Hobbling to the subway with a bruised foot, scraped palm and sore elbow, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the day’s events. Nine hours. In the span of nine hours, I had taken two different (wrong) subway trains, almost fell in the file room when my foot got stuck in my sweater, missed a doctor’s appointment for my daughter because of my idiotic ex-husband, and utterly wiped out in the middle of one of the busiest commuter stations in Philadelphia at the height of Friday rush hour. That same day, I also managed to complete four or five really large work assignments that had been gnawing at me for weeks and publish another blog post. Perhaps the more interesting part is that this is a pretty typical day for me.
Take a random week back in April, which I assure you is not hyperbole:
Monday, I got into a gut-wrenching argument with one of my best friends in the middle of Citizens Bank Park.
Tuesday, my power got shut off and I ended up washing my face and brushing my teeth by candlelight.
Wednesday, without actually doing anything other than walking to the office, I somehow sprained my ankle, and had to buy a pair of overly priced flip-flops (which gave me blisters of course) just to limp to the subway.
Thursday, I Calumbo’d my way out of a Tinder date when I discovered my prospective suitor had a wife. (Mr. Pharma Guitarist for those playing along at home).
Friday, my ex’s “paramour” lost her shit on me in front of my kids about my lawyer referring to her as his “paramour” in the recently-filed divorce complaint.
Saturday, I broke my vibrator. (That obviously needs no comedic spin; it was a dicey couple of days until I bought a new one.)
And on Sunday, I discovered for the first time that my favorite pair of jeans, which I had just worn to work that Friday, had a hole in the ass.
This is what my friends have come to refer to affectionately as “the shitshow.” And examples abound in my life. Most of my friends have at one time or another said I’m one of the smartest people they know, yet I definitely lack some common sense. (Of course, that seems to be most evident when they’re around to witness it.) I’m also fairly confident if you polled the men I’ve slept with over the years, they would tell you there’s definitely no lack of coordination when the clothes come off (or on a dance floor for that matter). But I’m a complete klutz who can’t walk two blocks without almost falling at least once. Incredulously, I efficiently manage multi-million dollar complex insurance claims, but can’t seem to promptly put a basket of laundry away to save my life. I can calmly tend to a gaping, bleeding gash in my daughter’s forehead after she trips and splits her head open on the stairs, but I can’t get through The Giving Tree with a dry eye.
I’m a dichotomy; a yin to my very own yang. And while I’m not really into astrology and the like, when your zodiac sign is a well known sexual position comprised of two visually opposite numerals and also a hard-shelled crustacean with an incredibly squishy interior, one has to wonder if this ubiquitous incongruity is more than mere coincidence. Mostly everyone knows that Deevers is an alias. But the fact that I even HAVE an alias further corroborates this hypothesis. Some of you may be thinking that perhaps I should seek professional help. And there have definitely been times in my life I’ve wondered if maybe I wasn’t the batshit fun kind of crazy, but more the lock-you-up-and-throw-away-the-key kind of crazy. Rest assured, I am of sound mind and not getting locked up anytime soon (unless you ask nicely). So how then do I explain this polarity of person? Have I always been this way? To answer this, I need to set the Wayback Machine to the summer of 1984.
I was vacationing with my mom and her then boyfriend (now my amazing step-father) and another family or two in Wildwood, New Jersey. It was a Saturday night in one of the most popular Italian restaurants on the Crest. On a slow night in the summer, people would wait well over hour for a table so by the time they finally sat down, they were ravenous. It follows then that anything that delayed their taste buds from savoring the delicious fare was not appreciated. As anyone with kids knows, going out to dinner is always a risky proposition, particularly on weekend nights typically reserved for adult dining. But it was the shore during peak beach season, so kids were expected. I think it was August, but thanks to 80’s fashion, powerful air-conditioning and an extremely overprotective Italian mother, I was wearing my brand new, white satin rollerskating jacket. We had all just placed our orders with the waitress and my parents began bragging about how I had been invited to participate in a special program through Johns Hopkins University that coming fall (which basically amounted to me taking the SATs in 7th grade, but it was supposedly a big deal). Not a fan of the parental fanfare, I decided I needed to use the bathroom. With my back to the main floor of the restaurant, I stood up, not realizing another waitress was approaching the table behind me with one of those gigantic oval serving trays on her shoulder carrying their order. Perfectly positioned on the tray were 8 heaping plates of ravioli (their signature dish) and 8 large drinks. I’m sure to the people around me, time stood still as I rose from my chair. But it was a split second before I was on my feet, my shoulder coming up under the tray and clipping its corner full force. Despite how seasoned a server she was, she couldn’t avoid what she couldn’t see. In a matter of seconds, the entire tray of pasta and beverages was out of her hands and up in the air. Thanks to gravity, it quickly came crashing back down with not one but two points of impact. The first assault was on the waitress as the tray’s contents landed all over her head and clothes. The patrons were next, most wearing the meals they had been mere seconds away from enjoying, as the tray plummeted to the