Tag Archives: gone girl

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.

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Bait and Swish

I love my daughter. I adore every fiber of her being. But her newest habit’s going to make me tear my hair out.

It’s saliva swishing. Like what you do with water after brushing your teeth, but using spit. It’s loud, gross, and sort of scary. I don’t know how she summons enough liquid to make the racket she does. It’s like Niagara Falls in there. She must have over-active glands. It sounds like the final deluge. I should build an ark.

She does this constantly, but it’s most acute when she’s concentrating. When she draws, for example, or attempts to write. It’s at its worst for puzzles. Of which, right now, we are doing a lot. I say “right now” because I find the passion for puzzling waxes and wanes. It’s like a food craving, but in a three-year-old. Who isn’t pregnant. Anyway. These days MJ wakes up asking for them. They must be comforting in some way. It makes sense–the order, the fulfillment, the knowing where things go. I get it. But the swishing. Jesus Christ!

At first I tried saying nothing. The advent of this new behavior has coincided, roughly, with my going back to work; if it’s a self-soothing mechanism, I figured, far be it from me to take it away from her. Then it became incessant. Giving in, I asked her kindly to stop. Nothing doing. We finally arrived at the “you’re seriously grossing me out” phase. She thought that was hilarious. The more discomfited I became, the happier she was.

It usually ends, now, in a threat that I will leave the room (and the puzzle) if she doesn’t stop. I feel badly about this. But I have a sound thing. Or certain sounds. Wet ones. Mouthy ones. I’d rather she farted. She could fart incessantly and I’d hardly notice. I would think it was cute. I can do poop, toenail biting, even puke. I’m mildly freaked out by nose-picking, but I’d even take that over this.

And yet. The pleasure of being in her company these days is so sheer, so pure, so profound, that even aural torture can barely make a dent.  Every moment is a gift. I feel totally unable to accomplish anything else, of course–anything that takes me away from her is intolerable. Phone calls to return? Sorry. House to clean? Later. Fundraising for her preschool? Someday. Time enough for all of that, I reason, after she’s gone to bed. Except there isn’t. Life, it seems, is about to get more disorganized. The puzzles may be the only thing in this house with all of their pieces in place.

On the other hand, the whole working thing may not last. At least not this job. I learned  from my boss a couple of days ago that a mistake was made– I can’t, in fact, get benefits for my family as a part-timer. Only for me. He’s terribly sorry for the mixup. He’s aware I took the job believing otherwise. His hands, however, are tied.

Never mind. I have to stay for now. Money is money, and one less insurance premium to pay is better than nothing. So I’ll stick it out, at least until Mike finds work. It’s hard. But there are up-sides. On the three days I’m there, for example, I hear no mouth sounds. Saliva is out of the picture completely. It’s a totally spitless environment.

There is one other perk: I have time to read. So I finished my book. The one about horseshoe crabs and other ancient species. It was a slog, but I got through it on my breaks. And I’m glad I did. It was helpful, in the middle of all of this, to be reminded of the vast sweep of time on earth, the six major extinction events that have occured since its inception, the millions of species that have come and gone. And of the four billion years the planet’s been here. Four. Billion. Such numbers give me comfort.  When they’re not scaring the shit out of me.

Having said that, my next book is “Gone Girl.” Book Club again. There goes all perspective, all wisdom, and half my brain cells, too.

I’ll get them back doing puzzles. I just need a pair of earplugs.

And a little bit more time.

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