Why so glum, Old Chum?

I’ve been getting awfully angry over the dumbest things lately. Why?

1.

I don’t know why I read the Style section of the Sunday New York Times. It just irritates me. That section is ground zero for the vapid, shallow aspects of society. [Although I find it tremendously gratifying to see same-sex marriage announcements alongside the blue blood pedigree announcements.]

Yesterday, there was an article about a woman who received a 3.9-carat platinum engagement ring. The ring was magnificent but she was concerned about how her hand would look in her Facebook and Instagram SELFIES, so she got a “handlift.” It’s like a facelift except it’s for your hand. Apparently, lots of women are getting them. Women are worried about their hands showing age spots, veins or looking bony or chubby while showing off their engagements rings in SELFIES, so they’re paying upwards of $3,000 for plastic surgeons to make their hands perfect. For their SELFIES. Christ, I hate that word. It’s infantile. It’s the blankey and ba-ba for millennials.

The woman in the story is only 30-years old. How bad can her skin be? The article treated the subject matter with all seriousness, without a hint of tongue-in-cheek or irony. To her credit, the beauty director at Brides magazine was quoted as saying the money could be better spent elsewhere, like building a nest egg. I was so angry I had to read it twice and then blog about it.

2.

My 7-Year Old received her first holy communion a couple of weeks ago. A beautiful ceremony, to be sure. Lots of family present, some from out of town. We entered the church, found our reserved pew and I sat to read the program. This is the quote they chose for the cover:

photo(8)Always with the threats of damnation. Why couldn’t they have chosen a passage from the bible that was uplifting and poetic? One of the Psalms, perhaps? Something that affirmed the positive spirit of community my daughter was about to join? Yet another decree by velvet fist. How did the church stay in business all these years?

3.

Last week, a woman in North Carolina died in a car wreck. She was posting SELFIES to her Facebook page while driving and crashed. Seconds before the crash, she updated her status to: “The Happy song makes me HAPPY.”  Then she drove off the road and died. This is also known as “thinning the herd.” People are so afraid of being alone. They’re terrified of silence. I stayed good and angry all day over that one.

4.

There’s a movement in left-leaning universities to post “trigger warnings” to material that containes potentially offensive subject matter. Books like The Great Gatsby, The Merchant of Venice, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and many others would carry warnings for students who might be riled by the content. Trigger warning guidelines call for professors to:

“Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression.”

I’m not even sure what half of those words mean. Good luck with that, professors. Good luck writing your class syllabus with that hanging over your head. Good luck coddling those frail, fainthearted, über-sensitive princes and princesses of higher learning. Hope you’re not worried about tenure.

*     *     *

I’m not marrying that idiot who got a handlift. [Good God. Can you imagine being married to that?] That woman didn’t drive off the road and crash into my family. The communion ceremony was mostly lovely. I don’t have a kid in college. Why did this stuff rile me up? Why do I get so angry?

Back in my 20’s, I saw a therapist. The most valuable lesson I learned was, when you’re angry, you’re not angry about the thing you THINK you’re angry about. There’s something else going on. Look for it. [The other valuable lesson was: You can’t solve all your problems, but you can learn to make peace with them.]

Not long before this, I was listening to Howard Stern interview comedian George Lopez. They were discussing Lopez’s horrific childhood. Lopez said he doesn’t have any photos of him as a child. Not one! Stern said, “That’s awful. When a parent doesn’t bother taking a picture of their kid, that means they don’t care. Their own kid doesn’t count for anything.”

Do you want to see something?

photo(9)There it is, folks. That is, literally, the ONLY photo of me as a child. There are some pics of me in high school but from ages 0-16, nothing. I’d always given my parents a pass, saying they were too broke to own a camera but do you know what? That’s bullshit. We weren’t THAT broke. The truth is they couldn’t be bothered. Stern was right. I didn’t count. I still don’t think I count.

How’s THAT for a trigger? Now that I’ve figured it out, I’ll set about making peace with it straight away.

96 thoughts on “Why so glum, Old Chum?

