Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Little Advice, or, Making Friends with the Fridge

As you know, here at Somethin' Impractical I'm here to help. In the field of domesticity, you are not alone. Right there about a half-step ahead of you I am holding you hand, leading you toward the ever-elusive goal of well-adjusted children and an ordered home.

With my bumbling steps to follow, how could you ever get lost?

(Please ignore that white-tipped cane. I only use it for balance. Those? Oh, those are just the three mice I picked up along the way. We seemed to have a lot in common.)

With this in mind, please welcome Important Piece of Domestic Advice Number 2:


To illustrate, I offer the following real life situation:

After starting the laundry, going to church, picking up donuts, helping HC with history homework for 2 hours, driving HC to Godspell rehearsal, grocery shopping, dropping off the groceries, changing the laundry, starting dinner, picking up HC, putting dinner on the table for me and the kids, delivering P's dinner to his office (since it's a deadline night), helping HC on history homework for another hour, cleaning up the dishes, and helping HC with math homework I retreated into the laundry room for a quick respite.

(So, what do you watch while doing the laundry? Soap operas, of course.)

It's warm in there after the dryer's been chugging away all day. The piles of freshly folded towels and sheets form a welcoming backdrop of order on the stage of the very frazzled one-woman show that is my life.

(Side note: When I was a teenager I babysat for a mad woman. No really, she was crazy. You can ask my Mom. Anyway, she once told me that she really liked doing laundry because it was "like instant gratification." I wasn't even an English-Philosophy-double-major at that point and I still had the fleeting thought, "Is it like instant gratification? Or is it instant gratification?" Either way, it was total hogwash because there is NOTHING instant about laundry.

It. Takes. All. Friggin. Day.

At the time I thought it was nice that while most people gripe about piles of laundry to do she had this pleasant outlook on the whole situation. Now, I just remember that she was crazynuts.)

So anyway, there I was deep in my room with padded walls (I have floor to ceiling shelves, you see, on which I stack my cleans) when a hollering voice broke in from upstairs.

"Llama...? Lllllaaaaaammmaaaa?"

Don't be confused. I am not a four legged creature. I am, however, Llama-Llama-the-Step-Mama.

I sighed deeply, and eventually hollered back. "Yes?"

"What should I have for luuuuunch?"

"Um, I don't know HC. That's your job."

"I know, but I don't know."

See, this is a problem. "I know, but I don't know," is a line that in my family comes in many forms, such as "my brain won't work" and "wauuuuugh". That last one is a variation on a theme of non-english that my family speaks to itself and each other. Why use words when you could just grunt and moan? It's not like any of us are writers or anything.

Translation: Please be my crutch for this decision, as I'm too lazy to deal with it myself.

"Have a sandwich."

"I can't find any lunchmeat."

"It's in there."

"I can't find it."

This is another problem. My choices are to either stop folding the warm soft laundry, exit my womb of cleanliness and order, make use of my whimpering quadriceps to climb the stairs and find the ham, or not move, take a deep breath, and keep hollering. Guess which one I chose?

"How about a refried bean quesadilla?"

(make yourself a dang quesadiLLa!)*

"Do we have any tortillas?"

"We have that flatbread at on the bottom shelf. It'll work."

"Do we have any cheese?"

"Is it cheap? I don't know, what do you mean?!"


"Oh. Yeah. We do."

"Well I don't really wanna quesadilla."

"How about some ribs?" (still hollering through the floor)

"Noooo...." (This is drug out more as a verbal wallow than out of disgust. She likes the ribs.)

"We have some fried chicken."

"Llaammmaaa. I don't know what I want."

"Make some tuna salad." (still hollering)


"There are some chicken nuggets in the freezer."

"Yessss! Chicken nugggetsssssssss!"

And finally, as the last pair of socks was being thrown in the to-be-matched-later basket, my mission was complete: crisis averted, child fed, family lives to see another day.

This time, anyway.

*(if you don't get that reference, see here. If you do get that reference and want to watch it 500 times anyway, click there too.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Punch Line

It was a peaceful evening after a wonderful dinner. We were all supposed to be friends, or at least friendly acquaintances.

Then somehow, a recently published autobiography came up in conversation and seriously touched a nerve.

I Saw This Happen

By Wishful Thinking

Grown Man # 1: No, I haven’t read it! It’s a poor book authored by a terrible writer about his non-life.

Grown Man #2: (startled, and irritated) As opposed to who? You?

Grown Man # 1: Well, I’m not writing an autobiography… (short pause, after which #1 leans over the arm of his chair so that his face is right in front of #2s nose. He lowers his voice.) …and if I were you, I’d watch your tone.

GrownMan#2: (laughing) Or what?! You’ll beat me up?

Grown Man#1: (snarling. serious.) I know people. I could pay someone to beat you up.

The End

I was shocked. I was appalled. It was like watching something on television, unreal, unfolding in front of me, except better! This was entertainment at its best -- actually reality! You know, that thing all the television networks keep claiming to show?

Luckily, no fists were fired that night…or hired, for that matter. The two eventually calmed down. I, however, learned a valuable lesson:

Threatening someone with a hit man (get it? Hit man?) instead of just decking them outright really doesn’t pack quite the same punch. And furthermore, it’s not impressive to the ladies.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Brain Food

It's an English day outside, or so P tells me. The snow has melted away, but I woke up this morning to the sound of the gutter trickling with semi-frozen rain that continues on even now. The sky is a silvery grey and when P and I went for our walk around the marshy boardwalk yesterday, the two swans that lived there all summer were nowhere to be seen. The first flushes of autumn have hardened a bit, reminding us that winter is indeed soon to come.

