Memorial Day Menu: Humble Pie

After enjoying several days of a lovely long weekend, apparently I’d had my fill of relaxation, barbecues and fun with friends and family. I spent Memorial Day on a bender, tearing through our house in my best martyr mode, uncluttering, organizing, cleaning and folding the loads of laundry stacked up since my last martyr fest.

I was a whirlwind of non-stop activity. And I silently let all the lazy asses in my house know just how annoyed I was at them for relaxing and enjoying their day off. And by “them” I mean my husband.

As I hauled out bag after bag of clothes for Goodwill, I made sure to sigh in front of Mike as often as possible as he enjoyed yet another snack while reading the newspaper. I gave him my best evil eye as I cleaned the floor under the breakfast table where he sat. He smiled and expressed his love for me.

I gave him my best harrumph as I dragged bags of garbage out to the alley. He sipped his coffee, blissfully unaware of my seething inner monologue. (For those of you untrained in master martyrdom, keeping hostility bottled up is part of the fun. Asking for help isn’t nearly as satisfying as hoarding a heaping bowl of resentment.)

There was no reason I couldn’t have sat on my ass all morning. We had no big plans for the day and our daughters were playing happily together (after I cajoled them into picking up their toys by withholding the iPad until the playroom was cleaned. My husband is cajoled by one thing and one thing only, and I was too steeped in annoyance for that!).

Though I made myself miserable, I got a lot accomplished that day.

Today, my husband is working from home. He’s busy with reports and conference calls, a steady stream of activity. And I’m having trouble getting anything accomplished. Not one thing. I’ve sat down to write at least three times and haven’t been able to jot down a coherent thought (not that I usually let that stop me!).

The more he works, the less I accomplish. Has he harrumphed me even once? Not yet.

Is he feeling superior and resentful? Mike doesn’t work that way. Frankly, he’s not at all concerned with what I’m accomplishing. That treasured measuring task falls solely on my capable shoulders. I’m the scorekeeper and today he’s ringing my bell.

He could chastise me or rub my nose in it, but he’s too busy working. What I should be doing. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Letting myself relax feels impossible today. I feel like shit for not accomplishing something. Accomplishment is my higher power, and I bow at its altar on a daily basis. I need a new way of relating. Or maybe a lobotomy. And sex. Either way … HELP!

Will Wonders Never Cease?

By http://www.flickr.com/photos/e_phots/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/e_phots/199886140/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Since I started writing this blog (six months ago!), I’ve put numerous household tasks on hold to give myself more time to write and tramp around on social media.

As I’ve written about before, I’m a certifiable freak when it comes to keeping our house picked up and checking things off my “to do” list. This past week, stymied by a nasty virus and zero energy or interest in accomplishing anything, I’ve lolled around on the couch waiting to feel better.

I’ve had time to read = good. And think = dangerous.

While rest is good for my body, long stretches of time to obsess over the many household tasks piling up (not to mention all the blog posts I should have written) usually do nothing but increase my anxiety level (and my appetite).

Then, yesterday, a miracle occurred.

For the first time, my obsessing and worrying actually accomplished something! Several household appliances in need of repair for months miraculously fixed themselves!

We either have some lovely elves who visit in the night and fix things around our house – or – my obsessing is finally paying off! While I believe in elves, the ones I know usually only make cute, if slightly clunky, shoes, so I’m taking all the credit on this one!

What? You scoff? Perhaps you need additional evidence …

Exhibit A:  Garbage Disposal

The wall switch that operates our garbage disposal has been sticking for at least three months. It requires simultaneous jiggling and swearing to turn on. I’ve not gotten around to calling anyone to fix it, preferring instead to curse and complain whenever the mass of rotting orange peels, uneaten quesadilla crusts and gelatinous cheesy peas threaten to overflow the sink.

Yesterday, that switch moved around as willingly and easily as my kids do when I bribe them with ice cream ask them lovingly to pick up their toys.

