I’ve invented Chipotle!

May 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which I cooked, like, all afternoon, basically.

Today, I made two salsas:

Salsas and an air plant!

A hot poblano-corn relish:

Poblano corn relish

Spicy black beans:

Black beans

Mexican brown rice. That weird cottage cheese guacamole I make. And shredded chicken, for him.

Cheddar, sour cream.

There’s leftover queso blanco dip, so I heated that up, too! What the hell!

Fuckin' yum!

Look at that. Fuckin’ delicious burrito bowl.

Dinner

And I didn’t even have to put on pants!

Current status

February 5th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Food - (0 Comments)

In which it’s Superb Owl Sunday, and I’m not even sure who’s playing!

It’s 1:24 in the afternoon and I’ve already downed this:

Bloody Mary

(It’s a brilliant bloody mary with lots of pickle juice.)

And this:

Tostada

(A mostly-homemade bean tostada of excellent excellence.)

Life is a wonderful — and delicious and tipsy — thing!

Domesticating and such

September 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Holiday | Wishlists - (1 Comments)

In which I buy stuff I don’t really need like an asshole, but at least it’s all used so I can say I’m “upcycling”!

Bought a table today! A used table! A TABLE YOU CAN EAT AT!

It’s a brown pub-style table and chairs set, and it’s taller than strictly necessary but I think it’ll be comfortable for the man, who is tall. The chairs are not-awful considering how austere they look, and not so high I can’t easily reach a sewing machine pedal.

I’m already imagining our having our next bi-annual games night while sitting at it, and it’s still 3 blocks away! (We’re going to bring it home when the man gets home from work.) Trivial Pursuit! Yahtzee! Cards! Dice! At a pub table! Brilliant!

New pub table + 4 chairs

I have also, I might add, in the past two months, bought: dishes, water glasses, a gravy boat, and candlestick holders, mainly in anticipation of setting a semi-proper Thanksgiving table this year. It’ll only be the two of us again, of course, but I’m so tired of eating on the couch hunched over the coffee table on holidays. It’ll be so great to sit down to a proper meal together on occasion!

You don’t think of yourself as “a table person” until you go over two years without one. I haven’t owned one for a really long time, but I lived with one until moving here. You just don’t really notice the stuff a table’s good for until there’s no table. Games night. Sewing. Filling out Christmas cards. Dinner dates. Wrapping gifts. Opening boxes from Amazon. Putting down the groceries.

I was, briefly, considering buying TV trays, but then I was just, like, OMFG, NERD, GET RID OF THE RECLINER WE LITERALLY NEVER, EVER SIT ON, AND THEN THERE WILL BE ROOM FOR A SMALL TABLE! So I took pictures of it — the recliner, I mean — and put it on Craigslist and it was not only gone in a week, but we got $25 more than we asked for!

Now that I have a table, I might buy fabric and make a runner, or placemats, or a tablecloth or something! Or, OMG, I could do seasonally appropriate centerpieces. It’s already September, I need a bowl and some pine cones and mini-pumpkins, stat! (While that is a joke, it’s also not. I’m totally gonna centerpiece it up for turkey day: I don’t even care that it’s common and privileged and totally something white bitches my age obsess over. Whoo! I even have a tray that’ll work for Xmas, maybe with candles and ornaments…)

Oh, who am I kidding. It’ll be covered in random shit within two weeks, and nobody’ll ever see any decorative centerpieces, and I’ll have to clean it off in order to eat at it, but at least I don’t have to eat on the couch anymore! Whoo! I’m gonna post the best Thanksgiving pictures this year!

In which I wax enthusiastic about a very old product!

Even with shipping, I got a frying pan, a sauce pan, and two lids for $25. Which is a really decent price, considering you could easily pay almost that for a lidded 6″ non-stick that you’d have to throw out and replace in two years.

Well, I just bought these

Behold the P-81-B, which is the 1-pint covered sauce pan on the left, and the P-83-B, the 6-1/2 inch covered skillet you see on the right! The “P” series ran from 1958 to 1972, so these pans are 44 years old at the very youngest, and they could easily be older than I am by a decade.

