HANGING SHELVES… AND OTHER TALES FROM THE HARDWARE IMPAIRED

I used to think of myself as something of a handy-woman. I have my own tools. I can hang my own pictures, make minor repairs around the house, spackle, hang drywall, and paint. When I was a kid, we helped remodel our old farmhouse. I used to help spackle and drywall old houses in Indy when I was in college. I have a good handle on how tools are supposed to be used.

Therefore, when Jene’ handed me a shelf and said, “It’s yours if you want it,” I was very excited. After all, I’d hung all the shelves in my bathroom and even used a power tool (drill) to do it. No problem.

I’ve seen bolts and nuts like this particular set before. They’re long bolts with anchors that flip open after you shove them through the wall. No problem. I drilled four holes the size of my pinky in the wall and tried to get these bolts to work. The anchors did not deploy, so I was stuck with four holes in the wall and nothing to hold the shelf up with.

I cleverly disguised the holes by covering them with bright sheets of yellow paper. Nobody will notice that. Then I noticed that the bolts were stuck in the holders for the shelf and would have to be removed if I hoped to hang up the shelf.

I finally started the process of unscrewing the bolts from the undeployed (and very stuck) anchor wings. Wouldn’t you know, the wings broke, thus complicating their removal.

I wanted to cry. Something so simple had gone so wrong and while I was trying to laugh at my situation and play it off, I really was having a tough time not throwing the shelf and all its bolts, nuts, anchors and such through the window. It was bad enough that the bolt was stripped and in my attempts to separate it from it’s captivity, the screwdriver slipped and I scratched my thumb. No blood was drawn, but it was very painful.

While I struggled with the bolts and the shards of metal that peppered my bedspread, I kept remembering times my mother would tell me how stupid and worthless I was when I couldn’t do something so simple. As the contradictory woman she was, though, in the same breath she’d say something like tools were for boys and that if I knew how to do all this boy stuff, I’d grow into a woman who would never need a man, or attract one. She told me once that she’d raised me to be too independent and that I’d better learn to act stupid or I’d die an old maid. (Though I am considered an old maid, it’s not because I’m intelligent and can’t act stupid. I know this).

I don’t know why my inept attempt at hanging this shelf opened that wound, but it did. It was weird, though, because since my mother died four years ago, I have not heard her voice. Not one syllable. At the funeral, I sat there and every hateful thing she used to say, I put in the casket with her… and when they closed the lid on the casket, she fell silent.

Still, I didn’t hear her voice last night, but her words are still there, hidden in a corner of my brain… that is apparently tied to how I handle mechanical situations in this case. I found myself frustrated and screaming, “I’m not stupid!” because I don’t want to be or act stupid for the sake of not appearing capable. It’s just not worth it to me. Yet, there are times I feel completely dumb, and when I do, it’s so tough to fight through the barrage of words that attacks me from within, and I find myself trying to be smart in areas I’m just not cut out for just to prove that I can be smarter than she ever thought I could or should be.

It makes me uneasy sometimes to think that after all this time some pattern or behavior or belief, whether good, bad, unwarranted or real just pops out into my consciousness and there it stares back at me like four pinky sized holes cleverly disguised by bright yellow paper. I know God holds us to the fire so the dross rises to the top and there, dealt with, he drains off the bad so we can purer and closer to who we’re really supposed to be. Even so, moments like being confounded by four silly bolts is still scary to me sometimes. It makes me wonder what’s next and what might trigger it. God help me next time if I’m spreading cream cheese on a bagel and something weird and deMOMic pops into my head.

All I can do is keep praying that someday the corner of my brain with deMOMic diatribe hidden in it will be emptied once and for all.

The shelf is hung and today I found a scoop of spackle in a yogurt container on my desk (from J – see the borrow a husband program – BAHP from my move in November) and I will fill the holes this weekend and that will be the end of this part of the story.

Now I just need to find some cool items to put on the shelf. After all, I went to all the trouble to hang it.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sharon says:

    Your degree would be an incredible start. My God, Ditto, you earned that sucker through hard work, sweat, late nights, and…being REALLY smart…to have survived Radaker, Milley, and Borders.Did I mention…SMART.

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