Thursday, October 21, 2010

Laundry leads to alcoholism

It's Day 5 of my Operation Laundry campaign and I need a drink already.  You may think I exaggerate a bit.  You know, a little something to justify the need to be a "stay-at-home mom".  A little bit of "if I went to work outside the home, the universe would implode and then who would supply you with clean underwear, hmm?".  But about six days ago, a small mountain of clean laundry lay in the middle of our TV room, on the floor, staring at me.  Yes, it stared.  In fact, it was one sock short of coming to life and opening its wrinkled, multi-coloured jaws to gobble me up.  I stared back.  Back in everyone's closets, laundry  baskets overflowed with roughly two weeks of dirty laundry, spilling over onto the floor.  My Laundry Monster had back-up.  Little henchmen lurking in the dark recesses of our closets.  But my Laundry Monster was in no rush to move.  It was biding its time, waiting for me to crack.  That day came six days ago. 

Now I'll come clean in saying that the Laundry Monster is my own bastard child.  I conceived it.  I provided the nourishment it needed for its growth and development.  I brought it into the world, painfully after many days of labour.  And now in a bid to defend itself, clinging to its own instinct to survive, it means to defeat me.  I mean to whup its butt.  I woke up that morning with only one thing on my mind.  It was on.

However, it was a game of strategy.  I couldn't just barge in and brazenly attack it head on.  No.  This had to be subtle, humane but lethal.  So I nonchalantly began with the two baskets of ironing that were loitering in my laundry room.  One piece after another, I plowed ahead.  One basket down, one to go.  Day 2 heralded my plan to divide and conquer.  I creeped surreptitiously into the darkened closets... Whites were separated from blacks, and these from delicates.  Oh the humanity.  But I showed no mercy as my day revolved around the mind-numbing task of moving wet loads to the dryer, and dry loads to sorted into ready-to-fold and need-to-be-ironed piles.  Folded piles were then delivered to their final resting places.  Day 3 meant more ironing, and dingy towels dying to be put out of their misery.  I obliged.  Day 4, ironing.  And today, Day 5.  Damn those men's shirts.  Damn them to hell.

But there is light at the end of my miserable plight to return to my throne of domestic diva extraordinaire.  Seven shirts and three pairs of pants sit awaiting their fate at the bottom of my ironing basket.  Yes.  You heard right.  The bottom.  And it's in sight.  Who knew hitting bottom would be such a sight for sore eyes.

So I think that a stiff drink is perfectly acceptable given the circumstances.  Anybody who has gone through Laundry Hell and lived to tell the tale would agree with me...  Cheers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Recession Chic

Dear Mr. Recession,

I find myself in an oversized sweatshirt, cropped sweatpants a few shades shy of white, and wannabe Ugg from Target.  It's getting cold.  I'd rather be back in bed, but a daughter needs taking to school and a husband needs taking to his real estate license course-- activites not conducive to hiding under the covers with a clear conscience. 

Yes, this is what you, Mr. Recession, have reduced our dreams to.  But I just laugh in your face.  So I have a child in a public school system.  National ranking says it's not a bad one.  Now, I do admit, one's uppity ego demands private.  (We don't go around looking down our noses, of course.  But ask yourself this, if you had a million or two, would you really stay where you are?  Be honest, now.)  So I have a husband who is desperate for an income and is burning the midnight oil and elbow-greasing some ol' WD-40 on the neurons in order to get a real estate license.  Yeah, being self-employed ain't cutting it anymore.  But wait till the housing market picks up, baby.  Guess who'll be buying you a drink then, Mr. Recession.  I still resent, however, that you would choose to pick on a small defenseless housewife who used to make a meager supplemental income (in that meager attempt we make to feel like a productive member of society once more)... until her place of employment decided to shut its doors...  That wasn't very nice.

So here I am, Mr. Recession, in all my defeated housewife glory in the midst of a recession... at the supermarket.  I bring a list.  Apparently, over half of all purchases made at a supermarket are unplanned and put to poor use, thereby wasting money.  I, on the other hand, take a list... and get so distracted and lost in thought that I forget half of the things actually on the list...  How's that for saving a buck?  But today is a success.  I'm like a junkie out searching street corners, looking to score.  Buy 1 Get 1 Free is my crack.  I've honed my skills to such finesse that I know to overlook the slick packaging of national brands and zero-in on the cheaper store brands like a lion will stalk the weakest of the herd on the serengeti.  My math skills may be crap, but the per ounce pricing next to the unit price is like the stench of blood in the water to a great white shark.  I prowl those aisles like I'm ownin' it.  Price reduced?  Time to stock up, baby!  I've got my store card and I know how to use it...

