Tuesday, May 25, 2004

If Patience Is a Virtue, I Am Sinking Rapidly Into Vice.

Are people generally supposed to get more patient and mellow with age? Because I keep hearing about things like "the impatience of youth," but I find that the older I get the more short-tempered I'm becoming, and the more things I have no patience left for at all.

Some things I have found myself becoming increasingly intolerant of and annoyed with:

Waiting: I feel like some awful modern-American stereotype here, but I find that, more and more, it drives me crazy to have to wait for anything. Waiting at stoplights, being stuck behind a slow-moving car, waiting for web pages to load, waiting for my PC to reboot (which it's having to do far too often these days), waiting in line at the grocery store... I just sit (or stand) there thinking, "Aaargh! It's taking entire minutes! Why is it taking minutes?! I have a goal! I want to reach that goal! I don't want to be stuck here! Grrrr!" Sometimes, I have to tamp down the urge to just drive through the car in front of me.

Television commercials: I've always deeply disliked TV commercials but these days I find them actively, painfully unwatchable. This is yet another reason why I've mostly abandoned watching television "live" in favor of DVDs. Or maybe it's a consequence of that, actually. When you're used to being bombarded with the things every day of your life, you don't realize just how obnoxious they truly are.

Fragile egos: I was going to type "people with fragile egos," but that's totally inaccurate, because some of the coolest and most likeable people I've known have been sufferers of Fragile Ego Syndrome. But you have to be careful what you say to Fragile Ego people and how you say it, because it's very easy to hurt their feelings and even easier to induce them to hurt their own feelings. And that demands a form of self-censorship that I find increasingly frustrating to practice, because the older I get, the more I just want to say what the hell I mean. The most insidious form of Fragile Ego Syndrome is the one that results in someone being so afraid of offending you or putting you out (because if they do that, you'll think badly of them and it will hurt) that you do have to put yourself out making sure you don't say something that will make them believe they've offended you or put you out when they haven't. (Or, worse still, when they have, a little, but it's no big deal, or, worse still, when they have a lot, but you still like them just the same anyway.) This variation bothers me particularly because I used to be a major sufferer of it, myself, and our own past issues are always difficult to bear when we see them manifested in somebody else. Also, I too often feel the urge to shake such people a little and yell at them. "Stop it! You don't have to be like that! Hell, it's the only thing I don't like about you! Just get over it! I did!" But I know perfectly well that that doesn't work, or I would have listened the first six thousand times someone told me that I shouldn't worry about what other people think, instead of basically just waking up one day and discovering that somehow I no longer cared that much.

The telephone: Worse than people I don't want to talk to calling me are people I do want to talk to calling me at the wrong time. Because then I sit there the entire time I'm talking to them feeling bad about the fact that I'm thinking about my burning desire to get back to what I was doing when they called instead of what they're talking to me about.

Sleep: Back when I was in high school, I used to be a world championship sleeper. During summer vacation, sometimes I'd sleep 15 hours a day, and have the most interesting dreams. It was great. Now, I just keep thinking about how utterly unfair it is that I have to waste one-third of my life being unconscious. But I do have to, of course, or the other two-thirds become unbearable. Life would be so much better if sleep were an optional thing you could indulge in for pleasure when you wanted and do without when you didn't. Someone should really look into that.

Bad books: I used to be compulsive about finishing books, no matter how apocalypatically suck-worthy they might turn out to be. I'd always have this ridiculously optimistic feeling that they might suddenly get better any minute now, really, combined with a charming ability to find something worthwhile in even the most dire of texts. These days, I still have the compulsion, but the emotion that originally inspired it seems to have vanished. All I feel now at reading a mediocre book is a sense that I'm wasting my time, and all I feel at finishing one is relief. A while back, when I spent half a day seriously thinking that the world might be going to end because my friend on asteroid watch slipped me an alarming false alarm, I deeply surprised myself by discovering that my only actual regret was, "Man, I really wish I hadn't spent the last week reading that shitty Buffy novel." And, yet, I keep doing it. Somebody smack me over the head with a copy of Battlefield Earth and knock some sense into me, will you?

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