  1. sugar, when you figure out why these things are making you angry would you PLEASE let me know because i have been pissed the fuck off for too goddamn long! every post i’ve written since the last one (when was that? sweet mary sunshine, almost a damn month ago) has been some rant about shit that’s so beyond my control… anyway, help a sister out, ok? xoxoxox

    • It makes my head spin. When I take a step back and examine the things that are eating my guts up, it’s never anything that can be considered a serious problem. Someone cut me off. I saw someone texting while driving. Someone gave their kid an obnoxious name.

      I’m not saying I (we) don’t have any legitimate gripes. I’m saying we have to dig down and find the real thing.

  2. I absolutely relate to everything you wrote at the end, only my mom had to get the pictures. Without pictures, she couldn’t pretend to care.

    Trigger warnings are very real and helpful things…but NOT for those books or anything like it. Reading about racism doesn’t make you racist; reading about self harm can make you do the same if you are already inclined toward it. That’s what the trigger warnings are for; likely triggers in certain context, not every damn thing under the sun.

  3. I have so very much to say about this incredibly interesting and thought provoking post but if I don’t go out and get Taco Bell right now, I feel as if my self-created window will close and I will be without a Supreme Chalupa and my life will be less wonderful because of it. So let this just be a placeholder for after I consume many unnecessary and artery clogging food items.

    • Taco Bell always, and I mean ALWAYS (caps intentional) trumps commenting and/or blogging. I would think less of you if you delayed juicy satisfaction for the sake of a blog. Get a Coke, too. And not that crappy Diet Coke, either. Get high-test.

      • I don’t ‘do’ Diet Coke or anything with Diet on the label. Either I eat healthy or go full on ‘Dirty Bird’ fried chicken. There is no in between here. And with your blessing – off I go…

    • Welcome! Please wipe your feet. I never abandon the NY Times. ESPECIALLY when I’m a holiday. Then, I get to read it cover to cover. It’s a great pleasure for me and not something I need a break from. Thanks, tons, for the link too. Loved your “Women’s Sports Page” comment. So true! My brother calls the obits the “Irish Sports Page.”

  4. Super. Not only do I have to worry about all those fancy treatments I’m not doing for my face but probably should be, I have to worry about not doing them for my hands now, too. Then again, I don’t post selfies, so maybe I can remain low maintenance. Who has time for anything else?

  5. “Books like The Great Gatsby, The Merchant of Venice, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and many others would carry warnings for students who might be riled by the content.”

    Yeah, shit like this pounds my ‘angry button’ and red-lines my ‘pissed off meter’

    Great Post!

    • If you think about it, the entire cannon of Shakespeare would require warnings. A few of the comedies are innocent enough, but the preponderance of his works are full of violence and debauchery. Have you ever seen Titus Andronicus? A mother eats her sons who were baked into a pie! A daughter has her tongue ripped out of her mouth! It’s unreal in it’s level of violence. An excellent night out, but it should have warning all over the playbill.

      • Haven’t seen nor read “Titus Andronicus” but it is on my ‘to read / to watch’ list.
        I am a wanna-be Shakespearean, but must admit I am a bit of an underachiever in my passions.

        My personal favorite film version is Zeffirelli’s ‘Macbeth’.
        Favorite play overall would probably be ‘Hamlet’

        Cheers and thanks for the reply.

      • Shakespeare is a TOUGH SLOG. Every time I see ANY production, I bone-up beforehand by reading the Spark Notes for that play. It helps. Otherwise, I couldn’t keep up. It’s a lot of work but, more often than not, it’s worth the effort.

        In two weeks I’m seeing Kenneth Branagh play Hamlet. I’ve got my notes all ready. I have to!

        Thanks for replying?! Hell, man…thanks for READING!

      • I love Branagh, but I did not like his movie version of ‘Hamlet’. Much preferred ‘Mel Gibson’s’ (Another Zeffirelli)
        Branagh’s masterpiece in my opinion, was his Henry V.
        Would love to see Branagh live as Hamlet though.

