Despair, then Insight (or is it instead, Insight, then Despair?)
I think the stress is getting to me. This morning, I was running from the "A" (express) subway line to transfer to the "C" (local) when the conductor for the "C" slammed the doors in my face. Literally. I later discovered a large smudge of dirt on my face. But instead of nestling down into the comfort of my latest "subway book" while I waited for the next train, I was surprised to find myself ranting up and down the platform issuing forth a firestorm of oaths, threats and curses. And gestures; I made a rude gesture at the subway security camera. I even kicked at the train as it raced away from the platform. Asshats.
This sudden tirade was worthy of an Academy Award nomination in the "Drama Queen" category. Unfortunately, it was early on Saturday morning, so there weren't many people present to appreciate the quality of my performance and dialogue. But my other, more circumspect, self was watching closely and wondering who IS this person? Why is she acting like such an ass?
Finally after a few minutes, I leaned against a steel support beam, opened my book and started to read, when a man walked up and tried to hand me an Awake! cult pamphlet. "Would you like something to read, ma'am?" He asked. I looked up from my book and stared at him for a long moment. Is there something wrong with what I am reading right now? I wondered.
"Go to hell." I snarled, wishing I could shoot scorching blue-white flames from my nipples at him. I could feel another explosive tirade about I-don't-even-know-what rising inside me, almost like bile rising in my throat, seeking expression. WOW! Who is this person? This is not, cannot, be ME!
"Okay .... " He caught my hint and disappeared. I turned my attention back to my book but I couldn't read any longer. I am truly disturbed by this person I am transforming into. My behavior is so out of character that I don't even know who I am anymore: I am a stranger unto myself. Right now, I try to imagine that I am possessed by an alien, a body snatcher or something, because this is preferable to worrying about my sanity. Maybe I have finally become a true New Yorker? I am metamorphosing into a person who responds better to threats of death, dismemberment and unemployment (my own), like most true New Yorkers I've met, than to the grand purity of my own aspirations and vision. I am a person who is simultaneously attracted to and repulsed by angry public outbursts, particularly my own. I am a "bug" under my own microscope and I don't like who I see.
Even though my little eruption occurred without any obvious warning -- it popped up out of the blue, one might say -- these things don't happen overnight and something similar did happen a few weeks ago. I was walking an inebriated friend across the street late one night when a black urban attack vehicle (otherwise known as an "SUV") that was larger than some apartments I've lived in suddenly turned onto the empty street and raced down upon us before we knew it. The driver had five empty lanes to drive in, but this jerk had to swerve into the lane we were in on the side of the road as we tried to walk between the parked cars and onto the sidewalk. I can still see that black-as-death SUV in slow motion, streetlights caressing its sleek hide as it shot towards us; I shoved my pal towards the parked cars as it came within inches of me, honking wildly. Suddenly, Xena, Warrior Princess, leapt into the street, ready for battle, swearing and cursing and threatening to kill the bastard while trying to kick a dent into his $10,000 driver's side door. The tirade ended with Xena standing in the middle of the street, fist jammed high in the air, calling the wrath of the gods down upon the fleeing vehicle. The tipsy boys at the nearby bars were impressed by my bravado and a few clapped.
But that outburst was okay because I was defending someone else's life, limb and right to get home at night in one piece. Nonetheless, it now appears that that outburst planted the seed of misbehavior into my aching soul. I sit here in my beloved office that looks out over Central Park and I wonder what am I going to do to regain my equilibrium without a job? How will I support myself without feeling like a prostitute? How am I going to deal gracefully with the loss of my career, which I love more than anything in my life? For once, I am without ideas, solutions, answers. Both my pragmatic and creative selves remain sorrowful and silent, withdrawn into smooth little orbs.
But just now, the morning stillness is broken. From my open window, I can hear the insistent begging calls of baby birds from across the street. They sound like chickadees, one of my 10,000 or so favorite species of birds. Why, why, oh why did their parents go to nest now? It's too late for successful breeding; most temperate zone birds stop nesting before the middle of July, particularly sedentary species such as chickadees who live in areas that experience harsh winters, such as NYC. These hungry little birds don't know it, but they were doomed before they were even born. It is such a terrible waste of effort and energy, as if these little birds have no inherent value at all. Hearing their hopeful hungry cries is so profoundly sad that I wish I could take them all home with me.
tags: unemployment, stress
© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist