Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is your washing machine running? Better go catch it!

Apparently, I don't do enough laundry. At least that's the accusation I received from my 11-year-old the other day as I critiqued his choice of wardrobe. "Well, if you did laundry more often, I'd have other shirts to wear." Really? MORE laundry? Okay, I can do that. Or wait. Actually, in order to do more laundry, we'd need a second washing machine because the one we have right now runs more than Forrest Gump did after he lost his Jenny. In other words, the thing runs NON-STOP.

Seriously. Dirty laundry in our house reproduces like (previous blog reference coming. . .wait for it. . . wait for it. . . BOOM!) Tribbles. For a while, I thought maybe there was a small migrant family secretly living in my basement not only putting their dirty clothes in my hamper but also leaving every light in the house on, never flushing the toilets and always finishing off the bag of sour cream and chedder potato chips. But then, like so many things that'll make you crazy, I figured out it was (shockingly) my kids all along. (Well, except for the sour cream and chedder chips thing, right honey?)

The thing is, for whatever reason, my kids go through more clothes than John Mayer goes through Hollywood actresses. We've got the 11-year-old who has more wardrobe changes in a day than a Britney Spears concert. Pajamas to school clothes (which are always layered because, hey, it's cool). School clothes to outside clothes. Outside clothes to different outside clothes. Outside clothes to inside-before-bed clothes. Inside-before-bed clothes back to pajamas. By my count that's 2 pajama tops, 2 pajama bottoms, 9 shirts (two layered for school, two layered for outside, twice and one for inside) 1 pair of jeans and two pairs of sweatpants. That's 16 pieces of clothing for one kid. In one day! Even OctoMom doesn't have to deal with 16 pieces of clothes in one day!

Then there's the 8-year-old. While we have the one who wears everything in his closet within a 12-hour period, we have another who stockpiles dirty laundry in his room like David Letterman stockpiles hot, busty, female comedy writers backstage at the Ed Sullivan Theater. When we finally do force him to bring it all down, it's like a Gap Kids exploded in our laundry room. Literally, clothes everywhere.

To this day, the bottom of our clothes hamper is kind of like the Yeti: I've heard rumors that it exists, yet I've never actually seen it. One day I might actually get every piece of clothing out of there before it fills up again. And if, when I do, I find out THAT'S where the migrant family has been living, we're going to have a little talk about learning how to flush. . . .

Friday, October 9, 2009

I can remember the exact moment when I first heard someone utter the F-word. It was 6th grade, I was home sick from school, down in the basement. Dad came home and, not knowing I was there said it, curiously, to the cat. (See, that's the kind of weird things you do when you're home alone during a weekday — carry on profanity-laced conversations with creatures whose only understanding of human language are "Here kitty-kitty-kitty" and, apparently, "HEY! Get off the F*$&#NG table, cat!".) Oh. And yes, I too have had this conversation multiple times since last February, along with some like "Stop F*$&ing barking" and "Can you believe that F*$&ing Judge Judy?" But, I digress. . .

Why I can remember this seemingly insignificant moment in my life is beyond me. After all, I can barely remember to make the bed every morning when I get up. I don't know. Maybe it's a fascination with the fact that four simple letters can make up a word filthier than Pamela Anderson's home movie collection. Maybe I'm amazed that one word can cover so much territory as a noun, pronoun, verb, adverb AND an adjective. Sometimes all in the same sentence. Whatever the reason, I've learned as a writer that some words have more power than others. I love words (especially those that, when said in public, elicit the same looks you'd get by farting in a crowded elevator) and have been blown away by some of the new ones I've learned simply by doing housework. For example: Trivet.

First time I heard the word "Trivet," I thought of those goofy little balls of sex-crazed fur from Star Trek that kept multiplying and multiplying until the Enterprise was overrun with thousands of fuzzy, purring hairballs from hell. Then I remembered those were "Tribbles." "So what the F*$& is a F*$&ing Trivet?," I asked (see how versatile it is? Amazing.) Turns out it's one of those decorative tile (or metal) hotplates that every good Scandanavian grandmother used as wall decor but was really meant for placing hot pots or pans on so as not to burn the wood on the table. Who knew?

Another word I've recently learned that, if uttered in the company of my guy friends would at the very least result in a lot of teasing, at the very worst, leave me stripped naked, duct-taped to a lightpole with the words "I am a Loser" magic-markered on my forehead: Duvet Cover.

Duvet Cover. Seriously. What's a Duvet and what's it supposed to cover? Oh really? It's a quilt? And it covers a bed, not something actually called a Duvet? Gotcha. Now it all makes sense. That's WAY less confusing than actually calling it something like, I don't know, a blanket.