These things are awesome! They heat up just as fast as cheap non-stick pans, and while they’re not non-stick per se, you can fry eggs and hamburgers in them with a little bit of butter and nothing sticks!

They’re also a pure and angelic white, so they look antiseptic as fuck. They scrub clean with remarkable ease.

Making dinner

They’re small and they have lids. I find that I’m cooking in them over much lower flame than I would with bigger pans, and of course lids keep the heat in too. Today I’ve fried a couple of eggs and a hamburger over very low flame in not much time at all. So they’re unexpectedly fuel-economical. Who knew!

And while you can’t buy either of these particular pieces new anymore, Corning Ware still offers some of the casseroles in this pattern. (I totally want them, and no doubt they’re worth every penny of the retail price, but if I do buy them I’ll probably buy them used because I’m cheap. You can almost see why so many companies went for planned obsolescence rather than quality when you contemplate that Corning Ware’s 50-year-old pieces are viably competing with their brand-new products.)

I love their sizes; great for cooking for one or two. (Not to mention great for not cooking far too much food every time you step up to the stove.) I’m not really sure why pan sizes have grown and grown when family sizes are smaller; I do know that when I was learning to cook I always made far too much food because the pots and pans were so big.

Knowing that the sauce pan holds exactly enough soup for two small bowlsful makes me happy.

I’m pretty sure there are a couple of these in my g’ma’s kitchen, but I didn’t cook with them much (beyond occasionally using one to put something in the toaster oven). I always used the small non-stick to fry or scramble eggs rather than the Corning Ware frying pan; habit, I suppose. Plus they look like they should stick, after years of using Teflon-coated pans, but they don’t.

I think between these and a decent cast iron pan or two, a person could easily give up cheap, disposable non-stick pans entirely! (I can’t speak for high-dollar non-stick cookware, because I’ve never had any.)

I love these pans!

Domestic Achievements

August 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess - (7 Comments)

In which I got a shit-ton of stuff done today.

Here’s the very exciting list:

tidied up generally
scrubbed the stove top
made awesome coffee in the Pyrex percolator
took pictures of the brown recliner
put all the throw rugs in the hall
swept the living room and bath
mopped the kitchen until the mop fell apart
put all the kitchen and bath linens into the wash
took all the rugs outside and shook the hell out of them
spot-scrubbed the living room and entryway floors with the mophead
listed the brown recliner on Craigslist
put the laundry in the dryer
made a pile of his stuff and asked him to deal with it
dusted and washed the coffee tables
washed the garbage pail lid
made the bed
put the rugs back down
folded the laundry and brought it back up
took pictures of the extra office chair to sell it
got permission to sell the PS3

Yay! Accomplishments!

In which my life is so completely the opposite of rock star. I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to feel about it.

Both of the houseplants, the kalanchoe a co-worker gave me last year and the avocado pit I started in 2014, were totally root-bound and desperately needed to be repotted.

Pastels

On Saturday we went to the ghetto K-mart for pots and toilet paper. It was the first time I’d gone anywhere in the car in months! The weather was gorgeous but everything was still grey and brown; it took today’s endless hours of rain to start any greening.

I also got a little gardening tool — I have half a plan to dig up the overgrown bed in front of the building and grow tomatoes and parsley instead of weeds and grass — and some tomato seeds.

Tomatoes

On the other hand, the rabbits would probably eat any seedlings, the site gets brutal direct sun all summer, weeding sucks, and I could just grow tomatoes in pots in front of a window and eliminate pretty much all the bother altogether.

I recently bought myself an apron. AN APRON. So when I cook and clean and do dishes, I wear my little housewifery uniform. I’m pushing 50 and I wear an apron because it keeps me from wiping my hands on my clothes and that seems like a good idea.

Apron

I still haven’t bothered to go out and make friends; I’m perfectly content hanging out with my weird and wonderful boyfriend and never going anywhere. (Plus, as far as I’m concerned, “going anywhere” weather lasts about four months a year in this part of the country. I miss Walla Walla weather so fucking much.)

