30-Day Breakup Guide Challenge: Building Something On Day 17, When A Tornado Hit My Ex’s Apartment

Yesterday a tornado hit my ex’s apartment, chewed out a section of the brick wall, swirled the red bricks all over his apartment, flattened his car, and then rained on everything he owns. As I write this, the mean cat we owned together is trapped on the 4th floor (the firefighters won’t let my ex go get him) mewing alone in the rubble. I’m not even sure how to process this. When I first heard, my heart started to race and I ran into my work bathroom and frantically tried to call him. I know we weren’t supposed to talk for 60 days, but I also knew that if I didn’t find out for myself that he was OK, my heart would continue to beat at the steady pace of “cocaine fiend about to have a heart attack.” So what am I going to do?He came into the city last night and we met for drinks (although I had more than enough while I was waiting for him nervously and reading The New Yorker). It was immediately obvious that, like most ideas I have, this was a terrible one. I wanted to be there for him, to laugh when he talked about being a storm whisperer, to offer my weakling arms for lifting bricks off all his sculptures, and even just to comfort him, hold him. But in our current state that was impossible, because it wasn’t my place or role anymore. Instead we sipped overpriced whiskey shots and got into little fights. It was all wrong. We separated with me feeling like I couldn’t do anything right, just as an older lady wearing nothing more than her turquoise and pink underwear, hair rollers, and orthopedic tennis shoes wandered past us at 2 in the morning. It’s hot and the world is going to hell.

So, it’s Day 17 and I’m all worn out and swimming in my own inability to satisfy anyone. I can’t tell if I’m depressed, dehydrated, or just sleep-deprived. But per the suggestion of the book, I’m going to go home tonight and build something. It’s perfect because I have no desire to think about anything right now other than measuring tape and wood.

Now I’m not exactly what someone would call handy, despite my father trading his shotgun (the one he kept in the same closet that he hid our Christmas presents in) to a carpenter so that I could get carpentry lessons when I was 10 years old. Sure, the carpenter taught me how to saw and use a hammer, but he also had a drinking problem and didn’t really notice when I would replace nails with mountains of wood glue. And yeah, I took shop in high school, but that was only because I quickly realized that it was a class dedicated to hanging out with sweaty, cute guys while they built stuff and played great mix-CDs. (I had a type early on.) And anyways, I paid a certain adorable stoner, who wore the same cargo pants every day and hummed Sublime to himself, with cigarettes (I had a fake ID earlier than many of my peers) to do all the cuts for me.

Flash forward 10 years and I’m dating my now-ex, Mister Frenchy Fry, who is building me shelves, installing bamboo flooring, building a stage in our old loft apartment—to be more succinct, building and fixing everything in my life. Well, now I’m trying to learn to be the kind of girl who actually tries to open the stuck pickle jar instead of immediately handing it the nearest pair of strong arms.

What I’m trying to “fix” is my apartment. I moved a little over two months ago and at first I was really excited—I’d rush home after work and paint the walls, search for ‘50s curtains, and even lofted (with some serious help) my bed. But now my enthusiasm has waned and my house is a rag-tag mess if there ever was one. Sure, my kitchen is a great muted gray-blue, but there are piles of crap everywhere because nothing has a place. I have even joked with friends that I should start a blog dedicated to how crappy my life is just so all those people who look at The Selby can read it and feel relieved that not everyone lives in the perfect renovated barn in upstate New York.

So, tonight when I get home I’m going to take out that drill from under the sink and try to build some shelves. Hopefully, the end result will be places to put all my crap so that I can stop living like I’m trapped in an episode of “Hoarders.” But even if my shelves turn out lopsided and barely functioning, hopefully I’ll learn how to do it better the next time around.

Photo: iStockphoto

This month Maude is road-testing our new book, The Frisky 30-Day Breakup Guide, written by Jamie Beckman, documenting her experience along the way. For more information on the book (including where to get your own copy!), click here!

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