Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Seeing Through Red

I come from a tribe (redheads) notorious for our tempers. Supposedly, we're born with them. They come to us naturally, unasked for as freckles.

I'm on the fence about whether this notoriety is justified or just one of those weird color associations -- heat, fire, anger, red hair. Myself, I tend to take a good while to heat up, but at a certain point, I do, in fact, go nuclear.

Much like the feeling of being in the writing "zone," there is a kind of physical elation to being angry. When something happens that really makes me livid (this happens only a few times a year, thank God), I could tear up a phone book. I could run miles. Rage sharpens my wit, hardens my logic to a burning point, energizes my core. I feel great. My hands itch for a pen or a keyboard to respond. I'm Superfly TNT. I'm an atom bomb laying mothereffer, mothereffer. And if you are the one who has hurt or wronged me or my colleagues or my friends or my loved ones, I am going to lay into you with all my spleen and intelligence to make sure you know you have done wrong and that it's your fault and that you should stew in a boiling cauldron of leprous lemur dung. I will put in writing a vast glossary of your failings and hypocrisies and moral lapses, such that you will -- on hearing them -- have no course but to wither in shame and move to Siberia to cope with the anguish of the realization of your complete worthlessness.

Given my approach to handling anger, I suspect you may have a question. I will answer it.

The ONLY reason I still have friends, a job, and am close to my family is simple: Once I have written this bilious Ode to Another's Horribleness, satisfying the most primal and hurt part of me, salved my ego and my need to roar, I do not SEND it to them. I do not post it on social media and tag them in it.

I sit with it.

And I think: What makes me believe this other person's action was even about/related to me in any way? Could there be another scenario? Is there a possibility I have misunderstood the events, the intention? Is it possible this person had a bad day and is not, in fact, Hitler? Is my declaration of their loathsomeness, perhaps, a tad overstated?

Even if isn't, is my ego truly such a fragile, crumbling fortress that it warrants such verbal boiling oil to be poured on another human being who, after all, is dealing with pressures and anxieties and invisible parental/internal/supervisory judgments I have no way of knowing?

Then I write Draft #2.

Seriously, people. Draft #2 is your best friend.

Draft #2 keeps you employed, friended, espoused. Draft #2 keeps you from making a complete ass of yourself by posting insane rants on your website, or calling your ex when you shouldn't, or biting that patronizing VP on the hand when he goes to give you that chummy pat on the back.

Draft #2 keeps you from the kind of megalomania that insists you are absolutely right about what you perceive -- and that since you are right, others who perceive it differently must be utterly wrong.

Draft #2 keeps you human by forcing you to remember that others are also.

As a writer and a redhead both, I have to write Draft #1. But as a writer and a redhead both, Draft #2 is the one I feel better about. It's the one that doesn't come naturally.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

An Epic Bourbon Comeback

A rediscovered family history, a glimpse at booze marketing, and the fascinating back-story behind many American whiskeys.

The Nelson boys are working their butts off. I hope they make it work.