Friday, January 1, 2016

Tools of the Trade

I want to be the kind of person who doesn't need a hammer, shovel, and icy steps to provide an outlet for anger and frustration. But as of the waning hours of 2015, at least, I am not that kind of person.

By all accounts I should have been happy, and I was.

Mostly.

It was Paige's birthday. I had everything I needed (for the night and in general) and had barely lifted a finger, deferring all the work of things like making Harry Potter "Quidditch snitches" out of donut holes to Geoff, as usual. We had a house full of kids coming and I couldn't have them tripping up the stairs.

But something was gnawing at me, as "something" always does--quite inconveniently--when I am supposed to be feeling the most grateful and content.

The something is hard to explain, but it had to do with the intersection of past and present. Long, winding, complicated interpersonal relationships with lots of history, misunderstandings, phases, and frustrations.

Enter the shovel, ice, and hammer.

See, I had to clear the steps anyway, and I knew it was going to be hard work. I took one slug of whiskey straight from the bottle (to warm up, to warm up!), and began the daunting task of chipping away at our front porch glacier.

You have to swing the hammer to break up the ice, and then you shovel away the pieces.

WHAM!

I closed my eyes reflexively against the ice chips flying up into my face. I thought about all of life's vagaries; missed opportunities; the immutable character traits that for good or bad make us who we are; and the pointlessness of dwelling on any of it.

WHAM!

I hit the ice as hard as I could, conjuring mental images of the things and people that were making me angry, unhappy, jealous, and despairing for no reason and every reason all at once.

WHAM!

I summoned all of my stupid, boiling, petty, pointless rage and channelled it into the head of a hammer. I grabbed the heavy, metal shovel by its wooden handle and beat the steps repeatedly and with all my might, stripping them of ice, down to the sandpaper and wood underneath until I was out of breath.


I must say, it was all rather satisfying. The hammer and shovel: Tools of the neurotic rage trade.

But . . . what am I supposed to do in summer?


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