ground. And those who didn’t get hit directly by the falling fare ended up with ricochet damage as the plates crashed to the floor. My parents jumped to their feet, making sure no one was hurt as some of the plates had shattered on impact. The manager came rushing over to figure out what had happened while the other waitresses tried in vain to clean up the colossal mess. It looked like the Italian restaurant scene in every mafia movie ever made: blood everywhere and everyone panicking trying to figure out what the fuck just happened. Except the destruction wasn’t caused by a rival family’s bullets, but rather a clumsy 12 year old girl who just had to pee. As they continued to survey the damage, I looked down at my jacket with trepidation because while I didn’t feel anything hit me, I was sure it was ruined. The front was clear. Incredulous, I took it off and turned it around. The back was clear. I stood mere inches from a scene that would have made Scorsese proud, and I had not one drop on me. My dad apologized profusely to the waitress and diners at the other table, and offered to pay for the dry cleaning for one or two of the women who were not as fortunate. I think he may have also picked up the tab so the waitress didn’t have to. It’s funny, but as vividly as I remember the first part of that evening, I don’t remember if we even ending up eating. I’m sure we did and that it was delicious, but that memory has been overshadowed by the Ravioli Massacre. During that same vacation, I also got “banned for life” from one of the amusement areas for crashing a go kart into a wall. But I’ll save that story for another time…
While I’m sure there are other instances before that summer when this dichotomy was evident, for obvious reasons, the memory of a smart but situation-ally dumb, klutzy yet gracefully lucky Tween Kat, is a poignant one. Interestingly, these contrasts have only gotten more pronounced as I’ve gotten older, thus leading me to spend quite a bit of time trying to understand why one person would possess such diametrically opposed personality traits. And I think I’ve stumbled into a plausible explanation. As the only child and only grandchild in an Italian Catholic family, I basically grew up being told what to do and how to think. I wasn’t allowed a lot of freedom in the choices I made, from what to wear to prom to when to go to bed as high school senior. More often than not, what I wanted was trumped by what my family thought was the better option for my future. I realized at some point in my late teens or early twenties that this was because my mom was trying to remedy what she saw as mistakes she had made in her own life by trying to control mine. As an example, I was in the gifted program at a private elementary school which involved not only a grade-ahead math and reading class each year, but additional coursework outside of the regular curriculum. One year, I signed up for a dance class. I’d been told I was really good and wanted to start drilling down into the different styles to see which best suited me so I picked ballet. A week later, my mom made me drop the class when the school announced a new advanced English class was available at the same time. I was maybe 10 at the time so I wasn’t left with a choice but to listen. So I did, and that was pretty much how a majority of the decisions in my young life got made.
But there was always this pull on me, the voice of a free-spirited, creative, fearless girl who wanted to resist, who believed she was destined for something far greater than any plan her family had for her. In my younger years, that pull led me to make decisions that were more motivated by the opportunity to piss my parents off than any real desire to do whatever it was that girl wanted to do. But as I got older, I began to notice that the things that voice prompted me to do were things that brought me pleasure, peace and genuine happiness – writing, dancing, photography, sex. However, it wasn’t until I lost my job a few years ago that I came to fully appreciate just how much of that free-spirited, fearless girl is still inside me, and how badly she’s been struggling to break free. Which got me to thinking that maybe these seemingly random events in my life aren’t random at all, but rather are manifestations of that carefree, fearless Yang when the rule-following, bossy Yin starts to get too heady or needs some redirection. It’s like life’s way of not only reminding me that shit happens, but of teaching me how to use those mishaps for my own growth. Years ago, I would have been mortified if I had slipped and fell in the middle of a crowded train station or had to admit I lost power because I couldn’t pay my electric bill that month. But instead of being embarrassed when I fell on my ass that day, I grabbed my phone and started drafting what ultimately would become this post. Unfortunately, having an epiphany like this in your forties is exponentially more difficult to process, given all of life’s competing responsibilities. Add to that the lack of financial resources to subsidize the major life changes necessary to pursue the carefree, creative side full-time, and Yang remains forced to sit in the back seat instead of riding shotgun with Yin. But as I continue to explore these liberating facets of my personality and discover new ones through various experiences, I know it’s only a matter of time before Yang grabs the spare keys and finally gets behind the wheel.
I wish I could say I typed that last sentence and then gracefully slid back from my desk and sauntered out to the subway with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. But as I hit save and stood up to leave, the sole of my very comfortable yet very worn shoe apparently detached from the shoe itself and got snagged on the rug, causing me to trip and almost fall head first into my desk. And apparently my hand is bleeding. So Yang and I are going to go grab a drink, right after I staple my shoe back together.