The Emerald Isle, Pt. 3

After inadequate sleep, an awkward breakfast (the Gremlins and their parents joined my table), and a few helpful tips from a lovely Australian couple, I departed for County Clare.  There was a distinct difference in driving conditions in County Clare, and “two-lane roads” became a mere 7-8 feet wide, and were often flanked by seemingly harmless bushes.  I came to discover through second-hand experience that those bushes are really just unkempt decoration for the SOLID STONE WALLS that line the country roads.  Suddenly the zip ties on Seamus’ passenger-side hubcaps made more sense.

I did my best to stay on my side of the road, not that there seemed to be “sides,” really, and eventually came across a small sign that read, “Burren Perfumery.”  It sounded interesting, and considering my nerves and the numbness of my ass from sitting for a few hours already, I made a snap decision and followed the arrow.  It turned out that the roads in County Clare could get even smaller, who knew?  Toss in some blind corners and hairpin turns, and you’ve got one hell of a ride.  I spent at least 20 minutes following sign after sign, hunting through the Burren for some dinky perfumery, just waiting for the moment in which some Irish farmer would come tearing around a corner at 80km/hour and headbutt me into Heaven.  Half lost, I constantly wondered, “what do you do if you meet another car on the road?”  Part of me was optimistic enough to believe that I might get through the Burren and back to the highway without having to answer that question, but it was wrong.  The moment of truth came when I whipped around a half-circle turn and slammed on my brakes as a car appeared out of thin air.  My tires ground into the gravel and my adrenal glands prepared me for impact, but I opened my eyes and saw that the other car had seen me and stopped.  There was a moment where I thought, “oh god, what if this is just the longest one-way road ever, and I’m the asshole American who missed a sign.”  But in true Irish fashion, the other driver was very kind, and he gave an emphatic “go ahead” gesture.  He then proceeded to stuff 1/4 of his car into the bushes, which scratched and squealed against the metal and windows.  Not wanting to seem rude (or stupid), I slammed the car into gear and smashed Seamus into the bushes on the opposite side of the road, barely slipping past as my Farmer Friend waved goodbye with a huge smile.

He disappeared in my rearview mirror, and I was left to ponder what the hell had just happened.  The more I thought about it, the more the answers became clear to me: What happens when there are two cars passing on a teensy road?  You drive through the damn bushes, duh.  But what if there’s a stone wall underneath the bushes?  Zip ties, duh.  In that moment, I realized how much of an uptight American I was being, and proceeded through the Burren with a newfound love of Irish simplicity.

I found the perfumery, watched a video about flowers that I would not see in bloom, poked at some old-looking bottles, and toured a garden the size of my living room at home.  Huzzah, perfumery.  The woman who owns the Burren Perfumery was wonderful and very informative, but it was clear that I was not a member of the usual demographic she served.  I encountered a few more cars on my way back to the main highway, and had perhaps a little too much fun driving through the bushes (sorry, Seamus).  It really is liberating, you should try it.

burrenperf2

The Burren Perfumery

The Burren Perfumery

Seamus really took a beating that day.  Not only was he whipped with branches on several occasions, but he was forced to chug up mountain switchbacks for a better part of the day.  I drove a significant part of the way to the Cliffs of Moher in 1st gear, solely because that was the only gear that kept us moving forward and up.  There’s a great little restaurant at the Cliffs of Moher, with stunning views and really decent food, and also a few little crap-trap tourist shops of no consequence.  But the Cliffs themselves are stunning, and 100% worth the arduous drive.  I’m not going to bother posting my pictures of the Cliffs of Moher because they’re completely worthless.  Every picture I’ve ever seen, including mine, make them look like they’re a part of a Polly Pocket scene compared to their actual scale.  “Majestic” is a word I heard often from people who had seen them before me, and that’s precisely what they are.  I have included below, however, a picture of O’Brien’s Tower, shot from on top of the Cliffs themselves.  There’s also a picture of another buddy of mine who thought my coat was delectable.

