Monday, March 10, 2008

Currents

An undercurrent of anger runs through the veins of the city.


Sure, we mostly manage to disguise it through carefully crafted pleasantries, or random acts of kindness that do an astonishing job of pushing it deeper.

But every so often this river flows to the surface. It may seep into the ground slowly, tinging everyday interactions with red. Then again, it may explode like a spurting geyser.

The other afternoon, I was crossing a busy street with a friend. Suddenly, out of the window of a passing pick-up truck overflowed an angry torrent. Directed, no less, at a breed of dog.

"I HATE POODLES! I FUCKING HATE POODLES SO MUCH! THEY SHOULD ALL DIE!!"

Venom dripped through the window, so vehement and all consuming was his rage. And, as I, jaws agape, drew closer to the sidewalk, I realized that he was spitting out these words not only at the 30-something woman walking the dog, but also aiming them at her two daughters, who couldn't have been above the age of eight.

(As an aside, this is where my anger took over, once I started thinking about how traumatizing it would be to be eight, and to love your dog so fiercely, only to have someone throw such hate at her. At this point, I stopped in my tracks, and yelled at him for being such a profound scum bag for doing that in front of children.)

There is a man who lives across from me who is uncreatively referred to as "Angry Guy". He takes to the quiet, tree lined streets, mostly in the dead of night, to broadcast his fury. 
There are occasionally themes to his tirades, such as racial slurs or misogyny. But mostly he just screams "fuck off, you motherfucker", with such focused enunciation on every syllable, as though each time he shouts it, he believes it more and more.

His ferocity scares me. I don't know what it takes for someone to maintain such rage, to hold onto it until the dead of night, then to let it stream out, interrupted, only gaining in force until my piqued ears hear the sneaking sound of the police car turning, now a more regular visitor to this otherwise unassuming neighbourhood.

While I believe profoundly in catharsis, I don't understand these public expressions of anger, which only seem to be holding a flame to gasoline, rather than dousing it in water.

Then again, I don't really understand anger.

This is not to say I don't experience it.
It just perplexes me in its uncontrollability.

I know what to do with almost every other emotion, but when anger sweeps over me, I feel powerless. I pace. My head spins. It lurks in the back of my mind, and leaps out again, despite all the patented soothing attempts that work so well with sadness or anxiety. I grind my teeth and clamp my fists, willing the thoughts frantically colliding in my head to remain unexpressed. It's as though I need to experience something overwhelming to my senses to unclench, like a scalding hot bath.

The notion of savouring it, of nourishing it, of publicly declaring it, just feels a little absurd.

I would rather my river run dry before it reaches the surface.

38 comments:

distractedspunk said...

I've always wondered what the stories behind those currents must be. What pulses them into action or words, instead of staying within the body. The guy who yelled at the dog and its owners? Awful. I wouldn't have even known how to respond.

(By the way. Love the metaphors and imagery of all the red.) Nice work, m'dear.

Lisa said...

Anger comes easy to me. I don't savour it. I don't nourish it. But I let it out. I'd rather declare it than keep it in and let it fester. If I did, I'd probably end up like that poodle-hating guy. But that's just me.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Damn, you're good.

That anger; rage. It's powerful beyond measure; surely as powerful as love, I think. I feel sorry for that guy; with so much anger, there must hardly be room for much else.

Michelle & the City said...

i get that way when i'm worried/anxious, not necessarily when i'm angry. i don't know how to handle myself. i pace. it's annoying really. maybe everyone hs an emotion they just don't know how to control?

Beth said...

Anger is one of the most difficult emotions to deal with. Hold it in, and it consumes you. Let it out and it may hurt others.
Still working on this one...trying to achieve the right balance.

Arielle said...

If I didn't know otherwise I'd have assumed from this post that you live in New York. I wonder what that says about my city.

Lady Luck said...

What would bother me more is the lack of respect that we have for one another nowadays. It's progressively getting worse. No one is allowed to express their emotions anymore. It bottles up and eventually turns into rage.

And I have a dog and he's my baby. If anyone yelled at him I would kick their ass.

EF said...

Well, yeah, I see the whole anger thing with poodles and their history linking them to the French kings. On second thought, maybe I don't. Darn it!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Some woman walked out in front of me whilst I was cycling a few weeks back. She stepped onto the cycle path without looking where she was going.

