Category Archives: To Done

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.

Picture 3

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?


To Done, 10-15-13

Ah, Tuesday. My half day “off.”

  • Dropped MJ at school.
  • Went to car wash.
  • Returned a phone call while waiting for car to be cleaned. Counseled a girlfriend on boy troubles.
  • Drove to Target, still on phone. Continued talking to friend while  looking for stuff for MJ’s space-themed birthday party on Sunday. Uttered phrases like “some mens’ brains really are in their dicks” while perusing the kids’ paper products. Found nothing. Left with cotton balls, candy for the pinata I hadn’t yet purchased, and streamers.
  • Went to Michael’s to return a huge bag of wrong stuff Mike bought for the party. Planned on buying more wrong stuff, but the clerk wouldnt let me return because I didn’t have Mike’s Amex. Spoke angrily to her. Told her I would never shop there again. Knew I was lying. Still, to save face had to leave without making any purchases. Decided to send Mike tomorrow.
  • Dropped suit at dry cleaners.
  • Did a shop at Fresh and Easy, worried the whole time about pinata candy melting in car.  Noticed giant lumpy pumpkins for sale. Got one for MJ. Also bought four bags of groceries, several cases of juice boxes for party, toilet paper, and various kiddie snacks.
  • Raced everything home, unloaded car. Put groceries in fridge. Put candy in fridge. Put toilet paper in bathroom. Lugged lumpy pumpkin to front steps. Worried it would die in the sun. Wondered if it was actually alive. Left it.
  • Changed sheets on our bed
  • Changed sheets on MJ’s bed.
  • Put in a load of laundry.
  • Raced back down hill to nail appointment.
  • Read entire September 3rd edition of New Yorker while getting mani pedi.
  • Went with still-wet nails to bakery to order MJ’s birthday cake. Tried to find solar-system-themed decoration. No luck. Ended up ordering a Transformers cake without the action figures. All that will remain is a partial, fuzzy picture of an unnamed planet. I will supply additional decorations myself. From where, I don’t know. Probably Michael’s.
  • Drove to party supply store to reserve tables. Far more expensive than last year. For a “low key” gathering, this thing is starting to break the bank. Looked for a rocket ship pinata. Nothing close. Sales clerk suggested I buy an R2D2  and cut the legs off. WTF? Left.
  • Went to another party store. It had tons of pinatas, all of them star-shaped with media characters on sides. Contemplated the saturation of corporate branding in kids’ products. Contemplated painting over a Barbie face to make a plain star. Contemplated suicide. Left empty-handed.
  • Picked up MJ, who was grouchy and tired.
  • Brought her home, showed her new pumpkin. Was informed it was the “wrong kind.”
  • Wondered if pumpkins are returnable.
  • Walked dog.
  • Brought in trash bins.
  • Switched laundry.
  • Fed animals.
  • Made dinner.
  • Got MJ ready for bed. Consoled her when she found out I have to work tomorrow and cried for half an hour.
  • Put her down.
  • Straightened house.
  • Wrote post.
  • Considered going back to work full-time.


To Done, 10/8/13

Today MJ was in school from 9:15 to 2:15. Here’s what I got done while she was gone:

  • Picked up all toys, clothes, and artwork from floor.
  • Straightened MJ’s “studio.” Put all beads, pipe cleaners, stickers, “treasures,” and stamps back in their designated bins, muttering under my breath the whole time.
  • Vacuumed whole house.
  • Mopped kitchen and utility room.
  • Cleaned both bathrooms.
  • Did three loads of laundry.
  • Wrote fundraising e-mail to committee of Winter Faire at MJ’s school.
  • Attempted–twice–to reach donation department at Home Depot. Want them to give two Christmas Trees for our Faire. Won’t get hopes up–they won’t even spring for voice mail.
  • Wrote e-mail to work, asking for days off so that I can attend important Halloween events with MJ. Worried I’ll be denied.
  • Attempted to play with cat. Desisted, due to lack of interest.
  • Washed kitchen rug.
  • Wiped windowsills.
  • Dusted living room.
  • Removed one more alphabet sticker from flat screen TV. At this rate it will be cleared of them completely by 2014.
  • Attempted to remove glue from coffee table. Failed.
  • Attempted to remove piece of construction paper pasted to bathroom sink. Failed.
  • Loaded dishwasher.
  • Wrote another fundraising e-mail.
  • Scanned and e-mailed banking forms for our life insurance company. We fell victim to fraud again (!!) last week, and have had to close our old checking account and open a new one. This has meant contacting everyone we do online billing with and giving them our new routing number, etc. Next time an innocent-looking teenager comes to our door selling newspaper subscriptions “for her school” and asks me for a voided check I plan on assaulting her with a stepping stool.
  • Made bed.
  • Brought in trash cans.
  • Ate lunch.
  • Wrote this.
  • Left for pickup.

