Category Archives: cleaning

Redlined

Reading “The Big Bang” takes me magnificent places. Ridiculous. Jaw dropping. As I turn the pages I am sucked in completely,  gazing spellbound–as if at a cosmic movie screen– at our rich, mystery-sated heavens. What a drama unfolds before me! A tale strewn with unlikely geniuses, collapsing stars, far-flung atoms, electromagnetic waves, embracing galaxies, eloquent equations, gold-spewing supernovae, wormholes, invisible bends in the plane of spacetime–all of these and more form and unform against a background of deep-forever space. I watch, rapt, struggling to comprehend.

Then I return to reality. And am presented with…

Walter. My cat. Mystery-sated as well, in his own quotidian way.

Walter strews quite a different material around the universe. Our universe. Pom poms. Red ones. He is addicted to them. Obsessed. He seeks them out. He finds them, wherever they are. He performs un-catlike feats of fine-motor agility to secure their possession. Once acquired, he hoards them in the prison of his teeth. He torments them. Finally, he systematically destroys them, rendering them eventually unrecognizable as the minor crafting aid they once were.

He does not care for yellow ones.

He does not care for blue.

Red pom pom innards line our life. They are ubiquitous–the dark matter of our domestic world. Everywhere an empty space is, they are.

I consider the grand sweep of the universe. The heartstopping vastness of it. The profound beauty of its laws. The implacable pace of it. Its stillness. Its remaining paradoxes.

I consider red pom poms.

And Walter.

And messes of all kinds.

I struggle to comprehend.

And I set down my book. I have cleaning to do.

Those things are a bitch to vacuum up.

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Salt And Pay-Per-View

A couple of nights ago I ate a jar and a half of pickles. In one sitting. A jar and a half. Admittedly, it was spread out over three episodes of “Girls,” but still. That’s a lot. Enough to make me wonder, at the time, if there is such a thing as saline poisoning. And, if so, whether I had contracted it. Turns out I was fine–just really, really thirsty. A bottle and a half of Gerolsteiner later I was as right as rain. No worse for wear the next morning, either. If salt bloats me I am unaware of it. Having eaten such ginormous quantities of it, I believe I’ve become immune to its water-retaining properties. I could ingest it the way a deer does–right off of a salt lick in the middle of a frozen woods–and be completely fine. Except for the hunter gathering me in his sights.

At least I’d die unpuffy.

All of this is to say that I’ve not written in ages. But after the pickle incident I knew it was time. One can only, after all, watch so much TV–especially when such ruinous culinary conduct accompanies the endeavor. I have, since my last post, consumed not only many high-sodium foods, but also six seasons of Sons of Anarchy, half a dozen episodes of “Downton Abbey,” and an hour and a half of “Girls.” Before I start watching–or should I say shooting up–whatever brilliant entertainment comes next, I’ve got to break the cycle. I am becoming a TV junkie. A VOD fiend. The Sid and Nancy of Amazon Prime.

You may say I’m being hard on myself. After all, I’m just doing what most people do, right? This is the American Way! I work hard, I have a plethora of responsibilities, my days are full and dizzying. This gives me leave to vegetate at the end of the day. I’ve earned it. I have sold, clientelled, fundraised, cooked, cleaned, shopped, swept, laundered, counseled, bathed, and entertained. I have played “babies” with my daughter for hours. I have read multiple dinosaur books. I have walked the dog, fed the cat, made the bed. I have stain-treated, book-clubbed, bill-payed, friend-helped,  thank-you-card written,  photo-uploaded,  battery-charged,  filter-changed,  customer-service-called,  paperwork completed, password updated, breakfast-dish-washed, lint-filter-cleaned, and toilet-scrubbed for dozens of waking hours. I have fulfilled my responsibilities. No one in my charge has gone unattended. I am done.

The last thing I want to do now is concentrate. On anything.

So I watch. And watch. And man, it feels good.

But then I think of my readers, the few, the quirky, the persistent. And the historians, the ones for whom I claim to write. And my daughter, for whom I really do. And I know I need to put. Down. The. Remote.

For just five minutes.

So I have done it. Bravo! I will again tomorrow, if I can. And the day after. For if I don’t I’ve left nothing behind. Nothing. Except some empty jars, a crumpled napkin, and the scattered palpitations of other peoples’ stories. Rape? In the servants’ quarters? How could it be???

