#EverydayLife · Uncategorized

Unscrewing a Maker of Messes

I’ve never really fixed anything in my life. I am a breaker, a shatterer, a clumsy girl spinning into the obvious; I knock blatant treasures over and fail to see the pieces on the floor. Or, if I do see it on the floor, I burst into tears because whatever precious bowl I had been carrying is now in pink triangles on the kitchen tile. And you can’t take breaking something back; even glue carries a scar. I’ve always hated that I am a little bit of an idiot that way, clueless in my constant frenzy.

Some boyfriends have found it endearing. My parents have probably condemned it; they are patient, but I know the amount of times I have ruined something once perfect has not escaped them.

I am a professional maker of messes, and never before had I learned to fix them. That is, not until I almost started a fire in my apartment (my first place on my own, for the record) when I forgot a plastic spatula on the stove. It melted, smoking and potent, sticking to the round burner that had been heating pasta. I panicked, to no one’s surprise, and frantically shoved the spatula in the sink but forgot that the burner was still on, cooking the remaining plastic — and also producing a lot of smoke clearly heading for the fire alarm. If I set the fire alarm off in my new apartment building and had to explain to the men in red that I accidentally melted a spatula, that would possibly be the most embarrassing moment of my life. Although I have a few others that could be a close second.

I turned the vent on over the stove but the smoke wasn’t being sucked up enough, still dangerously hovering by the detector a few feet away. I ran for the storage closet where the mini window fan sat, waiting for humidity or heat or for chaos in the kitchen. I set it up so that it blew the smoke perfectly towards the vent, therefore salvaging my pride and the peaceful evenings of neighbors. Relieved, I turned to the dishes — but of course, within seconds the “perfectly placed” window fan crashed to the floor. I jumped and picked it up, noticing that the blade was broken.

“Of course,” I thought. “Now I have to buy a new fan.”

I stuck it back in the closet, making a mental note to find a cheap replacement the next time I was at Wal-Mart (oh, the horror of that store…). But a couple of days later, I took the fan back out and looked at it. Maybe this was fixable. Maybe I hadn’t broken something beyond repair this time.

I sat down cross-legged on the floor and inspected the fan. Yup, you could unscrew the back — and it looked like the blade just needed to stuck on the little round knob that held it. I found my plastic box that held a cup of nails and a Marshall’s clearance kit including a screwdriver, measuring tape, and small hammer. A rudimentary tool box, but nonetheless, it contained tools.

I unscrewed each screw, annoyed when they weren’t catching, but there was no one else to do it for me. So I kept unscrewing and eventually took the back off. I cleaned the blade and put it back on. I fixed the knob that had come loose. I screwed it all back together and plugged it in. And…it worked. Me, the maker of messes, had un-made a mess. It was a twisted, satisfied feeling, to be twenty-three and realize you’ve only ever broken things; never fixed them. Fixing things is good. Fixing things makes you realize you might be a maker of solutions, not just problems.

Sometimes, unscrewing is what puts you back together.


3 thoughts on “Unscrewing a Maker of Messes

  1. We’ve all been there (DIY)……… learning either out of curiosity, or desperation, or simply the lack of finances to replace. Now all you have to is remember what you did to fix the fan because there is a very good chance that similar skills will be required for your next project. I can clearly remember a fixing hole in the exhaust pipe of my first car with a fiberglass repair kit. Driving off it sounded beautifully quiet (to start with) and apart from a severe smokescreen behind me, all seemed well. Fibreglass is flammable and therefore did not respond too well to a hot exhaust pipe! I learned! 🙂


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