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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Have you ever fought with an inanimate object? Like the table leg you bang your knee on so hard that you swear like a parrot who spent too much time with a sailor? Then you have to kick it just to prove that you’re stronger and better than it.

Or sometimes when you’re pulling on a pair of pajamas so you can get in bed after a long and draining day, your toe gets caught in a little pocket where the stitching came loose at the hem. You try to wiggle it out but of course it’s wedged in there, and the only way you can get it loose is to actually reach down and pull the hem away from your toe, but the hem is WAY DOWN THERE and you’ll be gosh darned if you’re going to have to lean all the way over just to accommodate a stupid hem.

Failing to push, pull, wiggle or otherwise dislodge your toe from the hem, and absolutely refusing to give in to the evil pants who just want you to work harder than you already did all day, you yank the pants as hard as you can and swear you’re not going to give in even if you have to rip the entire hem out.

So you kind of do, but there is something deeply satisfying about tearing through the pants, because you won. And also because they were just some cheap pants you bought on Amazon during a pandemic and you weren’t going anywhere anyway, so you just bought a whole closetful of the same cheap pants in every color.

If they weren’t so cheap in the first place, the hem would not have separated and caught your toe. And now with the hem torn off you can sleep easy knowing it will never get caught again.

Or is it just me?

There might have been a little bit of that in my day today, though rest assured all of my pajamas are currently in one piece. I never said I tore them, I’m just saying… you know, maybe it could have happened at some point.

Fighting inanimate objects is sort of a deranged tenacity. But I feel like there is also something positive to be said for it. It’s not giving up, even when faced with sheer indifference. It’s a persistence of doing, and doing it the way you see fit, not the way random circumstance has prescribed.

Now, I’m not advocating kicking tables or shredding pants hems, but this whole thing can manifest in productive ways, too.

Today, like most days lately, started at 50,000 feet and then dropped right over the edge of Monday without a parachute. The details are irrelevant. All that matters is that I did not have a word until much, much later. In fact, I thought not one whit about my word, even though it had clearly been hovering there waiting to be noticed.

What I thought, was, “Yes, I am absolutely going to eat that extra roll.” And, “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to dump half the contents of the office closet onto my desk last night.”

Also, “I’m seriously going to get nothing done today.” (Where “nothing” means “everything except what I set out to do.”)

It was that last one that provoked me most, as I scanned through my daily checklist and realized I was four aces away from a winning poker hand.

That was also when I started getting mad at inanimate objects. The internet, for being slow today and making things take twice as long. Zoom, for doing that whole, “Can you hear me? I can hear you, can you… hello?” thing. Every fraction of a second that something caused a delay meant another fraction of a second subtracted from my life.

Then it was 7pm and I still hadn’t done my yoga for the day, nor had I thought about what to make for dinner, let alone prepared anything. And that’s when my word retroactively inserted itself into my day.


The table leg will not win. The pants will not win. The busy day will not win.

I will not go quietly into 8pm without having done ALL the yoga and crossing every last important thing off my list.

Including writing about my word.

Trust me, I sincerely thought about writing it in the morning. Who would notice? It’s not like this is going out on the AP wire. But I was determined to do things my way, at least where my things were concerned.

Determination is what gets me on that yoga mat every day to begin with. It’s why I called a friend even though I could have waited until tomorrow. It’s how the client project got done instead of lingering on the to-do list, even though nobody would have cared if I did that last bit in the morning.

Sometimes you just have to do a thing, even if the universe throws all the obstacles in your way and dares you to defy it. Defying feels good. Even, sometimes, if it’s just a table leg.

Photo: the demise of my pajamas.