        I am jealous.

        And yes, it is always worth the effort.

      • I’m an idiot. It’s not Hamlet I’m seeing. it’s Macbeth. The production isn’t in a theater. It’s in an armory. A giant, open space. It’s almost performance art. It’s an “environmental” performance with the battles taking place on mounds of dirt in the pouring rain. Indoors! The actors are supposed to be a real mess by the end. The first few rows get splattered with mud. We’ll see.

      • OK then.
        I will hold you to your promise: you must write about it. It has been too long since I have had opportunity to see live Shakespeare.
        Cheers My Friend!

  6. Oh-oh…somebody just pulled my string.An angry Dinah is not someone you want to get close to.Well, not without ear plugs!
    I try not to get angry. It doesn’t fix things.We’re being legislated to hell and that could make me angry, but , really, it just makes me want to ignore the dire warnings.The shallow end of the gene pool is already stagnating.Let the buggers go!

    Can I come and join you guys at the chips-and-gripes table?Please?

    • I’ve met you a few times and I find it very, very difficult to picture you angry. You seem do demure and refined. What gives?

      There’s plenty of room at the table for you. Can you bring some of that fine Aussie wine?

  7. Hopefully, I’ll be dead before the special flowers that can’t stomach The Great Gatsby are running the world.

    So do you have a ton off pictures of your kids?

    Congrats to your daughter!

    • Maybe it’s a response to how I grew up or maybe it’s just how society is now but, yes, I have a ton of videos and pics of the kiddies. I think that some people go TOO FAR with documenting a childhood. Every move, every touchstone is covered like a media event. I think it’s possible to go too far in the other direction, but that’s definitely the lesser of the two evils.

      Now that the clouds have parted and the warm air rolled in, we should get together for an after-work libation at an outdoor venue. What say you?

      • I don’t know the Stone Street bars. That’s what I love about this town. You can live here 20+ years and still discover new stuff. There’s a pretty nice patio on the 8th floor of the Novotel hotel a stone’s throw from your office.

  8. You know what my main takeaway was? That you don’t think you count.

    I don’t understand that. You may be one a the few people left in the world who does count.

    I abhor selfies. And not just here, where I’m anonymous. Never posted one in my life. Never took one. I find them asinine. I attribute the taking and posting them to an above-average level of attention whoredom, even eclipsing that of blogging.

    • Just look under the hood, my dear. I’m a work in progress. But I am steadfast in solving this whole inner-turmoil nonsense. I’ve almost got it licked.

      I have a theory that selfies (and Facebook and Instagram) are just fads that will pass in time. People will grow tired of it the same way they grew tired of AOL, Friendster. and MySpace.

  9. Yesssss, let the hate flow through you!
    Four-wheelers on my street, or any street. Reading lips of pro athletes and coaches saying “Fucking bullshit” after a ref’s call. It’s the end of decorum that gets me most riled.
    As for pictures, do you happen to be the youngest?

    • Why, oh, why do we let that stuff get under our psyche and mess about? None of it really touches our lives. Well…the four-wheelers can be kind of obnoxious.

      I am in the middle. I have one older brother and two younger sisters. None of us have any photos to speak of. There are school yearbook shots but nothing of the family together.

  10. I’m a practising agnostic ( note the lower case ‘a’..We’re very modest, and I am only practising) but when I saw the article about the the young lady who had cosmetic surgery on her hand to make her ring finger look pretty( I assume she didn’t have the other hand done to make them look the same,BUT of course she must have done,otherwise she’d have to keep the not-so-pretty hand in her pocket throughout the ceremony).Anyway, it brought to mind the Seven Trumpets from the Book Of Revelations (Old Testament,again,sorry ) which has this situation fairly in hand ( see what I did there ) . Without getting all biblical on your ass the gist of it is,Nay,Nay Nay, you were born with that hand, live with it, in fact why don’t you try ………..

    • That’s an excellent observation. Does $3,000 buy you two hands or just the hand featured in many, important photographs? Surely, they wouldn’t dump $6,000 into such a frivolity, would they? I’ll research it and get back to you.