Anyway. I’m back.

And now I’m going to go watch an episode of Boardwalk Empire. Just one. Heck, I’ve earned it.

Pickle, anyone?

To Done, 12/1/13

  • On early shift. Woke up at 6:30 with MJ. Gave her breakfast, read half of “Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs.” Played six rounds of Candyland. Won more than I would’ve liked.
  • Fed both animals.
  • Put in a load of laundry.
  • Did breakfast dishes.
  • Said good morning to Mike. Apologized for forgetting to make his coffee.
  • Still didn’t make it.
  • Swept part of living room.
  • Stripped bedroom sheets.
  • Put in another load of laundry.
  • Showered.
  • Got dressed.
  • Went to put on makeup. Found cat in the toilet, where he finds his happy place.
  • Took cat out. Dropped him on floor.
  • Realized toilet was filled with pee.
  • Tried to clean up. Promptly stepped in cat-wet floor in stocking feet.
  • Realized I did not have time to change.
  • Said goodbye to Mike and MJ and ran out, cursing cat, in wet-footed haste.
  • Worked from 10:00 AM to 6:30.
  • Raced home.
  • Changed clothes.
  • Put MJ to bed.
  • Had quick dinner with Mike.
  • Washed dinner dishes.
  • Switched laundry again.
  • Worked on raffle tickets.
  • Checked weather for the weekend. Worried in spite of good forecast.
  • Wrote 23 e-mails re Saturday’s fundraiser.
  • Made a double batch of candycane cookie batter for same.
  • Talked on phone to girlfriend about her romantic problems. Her boyfriend is allergic to her cat. Told her I am allergic to mine. Or at least my feet are.
  • Put batter in fridge.
  • Checked weather for Saturday again. Still worried.
  • Wrote 21 more fundraiser-related e-mails.
  • Shooed persistent racoon away from front porch so dog would stop growling.
  • Walked said dog.
  • Checked child.
  • Put cat in back room. Away from all toilets.
  • Left pantyhose soaking in Woolite.
  • Checked weather.
  • Went to bed.
  • Worried some more.

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Sums of Manicky

If this blog is the second kid I never had, I’m guilty of some serious neglect.

I’m sorry. I want to be more regular about writing. I have been in the past. Why, back in the day, when I was home with MJ all the time, I was a veritable posting fool. Before she went to a co-op preschool, that is. Back when she napped! But now, this life! The work–in high-end retail at holiday season–the fundraising, the childcare, the housecleaning, the pet chasing, the board meetings, the volunteer days at MJ’s school. The giant event I am planning for same. The need to consume great amounts of “Sons of Anarchy” on my scant downtime. I swear to God, there aren’t two spare moments to rub together. At least two spare moments when I have a functional brain cell left for creative thought. I’m a zombie. A never-stopping, always-behind, constantly number-tallying, guilty-binge-TV-watching zombie.

Even now, I have nothing to say. I am tapped. Zapped. Sapped. My every moment, in these last two weeks, has been consumed with selling raffle tickets, (when I am not at work), and selling overpriced jewelry, (when I am.) In between I try to sell my family on the idea that I am a competent wife and mother. They’re buying, but only because I’m the only shop on the block. God forbid a Walmart should open up next door. Figuratively speaking. Although what a figurative Walmart looks like is anyone’s guess.

Finally, I clean poop. Because our new cat has feces that stink viciously, absurdly, brutally, like dead bodies on crack. If we don’t scoop it out right away the entire house becomes an intolerable, unbreathable haz-mat zone.

He also likes to pad around in our sinks and toilet bowls, leaving dirty little footprints on the porcelain.

So glad we got a second animal.

Anyway. I just wanted to tell you that I’m here–that the blogger in me is still alive, if currently buried in receipts, petty cash, and five-dollar raffle tickets. She will re-emerge. Probably after December 7th, when this damn event will be over, and definitely after December 25th, when the other damn event (otherwise known as Christmas) will be similarly behind us.

Until then, exhausted, distracted, and enfeebled by her desire to raise funds, she will poke her head up only occasionally, with some effort, and with predictably mediocre results.