So where do these words come from? I have no idea but at some point, it would be nice to know things like who decided that a Chest of Drawers was anything other than a dresser? When it was determined that the words "gravy boat" made more sense than "gravy bowl?" And at what point did it become "throw pillow" rather than just "pillow?" I mean, I don't know about you, but at our house, you throw a pillow and you get grounded.

Especially if it knocks one of my handmade, Mexican Tile Trivets off the F*$&ing wall . . .

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


80 A.D. Roman emperor Vepasian gets together with a bunch of his buds and says, "Dude. Know what'd be cool? A big 'ol Coliseum where we could watch guys tear each other apart and stuff. We should seriously build that." And so he did.

1908. Henry Ford, looking for a new mode of transportation (and, quite possibly a better way to pick up chicks) comes up with an idea: build a gas-combustible vehicle that will take me all over town, whenever I want. And the Model T was born.

2006. Dallas Cowboy's owner Jerry Jones finally takes time away from building his empire to have a midlife crisis. Instead of just buying a Corvette like every slightly balding, slightly flabby,
middle-aged man trying desperately to hang onto his youth, he plunks down a cool $1.3 billion to build what amounts to the the biggest phallus — uh, stadium — in the NFL.

The Roman Coliseum. The American Automobile. Jerry Jones' junk. All amazing achievements, all built for men, by men. It's brainpower, willpower and, quite simply manpower that went into accomplishing all of the great things throughout all of history. It's the belief that we can do anything we set our minds to. And yet, somehow, with all evidence pointing to the contrary, men have convinced their wives for DECADES that no matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we try it, we CANNOT successfully complete a load of laundry. Well, let me tell you something ladies. YOU. . . have been scammed.

That's right. Scammed! See, it's not that we don't know HOW to do laundry, it's that we don't WANT TO do laundry. "Really? You can't throw a bright red sock in with the whites? Washing heavy towels with delicates is frowned on? You mean "dry clean only" doesn't mean you throw it in the dryer to clean it? Huh. Who knew? Maybe I shouldn't do the laundry anymore. . ."

But hold on. Before all you women out there get all worked up and start in on us, we're onto you, too. That whole "Honey, take the garbage out. It's too heavy for me" thing? Or those "I'm not strong enough to pull the cord thingy on the lawnmower so you'll have to mow" moments.

Please. I've seen a woman give birth. Twice. Without meds. After seeing that, I've come to the conclusion that there's not a man alive who's strong enough to do something like that. But if there is, just know this: he'd intentionally screw it up so he'd never have to do it again.

Trust me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Working for a Living

As a man, there are certain things that I've learned over the years to never, ever, EVER say to a woman unless you, as said man, are willing to part with that one thing that, well, makes you a man. There's the oh-so-popular, "You sound just like your mother." Always a crowd-pleaser. Even better, try throwing out a sarcastic, "Okay, {insert her mother's name here}" during any heated discussion. Good times.

Certain situations also call for a certain amount of discretion. For example, while your wife is in her 11th hour of labor with your first child, NOT a good idea to start complaining about how sore your lower back is from standing on a hard, concrete floor without shoes on. I'm just saying. . .

And then there's THIS one. Now, THIS one has been around forever. I've heard men say it. I've even heard women say it. Until recently, however, I've never heard anyone say it to me. Here's how it went: we're planning a trip up north for next week, do a little fishing, hunting and some work on a friend's cabin. A Wednesday departure was mentioned for said trip, at which time friend #1 said to friend #2, "You're going in the middle of the week?," followed by friend #2 uttering, "Yeah. I took the time off and Jay doesn't work."

Now, in year's past, this comment was specially reserved for stay-at-home moms who not only frowned upon hearing it, but proceeded to tear you a new one for even implying that they spend their days lounging on the couch, eating bon-bons and keeping up with their "stories." With today's economy, and the general shift in societal norms however, there are more and more guys staying at home. And guess what, friend #2? We're getting a lot more done here than anyone does in an office setting. Don't believe me? Let's compare a typical Monday, office vs. home.


9 (ish): Arrive at office.

9:10: Stand in line for weak, watered down coffee.

9:20: Arrive at desk. Turn computer on and attempt to log into email only to find your password
has expired.

9:20 - 9:45: Attempt to change password only to get locked out of system after five failed trys.

9:45 - 10:20: Call IT Department. Explain situation to someone sitting at a desk in India four
times before finally breaking through the accent barrier in order to get a "ticket"
issued. Your ticket number is 9876537819375658492761293856473M. Got it?

10:20-10:30: Bathroom.

10:30-11:00: Shuffle through papers while waiting for IT call.

11:00 - 11:10: Take IT call, change your password to something you'll remember. Except that you
can't use a password you've already used, it can't contain two of the same letters
and must use at least one numeral, one capital letter and two accent marks.