Tomorrow, at least, I get to go back to work. Maybe I’ll even get a manicure on my lunch break. That’ll feel like a day off, indeed.


To Do or Not To Do

Who says grownups don’t have homework? We’ve got a shitload. And there’s no blaming the dog if we don’t get it done.

I’ll speak for myself. I can’t catch up. If life were a graded class I’d be scrambling for a D.

These days, with work added in, I feel unbelievably swamped. Because everything now must be squeezed into the four days when I’m home. Or the parts of those days, that is, when MJ is not demanding my undivided attention to make up for my absence the rest of the time.

Which boils down to about, oh, forty minutes a day. Into which I try to squeeze the numberless quotidian duties of a modern mom, wife and homeowner. Plus:

The fundraising. It’s always on my mind. Always. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Or the committee chairmanship. How, I ask myself, will I raise thirty thousand dollars for my kid’s school? How? I lie in bed at night worrying. Plotting. Despairing. When I finally fall asleep, I dream about car washes, bake sales, ebay auctions, bank robberies. Only the latter is effective. Because it’s carried out by three-year-olds, with sticks for guns. Riding on bananas. Who’s gonna say no to that?

Then I wake up. And we’re still at zero.

Anyway. Then there’s this blog. I love it. But it’s an obligation, too. Self-imposed, but aren’t most of them?

Next: the garden. Jesus Christ, what a time suck. A while ago, in a fit of impatience and shortsightedness, I had Mike tear out the sprinkler system. Now everything has to be watered by hand. Every other day. Because it’s 150 degrees out there. Plants wilt easily. So do people. It’s a drag. And it takes seventeen hundred hours. I hate it. But I hate looking at bare dirt, too.

Next: the lunches. If we don’t pack those the night before, the morning is a disaster. Even under the best of circumstances our days begin frantically. God forbid we should add in one more task. Especially one involving mayonnaise.

Then there are the phone calls. To friends, family, insurance companies, tax assessors, veterinarians, doctors, handymen,  exterminators, board members, possible fundraising connections, old acquaintances whom I’ve been promising to call for years and haven’t and now they hate me.

And don’t forget the straightening. And straightening. And straightening. And dishwashing, laundry, bathroom cleaning, garbage emptying, sheet changing, doghair sweeping, toy picking up, dusting, organizing, mealmaking and melted-crayon-scraping.

Once all of the above is done (hah!) there’s the book club assignment. “Gone Girl,” at the moment. I like it. But I hate it more. Especially as it has to be done by Wednesday, and I still have 100 pages to go. Each of which will drip with venom, duplicity, and perfidy. Good for the outlook! Next book: “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

Speaking of positives. There is one homework assignment I love. It’s the postcards to Myra-Jean. These are crucial now. They are the sole reason she no longer bursts into tears when I tell her I’m going to work. They actually make her glad. Glad I’m going, so she can look for them. It’s that easy. Or so it seems. It probably isn’t. But it’s helping.

And guess what? I like drawing them. I do it the night before. It relaxes me. Crayons are a cooperative medium. Unlike life.

Anyway. I imagine her face as she finds them, her tapered finger pointing as she sounds out the letters “O-W-L,” her delight at the image of a favorite planet, her soft smile as Mike reads my words. This makes me happy. I need no dog here. Nothing to snatch away this highest and most pleasurable of tasks: the lightening of my daughter’s day. I love it.