I keep thinking I need to join a stitch & bitch or drag my carcass to an open mic, but then I don’t, which makes me think I don’t really want to. I’m generally pretty hard to stop when I set my mind to going out and doing things.

I cook dinner every night, I do dishes. I sleep in. I make the bed, I tidy up, I fuck around online, I read a few hundred books per year, I play with miniature sewing machines.

Miniature sewing

I don’t knit for shit anymore.

I also don’t sit on the floor anymore, which is beginning to get on my nerves. There may be a rug in my life soon, so I can sit on the floor. Chairs are stupid. I also think they might be bad for your legs, or at least your circulation, and your lower back.

Here’s a zucchini lasagna I made. I even made the marinara from scratch, since all the store-bought sauces these days have added sugar.

Lasagna

I do laundry, I sweep floors, I maintain seasonally appropriate decorations. Basically the only people I ever talk to are Scott and the guy at the gas station. Once in a huge great while I walk over to the taco bar for a drink or three, but I’m so cheap these days I feel like that’s only for treat, not for regular, even though I always used to blow my cash at bars. I mean, you can get twice as much booze for the same price at a liquor store than at the bar!

Bloody Mary

I actually like my job. I close the bedroom door, login to the other account on my computer, and take calls for Comcast. (You’d think taking calls for Comcast would be awful, but I support the security system rather than cable or internet, so we have totally different metrics and it isn’t.) After four hours, I log off and walk into my living room. I never have to wear a bra, or even brush my hair for that matter.

I routinely get perfect VOC (“voice of the customer” survey) scores, and about once a week somebody will ask to be transferred to my supervisor to report how much they liked my service. I don’t even have to wear shoes. When it’s slow, I read books between calls, or surf on my tablet. When it’s busy, the 4-hour shift goes by quickly. I have an incredibly comfy, cushy job and after the shock and awe of that year in retail I’m terribly grateful for it.

Comcast-bashing mail

I didn’t have to leave the building once during blizzard season. I worked from home and had groceries delivered! It was awesome!

I am basically the most coddled, most spoiled person on earth. Seriously. I don’t even get out of bed some days until two in the afternoon. The place is so small I can scrub the bathroom or clean the kitchen in half an hour. It takes minutes to sweep.

And the relationship is awesome. I love the shit out of him, and he loves me right back. We’re nice to each other and we help each other. There’s total affection and total parity, plus he regularly makes me laugh (even though he watches vintage pro wrestling way more than anybody should). If I get up to do some chore or another, he’ll jump up too and take out the trash, or run the broom, or pop off to the store with the grocery list (he does most of the household errands).

His only real bad habit is his regular failure to close cabinets. I close the medicine cabinet every single day, and kitchen cabinets frequently. But that’s it. Otherwise — well, beyond his propensity for puns and other forms of very unfunny, low humor — I couldn’t find anything to bitch about unless I made it up.

Sure, I do the bulk of the chores, but unlike all the other losers I’ve dated, this one actually pays the rent and the bills, so I’m happy to. And, unlike all the other losers I’ve lived with, he doesn’t treat our home like a hotel his mother works at. It’s fucking glorious.

Here’s the photo they’ll run if we ever get accused of some sort of heinous crime. (We won’t have committed it, though, because that would require us to go out and do something.)

First pic with new phone's front-facing cam

The neighborhood is host to tons of heavy traffic. I’ve never lived on a busier street, and I once lived on Powell boulevard in Portland. There’s traffic past our building 24/7, and a lot of it is emergency vehicles with sirens on. Tons of foot traffic, too, all year, although a lot more when it’s a decent temperature, of course. In the summer, there’s the pedal pubs too. Somehow it gives the impression that you’re doing something, all that activity just out your window, even though you’re probably just sitting around looking at Pinterest or something. Maybe that’s part of why I don’t seem to feel compelled to get out there and meet people.

