01 November, 2015

like, whatever, man

i've been having a hell of a time lately being kind to people close to me. oh, i think i manage for the most part (though my track record with mr. monkey's been pretty shitty of late, and my mother's two week visit pushed me to the limit) but it's hard work. i feel like my default setting in recent weeks is to snap, to growl, to roll my eyes, and to get immediately annoyed at bloody everything. that seething anger one gets behind the wheel of a car in rush hour traffic is the feeling i've been experiencing a lot. i'm mad about so many things, some of which are tiny and some of which are large, but my anger seems fairly democratic in its approach. so, without further ado, here is a list of things i am currently angry about (varying levels of rationality, randomly laid out for your reading pleasure):

1. plastic storage containers - when you bring me food in a plastic container i will eat the food, wash the container, and then RETURN IT TO YOU BECAUSE IT IS YOURS. apparently this is a little too complicated a concept for some people, as a result of which, i am constantly buying new ones. or asking for them back. because it's HARD to return someone else's shit. this makes me stabby. very, very, VERY stabby. i am also aware of how petty this is, which doesn't help at all.

2. RSVP - when i send out an invitation (and crusty juggler will attest to the fact that i put a lot of time and effort into my invitations), i expect people to RSVP.  they don't. because they're busy. they're apparently too busy to press a button attached to an email, choosing one of 3 options (yes, no, maybe), which takes a whole 5 seconds to do. let's be generous and round it waaaaay the hell up to a minute to allow for checking one's calendar. perhaps it's because people don't know what the letters mean. FYI (though, as far as i'm aware, none of my readers have ever done this to me) it means: répondez s'il vous plaît, which, in the language of our lord jesus, means respond to this invitation, for the love of god, so the hostess can ensure an adequate amount of snacks, drinks, and seating. with a hearty emphasis on respond.

4. my "career" - so i changed careers, went off to school, blah blah, yadda yadda, y'all've been around for that particular ride. then i got my dream job. then i quit my dream job because it turned out i was working with a bully. fine. shit happens. that should have turned me off that particular job. and it did. but there was an underlying disenchantment with my profession as a whole. an unhappiness that was reiterated each time i went to yet another inspirational talk/conference/symposium/lecture about things that were exciting, good, evidence-based, clearly superior, that WE WERE NOT IMPLEMENTING BECAUSE. because the transportation department. because the engineers. because the developers. because the public. because the businesses. because bureaucracy. because FUCK YOU.

so here's my response - screw you, north america, if you want to continue building strip malls, overpasses, multi-lane highways, cul-de-sacs, big box stores, and profoundly uninspired beige subdivisions that are responsible for mental illness, loneliness, obesity, and death: fuck. you. i'm done. i was told once that my kind of passion was needed to make a change, but ha ha, turns out that my kind of passion is no match for the institutionalised inertia, short-sightedness, greed, and conservatism that characterises this business. screw evidence-based decision-making. screw building a great public realm. why do all that (and hell, it's not even news! most european cities have that shit covered!) when you can breed a populace that thinks it's ok to drive 45 minutes to a poorly-lit mammoth grocery complex to buy flavourless vegetables from china and a 6lb bag of cheezie-whatsits, along with a gallon of antibiotic-infused milk that tastes like nothing that ever came anywhere near a cow (because ewww!); a populace that lives in their navigators and escalades and other obscene gas guzzling monstrosities because it's their fucking human right to have the biggest car on the road; a populace that sees taxes as evil as opposed to membership dues for society; a populace that is fat and sullen and angry and lost but fears any kind of change.

if my last 3 weeks have taught me anything, it's that if someone offered me a job putting together ikea cabinets at a decent wage, i'd take it. and flip a bird to "urban planning." which, of course, makes me angry, considering how this was supposed to be my thing. my path. my fucking shiny unicorn farm.

