Rrrage Inside The Ma(n)chine

The rain was coming down in sheets and buckets. We were drenched and walking south. I was unloading on my friend with the full force of my frustration.

“Fuck you! Stop interrupting me and giving me advice before you even know what the fuck I’m saying! I sit there and listen to you go on and on about your shit and when I try and talk for thirty fucking seconds you can’t even fucking listen. And you think you can give me advice?!?! About my book? About O-fucking-lympia!?! You can’t! Don’t try. Just shut the fuck up and let me finish one goddamned thought before acting like you know what the fuck I’m even talking about…”

And on and on and on I go. How did it get to this point?

According to the Arguelles inspired 13 Moon Natural Time Calendar, the veil has been thin since the 25th and will be through January 3rd. So, for the last few days I’ve been trying to keep it cool. Cooler than usual. I run hot. That’s what I call it. It means I get angry. Some might say that I lose my temper but it doesn’t feel like losing anything. It feels like I’m full of fire which has nowhere to go but loud. I wish I could lose my temper but it always comes back, like an extremely loyal rabid dog.

It may sound strange in light of this admission but I’m a pretty peaceful person. Under the surface though, I rage at the thoughts in my head and at inanimate objects. Like, for example, if I can’t find the right key for my door? I get angry at my keys. Or the fucking Microsoft word program and the green squiggly line it lays under sentence fragments. I want those sentence fragments the way I WROTE them you piece of shit program!

As for the thoughts that wind me up? It could be anything: something someone said to me at work, or someone I pass on the street who looks at me the wrong way. It could be a global injustice or a personal slight. Shit, I can still wind myself up about things that happened to me in middle school. My mind is a minefield and I’m a mental pyromaniac. I must love setting these hidden explosives off because that’s what I do most of the time: I run these thoughts and work myself up and feel the burn of it.

I’m tired of this endless, pointless fire. It only gets me in trouble and keeps me trapped in childish patterns that go nowhere, so I’ve been practicing just witnessing the process without letting it run me. It’s like there’s this bully inside of me, picking on me, taunting me, trying to get me to fight, and I’ve just been walking past saying, “Not today. Not today.”

So today I was running The Tree and thinking about how all the fish at Trader Joe’s is from Asia, and is probably toxic from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and how, if I’m going to eat healthy at all I’m going to have to start shopping at the local food co-op again. I’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s, or driving to Seattle to shop at their co-op, for almost all of my food since the Olympia Food Co-Op rigged their own system to install a boycott of Israeli goods without including the voices of local Jews. To be honest, I don’t care that much more about Israel than anyplace else. They’re government is corrupt, like ours, and oppresses indigenous people, like ours. If it really was a holy land it wouldn’t be drenched in blood. It’s just another place I’ve never been and don’t plan on visiting, but I do care about the way Jews are treated in Olympia, and when a local progressive organization conspires to keep us out of a conversation about Israel it pisses me off. When I tried to raise these issues as a shopper at the co-op and then wrote about it in our local progressive rag Works In Progress I was called out in its pages as a conservative and a sexist and given no space for rebuttal. The sexist bit was because I claimed that my aggressive stance against the injustice of the co-op’s actions was inspired by my riot grrrl sisters. It seems a man is not allowed to be inspired by the riot grrrls, even if he grew up with many of them, and has shared their battles with status quo sexism for his whole adult life.

I was thinking that if I intend to start shopping at the co-op, I should wear a gag and print up a t-shirt that says on the front of it, “Fuck You. Don’t talk To Me.” And on the back says, “The Oly Food Co-Op Lies.” That way I can voice my displeasure without actually saying anything which might lead to my being accused of being a violent and oppressive man.

All the time these thoughts are running, I’m beating a path through my rain-drenched Tree and doing my best to only think the thoughts, but not get caught up in them. When I realize they’ve got me I put them down. They jump up again and I put them down again. It goes on like this all day.

Back at home I do whatever I can, short of smoking the blessed weed I’ve been fasting from (See: Sobriety Is A Gateway Drug), to reclaim my mind. I meditate, eat, jerk off, make phone calls, dance, anything not to engage the rage.

At about 4pm I get a text from a friend who wants me to meet her at a restaurant. I figure this will be a good distraction. When I get there she tells me she’s been eating mushrooms all day and launches into a kvetchy diatribe about some “powerful witches” who have been dicking her around regarding a job she was promised and is now being denied because she said the wrong thing to one of them at a local Chanukah party. When I ask her where the party was she tells me it was at the house of someone who I write about in Accidental Initiations: the woman who introduced me to Re-Evaluation Counseling, my ex-wife’s old best friend and someone who I thought was one of my best friends until recently. In the last couple of years she has broken off contact with me without explaining why. When we’ve run into each other on the street she acts like nothing has changed but it has, and not being invited to her Chanukah party is the latest evidence of this.

