Category Archives: Interpersonal Interactions

sights in the AM

So we’ve covered that I’m a morning person.

I stopped to get coffee on the way to work (don’t worry; I’m keeping this splurge in good regulation) this morning and the chat I had with the girl behind the counter will probably be as amiable as any converstaion I’ll have today. Seriously, people can be so jovial in the morning, as long as they aren’t morning-haters. Those people are next to heathens anyway.

I noticed a girl sitting at a table with her mom. She was in the neighborhood of ten years old, was well-dressed -down to juvenile purple rubber boots- and had two plaits of brown hair. Most impressively, she was quite absorbed in a book at least two inches thick -and it wasn’t Harry Potter.

If appearances are any grounds for inferences, she looked quite grown-up and self-assured. She didn’t stir when her mom got up for the restroom and left her unattended for the space of several minutes.

As I watied in line, I snuck a peek back at her and saw her split the biggest grin -it had to have been something she read, nothing else amsuing was happening. She paused and partially closed the book, as if to reflect for a moment on whatever had made her smile. Then she took a bit of her bagel, perhaps sipped her iced coffee* when my back was toward her, and austerely continued reading.

You don’t see that happening anywhere at 7pm.

*She must be grown-up if her mom is buying her iced coffee. And in the nature/nurture debate, I’d say she acts like a grownup because she is treated like one.

[As appeared in Mythopoetic on March 5, 2009.]



Filed under Everyday, Interpersonal Interactions, mythopoetic


Tell me if you ever do this. Sometimes, when I want things out of my control to be a certain way, I will do something sort of related, something I have control over, knowing full well that it won’t change the outcome of situation a. For example, a friend is running late to meet you (you can’t control), so you tap your foot or go wait outside (something you can’t control). Or

When I take my friend’s four kids to church, I want them to know how much God loves them. I just want their little hearts to grasp it. Sometimes, I want to lift one of them aloft over my head like Simba from “The Lion King” and say, “God, you want this!” I’m not sure I’m strong enough to lift up even the littlest one up this way, though.

I’m not without influence in reaching my goal of them knowing God’s love. Things like telling them about it and taking them to church should be in the right direction. But they are young, and I don’t always know how much they are thinking about what they hear. I think, “I hope this soaks up into your little memories, because you won’t be hearing this stuff back in your country!”

I know that ultimately I can’t control if they come to know God, so (I realized this today) I kiss them. When it pressure of thinking about how they might miss things gets too much (or I’m just overwhelmed by their cuteness) for me, I plant a kiss on their little head or cheek. Maybe they’ll at least get how much I love them, or maybe remember someday that one time they visited a church when they were in America and just recall the feeling of how loved they felt when they were there.

As related, the church we take them to, is named Summit. Today, when I was transferring car seats, I noticed that the brandname of the youngest’s carseat is embroidered on the back of the seat. “Summit”. See, it is written in the cars.

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Filed under internationals, Interpersonal Interactions

interpersonal interactions

My working definition of hell is utter and complete loneliness and aloneness. It’s separation from everyone and everything beyond anything we can imagine from our experience on earth.

The antithesis of that would be unbroken, wonderful connection and relationships. Even here on earth, I think that person-to-person interactions, at their best,  have a “heavenly quality” to them.

So I’m a big champion of what I call “good interpersonal interactions”. In fact, I even keep a log of my best interpersonal interactions, not open to the public.

Looking over my list, I found some ones that still made me happy. As I have mentioned before, I tutor student-athletes at my university. Below is a conversation that I have recorded from several months ago.

Me: What are you working?
Football fellow: Absolutely nothing.
Me: Aww, man (sentiment: no will let me help them today)
Football fellow: But! (magnanimously) if I had something to work on, I would let you help me. *pause. Because you’re the smartest tutor ever!

I can’t mind a player like that. Especially if he lets me edit a paper or help him study for a test.

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Filed under Interpersonal Interactions, Words

All kinds

I went to a Christmas party last Friday night. It was a very nice Christmas party, though that is not the point of this post.

When I arrived, the party was still warming up. I met two girls right off, and we began talking. Just then, a few people re-entered the house from the backyard. “Do you hear the bongos,” they asked. Of course, we could hear them. I heard music as I had approached the house. “The vegan restaurant around the corner is having a bongo-circle, gathering-thing. It’s kind of cool.”

The three of us decided that we should go check it out. The guy lives in a neighborhood that sidles right up to some commercial lots. So we shimmied through his back fence and walked up the street to the vegan restaurant.

Near the street, they had a table with a bit of information and a little donation basket. One of the girls contributed a few dollars and we entered the event. In the courtyard near the restaurant, fifty or so people were gathered. In the center, there was a little blazing fire pit. Around the fire, people were dancing, and jumping and swaying, and forming a perimeter around them, were muscians.

There was a guy beating on an upside-down trash can, several guys on those little side-drums, some bongos, a tamobourine or two, and a few other small instruments made the beat. Very stereotypical  nineteen-sixties, if you can imagine. One of the dancers was the fittest fifty-ish year old woman I have ever seen. A few little boys jumped and leaped around the circle. One or two of the women were belly-dancers.

This isn’t where I usually spend my Friday nights. The three of us just stood and watched for quite a while. It was fun, exciting, and fascinating. We started clapped along. One of the girls said, “You really do just kind of feel the music.” I felt like a total outsider to some other culture, and it was a bit intimidating.

Suddenly, one girl grabs my wrist and the other girl’s and dragged us into the circle of dancers. Oh boy. Here am I in my little pea coat and flats, one girl is still in her business attire, and the other is well-dressed as well. We obviously aren’t part of this crowd. I was a bit afraid that we were intruding, or at the very least, we would be judged as intruders. But nobody minded. They kept clapping and cheering and playing.

“This is so not modest, conservative, homeschool-ish,” I couldn’t help thinking.

Thank God it wasn’t!



Filed under holidays, Interpersonal Interactions