11:10-11:50: Computer's up! Check Fantasy Football scores, submit any trade requests and send
trash-talking emails to the guy you're currently beating by 32 points.

11:50 - 1:00: Lunch.

1:00-1:30: Print out the Sports Guy column from for afternoon lavatory visit.

1:30-2:30: One hour meeting to figure out a time to have the next meeting.

2:30-3:30: Work on reports, repairs or whatever else it is you're actually paid to do.

3:30-4:00: Work on latest "Employee Engagement" initiative from HR.

4:00-4:45: Answer any work-related emails now to avoid having to deal with them until

4:45: Get a jump on rush hour.


6:45 - 7:00: Yell at oldest son to hurry up and get in the shower.

7:00-7:45: Keep oldest son on task. Do your hair. Make and eat breakfast. Practice spelling.
Get all your stuff together. Get out the door. Have a good day. Phew. You think
dealing with IT guys first thing in the morning is tough? Try an 11-year-old boy.

7:45-8:00: Check email in hopes of someone needing some freelance writing. Someone?

8:00-8:45: Get kid #2 going for the day. Make his breakfast. Get him upstairs to brush his teeth.
Pick out an outfit. Make sure outfit is not put on backwards, inside out, upside down
or any other incorrect way an 8-year-old could possibly come up with.

8:45-9:00: Wait for bus.

9:00-2:00: Assuming there's no freelance work to get done (Someone? Anyone? Please?) it's
cleaning/errand time. Grocery shopping, run to the bank, do dishes, clean counters,
pick up 2,314 Pokemon action figures, feed the hogs, chop the wood. . . you get the
picture. Lot of stuff to get done.

2:00-3:00: Lunch (meaning workout. Run 4 miles. Every day. No exceptions. Ugh.)

3:00-4:00: Oldest home from school. Fight about doing homework. Fight about practicing
trumpet. Fight about fighting about everything. Exhausting.

4:00-4:30: Make dinner. And no, it's not microwaved, ordered out or delivered, thank you very
much. My motto is, "if it's something the kids will eat without complaining about it,
it's probably crap."

And there you have it. So now you decide, friend #2. Who's REALLY working here? Oh, and before you make your decision, you might want to ask your wife. Wouldn't want to say the wrong thing now, would we?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The other night I played my first soccer game of the season. With nearly every first game of a new season, there's one guy who opens his bag to find the socks he wore to the last game of the LAST season. Could have been 2 weeks ago. Could have been 2 months ago. Doesn't really matter because, anything beyond 48 hours, and you're calling in a HAZMAT team to deal with what could quickly deteriorate into Chernobyl '09. Here's how it usually goes down:

Stinky Sock Guy: "Whoa! Dude! I forgot to take my socks out of my bag after last session. (Takes a whiff) OH MY GOD! THAT'S SO HORRIBLE! HERE! SMELL THIS!"

Teammate: "NO WAY, MAN! NO WAY! Wait. Okay, let me see. (sniffs) AAAAAAAAAAH! That's the WORST! Hey, Troiden, you GOTTA smell this!"

Now, a year ago I would have willingly took my turn at olfactory obliteration and inhaled this smell so rancid that I can actually see it. It's just what guys would normally do. My time at home, however, has changed me. I am no longer tolerant of things that are dirty, gross or disgusting. I like clean, orderly and managed. You know how a blind person can hear sounds no one else can hear? That's me with dirt. I now have a heightened sense of filthy and I'm noticing grossness in places I've never noticed before, including:

At first I thought, "Wow. How contemporary." Then I realized our black lightswitches weren't a product of some new interior decorating scheme but rather the result of grubby little unwashed hands. How vogue.

Never realized you needed to clean out a toaster until I accidently turned it upside down and enough crumbs fell out to recreate two whole kinda-brand-new pieces of toast.

Lint Trap
Okay, I've always known about the lint trap in the dryer. Just wasn't sure how often it needed to be emptied until one day, after trying to dry a load of jeans three seperate times, I pulled it out and discovered what appeared to be a throw pillow in there.

Underside of kitchen chairs
You know how you go to a fancy restaurant and you get nice linen napkins to wipe your hands with? Yeah, well, apparently my kids have decided that the underside of the chair is that fancy linen napkin.

Top of the ceiling fan.
Don't you love it when the fan's been off for a while and when you next turn it on it your living room suddenly looks like that footage from 1980 when Mt. St. Helen's erupted, minus the deadly, toxic gases of course.

For that, I've got a pair of soccer socks you can borrow. . .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

5 Stages of Staying at Home

They say there are only two certainties in life: Death & Taxes. Now, I'm not sure exactly who "they" are, but I do know this: "they" do NOT spend an inordinate amount of time doing the laundry of two boys because if "they" did, "they" would realize that in the world of a Stay-At-Home mom or dad, the third certainty in life is this: One Sock Will Disappear In Every Load of Laundry That You Do.