Exhibit B:  Ceiling Fan

The ceiling fan in our master bedroom has been broken for months. We had a repair person out to fix it twice over the summer, replacing the switch and doing other fix-y things I didn’t take time to understand.  That fan wouldn’t move to save its life (or to save us a few dollars on our outrageous air conditioning bills).

Yesterday, I flipped the wall switch by mistake and voila, a wave of pure, fresh re-circulated air hit my face. While the experience was slightly marred by the thousands of dust bunnies choking my air supply, I believe all of us can agree we have a certifiable miracle here.

Afraid it’s a one-day fluke, we’ll be keeping the fan on until next summer.

Exhibit C:  Clothes Dryer

We have two clothes dryers in our home (a long story) and both of them died at the same time earlier this summer. The repair person fixed the upstairs dryer by removing the birds’ nest renting space in the exhaust hose (who knew?). He couldn’t find anything wrong with the downstairs dryer, which worked surprisingly well up until the moment the repairman left.

The downstairs dryer hasn’t turned on in weeks. Yesterday, by mistake, I put some wet clothes in it and … you know it … it turned on! Granted, the clothes didn’t dry, but they did tumble around for a while and really, isn’t that all you can ask from a dryer?

Freaky, right?

Exhibit D:  My Husband’s Bicycle

Several weeks ago Mike had a minor spill off his bicycle on the way to work. Other than a few scratches, thankfully, he wasn’t hurt. According to my husband, who has never believed in the power of my worry and obsession, the slightly banged-up bicycle now rides more smoothly than it did pre-wipeout. He’s now a convert.

Coincidences? I dare say not!

We’ll be launching a full investigation into these occurrences right after we go play the lottery. In the meantime, if you have something you’d like me to worry about for you (for a small fee), please let me know in the comments!

Sentimental Journey

It’s clean-up day at our house. Because I said so.

We are blessed to have incredibly generous friends and relatives and with two young girls, our house is filled with an abundance of books, clothes, toys, games and the like. It’s also been designated a hazardous waste site, overrun with same toys, clothes, books, etc.

Clutter makes me crazy, and Mama needs some breathing space (and control) today. So … we’re movin’ stuff out. I’m anticipating power struggles with my girls of mammoth proportions!

Ava hates to get rid of anything (and her “anything” ranges from miniscule broken pieces of old crayons – “Moommm, we can melt them down and make new crayons” – to the scraps of paper she makes cutting out her myriad paper doll clothes). She’s a born recycler!

This morning when my husband emptied out the wastebasket in the girls’ playroom, Ava cried, “Stop it! Stop doing things without asking me first. I may have things in there that I want to keep!” Mike replied laughing, “Ava, why do you put things in your garbage can that you don’t want thrown away?” “I don’t,” she yelled, “Mom does! Mom cleans up and throws away stuff I want.”

Apparently, I have to get smarter about my stealth clean-up (e.g. use a different garbage can and get rid of the evidence). Or find a way to pass the blame to Mike or our babysitter.

Ava also seems to hold onto the emotional attachment to things for our family and is emotionally connected to every item she’s ever received. And every item my husband or I have ever received. (Yes, I fear she’s a hoarder in training. I’ll keep you posted.)

While I’m all about cleaning out and getting rid of excess “stuff,” Ava reacts strongly (read tears and wails) every time I fill a bag with clothing that Rhys has outgrown to give away to a charity or another family. “We can’t give away those old leggings,” she’ll wail, “I want my daughters to wear them!”

While I’m grateful she wants to make me a grandmother (a blessing I’ll be happy to welcome once we get the playroom cleaned up), we don’t have the space or the disposition to keep every item we’ve ever interacted with for her future brood.

To mitigate Ava’s separation pain and suffering, we’ve negotiated a compromise:  Ava gets to pick out one or two items for her future daughters’ layette and I photograph the rest of the clothing en masse before giving it away. Not exactly an efficient system, but a solid compromise.

Yes, I’ll admit to feeling my own twinges of sadness giving away the cute outfits both my daughters have danced, played and loved in. I may even have my own stash of favorites for my future grandchildren … Thank you, Ava, for helping me remember.