A Season of Creative Destruction (December 26, 2013)

Over the year-end holidays, as a society, we tend to take a break from things. The endless rat race of work, household chores, dinner, sleep and repeat is interspersed with welcome down time to focus on the important things. Broadcast television programs go on hiatus in deference to the absent viewer, away from the idiot box living life. Children are granted a reprieve from the structured format of the school day, and many of us quite willfully bedeck our living spaces with items we’d never consider aesthetically desirable the rest of the year – like fake trees.

But for yours truly, there’s one habit that never falls out of favor, no matter what date is displayed on the calendar. And that is clumsiness, or to capture it more broadly and accurately, I am drawn like a magnet to the snafu, even if I’m not the explicit instigator. So as I review the lovely holiday gifts I received from friends, family and co-workers, I must also take stock of items and intangibles I’ll strive to replenish in 2014, all the victims of unforeseen calamity.

The Top Layer of Skin on My Hands

A combination of lackadaisical maintenance and epically shitty winter weather, even by Chicago’s infamous standards, has conspired to completely zombify the palms of both hands. Of course the only way to minimize the suffering of pompholyx eczema is dedication and consistency. Generally I do both of these things well, but since I no longer have anyone’s hand to hold or a body to snuggle at night, I let things slide. However I wish not to remain a tactile pariah in 2014. So I’m backing to working on management in earnest.

Widmer Brothers Tulip Glass

In April of 2011, I visited a friend of mine who was, at the time, living in Portland, Oregon. Big fan of the weird, liberal vibe of that town (and its art deco, vintage signage) and one of the activities planned that weekend by my pal – a tour of the Widmer Brewery. Most people acquainted with me understand I am normally Team Wine, but when beer is a) local and b) free, who am I to stay “no, thanks?” My buddy was kind enough to let me take both souvenir Tulip Glasses back to Chicago with me. They survived a ride in my suitcase, various types of beverages and a near-miss or two from the antics of my furry babies.

One of the set however was no match for my anger at last Sunday’s utterly deplorable play from the Chicago Bears in a 54-11 road loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. The long-gestating rage I have borne against limp quarterback Jay Cutler came to a head (again), resulting in an ill-timed arm flailing which sent the glass sailing from my nightstand, crashing against a wall. Were I the crafty sort (I am not), I might have considered a sentimental repair job. However the 5,001 pieces that littered the hardwood floor of my bedroom hinted that I should just grab a broom and dustpan and get on with it.

New Pair of Jeans

Early yesterday afternoon as I rolled up my cousin’s suburban Lincolnwood driveway, I thought briefly to myself: this is the year. 2013 will be the first when nothing unusually ghetto occurs at the extended family Christmas celebration. Certain problem people chose to abstain from the gathering. No one’s marriage was in trouble of which I was aware, and the litter of cousins in my generation has accrued careers, stable homes and in some cases, highly advanced degrees. There was every reason for optimism.

I underestimated the sudden, extreme microbursts of acrimony that often accompany sibling rivalry, however, and my relatively new, dark grey skinny jeans paid the price. My sister Jenny, a champion baker, contributed to the holiday table, among other goodies, some delicious vanilla cupcakes topped with fresh strawberry buttercream icing. They were as lovely to behold as they were tasty to consume. It turns out the cupcakes will also do as assault weapons in a pinch.

On a return to my chosen seat after victoriously scoring a bottle of red wine and a movie ticket in the annual white elephant gift exchange, I was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time between two first cousins waging sudden battle in an angry frosting fight. I heard the sickening tear of stressed denim on the left knee as I turned away. I was not quick enough. The elder of the dueling cousins stepped on my boot, causing my leg to lock. The battle yielded various admonitions, the loudest emanating from my 62 year-old Uncle, father to the warring cousins. As it happens, it was time for me to leave in order to return the rental car. Indeed.

Fresh Perspective

Early December witnessed the sudden (although perhaps not completely unpredictable) implosion of a long-term romantic relationship. The circumstances and details surrounding the breakup are murky, painful and in the end, largely inexplicable. I will never have the explanations and answers I desire.

Unfortunately, I succumbed to the logical fallacy into which I have habitually fallen in times of personal crisis: the inability to resolve serious conflict, the rejection from another wrestling with demons I will never fully understand means….there is something utterly, terribly wrong with ME. I put everything I had and more into this. I am unlovable. I am hopeless.

I am farther along in my learning in this regard, difficult as that may be to see, than I once was. I struggle to understand in a real way that I cannot control everything. Other people and their baggage are not my fault. There’s nothing I could have done “right” enough to make someone change if they are comfortable as they are. And most importantly: to be solo and experience pockets of loneliness is infinitely preferable to constant anxiety, dysfunction and drama. When I was a child growing up in a chaotic home, all I wished for was independence and a clean, quiet place to enjoy it. And now I have it. I won’t give that away on the cheap in 2014 – or ever again.


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