And it makes me feel better about everything else that’s been left undone. At least I’ve got my priorities right.

That and thirty grand will get me a decent night’s sleep.


Here Comes The Bridling

I’ve set myself one task for today. One idiotically simple task. I told myself the entire day would be a success if only I got it done. And why wouldn’t I? It’s relatively easy. It requires no real effort, thought, or concentration. It’ll bring in money. It’ll clear space in our house. It’ll relieve me of a psychic burden of no small significance. For it’s a thing I’ve put off for awhile, now. Ten years, to be precise.

No wonder, then, that here I sit, writing instead of doing it.

What is this Herculean task, you wonder, that she avoids so strenuously? Has she been asked to rewrite the tax code? Master symbolic logic? Solve the crisis in the Middle East?

No, just to sell her wedding dress.

And nobody’s asking me to do it! I want to! This may sound harsh, but my last marriage was a farce–a well-intentioned one, true, but a farce nonetheless. Of unnecessarily long duration, I might add. I was over it before either of us said “I do.” I do not, then, possess a shred of sentimental attachment for it or any material item representing its tenure.

Why, then, can I not get this thing done? Pure, unfettered laziness, mostly. And other neuroses: The dress is sealed in a box, like some mummified ancestor. I’ve never liked corpses, even of the sartorial variety. I’ve always been more of the “let the dead stay buried” type. Plus, what if I cut the dress accidentally while opening the carton–as I will–with a large paring knife? Vera Wang could get Freddy Kreugered before she’s even out of the box. It’s likely, if I’m involved.

Then there’s the measuring, the descriptions, the photographing. The latter, especially! What a pain! First of all, I don’t have the right hanger. And as far as backdrops go, I’m even more screwed. Anywhere I hang my five-thousand dollar frock there’ll be an antedeluvian appliance hulking in the frame behind it. Gaffers and Sattler dishwasher with your ballgown? That should up the bids.

Then there are the lighting issues. Today, for example. It’s like “Wuthering Heights” out there. I can’t take pictures on a day like this. That’s why I’m on the couch with a cup of Earl Grey instead of crossing this vintage frock off of my interminable to-do list.

The fact is it may never happen. And if it doesn’t, why, I’m nothing if not resourceful. The box the dress is sealed in, for example, could make a very suitable coffee table. We’ve needed one in the guest bedroom forever. Drape a little cloth over it and you’ll never know the difference.

Or I may, but I’ll be too busy resting my feet on it to care.


Portrait of an Immaculate Appliance

I admit it–I went a little crazy. Yesterday, after stumbling upon the New York Times’ article about hidden bacteria in the kitchen, I got massively freaked out. My fridge hasn’t been deep cleaned since the Pleistocene era, so, after reading about the E. Coli known to be hanging out in vegetable drawers (not to mention on blender gaskets, spatulas, and everything else one never thought to suspect), I decided that today was the day to make things right. Mike, after all, was home. He had no major plans. He had, in fact, declared that he wanted to watch MJ–that I should take some time for myself.

So I did.

Two hours, six rags, two sponges, forty-odd paper towel sheets, one cup of boiling water, and three kinds of cleaning agents later, I had the fridge I wanted. The one that you could eat off of, if dining off of frosted glass shelves was your thing. The one respectable families seem to have all the time. The one that, at the very least, isn’t going to kill my three-year-old daughter when she accidentally, say, brushes her mouth on it on the way to feeding the dog. Or whatever.

So here it is, in all of its anti-bacterial glory. Notice the fine details: the immaculate butter compartment, the lack of encrusted maple syrup on the walls, the newly scoured hot sauce bottles (for another day: do we really need twelve different kinds?), the pristine exterior, finally denuded of all food-specked pictures, ineffective magnets, and outdated postcards.

I’m so proud. I’m so pleased. I’m so sorry it won’t last. Still, for the five minutes it does, I’ll enjoy it more than a little.

