On a scale of one to yaaaaaarghhhhhhh

I was talking to a friend today about things that “send me into a blind rage”.

There aren’t many, you see, which is why I feel it’s important to be aware of the few triggers for a full-on explosion.

Crying babies are way up there, obviously, and strongly connected to “lack of consideration for others” in general. And of course, we’ve spoken before about my reaction to being told what to do. However, the discussion rapidly spiraled out of control until I was also naming things that merely irritated me, or that freaked me out, so I thought I would organise those thoughts here because, you know, why not, and also I’m bored.

Things that make me go “arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!!” and enter a state of temporary raging insanity, in no particular order:

1. Screaming babies, particularly in situations when I, the innocent and childless victim, am trying to sleep.

2. Racism, bigotry, prejudice in general. I literally do not and cannot understand this. I have never understood it. I don’t get how someone’s skin colour, nationality, or ethnicity could even vaguely influence what you think of them as a person, never mind how it causes hatred, murder, and genocide.

3. Being told what to do. Just get off my back!!!!!!

4. Bullying. This includes animal abuse, child abuse, and those sneaky bastards who rob little old ladies in their homes after pretending to be there to read the electricity meter or something. Anything where an innocent, weak, or defenceless person or creature is being harmed in some way. It makes my blood boil, and is one of very few situations where I can see myself becoming physically violent.

5. Being talked down to, patronised, mocked, laughed at, ridiculed. I don’t mean being teased and ribbed by friends, people I trust. If I know someone loves me, then they can make fun of my bad habits, the gaps in my general knowledge, my mistakes, my clumsiness, my fondness for cocktails and karaoke, my forgetfulness. In a weird way, it makes me feel even more secure in my friendships when I know that someone not only sees and accepts the things I might feel a little insecure about, but embraces them as endearing or just plain funny. But a stranger, or an acquaintance, or an enemy who dares to criticise my disorganisation, or ask pointedly if I realise that I always have a drink in my hand, or makes me feel stupid for not knowing the names of all the G20 countries… that person is going to trigger an angry (but mainly defensive, guilty, and/or paranoid) outburst.

Things that irritate me to the point of swearing repeatedly and needing a cigarette ASAP, in no particular order:

1. Students who don’t listen or think. My biggest gripe lately is when I’m trying to focus on a particular sentence structure that I know is different from the Korean way of saying it – this week, it was “I have [number] [noun]”, like “I have 2 eyes” or “I have 1 sister”. In Korean, it’s “I [noun] [humber] is”, like “I eyes two is” or “I sister one is”. Obviously that’s going to be a problem, so we have material specifically designed to drill the correct sentence structure into them. NOT ONCE have they heard any of us say it the Korean way. Over and over and over again, they have heard us singing, chanting, and repeating “I have 10 fingers. I have 2 sisters.” and so on. And still they say “I am ears is 2!”.

I tried one last-ditch desperate attempt to fix the problem in art class with the baby class yesterday. I had them draw pictures of themselves dressed in scary monster costumes, and we chatted about them as they worked. “I have 3 eyes!” I said chirpily, pointing at my here’s-one-I-made-earlier drawing on the board. “I have 7 arms! I have 2 noses! I have 9 legs!”.

“Teacher, look!” responded little Andy immediately. “I am head is 2!”.

“I have 2 heads,” I corrected him.

“I have 2 heads,” he repeated obediently. “And I am nose is 3!” Arrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh.

This happened over and over again throughout the class, until I genuinely thought I was going to lose my mind. Either they don’t hear me, or they can’t grasp how what I’m saying is connected to what they’re saying. Repeatedly.

Anyway, I can’t smoke at school so I ended up shutting myself out on the balcony and yelling as loudly as I dared for 5 minutes after class.

2. People walking around going “Oh, chu-wa!”.

3. When someone pushes in front of me in a shop or at a bar. I usually mutter something under my breath but don’t confront them, settling for a fixed glare or disbelieving raised eyebrows and a frown. The situation can be reversed from intensely irritating to absolutely joyous when the cashier or bartender sees what has happened and pointedly ignores the queue-jumper to serve me instead – or better yet, actually points out that I was there first and they need to wait their turn – but that only happens about 1 in 10 times.