      I, too, am agnostic. I’m fairly certain there’s nothing out there but am too afraid to say anything just in case I’m wrong. How’s that for taking a courageous stance?

  11. It gets better as you get older. I used to be ‘hot under the collar’ all the time. it has evened out some with age, tho I do still rant and cry my way through the newspaper every day. (You wouldn’t happen to be a Libra would you?)

    • If you knew how old I was (I’m not going to admit it here), you’d say I was old enough to know better. That I should stop the raging. I’m a work in progress!

      I am a cancer, for what it’s worth.

  12. I think that $3000-hand woman needs to keep in mind that her hand will keep aging, and will continue to degrade compared to the jewel. So I think she should just remove her hand and replace it with a gold-plated prosthetic hand, that would look perfect in 10 years and in 100 years.
    Ummm…. should I have included a trigger warning before my comment?

  13. That’s an impressive piece of self-analysis. You’ve had real problems, so why are these people obsessed about trivial things? Maybe it’s human nature. A lot of people get stressed about their football team’s next game. “If you’ve got nothing to worry about, you worry about nothing” is a proverb I once though of patenting.

    I hope the money you save by not having to see a shrink will put you in a better mood!

    • My mood used to be a lot worse, believe me. I didn’t see a therapist for all that long, considering that some people NEVER stop going, but she was smart and I was open to her advice. It was money well spent. As bad as I am now, I’d be an even bigger train wreck without her.

  14. Yeah, I think we can all be guilty of getting angry over stuff like that. But really, I don’t think you should let Howard Stern be the decider of whether one aspect of a parent’s actions (or inactions) are a sign of whether the child counted or not! The things that often make me angry and ranting are generally when I’m on Facebook and see the same people being gullible and falling for various crap things which they then share for other gullible people to fall for.

    I sometimes take selfies if I’m with a friend somewhere and we want a picture of the two of us but there’s no one else to take it. Is that still a sefie if there’s not just you? Anyway, can’t say I’ve ever worried about what my hand might look like in a photo…unless I’ve got chipped nail polish, but that certainly doesn’t cost $3K to fix!

    • Stern isn’t my guru or anything like that but some very insightful things come up in his interviews. I like to keep my mind and ears open. You never know when your bell is going to be rung. It can come from the most unlikely sources.

      What you describe is NOT a selfie. That’s a portrait. A memory. Taking a picture of your hand so you can brag about the size of your engagement ring is a selfie.

      Your casual attitude about a chipped nail means you have EVOLVED past caring about trivialities. It shows some hard-won perspective.

  15. I suspect that a part of the problem is that reality has become politically incorrect. Whether it’s aging hands or taking selfies while driving, it’s all about lack of recognition and acceptance, deliberate or otherwise, of reality. Here’s a perfect example from my life. I was the regional safety director for a fuel tanker company with about 40 B-train (two trailers per truck) units under my responsibility. When you’re hauling fuel, recognizing and reacting to reality is a survival skill, not an optional activity. Our company was a member of a regional fuel safety organization through which all our major fire and safety training was done. There were aboout 20 representatives of fuel haulers and major oil companies on the board, including myself. The training was very hands on and part of it was done at a local fire training facility. The trainers would fill a 6 foot by 12 foot steel pan with diesel and gas and then light it on fire with a flare on a 10 foot pole. The mix of diesel and gas is a nightmare from hell and burns in a sheet with flames licking about 2 stories in the air giving off a huge plume of black smoke. The drivers worked only with the fire extinguishers and the tools they would have on hand at a site and, in teams of three, were tasked with putting out the fire. The trick was to get in front of the flames (depending on how the wind was blowing) and extinguish from the base backwards into the wind. The flames would hop over the extinguished section if you tried to get too aggressive. We were graded on our efficiency and effectiveness in extinguishing the fire. (If the wind was gusting, it was possible to get a good mark for technique even if you couldn’t get the fire out.) It was a demanding and very, very real exercise. We had firemen ready to get us out of trouble if we needed them. The heat from the fire was breathtaking and often determined how close you could get.

