Apartment living among strangers

Always something going on in my apartment complex. Yesterday while I was indoors roaming the internet peacefully there came a knock on my door. The police, again. They were trying to get my next-door neighbor to open up, having been called by his son and asked to conduct a wellness check. In other words, the man’s son was worried about his safety and wanted the cops to look in on him. So, they had tried knocking on his door and received no answer, then knocked on mine to ask if I knew the man. Said I didn’t. Actually don’t even know what the guy looks like. Told them that we have such a high turnover rate here, particularly in that apartment, to where I just don’t barely keep up with who moves in or out. (People have to stick around here for several months or a year before I take much notice of them — perhaps sad, but true.)

While speaking to the police the man next door did answer. He barely got his door open before falling with a loud thud. Sounded rough. Like maybe he hit his head. The cops were talking with him, asking if he could hear them. Another neighbor opened his door and we both exchanged looks at one another while listening to what transpired. I could hear the fallen man making a sort of groaning/wheezing noise. No clue what was wrong with him or what led to his condition. Decided instead to head out to my next work appointment before the ambulance arrived and blocked our driveway.

Sound crass on my part? Welcome to the modern world, folks. Tis the age where many of us do not know our neighbors nor barely care to. Though, in our defense, the lady across the hall who’s lived here a couple years did knock the night before to offer me a bowl of her homemade chicken noodle soup — wasn’t half bad. And I do offer food and cosmetic items to another lady who lives upstairs. The man who lived directly beneath me was sociable but recently moved (they always do), as did the couple downstairs whom I’d grown to like quite a bit. Besides an old lady down the hall, I’m now officially the longest lasting tenant in this joint, approaching the 10 year mark this winter. But out of 30 units, I know people in maybe 5 of them at this point. Maybe.

This place is like a revolving door. Always people moving in and moving out. Half the time you don’t even find out they’ve moved until a couple weeks have gone by. The herd of buffalo who lived above are gone, which only dawned on me after belatedly realizing it’s pretty quiet around here. No clue how long they had been gone before I awoke to that realization.

Our parking lot is filled with all sorts of people who are always coming and going, some who live here, some who are just picking up people who do, a couple others who seem to be up to shady shit out by our dumpster (not curious enough to investigate — maybe sex in their cars?).

As I tell people, this place is much nicer than when I first moved in. Out with the meth heads, in with the Mexicans and Africans. A better lot of people overall. Though, I wasn’t a fan of seeing women’s panties hanging off the satellite dishes, nor was I enthused about finding a used condom left near my door. But we haven’t caught people fucking in the stairway anymore, so that’s a bonus. And the rowdy kids who lived here last summer (one of whom was responsible for busting out my car’s rear windshield accidentally) are all gone.

Could be worse, could be better. I don’t mind living here. Cheap rent. Not too much bullshit usually. Though it wasn’t that long ago when the cops were knocking on my door asking about a couple who abandoned their van in our parking lot and presumably ran into our building. Showed me pictures of them — no clue who they were. Doubt they live here but I wouldn’t be able to say for certain. The cops roamed around our building for a couple hours that night, searching the periphery with their flashlights (searching for what, I do not know) while waiting for the tow truck to come remove their van.

Several months ago we had another joker abandon a vehicle in our parking lot and take off on foot. Not sure why they like to do that here. *shrugs*  All I know is I went out to my car to grab something and while out there I see his van roll up, the driver’s door opened and a short black (presumably African) man stared at me before bolting out of it and running toward a nearby street. His van slowly descended toward the rear of our parking lot, narrowly missing the dumpster before coming to a stop. I had to call the cops on that event so as to report the running, abandoned vehicle that needed to be towed. Perhaps because of calls like that in the past is why the cops like to keep knocking on my door nowadays. Not sure.