I’ve lost a lot of of the weight I’d gained in the past few years, and intend to lose still more. But even though in some places my dimensions are what they were, say, five or ten years ago, that middle age thickening thing is clearly taking over. It’s something about where the fat lingers, and the elasticity — or lack there of — of the skin, somehow. I can look at myself in the mirror and know that this measurement and that measurement is what it was awhile ago, but now I look like an old lady. The body changes. It’s vaguely disconcerting.

My eyelid continues to indulge in its slow decline and now my eyes are entirely asymmetrical. I do wonder what causes one’s eyelid to droop. I think it’d freak me out more but Scott doesn’t give a shit, somehow that helps. I guess you can relax about the issue of your beauty or lack there of when you’ve already got a mate.

KINDLE_CAMERA_14386

Getting into other middle aged pursuits: old movies. Movies from the 30’s and 40’s. Movies I used to find uncomfortably dull are now enjoyable. I find myself thinking about how when the weather gets nice, I should persuade Scott to go for brief postprandial walks around the neighborhood with me, for our health.

I think about holidays and tea pots, whether I should buy a spiralizer, I read tons of recipes; I don’t think about bars, gigs, and parties. I put on makeup about every six months for no reason and then generally wipe it right back off. I consider appropriateness when choosing clothing. (Well, secondarily. First it’s comfort, then it’s “does this hide or emphasize the fact these old tits aren’t in a bra?”)

Becoming amused by my invisibility; when I walk around or hang out in front of the building veritable packs of “young people” walk by and they register me exactly the way twenty-somethings register people old enough to be grandmothers. It’s weird. I used to be them, now I think of them as idiot kids and they think of me as old. Conversations that were once painfully new and riveting are now painfully derivative.

(I do know the “cure” for these feelings of aging into obsolete unhip decrepitude is to go hang out with a slightly older crowd. Then you quit being an old lady and you start being the hot young thing; but again, I just can’t be arsed.)

It makes me invisible in a way, being older than the neighborhood, and it’s such an interesting dynamic, since most of it occurs internally. The kids in the building usually say hi on the rare occasions I see them, and certain personality types will nod as they walk past on the sidewalk, but in general most of the population’s eyes just slide off me like I’m not there. I’d probably be super bugged by it if I didn’t live with someone who smooches me frequently and somehow manages to grab my butt every single day of the year.

Aired up my bike tires! Told Scott to buy me some bike baskets. Getting ready to ride for groceries! Having them delivered is awesome, of course, but hardly necessary when it’s over 50F (and under 80F). Had considered going for a ride today, but it decided to rain non-stop. At least the grass has started to become green.

Maybe I’ll go ride my bike around tomorrow!

Hard-core Housewifery

October 6th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess - (0 Comments)

In which I cooked and cleaned all day yesterday!

Over the weekend we visited Microcenter, where we purchased a monitor, a Toshiba Satellite, and a USB headset.

Toshiba Satellite S55T-B5335

The latter two items were for me, with the sincere hope that I’ll get a support job I’d applied and interviewed for, and for which my Asus wasn’t up to spec. The monitor was for Scott, who worked from home yesterday
primarily, I think, in order to use his shiny new toy. He totally deserved a new monitor.

I cooked a pot of beans, made vegetable broth, made chowder, and baked a few loaves of bread.

Vegetable broth

Whole wheat no-knead bread

Today's cooking accomplishments

I also swept the kitchen, living room, and hall. I mopped — until the mop came apart, and then I hand-scrubbed — the kitchen floor. I took the rugs outside and shook them and let them get some afternoon sunlight. I did two sinks full of dishes. I made the bed. I folded and put away a load of laundry.

And then I drank a bottle of wine and read half a sci-fi novel!

Last but not least, right before bed I packed Scott a lunch. I made him a salami, pepperoni, and white cheddar sandwich on homemade baguette (!!!), and packed leftover cabbage & noodles, plus added some cubed cheese with olives and pickles. Should get him through the day intact.

Today I may clean the bathroom, may do a load of laundry, may cook dinner. Or not. I might just watch random YouTube videos and blow off the cleaning and serve leftovers for dinner!

Here’s my schedule!

