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December 27, 2014
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The outburst


It had been one of those days when nothing really goes right. My bad mood swirled around my head like a dark mist as I trudged slowly home. Every step was a bother and even the warm reds and yellows of a beautiful setting sun in the distance didn’t cheer me up.

It hadn’t felt like a productive day in the edit room. An “in-between day” as I often say, where one is in between good ideas. You need them, but they are awful. Today the house of cards I’ve been carefully building felt as unstable as ever.

News of a friend’s illness has been weighing on my mind for the past few weeks. My thoughts consistently stray to his health and then selfishly to my own mortality and then what does it all mean and then... You get the point.

Arriving home I am on the prowl for a victory, something to rally my senses and cheer me up. Finding the mid-progress stereo project, I decide now is a good time to try to make a go at connecting the speakers to the receiver. Spoiler alert: it is not.

Something about taking a high definition sound signal from the television and converting it to analog for the speakers is messing the whole thing up, and we don’t have the right wire, or maybe it’s that the speaker doesn’t have the right connection, or maybe it’s the wrong receiver. I couldn’t really tell you because, to be honest, for someone who considers himself rather technically savvy I am pretty embarrassingly out of my element when it comes to speakers, receivers, TVs and the rest of the home theater situation.

Emily had picked up another set of new cables that day, and I was eager to see if they were the ones to solve the problem and save my day. They weren’t and it didn’t. I grumbled.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I’m just tired,” I heard myself say, in the most irritating way I could muster. I knew exactly what was about to happen but couldn’t seem to control myself.

“Okay, well I’m here,” she said, “if you want to talk about it.”

She was being nice, of course she was, it was just like her.

“I told you we should wait and figure out what cables we need before rushing into this,” I said.

She looked at me harshly for a second and then softened.

“It seems like you had a bad day. If this is about the cables, I can return them tomorrow.”

“It’s not about the cables.”

A low growl emulates from the background as our two dogs play tug of war. They move back and forth, back and forth—one gaining ground, one losing. I would growl if it were more socially acceptable.

“I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it,” I say. “I have to write a column tonight so I’m going to go work on that.”

“I brought home dinner,” she said shortly. “Maybe you will feel better once you eat.”

“That must be it.”

I was seeing red for the next 15 minutes as I ate a little Italian food alone and had a glass of wine. I was still muttering under my breath as my mind spun various kinds of vitriol, when I started to level out. I realized I hadn’t eaten since a very light and early lunch.

A few minutes later I apologized to Emily. She sighed dramatically and then let me off the hook. Gave me a big hug.

“I don’t know where you get the patience,” I said.

“Me neither,” she said, and we both laugh.

“What do you think I should write about?”

“Your outburst. I like it when you write, when you’re honest.”

“Not sure I can write honestly about that. I’d have to leave out XXXXXXX and XXXX.”

“I don’t think you’d have to leave it out, but I know you will.”