Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ten Commandments of a Failed Domestic Diva

Looking around at my house on this peaceful Sunday morning, I'm stunned that I would ever refer to myself as a Domestic Diva, even in jest. From the mushy comforts of my favorite chair, seated twenty feet from my kitchen, I can see piles of some sort of debris on the counter that may actually be bacterial colonies at this point.  My October calendar workpile is leaning precipitously toward sliding off the breakfast table and onto a sticky floor that is insulated with a heavy layer of dog fur. Since I can't work up the moral or hygenic indignation to do anything about this state of affairs, I feel the need to convert my laziness into a haphazard philosophy that can benefit others.  Draw near, Gentle Reader, and learn from my practical strategies and attitude of contentedness:

1.  When there are several unfinished projects taking up needed space around the house, go see a good movie.  (I saw "The Debt" yesterday, leaving behind a house full of cluttered horizontal surfaces.)  A quick procrastinatory dose of escapism makes the mundane seem more manageable.

2.  Never ask your spouse if they need help doing a job you desperately don't want to do.  Examples of this mistake generally involve the yard, basement and/or the garage.  If they ask you, plead "Weaker Sex" status or lack of certified training.  If all else fails, make a vague reference to your "cycle."  That should send them running to a male neighbor for help,

3. When carpet stains reappear, or you notice that a room needs touch-up painting, or your windows are too dirty to see out of, rearrange your furniture.  It takes several days for the novelty to wear off and for you to remember what you were trying to hide.  And once it's hidden, it may as well have disappeared.

4.  Do not waste time or energy trying to train dogs to stay off furniture, or stop barking at other dogs or jumping on people they like.  Find a professional and get a quote for the service.  Then laugh hysterically as you watch your spouse turn blue at the cost of the estimate.  If years of effort have failed, accept that both you and your dogs are stupid and/or lazy, and just give up.

5.  Feel free to leave things out on counters and tables to provide reminders (wink) or "visual cues" (wink wink), but don't pretend those cues hasten the speed those items get attended to and put away.

6.  Cook what you like to eat, and don't spend time trying to get people to eat healthy stuff they hate.  Like you, they'll just sneak the bad stuff the first chance they get.

7.  Corollary to #6:  Cleaning the kitchen after a meal no one liked is 10 times more unpleasant than cleaning a kitchen full of clean plates and empty pots and pans, and much more likely to involve profanity.

8.  Calling friends to talk about how much you dread all the jobs on your to-do list only magnifies the unpleasantness and delays the inevitable.  Try calling a friend to celebrate a completed task.  They'll resent you for it, but it makes more sense.  And write the annoying call on your to-do list so you can check it off too - a win/win!

9.  Basements, upstairs bedrooms and attics are out of sight of visitors for a reason.  Don't ruin it for the rest of us by keeping them clean for anyone but the most important, discerning guests, like your mother-in-law.

10.  If you want to decorate like Martha Stewart, cook like Rachel Ray or exercise like Jillan (what's her last name?), be my guest.  I admire your dedication to excellence.  At one time, I felt that way too, but visible evidence proves it was a fleeting aspiration.  I can finally admit that I like my hodge-podge furniture, slap-dash meals and leisurely strolls on my treadmill.

If you closely follow these Ten Commandments, as I have, you are clearly headed for Housework Hell, or some variation thereof.  However, you are welcome to help me think of a new, more suitable nickname for myself, since "Domestic Diva" has outlived its ironic usefulness.  Right now, I'm leaning toward "Malingering Matron" or "Contented Cow."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thoughts from the Cave, Installment One

I'm the female equivalent of a curmudgeon when it comes to electronics.  Relative to my friends, at least, I see the cutting edge of technology and immediately head in the opposite direction.  I'm not against technology, or advancement, per se, but the pace of change is much too swift for my feeble mind to grasp.  I'm such a cavedweller, I actually only use my cell phone to make calls.

That said, there are some pretty nifty gadgets out in the big, wide world.  As I illustrated in a previous blog, some of these gadgets are so darn cute, they are virtually indistinguishable from other cute gadgets. (If you didn't see my ground-breaking investigative piece on this vital issue, click here.)

By far the most ubiquitous piece of modern gadgetry is the cell phone.  We are fast approaching the day when the term "cell" in "cell phone " is an unnecessary modifier. I racked my brain for a full 15 seconds, and I cannot think of one person over the age of 18 who doesn't have a cell phone.  I suppose you could argue the case that these devices are considered a necessity by today's standards.

