Mood…

Here as the week slides into the halfway point, I find myself in what I can only describe as “a mood.” It is most assuredly not a happy place, but it’s made worse because I can’t quite put my finger on what the problem is.

Actually, that’s a lie. A falsehood. A fabrication. I can identify with great precision the source of the vast majority of my angst and ill feeling. Except, of course, we’re not allowed to say things like that out loud. As part of our social contract, we’ve all agreed that we won’t call out bullshit when we see it. We’ll go along to get along and maintain the illusion of happiness with our little fictions. We won’t say anything that might upset the balance because we fear the consequences. I’m as guilty of it as anyone, maybe even more so because I can feel the truth physically twisting at my insides wanting out, but I hold my tongue for the sake of keeping the peace and preserving the status quo.

The whole illusion gnaws at me. Day in, day out, pretending that batshit crazy is perfectly normal and counting the years, months, days, and hours until you aren’t compelled to do it any more. Just one time I’d like to stand up, open my mouth, and let the truth fly out. Unvarnished, impolite, brutal honesty.

Good God, but couldn’t the world use a big heavy dose of that?

But we live in a world where words have consequences. So I swallow that honesty one more time. Push it back down into that place where it comes from. And pray to whatever gods are interested in such things for the power and good graces to let me smile and nod and not launch into a raving diatribe at inappropriate moments – knowing, as I do, that no good would come of it.

Ah, see? I feel better just for getting that small rant out in the open. My safety valve of a blog once again saved my soul.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Being polite. I realize the social convention that tells us it’s bad to walk around punching people in the face exists to protect all of us from each other. God knows there are probably of plenty people out there who would like nothing more than the opportunity to slug me with no repercussions, but still, there’s something infuriating about being in a position day-in-and-day-out of being annoyed to your wits end and not being able to say or do anything about it because it would be considered rude. The people who don’t get typical social cues shouldn’t be covered by normal social conventions. When I’ve turned my back to you and you keep talking, I should be allowed to punch you in the face. Invade my personal bubble? Punch in the face. Have no clue that others aren’t interested in a monolog about your top five worst medical problems? Punch in the face. Twice. You get the point. When someone lives outside society’s norms, maybe they shouldn’t be protected by those norms. If your feelings get hurt and your nose gets bloodied in the process, well, maybe that’s just a lesson learned… and yet for some reason when you tell someone they’re being an obnoxious douchecanoe, you’re suddenly the asshat. There is no justice.

2. Celebrities. You know the funny thing about celebrities behaving badly? Their asshattery is only covered by the news outlets because we all tune in. Justin Bieber getting a DUI? News. Brittany Spears flashing her hoohaw. News. Kim and Kanye doing anything? News. Except the thing is, it’s not news. People get DUI’s, show their lady parts, and are generally stupid every day of the year without it being the lead story on every website and newspaper in the country. Celebrities get the attention they do not because they behave badly, but simply because we allow it to be so. It’s the classic example of ignore it and they will go away. Or at least they’ll continue to get into trouble, but do it more or less in anonymity and without it becoming a spectacle. It’s a crying shame that we all can’t just agree to ignore these tools until they stop getting the ink they so desperately want.

3. Policy. As a rule, policy is something I’ve always considered a guideline. It’s the user’s manual version of how to do things – 98.9% of the time, policy coverers just about everything you’ll deal with on a regular basis. Conveniently, though, policy very rarely has the force of something more codified, say like a regulation or a law. That means there’s almost always a way to get an exception to policy (or in more extreme circumstances just ignore the policy because it doesn’t pass the common sense test within the context of new or extenuating circumstances). No one is doing themselves a service when the blindly follow something just because “that’s how it’s done” or “that’s the policy.” You see, the problem with blind adherence to anything is that it so often comes with unintended consequences… and those so very rarely end well for anyone.

Some days…

Some days all I can do is sit at my desk and shake my head. I’m never quite sure if it’s my cynicism getting stronger as I get older or if it’s just the amount of stupid shit I deal with being cumulative. Some days I wish I was one of those people who wander through life not being bothered by what happens to and around them. My God, some days I envy those people who seem to get up and sleepwalk through the day.

I’m not self absorbed enough to believe that I’m the only one who deals with stupidity. Lord help us, the world is overflowing with it. You can’t help but wade through the day up to your knees in the stuff. What I increasingly don’t understand is why those of use who see it and recognize it for what it is, don’t call it out by name. Why do we smile politely and then roll our eyes at the first opportunity? Why does anyone with the least bit of talent at what they do tolerate the vast sea of stupidity that surrounds them?

Despite my best efforts, somehow, for some reason I still apparently give a damn. I can’t help but think that life might just be better if you’re schlepping through it fat, dumb, and happy. Or is life worse and you’re just do bleeding dense to know it?

On the desire to be a vegetable…

No, I don’t have some oddball dream of becoming a radish and I don’t want to suffer a catastrophic brain injury that leaves me lying in a hospital bed drooling on myself and peeing through a tube, but I the idea of spending the weekend being a vegetable has a certain appeal at the moment. It’s been one of those weeks without much of what felt like down time. Those weeks seem to be happening more and more often lately. Not a complaint, a statement of fact. My natural response, of course, is to want to spend the weekend knocking around the house doing my best to avoid the world and other people as much as possible.

I don’t know how it is for other people, but my style of introversion makes dealing with people, especially large groups of them, a seriously exhausting experience. I do my best to be civil because that’s what polite society expects, but during every interaction I’m suppressing my natural avoidance instinct. When a week has been nothing but external inputs, by Friday it has a tendency to feel like I’m just barely holding it all together. Under the circumstances retreat into a good book, a handful of movies, and a quiet house is the best elixir. It’s not running away to a private island, but it’s what I can manage on short notice and more importantly, it’ll be enough to make sure I get through the next week without bitch slapping some poor unsuspecting extrovert who tries striking up a conversation.

And yes, as always, I recognize the bizarre counter-intuitivity of the introvert that keeps two Facebook pages, a blog, and semi-active Twitter feed. You see, the difference is at any point when I decide I don’t want to deal with that stuff, I can just minimize the page and it goes away. People, by comparison, are notoriously butthurt when you try doing that to them in the analog world.

Boorish…

I’m sure it was some touchy feely sociologist who first said that people only have the control over us that we allow them to have. That’s horseshit, of course. Some people have power over us because we were dumb enough to elect them and others because their block on the organizational chart is further towards the top of the page than ours. On the other hand, some people have power over us because the law says beating them to death with their own shoe is illegal and would result in us spending much of the next 20 years in prison.

Just slightly behind my abject fear of prison is the lesson drummed into my head as a child to be polite. Sadly, some people take a polite smile and nod as encouragement to continue doing whatever they’re doing while staying happily oblivious to the murderous glare you’re giving them at the same time. Eventually the thin veneer of civilization that separates us from the wild beasts is going to wear through just enough that any normal person can’t help but snap in response. Still, in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder what it’s like going through life oblivious to the normally accepted social signs that your behavior is boorish and disliked. I half suspect it’s a bit like being the eternally happy, but not very bright family dog.