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December 09, 2004 - 9:51 am


Everything expands by some degree when heated and contracts when cooled. What are the odds that the coefficient of expansion for two materials as different as steel and concrete would be virtually identical? Well, they are (around 10 millionths per degree Celsius), and that is how they work so well together, one in tension and one in compression. If the steel rebar, when heated, expanded at a different rate than concrete, then the rebar would separate from the concrete and provide no reinforcing. But out of sheer coincidence, their coefficients of expansion are nearly the same. I think that’s pretty cool.

This is what I need. I need my own personal reinforcing that expands and contracts at precisely my coefficient. If there’s no pressure on, I want the security of knowing it’s right there with me anyway. If I’ve got the weight of the world coming down on my super human shoulders at work, at home, and in the Hall of Justice, I want to feel it holding me together so I don’t crumble into a pile of rubble.

I think if I were a Mormon, this is where I’d bring the conversation around to telling you all about the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Americas after the publication of the King James version of the Bible and offer you a free copy of the Book Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints explaining how the presence of Jesus can have a calming effect in your everyday life.

But I’m not a Mormon, and I’m not even sure where I’m going with the whole reinforcement/religion metaphor. I just know it’d be nice if I felt like someone had my back once in a while. I mean someone who hasn’t already died for my sins or whatever.

When I tried explaining this to my therapist a while ago, she said in that patronizing therapist-like way of reiteration, “It sounds like you’re feeling underappreciated and would just like a little acknowledgement.”

“Acknowledgement?” I replied, trying to remain calm. “Who cares about acknowledgement?

“I balance the family’s checkbook and pay all the bills, drop the kids off at school every day and pick them up three days a week, stay abreast of current events, clean the house every week, plan all meals, do every bit of grocery shopping and cooking, bathe and feed both kids consistently, keep all the insurances up to date, take the children to the doctor and the dentist when necessary, and stay home with them whenever they are sick. Did I mention that I am the president of my own residential design firm? Well, I am.

“I take our animals to the vet, take and pick up the dry cleaning, plan and execute all birthday parties (fancy homemade cakes included), do the laundry for all four of us, shop for kids’ clothes and shoes, keep the car clean, volunteer with girl scouts and PTA, water the plants, make kids’ costumes, and host dinner parties.

“But wait; there’s more! On the personal front, I also manage to make time for a monthly book club, run several times a week, read poetry regularly, watch great films, and contribute respectably in the occasional trivia night. I’ve maintained my firm girlish figure, even after bearing (and nursing) two healthy, smart, well-behaved children – one with NO pain medication at all (which is a true story that I am too cool to share with you even if you ask).

“All this, plus I’m still a really nice person! I want some help, damn it, not A PAT ON THE BACK!”

My therapist suggested we get a housekeeper. Although she totally missed the point of what I was saying, at least she didn’t offer me a bible. I think I’d have had to ‘acknowledge’ her with a blow to the head with a sturdy length of rebar.

And, hey, maybe I will get a maid after all. We can sit around and talk about concrete and religion together once a week. Maybe go out for a walk or something.


reading -Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
viewing - Barry Lyndon
listening -"Back Seat Driving" by Mark Isham

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