This year, my husband kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him I didn’t want anything. It’s been a roller coaster year for me and I just couldn’t think of some present-like thing he could buy for me. Most of what I want are things that will (or might) come later: I want a quiet place to write. I want two cats (I just recently got past wanting the other one back. It took a while but I got there.). I want a writing career (that was also something I just admitted to myself this year). But those are not things that come in a nice pretty box. So I told him I didn’t want a present. And I honestly meant it.
Today was a Chinese finger trap kind of day. You know what that is, right? A Chinese finger trap is a toy that looks innocuous; it’s a tube-y thing made of woven material. You can slip your fingers in really easily, but when you try to pull them out, the material constricts across your fingers and makes them difficult to remove. (The trick is to wiggle your fingers sideways as you remove them so you work with the fabric rather than against it.)
I’ve had days like that. In fact, we all have. They’re those days where the harder you try, the worse things get. It’s counter-intuitive, like the finger trap. I mean, the harder you try, the more progress you should make, right? Try, try again and all that. But that’s not how these days work. My day is a case in point.
This morning, I woke up later than I meant to. Finger trap days often start this way. I plopped some frozen waffles in the toaster oven for breakfast. Simple enough, right?
The waffles slipped down off the toaster rack, curling themselves up at the back. After digging around with a fork (thankfully, I didn’t burn myself), I was finally able to remove the curled-up, extra-done waffles. Yum. (Clearly our toaster oven hates me. I won’t even go into the number of bagels it has launched across the kitchen.)
Then, this evening, I drove through the rain and darkness to my class, battling rain-phobes the entire way. (You know the type. They slam on their brakes when a drop of rain lands on their windshield.) I parked outside the building and headed inside to get my parking pass from the security guard.
He wasn’t at the desk. So I waited. He didn’t return. And I was running out of time. Being a practical girl, I quickly ran through my options: 1) Move my car to the parking deck and pay $4, 2) Go ahead to class and risk getting ticketed, or 3) Change the date on the last parking pass I had.
I chose option 3. The last pass I had was for December 1, so changing the 1 to a 7 worked just fine. I know. It’s horrible, but I knew he was going to write me a pass anyway. Ethically, I didn’t feel compromised.
That done, I made it to class with 7 minutes to spare. And when class was over, there was no ticket on my car, so success! I survived my finger trap day.
They’re a pain, finger trap days. But the thing is, if you didn’t have finger trap days, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the mental image you get when I describe a woman who is rushing out to her car. She has her blazer halfway on, the hand from her blazer-clad arm wrapped around a thermos of coffee while an overstuffed work bag attempts to drag her elbow down. Her other hand, which clutches her keys, is waving around behind her back, seeking the other sleeve of her blazer, while she shuffles and hops in an attempt to capture her feet in her shoes.
See the picture? We’ve all been there. That’s what makes it great. We get it. We laugh because, well, that’s us.
And that’s what finger trap days are for. They remind us that, in spite of our best efforts, we’re still human. We haven’t morphed into super-human status just yet.
Until then, may your finger trap days be few and may your humanity be abundantly clear.