June 24th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Life | Moving - (0 Comments)

In which Scott came home for lunch and told me it’s now confirmed that we can actually move this weekend.

Today: pack.
Tomorrow: pack.
The day after: pack and clean.
Saturday: MOVE. RENT A TRUCK AND MOVE TO UPTOWN.
Sunday: unpack.
Monday: unpack.
Tuesday: drive to Chicago for a 3-day Amma program.

I blew off my second week of notice — 4 shifts — at Home Depot because we thought this might happen, but now it actually is happening and OMG WHY AM I TYPING I NEED TO BE DOING LAUNDRY AND PACKING. MOAR. BOXES.

From Public

(Oh, that credit union interview was yesterday, and I think it went really well! Should hear back by the end of the week. It would be so great to work and live so close together. Especially if that work has a regular schedule and isn’t fucking retail. Did I even mention that the very instant I could request days off to see Amma I did so, and then last week, after over a month’s deliberation, they finally denied me July 4th off? Even without the move I would have quit over that. A year’s worth of shitty scheduling and overscheduling, and you can’t give me one holiday off?)

This is what I did today.

February 17th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Work - (0 Comments)

In which it’s not much, but it’s what there was.

Hitting Snooze

I was scheduled to work a short noon-to-four shift today, which sucks because it’s too cold to walk and there’s no bus so I’d have to take two taxi rides. Which makes no sense if you’re only working four hours, because you’d spend nearly half your income for the day merely getting to and from work. I was considering spending an hour and a half at a nearby coffee shop to catch a ride home from my guy after, but then again, that would cost money too. So I hadn’t really decided yet.

When my alarm went off at nine, I hit snooze and realized my guy was still in bed and freaked out. “You’re–! It’s NINE! You–”

“I took the morning off,” he mumbled.

“Oh,” I said, and snuggled in and promptly went back to sleep. I hit snooze every ten minutes for awhile, then reset my alarm for 10:30. Screw having a relaxing morning with plenty of time to get ready and maybe get some chores done; I wanted to sleep.

When my alarm went off again I hit snooze one last time and drowsed, then got up and showered, dried my hair, dressed, made a latte, and scrambled some eggs with mushrooms and fake sausage. At twenty ’til I got onto the bed and whispered, “Will you drive me to work? Or should I take a cab?”

“Umnphh,” said the bundle of pillows and blankets. “I’ll take you.”

“Okay, thank you!” I told it, then went and scarfed down my breakfast in record time. Cheesy eggs are delicious.

The Walk

There’s a thing they do called “a walk,” which is when highers-up come and, well, walk around the store and tick checkboxes on clipboards. Walks are pre-announced, so the entire store freaks the fuck out in preparation for a few days. Walks of varying levels of intensity happen pretty frequently and are the main reason the weekend workshop schedule ever gets updated on the whiteboard in the foyer.

This is our third walk in as many weeks. When the last one happened, they made one of the returns girls clean the entryway carpet with a RugDoctor, which makes no sense at all because, one, that rug gets cleaned at least five times a week with a much better machine, and, two, there was ice and snow on the ground outside so the rug was lousy with salt and would be so again in minutes. And it was.

But who am I to argue with meaningless busywork. Why not RugDoctor some self-adhesive carpet squares stuck to a concrete floor right inside the salt-strewn entrance of a big box store in Minneapolis in January. Just WHY NOT.

Anyway, today’s walk was several hours late for reasons I never discovered. Which meant that, rather than being over by the time I rolled in at noon, it hadn’t even started.

Because God is good, right before the Service desk was surrounded by a herd of about fifteen corporate nerds in orange aprons and shoes completely inappropriate for a warehouse setting, plus at least as many local employees, creating a veritable crowd of humans staring right at my workspace, a cashier brought me a customer with a suspended revolving credit application and I got to seat myself and my customer at the desk and spend the entire Services portion of the walk on the phone on hold with the credit department.
(more…)

In which I’m a domestic goddess.