5. basic grammar - i listen to public radio (big surprise there) and am appalled all too often of late. if i wanted to hear someone pepper their speech with "like" and "sorta" i'd go hang out at the local high school or listen to a commercial radio station. hearing public radio reporters or even the allegedly intelligent researchers being interviewed sound like pimply 14 year olds makes me despair for humanity. i realise that intellectual snobbism isn't really fashionable, but why in hell can't public radio be a bastion of sense? thank god the bbc still retains its standards...for now - i have yet to hear vocal fry, "like sorta," or that recently fashionable little girl voice on that network, but that day is coming, i'm sure. because elitism...

6. my body - each morning the joints in my fingers are stiff and painful. the arthritic big right toe hurts pretty much all the time. the place where i squashed the top of my hand with my bed 3 months ago is getting worse not better. my back is sore. my head hurts. i feel like an 80 year old. the doctor tells me i'm fine. i beg to differ, and want something to be done. but what can be done when blood work, bone scans, x-rays and other such methodologies yield no useful results? i've got a way to go to 80 yet, and i'd prefer it if it didn't feel like this.

7. my ideals - i'm pretty much ready to toss those useless things aside, as evidenced by my enthusiastic embrace of our plan to move to texas, where i will live in a large suburban home, with a front-facing garage, likely on a cul-de-sac, too far to reasonably walk to anything useful, and as far from the "densely populated urban centre" of which i'm such a fan, as possible. hell, maybe i'll even buy an escalade, and shop at costco for 20 gallon jars of mayonnaise.

8. my anger - it's exhausting. it's exhausting fighting it; it's just as exhausting feeding it. i'm tired of this and am considering doubling up my horse tranquilizers or giving myself a lovely artisanal DIY lobotomy - after all, if you've got nothing nice to say then perhaps sitting in a corner drooling quietly to myself isn't really a bad option.


Tom said...

Dear Agnieszka; I did so enjoy this post, perhaps because parts of it are part of my, perhaps of all our, experience. One thing I must say, however, in response to this calm, measured post, is that alas the BBC have not maintained their standards. Time was when they catered for some intelligent minority tastes. Now they pander to the short attention-span lot. Even some soaps - which I do not watch, let me insist - are split into two parts on the same evening. And it is not unusual to hear "different to" instead of "different from," and "less people" instead of "fewer people." No I must stop there before I get on a roll. (I almost said "literally" get on a roll - not really!!)

Zhoen said...

Anger is a drug, it feels so good in the moment. Justified wrath, a rush of adrenaline, all the blame flowing out. So good to feel right. As it ruins one's life and more is needed to get the same fizz.

Anger is a monster that gets bigger whenever it's fed. It eats lists of pet peeves for snacks. Eventually, it will eat you.

Anger is a choice, always a bad one. Never leads to solutions, or warm connections, or real support. It breaks love apart, destroys trust, poisons whole families.

I grew up with a rage addict. My inheritance was his fury, a road I traveled for decades. Those reflexes are still intact, although I have them muted and largely disabled.

Geneviève Goggin said...

Boy oh boy, does this ever hit home. My default has always been anger. And there's an endless supply of things to be angry about. Not least of which is professional contribution (or lack thereof) to the world. On the odd day, I am inspired and feel I need to keep fighting the good fight. On some days I feel that I am moving the needle ever so slightly and just need to patiently keep at it. On most days I despair that I will wake up one morning (perhaps on my death bed) and say "WTF (unless that expression is passé), what have I done with the privilege life I've been given?" I'm angry that I've been working for Harper for a decade, angry that when I speak truth to power I just get held back in my life's work (whatever the fuck that is...I think I'm somewhat dilusional), and I'm angry about being angry because I know that it's not a useful emotion.
So, you're in good company, my friend. I wish I had words of wisdom, but all I have to offer at the moment is empathy.

polish chick said...

@tom - yes, i agree, there are fewer and fewer people who seem unable to differentiate between less and fewer, and many would say it doesn't matter. well, if it doesn't matter then let's just stop bothering with literature or poetry overall - after all, why bother? still, the bbc is better than most alternatives.

@zhoen - i know, and even blogged about the dangers of feeding righteous anger. this, however, comes unbidden, and i keep fighting it and finding myself exhausted. i keep trying to choose the path less angry, but man, the gravity's stronger there on warpath. hopefully it'll pass.

