Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Talking. Writing. Succumbing to Pettiness.

I've said before I write so I can sleep, so I can get the stories out of my head and onto paper.

I also write so I can talk.

Sometimes, it's like my brain just shuts off when I talk to someone. I revert to nodding my head, not because I agree, but because my thoughts are knocking around my brain incoherently and I can't organize them in order to disagree or add to the conversation.

Like today:

My neighbor requested I trim a few plants that I thought were hers. No biggie. Sure! I clipped the stem thingies so they didn't stick out in her space and brush against her clothes when she stepped out of the car.

But now she says the stem thingies are "ugly" and they need to completely disappear. (They are sticking about six inches above the leaves. Straight up. Not even pointed in the direction of her space.)

It's a plant. It is supposed to have whatever stems and branches the earth gave it. I am not going to change them. For crying out loud. Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous in your life?

I invited her, at first, to do anything she wanted with them. They are, after all, basically there for her, as she is the only one that can see them. But no. She wants me to!

And then I realized, about FIVE HOURS LATER, two things: 1) Why am I so irritated by this? 2) I don't have to cut my plants any certain way just because she thinks stems are ugly.

imageI could sink to her petty level and just dig them up and replace with grass. I know she would hate to have grass there instead of flowers, but, you know what? If the six inch stems are so ugly to her, then we'll put grass there. I never get to see the flowers; they are just facing her house.

And I have TEN MILLION other things to do with my life than trim two inches off some stems just because she thinks they look ugly.

If I'd had a brain while talking to her, I would have told her I think the stems look pretty the way God made them and I don't see any reason to cut them. I would have told her that if it bothers her so much, she may cut them. (Actually, I did something akin to that.)

But no. I nod and seethe.

And it takes me FIVE HOURS to come up with a logical response most people would come up with on the spot.

So I write. Fingers to keyboard, and my brain unlocks, organizes. My thoughts line up, my ideas group together like magnetically pulled.

Any wacky reasons why you write? Do you think better when talking or writing? And how do you avoid getting swept up by pettiness?

26 bonus scribbles:

Michele 9/18/2008 02:08:00 AM  

I would have told her that if it bothers her so much, she may cut them. (Actually, I did something akin to that.)

But no. I nod and seethe.

Are you my twin separated at birth?! I swear, it seems like every time I read your blog, I'm like, "That's totally me!"

That happened to me and the neighbor behind us. I was so angry, especially when I caught her going through our outgoing mail while waiting for me to come to the door! GRRR. She ordered us to cut back our tree (which was only over the fence by a couple of feet, btw), yet they haven't cut their fruit tree that drops moldy plums all over our backyard in YEARS. Stuff like that makes the thought of moving to a place where the neighbors are acres away very, very appealing.

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 08:06:00 AM  

Oh, Michele, I'm glad to hear you say that! After I went to bed, I felt so silly and a little embarrassed at this post.

What's funny, is my writing window looks out on these plants, and this morning I see that since I cut the stems (partway) for her, the plants are totally wilted. Oh well. I guess I will have to dig them up.

I am TOTALLY dreaming of living on acres and acres of private land, with fields of tall grass and wildflowers. And no one to bother me!

And you know what? When I cut the stems so they wouldn't reach her driveway, I was apologizing to the plants. I know it's weird. But now I feel horrible they are wilted. All because she wanted to be petty.

I killed three plants! I hate that.

Kath Calarco 9/18/2008 09:29:00 AM  

I don't do pettiness because it creates the biggest dramas and sucks away all the good energy I need for better things.

I think your neighbor has some issues as well as no life. Your bushes upset her? She needs to get out more, or maybe see a shrink. ;)

Great post, Spy! It reminded me to always stop and smell the roses, no matter if they brush up against my legs as I try to get into my car.

Travis Erwin 9/18/2008 09:33:00 AM  

I can be petty and revengeful at times so I'd be tempted to plant cacti or something stinky there just to show her I could.

Zoe Winters 9/18/2008 09:42:00 AM  

I think WAY better when I write. I've learned so many things about how I think from just writing my thoughts down. It's why journaling is so important to me. It's one of the few ways I know to become self aware.

And your neighbor is insane. I would have said: "They are my plants, I'll do what I want with them, if you don't like it, I suggest you don't look out that window."

If she became a bigger pain in the ass, I would remove my curtains and blinds from the window and walk around naked in front of that window when the sun went down with the lights on, so she could see if she looked out that window.

I'm fairly certain nudity would upset her more than stems and get her mind off the stems.

StarvingWriteNow 9/18/2008 09:44:00 AM  

Don't dig them up. Let them get all brown and gross and bug-infested and when she bitches, look her straight in the eye and say "I like them!"