Inside, we celebrated the weather the best way I know how: laziness. Well, not really laziness. My brain was working, my body just....wasn't.

After several hours of thinking, reading and even occasionally talking without getting out of bed, I mustered up all my reserved energy to have a poke around in the kitchen. I couldn't manage anything very complicated, so when HC arrived shortly thereafter she was amused to find me in my too-short "I heart NY" pajama pants and a tshirt, eating a ramen-noodle breakfast.

At 1pm.

Part of the problem is this: being married to P and thereby meeting the people that he knows, I have come to realize that I am seriously historically illiterate. And geography? Forget it. It's quite embarrassing, actually, given how much effort and money has gone into my education. My parents taught me this stuff, surely.

So, on our walk yesterday I told P that something had to be done. I really could not sit through another dinner party pretending to know that Guyana and Ghana were two separate places, that the Swedes once had an empire and that the Po valley is not in Teletubbyland.

(Wait, wait...rewind. Seriously? The Swedes?!)

This morning, ever willing to help, P brought forth the Holy Grail of historical learning aids: The Penguin Atlas(es) of Modern History, by Colin McEvedy. Therefore, instead of worrying about things like "showering" and "breakfast" I got embroiled in the Congress of Vienna. These things happen.

Don't worry though, I'm recovering.

Tonight, I made chicken spaghetti with pesto spinach cream and corn fritters with coriander dipping sauce.

It's brain food. I swear.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Snow Down

Five Reasons Why Snow Is So Great:

1. When it rains, you get wet. When it snows, you have a tiny window of opportunity to brush yourself and an possibly stay dry. This, I think, makes snow a more considerate type of precipitation.

2. My boots. Last July, P and I had to spend a stupid amount of time in a stuffy hotel room in Manhattan. We were just busy enough keep us from living it up in NYC, and just bored enough to wish for something better. One morning, realizing I had two free hours, I made a break for it.

I wandered up and down the streets, window shopping. It was close to 90 degrees. It was sunny and beautiful. It was just what I needed. I went into a few shops. One window had a huge banner declaring: SALE! WINTER COATS INCLUDED.

Not needing a winter coat myself, of course I immediately went to investigate. Lo and behold! There! There were the boots I've been searching in vain to find on sale for two years! Right there! On sale! It was a beautiful thing. And when I brought them home, my stepdaughter HC said to me, "You needed more boots?! When it's hot outside!?"

To which I replied, "Don't worry, it will be cold again." Today, it snowed and I wore my beautiful boots for the first time. My feet rejoiced.

3. We've been wishing for it. Yesterday, I was keeping my pathetic swine-flu infected stepson company. This involved sitting through an entire VH1 special on the biography of Little Wayne. (is it Lil' Wayne? Should Iknow this, since I invested an hour into his biography?) I learned that by the time he was 14 and on tour with his fast-rising rap career, his mother was lonely at home and asked him when he would provide her with a grandbaby. He, being the thoughtful son that he is, impregnated his girlfriend. His mother was ecstatic.

Around this point in the story, there was a commercial break and up popped a wintry scene advertising something...something. I don't remember now. My stepson turned to me with his fever-pink cheeks and said, "I can't wait for it to snow".

I said, "Neither can I."

Today it snowed, and today A went back to school all healthy again.

Coincidence? I think not.

4. Snow is pretty. I had a winter wedding (well, as close as I could get -- Feb 28) in Chicago. I desperately wanted snow. There was snow down the morning we were to be married, but it was not actively snowing, despite my specific request that it do so.

Before I entered the church I looked up to the sky, but no sign of so much as a flake.

From my vantage point in the middle of La Salle Street where P and I had some of our wedding photos taken, all the streets were clean and there wasn't any falling snow in sight.

As HC bustled my gown before the reception I gazed out the window of the University Club, but nothing moved in the air.

Finally, P and I were alone for the first time that day. There were beautiful rose petals on the bed, champagne and chocolates on the nightstand. I was exhausted. But just as I was drifting off to sleep, P looked out the window.

"Look, baby," he said. "It's snowing."

5. I'm tired of looking at my pathetic landscaping.

Sure, I've done a lot of work. Sure, it's going to look great in the spring. But right now? Right now it looks way better with snow on it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Little Advice, or, You Can't Sugarcoat Problematic Punctuation

There has been fretting. And wringing of hands. There has been hemming and hawing, and avoidance of eye contact. There's been worry hanging overhead for a while...a feeling that really, really something should be done about this bothersome item.

But really, what's a little nagging feeling without a helpful dose of procrastination to keep it alive? (and don't tell me the answer is "resolved". I will resent you.)

My problem is this: my title.

I'm calling this blog at the moment Here Goes Somethin': An Impractical Guide to Bumbling Through Domesticity.

And so far, the blog has been funny and cranky and boring and stuff...but it hasn't really been a guide, has it? A guide has responsibility. A guide implies advice, implies tips and education. A guide steers you through jungles avoiding the warthogs and quicksand, all the while chopping little hack-marks into the trees so that you don't get lost.

I have let you down. I have not been chopping little hack-marks. Dropping crumbs, perhaps, but crumbs are really quite inferior to little hack-marks.

We all know what happens to crumbs in the jungle.

With this in mind, I present my first piece of important domestic advice:

They are usually full of children,
likely all in different phases of a sugar high (or low)
and prepared to push you into the oven.

Look! It's almost poetry!

What's that, you say? Candy houses don't live in the jungle but instead can be found in Germanic-variety forests?

Well then, smarty pants, if you know all the answers, riddle me this: would the possessive form of my blog's title, abbreviated to Here Goes Somethin', have two apostrophes before the "s"?

These are the things that keep me up at night.