Monday, September 09, 2013

Food for Thought: Excuses, Excuses...


If you've been reading for the past couple of weeks, you may remember the blog post about the feud going on between my neighbors. The feud pretty much ended when my neighbor to my immediate left cut some of the shrubs and trees that were leaning in his driveway and scrubbing up against his nice Beamer. The neighbor to his left called the police and said he'd pulled a gun on her. And after that didn't work, she splashed paint in his driveway, on his porch, and across his front door.

She was arrested for that. My neighbor Benny said she had to pay restitution and received probation.

Why is it, that two days after this melee, this chick was outside in her raincoat there trimming the bushes... in the rain? O_o.


That's all it took in the first place. You see your shrubs and trees are overgrown from the rain. It doesn't take much to get out there and cut them back. Just as a courtesy to the neighbor. When she cuts grass, she gets out there and sweeps all the grass trimmings out of his driveway.

So what was up with the paint and the police? Why did she have to be all "extra"?


She got a fine and probation behind all that. That's not enough for me. I need your tail to be locked up for 30 days. I am not down with the vandalism. And Benny said the restitution was not enough to cover his estimates. He was going to do the best he could on his own and get professionals to handle the rest.

Sigh. How unfortunate.

So imagine my thoughts when one day last week I was rolling my herbie-curbie (city issued container for trash) to the curb for trash collection...

And my neighbor was outside. I'm not sure what she was doing. She'd basically cut her shrubs and trees back to where they were looking like stick men. I think she was sweeping the debris out of the street.

"Hey baby," she hollered. "When you get a chance, I need to talk to you."

*ladylee freezing in midstep and staring wide-eyed*

"Hey baby," she hollered again when I didn't answer. "When you get a chance, I need to talk to you. I need to tell you something!"

"Uh, okay," I said.

What in the world did she want to talk to me about??

Now, notice how stealth I am. This woman doesn't even know my name. Nor will she ever know my name. I don't even think it has occurred to her that she doesn't know my name.

I don't know hers. Nor do I care to. That is by design... and on purpose.

It was morning time on trash collection day when this occurred. I left for work some 10 minutes later.

I made sure to leave in a hurry, making sure she wasn't outside. And I made sure to drive the other way down the block and out of the neighborhood.

Now, I'd forgotten about this by the time I got off from work. So I ended up driving past her house on the way to my own.

And she waved me down.

"Hey Baby!" she hollered.

I reluctantly slowed and let my window down.

She leaned into my passenger side window. "Move all that stuff so I can get in. I need to talk to you. I need to tell you something."

I was screaming inside. WHY YOU WANNA GET IN MY CAR???

I moved some stuff - my wallet and phone - off the front seat.

She was looking a bit rugged and dusty. She was sweating hard and noticeably braless under her purple terry cloth shirt, and her breast were hanging down to her waist. I almost wanted to go get my other car, ol' bootleg Pam and park my "good" car Lucy Jr. in the garage. This lady could sit on my cigarette-butt scarred cloth seats instead of my nice lexus leather.

She jumped in my car. "Turn that radio down."

I did.

"Look," she said. "I wanna tell you what happened between me and the neighbor."

Nobody had to tell me what happened. It was all obvious.

"It all got started when Thomas got out here disrespecting me. Benny told him to cut the bushes back one day when he was cutting grass. I told Thomas to leave my bushes alone. 'Cuz you know Thomas don't do a good job. I like thangs done professional-like."

"Un-hunh," I said.

Thomas. Good ol' Thomas. She and I have had a spirited conversation about her dislike of Thomas, one of the locals who lives in a shed behind some fella name Rat Cheeze's house. (I am still trying to figure out who "Rat Cheeze" is). He walks the street with his lawn equipment and does lawn work and odd jobs on the cheap. Thomas and this lady grew up together, from what I can remember. They go way back. And they fight a lot.

"Thomas got out here disrespting me and cussing at me when I told him to stop. And we got to arguing."

"Really," I said.

"You know me and Thomas don't get along," she continued. "And he ain't no damn good. And neither is that Benny. Benny act like a woman. I ain't got nothing to say 'bout how nobody live, how they lifestyle is, but he act like a woman."


I just let her talk.

Now, she don't like Thomas. And from a prior conversation, I know she doesn't like Thomas cutting mine or Benny's grass.

Sounds like a personal problem to me. If I want Daffy Duck to cut my grass, then that's who will be cutting my grass. I don't care what she thinks.

And she apparently doesn't like Benny. She finds him argumentative. Yes he is. He has fought out in the yard with his men from time to time. And a couple of the lesbi.ans down the street were mad at Benny because Benny wouldn't let them come to one of his many house parties.

