Painful Objects

Collective Narrative

Assignment: Create a narrative experience centered around a single or several objects.

Something happens to me when I hurt myself in my own home. I temporarily become blind with rage. I’m angry at myself. I’m furious at the object. If I can pin the incident on someone else, I’m furious at them, too.

I can’t control this lizard brain. And it scares me that I can instantly become so unlike myself. I decided to catalog the objects in my home that have ever caused me physical pain. Mostly it’s an exercise in data collection. But maybe reliving some of these painful moments will better prepare me for the next one.

It should come as no surprise that the inspiration for this list was a stubbed toe.

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The Kitchen

Cabinet Door:
3+ offenses

Whenever I’m stooped over the garbage can or the kitchen sink and a cabinet door is left open, I’m destined to hit my head on it when I straighten up. Because Max is more likely to leave the cabinet doors open, he is also more likely to be the object of my fury. The last time this happened I screamed FUCK and Max thought that I had really seriously hurt myself, but when he called out to see if I was okay I was too angry to speak. Even when he ran in to check on me I still couldn’t say anything. It was only as the pain subsided that I could ungrit my teeth and apologize.

Pain Scale: 9/10
Expletives? FUCK.
Worth it to remove the object? No. Cabinets need doors.

!
Stove top/Oven:
3+ offenses

Even though it’s not unusual to burn myself cooking, my lizard brain doesn’t kick in when this happens. Is it because the pain isn’t instantaneous? Burning pain always takes a second to register. When I burn myself I don’t usually feel anger at all. It’s either self-pity or just a stoic acceptance. Oven burns are badges of honor in the quest to adulthood.

Pain Scale: 5/10
Expletives? Muttered
Worth it to remove the object? No. The stove giveth way more than the stove taketh away.

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Teapot:
~1 offense

When I was making myself pour over coffee I accidentally splashed boiling water. Fortunately the water hit the countertop before hitting me so the injury was mild.

Pain Scale: 2/10
Expletives? None
Worth it to remove the object? Not the teapot’s fault. I’m all squared with the teapot.

!
The Living Room

Binder clip:
~1 offense

My boyfriend Max is a teacher so there are binder clips all over the fucking apartment. I’ve done a good job of avoiding them but I stepped squarely on one the other day. Fortunately its irregular shape seemed to disperse the pain, and no expletives were uttered. I think a good indicator of pain intensity is presence/absence of expletives. I think I’m going to go back and add that as a category.

Pain Scale: 1/10
Expletives? None
Worth it to remove the object? Even though I’m petty enough to trash the binder clip just to get back at it, the pain just didn’t warrant its removal.

!
Coffee Table:
3+ offenses

I’ve had multiple run-ins with this coffee table, and the last one was the worst. I actually broke my pinky toe on this thing while I was pacing around the apartment taking a phone call. The pain was so intense that I was unable to experience anger, or any other lizard brain emotion. My pinky toe is still a little crooked from the incident.

Pain Scale: 10/10
Expletives? Hard to recall. Mostly sobs.
Worth it to remove the object? While I didn’t get rid of the coffee table, I did repurpose it as a TV stand so now it’s in an area of the apartment that’s virtually un-stubbable.

!
Rocking Chair:
~1 offense

Stubbed my toe while vacuuming. The pain was short-lived.

Pain Scale: 2/10
Expletives? None
Worth it to remove the object? Definitely not. The chair was my abuela’s and has huge sentimental value. I think the chair would need to tackle me in my sleep in order for me to get rid of it.

!
Couch:
~2 offenses

Stub my toe on this thing occasionally. The nice thing about it is that I can immediately collapse on the couch to recover.

Pain Scale: 3/10
Expletives? Not that I recall.
Worth it to remove the object? No. I need a couch, and I have the feeling that any other couch would offer similar opportunities for stubbing.

!
Bathroom:

Medicine Cabinet Door
~1 offense

Very similar the kitchen cabinet scenario, but the pain isn’t as bad because there’s less distance between the sink and the cabinet door (so there’s less time to gather up speed before impact). In some ways more frustrating because then I’m forced to look at my pissed off reflection immediately after the incident.

Pain Scale: 6/10
Expletives? Fuck
Worth it to remove the object? No.

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Sink and Bathroom faucets
~1 offense each

When I dye my hair I’ll rinse it out directly under the faucet, and I’ve hit my head on the faucet trying to extricate myself. Again, not much distance between me and the faucets so the pain isn’t so bad, but hair-dyeing can be such an ordeal that it’s hard not the take the injury personally.

Pain Scale: 2/10
Expletives? Yes
Worth it to remove the object? Neither possible, nor worth it.

!
Toilet Bowl
~1 offense

This one’s a little foggy, but in the middle of the night I ended up sitting on the toilet when its seat got left up. I think I was a little drunk at the time. This didn’t hurt too badly, just the hard impact of mis-judging the distance between my ass and the surface below. I think my buzz smoothed most of my anger/frustration/shame. No anger towards Max because he never ever ever leaves the toilet seat up. I probably left it up while I was cleaning the toilet or something. I have strong feelings about the seat getting left up. I wish I didn’t because I’m pretty sure every other article on Breitbart reads something like “Women March on Washington because Poor Dude Left the Seat Up”. See this fucking article. Or don’t see it because your day was probably bad enough already.

Pain Scale: 1/10
Expletives. No. But fuck Breitbart.
Worth it to remove the object? Obviously not.

!
The Bedroom

Cactus:
3+ offenses

The thing was potted poorly and leaned to one side. Whenever I watered it, it would fall off the sill and land on my bare feet.

Pain Scale: 4/10
Expletives? Probably
Worth it to remove the object? Eventually I stopped watering the thing out of spite. When it looked to be about 75% dead I threw it out.

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Seashell Necklace:
3+ offenses

This ended up on the floor when I was moving a bunch of stuff around and I keep stepping on it. Every time I do, another delicate seashell breaks beneath my feet. This makes me sad because the necklace definitely belonged to mom/abuela/tia. Also they probably bought it on the Island aka Puerto Rico aka the Homeland. This wasn’t some mass-produced thing, someone painstakingly collected and threaded these little baby seashells onto the necklace. It’s still lying on the floor along with little seashell shards because I can’t bring myself to examine it and see exactly what condition it’s in.

Pain Scale: 1/10
Emotional Pain Scale: 7/10
Expletives: Sad expletives.
Worth it to remove the object? Even if it’s broken, I’m not going to be able to throw it away right now. I’ll put it in a dark place and falsely promise myself I’m going to fix it, until the next time I find it again.

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Bedframe:
3+ offenses

Always sucks to stub your toe right as you’re about to go to bed. As with the couch, at least I have a soft place to writhe on. Also maybe worth it to mention that when I was hauling the frame around on a giant cart in the IKEA parking lot, I hit a curb and slammed my shin into one of the boxes. The bruise lasted about 2 weeks.

Pain Scale: 3/10-7/10
Expletives: Here and there.
Worth it to remove the object? No. This MALM ikea bed frame with two storage boxes cost me blood, sweat, tears and 250 dollars. The bed frame stays.

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