“They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within.”
~ Lenoard Cohen
What to expect
According to conventional wisdom, to begin a blog, I am supposed to tell you what the blog is about, who I am, what I am about. I’d love to give some wonderfully confident manifesto, brave and brash, and years ago I could have. I’m sure I have it written down somewhere, and if I ever find it, I’ll put it up here for the world to see … and give us all a good laugh. But right now, as I type this, my narcisso-meter is a little too low for me to fire off a really spellbinding mission statement of my “brand.” I can only tell you what I plan to do, and tell you what I think.
I have lived just long enough to know that I know almost squat, and most of what I thought I knew over the past ten, twenty years was sheer foolishness. I was smarter at seventeen than I was at thirty-five. At this point in my life, I watch half the values that have driven me for decades – sometimes without my realizing it — crumble into the dust of an illusion. I couldn’t be more grateful. New values and new ideas grow to fill that void, and I’m happy. I recognize them now from a long time ago, when I could afford to believe what I believed because the stakes were low. Nothing more than no invitation to the Cool Party, or strange looks from the In Crowd. Over the years, though, I found to my dismay, that as you become an adult, the stakes get higher, and there’s a price for what you choose to believe, and how committed you chose to be: sometimes a real, tangible, calculable price. And when you have a family, you’re not the only one who pays. Even so, these days, we’re all willing to pay it. The price was higher for me trying to go along to get along, trying to be “normal.” As a friend helped me put into words: I drank the Kool Aide. I hit bottom, so now I’m putting myself through detox. Maybe one day I can open my own Yuppie Recovery Center and have Dr. Drew guest-host a two-hour reality special.
So my hope is that this will be a description of these transformations as I’ve gone from single city girl to professional suburban wife onto professional suburban wife-caregiver, and now to something I can’t name.
My entries will take the shape of essays rather than diary entries. I was never good at diary entries. Also, I will try to keep to the following schedule:
I’ll share – for better or worse — my thoughts on whatever spiritual reading or meditation I’ve done the previous week. This may come from Christian, Buddhist or even Mystical sources. More likely it will come from my own head. I’m not a fundamentalist, or a Bible-thumper, and definitely not an evangelist. My intent is to share and to learn, not to convert. This goes back to the “I know squat” principle. I’m trying to figure it out; I’m definitely not about to entice someone to follow me down unchartered territory.
Sometimes I will express an opinion on something controversial. It is my hope to offer a perspective that I have not seen explored, or explored often. I understand that many people will disagree with me, and I invite constructive discussion. However, I will try to avoid or stop any heated arguments that aren’t helpful.
This will be an autobiographical essay that doesn’t share enough any information that would elicit the “ew” response from my readers, myself or my husband.
Pure fluff. Something funny. Well, aiming for funny. Warning: these may be from a former writing class, but the stuff got some giggles, so hopefully you’ll be entertained.
Why it’s called “The Laundry Years”
It has been a dream of mine for almost ten years to start a blog. And now it’s here. It would have been here sooner, except for the naming of the thing. That’s right, I nursed and kept alive a dream for eight years without naming it. Well, okay, I named it several times … none worked.
So why “the laundry years”? Really, if I have all these aspirations to artistic greatness (and I do, no matter how often I get kicked out of the club), couldn’t I have thought of something else? A pithy little allusion to e e. cummings, or some edgy quote from Tom Waites, or something meaningful from Goethe or Leonard Cohen. (Mixing the four of those together might explain why I keep getting kicked out of the club.) Well, I knocked “Rain Dogs” around for a few minutes, but that seemed a little like wearing a sequined micro-skirt to Grandma’s for Sunday Dinner. My reverence for Leonard Cohen is far too great to quote him (he might actually see it). I can’t remember any Goethe off the top of my head, and my favorite two Cummings poems just won’t work. If anyone is wondering why there are no women in this group, the Patti Smith quotes are coming, I promise. I have to leave you all (all three of you) wanting more, don’t I?
One night I was deliberating this – okay, more grousing than deliberating — with my husband, also grumbling that a bit too much of my material was focused on the magic of hanging laundry in the mornings. I didn’t see that as a big seller no matter how highly I thought of it. My husband, whose heroes from a different world include Caroll Shelby* and Norm Abram, was an unexpected source of inspiration. There he was, having a moment of brilliance without a care in the world: “well, don’t you artists and writers have periods? Like Picasso? These are your ‘laundry years.’ Later you’ll have have another phase.” I sweated bullets for weeks for nothing half that good. Men.
It just seemed right. It stuck. In fact, these are my laundry years: I’ve lost my lucrative job, I’m a caregiver to a very sick mother, I’m having to pinch pennies more than I did in graduate school, and I now feel obliged to do all of the housework, and do it well. It’s my new exercise plan. Let’s see Jillian Micheals pitch that on an infomercial: mopping floors as your core work (and trust me people, it is). Still, in so many ways, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. It’s such a cliché that simple things can bring such joy, but holy cow! they can.
* I am by no means knocking gear heads. My husband has shown me the brilliant artistry and science that has to go into creating a car, let alone a NASCAR race car. When people get their classist panties in a wad anymore, I am the first one to share with them that NASCAR racing is perhaps one of the most scientific sports, involving physics, engineering and mathematics, as well as most mentally demanding. You see if you can run a car around a track four or five hundred times, with thirty other cars, at 150 miles per hour, making sure your attention does not stray once, knowing that letting your eyes of the road or your mind wander for a split second can mean not just the difference between winning or losing millions of dollars, but also life and death. Now that’s a sport. Golf? Pish posh.