"If, after being exposed to someone's presence, you feel as if you've lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence."
So six weeks in the US, in addition to entirely depleting my bank account, made me step back and re-evaluate how lucky I am in the life that I've made here. Love the work I do (could use some more, but love what I have). Love where I live (though I was inspired by the bustle of my US buddies to review and improve some things here). Love the socialized bits, the healthcare and the transportation and everything. Love my friends. So I count all those things, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still a bit cranky.
It does seem to me that possibly some of my recent unusually high irritation with others has to do with the fact that I have no skin for it. I'm tough for some stuff, but I don't have to be nice to people at work any more and it makes me weaker at being nice to people away from work. Why should I be? I am very good at realizing that somebody's got a different burden to carry than I do, or is coming at the elephant from the other side and perceives it differently or whatever, but HONESTLY some of the time I feel like I'm the only person trying to bring tolerance and forgiveness and politeness and everything to the table, and I'm tired. It's as if people state their points of view not to have them understood so much as to cut a wide swath in front of themselves in which those points of view have to be respected. And I think now: You know what? Here is a very wide swath for you; here is me leaving the table, the room, the party altogether. That's about all the respect I have the energy to muster today.
And yet I had a great conversation about guns with a man in Montana who owns them and likes them a bunch. He changed my mind about some parts of my argument against guns. I don't mind arguing; I like that when it feels like "You don't have to agree with me, you just have to understand why I disagree with you, and the opposite is true." When what we're trying to do is be understood, more than agreed with necessarily --although I did agree with him, more than I'd expected to, in the course of understanding him. He didn't come into it saying that I was a bunch of nouns I'm not, and that helped. I feel like these conversations are harder to have, not because of me but because of the world. I blame the telegraph.