When I got up this morning — and when I say ‘morning’ you should read ‘afternoon,’ because I didn’t get up until twelve-thirty — I already had dinner planned and was resolved to wash the bed linens.

I stretched lightly in bed, then got up and did a few more stretches on the floor. Then I opened the blinds, threw on some sweats, stripped the bed and filled the laundry basket.

In the living room, I opened the blinds and let the sunshine in. Then I booted up my laptop and the cube speaker and put on some contemplative chants. OM, bitches!

In the kitchen, I started up a small sink of dishes, washed the sauce pot, and put the soaking white beans on the stove to simmer.

The sun was shining in such a way that I was also forced to scrub the stove, the refrigerator, the counters, and the sink backsplash. (At night, when I usually do the dishes, the kitchen looks clean, but in broad sunny daylight it revealed itself to be a disaster. Like college kids live here. Ewh.)

So I got out that spray bottle of green stuff that smells kinda good and scrubbed stuff.

I even scrubbed the floor beside the stove, where a strip of greasy dirtiness has been accumulating for awhile. Ewh.

Eyeing the laundry basket in the hall where I’d dropped it on my way into the kitchen, I grabbed quarters out of the junk drawer and hauled the basket of laundry upstairs to the laundry room and got it started.

Then I made myself a latte, because that’s a damn good hour’s work, if you ask me.

I feel fantastic. I’m happy. This is the best. Somehow, the asshole program that schedules my store fucked up and gave me three glorious days off in a row, so I’m actually rested and my feet don’t hurt and I’m not irritated. I popped out of bed happy and ready to clear things off my domestic to-do list, and I’m doing chores because today I can do them with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction rather than fatigue and resentment.

This is how it’s supposed to feel.

No one will ever tell you that scrubbing the handle of the fridge door is profoundly fulfilling in and of itself, because it’s not, and neither is laundry or toilet scrubbing, but it does need to be done and it’s so much nicer to do it happily and easily rather than with that tinge of embarrassment and exhaustion you feel when you’re working full-time and it’s just gotten so bad you have to do it before the plumber comes over even though you’re too tired to care.

~+~+~+~+~
As someone who has spent more time unemployed in the past decade than you’re supposed to, I can tell you unequivocally that no, you never get bored of not having to go to work. You do not feel uninvolved or useless — broke, maybe, but not like your life has lost all meaning.

You never get sick of leisure time, of being organized, of being on top of your shit, of having energy to spend on yourself, on what you want. You don’t find that you miss making money for other people at the expense of having clean cupboards, or that you miss being stressed out about work over the enjoyment of your own home-cooked meals.

Anybody who tells you that you need to work in order to feel fulfilled is simply defending the fact that they have to work themselves. Beyond our bullshit shared cultural myth, there is no evidence that anybody likes working, that anybody likes putting their own needs and happiness on hold, instead spending nearly two-thirds of their life attending to a company’s cancerous needs instead.

When you’re working, that fridge door handle gets and stays dirtier because you just can’t be bothered. You do feel bad about it, because it’s gross and lazy to have food stuck to your fridge, but you just can’t afford to let it get onto your radar. There’s just too much stuff like that: the piles of junk on the floors of your closets, the wall in the living room that somebody sneezed all over during cold season that still needs to be wiped down, the linens that need to be aired out on the line before the fold lines become permanent, the fact that the duvet hasn’t been dry cleaned in years because you just never have both the time and the money to get it done.

The friends you don’t have time to really be there for. The volunteering you’re not doing. The creative urges you’re ignoring. The half-assed way you interact with your one and only family. The ways in which you would give if only you weren’t using that energy to get money to pay for the basics of living.

~+~+~+~+~
When you’ve never been unemployed, you’re aware of the things you’re not getting done and you feel lazy, like a failure, but you’re so tired and your house has never been that clean so it’s normal for you. You assume other people get their duvets dry cleaned more than once a decade and that they probably have tidier closets than you, but you don’t really know.

But then you spend a few stints being gloriously unemployed and eventually you discover a wonderful thing: a mental and physical place in which you finally get rested up enough to tackle all the stuff on your mental domestic to-do list, and you get it done easily and without strain, and you’re organized and rested and happy and you feel useful and fantastic.