mohercow

County Clare

County Clare

I left the Cliffs of Moher and took the car ferry from Killimer to Tarbert, and continued on until I reached my next destination, Killarney.  Upon arriving, I checked into the Muckross Farm B&B, a working farm with a wonderful family who were excellent hosts.  I was shown to my room and then told that I was welcome to go see the horses in the barn.  Horses?!  Hell yeah!  Turns out there were not only horses, but also bunnies, goats, sheep, chickens, and THESE GUYS:

puppies puppies2

After satiating my intense need for puppy snuggles, I set off in search of dinner and landed at Molly Darcy’s restaurant/pub.  Having consumed half of the most amazing meat pie I’ve ever had, I became aware that there was apparently a very important sports event occurring, and many of the patrons in the bar were engrossed.  There was a group of gentlemen to my left, who were kind enough to say hello and briefly explain the Irish national sport of hurling to me.  I also learned from them that I should root for County Clare to win the game, solely because County Cork people suck.  Having dated a Cork man in the past, I was inclined to agree with them, and we had a great time watching County Clare become champions.  Once the game ended, the gents informed me that they were actually at the hotel next door for a wedding, and would need to return now that the game was over.  They also invited me to join them, so I did.  I was introduced to many people as, “Kaylynn, the American,” and promptly had a Guinness shoved into my hand.  I had a fantastic time meeting the guests of the wedding, including the lovely girlfriends of my newfound pub friends, and left the event in the wee hours of the morning feeling very privileged to have been included in the celebration.  I also learned that the traditional wedding cake for the Irish is fruit cake, which, as an American, I thought was highly entertaining.

Stay tuned for Part 4, in which I’m nearly run off the road by sheep, and have an unsettling encounter with someone’s baby in a pub.

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The Emerald Isle, Pt. 2

Right, so…Northern Ireland.

Crossing the border into Northern Ireland, I was regrettably and immediately underwhelmed by Belfast.  I get the feeling Belfast is one of those cities that one must live in for a year or so to understand its true potential.  As for me, it seems I agree with Oscar Wilde, who is said to have held the opinion that Belfast contains only one aesthetically pleasing building (which is now apparently a Marks and Spencer).  It’s a moderately confusing city, with awkward signage and nuances to the roadways that guarantee a few extra circles for any newcomer, but I eventually found my way to the main reason for my visit.

The world’s largest dry-dock, where the Titanic was constructed, is tucked away on a lonely little edge of the marina.  It took me a few minutes to find it behind the museums and corporations of the area, and when I did I was surprised to be the only visitor.  The Titanic Pumphouse houses a simple restaurant, ticket desk and souvenir shop, and offers tours, as well as a Choose Your Own Adventure option, which is what I opted for.  There’s a lot more historical information to be had via the tour, but since I was the only one there…you know, that’s just awkward.

The Thompson Graving Dock is one of the more fascinating and confusing places I’ve experienced.  The placards and informational signs around the dock are well-done and, I’m sure, accurate.  But it’s difficult to force your inadequate human brain to comprehend the facts presented.  It’s as though your mind tries to force everything to be smaller, less significant.  Pictures of the Titanic can’t possibly begin to allow your mind the evidence it needs to grasp the reality.  The fusing of facts and imagination really only begin to reveal the past while you’re standing there at the origin of it all.

For example, this is a keel block, which supported the actual weight of the Titanic.  It’s a little difficult to remember now, but I recall it being a bit taller than I was at 5’1″.

keelblock

Looks heavy, right?  I thought so too, but I would never have guessed that it weighs as much as three compact cars.  THREE.  But here’s where the perspective gets weird: in the next picture, you’ll see some of the length of the dock itself, and the line of things running down the center of it are all keel blocks.

thompsondock

I’m loath to post more pictures of this place because I’d rather you go there yourself and experience it.  It’s a fascinating mental exercise, as well as one of the most badass history lessons you’ll get anywhere.  I had lunch in the Pumphouse restaurant,  which was far better than I was expecting, and took advantage of their WiFi to call my Mom.  I love getting to say stuff like: “Hey Mom, I’m eating chicken soup where the Titanic was built.”

I left Belfast that afternoon and headed NW towards Bushmills (yes, like the whiskey) and made my way to Giant’s Causeway.  Giant’s Causeway is a natural phenomenon that has caused “fields” of hexagonal stone columns to rise up from some past volcanic event.  I got lucky with a warmer afternoon, although not so lucky with the horde of school children who joined me at the Causeway.  There are multiple walking paths of varying degrees of difficulty, and in addition to the wonder of the structures, the folklore stories of Finn McCool really make Giant’s Causeway an excellent tourist stop.

causeway   gc

I stayed the night in Bushmills at the Valley View B&B, and Valerie and her family were absolutely lovely.  If you ever travel Ireland, I highly recommend staying in B&B’s.  It’s definitely a hit-or-miss experience, but it’s worth it for the chance to meet so many wonderful people.  I felt welcomed and cared for even though I was only staying one night, and had a wonderful chat with my hostess over tea and shortbread.  The next morning I departed after a perfect Irish breakfast cooked by Valerie herself, and was sad to leave that little nook in the country.