It's YOUR property. She's not your landlord. Tell her to f--- off if you have to.

Edie 9/18/2008 09:54:00 AM  

Thank God my neighbors aren't like that. Although their dog ran across the street (my dog was on a leash and I was walking her) and bit her. She was bleeding a lot and it was scary.

I could have called the police. People told me I should. But we'd been neighbors for too long to do that. I did tell them to keep the dog on a leash or get an electric fence or I would call the police. If their dog did that to my dog, it would do the same thing to a small child running in front of their house.

Melanie Avila 9/18/2008 10:36:00 AM  

I moved to Mexico and pettiness STILL follows me everywhere. I rarely think of the right thing to say at the time, and to say it later would only make ME sound like the petty one. Yes, writing helps that. :)

LaDonna 9/18/2008 11:28:00 AM  

Spy, my dream has always been to live on megga acres. The neighbors on either side are not cramped up against us, and that's good but I totally get what you're saying. One of her neighbors pulled a drama a few months ago, and sorry but I don't tolerate drama queens well. I basically don't engage, totally not worth it, and not on my radar. I made it a non-issue, and life is easier. The best kindness I ever did to myself was using the word NO at will. It's freeing too.

Robin 9/18/2008 04:39:00 PM  

I don't think the stems need to disappear, I think your neighbor needs to disappear. How annoying.

Wherever I've lived there's always been one gross neighbor I couldn't stand. I think it's just statistics.

Unfortunately, I am deadly with comebacks. I'm constantly having to suck them back. When I write them down they're funny. When I say them, they can be awful.

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 04:57:00 PM  

LOL, Kath. I'm curious how you would deal with it. Ignore, say no, or just agree?

She has no life, it's true. She's older, and has never had a job in her life. Which is fine. Kinda sad. I don't know her that well. I like to avoid neighbors. People scare me, LOL.

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 04:58:00 PM  

Oh, Travis, that's great! I love it. I've been using a fair bit of my imagination on this, for sure!

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 05:00:00 PM  

Zoe, that's hilarious! Oh, Zoe, you made me tear up with laughter! That's great. Priceless. You are so gutsy. I should do yoga naked or something. LOLOL!

You're right: journaling is so helpful. Although sometimes I end up thinking too much.

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 05:01:00 PM  

Writenow, you're so right! I can't believe I let her walk all over me. I'm really mad at myself for that. I think that's why this bothers so much!

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 06:21:00 PM  

It would, Edie! It was a very reasonable request. Your poor baby! I would've been distraught. Awwww.

And you were doing them a favor. If the dog bit a child, they could have the dog tested for rabies or put down. And to test for rabies, they have to kill it.

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 06:22:00 PM  

Melanie, yes! YES! It's terrible! I wish I were quick with words.

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 06:23:00 PM  

LaDonna, sometimes I imagine a mirror. Some driver gets all road rage on me, and visualize a mirror in front of me, just reflecting their anger right back on themselves.

I like your philosophy.

spyscribbler 9/18/2008 06:24:00 PM  

Robin, I envy you your ability for comebacks. The grass is always greener, no? Still, the nodding thing makes one look like a weakling not willing to stand up for herself.

Barrie 9/19/2008 02:37:00 AM  

Okay. That is one strange neighbor. Scary how some people think they can just order others around.

Bernita 9/19/2008 08:53:00 AM  

Oooh, I so sympathize.But you are quicker than I.
It usually takes me three seething days to dig up the logic of what I SHOULD have said when faced with arrogance like that!

Kath Calarco 9/19/2008 09:56:00 AM  

Spy, you asked how I would have handled the situation after already trying to appease her. Answer: Look her straight in the eye and say, "I tried to be a good neighbor, now it's your turn." And then I'd go about my day.

You did your best. Screw her.

spyscribbler 9/19/2008 10:08:00 AM  

Barrie, it's scarier to me I let her! Geeze. I'm more mad at myself than anything.

spyscribbler 9/19/2008 10:09:00 AM  

Really, Bernita? I thought for sure you'd be one of the ones who'd have something to say right on the spot!

It's frustrating, isn't it?

spyscribbler 9/19/2008 10:09:00 AM  

Oh, Kath, wow. See, I wish I could've come up with something like that on the spot! That's great!

Aimless Writer 9/19/2008 06:45:00 PM  

I would have just looked at the twigs and said, "No, sorry. You're wrong. they definitely look better this way." And walk away with a cheery "Have a good day!"
While swallowing back what I really wanted to say, "bite me."
But then....I have few friends...

spyscribbler 9/20/2008 03:30:00 PM  

Aimless, you're my hero! I'm definitely going to be quicker on my feet next time. After all, I've rehearsed what I'm going to say for three days! :-) I better not turn into a nodding idiot again!