Not that I mind. The cops around here are a pretty friendly bunch. They don’t scream at us the way Omaha and Mississippi cops used to. Very professional and helpful overall. These ones around here don’t seem to have much of an axe to grind, though some of the locals like to chide them all the same, pretending as if the police here are horrible about violating our rights and behaving as racists. I’m not seeing it, even while living in such a diverse building as I do. You’d think if they were wanting to pick on people of color they’d hang around here more often and act like jerks while here, but they don’t. So I see no reason to give them guff.

Gotta appreciate the good ones where you find them.

Anyway, no clue what happened to the old man next door. Never did get a good look at him either. Maybe I was skittish over the ordeal due to all we went through 4 years ago when the older man across the hall drank himself to death. Was a pretty unnerving situation that I’ve yet to stop thinking about. Basically just holed up in his apartment and quit eating and decided to drink vodka until he died, resulting in his body being effectively mummified. That is, until his body was moved by the paramedics/the guys in hazmat suits. I wasn’t around to witness that day, but a neighbor who’s since moved away told me everything. She was very shaken by the ordeal and had been worrying about him for many days before the landlord finally went inside the apartment to check. His name was Sam. I had dinner with Sam once, not too terribly long before he died. Never had a problem with the man and let my cat go over to hang out with him occasionally.

Anyway, I know I’ve written about him on here before, but I suppose it’s hard not to think about him when the cops show up in the hallway. It was a sad situation that most of us aren’t sure how we should’ve handled differently. I interacted with him more than I did with most neighbors here at that time (and more than I have with others since). His family didn’t come by to visit him, and I know he seemed upset about a lot of things, most of which I don’t know the details of. I was mired in my own personal drama back then and was pretty depressed, so it was just a rough time all the way around up in this corner of the building. But I didn’t realize he was that depressed. How would I though? People who pass one another every few days on the stoop.

The man right next door has been there maybe a month (or has it been two?). I never see him coming or going. Never hear anything from his apartment. Kind of sad to think that I was sitting here yesterday, probably no more than 30 feet away on the other side of a wall from a man who was in a bad way. Had no idea. Wouldn’t have known either had his son not reached out to the police and requested that they check in on him. Perhaps we’ll eventually see him come and go and get a chance to speak in the future.

So, yeah, that’s what people have to look forward to when living in apartments in the city around folks they do not know, especially where low-income persons congregate for a few months or a year and then move on to the next place. Just a constant trickle of people in and out. Here one month, gone the next. Breaking leases and taking off. A couple deaths. Listening to indistinct beats of music drumming in through an open window — location unknown. See so many faces one time and then never again. The routine scent of weed wafting through the hallways. This is just a place for us to lay our heads, store our stuff, rest and relax when we’re not working. Maybe everywhere is becoming this way.

Guess I’m just reflecting on my answer to the cop about the man next door, not knowing for certain when he moved in or what he looked like. And I wouldn’t have even thought about it if not asked.

I’m not convinced that we humans can all adapt to this sort of atomized style of living. I can understand why it proves so depressing to plenty out there, especially if they lack family and a strong social network. Especially in the winter months when we’re trapped indoors. But, strangely enough, I seem to be adapting, albeit not in the most pro-social way admittedly. Guess I ought to keep an eye on this situation and how it may be impacting me and my other neighbors. Kind of disconcerting to think we may be witnessing the full-on erosion of any sense of community right here in a place like this. Close proximity alone doesn’t necessarily bring people together—barring an emergency—not when walls and locked doors exist where we can retreat into our own individually-stocked cubbyholes.

“Alan Watts – Do YOU do it, or does IT do you?”

A 3+ hour audio recording of Alan Watts titled “Do You Do It, Or Does It Do You?”:

Next part on “The Art of Meditation”:

Listened to clips from these but am glad to have found the complete talks.

“Albert Camus and the Absurd”

Another core concept lecture from Dr. Sadler:

“World Views and Values: Karl Marx (and Engels), The Communist Manifesto” by Dr. Sadler

“World Views and Values: Karl Marx (and Engels), The Communist Manifesto (lecture 1)”:

“World Views and Values: Karl Marx (and Engels), The Communist Manifesto (lecture 2)”:

As always, Dr. Sadler breaks it down in a way that likely anyone could relate to. This philosophy sprang up as a response to capitalism and the revolutionary changes that accompanied the Industrial Era (as well as thereafter). One needn’t be a “marxist” to get acquainted with his critiques and ideas.

