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Is that a hug, or are you trying to kill me with compressive stress?

Young’s Modulus aside, stress isn’t just tensile or compressive.

Stress is a toddler waking you at 2am, screaming about a nightmare he refuses to discuss.

Stress is having a crisis at work that forces you to stay late and work over the weekends in order to save the company.

Stress is, less than a week before the end of the month, bolting awake (shortly after finally drifting back to sleep post toddler’s nightmare scream-fest) and realizing you completely forgot about your promise to read a friend’s book and provide feedback by the end of the month.

Stress is a neighbor’s car alarm going off at 4am, triggered by the feral cats that march in a continuous, unseen stream to defecate on your lawn, shortly after you’ve managed to drift back to sleep after recovering from the double-whammy of an extremely vocal toddler with a bad dream problem and remembering you have less than five days to read a friend’s nine hundred page tome about sentient moss that declares war on landsquid using flying alpacas as a proxy army.

All after pulling an eighteen hour day at work.

Stress is the coffee maker, already hard-pressed to meet your caffeine requirements, shuddering violently, sloshing you with scalding hot but still not coffeed-up water, and then giving up the ghost the morning after all the above.

Oh yeah, and stress can also be shear.

But even though stress isn’t just tensile or compressive (or shear) doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel that way when you experience it.

There is good news, though, so don’t abandon all hope ye who clicked here and read.

The good news being there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel held up by supports under a great deal of compressive stress.

And hopefully zero shear stress.

The toddler will grow out of the night terror stage.

Or end up institutionalized at a psychiatric facility well out of earshot.

The crisis at work will be solved, and your schedule return to normal.

Or it won’t be, and the company will fold and you’ll find yourself with a lot of free time to relax and not worry about work.

The friend will be understanding, given all the stress you are under, and not hold it against you when you warn her that the critique will be late.

Or she will hate you till the end of her days, spitefully poisoning your reputation amongst your shared circle of writer friends, thus ensuring no more beta requests ever cross your desk.

Those feral cats will die, eventually, and their population will stabilize, eventually, so that the fecal flood zone will stop rising, probably long before it hits your front porch.

Or you’ll be arrested for discharging a shotgun in a public place at 2am, and PETA will put you on their ‘boycott and send hate mail’ list, causing your book sales to briefly spike but ultimately bottom out as people read the press and police reports and realize what a psychotic bastard you are.

Especially when they find out about the four-year old you packed off to an institution just so you could sleep at night.

The coffee machine can be replaced, assuming that work crisis is solved and you still have a job. And those burns will heal, after a long and painful period that introduces you to a level of misery you had no idea could exist.

Or, if you’re lucky, the hot water plus an energized but malfunctioning coffee maker will result in you being fatally electrocuted.

In that case, all your other problems won’t seem quite so serious.

I thought writing this post would help, but all in all, I find I’m not feeling any better about my stress levels.

In fact, I think I’m experiencing shear terror.


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