IMG_2361 vvbird

Before I departed from Northern Ireland, I had to make one last stop at the single location that had spurred me to visit Éire in the first place: The Dark Hedges.

There is a small stretch of relatively unknown road in Northern Ireland, near Ballymoney, where there are some beech trees.  These trees were planted in the 18th century and have grown to create a twisted, fantastical gateway to…well, a golf club.  But it is a place that encourages the imagination to not only run wild, but to run amok, kick open hidden doors of consciousness, and perhaps briefly believe that there’s such a thing as magic.  It’s said to be haunted by the Grey Lady, a ghost with many possible stories regarding how she got there.  She reportedly slithers between the trees, but has never been seen off the paved dirt of Bregagh Road.  The Dark Hedges is also said to be a place of literary inspiration for several famous authors and poets.  It is a wondrous place, so full of intrigue I can hardly stand it – it is, so far, my favorite place in the entire world.

darkhedges

I got there early on a perfectly sunny, crisp day and was able to revel in its graceful oddity for about a half hour before several other sight-seers appeared.  Its mystery was shattered once it crossed over from “thin place” to “tourist kerfuffle.”  You can experience my angst and woe in the video below.  I apologize for the extremely poor quality which doesn’t really allow for a proper view of what I was trying to describe.

And so ended the most magical hour of my life, and I proceeded to poke my way through the Irish countryside in search of a highway.  Upon finding one, Seamus and I began our longest-ever stretch to County Galway, a mere 6 hours away!  County Antrim to Derry to Donegal to Sligo to Mayo to Galway, and the whole day was sunny and bright.  I stopped for gas and picked up a Twix bar after a friend recommended that I try one.  The moment I took my first bite, I swore to never taste a Twix bar again unless it was from Europe.  I don’t know why (although I suspect a lack of preservative chemicals), but it’s fresher – the cookie was softer, the chocolate was sweeter, and damnit if the caramel wasn’t smoother.  Twix bars, who knew?

I meandered my way through the Irish countryside and was surprised that I never once tired of the rolling hills or the color green.  It really is a breathtaking country on all sides.  I snapped this photo with my iPhone while zooming down the road:

ireland

No filter!

Despite the challenging driving conditions and the unfamiliar roads, it really was one of the most relaxing road trips I’ve ever taken.  I was completely content for 5 hours in the car.  No radio, no cell phone – just the road, the highway signs, and the glorious scenery.  I sang to myself for probably an hour, stopped to pet some cows, stuffed my face full of Jaffa Cakes, and generally did whatever I damn well pleased for the entire day.  It was lovely.  But then I arrived in Galway. *music transitions to minor key*

Every story has to have a conflict, right?  Some low point, or valley of despair?  Sorry, Galway, but you were it.  It began with the traffic:

I finally reached my B&B in Spiddal, and it appeared as though no one was there.  I rang the door bell, knocked, walked around to the back of the house, looked in the window for a “closed” sign, but there seemed to be no sign of life anywhere.  After about 20 minutes, I decided I would go try to find dinner and come back later…only to have someone swing open the door and ask, “well, why didn’t you ring the bell?!”  I reminded myself that it takes all sorts to make the world turn, and introduced myself.  The hostess was very kind and showed me to my room, and gave me these instructions to get to town:

“You’ll go out, just out, right here, and 1 kilometer down the road, to the right,  find the sign with the squiggles on it, and then go right, and the road looks like a road, but it’s not really a road, and then there’s the water.  Oh, and the water is lovely right now, didja plan to come this late in the season? It’s a good time, a good time.  But right, so you go down to the water, and there’s a thing like a road, but not a road.  Not the one you were just on, but another sort-of-road, and you’ll go by the beach, and there’s some bridges, and then you can eat!  Got it?  I can draw you a map if you need it, but you seem smart enough, and it’s just down the road, there, to the right, to the sign with the squiggles…”

I lied and said I definitely had gotten it, and started off by turning right out the the drive way.  I eventually found the squiggles:

tra

I eventually found the beach, too, and took my time strolling towards town:

After an incredible dinner of seafood chowder and Guinness, I decided to take the route through town to get back to the B&B, where I met my new bestest buddy:

friend

Upon arriving back at the B&B, I fell ungracefully into the Most Uncomfortable Bed Ever, and fell asleep…for about 30 minutes.  I awoke to the sound of children screaming.  I thought the building was on fire or someone was being murdered, surely.  I got up and ran to the door, and just as my hand wrapped around the door knob, I heard counting.  Counting?  Who the $*#% is counting?!