On our culture, depression, and suicide (Talks 1 & 2)

On our culture, depression, and suicide (Talk 1):

On our culture, depression, and suicide (Talk 2):

The article referenced in both videos was published in Newsweek (May 22, 2013) titled “The Suicide Epidemic” (also mentioned elsewhere on this blog): http://mag.newsweek.com/2013/05/22/why-suicide-has-become-and-epidemic-and-what-we-can-do-to-help.html

From The Guardian, “Facebook reveals governments asked for data on 38,000 users in 2013 (First report of its kind reveals more than half of government requests for user data in first half of 2013 came from the US)”:  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/27/facebook-government-user-requests

“Technology giants struggle to maintain credibility over NSA Prism surveillance (Strongly-worded denials issued by Apple, Facebook and Google about their co-operation are followed by further revelations)” (plus Verizon): http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/technology-giants-nsa-prism-surveillance

More news of Google and Yahoo’s connections with the NSA: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/technology/nsa-is-mining-google-and-yahoo-abroad.html?_r=0

Thoughts on rage as part of the growth process

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Been continuing to think on some of the rage and frustration I’ve encountered online over the last year, particularly in recent months, among some men and women who term themselves as MRAs and/or MGTOWs or feminists. And I realize I need to step back to my own past in remembering how much rage I once contained, toward both men and women, but most especially toward men since they were who I was in most direct contact with and kept experiencing mistreatment by. No one could have told me not to be angry then, and doing so would’ve just ramped up my aggravation and wound up causing a fight. Because my pain felt (and still I feel was) justified as a reaction to what had come before. I was working through those emotions and it took several years to do so.

During that time I came online and likely spat some vitriol toward mankind in general. There was no aim inside me at that point to be fair and balanced because all I could see was how I’d been done wrong, and then this was amplified when I discovered other women (and in some cases men) who experienced similar forms of mistreatment. My own issues centered around my family (particularly my mother, stepdad and step-side of the family) and then beginning at a rather young age (early teen years) dealing with attempts at sexual misuse of me by much older men (one of the first experiences that messed with my mind and still sticks with me involved a 70+ year old man I’d grown to trust when I was 14). At first I became scared because I didn’t know what to do and my family wouldn’t or couldn’t offer the kind of protection that was needed back then. And then I got angry. And then angrier. And then outright hostile toward the end of my teen years and heading into my 20s. During that time I came to identify myself as a feminist, as I’ve discussed, largely because I needed support and guidance and help like any young person does. But then I didn’t wind up finding much of that there either.

The point here though is that I was in incredible pain, some of which still stays with me. I felt bewildered and was aiming to protect myself from what this world showed itself as having to offer. And everywhere I turned it seemed people were screaming in my face “Well, life’s not fair! Get over it!” Rage doesn’t seem an adequate word to describe where I went inside.

But as time moves on, you aim to manage some of what you’re feeling, and for me this meant trying to accept a more “pessimistic” outlook in terms of recognizing how dangerous men could be in the right circumstances and doing what I could to navigate in this world. My lifestyle during those years probably had a lot to do with me trying to take back power over the situation by me determining how relations would go (so far as I was able) and ensuring I stood to benefit on some level. During that period I spent a lot of time in neighborhood bars in my off-hours and through the use of alcohol and sexuality aimed to, on one hand, numb myself and, on the other, to seek comfort where I could find it. Escapism flavored by distrust and a sense of feeling I belonged nowhere and that ‘wicked’ people were everywhere waiting for opportunities to strike, and it came down to me protecting me because no one else would. I already had virtually no faith in the police or the courts, moved hours away from people I’d known, and had a weak support network at that time.