"LadyLee, that mutha***** Benny know he wrong," Kimmie said, as she sipped from her wine glass filled with beer..  "We all ghey! We all in this thang together! We can all party together!!!"

You know me. I just listen. And try to stay neutral. "He just like men at his party, baby. Don't worry about that. Have your own party."

So Benny is Benny. He does his thang.

And this neighbor sitting in my car at the time does hers. She cusses folk out on the regular. I was a little lost about her complaints of Benny being argumentative.

She went on and on about what happened.

Interestingly, she didn't mention the idea of throwing the paint on Benny's door. Or of disposing her weapon - the paint cans- in my trash. Nor did she mention the police. Or being locked up overnight.

She didn't mention any of this.

She hemmed and hawed about how her house has been in her family for over 60 years, and how she was here before everybody. And about how she and her family have had trouble with Benny for years. "Cuz Benny, you know, he act like a woman."

Yeah. Okay. I get it. He acts like a woman.

She stared over at that man's paint splattered door while talking to me. I thought that was intersesting.

"You know, I got a fine, and I don't know how I'm going to pay it. And me and him, we ain't suppose to talk to each other."

She was looking to me to say something.

All I was doing was listening. I am an excellent listener.

"It's gonna be alright," is all I could think to say.

Benny had his property resurveyed and had the sticks out there separating properties. He even has the line drawn between my property and his.

"You need to get out there and walk your property," she said. "I think he has that line drawn wrong on your side."

"My property line is just fine," I said. "It is drawn correctly."

{Goodness gracious alive. Was she trying to stir up some mess between me and Benny??? O_o)

"I don't know why Benny is all upset about the branches of my tree hanging over his car. It shades his car. Everybody needs shade. And windows crack. Look like he would want some shade for his car."

Hmph. What a strange excuse for not wanting the limbs of the tree cut back. She doesn't even have a car.

Then she got on her "God gonna gitcha" spiel.

"Benny don't act right. God gonna git him!"

Uh. Yeah.

She jumped out of my car and gave her parting words.

"I go to Church every Sunday," she said.

"Okay," I said.

"And if you don't go to church? God gonna gitcha!!"

Now, this is the problem I have with "church people", and with traditional religion in general. They know they are some authorities on who God gonna "git". It makes no sense to me. Some of the things I hear church people say make me think that I am probably the worst heathen out there, even though I myself go to church. And that's just not true.

Now, I told all this to my cubicle mate Cowgirl Cre the next day. It afforded much discussion.

"Girl, you know she wants you to pay that fine."

I laughed. "Man, I thought about it when she was talking about her fine. And you know me, honey. I don't come up off no money."

No ma'am. No sir. I don't come up off no money. Excuse my ebonics. But I mean that. I don't loan money. And if I give you some money? I'm planting some seed. I'm in sowing mode. Trust... I've been thinking about it long before I give it. I even spend time praying about it. "Lord, I sure would like to help Jane out... I really would like to do something to help."  If it hasn't crossed my mind, you can forget about it.

None of that crossed my mind. No prayer, no nothing. Nerp. This chick got all emotional, filed a false police report about someone pulling a gun on her, splashed paint on a door, AND had the nerve to hide evidence in my trash can. Shoot.

And I don't validate people. Some people want their bad behavior validated. I am not good at that, nor do I care to be. I support people. I never validate. Those are two different actions, and I don't confuse the two.

And to top it off, she got in my car and made excuses... Excuses, excuses.

Excuses for her negative emotional reaction to a situation.

I heard a sermon a few years ago at my church from a guest minister who has a church up in Chicago. He was a bit different, because he is of Ira.qi descent. And his sermon was on gaining control of your emotions. He said he had a right to stand up in a room full of black folk and tell us that we were responsible for our emotional health. Afterall, he was from "over there", and his people are HIGHLY emotional. It was in his DNA. His people get all emotional and blow themselves up and everybody else up. So they trump black folk when it comes to that type of thang. So he had the authority to tell us to stop making excuses for bad behavior resulting from negative emotions.

That place was so quiet, you could hear a rat licking ice.  And no one could say anything. He knew what everyone was thinking. Look at the news concerning what's going on right now over there. Yeah.

After all, he was right. And it was him saying it about his people.

Every time I look at the news and see all that stuff going on overseas, I think of that sermon.

And when I sat in my car that day and listened to my neighbor's excuses, I thought of that sermon too.

And when I think of the many glitches in my own emotions and personality, I think of that sermon. And how I myself need to always make some assessment of my own emotions and how I react to some things. I, like most, am not perfect, and I still have a long way to go. I tend to stuff my emotions inside, since I was always punished for having opinions about things or being emotional about things in general. I didn't have a voice growing up. So I tend to be extremely passive aggressive, and I completely lose it when pushed too far. So to keep that from happening, I disappear, or I hide. I don't talk, until I can figure things out within my ownself. And it goes very bad if I am bothered or pushed about what's wrong. You don't want to be on the receiving end of my anger and wrath. That in itself isn't good.

