Wednesday, April 22, 2015

All over bar the shouting

"You can express your deepest of truths even if it means I'll lose you and I'll hear it
You can fall into the abyss on your way to your bliss, I'll empathize with."


Neil yelled at me on Sunday night.

This is noteworthy because, in the more than 12 years that we've been together, this was the first time.

I think that's a pretty remarkable thing.

Almost as remarkable is the fact that I didn't cry.

Let it be said right here, I don't like yelling. I don't like confrontation. I don't like drama unless I'm well on the sidelines.

Neil on the other hand has said that he doesn't mind confrontation. He likes to rant and by his own admission, there are times that he enjoys yelling.

Still, he's never yelled at me, and I've never seen him yell at anyone else.

Here's what happened. I was emptying the kiln because my practice is to shut it off at bedtime. My kiln, a Paragon Bluebird XL, has two bead doors, but from the start, I found maneuvering two doors awkward.

(This isn't my kiln. It's just a photo of my model from the Paragon website.)

Neil bolted the doors together so they operate as one. Since 2009 this has worked out really well for me. But Late last night I noticed that the insulation block on the inside of the left door was very loose.

So I asked Neil if he would take a look at it. I thought it would be a simple fix, a tightening of the bolts, and I would have done it myself except I don't understand how the bolt-tightening tool works. Hell, I don't even know the name of the tool. I just knew we had one.

Neil wasn't enthused, he was about to get ready for bed, but he did go out to the garage and look at it. And like me, he thought it would be an easy fix. So he sent me back into the house.

Ten minutes later he came back in, in a rage. I'm not sure why, if the bolts were frozen or stripped, or for some other reason, but apparently he was only able to do more damage. As he tried (and tried) to tighten the bolts, insulation chipped away and snowed down onto the shelves below.

"Don't ask me to do things this late at night," he screamed.

Then he went into the bedroom, shutting the door in such a way as to punctuate his words, let's just say.

Silly, I know. What shocks me a bit is his ongoing unapologetic demeanor. I expected - and would have predicted - that he'd apologize for flying off the handle.

I got ready for bed after a while and when I climbed in he was already sleeping, but he woke up enough to mumble goodnight. I said nothing. We both went to sleep.

He'd left for work when I woke up, which is a typical workday morning for us.

About 8 am he sent me an email. It said this.
Possible to get two new insulation blocks for the kiln door?

I can wrest the four heat-sealed bolts off, and replace with new bolts, washer and nuts.
And that was all that's been said about the matter since.

Neil came home from work and we went to dinner with son Chris as planned. We got home and read a chapter of Harry Potter. Then Neil loaded the car and left for a conference in The Woodlands. I won't see him again until Thursday night late. He'll go straight from the conference to play softball.

I asked him to let me know he got there safely and he sent me a short note saying he had. I asked him if he was going to call while he was gone and he said yes. I'm sure he will, he usually calls late, after 10 pm. Sometimes he sends an email instead, saying he's tired and he'll call the next night.

I know he loves me. I know he was just frustrated that he couldn't fix the kiln. He might have been asleep on the couch upstairs when I asked him to look at the kiln. Falling asleep on the couch always puts him in a bad mood, begging the question of why he doesn't just go to bed when he's that tired instead of staying upstairs, flipping between women's softball and poker on TV.

But I can't help feeling like it's the elephant in the room. We both know it's there. It happened, he yelled at me, and maybe we don't have to talk about it and maybe we do.

(Photo by Steve Evans from Citizen of the World, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Or maybe I'll just let him bolt new insulation onto the kiln doors. I ordered some today from the kiln manufacturer, complete with new bolt assemblies, and it's being sent priority mail. That's seventy some dollars I won't be spending on something else. Like more beads.

I didn't grow up with much yelling. My parents didn't fight, or they didn't fight in front of the kids. My dad never raised his voice. My mom was more of a sulker. I may have pitched a fit or two when I was a teenager, but on the whole anger existed in silence. For almost a whole year my dad and I didn't speak to each other and I'll be damned if I have a clue about what we fought over.

The only bone of contention I remember, growing up, was what I perceived as favoritism regarding my brother. In my parents' eyes he could do no wrong, whereas I knew he was into some scurrilous activities. Why I thought it was my job to enlighten my parents is anyone's guess. I do know that I had no self-confidence, and despite my good grades, despite keeping my nose and throat clean, I lived with the strong subliminal message that I failed somehow to measure up.

All to say, the tension in my teens stemmed from my sense of unequal treatment of my brother and me. Granted he was an easier kid from my parents'perspective, more sociable and outgoing and helpful, where I was moody and hormonal and a nonconformist. By which I mean I wore jeans instead of a dress to Thanksgiving dinner.

Still, my role models for a relationship were two people who respected each other, working out any disagreements without shouting or door-slamming or flying objects.

So of course, the first time, I married an adult child of alcoholic, dysfunctional, vitriolic parents who had a combatant, explosive, violent approach to problem-solving. Before they hung it up - after 20 bellicose years - and divorced, it got so bad that while still a teenager, my first husband left home, left the state actually, and went to live with an aunt and uncle in Indiana where hefinished high school and went on to college.

He ran from it, but he'd been imprinted and impaired, and there was plenty of yelling and door-slamming and object throwing in my first marriage. I hated it. Jon seemed to think that whoever yelled loudest won the argument. He yelled, I cried, until one day I had to leave so that our daughters wouldn't think our relationship was normal and marry men who would scream at them like their dad screamed at us.

There was more to it than that, but that was the most compelling decisive factor in the end.

Despite everything, I'm feeling OK. I've been working on a new series of beads, using more colors toward the neutral range, but rich ones, warm ivories and browns, accented with some soft sage greens and subtle blues.


I'm opting to make more small round set beads, because the pressure of shaping vocals is harder on my right arm. I love dot designs, so that's what I'm making a lot of and hoping that they'll appeal to my customers. I'm also playing with frit blend and silver, which generally appeal to my customers, although I know that basing design decisions on what sold well before is a flawed model.

I'm also excited about a show I have coming up on May 1, because some of my beads have always sold better in person. It would be nice to have a good inventory clear-out.

Yes, clear the trays, clear the air, it's all good.


"I'll give you countless amounts of outright acceptance if you want it
I will give you encouragement to choose the path that you want if you need it
You can speak of anger and doubts, your fears and freak outs, and I'll hold it
You can share your so-called shame-filled accounts of times in your life and I won't judge it
And there are no strings attached to it

You can ask for space for yourself and only yourself and I'll grant it
You can ask for freedom as well or time to travel and you'll have it
You can ask to live by yourself or love someone else and I'll support it
You can ask for anything you want, anything at all, and I'll understand it
And there are no strings attached to it

I bet you're wondering when the next payback shoe will eventually drop
I bet you're wondering when my conditional police will force you to cough up
I bet you're wondering how far you have now danced you way back into debt
This is the only kind of love as I understand it that there really is

You can express your deepest of truths even if it means I'll lose you and I'll hear it
You can fall into the abyss on your way to your bliss, I'll empathize with
You can say that you have to skip town to chase your passion and I'll hear it
You can even hit rock bottom, have a mid-life crisis, and I'll hold it
And there are no strings attached to it

You owe me nothing for giving the love that I give
You owe me nothing for caring the way that I have
I give you thanks for receiving, it's my privilege
And you owe me nothing in return."

(Alanis Morissette)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz