Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Human Condition

An editor I don't know very nicely contacted me yesterday and asked if I'd consider doing a column for his magazine. He wants something light that deals with the human condition. I said yes of course, as we writers, or this writer, can always use more work that pays.
So I've been thinking of the human condition since then. I have been thinking about a girlfriend of mine in Iquitos who wrote me yesterday to say that she's sorry but that she's been lonely and couldn't wait for me and has reunited with her former boyfriend. But, she added, I shouldn't worry. She'll be having a breakup with him right after Christmas for a month or so so that she can be with me when I go down there in January for my trip.
I've been thinking about my ex, Chepa, who showed up for dinner last night after saying she'd already eaten, then yelled at me because the food wasn't ready. It was just fajita fixings over rice and the meat wasn't done. Maybe a three minute job as the rice and veggies were done and the meat was going on the stove.
So I finish and serve and low and behold, Chepa is starving. But rather than say Thanks, she announces that the meat is raw and the food no good, then has a second helping and then took a large portion home. "It's better than nothing."
And this morning Italo's girlfriend Sarah, who lives with us, announces, as I'm getting up and long before coffee, that the ice box smells. "There's left overs and the milk is going bad and someone left the top off the juice. It's horrible."
I was tempted to ask why she hadn't cleaned it up and served the dog any food that was beginning to sour but decided it was too early for an argument. This the same woman who two days ago, after I took out bread and mayonaise and meat to make Madeleina a sandwich for school, makes herself a sandwich with the fixings and then asks what I'm going to do for Madeleina as there's no more bread.
These are little things, I know, but they contribute to a poor human condition. My poor human condition.
So Madeleina, this morning, tells me I've been mean. I say she's right and apologize. I explain that I'll try to do better. She accepts it and gives me a hug. So I'll try and I'll try to let the little stuff from the others run off my back a bit more easily.
Still, I got to admire their chutzpah. Planning a fight two months in advance, take home portions of a meal you weren't invited to eat and you still can't say it's delicious. Fridge smells but it's not my job to clean it, only to scold you for having let it happen.....I sometimes wonder why I chose this particular cast of characters to be in my life for this long.
And as I was slightly seething, Italo comes through the living room and asks what happened last night and I tell him and he laughs and says Hey dad, that's what being a dad is about. They're just saying they're mad you went away and had another operation and almost died and they can't live without you. Don't you see that, boy? Better stay healthy this time.
Now that's a perspective I hadn't seen at all. I don't believe him one second but it sure was a sweet lie.
Got to love this crazy life, eh?


Shmer said...

Hi Peter,

So glad you are back in one piece. Nice to be able to read some blogs again, afetr so long.

I hope you heal rapidly and that you are completely recovered in no time.


Hummingbird said...

Pee-ter, you goof!! Italo is telling the truth. They HAVE been afraid of losing you.

Yes, you can write about the human condition-- you can even 'right' it if you are wise and forgiving and honest, at least in your own small circle of life.

Most times I feel for ya... sometimes I think--"Well, whad'd ya THINK would happen?" (understanding that maybe 'thinking' first did not actually factor in).
ALL the time (well, once daily) I send you energy for your highest good (collectively).

I think one thing I admire about you (even if I know we'd butt heads if we knew each other)-- you state the way you feel which shows your vulnerability. I am far more guarded with my emotions because I don't like taking risks. Yet, I live with a man who lives by the seat of his pants!

Write on! Congrats on the new column!

Have a great rest of your week.


Piers Alder said...

I, on the other hand, got angry on your behalf with Chepa and Sarah and really felt for you, especially when you then had to say sorry! Damn, sometimes it hurts to be the one taking the sh*t. I speak as a father and husband who sometimes feels as though I'm absorbing other people's toxic emotions for them, and they don't damn well realise it, and I avoid doing it to them.

Then at other times I think I'm a judgemental b*stard who should stop going around thinking I'm better than people and daring to silently condescend at their behaviour.

I too deeply appreciate your emotional honesty, rawness in fact. And your general ability to entertain and engage. Thanks.


bamboo said...

Your son is telling the truth.

dodahdan said...

Sometimes I can go a day or two, but seldom a whole week without someone providing me with a Rod Serling moment. Sometimes these moments leave me laughing, sometimes they get me angry and play over and over in my head, and sometimes they just leave me wide eyed and slack jawed in bewilderment.

The thing is though, how I react is almost entirely based on where I am at in my own head and has little to do with the degree of surrealism others seem to act out for my benefit.

You’re a lucky guy Peter to have a son loving enough to point out to you what was staring you in the face the whole time!

Ain’t the circus life grand!!??

daisyduke said...

I like how you mull things over in your mind, and what I really admire about this complaint condition, is that you realized after Italo told you what a dork you are, that there is another perspective. It is something we often are too wrapped up in to see. There is ALWAYS another way to see things...and as is with the human condition, it's almost never about you.