Observing human behavior is not only essential for a writer, it’s also absolutely fascinating. Humans are many things including territorial. The first thing I noticed about my aerobics class for seniors was that people have their “spots.” If you, as a newbie, try to stand in their spot, you will be notified in one way or another you have committed an egregious act. For example, the offended person may come and stand right next to you. There’s no way you can exercise that closely, or you’d be smacking each other, so you’d best move. I go into the gym early to get a “spot” in the fourth row where I have a clear view of the instructor because I like to move in the right direction and use the correct arms and legs. Not all folks can copy the instructor’s movements, (or care if they are moving opposite the rest of the folks in the room), and if they are standing up front, it can be sorta distracting especially if they block my view of the instructor. One day, quite at the last minute, two women I didn’t recognize tried to fit into one space to my left. One turned to me and demanded I move over. No please. No smile. Now I understand their desire to stand next to each other, but really?
Humans are diverse in their views of appropriateness. The locker room is a place where some women meet and chat before or after classes. Friendly women, pleasant women. There is one old plump woman who has a different view of modesty than I do being raised in a Catholic family where modesty was a virtue. She bends and stretches in the nude. I can’t watch even a millisecond of it. One day she was standing completely nude chatting with two or three others who were either dressed or in the processing of getting dressed. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them wanted to tell her to get dressed for godsake. Maybe the nude old lady will have to end up in one of my novels.
I will be signing books at the wonderful Cherry Street Books on this Sat., July 8, from 12:30 to 2:00. Would love to see you there!
I was raised with the belief that one doesn’t discuss politics, religion, or your finances with your friends unless you know beyond a doubt you have agreement on said views. And beyond the heated college debates in which one is trying to make sense of the universe, I, for the most part, have followed the unwritten rule. (There were a few wine enhanced exceptions which managed not to destroy relationships.)
Other friends seemed to follow the same philosophy until the advent of email forwards. The nastiest ones were usually political in nature, and finally finding the bombardment of negativity annoying, I informed the most frequent offenders I did not want to receive them anymore. I received an apology, and this person respected my wishes. That’s what one should expect. Isn’t it?
Then came internet social media sites like Facebook and Twitter which have changed the landscape of communication. It’s a wonderful way for people to reconnect or stay connected in their busy lives. But in the last several years and especially this last election cycle, people have used Facebook as a venue to push their political agenda. Most posts intended to discredit candidates, even though many were of the “fake news” variety, many from sources unknown. This rapid and bombarding method of dispersal works because we Americans, being so polarized, are likely to believe anything negative about an opposing candidate. Let’s face it: People hear what they want to hear, believe what they want to believe, and disregard the rest. I do too. Many people are sick to death of politics, they don’t want to hear anymore and post pictures of puppies. I get that.
But the real problem if we become complacent and stick our head in the sand, some really bad stuff can go down right under our noses. Sure, I have that same desire to cut the ugly business of politics out of my life, as well, but people, if we don’t pay attention to what is happening, then we deserve everything we get down the pike. I don’t trust that our politicians have our best interests at heart. Do you? If we, their constituents, are not their watchdogs, they will have none. That is very dangerous.
And when has being unaccepting, disrespectful, and insulting to others of a different race, religion, culture, or political opinion become acceptable? When has calling people names or demeaning others because they are of a different nationalities, religion, or political party become okay with so many Americans? I have read some incredibly vile posts on Facebook and Twitter and they get all sorts of people who agree with them. You don’t like being politically correct? Do you want your children to grow up with hate in their hearts? Do you want them to be mistreated because of your family’s beliefs? I am so worried about our polarized nation. Instead of having intelligent discussions and finding where we have common ground and beliefs and choosing compromise and solutions together, many are choosing to close their minds and hate. Can’t we do better than this? Our children are watching us.
Face it. We have little or no power over many things in our lives: the weather, taxes, death, our neighbors political yard signs. There are, however, plenty of things of which we do have power and control of: how much we exercise, what to eat, our career path, our behavior toward a partner or co-workers or family members. We can choose which movies or television shows we watch, books we read, where we live, how we treat others, etc. But there are areas of which some people believe they have power, and if one thinks through logically, are quite bizarre. For example, do you think if you wear a particular shirt, cap, underwear, etc. that your team will win? Do you believe if you watch, or don’t watch, a game on television the team will have a better chance? Sports seems to draw out the wackiness in us. I believe the spectators at a game can influence the game by the degree and kind of enthusiasm they display, but sitting in your living room watching, or not watching, in your lucky socks or underwear? Really?
You want to exert your power over something important? Go vote.
My daughter recommended the HBO miniseries, The Night Of. So while visiting her, we watched several episodes. I was immediately hooked, so when I got home I bought the series and finished it the first night I was home. Now, I’m going to rewatch it with my husband. What makes this show so compelling? There were so many things done right: the story itself, the casting, the slow unraveling of the specifics of the case, the twists and turns. In a way the show reminded me of the real crime case of Adnan Syed on Serial, a podcast of The American Life. (If you haven’t listened to it, do.) The detectives made mistakes, the suspect, even more. I won’t tell you what they were because I don’t want to present spoilers. As a crime writer, I look for details in stories. I like accuracy and the only thing I’d say was missing from the investigation was the blood evidence on their suspect. If he’d killed the victim wearing clothing, there’d be blood all over his clothes, which they didn’t emphasize. If he wasn’t wearing clothing, he would be covered in blood and would have had to take a shower. The detectives would have checked the drains. Call me picky, but I like authenticity. However this is minor compared to all that the director did right. I highly recommend this miniseries.