Some of my friends know the features and specs of smart phones in the same way as previous generations knew about cars. They don't just know about their phone, they know phones.  And many people are not just dependent or attached, they are downright affectionate toward their device.  I know a grown man who names his phones, and routinely refers to them by their moniker.  As in, "Has anyone seen Bridgette?  I thought I left her on the charging station, but she's not here!"

When I was a little girl, my granddaddy had a 1959 yellow Chevy Impala that we called "Old Yeller," which doesn't seem silly at all to me.  After all, naming a 4000 pound piece of machinery, or a yacht, or a mansion seems acceptable; but giving a name to a 4.8 ounce device that becomes obsolete 15 minutes after you leave the mall?  Silly.  Ounce for ounce, it seems like a cell phone couldn't measure up to a muscle car for inspiring adoration and pampering.  But what does a cavewoman like me know about such things?

When I was young, I remember my dad and uncles holding car conversations that went something like this:

Daddy:  Did you see Bubba Junior's got a new Plymouth Fury Rally Sport QE2 with the Dorsalfin package and separate tailpipes for black and white smoke?

Uncle:  Yup.  Did you get a look at the wingspan on those tires?  And he got the over-and under shifter with the clutch in the glove compartment.  Those 14 V-8 cylinders hum like a beehive.

Daddy:   That 7000 BTU engine has major pickup for a small car.  He outran a Fish & Game Warden at the State Park and made it across the Causeway in 8 minutes flat.  And he gets damn near 10 miles to the gallon!  Damn fine car.

Uncle:  He said the trunk holds 2 deer carcasses, 7 tackle boxes and a full keg.  Guess that makes it a true multi-purpose vehicle, too.

Daddy:  Damn straight.

The glazed-over eyes, the dreamy, wistful look, the poetic phraseology: every age/generation has that one special item to worship.  I've come to the conclusion that I'm living in the age of cell phone worship.

Recently, I was sitting in a restaurant with a large group of women, and a similar discussion arose regarding someone's new phone.  Unlike our cars, which were scattered around the parking lot and fairly difficult to compare, most phones were either sitting out on the table or held in hand, like a fashion necessity.
Again, here are some genuine, made-up conversational highlights:

Desperate Housewife #1:  Did you see Prissypants Hotshot's new phone?  The new LGAT&TG&Y Canteloupe with the built-in teleporter?  It's nice, but why did she put it in that tartan plaid sleeve then plug in fuchsia earbuds?  Gag.

Desperate Housewife #2:  I saw it, but it hurt my eyes so I pretended I didn't.  Why didn't she wait for the new Blueberry with the Eartooth?  It comes pre-loaded with 10 million apps, including one that warns you when your botox is wearing off.  She needs that feature.

DH1:  I told her to wait for the new generation of the HI-Phone, the one that reads your mind so that all you have to do is say "hi" to activate the psychic chip, then it carries the conversation for you.  So you can something useful while you drive, like a manicure touch-up.  But she said she couldn't possibly wait 2 weeks for it to hit the stores.  Her last phone was, like, 6 months old, and she felt like it was on borrowed time.

DH2: Look at poor Esther Cavedweller...she's too ashamed to even put her old phone on the table.  It has a visible antenna!  I think it was handed down by some relative who came over on the Mayflower!  Once, we were having lunch at The Snooty Soup & Bread Emporium and it started making a noise in her purse.  The ringtone was like, so Wilma Flintstone.  She pretended not to hear it, but people stopped slurping just stared and snickered at the odd, blipping noise.  It was so awkward.

DH1:  I know, bless her heart.  You just want to hug her and say, "Here, you can hold mine for a minute, until you feel better."

DH2:  I did that once, but she screwed up my turn on Words with Friends, so I locked her out with the retina scanner.  I mean, I'm sympathetic up to a point, but don't go messin' with my phone!

My humble little phone has a special pocket in the Red Bag of Splurge.  It's safe and protected in there, and I almost never lose it, but it's hard to hear through the excellent sound-dampening qualities of Vera Bradley quilting.  Fortunately, I get few calls, because, as a non-texter, you have to TALK to me on my phone.  It's an old-fashioned custom, difficult for some to master, a quaint holdover from those bygone days of land-lines and home phones.

So I enjoy making life difficult for my tech-savvy friends, like purposely misusing tech terms to get on their nerves.  I've learned that people don't like it when you call their iPhone a Blackberry, or vice-versa.  But a few months ago I acquired my own device that turned me into one of those geeky gadget-worshippers:  I got a Kindle e-reader.  It's possible I may love it too much.  In fact, the next installment of blog is dedicated to my sweet little Kindle, Jane.

 Until then, I'm crawling back in my cave for a little light reading...