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I'm terrible with appliances. I misuse everything and with force. Lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners are my go-to victims. There isn't anything I won't plow over. I don't care about the sounds of hard objects crashing and disfiguring the inner workings of these tools. I just keep going until they stop in despair.

A couple of days ago I was on a cleaning spree, attempting to eradicate grime in all the places grime likes to take up residence. I obsessively ran the vacuum cleaner over everything and everywhere. There was no stopping me. It made all the sounds and left the roller wheel tracks on the rugs, as if it was doing its job. But the truth was that although it sounded like a vacuum cleaner, it was not really sucking up anything. It was simply cycling through dust and letting it land right back on the floor. Over and over and over again. My little world was no cleaner than when I began.

So I did what an appliance abuser does. I began shaking and kicking the vacuum cleaner, hoping that a jolt of force would make things better. I shouted terrible off-colored words at it. The vacuum cleaner simply stared back at me in silence. I sneered back, plopped myself down on the floor, took a deep breath, and began to methodically take the machine apart. Before long I was looking down the barrel of debris and glitter (why do we have so much glitter?). I unraveled a coat hanger to help me hook the clog. Jab after jab, lumps of hair, plastic toys, buttons, and bits began to break free. Finally, the hose was empty and again, I methodically reassembled the machine, plugged it in, and it began sucking as designed.

So often thoughts and actions get stuck. They get stuck in emotion, false expectations, complacency, and poorly designed, clumping glitter.

If there was ever a time to grieve profoundly for the loss of life and agency, it would be today. Get it out. Because we need to ensure we don't get stuck. It takes clear thinking to methodically dismantle structures that do not work. And jeez, we have a lot of clear thinking to do.

Also, coat hangers should only be used for clothes and unclogging vacuum cleaners. And roasting marshmallows. No matter what the Supreme Court says.


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