Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Unstress Me, Please

Hand over the secret formula. I need the power of unstress. We cannot find a library book. I SPY Treasure Hunt is missing. Hey, that's sort of ironic... I wish I could spy the I SPY book. Humor is not undoing my stress. The house is clean, so why is 1 book so impossible to locate? Seriously, can anyone explain why when we need to find something (keys, wallet, cell phone, library book, nose ring, bundt pan) it remains lost, very inexplicably and profoundly lost?

After much effort in searching Max sighed and said, "Well, I guess it's anywhere we haven't looked." This particular lost article is especially vexing because it is Max's lost library book. Max is diligent, responsible, organized, orderly. Max knows the book was near his bed. Now we don't know what the book is near, but it certainly is anywhere we have not looked yet.

I guess the stress I am experiencing is partly from my bad library Karma. Trying to be a good library patron has been a lifelong ambition. Yet, for as long as I can remember I have failed to fulfill the basic expectations entailed in a library relationship. I have always misplaced books, returned books overdue, owed quarters. This time I resolved to be 100% responsible, efficient, good. I enjoyed library dialogue with the kind women in the library, so that by establishing eye contact and a relationship of trust, I would reinforce my desire to do good. I chose educational, beautifully illustrated and well written books. I separated the borrowed books from our home books and kept them on their shelf. I felt certain that for once my library experience was going to be simple, routine and uncomplicated. Alas. I am undone. Today I must make eye contact again with the kind library women and I must admit my failure.

Here life has provided me with yet another opportunity to pass my knowledge on to my children. "Boys, Maria you too, borrowing is a responsibility and responsibilities must not be taken lightly. We have agreed to take books from the library and we have agreed to return them. The librarians know us, they have helped us and they trust us, and so now we must endeavor to retain their trust by finding the missing book..." and as I tell them all this I must remain calm. They should see the effort it takes to fulfill an obligation, without the drama and teeth gnashing, hair pulling utter frustration from trying to find one frickin' @#$% book. I must show them how to accept consequences with dignity and humility.

Everything is on computer these days. I imagine my 38 year life of library misdemeanors is all on file. I imagine the librarian will type in my whole name, middle name too, like a scolded child, and pages of history will appear on her screen. Every late fee, every missing tome, every misstep will be before her and then the gravity of my sordid past will make her shoulders square and she will suck in her breath and turn slowly to me... Max asked whether we'll be doing any jail time... her look of contempt, of disappointment will be my jail time. I will be caught in her bureaucratic gaze, and writhing in her look of loathing.

Dread, dread, dread, dread.
The library closes at 5.
We've got only 6 hours to find the book.
Everyone. Remain calm.
This is not a drill.

1 comment:

Julie C said...

I, too, have always wanted to be a good library patron, but it always escapes me. Our library system now does two things that make it both easier and more difficult to be a friend of the library: email reminders and online payment of fines. I use the email reminders for my good intentions and the online payment of fines to avoid the guilt of confessing to the librarian in person!