I swerved to avoid her, but got a tiradeof abuse for my troubles

'You f**king Pr*ck! I'll F**king kill you!!'

Without thinking, I retorted along similar lines.

Normally this sort of thing would leave me peturbed, but I'd had a terrible day and quite enjoyed it.

Very cathartic.

lspoon said...

Good for you for retaliating. Why would someone feel the need to yell that at complete strangers? That's just rude.

Deutlich said...

I really don't get the whole screaming in public and making 50 million people uncomfortable either. Learn to contain that shit. I mean. Damn.

A Margarita said...

He needs therapy.

However, sometime I relish my anger. That pent-up release of energy when you're angry for some injustice is cathartic. Kind of like crying. The feeling of extreme emotion is necessary for equilibrium, no?

PrincessB said...

Beautiful writing. Seriously, I am jealous!

As other people, I wonder what is really behind all that anger. I know that when I get angry, it's really out of fear or anxiety.

fort knocks said...

I think "letting it all out" is vastly overrated, just like the idea that "if you hold in your anger, it will consume you."

Hold it in and don't let it consume you. Exercise your control over your emotion (which gets easier with practice). Unfortunately, sometimes that's pretty hard to do.

surviving myself said...

poodles do kinda suck.

cdp said...

I relate to this. I feel like I have some kind of endless well of anger. But I don't know where it is, and I don't know where it comes from; and every now and then it just spews like old freaking faithful. It sort of scares me. I have no idea how to make it go away. Most of the time I really am fine, but once that surface is scratched, it can boil right over. mama don't likey.

Essentially Me said...

There's being angry and there's being rabid.

It's funny how sometimes the silliest things seem to set someone off completely, when really it's that whole tip of the iceberg phenomenon.

Yoda said...

I would be a nice addition to your city. I suffer from awful road rage. I have NO idea where it comes from. Every time someone pulls into the lane in front of me, a "cocksucker" escapes my lips.

Katelin said...

I'm glad you yelled back at the guy in the car, that's just awful to scream randomly especially with little kids around.

Crashdummie said...

so you are not the one throwing tantrums around you... good.

But then again, not good to keep it all bottled up - its all about being able to express whatever you feel in a constructive way. Anger has a function & purpose, just dont let the inner dramaqueen get the best of you.

S'Mat said...

it's hard to tamp the fuse once the anger has it lit... i had the angriest summer ever last year, basically sponging off someone else's anger until i exploded. after that, angry people just gravitated to me like i was a may-pole for the irate.
the only advise i could offer would be to ground it as soon as you can, otherwise it becomes a trope most inTOXICating...
for poodle lady, this is why i carry bags of feces a little longer than is typically necessary: it is the most menacing anti-antidog weapon in the arsenal.

S'Mat said...

ps. did you ever see Ghostbusters II?

Psychgrad said...

I'm glad you yelled at the poodle hater. I just don't understand what his motivation would be.

I don't express anger very often -- I'm more of a stuffer. But, judging by intrusive thoughts (e.g., running over stupid pedestrians, throwing chairs, etc.), I imagine with enough of a push, I could go off. But, regularly night-screaming of profanities seems odd. Seems to be more there than just anger issues.

Maxie said...

I have a weird feeling i'm going to be the angry neighbor in like 40 years... I can feel it.

Wendy said...

What an asshole.

I'd rather deal with anger than fear or sadness though. If I'm angry, a scalding hot shower, punching the hell out of a punching bag, anything can be done to make me feel better. But that feeling of powerless that comes with fear and/or sadness? I absolutely hate it.

thestoryofagirl said...

I would've just gotten mad and wouldn't have been able to say anything.

brandy said...

Seriously- saying that about a kids dog is not cool. Why didn't he just go and kick the dog and see if he could make the kid cry??

It's funny that you are writing about this. I had a crap day and I told a friend I was frustrated that my first reaction to an insane parent was to cry. I wished I would be the person who could get mad first. I just get really.. overwhelmed and cry. Sometimes I think anger would let me be more productive.

Dorky Dad said...

You know, deep down, Mr. Poodle-Hating Truck man just hates himself.

nicoleantoinette said...

Seriously insightful. The anger though, wow, that's something I feel in NYC a lot. I feel like it makes me harder, and not in a cool edgy way. Being out in Cali has been blissful.

lfar said...

