Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seeing Red

Holy crap I was All About the Anger this morning.

Woke up just brimming over with it. No reason, just mad. Didn’t help that traffic was awful, slow, bumper to bumper traffic that ate up my standard 15 minute lead time like cats do tuna. The idiot in front of me was overweight and bald and I admit I judged him harshly. He swerved uselessly from left to right within our lane as he crept even slower than the rest of the cars in the death march. He seemed agitated, distracted, regularly reaching a free hand up to his head for an absent minded scratch or poke or tug. He did not belong. I was angry at him. I was angry at his handlers for letting him off his meds, for letting him drive, for teaching him to drive, for letting him out of his group home at this time of day when CLEARLY more important people (like me) had places to go.

I caught myself in this mental spiral of hate, and heard myself very clearly feeding the anger and allowing myself to grow more and more angry. There was nothing else to do but be mad. Everyone else was mad too, as we crept along at no-miles-per-hour. I was honestly shocked at myself. Disgusted. then Angry again. I had to mentally flip an imaginary switch to turn off the spotlight on the guy in front of me and turned up the radio. Talk, talk, rap, crap, country, gospel… nothing on the radio appealed to me at all. I pushed the button for the CD and it acted only as a rough, stinging salve. It was familiar and predictable, and it had a pace I could nod my head to – but I had heard it all before and they only sung about being in love and how everything was going to work out. This was NOT the time for that kind of sentiment.

I was so fitful this morning. Angry. Just bristling with anger. Usually the heavy traffic of the morning is something I expect so I approach it with a zenlike calm. I don’t care. I’ll get there. I’m not in a ditch and I’m not on fire and I’m not late so I’ll get there. Even if my lead-time goes away I’ll still get there. I’ll get there and life will go on. Today, though, cartoonish black cloud swirling excitedly over my head, I flipped back to the radio in time to catch a news-y discussion about breastfeeding. It lit me up again with fresh rage about the ignorant zealotry of people in groups that follow the “if you don’t do what I say, you deserve to die” mantra.

Finally I got to work, just barely on time (roughly 3 or 4 minutes after the hour). My blood boiled with anger. My hair looked great, my outfit was perfect, my shoes were comfy. I was nearly apoplectic. I got my tea and tried to settle in to the abysmal day ahead of me. Just then I overheard a conversation about the small mountain town where my mom grew up and where my dad used to work.

And like that, the train of anger was derailed. It was idle chit-chat, it was small talk and airy story telling, and it was all that it took to take the cover off the pressure cooker in my brain. Turns out, some of the guys I work with now used to work at the same place my dad worked at – at the same time he worked there. They may know him. How ‘bout that? Moreover, it turns out another of the gentlemen I work with grew up in the same place my mom grew up and they more than likely at least knew ABOUT each other if not knowing each other first hand. He might even remember my grandparents. Wouldn’t that just take the cake?

That sort of thing happens to me a lot. Often I’ll be someplace quite random and interact with a stranger only to find out that she has intimate knowledge of my po-dunk tourist trap hometown, or that he knows my brother, or that his dad was best friends with my grandparents, or that her sister dated the brother of… you get the idea. I seem inexplicably linked to everyone. Well, not everyone, but it feels like it sometimes. Oh, you know my brother? Yeah, he’s pretty great. Oh, you liked the play I was in that one time in 1993? Yeah, that was pretty crazy. Oh, your brother dated my old college roommate? How fascinating….

Also the anger thing happens to me a lot. I suppose it’s only 3 or 4 times a year, but honestly that’s too much. This time I can guess it’s to do with how my beloved husband was gone for the last 5 days and I really didn’t handle it well. I did about a tenth of the chores I had lined up and listed for myself (Item #2? Yeah. Not even close) and only barely remembered to eat. If it weren’t for the persistence of the cat on the matter of food, I’d likely have forgotten about it entirely. Sometimes when he’s gone I go into overdrive and the whole place gets tidied, sterilized and hermetically re-sealed. This time, I went into underdrive and the whole place got unvaccuumed, junk-mailed, cat-furred, and napped in.

It’s no secret that I’m a lousy wife, and on days like today things get blown way out of proportion and I judge myself (and everyone else) so much more harshly than is really fair. Ever since this morning’s conversation about who’s from where though, everything is back to “normal”. Whatever that means. The bitterest anger has passed. I’ve been pulled out of the vortex just long enough to reboot and start fresh at work with a light and optimistic outlook on the day.

I’m so glad my beloved is returning home tonight. I’m so grateful for black tea. And I’m so, tremendously, grateful that my beloved is coming home. Did I mention he's coming home?

Note to self: think of a nickname less syrupy than beloved husband. Sometime. Put it on the list anyway. Later. You know, eventually.

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