A Pile of Phonebooks…My Stress Shelf

Today, as I was driving down the road with a screaming 6 week old in the backseat, the variety of “issues” I am dealing with of late suddenly materialized in a vision of phonebooks…and I began to see all the things causing me stress as big, heavy, useless phonebooks. And if you think about it, it makes sense. In today’s world a phonebook is a big waste of space: the info they contain is more easily accessed via the web, they usually arrive on the rainiest day of the month so you are left with a sodden heap, and as you get another one each year, they just seem to pile up – like stress – a big pile of useless rain warped newsprint.

As I mentally scrolled through each problem, I pictured one of those giant phonebooks getting dropped onto a rickety old shelf – you know, like the ones you buy from K-mart made of particle board that just don’t seem to appreciate being asked to perform as God intended them to – ie – to hold items with any degree of competence? But I digress.

So there I was, fingers gripping the steering wheel, tightening just a bit more when a particularly high-pitched scream pierced the humid air of the car; uppermost in my mind was the fact that I just failed my vehicle emissions test…with a car that has barely 40,000 miles on it. The “obd” indicated a problem, but after running a diagnostic check – no actual problem could be found – which means a trip to the car dealer for me…THUNK (that’s the sound of a fat old phonebook landing on the shelf). Next is the frustration of yet another installment of Appliance Hell. My fancy, EXPENSIVE, less than 3 month old dryer has decided to flake out – and, like the K-Mart shelf, doesn’t seem to want to perform the task God (or some dude in Korea, it’s an LG) intended it for – so after a brief visit with a serviceman on Tuesday, I’m waiting for a part to come in, then another visit to be scheduled, which will then hopefully result in my having a working dryer again. The good news is it’s still under warranty and none of this will come out of my pocket – the bad news is it flipped out last Friday and with a newborn in the house – I FREAKIN NEED TO DRY MY CLOTHES!!! I am doing some loads pioneer style and hang drying them, but just refuse to do towels or baby clothes that way, I might as well use tree bark to dry off with when I get out of the tub and dress my baby in sandpaper. So, the highlight of my day will be when I get a call saying the part has come in…knowing my luck, the repair guy will plan to arrive at the same time I have scheduled to go get my car looked at. THUNK. The fact that this machine could malfunction with no warning and after I so recently purchased it freaked me out enough to send me running back to Home Depot to buy their extended warranty package. Something I am slowly coming to learn as a consumer – I will never buy an extended warranty for a car again (those car guys will weasel out of any and everything), but for certain appliances, where just having a dude come out and say, “Yep, it’s broke.” and charge you $80 minimum…well, $100 for a 4year extended warranty doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. Again, I digress – back to the growing pile of phonebooks. As the bundle of ear-splitting sound in the seat behind me reminds me, I just gave birth to a baby barely six weeks ago – as more than evident when I look over my body. My feet have finally shrunk down to close to normal size, so I am able to wear most of my shoes again – but my fingers are still not my own. I can slide my wedding ring on, but it is so tight I risk losing that appendage if I leave the ring on for more than 10 seconds. Having experienced carpal tunnel syndrome with this pregnancy, I fear my joints may have swollen permanently, and in order to show the world I did not bear my children out of wedlock, I’ll probably need to get my ring resized. THUNK Speaking of size, my weight, an issue never far from my mind, is, forgive the pun, weighing me down. I have lost about 27 pounds since delivering the baby (granted, 8 of that was baby) but I still have a long way to go before I am back to where I was before I initially began my journey into motherhood with my first daughter 5 years ago. Sometimes I forget how much bigger I am now, then I see a picture someone has taken of me, or catch an unguarded glance in the mirror (ah! stretch marks! ah! a belly that still seems 5 months pregnant!) and the reality is all too unpleasant. I know what I have to do, and am doing it, but the results are slow in coming and the here and now of what I am just makes me very unhappy. THUNK. Moving from the list of repairs I need to make to my body, is the even longer list of things that need to get fixed around the house. The leaky faucet in the downstairs bathroom. THUNK. The very leaky faucet in the upstairs bathroom. THUNK. The side garage door that has a gaping hole from an old dog door, pathetically covered over with duct tape. THUNK. The sinking concrete patio that causes torrents of water to flood towards the house. THUNK. The broken piece of trim in the kitchen. THUNK. The fact that we still need to have the gutters and fireplace professionally cleaned. THUNK. And this list doesn’t even touch on the various more cosmetic wish-listy items I have in mind for the house – such as new carpet, updated kitchen counter tops, a brick patio/enclosed gazebo for the backyard. Ka-Thunk (that’s a little phone book hitting the shelf – I have no time to stress too much over the luxuries right now). All these repairs cost money, and that is another phonebook all its own…my career situation; which has been steady in the 5 years since I embraced semi-stay at home motherhood, is most likely about to change, and the contribution I make to the household income, will change with it. THUNK.

As you imagine, my shelf is on the verge of crumbling into a pathetic mess of particle board chunks, but it –  like me, will hold out – because, what else can you do? I pull into the garage, calm the lungs with legs down and try to remember all the good things I have – all the good things in my world that I should be so thankful for. And then I see my blessings as structural reinforcements to that shelf – and they are so plentiful I know that it will support all the phonebooks I can find to dump on it.

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