    This exercise was an excellent reminder for all about how badly things could go wrong when hauling fuel and what to do if it did. The training was supplimented with a load of classroom work and testing. Failure was not an option. We reviewed the exercises and training once a year and decided what to add and what to improve and, in the process, took suggestions and feedback from the representatives. I clearly recall one such meeting when one of the fuel carrier reps stood up and suggested we discontinue the fire training. We all put down our coffees and donuts and waited expectantly when the chair of the meeting asked the rep why we should do that. The rep continued: “I’ve had a number of compliants from drivers that they find the fire exercise to be emotionally overwhelming. They have had nightmares and don’t wish to continue the training.” There was a long pause as this paradoxical view was processed. then the chair said: ” I guess they better get another job then, because this is their reality.” Ha! Imagine cancelling the safety training because it was upsetting. Ha! Nothing like ignoring reality when it is inconvenient, upsetting or politically incorrect.

    • That’s an excellent story. It was the proper and appropriate response by the chair. Do you want colleagues who are so easily overwhelmed when you’re in a crisis? It’s best that you find these things out beforehand. For them, too.

      When I was in basic training in the Coast Guard I went through that exact same drill. Twice! You’re not kidding about the heat, brother. You can singe your hair and eyebrows if you get too close. Did you ever smell burning hair? It ain’t perfume.

      • Yeah, there’s something in our reptilian hindbrains that, when faced with that wall of flame and searing heat, screams: “Run, you stupid bastard, run!” I’m sure, Mark, that’s an exercise we won’t ever forget.

      • Right after that bit of fun and games, they buckled us into a big metal tube, filled it with water, flipped it upside down and we had to unbuckle ourselves and swim out. It was a capsized-boat simulation. It was terrifying! It was fun!

  16. Phenomenal post.

    I totally agree with the “what is really making me angry?” question. Sometimes it is just the thing you are looking at but you have to work hard on it and ask the question a few times to be sure.

    The Handlift and the woman who was dying to post on Facebook… i mean – good grief. Learn to be comfortable with yourself, in your own skin, in the quiet of an empty space… Once you have come to validate and respect yourself in that space go into the world – not before. Easy said I know, but frankly – this is the shit we should be teaching kids!!!

    Tread well in the world today friend

    • I’ve been so conditioned over the decades that I know almost immediately to start digging when something is bothering me. I’m trying to teach my daughters the same trick. It’s an excellent weapon to have in your arsenal.

      Thanks for your comment, Graham. It’s always nice to hear from you.

    • Well, I can’t say I know you very well although we’ve been hanging around each others’ house for quite a few years now, but you certainly don’t seem angry to me (rugby aggression notwithstanding). Perhaps these annoyances are all part of the human condition. I think you’re being too, too hard on yourself, my dear. Let’s do that chant together, shall we? Ooommm. Ooommm. C’mon. Don’t be shy.

  17. Your rants make me laugh and I understand why you would be so intolerant of the things mentioned.
    The church has stayed in business for so long because it preys (Prays?…. possibly) on your fear. Those fears you end up seeing a therapist about but it doesn’t matter, cos God loves you…..so long as you go to church.

    The woman who died taking a selfie whilst driving? Stupid as fuck. Definitely thinning of the herd or a new contender for the Darwin awards – http://www.darwinawards.com/

    • My angst is for your entertainment. I’m happy to provide a service to everyone. No charge.

      Should we snicker at a woman who dies in such an ignoble manner? Making fun is not illegal but it’s not exactly moral, either. No matter. She brought it in herself. Plus—and this is a big distinction—we don’t know her. So she is fair game.

      • If I die by deliberately walking in front of a car then it serves me right. Same applies to her. Not knowing her makes the detachment but even if you did, wouldn’t you still be thinking the same beyond the anguish?

  18. I can’t say that everything on your list angers me, but they did irritate the piss out of me as I have a low tolerance for stupidity. Especially the one who died taking a selfie. I can’t fathom how posting that fucking picture was more valuable than her life.