“I found you!”

“You’re not the one finding, you’re the hiding one.  Let me finish!”

And so, at 10:30pm, the little English brats in the hallway began their game.  They continued to scream at each other from opposite corners and floors of the house, sprint down the hallways, fight, cry, etc. for the next 3 hours.

“Where are you?!”

“I’m upstairs!”

“WHERE?!”

“UP THE STAIRS!”

Someone was about to take an unexpected and painful trip DOWN the apples and pears when their father finally stepped up to handle the situation, which he did in the most British way possible.

“Ok, guys, time for beddies.”

Another hour of them crying and calling for him and wanting water and “I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP YET,” and finally he either took a brick to them or they fell asleep.  4 hours later, I woke up for breakfast and departed.

Stay tuned for Part 3, in which I almost die, and then later crash a wedding.

The Emerald Isle, Pt. 1

Ok ok, I know.  I was in Ireland in September, and it’s now March, and “where’s the blog about your trip?!”  Here it is, so you gibbons can quit your whooping.  I took some (poor quality) videos on my phone throughout my trip, mostly as proof to my Mother that I was still alive and the messages I sent her weren’t actually from my captors/murderers/pimps.  I hope you enjoy  my falderal.

Ireland was everything I expected it to be and more.  It’s a fascinating place, largely because it’s one where individual perceptions rarely vary too far.  With most locations in the world, everyone is eager to give their opinions and stories, perceptions and favorites; but all of those experiences differ between people.  When I went to France, many told me that going up into the Eiffel Tower wasn’t worth the wait or the money, and that the real splendor was seeing it from the ground all around the city.  I decided against their judgement and clamored up the metal staircase behind a group of 20 raucous French 3rd-graders and didn’t regret a moment of it.  If you were to ask me if the diving is good in Belize, I would advise against it: a few rays, a few fish, a few rocks, but nothing you haven’t seen before.  However, I met a couple on the dive boat who said they travel to Belize to dive every year because it’s their favorite location.  In Ireland, however, everyone seems to have remarkably similar experiences.  I’ve heard tales of people who were rained on for a solid two weeks in the middle of summer and still had the time of their lives.  I met a couple in a B&B who said it was their 22nd trip back to the Emerald Isle, and they had never once been disappointed.  While I’m sure there are people who have had less than stellar experiences in Ireland, I can’t seem to find them.  Perhaps it’s just the novelty of being away from regular life or the thrill of a new place, but I was able to think more clearly, breathe more freely, and really absorb my experience, rather than just traveling from landmark to landmark and checking them off the list.

My adventures in Ireland began when I touched down in Dublin and couldn’t see a damn thing.  Fog.  There was so much fog it felt as though it was raining.  I hopped in a shuttle van to the rental car lot with 6 other strange travelers, most of them American.  Within 2 minutes of our 12 minute ride, the driver had somehow conducted introductions of everyone in the car, given a few basic tips on driving on the left-hand side of the road, explained the difference between black and white pudding, passed out maps of Dublin, and was deeply into a hilarious Q&A with the backseat when we arrived.  There was a collective, “aw,” but we all exited the van and said our goodbyes and well-wishes to each other.  If you allow it to, Ireland will turn you into a nicer person than you were before.

My brain kicked into problem-solving mode as I hunted out my rental car in the lot.  I have driven a manual transmission car for years, but never with my left hand on the gear shift and never on the other side of the road.  My travel method can be generally described as: buy a language book, be aware of major threats, figure out the rest when you get there.  I located my tiny red Fiat, with its wimpy engine and many zip ties that fastened the passenger’s side hub cabs to the wheels.  Wimpy as it was, I developed an anthropomorphic fondness for it, and I named it Seamus.


