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GLINT


Ah, summertime. Fish are jumping and the violent crime rate is high. The mercury has reached 90 degrees but once so far this summer and already I have noted several fine candidates for a rigorous anger management program. One of the most promising is me. I donít know if itís the tried and true correlation of summer heat and stress levels but yesterday alone saw my ever steady temperament rocketing into the stratosphere as people consistently continued to PISS ME THE HELL OFF. The signs appeared in subtle and not so subtle ways. I noticed while driving that pedestrians have perfected their summer amble against the light. It is only an oh-so-slight margin of ďagainst my better judgmentĒ sanity that stays my foot from the gas and squishing them in their presumptuous tracks. This is a perfect case of the ďitís me, not themĒ scenario. Who cares, right? If Iím driving, it means Iím on my way to work and why should I be in any hurry to arrive there anyway?

However, there is clearly the ďitís definitely not me, you stupid motherfuckerĒ category as well. Yesterday, a parking dispute I found myself involved in became, inexplicably, a racially charged altercation (on the part of my altercee). What the fuck? Good luck to the University of Michigan. Diversity in the alley behind my house was a roaring, steaming failure yesterday. Yes, we both stood there seething and sweating, and he unfortunately had that grotesque effect of that vein in his temple throbbing like it was about to burst free and entwine itself around my tongue or something. (I donít think the fairer sex is quite as prone to that particularly unsavory physiological response to anger.) And then he whipped out the race card, actually the whole damn deck, threw it in my face and left me to play 52 pick-up while he stormed off. Hey, asshole! You started the fight, itís my damn RIGHT to be the one who gets the drama queen storming-off exit. Either way itís fine, because I just stood there gurgling and bug-eyed and shocked. I canít even write about itóI feel those little tendrils of stress creeping up and tightening around the back of my neck even now. Ack.

Even though Iíve got one of the worst tempers on record, I tend to shy away from conflict. Let me rephrase that. Because Iíve got one of the worst tempersÖSeriously. I hate getting in any kind of highly charged argument because I get really, really steamed and then lose all capacity to frame a thoughtful, linear response to anything at all. Unlike my thinking, modulated temper, my most basic and undiluted tempest in a teapot temper does not manifest as a deathly witty verbal barrage. Nor does it find voice in caterwauling and simple yelling. At best it is a yelp, then gurgle, gurgle. I just shut down. My synapses fire like gangbusters for about four seconds and then turn kamikaze. Give me a heated discussion, give me a strident debate, give me a conflict on principle, give me even an emotionally fraught tirade, but please, do not give me a straight-up-in-your -face-Iím-so-mad-I-canít-even-see-straight-and-so-what-you-are-saying-makes-no fucking-sense-no-matter-how-I-twist-or-tweak-it argument. Really, I would just love to flop down and kick my heels on the floor and howl, ďItís not faaaiiiiiiiirrrrrr.Ē Obviously, unacceptable as an adult, healthy response to stress.

Aside from convenient excuses like the summer heat, I like to blame maladaptive responses like that on the fact that Iím a middle child. Smack dab-one sib on either side. Iíve found this to be an airtight rationale to justify any less than ideal personality quirks, or annoying and habitual responses to situations that other people handle with the ease of an emotional contortionist. We are a misunderstood, oft maligned, and dare I say, elite group. Itís a tough niche to carve out from the get-go and so often we abound with contradiction. We are selfish, but giving. Protective, yet guileless and unsuspecting. Jealous, yet doting. Really, though. I live in fear of conflict. But once it's all said and done, I've got the sulking stamina of your average two year-old AND Iíve got this insane urge to instantaneously smooth over any bumps. Within minutes of the ďfightĒ ending, I was pricing apologetic fruit baskets at backboneless.com! I finally settled on a How to Humor the Racist in Your Alley bouquet.

All you oldests, youngests, and onlies out there are sniffing and saying, ďhmmph,Ē or perhaps all of you out there are just saying, ďAnother schizoid looking for the perfect armchair analysis to expunge her of any personal responsibility in her pathetic, mismanaged life.Ē To all of you, I say: Itís too damn hot for me to care what you think.


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