhood. Alas, there are always things we have to give up when we make changes in our lives, some much smaller than others. This one's pretty miniscule in the scheme of things. Just some things I have been thinking about.

I don't have much else to share. Cold, classes, ice, reading, snow, grad school anxieties...that is pretty much it for me now. So I suppose I will get back to it.

Bangladeshi train through the jungle...

Happy Snow Day!


  1. I was totally blown by the strangers comment in your post, because it completely clicked with me. I am absolutely mortified to commute to work. To the point where I almost feel like I can't function. I'm just kidding! Well sort of. I think I have a warm and approachable persona, but I also have this other hidden side of me that can rear its ugly head. When it emerges, I regard strangers with a level of suspicion that borders paranoia. I’m convinced someone is trying to follow me and/or kill me or rob me. I also do some other strange, quirky things in the presence of strangers from time to time. Like forgetting how to walk properly because I’m so terribly awkward. Almost like I've forgotten how to be myself because of a certain level of anxiety that comes with riding a crowded bus to work or walking past hundreds of people I don't know. It’s nice to know it’s not just me on my little island, and I'll have to go pick up that book you referenced.

    Something that helps me is to remember that most people are situational, so don't be so quick to judge the strange, quirky behavior that might accompany someone when you first “meet” them. Even if it's a creepy stare exchange in a crosswalk . . .

    1. Yes! I think you would really enjoy The Moral Animal; it brings up a lot of really interesting points. And you know, your reactions (and mine are the same!) are completely natural: we are evolved to be wary of strangers and so we are. At least that's what evolutionary theory subscribes to, and I find it pretty convincing. What definitely helps is thinking about how everyone (well, most of us anyway) feels that way because that is how we are programmed to feel. The people on the bus give each other strange or avoiding looks because everyone, really, feels uncomfortable. I think it could explain a lot of pathologies too - people snapping or going crazy because they just can't deal. I don't think it can necessarily excuse behavior, but explain it.

      Also, I'm glad you got my point so perfectly, because I had wanted to explain it much better than I did! It would be great if you read it too because I have really been wanting someone to discuss it with! :D