Tomorrow? The blender.

The Goddess of Small Things

Ask the president what he’s gotten done in the last few hours. “Oh,” he’ll say modestly. “I talked to Angela Merkel for a while. I raised three million bucks. Strengthened emissions guidelines, too. Oh, and I defused that whole ‘best-looking attorney general‘ kerfuffle.”

Ask Ben Affleck. “I wrote another screenplay. Met with a bunch of execs. Had lunch with Jen. Talked to Redford about a possible presidential run.”

Ask a scientist: “Cured a rare childhood disease.”

A novelist: “Wrote three chapters.”

A hedge fund manager: “Made a billion.”

Ask me.

“I cleaned the utility room.”

Do I feel unimportant? Not at all. Someone has to keep this house running. And nobody does it like me.

So eat your heart out, Barack. Oh, and watch out for Ben. I think he’s gaining on you.

To Done, Saturday 10/6

  • Up at 8:30
  • Made tea. Took toast — forgotten from yesterday — out of toaster. Put in new batch for myself.
  • Played “yoga class” with MJ and Mike. Wondered where she came up with move called the “humpback.” Did much videotaping. Realized the resultant footage would be interesting to 5-8 people on the entire planet.
  • Uploaded it anyway.
  • Realized I had forgotten my toast. Took it out, put jam on it, and commenced to eat it cold.
  • Lost toast to MJ.
  • Said goodbye to her and Mike, who left to go look at art.
  • Picked up every item on the floor in every room. This included yoga mat, a bra, my black heels, three corner protectors, 600 or so toys and parts of toys, miscellaneous ribbons, two magic markers, several Band Aid wrappers, two rubber stamps (aka foot killers), 18 stuffed animals, a Trader Joe’s receipt, a pantry’s worth of play food, and innumerable plastic dishes.
  • Vacuumed whole house, as well as couch, windowsills, and lint filter on dryer.
  • Mopped utility room and kitchen. Then the mop broke, causing me to fly into a minor rage at “cheaply made appliances.” Ruminated on whether or not a mop is an appliance. Decided not. Remained annoyed.
  • Threw away all trash in house. Including mop.
  • Watered tomato plants, which I’ve been doing just enough to keep them from dying, but not enough to make them produce more fruit. Realized I’ve put them in a floral coma. Wondered if this makes me tender, sadistic, or both.
  • Watered hibiscus. See above.
  • Threw away two broken paving stones from the large stack of them leaning in the corner of our driveway. Very heavy. Worried I would break the trash bin. Wondered if there was a weight limit for the same. Got distracted and confused. Moved on.
  • Emptied kiddie pool in front yard. Expressed under-my-breath revulsion at the natural detritus that manages to accumulate in it in “only a week.”
  • Cleaned half bathroom, which had gotten so dirty it was more like a science experiment than a habitable space.
  • Folded two loads of laundry.
  • Showered.
  • Sat down to eat leftover pasta and watch MJ videos.
  • Mike and MJ walked in. Pressed pause. Got up to make them lunch.
  • Finished eating.
  • Put MJ down for nap.
  • Watched rest of videos with Mike.
  • Drove to toy store to buy a present for a 3rd birthday party tomorrow. Simultaneously listened to a podcast about Genghis Khan. Nearly bought a fake sword and suit of armor for the little girl in question.
  • Drove home. Picked up Mike and MJ, left for parenting class.
  • Arrived. Dropped MJ in childcare. Went to class. Learned about empathy and “emotional flooding.”
  • Came home. Made MJ almond butter and jelly sandwich. Baby carrots on side.
  • Made Mike leftover pasta.
  • Washed MJ’s feet, face, and hands in lieu of a bath. Brushed teeth.
  • Felt wave of relief when she asked Mike, not me, to put her down. Empathized with her desire for “Daddy time.” Felt giddy. Empathized with my own giddiness. Felt flooded with giddy.
  • Checked e-mail.
  • Said goodbye to Mike, who was going out for the evening.
  • Put in a frozen pizza.
  • Spent the evening with Genghis.