Socializing in a closed community

I am in a bit of a quandary, and simply do not know what path to take here.  As most who really know me know, I live in city of Austin housing because my income is below the official federal poverty level, and because I am considered an elderly lady.  This is a community where the mix is about 80% black, 12% white, and the other 8% made of of a mixture of Latino and Asian.  More than half of the population is here with some sort of disability, meaning various problems which keep them from getting work, or mixing well in the general population.  Most here need help, but not quite enough to make them eligible for assisted living.  The rest of us are mostly just elderly, living on social security, and with minor problems such as knees that are giving out, perhaps some problems with depression and failing health due to aging, and various ailments.  I myself, with a record of clinical depression and arthritic knees, am really here just because I’m elderly, live on social security, and am too old to be allowed to work, particularly in this town of four universities and a very young population.

I am happy enough here.  I like the place – it is a very pleasant habitat, in that I have a very nice one-bedroom apartment, lovely grounds to walk in, and good management.  In addition we have an office for Family Eldercare, an organization which works with the Housing Authority (HACA) to provide help for those who need it, and provide activities for the populace.  I have used Family Eldercare to find a place to get eye exams, to get my cell phone which is by Access and provides me with 250 free minutes a month (I am not a great phone user, never have been, but if I want more, I can pay for extras), and which has given me information on how to find house-cleaning help, a thing which sadly I need now and will have before the year is over.  My mind may be still youthful, but my body says 71 is time to slow down and let others do the heavy work.  I am acceptable of this, as I have had a very good life, and am in a way perhaps paying for all those things I did when I was younger, especially in the 60s, with the reckless living and dancing, dancing, dancing.

So what’s my problem.  It is simply that during yoga, exercise classes, writing club, relaxation club, and other events, I like to talk to my fellow classmates.  I try to not run off at the mouth, but since I live alone, I am always happy to get around other adults to have a bit of conversation.  I am not particularly attractive, although I look good for a person of my age.  I dye my hair a bright red, but other than that, I am, as so many older folks are, somewhat overweight, and I don’t wear fancy clothes or makeup.  I occasionally put on something other than shorts and tees, and a bit of jewelry when I go out in the world, but I am utterly relaxed and entirely without vanity.  I’m even missing some teeth which means that my smile is not particularly attractive, though I do smile a lot, and funny lopsided smile without opening my mouth.  So I really cannot see that anyone has reason to be jealous of my appearance.

But I am intelligent, and friendly, and sociable.  And for the last six or eight months, I have had three people, two whites and one Latino, constantly complaining to whoever will listen that I just talk, talk, talk all the time, that I try to run things, that if we are in a yoga class, then we should just do yoga (or apply to any other of the classes/activities – same thing), and that “a certain someone here” just wants to talk all the time and tell us what to do.  Now I can say that this is not true, though since most of you don’t know me, you simply have to take my word for it.  But I do like to talk to others about different subjects, not just myself either.  About them.  I like to talk to Sarah, our leader in yoga, about her six-week old baby, ask about him.  But not rattle constantly while doing the stretching exercises.  During writing class, I like to discuss subjects that could be written about, like responsibility, bravery, freedom (last week’s subjects).  I don’t think I dominate the conversations, although I will admit that I often start the chat because most of the people here do not want to be the first to speak up.

Let me also explain that one of the two women who complain about me is constantly bringing up her “disability” as a means to excuse herself from doing or saying atrocious things, and the other one complains to anyone who will listen about the “drug traffic” in this place, which btw I have not seen, just heard about, and have no reason to be threatened by it, but she won’t make a formal complaint to management because she says she doesn’t want to be a snitch, but apparently expects the rest of us to tattle for her, proof or no proof.  Yes, in a place where there are over 100 people living in close quarters, there may be a few unsavory characters, but unless I see it, it didn’t happen, and I’m certainly not going to make a complaint about anything I don’t see and cannot prove.

So I really think that for some reason the two women have gone into cahoots against me and are trying their best to bring me down, and the man who decided I was trying to run things was sort of roped into their plot, and really does not believe what he said.  And yes, I could be paranoid, but I don’t think so.  It has happened enough times now that I am beginning to think I should just drop everything and stay in my apartment, doing all of my socializing here, on Facebook, and stop trying to be friendly.  But I don’t want to do that either.  So I don’t know what to do, and perhaps the only reason I am writing this is to get it off my chest because I don’t really expect anyone who reads this to get on a white horse and ride to my rescue.  Hey, hearing this from me is just one person’s view, and like me, if you don’t see it, it didn’t happen.

So now I’ve said it, and now I have to figure out for myself what to do, what can I do to change what I am, perhaps if I don’t want to quit, just keep my mouth shut completely, and never say anything.  And sadly, that is probably the path I will take, close myself up to everyone in the various activities, and just do what I came there to do without adding any extra to it.

Thanks for listening.  Carol, Austin, TX

About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
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