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Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Falling Down the Stares
Last Saturday, I had my first haircut since leaving Toronto. It cost me 30,000 VND and was done on the sidewalk. Admittedly, it is one of the worst haircuts I have ever had. But I have had good haircuts in my life. And this haircut even came with bugged-out eyes (see photo), free of charge! But I get enough bugged-out eyes from other people here in Hanoi. Yes, folks, I get stared-at. I should have known it was coming, and I did know that it was coming. What I didn't expect is the degree to which it bothers me. I don't get bothered because it's rude (staring isn't rude) - I get bothered because every time I get stared-at I feel like the starer is calling into question the validity of my existence. Their eyes ask questions like "Why are you here?" and "Why should I respect you by averting my eyes? What respect do you truly deserve?". For some reason, when I ask myself these questions, I don't get nearly as frustrated as I do when other people ask them. Maybe that is because I'm soft on myself.
When I catch someone staring at me, my first thought is "It's on, baby". I stare right back at them uninterrupted as I walk by. My next thought is "Oh my God, are they going to chase me down?". By the time I have had that second thought, I am a good distance away from the starer. I don't know what my eyes express as I return the stare, but I hope that whatever they express is fearsome. Being stared-at is really exhausting, and I hate having to do it.
For the past two days, I have tried something new: averting my eyes as soon as I catch someone staring at me. Here is why: whenever I return the stare, I get really, really, really worked-up and inclined to carry out violence. I remember hearing years and years ago (see, I'm old, see) that dogs consider being stared-at in the eyes as an act of aggression. I get the impression that being stared-at releases something in my animal nature. It feels as though a wave of anger and defensiveness courses up my spine, and I instantly get into this zone of fear and aggression. Averting my eyes keeps other people from staring into them, and thereby keeps them from sending me into the animal zone I just described. I feel much happier as I walk to and from work. My mood is spoiled much less often. Besides, the zone is a very exhausting place to be. After about five times of getting into the zone, I feel really worn-out and as though I need a vacation. I don't want to spend my placement tired and angry, so I have taken action.
I am also trying to listen to ridiculous and ridiculously joyful music. Exhibit A, Overwhelming Joy by The Inspirations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDgezS4e0Zk. Exhibit B, Hard to Be Cool (in a Minivan) by The Oak Ridge Boys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2tt1cg1h_I. What do both of those songs have in common? Bass singers with ludicrously-low voices. I am disproportionately in love with listening to true basses. It is true that I'm a bass, but only in a limited way. Certainly not like those guys. While I'm talking about basses, I'm going to plug this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bwdVawL8Qc) which features me cranking out Eb2 for roughly five minutes. It's not the lowest of the low, but I don't give a shit, because I'm on YouTube, baby! Hahahahaha!