  19. A handlift for selfies??!!! Oh gawd! Too much. I’m with you on selfies. I don’t like them either. What about usies? But have you head about dronies? Yep, that’s a selfie taken by your private drone. I’m sorry about the kid photos. It’s an awfully cute one though! That’s a good thing, Mark.

    • Sometimes I read about stuff like this it makes me angry. But sometimes I read stuff like this and I end up feeling pretty good about myself. At least I’m not demented enough to consider cosmetic surgery for my hand.

      Who would’ve thought that cute little boy would grow up to be such an old sod who struggles with his anger? Maybe if I had a few pics lying around… 😉

  20. Here’s some advice that hasn’t been given: Stop…reading…the…Style…section.

    Seriously. If something makes you angry, stop doing it. Stop reading it, stop listening to it, stop paying attention to it.

    If I had read about the woman and her hand selfie I would have laughed and laughed. It amazes me where people’s priorities are at.

    The scripture for your daughter’s communion is Mark 10:15. A shame they couldn’t bother listing the whole thing. Understanding it in context makes it more encouraging and less damnation. Some people were bringing their children to Jesus for him to bless them. The disciples were trying to turn them away like they weren’t important. But Jesus pointed out they were important, in fact equally important, and accepting the Kingdom should be done with the same eagerness as a young child.

    • I’ve tried to stop reading it. I cant! It’s like a wonderful scab I pick open every Sunday morning. I read all the supremely qualified newlyweds–resumes bursting with accomplishments and successful parents–and I seethe at my mediocrity. Why would I give that up? Are you crazy?!

      Thank you for your excellent scripture explanation. That’s an entirely different story. That’s a story of love, generosity and inclusiveness. Completely appropriate. But if you don’t know the rest of the story–if all you have to go on is the threat–it feels different.

  21. i don’t get in a full blown ‘rage’ much these days. the penn state football coach/pedophile was really the last time my head blew up – and i didn’t have to dig too deep to figure out why… when i was younger, and passionate about ’causes’, i’d look at older people and ask “WHY ARE YOU NOT OUTRAGED?” now i know…. because it doesn’t help, nothing changes, stupidity is rampant… and you simply have to cling to the redemptive things or you’ll go batshit crazy.

    curious connection – do you think the ‘selfie’ thing is a reflection of people needing to say “i count”? people who weren’t photographed as children, or perhaps people who were constantly photographed as children and still need the photographic evidence of ‘counting’?

    • Those guys at Penn State–the coaches, the admin–they all knew what was going on but they had different priorities. All except that idiot Joe Paterno. Completely clueless. Grrr…don’t wind my clock up.

      I think your ‘I count’ theory is spot-on. What we need, however, is to refrain from using the internet to fill the void. The void that causes the need. If we can just learn to be happy in our own skin, to be happy without the approval of others, we’ll have licked the problem. The way you have, in fact! That’s what I’m aiming for. Just don’t ask me to stop hoping for a bigger and bigger blog audience.

  22. The warning should read something like this: Warning this book my challenge you to think outside the cozy fucking shell you’ve lived in your whole life, it might offend, it might enrage, it might educate, it might enlighten but we can only hope that it makes you think about the world around you and teach you ways in which not to be a raging asshole like the vast majority of mankind… we know that’s asking alot but we can try right? … 3.9 carats of platinum ass, that says it all, you are spot on in your assumption of said bride and though our pussified pc society doesn’t like to admit it stereotypes usually evolve from a kernel of truth, ( of course it’s up to us if we buy into it but the rich princess one i’m buying)… and let’s be frank, if there’s one thing that’s eternal it’s narcissism, these days everyone is a fucking movie star, i could expound upon why but it’d be the longest comment ever… and how bout a weed update heh? those crazy growers crossed a blueberry strain with the White Widow (i could do a whole post about the WW and my experience in Amsterdam) and dubbed it Berry White, and like the real Barry White it’s smooth and lays you out.

