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From Seething Rage to Restoration (Hardware)

Amber Adrian

Do you ever get so mad at someone that you would deeply enjoy watching their head go up in flames? Probably not, because you're a better human than I am.  

It's rare that I get so angry that violent destruction feels like the only solution, but it's happened a few times. It's never fun. When the mad hits me that hard, I do things like kick holes through my bedroom wall. (High school. That happened.) (About the same time my brother punched a hole in the hallway. Maybe repression is genetic.) 

This morning, my rage boiled over.


Raging hellfire of my anger. Also, a rather pleasant fire from a gloomy evening last week. 

I tried meditation. I had to imagine myself encased in ice on a frozen tundra - seriously - to quell the mad long enough to let the ten minutes on my timer tick by before getting up and pacing around again. 

I tried running. My skin felt like it was chafing inside my running clothes and, because the temperature was a blasphemous 49 degrees, it felt like I was breathing ice. 

I tried throwing a fit. In the privacy of my house, of course. I highly recommend a good tantrum - screaming into pillows, swearing, crying, etc. But after about twenty minutes of that, I still wasn't feeling any better and I was starting to get dehydrated.

So I turned on Atomic Blonde, that fall-of-the-Berlin-wall spy movie with Charlize Theron. I finally understand - after decades of rampant media consumption - the attraction of violence in movies. Charlize (can that possibly be her real name?) is a damn competent action hero and, as she kicked her way through East Berlin in awesome late-80s era shoes, my need for blood was satiated without doing any actual harm. To me, another human, or a hapless wall. 

After the mindless emotional pacifier of watching Charlize Theron kick KGB ass, I decided retail therapy was next up. Somewhat ironic, given the premise of the movie. Hooray for capitalism! 

Honestly, it worked brilliantly. Strolling around in the outdoor mall in the sun, buying shiny hair clips to replace the gap-toothed brown monstrosity I've been using for months, splurging on a pink sweater (half off at Banana Republic!) and pair of cream gloves (which I actually did need) with golden thread (probably didn't need that) and an animals-in-mittens mug was super soothing.

It finished wrangling my rage into submission. Which is actually sort of miraculous for a mall around Christmas time. 

I even went into my favorite store - Restoration Hardware Baby and Child. Seriously. I love it. It's where Marie Antoinette would go to set up her nursery if she lived in early 21st century California instead of 18th century France. They have unicorn rocking chairs and mini birch trees covered in fairy lights and hand-drawn giraffes and tasteful tea sets for tiny tea parties. And, no, I don't have kids.

I can't really explain why I love it so much. It's like when I told someone at a party that I went to see Bad Moms...and really liked it. She turned more fully toward me and said, "Why?" in enough of a disbelieving tone that I honestly felt kind of dumb because she knows I don't have kids - and I also didn't have an answer. 

I LIKE WHAT I LIKE AND I WANT TO LIVE LIKE A PRIVILEGED MARIN SIX-YEAR-OLD. Apparently. (I mean, who wouldn't? Later, I saw a kid in a pink sparkly tutu with a matching pink wig topped by a tiara. She was eating a chocolate chip cookie and I thought, "That eight-year-old is living my best life.")

All this actually makes sense. When I get so overcome with anger that I can't manage my emotions, I basically turn into a tantrum-throwing four-year-old. Then I plop myself down in front of a movie and buy myself a chocolate chip cookie. Hey, whatever works, right? 

Frankly, I'm just proud that I tried meditating before giving up and turning on violent TV. Also proud that my coping mechanism is now "chocolate chip cookie" rather than "bottle of bourbon." I take my wins where I can get them.