For a while, this phenomenon left me, well, perplexed to say the least. Couldn't figure it out. Couldn't even begin to grasp the concept. It's like having the Criss Angel of major appliances. Watch closely as I turn these 12 socks into . . . 11! MINDFREAK!

Now, however, after hundreds of loads of laundry, I've come to accept the fact that one sock is just never going to make it back home with the rest of the troops. That's acceptance. And it's all part of what I like to refer to as the Five Stages of Staying at Home.

Stage 1: Denial
At first, you refuse to believe that this whole stay-at-home thing is happening to you. You cannot accept the fact that two little boys can make your house look like it was hit by an F3 tornado. You refuse to recognize that a cat can shed enough fur in one day to make a whole second cat. You'll find yourself saying things like, "This can't be happening to me." Problem is, you'll be saying them to the TV. Truly sad.

Stage 2: Anger
Suddenly, you are no longer in control of your home. It's like handing Kanye West the microphone at an awards show. You try to keep everything rolling along but you know a train wreck is coming and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Thing is, you've always known this. It's just now become more obvious that your life is being dictated by two kids, two dogs and a cat all whining to be feed, to go outside, to be cleaned up after and, quite frankly, it's all got you a little cranky.

Stage 3: Bargaining
When all that anger seems to get you is a hoarse voice from yelling and a surprise visit from Social Services, it's time to start bargaining. You'll start small like "keep your room clean and we'll get sundaes from McDonalds." Eventually, and this is because bargaining with anyone under 28 years old never EVER works, you'll find yourself saying, "I will give you each one gajillion dollars if you'll just put your shoes away one time without me asking you to do it!"

Stage 4: Depression
No one ever listens to me, the laundry never ends and I think the dirty dishes
are having even dirtier sex because they keep reproducing and I since I'm the only one here I KNOW I didn't used 16 plates to put my sad little bologna sandwich on when I attempted to choke down lunch. Alone. By myself. God, this sucks. I will now drive the Swiffer handle through my left eye.

And finally . . .

Stage 5: Acceptance
It's unavoidable. Socks are going to disappear. Dogs are going to throw up. Kids are going to leave dirt on every lightswitch in the house. You can finally succumb to the inevitable. You become less emotional, more calm. You realize, it's not a battle. No one's out to get you. It's just life, and you can now accept it and all that goes along with it.

But seriously. Where the hell does that stinking sock go?!?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Remember the character Milton from the movie "Office Space?" Every real office has him. He's that one guy who's just a little off, you know? The one who, wherever you see him — at meetings, at 5:01s, standing uncomfortably close to you at the urinal —you can't help but feel sorry for, yet can't help laughing at him. Just a little. Daytime TV is that guy; awkward to watch, sad in a pathetic sort of way, yet you can't help but take a look at it every once in a while and just chuckle.

And that's where I found myself last week—folding socks (yes, I now fold socks, no I do not enjoy it, thank you) while flipping through 265 channels in search of my Milton. And then I found him on Channel 152: "Point Break," starring Keanu Reeves as FBI Agent Jonny Utah (nice name) and Patrick Swayze as surfer/guru/bankrobber Bodhi No-Last-Name-Required-When-You've-Got-A-Rockin'-First-Name-Like-Bodhi.

Now, to fully understand my fascination with the movie "Point Break," you have to be either a licensed Psychotherapist or a Meth-head. See, even I can't begin to analyze my obsession with one of the worst movies ever made. I know it's bad for me, yet wave it in front of my face and I just gotta take a hit. I will literally watch this movie every single time I stumble across it whether it's just starting or there's only 15 minutes left. Every line, every scene, every stupid Keanu moment, I know it, I'll watch it, I'll cringe at it and, yes, laugh at it. And then Patrick Swayze died.

Came across it exactly one minute after it was posted on Dead? Bodhi? Johnny Castle? Shirtless guy getting freaky with Demi Moore at the clay wheel in the movie "Ghost?" How did this happen? Did you know he was in over 35 movies? Did you know that when I tried, I could only come up with five? No, he was never going to make us forget about Laurence Olivier yet, of those five forgettable movies that I could actually name, two fall into my "I-Need-To-Stop-Whatever-I'm-Doing-Right-Now-Even-If-It's-CPR-To-Watch-This-Movie" category: "Point Break" and "Roadhouse" (another fabulously Milton-esque production. I highly recommend it).

Now, at age 57, he's gone, and though I'll still suffer through "Point Break" each and every time it's on, I'll do it with a little less joy and a little more sadness.

As Bodhi once said, life sure has a sick sense of humor, doesn't it?