"Man, when you snap on a joker, you shut the sucka completely down," my best friend says.

No, that in itself isn't good, either. A better emotional response all around is in order. And I'm always thinking about that.

I thought about a couple other things too. A couple old Quotes of the Week, if you don't mind.

Excuses are the nails used to build the House of Failure.

An excuse is a reason stuffed with a lie
Anytime I hear someone making a bunch of excuses, and in this case, not being remorseful for what was done...  And somehow blaming everything on someone else, I think of both of those quotes.

And I think about the current excuses in my own life. And how they are merely conjured up reasons overstuffed with a bunch of lies. And how I need to correct that.

And I'm not afraid to admit that.

I thought about all these things while my neighbor was sitting in my car, and long after she gotten out and I'd gone on home. I talked to my sister about it. And it makes my sister (and myself at times) afraid.

Afraid that if we don't recognize our own problems and work on them, that by the time we get into our 60s (like this woman, and others we know), that those bad attitudes, habits and behaviours will have formed deep deep roots, and are then difficult to rid from our lives. And then everything "flips" to something sinister, and way too hard to uproot:

 "I am right and everybody else is wrong."

Who wants that? I tell my sister that she is at that good good age, that age between 29 and 32, where she can recognize things and she's still pliable enough to work on things. There were things I worked on around that age, and I can say now that at the age of 43 they are out of my life. I also started some good things around that time which are well developed in my life now.

Good habits and behavior can run deep, but it's a shame when bad habits and behavior runs deep. I got the most interesting answer to a prayer some time ago, and I wrote about it in a post. Habits (and I find that this includes behavior, and attitudes) can get so deeply rooted that they not only affect our ownselves, but they become forces, affecting the lives of others. The older I get, the more I understand that.

And so the story goes on...

I hope the neighbors can find a way to be neighborly. All of this was unnecessary. I don't have a dog in this fight. Nor do I care to have much of anything to do with it.

And as you can see, it made me not only think about the situation in general, but also about my life and some changes I need to make. Any time anything bothers me like this, I use it as a chance to look inside and as a prompt to think about whatever within myself needs some correcting.

And that in itself is a good thing.

Yes it is.


  1. "I didn't have a voice growing up. So I tend to be extremely passive aggressive, and I completely lose it when pushed too far. So to keep that from happening, I disappear, or I hide. I don't talk, until I can figure things out within my ownself. And it goes very bad if I am bothered or pushed about what's wrong. You don't want to be on the receiving end of my anger and wrath"- chile you just described me to a T with that there paragraph. I am aware of this and am constantly checking myself and working on this..especially on the passive aggressive part. I keep a lot in and take a lot because it just ain't pretty when I go there. so much so that when I do go there I have to ask myself beforehand if I'm prepared to never deal with the person again, etc..because more than likely they are not gonna want to deal with me doesn't happen often but when it does...and it's crazy because I'm a very nice person and bend over backwards most time for they are shocked when they see another side of me. I'm trying to address things as they happen more now. and in a not so emotional way. and be more direct. i'm getting much better at it. now if I could just be more I am a blunt very straight to the point non nonsense kind of person. and I despise beating around the bush and game i have trouble sugar coating..

    um yeah i just wrote way too much on this post..

    i like this post. it gave me much to think about. and reminded me of some things that I want to practice more and talk to God about. you're growth and insight are fantastic! sure your neighbor isn't bi-polar or something like that?

  2. I was wondering what the outcome was with the neighbors. I work very hard at being assertive and not passive-aggressive. Doesn't always make other folks happy, but it keeps me from allowing things to build up until I blow.

  3. I'm constantly examining myself. Not just my actions, but my motives behind the actions. Sometimes they are good and sometime not so good, but I work on correcting those and really trying to make sure that I have the best intentions. But your post also reminds me that sometimes folks are just crazy. There is no rhyme or reason for their craziness and if you have to deal with them, like these two neighbors then you just have to minimize the exposure you have to the crazy and keep it moving.

  4. This post had my head full of thoughts. I think about my actions everyday. Some days I wished I did not think so much on some of them and just move on.

    I can be passive-aggressive. The roots to being passive-aggressive can be deep. I do wish I wasn't so much. I don't like when my other side comes in. I don't like conflict or confrontation. I know I need to work on acting better at a given time and not holding it in and then blowing up later.


Slap the *crickets* out the way, kindly step up to the mike, and SAY something!!