Sunday, September 27, 2009

She's A Brainiac, Altair

Last week, my friend Reya over at Blog Gold Puppy was talking about the luxury of time, and how she often tries to slow things down to enjoy them more. I wrote back, telling her how I try to stay in a "patience" zone and absorb the moment when I am doing those things she described. I always felt my late father was rushing through his life, with each event being hurried along. The first to arrive at a party, (and positively antsy to get there,) then once there, he couldn't wait for it to end.

I told Reya that I listen and watch a lot to what is going on around me, trying to understand what it means and stay sensitive to it; seeing the big picture, as it were. A few years back, I read an article about animal's "rhythms" and how their heartbeats were slower than humans, so it helped to move more slowly around them in every way. I tested it out and I found dogs, cats, horses and squirrels very responsive to it. It even worked on crows who are incredibly wary around humans. They tend to scatter when you are near, and for a few years I was able to study crow behavior--and, I would add, they are highly socialized, community driven birds.

Older people respond to slowness, as well. The only contrary thing I would add is that you have to speak louder, but still slowly. Slow and loud. I've been caregiver to some seniors, and I've been working on the estate of one who died last year. Once again into the fray of emptying out a house and handling once loved possessions, not without it's own sadnesses. I'll be writing an oddball story about one such moment later this week.

The other day I was doing a drop at the library book depository. Recently, they had added medium sized rocks between the curb and the sidewalk, and I had made a note to myself what a treacherous bit of land this had become; especially involving feet, ankles and knees. I had twisted my right ankle the other day (thinking with relief when I did so, "Whew...that was a close one,") only I must have sprained it, because it remains weakened, and I am still wary of it, not giving it full weight, so I was carrying around my own slowness.

There was a minivan parked in front of me with it's side door opened, and I thought "Soccer Mom," only a little old lady was inside, removing her books to return. She was dressed rather nattily in black Bermuda shorts and a pressed cotton top, but her legs were skeletal; that cliché of skin and bone. I watched her cross the rocks and saw how her feet tilted unsteadily, so as she made her way back to her car (and I practiced "stillness" in standing, waiting--wishing not to startle,) I said to her, "These rocks are highly impractical in terms of crossing them to get to the sidewalk."

She looked into my eyes for the longest time. Then she said, "Would you mind repeating what you just said to me?" So I did. Another pause. Another long stare. At this point I had the sense I was gazing into the innards of a dated computer: watching synapses firing, seeing lights bounce. Point A to Point B to Point....then she said, in a very formalized, very slow voice, (but well ennunciated) "I concur with your assessment."

I had to stare back, thinking, "There is your future." I held back while she returned to her car, wondering how she even maneuvered such a heavy vehicle. While I waited, I took out my camera and shot a picture of the shrub next to the book depository. For some reason, it struck me as "brain like" in it's appearance. I shot a close-up of the brain shrub, as well. After all, I was in slow mode and waiting my time through this event. I don't know why, but those branches were like a symbol of what I had just experienced.

A few days ago, once again at the book drop, I got out of the car and saw this:

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Blogger Cyndy said...

That's an interesting progression of photos there. I like the way the second one pulled me in closer. A closeup view is definitely a slower view. The third photo kind of creeped me out at first, in a rather grim sort of way.

As we've gotten closer to finishing our house, which apparently I'm going to be living in for the rest of my life whether I like it or not, I find myself thinking about what it will be like to live there as an old person. It's interesting to imagine such a thing. I guess it will be okay.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

It creeped you out, Cyndy, because it all has the "whiff of the grave" about it; especially that last picture. And...I'm going to be writing about a grave, later this week. Talk about "thematic."

I "hear" you on stuck and houses and "will I die here." I live in an older home, and I've been trying to get out of it for the past years. Massive repairs required ancient slate roof that I already know cost my neighbor $16,000 to replace and that was five years ago. Things like that. I couldn't bear dying out of this house. My spirit is screaming for sea and sky and light, light, light and open spaces.

...and old people suffer in their homes if they aren't pre-thought out. For example: one 96...and hello porta potty and sleeping on the living room sofa because you can't face those stairs. Same thing with the laundry room in the basement. There are a lot of things to worry about: keeping up a yard, trying to understand electronics like an answering machine that's been replaced or how a new microwave works. It all seems fuzzy and confusing and hard. I can't even begin to imagine...and yet obviously I do think about it.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

The library is sort of a somber place anyway - like a funeral home.

There's not a lot of jubilation going on in there, unless there's a kids puppet show or something.

And the imagery of "graves" and "death" and "brains" made me think of the movie "Young Frankenstein", when assistant Igor is at the depository to steal Dr. Frankenstein a brain, and he notices the sign that reads "slip brains through slot in door".

7:57 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil: I'm almost embarrassed at how Mel Brooks movies make me laugh...every single time. I can't watch Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein without laughing.

I was doing a crossword puzzle last week and one of the clues was "something something library," and the answer was "noise." And I thought, "Maybe twenty years ago." You go into a public library anymore and children are running around screaming, running in front of you to trip you up, parents are completely zoned out.

A lot of the libraries in the D.C. area have faced staff cutbacks, hours cut back. Things are more automated where you check the books out yourself. I miss picking up a book with that little card in the back, covered in rubber stamped dates and thinking about how a book never got checked out, or checked out a lot. Having the librarian chat with you while she stamped the card. You can go in our libraries now and never speak to a soul other than cursing some child who is using the circular footstool to run races with his brother.

Which reminds me of that old Vietnamese couple. I need to write, sometime, about how people are always falling down in front of me. It's bizzare.

And my word verification is "nonsh" which is "Non Shhh," or Yack Away. more thing...There's a recorded voice at the checkout machine? And this kills says, "Please do not forget your libary card." Your LIBARY as in "berry" card. I've asked them to change it. They never have.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Loralee said...

The libraries in Philadelphia, including the very first free library in the country, almost closed down to budget cuts.

I love libraries, and we just got a new building/library space in the town I live in, but I don't visit it as often as I'd like to. I imagine that it would be less tomb like if more people like me, who love to read
and read too fast to want to spend that much money on books, would visit once more a month.

I also went shopping with my housemate last night, to pick up a large number of kitchen items for a school he's outfitting. I was surprised at how the three stores we went into were rather dead, too. No one wants to spend, or be tempted to.


12:05 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Remember when I sent you those boxes of books, Lee? You breezed through them, then they erected a new wing to your town library.

I have a lot of books in my home, and got rid of a ton. The old lady had a lot, too. I've seen volumes go out to friends, to workmen I'd had in her house. One of the men I hired to do some work (on the side) is also a professor at Howard University Grad School, and he took bookcases full (and the bookcases) for his school office.

I stopped buying books unless it it something I really, really have to have. I've been working the library card for the past few years now, and it's a real boon to have that "online hold" system in place. Where I have cut back, and need to get back into, is the intralibrary loan system where I can get my hands on rarer volumes through university libraries.

Stores are dead around here, too.

12:11 PM  

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