So I survived the rental car parking lot and successfully navigated the Irish highway system into Dublin proper.  The driving itself is not at all scary or difficult.  The new spacial awareness, however, is downright terrifying.  Coming from the US, I was unaccustomed to allowing my car to come so close to other cars, walls, cliffs, etc., and there were many times I was shocked not to hear the screeching of metal against a pole or other obstacle.  I could have sworn I just hit that pole, but nope – I had just never experienced maneuvering a vehicle with only a 2-inch margin of error.  I was forced to find my courage in a parking garage.

And yes, I was instinctively reaching for the gear shift with my right hand.  It was my first day, alright?!  I finally checked in at the Croke Park Hotel*, and took a 45 minute nap, and then a shower to try and shake off the jetlag.  I spent the rest of the day walking through Dublin.  I somehow joined a small group of retirees and explored with them for a short while.  By explored, I mean we compared maps and tried to orient ourselves for a solid 20 minutes.  They were lovely, good-natured people and together we found our way into the heart of Dublin.  I branched off and headed straight for the one thing I was determined to see in Dublin: Trinity College Library.  Oh, friends.  I can’t express how glorious and reverent this place is.  If you’re a book lover or history/anthropology buff, I highly recommend it.  To get to the library, you’ll pass through the The Book of Kells exhibit, which is well-done and very informative, although be prepared to spend quite a bit of time there.  It’s very possible to flit through to the library, but the historical and culturally significant information there is worth taking the time.  Below are a few images I took while in the library when I wasn’t standing still, slack-jawed and drooling.

trinity trinitystairs

I spent the rest of the day wandering Dublin, eating fish and chips, and generally being a tourist.  Dublin is a very interesting city, and I enjoyed my time there, although it was no highlight of the trip.  Out of the European cities I’ve been too, Dublin is the dirtiest, hands down.  The smell of urine meanders boldly down most streets, and the buildings and walls are covered with a special kind of seemingly permanent grime.  While listening to the radio in my car the next day, there was an entire segment of listeners calling in to discuss the issue of public urination in Dublin, and many contributors were of the opinion that it’s just a fact of life.  So while Dublin is teeming with culture and history and good times to be had by all…wash your hands.

I left Dublin the next morning and headed to Belfast with little-to-no idea of where I was going except “north.”  Throughout the entire trip, I was very surprised at how easy it is to navigate the roundabout-laden highway systems in Ireland.  I found myself many times without a map or a functioning GPS, and still never got lost once.   If you have to, you can get around Ireland just fine with a brain, a functioning pair of eyes, and a few tidbits of local advice.

Adventures in Belfast and the remainder of my time in Northern Ireland will be continued soon.

*Hotel and B&B reviews will be written soon. Eventually. I’ll get to it, I swear.

Earwigs and You: Personal Discovery through Metaphorical Dermaptera

Earwigs.  Pinchies.  Forficula auricularia.  Grey Matter Manglers.  We all hate them, right?  Those nasty, skittery insects with mammoth butt-pincers who seem intent on chasing you, and burrowing through to their new home in your corpus callosum by way of your ear canal.  They are nasty, terrifying, and will now likely haunt your peripheral vision for a few days.

OMG, what’s that on your neck?!  Just kidding.

What if I told you that you might be keeping these guys as pets?  Not only that, but you may be dropping them into your ear yourself.  Ok, so not literally, but you may be metaphorically allowing your head-pudding to be violated by subconscious earwig-like mental items.  Not only will you freak people out and eventually lose all your friends, but your mind will become more and more infested with pinchy mofo’s who control your actions and your words.  What in Hell’s blazes am I talking about, you ask?  I’m talking about “just.”

Such a seemingly simple word, but along with his older brother, “only,” they are capable of destroying your relationships and your self-esteem.  When used in a certain context, “just” and “only” create a castle, indomitable and fierce, from which you will launch volleys of flaming arrows at the people around you, and where you will sit comfortably “safe” on your Throne of Passive Aggression, with the glittering Crown of Self-Victimization digging deep grooves into your forehead.

“I was just trying to help.”

“I’m only trying to be honest.”

