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this morning in the laundromat while i was waiting for my laundry to finish in the dryers, i had my headphones in listening to the Traveling Dream of the Inception App whilst working on a semi-important email to a friend, and i was interrupted by a woman sitting not too far away from me who was similarly waiting for her laundry to dry.

she was talking to me and i couldn't hear her, so i undid my headphones and asked her to repeat herself. The woman, who i'd put in her late forties or early fifties, was basically asking me questions about my laptop, saying that it looked very nice, asking some basic questions about it (it's a MacBook Pro). i smiled and nodded and was generally friendly to her about it and thought that this was going to be the extent of the conversation, but it turned out that this was just a gateway question, a pretext of which to start up random conversation, and in that regard she was a spicket that would not turn off. She talked my ear off all the while while she was waiting for her laundry to dry, through folding her laundry, and even staying an extra five minutes or so to continue talking. It was nonstop.

at first it was mildly annoying, mainly because the email i was trying to finish was fairly urgent because my friend was going through a pseudo-crisis that i was trying to console her on and i told her that i was going to get back to her within the hour. But as this woman started to talk more about herself and i got a picture of her life and her perceptions of it, my attitude about it changed.

because she was such a sad woman.

she went to LSU. during her four years there, she treated college like a job. she hated football and the LSU football culture, resenting it because she felt that "you should be going to college to learn, not for football and fun." I get the impression that she never drank in college and possibly still doesn't drink.

she said she had a roommate who was "always looking for a steady boyfriend" and that she didn't want to have anything to do with that "nonsense". She went on a date her junior year at an LSU game for whatever reason, and her date got wasted and started heckling someone in the seat in front of him, so she just left in the middle of the game. He tried to call her a few times after and she ignored him. I'm guessing this was one of only a handful of dates she ever went on during college.

she took her studies very seriously. always sat in the front of the class. went back to visit one of her history professors (which is what she majored in) and that professor said that she was one of the best students he ever had. She played flute in symphonic band.

yet, the only job she ever really had was in retail. She relayed a story where someone tried to return a used bathing suit, and she smiled at me about it in almost a conspiratorial way, saying, "clearly you can't do that. it's unsanitary." She did a couple years of teaching, but had to stop because when she was in her early 30s she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, so now she's just a housewife - a marriage that in me reading between the lines felt like an arranged one between two wealthy white families in New Orleans due to the fact that she had dated him once back in high school, and something that happened fairly recently.

She was judgmental. She started talking about how "the root of the problems in New Orleans happened before Katrina," and although we weren't talking about racial issues at all, she went out of her way to say, "i'm not saying that it's a racial thing" and it was clear that she had a predisposition that most blacks were uneducated. she said, "the bottom line is that crooks are crooks." She found out that i was a musician, and she said, "i've found musicians to be such studious people." She made another side statement comparing that to athletics in general with a clearly disapproving viewpoint, and shook her head in a grave gesture when talking about how "disappointed she was with this whole affair with the Saints."

A lot of her perspectives were very much within a strict box, a black and white viewpoint of right and wrong. She was the goody-two-shoes in high school and college that likely never got invited to parties and never wanted to, was the person that no one wanted to hang out with because she was too uptight, a rule-follower, and not much fun. She believes in a certain kind of right and wrong, and despite her value system of "work hard and be a good person and good things will happen" being somewhat jarred by the fact that despite being such a good student, she wasn't working in the field that she studied, and by the fact that she has to deal with an early diagnosis of MS, she still has a strong belief in that value system, in what is proper and what is not.

and at some point, as the picture of what she was about got clearer and clearer, my heart softened and i made a Choice. This woman is a foreign object to me. I don't relate much to what she's all about, i don't particularly agree with a lot of what she was saying. But there's a reason why she reached out to me, decided to talk my ear off. There's a good chance that she doesn't socialize much. She doesn't have many people to talk to or relate to. Her social life is probably being the wife of her husband, socializing with his group of friends and becoming friends of their wives by default.

So yeah. to give her a bit of light to her existence, to make her feel like she can talk to someone, to provide some relief to what i can only imagine is a complex of achievement vs failure in her head that's so deeply embedded that it will never shake - i can spare a couple of hours of my day and turn off my ego. even if all i can really hope for is to make her day just a little bit peppier, i feel that that was worth it.


anyway, forward and onward. i'm not trying to keep up with life. life is trying to keep up with me.

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March 2017