Strangely enough, through those years and despite experiencing and witnessing additional damaging events (though decreasingly so; luck factored in there as well), the ice began being chiseled away from my heart and I came to see numerous examples of men in need, not on the take, hurt in their own ways, suffering with serious problems on a level most others can’t even fathom (for example, one man relayed to me his story of winding up paralyzed AND being hit with divorce papers while recovering from related injuries in the hospital — a very, very sad ordeal).

Funny thing is the taverns I frequented actually proved a bit rehabilitative in a sense because there I met the old war veterans and people from all walks of life with nowhere better to go. They sought out companionship, someone to talk to, someone to listen, and I came to appreciate sitting with them one-on-one, hearing stories of what it was like working as a Teamster or hearing about a man’s wife who had died of cancer or hearing about how another man’s kids won’t have much of anything to do with him, etc. Individual men with individual stories to share. In other aspects of my lifestyle back then I met men with debilitating health problems as well as those who’d been overlooked as potential dating partners by most of society. Still met my fair share of jerks, but I also gained a lot of respect and empathy for plenty of others I came into contact with.

This led me on to my next phase, after a bit of a setback where I returned to feeling angry once more due to circumstances I don’t wish to get into right now. But this next phase was about opening myself up to others and to realizing that while my own life experiences and views aren’t trivial and do continue to matter, they don’t represent the bigger picture of what all is going on out here in the world. They are one perspective, the closest one I’m privy to, but still not by any means a definitive say on the matter. As I began opening up more and more, I began realizing who my real friends were and who I’d been treating unfairly due to my own hostility and fear of trusting others. Once I stepped beyond feminism and began exploring more about our military and then our economy, my whole outlook shifted to include a great many more considerations than merely focusing in on the harm men and women can do to one another. But it’s not a straight path, it winds and circles back around.

This path also led/leads me to looking more closely at events where I had contributed to the problem or where I had outright harmed others. Hindsight isn’t 20/20, but reflection and introspection of this nature is invaluable. Also it has helped to remember people from way back and stories they shared and my past observations on how they came up and what they looked to be up against, etc.

I still have a long way to go (as if there’s ever a finish line). While it is very trying for me to sit by and let others verbally attack me and paint me as some princess who knows nothing about this life—that always boils up my indignation—I’m realizing how these folks are on their own journeys, which hopefully they actively continue on, seeing as how remaining mired in the muck of bad memories and powerlessness is no way for anyone to have to live (as I try to remind myself, impossible as it is to forget the past). Maybe I’ve been a bit harsh and dismissive categorically because I don’t know how else to respond. In person it is easier because we can size one another up and get a better sense of whether we’re being honest and forthright. Because not all are — some are charlatans who will prey on others’ sympathy so as to position themselves to take advantage of the situation, this I have learned. And some are so angry that they turn cruel to such an extent that they become outright toxic. We do still have to protect ourselves despite wanting to be open to the concerns and stories of others. We have to be realistic, taking in all that we’ve learned thus far, while also trying to shelve that enough to where we aren’t too closed off to people. This is a struggle, and it won’t be easy for anybody out here.

The next question becomes where to go from here. I don’t know. But I’m trying to keep walking on while pondering and letting a lot of information in to swirl around and meld with the rest. I’m aiming to be more careful with my judgments, though there is a time and a place indeed to judge, particularly when it comes to scrutinizing ideas.

Perhaps part of the problem becomes trying to fuse personal healing with political activism, because we’re prone to behave as reactionaries with very narrow focuses when we feel like a ball of pain. It nearly can’t be helped at those times in our lives, but in doing so, we can unfairly heap even more wrongs onto the pile and make enemies out of potential friends and allies. The tragedy in that isn’t just about alienating potential friends and allies but also what we wind up doing to our own selves, we who need help, we who wish to be heard, we who crave validation and understanding. We wind up isolated, or worse, in an echo chamber with other extremely angry individuals who see no way out.

Life and living are very tricky in this way. There are no easy answers to this dilemma, so I am simply acknowledging this appears to be where we stand today.