    • That’s absurd! It’ll never fit on a sticker. But I like the spirit of the thing. It’s the right sentiment.

      Narcissism is, indeed, a big fucking problem. All these idiot bloggers, babbling on endless about what’s rattling around inside their heads. Like anyone cares. Christ am I glad, I…oh…waitaminute. I take that all back.

      Man, I can’t handle my weed like I used to. Although, if I had known my new gig was going to be the FIRST asset management institution to NOT drug test me, I might have imbibed a bit. Another lost opportunity.

  23. I remember having to read some squirm inducing literature in high school and college. My sister had to read A Clockwork Orange in high school. I would have loved a trigger warning for 7th grade sex ed. I really, really did not want to label a diagram of an adult sized penis. But the whole trigger warning thing is stupid. I *hate* PC stuff like this with a passion. So it make me angry too! Re: religion I’ve learned to roll with the punches. And maybe hell isn’t such a bad place after all, like in Pan’s Labyrinth. You were a very cute kid!

    • Clockwork is one of my favorite books ever. You have to read it a couple of times because Burgess creates a different language and it’s worth the work to figure out what he’s saying. But I agree that high school might be a little early for it.

      A cute kid (thanks). I was a neurotic child and now I’m a neurotic adult without the cuteness to act as a buffer.

  24. You would be a bit weird if you didn’t get cross about the things that you are cross about in this blog post! I think it’s wise to accept that sometimes we get angry about stuff… especially stuff that we have no control over.
    Sx

  25. I hesitated to like this… cause in my small stupid world, anger and rage mean to me that I feel something… isn’t that the piss? I feel other things too, obviously, but nothing gives me the taste of living like rage, and I seem to feel it often, like I want to bend things to my will or explain the sheer stupidity of the world we live in – not because it’s inherently stupid, but because we make it less than it could be. I hate smallness and statistics and the thought that I’m just a made-up voice spewing nothing on a canvas of utter vapidity. I think if you’re angry, Mark, count your stars. What do people get worked up over anymore? Their handlifts. Their platinum rings. Their art for the 1%. I think we’re slipping away from what we are in all this jazz, entering some made-up construct that is closing around us and holding us still. The anger is perhaps what lets us rail against it and rip it up. I hope so. I don’t know what else to say. I feel profoundly sad about the world, but that’s never enough; I need to delude myself into blind rage so that I can actually believe I can change things. How’s that for vapid.

    • You are probably the least vapid person around these parts. I don’t mind the rage so much so long as it’s directed at a healthy target. Why do I get SO ANGRY when I see someone walking down the street with earbuds plugged into their iPhone and yammering away in a loud voice. What harm is that to me?! It’s nothing to get angry about. Someone hurts my daughter or insults my wife. Now, THERE’S a proper reason to rage.

      I’m on my way home from a stunning production of Macbeth with Kenneth Branagh. Talk about misplaced rage! Look where that got him. His head in a bloody burlap sack tossed onto the middle of the stage by Macduff. He should have ignored that shrew of a wife.

      • I don’t know, that anger over little things… I don’t know. I don’t feel that way most of the time. Be well, Mark, otherwise could be your head in that burlap sack – and what play would they write to include that bit?

    • That’s true! The first step is admitting there’s a problem. I need some perspective. I like that you use ‘curmudgeonly.’ It makes my neurosis sound almost dignified, which it most certainly isn’t.

  26. Of course you count. Life is amazing – something that’s a deep well of self-analysis for you is so obvious to me. And if we turned the tables, you’d see qualities in me that I’d be incapable of believing were there. Bizarre, that.

    As for the “trigger warnings,” I hate them. The world is full of horrible shit, and while I’d hope, for example, that an article describing a graphic rape would have a title that would *clue a potential reader in,* requiring special notice is going too far. We do ourselves no favors by allowing each other to be weak and pretend the things that hurt us don’t exist. How will we overcome them if we never look them square in the eye and see them for what they are? In the case of many of those books, the “triggering” content is exactly what makes them touchstones for the human experience.

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