“Keep it cool Andras,” I’m saying to myself while my friend goes off about her issues.

During her rant she talks about a scene from the latest Miranda July book in which July tells a story about being promised and then denied funding for a film. This leads Miranda, the former Olympian, to fantasize about going riot grrrl on the Hollywood liars, tearing off her shirt, drawing some crude obscenity on her belly, and walking right back into the offices to tell those fuckers what for.

As I’m listening to all of this my blood is boiling: Boiling at my former friend and ally who didn’t invite me to her party. Boiling at not being allowed to be inspired by my riot sisters even though we clearly think alike. Boiling in solidarity with my fungus eating friend, and boiling in frustration at her domination of the conversation. All the while, trying to maintain my equilibrium. Hold it in. Anything but run that old familiar energy and lose my cool.

When we leave the restaurant the rain is ludicrous, violent, a parody of the northwest. My friend asks me to walk home with her, promising to drive me back after she walks her dog. I want to go to my apartment and write this out, but my friend really doesn’t want to walk alone, and I kind of hope that the rain will cool me down. Two thirds of the way to her place, she starts giving me advice about my book, even though she hasn’t read it, and I explode at her.

It’s a ridiculous scene: Both of us drenched. Me waving my arms wildly in the rain and making absolutely no sense. My friend standing there in a large puddle of water, looking at me with a mix of mushroom humor and womanly pity until I eventually burn myself out.

Back at her place, in the kitchen, in my sopping clothes I tell her that even though part of what I was trying to say was true (I don’t like being interrupted, no one does) my tantrum isn’t directed at her. It’s just misplaced sadness at not being invited to my old friend’s Chanukah party and feeling like a second class citizen in the town I grew up in. She asks me if I need a hug and when I mumble, “I don’t know” she just does it and I am so grateful that I ask her to drive me home, knowing that when I get there I won’t write, just collapse on the floor and cry. Like a girl? Like a riot grrrl?

Two crime thrillers (The Drowning Pool & Out Of Sight) and a glass of wine later I finally made it to these pages. I didn’t succeed in keeping the peace today but at least I got it down for the record. Luckily no one got hurt. I was with someone who could handle it, for which I am deeply grateful, and now it’s documented so I can’t escape my foolish fury in the fog of memory. I won’t succumb to self-hatred but I can’t say that I’m particularly fond of myself tonight either. I’ll try again tomorrow and the next day and the next. I clearly have my work to do because when I think about you, any of you, reading this, all I can think to say, with all the feminine fury at my shadow’s disposal is, “Fuck… You!”

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3 Responses to Rrrage Inside The Ma(n)chine

  1. rappincowboy says:

    Another gripping entry, Ace.

  2. Man vs. himself was always my favorite universal theme to teach. The only one I could relate to, really, since no one could make me angrier than me. And a few people have really made me cranky in my time on earth, but I still hold the top rage spot, sometimes hitting me like a baseball bat in the back of head: ouchy blackness and I never see it coming. (Side note: Man vs. man, man vs. nature are the usual ones traditional instructors teach, but I personally attach myself to man vs. technology, man vs. other, and man vs. “god” … since academia forbid … !… I ever be considered traditional.)

    I never could trust another (wo)man who did not, even just once, admit to losing his/her cool. Someone peaceful and happy all the time? Someone grounded and stable every moment? Someone above raw anger and rage? Really? There’s either more than one body in that guy’s trunk or he’s lying – maybe not lying intentionally, but certainly harboring some issues beneath the surface maybe he’s not even aware of.

    I found myself very angry last week – the why unimportant now – but like the proverbial aforementioned ball bat it swung and struck and I had simply forgotten I could even get that angry – no sense of déjà vu either – it’s always like it is happening for the first time. I always try to figure out where it’s really coming from or if it’s one of the following: personal quirk? writer thing? lack of … ? excess of … ? On and on my mind hamster wheelies until I wear myself out, finally accepting that it is what it is and I may never get the answer I am looking for – only erring on the side of reason that the raw edge is there for a purpose and it might not be for me to figure out. And lately, I have come to respect it. It reminds me of its presence every so often, as if to remind me of a gift I had ungraciously forgotten I had received, but that I at least had the responsible foresight to store it away in case I might need it one day. But in the meantime, perhaps I should go check my trunk.

    XO

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