Rassum frassum!


While my default happiness setting is far, far higher than it was pre-epiphany (and my fuse far longer), I'm not immune to the occasional public outburst nor am I unwilling to pull on my stomping boots at a moment's notice.

When it's happening all the time, it's a bad thing. I know, because: (a), it used to happen to me all the time and it was, indeed, a bad thing; and (b), I lived long enough to see three otherwise reasonable and gentle men devolve into red-faced, screaming poopoo-heads when confronted with such INTOLERABLE HORRORS as someone asking a question they deemed inane, someone doing something in traffic they deemed inane, and television.

No, really, television. Because yelling at the TV, that gets shit done.

Here's the part that's good about me acting like a gigantic ass on an ass tear (rhymes with "bare," not "beer"): it means I'm getting better. In fact, the first time after my Crohn's hospitalization that I knew I was going to be alright was when I leapt out of bed and roared at the attending nurse for...I forget. It was stupid, and in fairness to me at the time, my brains were right scrambled on mega, mega-dee-degga doses of full-bore steroids. (My doctor had to come in and have a little talk with me about how steroids work...and don't.) (And yes, I apologized and was nice afterward. Well, nicer.)

When I first get slammed with a Crohn's flare, I'm weak as a kitty and, provided I am not completely sleep-deprived, pretty meek and grateful. There's a little inappropriate anger ramping up to the flare which is about me, pissed off at being inconvenienced again, but mostly, I'm good. When I'm really, really sick, I'm great. Grateful.

Then, when I start to get better...ta da! It's rassum frassum about the littlest thing. Maybe it's pent-up rassum frassum, me letting loose because I'm angry at myself for being weak and getting myself sick in the first place and screwing up all the things I wanted to do that I couldn't because now I was sick, dammit. Not really sure about this, but it's a good thing to meditate on.

Yeah, I know, meditation. Again.

I didn't want to get into that in this piece. Hell, I don't want to get into it at all. I made a promise to get back into yoga three weeks ago and the furthest I've gotten is transferring my yoga mat to the car. And that's without even unrolling it first to see if anything started growing in there during its four years of non-use.

What I wanted to address was indicators lights vs. wailing alarms we learn to accommodate, even as we, I, become less accommodating to my highest self and other people, period. You know how that battery first goes on the smoke alarm and you're all over it, but there's no 9-volt handy and you keep forgetting to put it on the list, or you put it on the list but you keep forgetting to bring the list with you to the store, and a year and a half later you have someone over and they're, like, "What's that beeping?" and you're, like, "What beep, oh...yeah, the smoke alarm just went out and I need to get a new battery."

Uh-huh. Or maybe you're a real Virgo and you always have a backup wardrobe of batteries, but there's a mole you ignore, or a gently-tightening waistband you too-hot-dryer rationalize away, or whatever. As my friend, Mark Silver, put it so succinctly in his most recent newsletter (which you should subscribe to, because it's one of the few good ones, especially now that it's finally HTML, and hallelujah!), "Humans have an almost infinite capacity to tolerate pain and suffering, thank goodness." (As an ellipsis freak, I might have swapped out the comma for greater humorous effect, but then, I am a clown and he is a gently witty Sufi master, so really, it's pretty perfect.)

I can catch myself in my rassum-frassums, which I guess is an evolutionary step forward, albeit an incremental one. I'm not sure how early I'm catching them, though, and how much collateral damage I'm creating along the way. The BF was raised on a farm in Indiana, which is to say he's a bit of a stoic when it comes to sucking it up; I think it was a good two years until I saw him blow his stack, and even then, it wasn't much of one. Sanguine, that's him. Or knotted up inside, perhaps. When you're that stoic, it can be hard to tell yourself, I'm guessing.

Me, I don't have to guess. If something's really wrong, it should be noted and dealt with. If the something that's wrong is me, it should be noted and dealt with even faster.

Oh...and whatever you do? Don't pour coffee on the problem...


Image by dariuszka via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Yellow Volkswagens and brown flags


I've talked before about Yellow Volkswagen Syndromeâ„¢, that phenomenon where bringing something to mind seems to all of a sudden bring it into your field of vision, and often.

When I wrote about it in this post last year, I talked about Yellow Volkswagen Syndromeâ„¢ as an invocation: if I put it out there that Help Is Everywhere, it will be. I could just as easily swap out "Help" for "Beauty," "Love," "Hilarity," or anything else I was particularly in need of. In the same way that keeping a gratitude journal helps maintain a heightened awareness of how fortunate one is, keeping any particular quality top of mind ("Grace" would be a good one, these days) helps one see how much of the good stuff is all around all of us everywhere, all the time.

The BF and I were talking about this on a walk yesterday. There's a beautiful path around the reservoir in his neighborhood, and many, many people exercise their dogs on it. Most of them pick up the piles of poop their dogs deposit along the way, but a few don't, and guess what you notice? It's kind of hard not to, really, since there it is, in the middle of the path, usually, standing out in stark contrast to the composite the path itself is made of.

When you see more than one of these on a walk, it has a curious effect, that goes like this:

"I can't believe all these people don't pick up after their dogs, it's disgusting!"

One sentence, but it's stuffed with information to be, as the anthropologists put it, unpacked.

  1. That I'm in a state of disbelief Am I really? Or is it contempt? The "it's disgusting" tag at the end argues for the latter
  2. That the errant poop is the result of owner negligence There are not many wild dogs running loose in this highly dog-friendly neighborhood; with so many dog lovers, any stray dog is picked up pretty quickly, and either turned over to a rescue organization or held until the owner can be found. There are wild coyotes, however, as well as a lot of other local fauna, some of it quite well-fed and large (it's a reasonably tony neighborhood with good people pickins and plenty of fatty squirrels, to boot).
  3. That a lot of people are being negligent After some brief discussion, The BF and I came to the conclusion that while we were certainly seeing more poop lying around than we'd like, most people were probably picking up after their dogs. Like I said, this is a really dog-friendly neighborhood; if most people were being negligent, there'd be more shit than path.

None of these are particularly excellent thoughts to be wandering around with, but I'd argue that third point is the hardest to spot and the most potentially damaging. It spreads like a cancer and affects every part of my worldview. I eye each dog-walking neighbor suspiciously, guilty until proven innocent, waiting to see if they pick up the poop. So far, they all have, and really, I have no idea what I'd have said if they hadn't: "Shame on you" or even a direct "Hey, pick that up...please!" both feel Citizens Arrest-y and weird.

And of course, my hatred refuses to remain only with the errant dog owners. It starts to creep into all other aspects of my life, until I'm looking at the world through shit-colored glasses.

One of my recurring mantras with my actor peeps when I'm telling them about marketing and why they should bother with it is "Control what you can." It's not really my business to change the people who view the sidewalk as their dog's personal toilet; talk about wasting one's time and annoying the pig.

Instead, I'm going to let each pile sighting remind me that hey, overall, I have it pretty good here on this fine path I'm walking.

And I'm going to bring an extra bag or two. Or ten...


Image by gregg o'connell via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.