4. Technology. I hate it when the internet, computer, TV, photocopier, or other device suddenly stops working for no apparent reason. I hate that I have to unplug everything and then put it back together and hope for the best, without knowing what the outcome will be or why it works sometimes and not others.  I hate that I am at the mercy of these inanimate objects. I have actually broken things in my frustrated fury, on occasion.

5. Mosquitos in my apartment. I fecking KNOW YOU ARE THERE, so why can’t I find you?!!!!!!!

Things that make me panic in a phobia-like, freaked out kind of way, in no particular order:

1. Cotton wool. But we have spoken of this before.

2. Invasion of personal space – chiefly, when someone stands so close to me while talking that our chests and toes are practically touching, and I can feel their breath on my face. This makes me intensely uncomfortable, no matter how well I know the person or how much I love them, unless we are actually about to start kissing or something. It makes me feel suffocated and trapped, like claustrophobia. I find it completely impossible to concentrate on what they’re saying, as I am mentally panicking and trying to step back in a way that prevents them  from just stepping forward and closing the gap again. A recent tactic is to step back significantly with my right foot while leaving the left one where it was, so that I can lean back on my right foot and create some space between us.  Usually it doesn’t work, as the offending party tends to notice the sudden distance, look surprised by it, and try to remedy the situation by stepping around my foot to the other side, closing in on my face once more. Honestly, the other week I backed away in baby steps for so long that I ended up behind the bar, with my bartender friend looking at me in surprise and asking if I needed something.

Really, what is this?! Does it freak anyone else out? I don’t know why it makes me feel so panicky, especially since I am a very touchy-feely person. I love to cuddle, affectionately stroke arms and hair, that sort of thing – even in platonic friendships. I have one friend who constantly puts his arms around me or touches my knee when we’re sitting and talking, but when we’re standing, there’s always a comfortable gap between our faces. Another friend likes to give me random unexpected cuddles  in passing, but again, is never all in my face when we’re having a conversation. Either some people are unaware of this unspoken rule, or I’m just a little neurotic… oh, shut up.

3. Bugs. Yeah, I may have mentioned that once or twice, as well…

3 thoughts on “On a scale of one to yaaaaaarghhhhhhh

  1. Jane Gallagher says:

    Do so agree with you on the matter of personal space. It appears to be a cultural thing. A while ago, my husband and I were waiting in the customs line at the airport in Puerto Rico (returning to the US) and I was amazed (and quite annoyed) at the number of people who deliberately joined the queue right in front of me – until I realized I had left so much space between me and the person before me (about 3 feet) that no one knew I was actually in line. The customs officials were asking very specific and potentially personal questions and I was trying to protect everyone’s privacy. Have also had the same experience riding the subway in Paris (and in New York city!). Perhaps years of living in the upstate “wilds” of NY have had an un-cosmopolitan effect. Although, I have noticed, that when confronted with those people who so invade my personal space, if I turn just slightly to either the left or right (presenting them with my shoulder rather than my face) I can avoid the “dance to the back of the bar.” I think it’s a matter of your “tribe” or “pack.” If I know and trust you, it’s OK…if not – keep your distance!
    Congrats on your new digs – time for a house warming party?
    All my best, Jane

  2. I HATE it when people invade my personal space! It makes me panic and stop concentrating on the conversation while I try to figure out a way out. The only person who’s allowed to get that close to me is my boyfriend, and not while I’m just trying to have a conversation with him!

    I’m one of that strange breed of people that would actually like children, but if I ever did I would either have to resign myself to looong car journeys or not go home for at least 5 years (I hope by that time the child would have learned to behave itself on planes). I know there are loads of people out there who can’t stand babies and the thought of it being my fault they have to listen to one screaming (can’t bring myself to blame the baby) would make me feel soo embarrassed and guilty.

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