Monday, August 04, 2008

public transportation calls me grasshopper

I'm back to riding the bus. I won't test your patience with mathematical computations (fun as they were). Suffice it to say, public transportation is now an economically significant savings over driving, for a cheapskate money-wise woman like myself. (Damn you W, for forcing out my reluctant hippie.*)

*stolen shamelessly, but with warning, from my son.

Aside from the savings are the health aspects of walking an extra 15-20 minutes a day. I walk most of that via the downtown tunnel system as the sun has been cuddling right up to Houston of late. And if all that weren't enough, I'm surrounded daily by rich anecdotal material. Which coordinates nicely with the rich aroma. Ramped up by the cuddly sun.

I have long loved a rant. The world is never at a loss for providing crazy-ass things on which to comment. For laughing and catharsis. I have also learned to treasure the ability to rage. Stay with me, you peace-loving, non-confrontational readers (both of you). There's a good ending.

Rage, if you haven't enjoyed it, is powerful. It is especially powerful for women, who while maligned as shrews have also suffered as doormats. I'm not trying to be reductionist here, there are certainly examples all over the spectrum but I think it's fair to say that traditional women have been taught to curb expressions of anger to their detriment. They haven't, to be fair, been taught not to compress that suppression into flinty shards of passive-aggression (so poetical I am today) which is dangerous, to say the least.

Okay, to get personal: I was a cowering, frightened girl-child. I was obedient and self-sacrificing for god and survival. I was afraid of my anger. Of anyone's anger. This hamstrung me on more than one occasion. So, when I found my ovaries, I expressed my rage. It was good. Really good. I wanted to beat the shit out of anyone who threatened me or mine. Empowering.

But you can't stay there. You simply can't. It eats you alive and exhausts you and sends your loved ones running.

No surprise then, my social tolerance has not been...zen-like. I find inane phone, loud restaurant and boring office conversations Mad-Den-Ing. I'm actually not proud of this because I haven't been very successful at filtering that shit out.

Enter my yogi: Metro. Since I have grown quite fond of the remaining, unscarred sections of my stomach lining and am loathe unwilling to donate these to the idiocy surrounding me, I have decided to calm the fuck down. It's ridiculous to go apeshit about behaviors over which I have zero control.

Case in point. Riding home today involved the conscious defusing of my reaction to Rash-Inducing-Cell-Phone-Lady. She spent 15 interminable minutes talking loudly to some other presumably straw-hatted crony about the bus system. The bus she missed. The bus that passed her without stopping. She was going to call Metro. Maybe. She was on the bus that didn't travel via the HOV lane against her wishes. The connection kept petering out, Janey, are you still there? Janey, you're cutting out. Then, we talked about bus stops and schedules. All this at a difficult-to-tune-out volume.

I only glared once. Then, I thought, look at the bright side: she didn't plop down next to you and drill that tedious noise into your tired head! I retracted my fangs and redirected focus towards a happy project or a could almost hear the stomach acid spigot slow to a drip.

When we hit one more cellphone dead zone, Sister Gabby finally gave up and scolded Janey (like she purposely picked a phone service that sucked on bus route 50), Look you keep cutting out and it's driving me nuts. I'll just call you later. Click.

And someone in the next row, in that under your breath/loud enough for everyone to hear
says "Thank you Lord, thank you Jesus!"

And it wasn't me. Ooommm.


Some Guy said...

Too bad the 'bus rules' say no food/drinks and no radios, yet say nothing about cell phones.

epiphenita said...

I noticed those rules above the windshield and immediately started to design another one in my head for the no cell phones icon.

The drawing may have suggested doing something indelicate with the cell phone.

StevensVox said...

I really agree with your concept of rage and anger. I hate that slanted one sided view most people have regarding anger. Anger is not only a powerful emotion, but can be a life saving tool. It does not always have to be destructive. I was able to find the strength to make it through another day because of anger; it pushed me past myself and helped establish my realm of self and its boundaries.
The down side was having never felt the security and sense of power anger gave me, it became my security blanket. I was on auto-pilot and every reaction I had was one of anger, and anger slowly turned to discontent and alienated all those around me. My friends who were always be envious of my ability not to take shit and go off at a moments notice, slowly became tired of ‘my negativity’. And they were right, but only to a certain extent. Because really they can’t have it both ways, they can’t be entertained when I say shit they won’t, but want me to turn it off when they have had too much.
Soon I was left alone, just me and my anger. It was not the anger’s fault, it was that no one taught me it was ok to be angry and use the anger to protect myself and those I loved. No one taught me that I could not live in anger, unless I wanted to live there alone. No one taught me anger can be a tool of destruction, but also a tool of productivity. I had to learn that on my own, hell, I am still learning, day by day.
And I tell you, finding balance is a muther f*cker! Some days are better than others, and it is hard to just not go on auto-pilot and let anger take the wheel. Some days I say ‘f*ck it, bring on the rage!’ It feels like no one else does it, they just let these stupid, self centered idiots with no consideration for others run amuck. I guess it kind of feels like I was suppose to be judge and executioner of who is worthy of my wrath or being put into check.
But you are right, it eats you alive and it is exhausting. So I am trying to do as you did on the bus, give them a dirty look and let it go, but some days it’s just too hard. I guess that is why I am in therapy. Although, when he talks about my ‘anger issues’, I remind him, anger is not the problem, it is how to react instead of anger when my buttons are pushed. There is nothing wrong with the emotions or even using it, just on deciding when to let it loose. Let the anger pour over you like the first ray of sunshine after a long cold winter.

epiphenita said...

well-said, my not-just-angry friend. it is a worthwhile battle to maintain strength—just not to the point where you're strong-arming yourself into an early grave.

my tonic is laughter. not hateful laughter (okay, shit, yeah a little of that too) but lots of fuck-that-is-too-funny laughter. and i'm happy to laugh with you.