Thursday, June 16, 2016

Becoming Visible, Introverts, and Dogs

It's funny. When I first got my dog, I had been living in my townhouse for about 20 months. In that time, I had one conversation with my neighbor to the west. A few hellos from the neighbor to the east. That's about it. The first day I brought my dog home, I had her in the front yard, and suddenly, I exist! A neighbor a few units down, ran out with her dog and introduced themselves. A neighbor at the end of the court came over to meet the new dog on the block. The family with two small children came over to meet and pet the new doggy (while the Mom not so subtly mentioned how much of the dog there was to love.)

Well, in hindsight, they weren't really meeting me, but rather, meeting my dog.

Ruby's Happy Place 
Nothing brings people together like a dog. Will I walk up to a complete stranger and start talking? Nope. Will I walk up to a complete stranger and start talking about how cute/big/small/furry/well behaved their dog is? You betcha. And vice-versa. I can sit on a park bench in a crowded park and people would walk past and not give me second glance.  I could probably pose naked on a park bench and still people would walk past and not see me. But sit my cute little (big) doggy next to me, all she has to do is make eye contact while wiggling her butt and people will stop and chat and want to pet her, and yes, they even talk to me.

Becoming Visible
Is it because most humans like their pets more than they like people? (I confess, I like my dog more than I like some people.) Do animals give us an immediate "safe zone" to be in while meeting other people? Is it just something in common?

Some friends Ruby made at the forest preserve
I feel like my dog has made me human again. A visible human. There are some weekends, when I am by myself, I doubt I would even leave the house if it weren't for my dog needing to go out. I have to make a conscious decision to get in my car and take her to a public park, just so I can interact with other human beings, or at least their dogs.

Such is the life of an introvert.

What do you think? Does your dog make you more social?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

It's not MY problem!

This. Attitude. Drives me crazy.

"It's not MY problem! Why should *I* have to (fill in the blank)?"

I am an observer of humans on this planet. My daughter might call me a stalker. I prefer "noticer" or "overhearer" (yes, I just made that word up.) So many opportunities present themselves to me, to overhear. And think about. I'm also an over thinker.

Shhh. I'm stalk uh, noticing something... 
This morning I was sitting in a waiting room, waiting and reading and overhearing.

"OMG I had to pay my property taxes! I hate that I have to come up with all that money twice a year."

"I know! It sucks! I hate paying the taxes. I hate having to pay for the school system. My children don't even go to school here anymore. And the library! Why should I have to pay for the library when I never even use the library? It's such a waste of my money."

"Right? My kids are grown too. But I still have to come up with $6000 every six months to pay for stuff I no longer use."

(By the way, if your property taxes are $12,000 a year, you should be pretty damn grateful that you are living in a really big house in an excellent neighborhood with a great school system.)

Also, one of the women chose to not have her property taxes rolled into her mortgage. And then complains that she has to "come up with the money." The other woman thought of a hundred things she'd rather do with the money, like put it towards that vacation home up north. That's why she decided to rent instead of own a home. (Guess what? You're still paying taxes, it's just part of your rent!)

So here's the thing. I know that nobody happily skips to the bank every 6 months to joyfully surrender thousands of dollars to pay their taxes. But we all do it. Why?

Because we live in a COMMUNITY, that's why. Our nation was founded based on a taxation system. That local property tax money goes towards keeping our roads maintained (which I'm betting they use daily.) It pays for their parks and open spaces (the ones they walk their dogs in.) And it goes towards libraries (which consist of much more than just books.) It goes towards police and fire departments (which you bet your ass they'd use if their house was burning down.) It goes towards social services, and yes, it goes towards schools (that their children have already gone through!)

When you decide to live in a community, it's your duty to support that community while you live there. If you don't want to pay a lot of taxes, move to an isolated area that has shitty schools and shitty roads and you have to wait 30 minutes for a fire truck to put out your fire. Oh wait, you don't want your kids to go to shitty schools? You don't want to wait half an hour for an ambulance or fire truck? You want to live in an area that has an excellent school district for YOUR child? You want to live in a large $400K home? Then pay up.

I suppose it's your choice to live in an area with an excellent school district while your child attends school, and a great library system while your child is eligible for story time. THEN when you no longer need these services, you can abandon the community that supported you and go live on a mountain. But remember... when you fall and break your hip...

You see, it is your problem. And my problem. Because we live in a society with other people. And our schools need money to pay for teachers to teach everyone's children. Not just yours. You are paying for your future, the children who come after your children leave the system. Your grandchildren, your neighbor's children, the children who will take care of you when you are old. You better make sure they get a good education! 

Can you imagine a world where everyone is in it for themselves and don't give a shit about anyone else? (Yes, I can almost imagine it... I know people who think that would make America great again.) I'm not even talking about people living in poverty, or the homeless (although yes, your tax dollars are putting homeless children through school and probably feeding them lunch too. They are human, they deserve an education as much as your child does.)

I paid for this sidewalk and street, you can't use it.
I am simply talking about people who choose (and are able to) live in an upper-middle class neighborhood, who have already used resources to their advantage, but complain about paying "for other people."

I paid for this park, you can't walk your dog here. 
Guess what? To me, YOU are "other people." And I will pay for the library so we can both enjoy free concerts on Tuesday nights and story time for your grandchildren. And I will pay for the fire department to send out a truck when you burn your toast and start a fire. And I will pay for schools to provide an excellent education for ALL our children, so people will want to move here and help me with my tax burden.

You see, we are all connected. We are all in this life together. We are one. Yes, even you.