I'm glad you stood up for the little poodle. Where the hell could that tirade have originated? Seriously. But also seriously, good for you for saying something. You're feisty and I like it.

Pink Icing said...

Poodles do that to you....but hey, in front of a kid? Come on, that's just nasty.....

cdp said...

Although the more I think about it the more I have to say I can't freaking stand poodles either.

There. I'm outed. I'm a poodle-hater.

But a princess lover.

chasinglibby said...

i just want to punch something and cry when i'm angry. no joke. its all encompassing, its so true!

also, there's a guy at work who's ferocity when he's angry at a customer scares me too!

Tin Ma'am said...

oh, anger is my weakness. It is my default state most of the time.... Let me tell ya, it's overrated. So you are a lucky one m'dear.

captain corky said...

I definitely hold it in way too much. I'm not very comfortable with anger so I do my best to avoid it, but I have lost control once or twice and it wasn't pretty.

The dude's got to be pretty fucking sick in the head to yell at two little girls about their dog. Those kinds of people should be put out of thier missery...

Larissa said...

Sometimes I have moments of anger spilling out. Then I'll stop and realize that there are deeper issues going on for me, like stress or insecurity.

eric1313 said...

Anger leads to the darkside, and the darkside leads to po english skllz, a'ight?

Seriously, anger leads to fear, and together both of these things will ruin one's life by making it impossible to live. It's a good thing that you've found ways to cope with it. If you were one of those "I never get mad at anything" types, you'd be fake, and we would have routed you out as a princess imposter long ago.

The dude expressing his anger at a family and their choice of dog reminds me of the hater boy you described at the club in one of the bygone musings. You know, the one who followed you around the place, hurling insults at your back because you were too fabulous for his insecure flavor.

You remember!

I missed you a lot. I was trapped up in the UP, Escananba to be exact. Ever seen the movie "Escanaba by Moonlight"? If not, don't. It's how Borat would say "Boring!" That sums it up. I was basically starving and the car fire incident and tooth left me beyond broke, so I had to get a job any way I could, even if it meant going six hundred miles from home. Kind of like a winter version of "The Grapes of Wrath".

That job? Lay off before ninety days. That's the common story around here, keep a worker only long enough that you don't have to give them health insurance.

I want to return to finsh my education, but there is truly nothing around the city in Detroit. I've looked again and again. And I can't leave state without starting over because most of my credits were from community college. I would do so if a good opportunity came up--Iowa, for example, has had the highest rated writing program for about thirty years. I would start over there. Actually, they wouldn't know what hit them! I'd be a freshman with some real skills! But it would be best to finish out in Detroit. Besides, here I have an accelerated Masters program that would take 19 master credits and count them toward my undergrad degree, as well. That would be the bomb! All I need to be eligible is to finish my French classes, as my grades are stellar and I have no shortage of writing samples to impress the hell oput of them with.

The problem is living near there. As I said, the town is a ghost of what it once was.

This and other things have been weighing me down lately. A breaking heart. I don't know what to do about college. I've been in this ru for a while, but I blow it off and write. As you've seen. It's my coping mechanism. That and the friends I've met over the blogs--you have some idea about it. Writing here has saved me from a short life of self medicating, uncontrollable depression and manic phases and other general sorrow/sorriness. I reawakened on this medium, and grew beyond anything I was capable of before. But it doesn't change circumstances. I have to do that, one way or another. But I'm still here! For whatever that's worth.

Don't worry about answering me and this bla bla stuff, OK? It's just nice that you are there, my unseen friend. You listen so well--anyone ever tell you that before??? ;) I understand you, and you me. We're a collection of quirks cut from similar but unique cloth.

fo reals, sista supastar. You gots it goin on. Don't ever lose sight of it.

The nice thing is I have a bunch of bygone musings to read!!! Keep up the production. ten to fifteen a month is a good pace. I'll try to get at least ten out before this month is gone, too. February flew right by despite the doldrums i was in. It's that easy for things to go by.

Once again, you are a very lucky person. But the people around you are even luckier. Let me borrow some luck, OK? I'll give it back.

Promise!

ana said...

Anger is great for writing and for opening air tight jars. Although I do hate bitter people. Have the misfortune of knowing one or two "angry guys" myself.