Broken bottles, broken plates. Broken switches, broken gates. Broken dishes, broken parts. Streets are filled with broken hearts. Broken words never meant to be spoken. Everything is broken.
When Bob Dylan wrote this song in the late 1980s, he was in a broken state of mind, suffering from a mysterious hand injury that left him unable to play guitar for a long time. Says Rolling Stone: “Somewhat ironically, a song about his broken state was one of the first signs that he actually wasn’t broken and still quite capable of greatness.”
So, what then, can we learn from brokenness?
My current (and ongoing) state of brokenness has everything to do with material possessions and nothing to do with things that really matter, like body parts and/or my delicate psyche.
It started with the hot tub. The very fact that I HAVE a hot tub, makes me realize how utterly pointless it is to complain about it not working. But we do that sometimes, don’t we? Complain when the luxury items that serve us stop serving us the way we’ve become accustomed to. B and I arrived at the cottage on a blustery day several months back to find the lid half open and the remaining water frozen. Yikes. But I’d had the thing for 15 years and had been babying it along of late, so B and I went to one of those “Blow Out” sales at the Western Fair District, bought a new one and figured out how to negotiate the various ensuing details, like cash flow, delivery, a new filtering system, disposal of all of the plastic and cardboard it came in and, oh, and how about this interesting difference? The electrical for the old one was comprised of two fuses, a 20-amp and a 30-amp, one for heat and one for the jets. The new one? It’s 50-amp too, but all together in one fuse, so the electrician had to spend the afternoon instead of just a few minutes. And dang, I haven’t gotten that bill yet.
Then there’s been the issue of my wee Toshiba laptop, the computer I’m writing this blog on. The Geek Squad at Best Buy said, “It’s so riddled with viruses, by the time you spend the money to fix it, you might as well buy a new one.” But I don’t want a new one! I love her and all of her idiosyncrasies. We’ve gotten to know each other quite well over the last five years. We have an intimate relationship now. How can I possibly live without her?
“What, exactly, are you so afraid of?” B asked me the day I was heading to the Apple store to make the big switcheroo, away from Microsoft, to become completely immersed in “i, i, i”, to sync with the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod.
“I get anxiety spending big sums of money. And this “i” stuff is all so intuitive, not in the way I’m intuitive. I don’t get it. Unless one of my kids is holding my hand, showing me what to do, I don’t know what to do. Things I don’t understand make me afraid, I guess.”
My Jazzercise friend Heather said, “You’re over-thinking it.” So, I took everything – laptop, iPhone, iPad – to the iStore and that’s when I found out that I hadn’t really taken everything, because the one thing they needed to get my data onto that shiny silver sliver of an iThing was the external hard drive I left sitting on the kitchen table because I didn’t think they’d need it. Plus, I have to say, the staff didn’t really inspire confidence. When I said, to one of the many employees I spoke to there, “I can’t retrieve the data off of here because I’m not that techie.” She nodded vigorously and said, “I understand. I’m not that techie either.” She works in an iStore! Not that techie?
So, me and wee Toshiba continue to limp along, doing quirky things like being selective about who we’ll email despite the mass deletion of a zillion dusty emails and not allowing iTunes on my iPhone despite the installation of the latest update. Which brings me to my iPod, a relic from I’d say eight years ago. She died one night, just before Jazzercise class, on the same day I’d been to Home Depot to purchase a new toilet seat for the fake TOTO in my ensuite. I carried the broken seat discreetly in a plastic bag so I’d know what size to get, all the while wondering why I’d duct-taped the seat back on the last time the one side of it broke away. Why didn’t I just buy a new one then? It’s kind of shameful, isn’t it? To duct-tape your toilet seat?
Of course, as soon as I tried to put the new one on I remembered that the plastic bolt on the left side refused to unscrew. Cursing, I pulled out every godforsaken tool from the fancy-schmanzy tool box B bought to replace the pink plastic tub I once kept my tools in. I was multi-tasking, updating my Jazzercise playlists on my iPad on wee Toshiba in my office next door and I checked the old teal iPod, and her face wasn’t lighting up, which has happened before, you just have to hit the dial, hard, in a couple of places at the same time and that Apple symbol with the bite out of it eventually shows up. But not this time.
Do you know that if you bang and squeeze on plastic bolts – and curse at them – long enough, they’ll eventually break?
I was pretty excited to finally get that old bolt off and open up that shiny new white toilet seat and place it on the throne. Until I discovered that the no-name brand toilet I’d just had my face under and around and in for the last half an hour was obnoxiously designed with a 6-1/4” inch bolt distance instead of the standard 5-1/2” that every other toilet in the greater London area is designed with!
I actually plugged wee Toshiba into my stereo for class that night and she worked great. Since then, I’ve figured out how to install some playlists onto my iPad, but the iPhone still eludes me and probably will until I take the plunge to a MacBook. My nephew Joe, who’s 13 and a whiz at video games, tried to talk me into staying with Microsoft, but then he said, resignedly and after great discussion, “Well, now that it’s Windows 8, you might as well go to Mac.”
The lid of the back of the fake TOTO sits over the toilet bowl so B and I don’t fall in in the middle of the night. I’m waiting for my handyman to show up, to see if he can figure out the make and maybe special order a seat, or worst-case scenario, I guess I’m buying a whole new toilet.
Which is what we do in Canada, right? But in the Philippines?
After our two week Habitat for Humanity Build there in March, our group wanted, in the worst way, to show our appreciation to Ray and Norma, the couple who let us use their washroom. I came up with this great idea: “Their toilet seat is broken. Let’s buy them a new one!”
Kathie, our team leader, came out of Ray and Norma’s the next day shaking her head.
“What?” I said.
“They say it’s not broken.”
“It most certainly is,” I said.
So, Kathie and Ray and Norma and I piled into that small space and I showed them where the foot on the one side of the seat had broken through the top side, causing a crack in the plastic that pinched your ass cheek as you rose up.
Ray and Norma were honestly baffled.
“It’s not broken,” they insisted.
Brokenness is a matter of opinion. And a toilet seat is a luxury. I guess B and I need to work on our quad muscles, so we can hover safely.
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