And also resentful, because you know this shit is important, but your culture doesn’t value it. It just judges you for not being able to work full-time and be an excellent housekeeper.

You know it’s important to take care of your linens so that they last a long time and you’re not wasting money on replacements. You know it’s important to cook thoughtful, thrifty, delicious meals and eat at home, for health and financial as well as psychological reasons. It’s important to keep your home clean and coherent and organized, for mental and physical health reasons and because knowing where things are and being able to easily get to them could be important in an emergency.

But nobody will pay for all this stuff, so it’s not valuable. Important, yes, but absolutely not valuable. You’re supposed to do these things on the side, for free, around your “real” job of making money for other people in return for just enough to pay your rent. But everybody will understand if you don’t get them all done, because they’re not valuable to anyone. Except you, and even you don’t care enough to handle it, right?

So work that job and let your linen rot; you can buy new. (Actually, it’s better for the economy if you replace everything all the time, right? Isn’t that the model we’ve decided upon: infinite growth and infinite waste?) Eat frozen dinners and bad restaurant food, and to hell with your health. Try to prevent anybody, ever, from looking into your closets or cupboards; you have every intention of organizing them as soon as you have time, but right now they’re just embarrassing.

Spend most of your waking hours feeling vaguely angry, lazy, and behind on things. Your social life, your creative life, your societal service goals. Hell, you haven’t studied something just to know it since you got hired. Realize that, for example, the Japanese have more savings and less expectation of free time than you do, and proceed to feel guilty about deciding to spend your entire day off on the couch, unbathed, with chores left undone. After all, chores can wait. They’re not valuable. Nobody cares if every house in America is dirty.

~+~+~+~+~
If nobody’s willing to pay for something, it doesn’t matter. Period. While organized closets are impressive, they’re not valuable. Society has decided that the accumulation of money under any circumstances is more important than a nation of organized, clean homes with good food and happy people in them. (Some people do pay other people to organize their closets, but that doesn’t do me any good. What I’m talking about is me organizing my closets, which involves no financial transactions.)

I resent that my culture so little values things I think are important. I hate that our laundry isn’t done, that I don’t have a freezer full of homemade food, and that the front closet is a mess. I resent being too tired nearly all of the time to cook and clean to my own standards. I resent working for pay, while the work I feel is important — clean house, good attitude, good food — has no value to my society and therefore nobody pays me for it. So I blow it all off in favor of making money for white men I’ve never even met in return for a non-living wage, a shitty schedule, and a mild but permanent sense of enraged failure.

~+~+~+~+~
Do you know how many times you have to be unemployed before you quit trying to tell yourself you’re unfulfilled? Do you know how long it takes to recover from full-time employment (of any kind, from crappy wage-slave jobs to engineering jobs you’re genuinely interested in) enough to feel good and spontaneously do things just because you want to?

Once I took a road trip with a group of home-schoolers. One of the moms told me it took, on average, six months — nearly an entire school year — for any child pulled out of public school to become authentically interested in learning again. After that, given the resources, they’d teach themselves, she said, “because everyone loves to learn. It’s just part of human nature.”

After about six months of post-layoff sloth and debauchery, you start doing chores. Without resentment. For the sake of having a clean closet alone, and not to please those voices in your head that tell you you’re a lazy fuck with shamefully dirty closets. You volunteer to help others not because you’re rich, because you’re not, but because you can do so joyfully. You read more non-fiction, you pick up your guitar one afternoon (the one you haven’t taken out of its case in three years), you bake fresh bread, you simmer pots of beans on the stove all day long, you spend all the time you want with your friends, you actually do your devotions regularly, your sheets are clean. No, you do not feel useless or unfulfilled. You feel like an actual human being. Just a fairly broke one.

And then your benefits run out. You take the first job you’re offered and you’re back on the treadmill, eating bad restaurant food and in your fatigue cutting all the non-essentials. All you can maintain is the job, about a third of your previous social life, and one hobby. Everything else goes, including the volunteering, the cooking, the knitting, the cheerfulness and the dusted ceilings.