And I don't believe in coupons.  Not unless they're for a decent restaurant, and no, by that I don't mean Zaxby's where you can order deep-fried brown on a bed of brown with brown mystery dipping sauce and a side of brown.  Oh, and a 24 oz. refillable sugar shock to your insulin levels...  You know, just in case you needed something brown to wash all that brown down with.  Blech.  Mr. Recession, I apologize for my use of foul language, but I do believe in cooking from scratch.  And most of the coupons you find are for prepackaged food items that can easily be made at home from scratch or pooled from different sources, or for junk food that our waistlines really could do without.  Don't get me started on Lunchables or Uncrustables.   Individual bags of chips?  I buy a big $2.00 bag and whip out some baggies.  Don't have time for making individual sandwiches everyday?  I get freaky with my freezer.  It does all kinds of good.  Much easier to swing by a Chik-Fil-A every weeknight?  My slowcooker's loins are achy for me.  Have a hankering for some cookies to go with your afternoon tea?  There's some flour and sugar in my pantry thinking of inviting me over for a menage a trois.  Bring it on, Mr. Recession.  And bring your own apron.

Don't get me wrong.  I bought disposable diapers for my baby, and I alone am cause for the financial success of the paper towel industry.  I do not compost (yet), and I use deoderant... not cornstarch or the occasional lemon.  And I buy the 4 oz. package of basil instead of growing my own.  (In my defense, I do make my own pestos.)  I am making an effort, though.

But let me see if I've got it right.  It seems to me that what you're trying to tell us is that we've forgotten how to get back to basics. I appreciate the reminder, Mr. Recession, I just wish you'd quit bashing me over the head with it.  Because now I'm heading home, having walked past the Starbucks counter even though every FIBER in my being wanted me to stop for a tall half-caff vanilla soy latte.  I'm heading home to brew up a cup of Folger's Half-Caff with a splash of Silk's Very Vanilla Soymilk, no sugar needed.  And a batch of homemade scones with butter and blackberry jam.  Because, Mr. Recession, you may take the privilege of more than one car, educational options for my child, financial peace of mind for my husband, reduce my annual physicals to every other year and dentist visits to once a decade (not that I mind not going to the dentist... I choose not to floss and it's nobody's business but mine)...  You may even take my house and force me to downsize.  I am tickled pink because all that does is cut down on cleaning duties!  And it may smart a little that my closet is a few seasons behind what's current... But you may not have my faith in God or my coffee and most certainly not my scones.  Good day, sir.

Kind Regards,
Kiss My Butt

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 1

I am a housewife, yes.  I never set out to be one.  Very few of us do.  But this where we end up, wondering how we got here and where on earth are we going exactly.  This over laundry and dinner and temper tantrums.  Housewifery is indeed a noble instutition and one that should be venerated much more than it actually is.  Men seem to think, "Well, my mother did it and was happy... Why is my wife complaining about it so much?"  Why do we complain so much?  Is it that much harder than the alternative? 

One, we are not our mothers or our husband's mothers, but sometimes feel we must be (many a woman I know will refer to her husband as her "other" child).  Second of all, we find ourselves in a very unique time in history.  We have the gift of higher education and the opportunity to succeed in the workplace in a way unprecedented.  We enter universities and hold not only degrees, but Masters' and PhD's.  We envision careers and leaving our mark in the world, making a difference, and "being somebody".  We have the right to express ourselves and our opinions. 

We are enlightened and liberated and hold ourselves to an extraordinary standard.  This thanks to self-help books, shows, and magazines convincing us we can do it all with the right mantra under our belt. We are expected to look like supermodels, so we diet constantly, fall short miserably, spend our time in gym clothes (note I do not say we actually go to the gym even though we are attired for it), and simply end up in the plastic surgeon's office uttering the words 'breast augmentation' and 'mommy makeover'.  Heck, it turns out even our vaginas need a stitch or two!  I'm not aware of this ever being an issue not too many generations back...  But now technology is such that there is a lotion or a procedure for any aesthetic ailment one can conjure up. 

And, boy, can we conjure up an ailment or two!  Because not only must we look good, we gotta feel good, too!  So gone are the days when we would just sweep our darkest feelings and innermost turmoil under the rug; now we must label our demons and scrub them out with therapy and chemicals.  There's a happy pill out there for you too!  Because we not only must reach for the stars, we're reaching for nirvana, baby!  And woe is she who cannot keep her cortisol in check.  So now it takes a village of psychoterapists to raise a child and reason with the child and empower the child... when a good old fashioned "because I'm your mother and because I told you so" would have sufficed in days gone by.  Now we are terrified of scarring our children for life if we do not have the right methods or techniques or nervous system depressants for disciplining them...

And part of reaching nirvana is being saintly.  When one is saintly, one is selfless.  Nowadays that means 'volunteer work'.  At your child's school, at church, a community based organization...  The modern housewife  must volunteer her time to someone at some point.  Apparently we have too much of that on our hands... 

Thanks, Hollywood for my self-image issues, and Oprah for convincing me there must be a better me somewhere in me, and thanks Martha for sweeping the cobwebs from my eyes and conveying the importance of an organized and spotless pantry...  Please excuse me, I must now work in some gym time, some personal grooming time (hair, nails, make-up, clothes and appropriate accessories), dedication to my children's homework, diet, emotional and physical health, extracurricular activities (and the list goes on), breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the family, time dedicated to friends (otherwise I run the risk of being ex-communicated by my peers) and their activities and issues, housekeeping, my marriage and how to keep it from going stale...  All before sunset today... Of course I have time to volunteer my time...  It actually seems to be burning a hole... in my head...