Tuesday, August 13, 2013

You are not the boss of me.

I am not going into it but a train conductor fucked me over and out of $300 the other day. Believe me, I want so badly to wax on about how abysmally I have been treated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York right here in this blog that my fingers are shaking. I work with a woman who is strange for many reasons but one of the strangest things about her is that when she types on her computer, she bangs on the keyboard like a toddler holding a sippy cup and wanting attention. I feel like doing that right now. And I would, if only I hadn't been stewing in my anger like a peeled and pulpy tomato in a crock pot for the last three days, the acidity of my own anger bubbling all around my head leaving me chewy and burnt out and completely useless. But if no one bears witness to this injustice (I know, I know this sounds like hyperbole but couldn't it be possible that there are levels of injustice?) did it happen?

In truth, lots of people bore witness during the incident on the train last Saturday. More people still when I ranted about it on Facebook. And even more could conceivably crouch painfully under the weight of so much witness if I decided to pen my beautifully worded "fuck you" to whomever in the complaints office will listen. So I'm pretty much covered in the "witness" department. Still, another rehashing and all the subsequent encouragement I am certain to receive from people who know me and all the well intentions I live inside might ease the rage a little. Then again, something I've noticed in the last few days since said train conductor made me question what is truly at the heart of my behavior and whether or not there is an angry little mouse of a girl at the helm of my psyche just waiting for a good excuse to enact violence against another person, is that it is disturbingly easy to let one emotion overcome you. Believe it or not, this is not something I have really noticed before.

I do consider myself an emotional person. I am affectionate and desirous of affection. I cry when I am sad. I scream when I am angry or excited. I laugh until I cry and scream. I think, though, that I have always felt completely in control of my reactions to things because I have never felt anything remotely close to extreme. I have known several people in my life who feel things extremely. Sure, most of them have emotional disorders and I can recognize that when I see it. But a reaction that happened to me when that corpulent, pimply, small bepenised train conductor destroyed the memory of an otherwise brilliant weekend, has thrown my navel gazing for a loop. The reason is this: I wanted to hit him.

Ok, I have felt angry before. But my anger is one of the simmering kind. I am comfortable using my words for a lot of things (not everything, clearly) so as a result I can usually tamper what I feel down long enough to go somewhere to write it down in a secret place. So what has happened before has followed the same formula: get angry, simmer in silence for awhile, write out my anger, come to terms with it, let it go. I cannot actually say that anything has made me angry to the point of wanting to strike another person. Ever. Not even when I overheard that bitch from high school tell her friends after a gym class freshman year that she wanted to see me "die a slow and painful death." I think, because of my maturity level, I just ended up crying about that one. But this guy. This guy. I started to understand how people say they "see red". I literally did see red. My brain was coated in a thick red, raging paint that threatened to block out my vision, coat and constrict my throat and pool at the bottom of my stomach where I imagined it would dry and become splotchy and permanent. That's where I felt the strongest desire, there at the pit of my stomach, to draw my fist back and punch him in the temple. I wanted nothing so badly then to send his conductor's hat flying across the train car where it would defy the laws of physics and fly out the open train car door and up and over the platform full of sweating passengers and land at the opening of a dirty sewer grate among crushed cigarette butts and the mud caked metal crosses. Having never hit another person before, my imagination stopped conjuring what he would do and instead focused so intensely on me and the immense satisfaction of having hit such a poor excuse for a person that was in the realm of possible outcomes; had I been alone or even slightly intoxicated, I feel certain that I would have chased that rainbow until the end.

But then, just as I reached the point of no return, I heard my grandfather say "No importa. Dejar lo." There is just something about grandparents, some unreachable pitch in the sound of their voices.  My brain clicked off the rage switch and I started to feel the steam rise as I cooled. I began to meditate. I decided that I would feel contemptuous pity for this walking blob instead of throbbing rage. The majority shareholders of my personality began to show up for the meeting and unanimously passed a resolution: I can rage to my friends and family about this. I can send a message to the ether of Facebook and garner support from friends and acquaintances. I can meditate and hold an imaginary lotus in my hand for an hour until all thoughts of revenge disappear. But, and this must be a steadfast ruling: anger will not be the boss of me.