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Working does not give me a sense of accomplishment. It does not give me a sense of meaning, of usefulness, or of value. It just makes me tired, angry, and a poor member of society (unless you define “society” as that mechanism that wants me to eat restaurant food and buy new linens/consume medical services and have no savings). I’ve had some great jobs, too. Engaging, pleasant, with a learning curve and functional HVAC.

But regardless of the job, you’re still putting much your life on hold in order to make someone else rich. (Once in a great while you’re putting much of your life on hold in order to keep a group of people in your community employed, true, which is for the greater good and therefore of greater value. But most of the time? You’re busting balls to grow some dude’s wealth, and he does not give a fuck about the community the business operates in because he lives somewhere else.)

I make much less than I did at my last job, and I work much more. And not in a quiet newsroom sitting at a desk, either: in a concrete warehouse with shitty lighting. I’m always tired. My feet always hurt. When I’m not at work I don’t want to do anything but sit on the couch, drink wine, and read fiction or watch Hulu. I don’t even want to run to the grocery store with Scott to grab tomatoes and ginger; I don’t want to leave the apartment. (Part of that is the weather, of course — it’s been between minus ten and positive ten for awhile now, which is, in my opinion, shitty cold — but the bulk of it is the kind of fatigue the overwhelmed suffer.) I cook — not enough, but some — because it’s the hobby I’ve decided to have energy for.

Most of my internal monologue is about shutting the fuck up and not being such a horrible baby. It’s about how half the women I work with are older than me and closer to clinical obesity, and how their health is poor and how they work more hours than I do without half — I assume — of the rage I feel.

About how I’m an entitled little twat who needs to check her fucking attitude; how their feet must hurt even worse than mine and how their bathrooms are probably cleaner. How the corporate model basically has bullshit built into it, sure, but everyone else seems to be okay with it. How the fault is all with me and how I’m the angriest person I know and how because of all these flaws I don’t deserve anything better.

And about how I should be grateful to have any form of human social interaction at all, because there’s no other way to meet people in the Midwest in the dead of winter. How I’d never get any physical exercise at all if I didn’t work where I do. How working there takes the place of being in a band in terms of the noise, discomfort, heavy lifting, and performance (being in a good, cheerful, helpful mood for customers and co-workers, when in actual fact you just want to tell everyone to fuck the fuck off because only idiot white people with disposable income think that spending money on 85% of the shit in the store isn’t the epitome of stupidity).

But those last are the lies we tell ourselves in order to get by. I’m mad because that kind of work FUCKING SUCKS and the pay is AWFUL. I’m mad because the environment sucks, the lighting sucks, the noise sucks, the model (of using people like my co-workers and myself to make some fucktards somewhere rich) sucks, and because I and my fat co-workers would probably be much less fat if we just had time to cook at home. I’m mad because these are things we should all be mad about that my entire culture tells me not to even notice, or when I do notice it to blame myself.

Because if I were an inherently better person I’d have more self-discipline, more gratitude, and enough energy to get all this shit done. All the working, all the customer service, all the worship, all the writing and singing, all the cleaning, all the laundry, all the cooking, all the toilet scrubbing, and all the Hulu-watching.

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But today? Today was my third day off in a row, and the sun shined, and I have a clean kitchen and clean bedding and dinner’s simmering on the stove and my favorite person in the world will be home soon.

And I want to be grateful for the contrast that makes this gratitude so strong, and I don’t want to borrow trouble from the future — I’m scheduled to work the next six days in a row and I have to be at work at six o’clock in the damn morning tomorrow — but right now, right this moment, life is perfect. I feel good, I’m happy, and the ills of the world — with its shitty weather and corporate greed and toxic American diet — are locked safely outside our cozy little brick building.

We’ll eat homemade food and sleep on clean sheets tonight. We have all the electronic gadgets and entertainment subscriptions we could ever want. We have slippers and fuzzy blankets and a candy jar. We have each other.

Life is good.