1645. That was the house number. It was laid across the wood paneling in a diagonal with those metal-looking plastic numbers from the hardware department. It should have been 1645.5. The house was that small. I can’t believe there was actually a number for it. It was nestled between two houses with enough room on either side to walk, but it’d be a problem if you had a riding lawn mower.
The house could have fit in any two-car garage. It almost looked like a play house. “What’s that? A shed?” “No, it’s where our kids go to play house. When they play house, they really play house.”
Sometimes I wish I knew more about my neighbors. Every day I walk up and down the streets around my apartment with little knowledge of who lives where and who does what and why and how and when and such.
I pass the same auto repair shop with the same middle aged guy who comes to work just before I leave. Sometimes he’s picking up a paper as I’m heading for the bus. I pass the line of Korean shops, the restaurants, the video store, the supermarket, the billiards place. I pass the Middle East Bakery. I pass the Sign place, a dry cleaner, Snelling Motors. I also pass the house with the deflated swimming pool in the front yard.
On the way home it’s often a different street. I pass two churches and so many crowded, overgrown yards. Today I saw a house tucked away in the space between two other houses. It looked smaller than the pigeon house we had back home, which was a glorified shed/garage. The tiny house was long and skinny, and I can’t imagine why it was built.
There’s another house on the corner with curved arches and stucco walls. It’s quaint. Rather odd looking next to the enormous, aluminum-paneled duplex next door, but still quaint.
So many places with so much history and people I know nothing about. One of these days.
There’s nothing quite like seeing America from the freeway. Of course I’ve been doing that for the last four years, since I started attending college in Minnesota and drove back and forth from Detroit. Of course the scenery isn’t that spectacular between Detroit and St. Paul.
But this past weekend I traveled a lot farther and saw a lot more interesting scenery. I traveled through Pennsylvania for the first time in my life. Wow. The mountains were beautiful. Western New Jersey was also really mountainous–of course by that time it was dark so I couldn’t see that much. The next day we drove through Massachusetts and again I was amazed at the huge rolling hills on the horizon.
Granted you can’t see much from the Interstate. You whiz by at 70 mph (while the governor on your rented truck starts kicking in) and can only glance out each window and look to the horizon and back to the road. It’s not much of a glimpse, but it was enough to make me want to pull off the highway and explore some back road deep into the mountains.
It really made me appreciate this country and God’s creation. When you live in the Midwest, it’s really a shock to see mountains looming ahead on the horizon.
Read “Candy from Strangers” (on salon.com)
Does this strike anyone else as scary? It just doesn’t sound very healthy. Or maybe I’m just bitter–no one’s ever sent me anything because of these thoughts.
So where have I been? Eleven states in four days. Including five states I’d never visited before and the two best-named towns in the country: Schenectady, New York and Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Although I passed up the Bong State Recreation Area.
I’ve come to the conclusion that air conditioning breeds weakness. Our apartment has a box air conditioner in the living room. It doesn’t exactly cool the entire apartment, but with a ceiling fan in the bedroom and a box fan in the hallway, we manage pretty well. In previous summers I haven’t been so lucky. Last year I lived on the first level of an apartment with an air conditioner that could only make the living room cold and moist. The bedroom stayed pretty warm. The previous year I was in Chicago with no AC at all. And every year at school we didn’t have AC.
I’ve noticed whenever I don’t have AC I somehow manage to get by. You drink cold liquids. You invest in a few well-placed fans. You have water fights. You go to the beach. You spend an hour picking out a video so you can enjoy the AC. It’s hot, but you deal with it.
Now that I have AC, even a window air conditioner, I’m a wuss. I suppose it doesn’t help that I spend all day long in air conditioned office. But I’m still a wuss. I get home and crank the AC, turn on all the fans, and collapse for a while. I have no desire to go outside. You couldn’t pay me to go outside. As soon as I get in my truck I have to blast the AC. I used to drive with the windows down.
Sometimes I wonder how people who live closer to the equator make it. But I guess people have been living close to the equator for a long time before air conditioning came along, and they seemed to just fine. I guess we need to toughen up.
Of course you may find it a bit ironic that I live in Minnesota and I’m complaining about the heat. Of course a football player recently died from heat stroke in Minnesota, so don’t start.
Books can be very dangerous for me. It’s as if I want my own personal library. Thankfully I limit my book buying to the used section, which almost exacerbates the problem; the books are so cheap, how can I pass them up? The result is a steady turn over of books in the used section of the closest Barnes & Noble.
And it’s not bad enough with me being a writer: my wife is a teacher. And of course, she teaches pre-school and elementary, so our books of interest don’t exactly overlap (but when they do you can be sure it’s a must-read).
I think the only thing I have going for me is the bus. Since I ride the bus I’m actually reading all the books I buy. Although I probably shouldn’t use the word “all.” Currently my book buying is out-pacing my book reading–kind of like the population. Or maybe it’s just my wife’s sneaky way of encouraging us to move out of our apartment and into a house with more shelf space.
I envy people who are really friendly. There’s a guy at work who has the ability to talk with anyone and be friendly with anyone. He’s been there a third as long as I have and he knows ten times as many people at work. Being an introvert seems to hinder my ability to get to know people.
Sometimes I wonder if Jesus was an introvert. He kept to himself at times and no one really understood him. Yet he wasn’t afraid to talk to anyone, and often talked to the people no one else would talk to. It seems like it’s almost easier to be a Christian if you’re an extrovert. I wonder if anyone’s ever studied the religious beliefs of introverts versus extroverts. Something tells me more evangelists are extroverts.
It seems like a lot of the problems I see in life would be overcome if I just weren’t so introverted. If I actually learned people’s names and got to know people other than myself, I could over come the racism and classism I often complain about. But I’m sure life isn’t that easy for extroverts either. They probably have some issue that hinders them. I wonder if extroverts envy introverts.
Sometimes you think you know someone and you really don’t. You assume something about them, and you always end up wrong. I found out something about someone I work with today that I could have guessed but never really thought much about. It’s making me realize how much we take for granted and how important little things are, like lunch time conversations.
I work for a Christian organization, and it’s pretty well assumed that everyone is a Christian. But that’s not always true. A guy I’ve worked with for the past seven months isn’t really sure if he’s a Christian. I’m not that surprised. But I don’t think I’ve done much over the past seven months to help him be more sure of his faith.
It kind of makes you wonder just what I’m doing.