I wanted to whittle down the details of this non-event of my recent life in this blog. Then I decided that enough was enough. I'm writing a check. I'm breathing in and out and I'm letting it go. To everyone I have personally told and complained to about this, I and my board of directors thank you for listening. Let me buy you lunch next time you are in my neighborhood.

Just try to avoid taking the train.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mountain of Forgotten Books

In preparation for my fast approaching (four short weeks away!) to Spain, I have been making plans to lighten my load, literally... this will be the first time I'm traveling for an extended period of time with only a carry on luggage. I will be traveling to multiple cities and staying in apartments that actually have washing machines. Couple those facts with the fact that I live in perpetual fear of losing my luggage (my underwear, mostly) it makes zero sense to bring luggage big enough to be checked and cumbersome enough to be dragged around. In keeping with the Rick Steves' guide to packing light, I'm giving this a go. And, in keeping with giving this a go, I have purchased a bluetooth keyboard with which I plan on blogging while traveling. I typed this entire paragraph using it. How does it look? How do you think my first foray into technological gadgetry went? I don't feel any different. Do I look different?

Now I am back on a regular desktop computer. It feels better but, like the wandering eyes of a long married woman, I know something else is out there; something convenient and a little different, maybe a little unpredictable and dangerous and that knowledge comforts me. I am a digital Eve, post biting the shiny, juicy apple (Apple?). Enough of all that.

My birthday came and went and I don't feel old but I'm not young anymore. I hate the constraints of getting older, especially when I feel identical to my 19 year old self, if a little more confident. I celebrated with a truly wonderful group of people eating truly wonderful food and drink. I saw this adorable band. I stayed up late into the night. I wore tulle. I think I might still be 19. With more creaking bones. (Sincerely, every time I shrug my shoulders, my neck cracks. Every time I get up from my chair, my knee pops...I'm a walking haunted house, without the interesting back story.)

And I spent the whole day yesterday(the actual day of my birthday) feeling ok and just totally normal. I thought about all the things I want to accomplish this year and before I reach the next milestone age in a scant three years. I felt so good, having been surrounded by people I love, doing things I love all weekend and was riding high on all of that for most of the day. There was even the discovery that a new natural food store opened up the street from my apartment and a reverie of bulgur wheat and farm fresh $5.00 cartons of eggs whirled through my head. I even ate an ice cream cone.

That was yesterday. Just now, I'm starting to find the dirt in my fries. It could just be the relentless drudgery of working but my mind set has done most of a 180. At the moment, two things are jutting through the marshmallow of my brain. Thing 1: The realization that I spend most of my shift at my part time job throwing books away. I understand why this has to happen but I cannot ignore that it is the antithesis of why I became a librarian. No matter that time and technology (see my bluetooth keyboard paragraph above) flood the world like the biggest tsunami that ever was or that the inevitability of the utter disappearance of physical books looms above my head on a daily basis as I grasp to the side of a mountain of forgotten books with a plastic fork as my grappling hook. It still feels unnatural to hold a book in my hands and make the choice to throw it out. It isn't even the trash I'm throwing out. It is the Rodin coffee table books, the African mask photography books, the Bahaus in America history books. This information exists within seconds with your smart phone, not that any of you are using it for that (nor am I) but this hurts and it happens every shift.

Thing 2: Earlier today I read about a "town" in China that was built in 2007 to resemble Paris, complete with a scaled down Eiffel Tower and a replica of the surrounding gardens. Apparently it was built to house up to 10,000 people and has, in recent times become a veritable ghost town. Putting aside the hollowed out sadness factor of ghost towns in general, my brain focuses on how this particular town couldn't even be a success at being a fake version of something else. I don't know what it is about this story but its very existence resonates with me. I feel an unassailable sympathy for trying to be something greater and then failing. I feel not unlike this boxer wearing man looks in this photo.

Apres nous, le deluge.

That I had such a blissful weekend, I suppose the crappiness I feel today only further enforces the notion that you must take a spoonful of  medicine with your sugar. But the good news is that if I want it to, tomorrow can be all beer and cheeses. Wahoo.