Then she’ll poke it back down, to watch her favorite motorcycling sexpots run more guns.

A girl’s got to decompress somehow.

Raffle ticket, anyone?

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The Sun Will Come Out. Tomorrow?

I know the lifespan of the sun isn’t the first thing on most people’s minds right now. Nor should it be. But everything about our local star is a hot topic around here. At least in the under-five population.

MJ’s obsession with space has ensured that we own just about every kid’s book about the solar system there is. And there are a lot of them. We study each one obsessively. Dwarf planets. Gas giants. Sulfuric skies. Jovian storms. They’re all familiar friends by now. (We would happily read about the Big Bang, too, if someone would just write a kid’s book about it. No luck on that so far. Where’s Carl Sagan when you need him?)

Every one of the above-mentioned books, of course, talks about the sun. And why not? It’s the raison d’etre for everything else. Our power source. Our cosmic BFF. We’d be lost without it, the authors tell us. But there it is, up in the sky. Ninety-three million miles away! Don’t look at it directly! Draw it as a yellow circle, and don’t forget the rays. Have we mentioned it’s big?

And that’s where it generally stops.

But the other night I was reading MJ a new space book — one she’d gotten for her birthday. Towards the end I turned the page to find, to my consternation, a chapter about doomsday. More or less. Called “The Death of the Sun,” or something equally dire, it proceeded to describe roughly when said event will take place, why, and what it will look like. It pulled no punches, either. Yikes. Not kid friendly material. Hell, it wasn’t anyone friendly. I stopped reading out loud when it got to the “and then the earth will be sucked into a burning ball of gas and we’ll all explode” part. I’m paraphrasing, but only slightly.

Still. Doesn’t a four-year-old have enough to worry about without having to imagine their home planet being engulfed in a boiling surge of million-degree plasma? It won’t be any comfort to them that it’s happening in a billion years, either. Kids MJ’s age don’t understand time. You may as well say it’s coming “in the middle of carrot season.” Or “yesterday.” Or “a hundred Christmases from now.” It all means the same thing, and nothing, at once: scary, unknown, and very bad for  REM sleep.

When I was a kid–an anxious one, admittedly–I spent lots of time fretting over my apocalyptic fears. Asteroids. Nukes. Quakes. These things kept me awake at night. One thing I didn’t think about–because I had no idea it was possible–was the sun’s eventual demise. Thank God. Watching the New York skyline for impending warheads was bad enough.

Ah, the Reagan years.

Anyway. I’d like to save my kid from similar worries.  I’d like to protect her not only from all painful actual events, but even the thought of them: death, destruction, typhoon, disease. And certainly the end of the world. That, the most of all. Let’s not go there yet. Let her not go there. For as long as possible, anyway. A hundred Christmases at least. Maybe more.

When I open the new book now, I pay attention. I don’t tune out, as I sometimes do, reading to MJ quite coherently while inwardly making lists or adding up fundraising tallies. I stay focussed. When we get to the part about the sun’s demise I slow down. As the vision unfolds I begin to paraphrase, obfuscate, and omit. Then, halfway through the page, I putter out with a genial “and that’s that.”

And we turn to the next chapter.

Am I lying to her? Sort of. Trying to stave off the inevitable? Certainly. Fighting a losing battle? Of course. Still, there’s plenty of time to face the painful truths. There are only a few years left to draw big, bright, yellow suns. Our cosmic BFFs. And don’t forget the rays.

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Good Night Moan

Glancing at your night stand in the morning shouldn’t make you want to pull the covers back over your head. But looking at mine does just that.

I recollect a New York Times article on the subject I read several months ago. It was interesting. The author posited that everyone has a hard time keeping this area of their rooms neat. I agree. But he went on to say that the biggest problem is the tangle of cords from all the gadgets people keep by their beds.

Me, I can’t blame devices. I don’t have any in my bedroom. I dislike having electronics in my sleeping space–remember the grounding sheet I wanted so badly awhile back? I think electricity messes with your rest. I’m funny that way. I don’t like computers in the bedroom, or TVs. If I had an iPhone–which I don’t–it’d be banished to the kitchen with the dog during sleep hours. I’d have no outlets near my bed if I could help it. None in my room. Hell, I’d sleep on the bare earth. If, of course, it contained no mud, insects, or rocks. So basically if it weren’t the earth at all, but a hermetically sealed sandbox. With soft, non-silica sand. Covered by flannel sheets. And a duvet.