These words are far more complex than most realize, and are simultaneously offensive and defensive, which puts your conversation partner in an uncomfortable position.  These words automatically assume and suggest that you are under attack, and that you must defend your position.  They also wrongfully assume and suggest that whoever is speaking to you is the attacker, and is therefore the, “bad guy.”   So both you and your conversation partner are forced into a position of trying to protect yourselves from insult and hurt (you by assuming the other person intends to hurt you, and he by trying to defend against the intangible label of, “assailant”), and making sure that your point is understood…without hurting the other person…while still communicating effectively…but not insultingly…

How does this destroy relationships?  In reality, you (the Earwig Charmer) have positioned yourself to be mostly in control of the situation in a couple of ways:

1. You have attempted, and likely succeeded at making the other person feel guilty.  For what, exactly?  Nothing.  You have made that person feel guilty for disagreeing, or giving you constructive criticism, or having an idea that differs from yours.  By manipulating their emotions, you have created an environment in which you have restricted the actions and words they are comfortable using.  Example:

Boss: “Hey, Team Member.  I see you stacked the boxes of things over to the NNW.  I think they would be more out of the way if we stacked them farther to the SSE.”

Team Member: “Oh, well I was just trying to unpack them as quickly as possible.”

You see, rather than just accepting direction from The Boss, our Team Member friend has already taken offense to the alternate suggestion, and assumes that The Boss is belittling him for his choice of location for the boxes of things.  It’s oh-so-freaking-subtle, but that’s what makes this mindset so dangerous; people who make impersonal requests or comments manifest as nightmare marionettes within the passive-aggressor’s mind.  Over time, if you use this tactic with the same person many times, they will eventually become frightened to speak to you, because every time they do they will feel horrible and wrongfully accused and under attack, and there’s nothing they can do to defend themselves.

2. Why can’t they defend themselves?  Because you’ve already made yourself the victim.  It sounds a little bass-ackwards, but self-victimization is a defense mechanism.  Someone can’t hurt you if you’re already hurt.  They can’t power-play over you because you’re already the victim.  By degrading yourself and lowering your own self-esteem (putting imaginary earwigs in your own ear), you have tried to avoid more emotional damage by emotionally damaging yourself first.  You have made yourself seem weak in an effort to control how much someone is capable of hurting you.  The most difficult part about this entire situation is that we develop these passive aggressive defense mechanisms because we have been hurt before – so we hurt other people in order to avoid being hurt.  By other people.

3.  Although the underlying fodder is still emotional defense, “just” and “only” can also be used in a more malicious method.  It can be used to degrade and invalidate another’s opinion or feeling with swift and crushing force.

Person: “I feel very angry that you got hammered at my birthday party and threw up on my bed.”

Other Person: “I was just trying to have fun.”

This power-grab insinuates that Person’s feelings of anger are less important than Other Person’s desire for and goal of having fun.  It’s a sneaky, hurtful way to avoid responsibility for one’s actions, and will likely cause Person’s self-esteem to take a nose dive.  Because language is so volatile and creative, Other Person could even change his response to displace even stronger blame, perhaps with something like, “I was just trying to celebrate with you.”  This implies that not only is Other Person innocent, but Person is an ungrateful hack who does not appreciate the effort put into an event that was all for him.  This is obviously an extreme example, and it should be mentioned that the most hurtful method of employing this evasive tactic comes in small, gradual doses over a long period of time.  Almost imperceptible to most people, insinuation is the ninja of defense mechanisms.  It slithers in through the attic of your soul and quietly peppers your confidence and self-worth with shuriken.  The consistent invalidation of someone’s feelings, particularly in extremely small doses that are difficult to detect, can wreck souls.

Passive aggressive behavior is meant to punish and hurt the other people who may have hurt you in the past, or who may hurt you in the future (read: EVERYONE).  That is its purpose and function, and yes, that is what you are doing.  You are hurting people.  They may be authority figures, they may be your parents, they may be people that you love and adore, or they may be total strangers, but by “just trying to protect yourself,” you are causing similar emotional damage to what someone once caused you.

I most often see instances of “just” and “only” in situations where no one is making jabs at anyone.  They are innocuous circumstances that quickly become hostile via one party’s insecurity and inability to deal with pre-existing emotional baggage.  Whether or not you have actually been insulted does not matter, there is never an excuse or an appropriate time for passive aggressive behavior.  If you feel hurt, betrayed, disrespected, condescended, made fun of, wrongfully criticized, whatever, it is your responsibility to acknowledge those feelings and deal with them in a respectful, clear manner.

Now that I have a nosebleed from trying to explain this very important topic, here’s the bottom line: Getting hurt or offended sucks.  But hurting yourself because you’re afraid of other people hurting and offending you, which hurts and offends other people is just as creepy and disgusting as earwigs.