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Frayed Nerves and Ugly Cries

Mornings are always fraught with emotional extremes. Especially if your phone alarm startles you to such a degree that you flail at it like a howler monkey and, in the process, smack your slightly sick boyfriend across the back of the head. The last thing anyone wants on their conscience at 4:00 a.m. is accidental battered boyfriend syndrome.

Not that I’d know anything about that.

And then there’s the work commute. As if cranking up the car at 4:45 a.m. isn’t depressing enough, you have to chant a little inspirational mantra to steel your nerves for the drive and day ahead.

Now, after building yourself up, all you need is “Eye of the Tiger” as your morning’s soundtrack. So, you turn on your iPod and hit “Shuffle.” Then, and only then, Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” oozes through the speakers.

Game over. Next stop: Ugly Cry Central.

But not this morning. Around the time I decide against taking a tire iron to the back of the slow-moving Jeep ahead of me, I start getting a familiar, gut-wrenching pain. No, not gas.

Mostly fear and self-loathing, with a dollop of despair.

Now, the fear doesn’t stem from being genuinely afraid of my coworkers. Rather, it springs from a worry that I’ll forget to pack my professional filter and call one of them a horrendously rancid name. That it’ll just slip out.

“Pass me the toner.”

“You’re a withered cunt.”

Just like that. I know it’s going to happen.

And let me just say, I despise that word. It’s just plain horrible. But when someone crosses the threshold from insane to despicable, it’s warranted. And for a particularly crazed lunatic (a.k.a., McNutterpants) who moved herself into the vacant manager’s office like a delusional hermit crab—but who also goes batshitcrazy if you move anything in your personal office space—it’s the only moniker that’ll suffice.

But if I really think about it, pity dances along the periphery of the charged ripostes I mentally conjure. Because, honestly, I feel a little sorry for McNutterpants. Sure, my life isn’t perfect: I’ve got debt sprinkled here and there; I’m no magazine model; I’ll never be rich; I sometimes scare passersby with my Chia Pet-rat nest hair; and I have a weird penchant for carrying dental floss in my pocket. Still, with all that aside, I haven’t settled for one of life’s sad consolation prize packs like McNutterpants.

I don’t know if I’ll succeed in forging my own path through life’s deep, dark undergrowth. But I’ve got to try with my own tools. Even if their edges are worn by repeated blows, their hilts rusted by tears.

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