In other words, a bed.

The point is, even without the electronics my nightstand is a disaster. Surveyed just this morning, it sported a ridiculous assortment of useless and/or out-of-place objects. Among them: a pair of Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles, a kid’s hair clip, some 3D glasses, a plastic bunny, a wooden disc from a game MJ doesn’t play, and a thick layer of distressed, unhealthy-looking dust. Then there’s the lamp–a cheap, semi-imitation Noguchi–that’s constantly falling off because it’s flimsy and poorly designed. Let an askew light fixture, then, complete your mental picture.

I am forty-five.

Someday, I dream, I will grow up. My night stand will glow with the empty neatness of a surgical table. Order will reign. Dust bunnies will not inhabit the farthest corners. Books about children’s’ development borrowed from mommy friends years ago will not be tossed haphazardly on the bottom shelf, taunting me with their pithy names and unread quality. Back copies of the New Yorker dating to the Victorian age will not harbor silverfish and outdated political news. My lamp will not succumb to gravity. My digital IKEA clock will not switch back and forth mysteriously between military and regular time, leaving me to grumble, late at night, “what the fuck is 23:17?”

I will be a true adult, with a concomitant piece of furniture next to my bed.

Until then, I can at least put the insoles back in my shoes. A journey of a thousand miles, after all, should begin with a cushioned step.

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Four for Four

Birthdays come but once a year. And it’s a damn good thing. Any more, and parents would be dropping like flies.

Or I would, anyway. MJ’s party was four days ago now, and I’m only just feeling human again. As for my pocketbook, well, it may need a bit more time to recover. Because you know what? It turns out that even a super casual, bagels-in-the-park,  cupcakes from Vons, no favor bags birthday party can be extraordinarily expensive. It might’ve been cheaper to rent a yacht. Who knew?

But it was worth it. I think. Myra-Jean seemed to enjoy it. Mostly.  I mean, let’s be honest–by the end of such a party pretty much any preschooler is in a stage five meltdown. What with the sugar, the attention, the pinata, the grownups goosing their cheeks–it’s enough to make even the most phlegmatic of four-year-olds blow a gasket. MJ, being no exception to this rule, spent the last half-hour of the party refusing to acknowledge departing guests and screaming “I just want to open my presents!!” I thought we were going to have to sedate her. Good times.

But then it was over–the invitees headed home, the cups and plates cleaned up, the smashed Jupiter pinata stuffed in the trash, the remaining cupcakes tossed. We headed up the hill to our house and ate takeout lunch with our family. Everyone was starved. One thing you forget to do at these things is eat.

As for MJ, she was all over the place. One minute she played with a new toy, the next she was sobbing over getting served the “wrong kind of chicken.” She said she’d enjoyed the party, but it was hard to tell. She was tired. She was mean. She was edgy. And this edginess lasted for the next three days.

It only seemed to lift yesterday–the actual day of her birthday. I’d had to work–a fact deemed unforgivable by my daughter–and it looked like the day could be a total debacle. Myra-Jean was furious when I left.

“You may never go!” she screamed. “Ever!”

The four birthday-themed postcards I’d left her notwithstanding, I felt like the worst parent alive.

But as the day went on, I heard that she cheered up. School was fun. The weather a bit cooler. In the afternoon she did some gardening with her father.

And then I was able to get off early to meet them for dinner! At our favorite restaurant!  We ate pho and crayoned pictures of Walter and Mina on small white pieces of scrap paper. MJ chewed french fries with fish sauce and seemed ecstatic to be up past her bedtime. After dinner, we went to ice cream; when we were done eating it I watched, grinning stupidly, as my husband and daughter danced to “American Pie” in the middle of the empty parlor’s floor.

There, in that moment, I found the joy of her fourth birthday. And, judging by their faces, I’d have to say Mike and MJ did as well. No pinatas, no space decorations, no craft table, no hats. Just a quiet dinner, a sweet dessert, and the hard slate floor of an empty shop.

Perhaps next year we’ll just skip straight to that.