Thursday, October 11, 2018

random Thursday things

* Thursday seems to be the day I am most likely to be "I'm too old for this mess" mode, so.

* A meeting that WAS scheduled for today at 12:15 was cancelled, and I was all "yay I can go home for lunch and go to the grocery store too" was UNCANCELLED at 5 pm yesterday (in other words: after I was home and not checking my e-mail and I am displeased. Oh, I'll go: it will probably be a shortish meeting and my piano teacher is coming on Friday (because tonight are the homecoming parades - yes, both university and local high school combined - and everything is going to be a mess) but yeah, if I had known earlier? I might have packed a lunch. At this rate, it will be after 1 pm when I get lunch.

(No, I don't keep emergency food in my office any more. I should, but given that hard crunchy things are pretty much off the menu given the state of my teeth, there's not that much nutritious that has keeping qualities)

* I went to a concert the other night (well, the first half. The second half I was helping set up the after-concert reception).

And I realized why I dislike much 20th century "serious" music:

it sounds to me like how my anxiety feels.

I like music with a detectable pattern and tempo that makes sense to me. (And even at that: when it's too fast I don't like it as well).

And I wonder: could a person's musical preferences be set by the state of their mind? As in, people like me who are inclined to be jangled and anxious, we dislike loud, atonal, and variable-tempo or too-fast music? And maybe people who tend to be more the thrill-seeking type prefer fast music? I don't know. But I do know there are some pieces of music that do my a discomfort and I have groaned audibly when Sirius XM comes on in my car and it's one of the clashier Stravinsky pieces or even Schoenberg and it also seems to me that one of the hosts on there tends to play them during afternoon drive-time and I am like WHYYY do you play anxious music at a time when a lot of your listeners are likely to be anxious?

* The new-ish board moderator has decided to reactivate regular meetings of the pastor-parish committee. I am of mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, yes, I get that it should probably be meeting regularly so that resentments don't build up and it isn't a "oh no, we're meeting, there must be a problem" thing (As Head Elder, I am on it).

But on the other hand: another monthly meeting, most likely in the evening (he was suggesting just meeting AFTER board meeting and I asked if we could NOT because some months Board Meeting doesn't end until 8 pm, and at that point I have been up for, what, fifteen or sixteen hours and I just want to go home and sleep)

And also on the other hand: the last one of these I remember being at, a couple interims ago, was the Very Bad Meeting that wound up with the interim (who was, at that time, a ministerial student, but still should have known better) and another member of the group (who has since left the congregation, but whatever, he should have known better as well) screaming at each other, and there were tears on my part, and really, I probably SHOULD have gotten up with every bit of dignity I could still muster, said, "Work this out and call the rest of us when you can talk civilly" and gone home, instead of sitting there with my head down and crying.

(Then again: I am pretty good at controlling crying-in-public and I guess my reaction did shock both of them because they each called me at a later time to apologize, though really, they should have apologized to each other).

And so, anyway. I wound up telling someone (this time the moderator) my new stock phrase (which I had already used in an entirely different context earlier that day):

"You have to understand that I am the most conflict-averse person you will ever meet."

And it's true. Fluttershy is not my Pony Patronus because I am shy (I am not, particularly) or because I like animals (though I do). It's because I really, deep down, want everyone to shut up and be polite to each other, and I want people NOT to yell at each other and NOT use insulting pet names (that is a big part of my hate of current political discussion: go after the flaws in the person's ideas or platform, don't just go to the "you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny" thing). And I admit I do recognize that authoritarian impulse in me: that I'd like to tell people to sit down, shut up, and try their best to agree. But that's one of the challenges of humans: we tend to be disagreeable sorts, and we want to be heard, and it's hard to be heard in this world without getting shouty and even sometimes offensive.

But yeah. Maybe if there does come a shouty meeting I will have the presence of mind to sweep out of the room, saying "when you can discuss this productively and like grown-ups, call me; I will be at home" because maybe that's the best way to handle it? I don't know. I dislike the sense that I should just sit there and have to listen to people screaming at each other.

(And of course, everything like that is still fraught for me as regards church, given the split of...crikey, it was fifteen years ago now. But it still hurts and dissent still makes me nervous if it gets too impassioned.)

* And another from the "I am sick of being told to put my comfort off to the side" files: a memory, brought up by a study I saw posted somewhere, about "just how connected are homelessness and profound mental illness anyway?"

Years and years ago, when I lived in Ann Arbor, there were a number of homeless people. Some of them merely panhandled but there were one or two that were more..uncomfortable to be around.

There was one man, in particular, who would make chopping or stabbing motions, and kept up a steady stream of invective and cursing. I'm pretty sure he was mentally ill in some way and would have benefited from help, but I will admit as a 19-year-old his presence scared and unsettled me, no less that he used to refer to women he saw as "f****** c****" and similar.

And I mentioned to another student - also a woman - how it made me uncomfortable and I would not walk down a street if I saw him coming - and she excoriated me for it. How prejudiced I was! Didn't I know that the homeless population was more likely to be victims than to victimize? I needed to get over myself.

And that always made me feel vaguely bad. Because I felt like - why should I force myself into a situation where I felt uncomfortable, but this woman was telling me that by wanting to be comfortable, I was somehow Part Of The Problem (understand: I wasn't calling the cops on the guy, or yelling at him, or anything. I was merely avoiding areas where he was likely to be).

And now I wonder, in this era of "Me Too" and the like: would she have said that to me today? And I'm now kind of angry and offended that (a) another person would tell me, "Even though it affects that guy not at all whether you walk down the same street as he does, you should do it and make yourself uncomfortable, because somehow it is more fair to him" and (b) that nineteen-year-old-me felt so bad about it, that I kind of further internalized the idea that my wanting to be comfortable in my own skin was wrong.

But honestly, much of my young life was that: being told "Your feelings don't matter; you should put up with discomfort for yourself even when your presence doesn't really affect the other person, because 'fairness'" and I admit I wonder what the scam was and why I was the one it was being perpetrated on. (Maybe how I get crochety when I get old is simply refusing to go places that make me uncomfortable or associate with people that make me uncomfortable.)

I don't know. Being human is hard. Being an introverted human who dislikes being among shouty people that are unpredictable is even harder.

And I will confess: one reason I don't live in a larger city than I do is that I don't have so many face-to-face interactions with many different people in a day. Because I remember from Ann Arbor, a lot of the time I was apprehensive out walking. Not just because there were threats (though I heard of women being grabbed on the street, sometimes by frat guys, for a laugh, and one of my cousins was mugged and robbed) but because I couldn't deal with all the pamphleteers and the people with clipboards wanting me to sign some petition or other, or the people out in front of the grocery store demanding to know if I was buying meat.

And yes, I know: you can say "no." You can say "get lost." You can say "it's none of your business." But the thing is: every interaction like that, where I have to gather myself up and be what I interpret as "unpleasant" to someone - it takes a tiny bit more of my psychic energy, and I have a limited store of that in a day. Spoon theory, guys: it doesn't just apply to people with a chronic illness.

And so I'm happier living somewhere where I rarely encounter people when I am out walking who want something of me, or who want to invade my headspace.

(And yes, we have a moderate homeless population here, and it's like this secret scandal that the churches and the public library and some of the civic groups know about and are trying to do something to help, but the city by and large doesn't want to recognize. I know someone who is involved with an effort to hopefully eventually build a shelter with both a men's and a women's wing, and a place where families can stay together, and that will provide help so hopefully maybe some people will be able to stop being homeless)

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