@g - oh yeah, i knew you'd get it. even more than my path, yours has been an uphill battle against the ugliness i mentioned. deep cleansing breaths, kayak outings, and whatever else lets you cope!

Cthulku said...

A lot of this really resonated with me; it seems like my fuse has been getting shorter of late. In my case, I think that it has to do with frustration at having to endure some spectacularly poorly designed and/or administered courses, coupled with a background level of dread of simmering family drama. I've been able to avoid lashing out -- or at least I think that I have been -- but it is surely exhausting. If I may offer my own list to accompany yours...

1) Class breakout group activities. Sweet merciful fuck are these a waste of time. To what end should we "brainstorm" -- an outdated concept that only serves to amplify extravert-led groupthink -- something about which we're being currently, or in many cases just about to be, taught? I understand that some people learn best by talking things out, so wouldn't the best option then be to deliver the material efficiently, thereby leaving more time for people to study the material in the manner that works best for them? Nobody in a class larger than three people will be able to teach to every learning method simultaneously, so why not treat us like adults and let us sort that out on our own time? Oh, right, because this is a vocational school, so hands must be held, and a reputation for heavy class-time loads must be maintained. So that way future employers know that we're used to putting up with arbitrary, time wasting BS.

2) Familial obligation. I don't care if I used to be close to someone, if I don't want to spend time with them, then I have every right not to. Excepting civility at large family gatherings, sure, but otherwise, full stop.

3) E-cigs/vaping. I don't give a flying fuck if it isn't smoke, you are consuming a drug in a manner that exposes my asthmatic lungs to them, and if you do it indoors I'm going to do my absolute best to hate you to death. Do that shit at home, and if you can't wait that long, then maybe you have a problem. I'm in a set of public study carrels, and there are no fewer than two dudebros actively vaping as I type. Makes me punchy.

4) The requirement of a family doctor to access medical care. Where I live, the family doctor is the interface between the patient and the health care system, which is fine if you have one. For those who don't, however, there isn't really any reasonable way to access our supposedly excellent system. Walk-in clinics are at best massive wastes of time, using emergency departments for non-critical care is irresponsible and a huge waste of resources, and that's it. There's no other way to work things. So if you're new to an area and don't have four hours to wait to get a prescription refilled or a lump looked at, you'd better hope that you know someone who can put you in touch with a family doctor within a reasonable distance, or else you're basically screwed. I could write a freaking op-ed on this topic, but let's just say that this is easily the biggest problem with the health system here, and it is going completely unadressed.

Woo. That both feels good and got my giblets all in a tangle. A perfect time to study some anatomy/physiology. Sorry to hear that the bone scan didn't work out; I'm surprised that they couldn't find something, although I wonder if the underlying arthritis may have been masking some microfactures. Anyhoo: balls to chronic pain, and here's hoping that you're getting a bit of snow to help lift your mood.

polish chick said...

@cthulku - shit man, i'm sorry. having just gotten edumacated myself, i can totally feel your pain. stupid courses are stupid!
as for the rest: booo!
funny thing, i don't even feel like drinking lately to make myself happier! hope that aberration passes before you and crusty come for your christmas visit!

Zhoen said...

I'm sorry if I sound pedantic. I just worry for you, I want you to find the way out of those dark dire woods sooner than I did. I'm sure you'll get there, but I feel such strong resonance. I want to come hold you, bleed off that poisonous rage, as I wish someone could have for me.

This is all so simple, and fucking difficult . And I, for one, am still dealing with it. And I want for you an easier path. Which is probably foolish.

polish chick said...

thank you for that. truly. and i must say that the daily meditation i started has worked wonders. i still am frustrated professionally, but the all-consuming rage seems to have dissipated...for now.

and no, it isn't foolish to want others to have an easier time of what you, yourself, have gone through.

knowing i have you and tom and lucy, as well as a few silent others, here, cheering me on, really does help. far more than i ever thought possible.