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2002-02-22 - 5:31 p.m.

Today I was driving home in the usual terrible rush hour traffic that is the Friday curse of the bay area, when I came across a Honda Civic with three guys in it. The guys were happy, and this suddenly enraged me. There they were with their beat up car, no air conditioning and a rear window made out of clear packaging tape cruising contentedly along at 5 miles an hour enjoying the simple pleasure of a beautiful California afternoon. It contrasted so sharply with my European import, whose monthly payment alone was worth more than the value of their rusted relic on the open market and in whose hepa filtered interior I sat in lumbar supported air-conditioned comfort. Until they, with their simple joy, came along and shattered the fragile shell I hide behind. There I seethed in traffic, stressed about my life, school, job, etc with a dirty crockpot on the seat next to me, the chili that I had prepared that day doled out into disposable Ziploc containers for people to take home, desperate to wring the last dredges of approval by having them share with their families. I was unbecomingly angry that these three guys didnít care. About me. They didnít judge my lifestyle, they didnít think about how the cost of my shoes, jeans, and shirt probably equaled their weekly income, and it drove me bonkers. I think I was clinically insane this afternoon. I had to get away from them. I couldnít face their simple joy in it being a Friday and their workweek was over. They could go home to their families and friends and chill out for a few days, enjoying Pabst blue ribbon in their working class environments and snacking on Government cheese. While I would obsess over status and what to wear out tonight and how it fit into the overall theme I was attempting to present to the public. How come they didnít care about my car and my gadgets and the rockiní lifestyle I attempt to portray? And why did it matter so much that the opinion of these three mattered so deeply. I just couldnít let it go. I clenched the steering wheel, focused intently on the road, and did my best to fight off the raging migraine that was attempting to come forth. Then, as I was driving through town, I noticed a painfully gawky man child walking along the side of the road. His jeans were a couple of inches too short and his black high top sneakers woefully outdated. His ears stuck out at odd angles to his head, and he had a ďmustacheĒ that would eventually be more than a few scraggly hairs. To top it all off he was talking to himself quite animatedly, probably looking for a sling blade. Some folks call it a Kaiser blade, but he called it a sling blade. Mmmh Hmmmh. And the anger and self-pity melted away, while the omnipresent self loathing returned to the back burner. I hate when compassion rears its ugly head, but in this instance it really did save me. It returned my sanity and allowed me to gain some perspective. This person going about his self monologued business probably would be impressed by a flashy car, and someone who lived in the shallowness of a faux sitcom reality of their own making. Because he was mentally handicapped. I was acting like a retard. Or actually thinking like one. It really was such a childish ride home. So now Iím just a little bit embarrassed by such an emotional reaction. Iím going to blame it on the kidney failing level of stress Iíve been under at work, and the fear that Iíll never be able to afford a house here in the Bay Area. Which are trivial things compared to men who have to drive in beat up Civics that make it home on luck and prayer, or social outcasts who wear concert t-shirts promoting the Faith Hill/Tim McGraw Soul Tour while talking with their imaginary pet rabbits.

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Zen and don't cry out loud - 2007-07-29

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