Hooray for being back to my semi-regular schedule! This past week has let me sleep in entirely too much (something I don’t think I’ve ever worried about saying), and by the time I woke up at the crack of noon, I just didn’t have the will to fend off my precious boy and get down to business. Part of that, I think, is that because I knew I wouldn’t be able to start any job while I had to spend the whole week with my son (and the fact that he was too sick for us to really go out anywhere), something in my brain decided that the week was already shot, so why bother? The best I managed to accomplish was hastily thrown on pajama pants and the same T-shirt I’d been wearing the day before. It has been said that one should dress for the job he wants, not the one he has, but I wasn’t dressing for either. I know that my life’s ambition is to live out an existence free from the tyranny of pants, but there are children living in the apartment with me, and as the year is steadily spinning by, I am reminded of a quote most frequently attributed to Mark Twain in regard to the area in which I live, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” This quote may have been debunked, but the sentiment holds true nonetheless.
Last week I read a wonderful article by Kate Bracy about the necessity of actually dressing like you want to get anything but lounging done throughout the day. I’d never really thought about it before, but it has hung around enough in my mind that I was inspired to put on my pants and sit down at my laptop to write this. Since coming back to California, I have been taking my son to school almost every day, and that involves dressing in such a manner as to avoid the judgment of others, calls to the authorities, and frostbitten portions of my anatomy. By the time I got back home, I would usually be caffeinated enough to pound out my thoughts in an occasionally humorous format, and toy with the notion of trying to get a nap in before I had to go back to the school to pick the Minkey up. This past week, with nothing urgent to occur before three o’clock in the afternoon, all sense of urgency was gone, and with it, decorum and my annoyingly consistent work ethic. I fell into the trap that I frequently complain to my wife about: no one was taking this writing thing seriously, and this time, I couldn’t even claim the moral high ground.
To be fair, last night I was battered by a brutal case of insomnia, and only managed to steal about seven and a half winks (based on a standard conversion rate of forty winks to a full night’s sleep, or five winks an hour) before I snapped wide awake again with heartburn and leg pain. I’ve tried reading (the problem with that is that I actually like to read, and will casually neglect sleep just to finish the next chapter (or ten, if I’m rereading Jim Butcher), listening to music (and say, this album that I haven’t listened to in ages is really good!), listening to audiobooks (since no one here will read me a bedtime story), and finally succumbing to the demon of conflagratory addictions, with a cigarette or three. Amazingly, nothing has done the trick, and it’s my sincere hope that I can keep it together until my wife gets back this afternoon. I know that she’ll be tired, but there were plenty of times when I had to jump into Dad Mode after a long day at work (with a 3 hour commute) because she was exhausted on her day off. But honestly, it’s not really the same thing, as my wife takes care of so many things with just a quiet determination, never seeking out the praise which she so richly deserves, whereas I am fairly pleased with myself if I manage to get out of bed.
The main difference between us on housework, however, is in the nature of how we react to the multiplication of filth due mostly to those also living with us. The apartment could be cleaned from top to bottom, floors swept and mopped, dishes done and put away, garbage and recycling dumped outside into their proper bins, and within a couple of hours, the whole place looks trashed again, with our kitchen sink overflowing with more dishes than it seems reasonable for so few people to have used, and the floors appear worse than before they were cleaned, as the spots of white linoleum stand out in greater contrast to the spilled drinks and tracked in fruit snacks. I am the sort of person who will do the cleaning, and wash the dishes… within reason. If the sink is empty when I go to bed, and I wake up to find a pot, two pans, five plates, a small (complete) set of flatware, and six cups in there in the morning, my first reaction is that the people who made such a production the evening before (cooking a meal for only themselves), are capable of taking care of their mess. I enter the living room in the morning to find barely touched cups of juice on the table, and an array of plates with half-eaten food, offered up like some sort of invocation to the Gods of the Cucarachas.
And so I believe that the only way to teach our adult children that they need to take care of this themselves is to refuse to do anything until either of them lifts a finger. I am a guy, and Chaos is my element of choice. I could wait out just about anybody while the world around me fell to pieces. I’m sure I could outlast the grownup kids. But this will never happen, because my wife doesn’t have the will to let everything go all to hell. “Think of the children,” she’ll plead to me in Spanish, referring to our son and grandson. And she’s right, of course, but I still think we’re doing our daughter and her boyfriend a disservice by bailing them out of the sty which they’ve created, instead of allowing them to develop that instinct for preservation for themselves. That being said, I know myself, and I must be careful not to throw too many stones. I don’t know. I think the reason I’d like to win the lottery (more than fancy houses and never having to work again) is to be able to ensure that my wife will never again be forced to worry about the cleanliness of where she’s living.
Somehow I got from the necessity of pants to singing the praises of my wife. I’m not surprised, for there are many praises I have yet to sing, but I do find it fascinating just how much better of a person my wife is in comparison with me. Hers is the irresistible force, mine, the immovable object. O.C.D. versus Apathy. All bets are off on this one.