A Day of House-Husbandry

Yesterday, I assumed the role of house husband. I greatly enjoyed it. It began with the snow storm on Wednesday night, about which seemingly the entire eastern seaboard lost its collective mind, from the Carolinas up to New England. No matter. Being from Iowa, I’m at pro at these things, and I couldn’t help but feel a tad superior at the mania that accompanied a foot or so of snow (it was more in some regions, to be fair). Anyway, Carolyn and I both had Thursday off of work, but then, with the storm abating by early Friday morning, Carolyn was forced to return, albeit after a two-hour delay on Friday. My office remained closed, meaning I had the apartment to myself all day long.

The last time this happened, I ended up watching movies all day and basically being useless. This time around, I wanted to be a bit more productive, in part because I felt guilty that poor Carolyn had to soldier off to DC while I was free to flounce about in my PJs (memory of this guilt from the previous time factored into this desire as well). So I made a to-do list for myself. It contained the following items:

1.  Augustine
2.  Fix kitchen light
3.  Load & empty dishwasher
4.  Clean:
a.  Kitchen
b.  Bathroom
c.  Living room
5.  Vacuum everything
6.  Call about potential jobs
7.  Gym
8.  Shower

In short, except for the Augustine item—I had been reading St. Augustine’s Confessions and wanted to finish the book that morning—these were chores. (Yesterday, as you know, was also Valentine’s Day, so I should mention that I had several other items on the list involving preparations for our holiday plans, but because I don’t want to bore you with the details—which were probably pretty boring anyway—I’m leaving them off here.) So, if all went as planned, my day would consist of puttering around the apartment doing the little odds and ends that needed to be done.

After finishing the last thirty pages or so of the Confessions (which are certainly worthy of more discussion, but probably not suited for this particular post), and checking Item One off the list, I set to work on the kitchen. Item Two (again, reference above chart) was fixing the kitchen light. To accomplish this, I called maintenance. Then I read ESPN online for about fifteen minutes, at which point the maintenance guy came in and fixed the light. Voila! Item Two was checked off! This was going to be a very productive day.

Then I wasted no time in loading the half-dozen dishes that were stacked in our sink into our old and somewhat ineffective dishwasher, and started it up. Just rolling along! It occurred to me that I couldn’t proceed any further in my list, though, until the dishwasher had finished its cycle, so, resigned, I returned to my computer for some more college basketball reading.* But after about twenty minutes I realized that I had an item I actually could accomplish right that second: Item Six, the imposing-sounding “calling about potential jobs.” This realization dismayed me—I hate cold-calling people to ask if they’re hiring, and I certainly didn’t want to waste my snow day doing it (much better to waste time at work)—but I figured I had no choice. It was on the list, after all. So I called about a dozen potential employers, got several voicemails, and discovered that of the people who answered, no one was hiring. A bummer, sure, but it could’ve been worse! Because I then happily checked off Item Six.

* Incidentally, now that the Olympics are upon us, and given the dramatic time difference between Baltimore and Sochi, it takes a Herculean effort to surf the Internet and not see Olympic results which you plan on discovering for yourself later that night, during the prime-time, tape-delay coverage. Sites like ESPN, in particular, are minefields for this, because they display the results of the best events—like figure skating and alpine skiing—right up top. Yesterday, though, I did manage to avoid prematurely learning about everything except Bode Miller’s failure to medal in the Super Combined.

By the time I’d finished making the calls, the dishwasher was finished, so back to work I went. I emptied the dishwasher expertly, thus crossing off, in full, Item Three. Now it was 11:30; the day was practically half gone. Time for a snack, I thought. I ate a bowl of cereal.

Now came the real meat of my schedule—the cleaning. There was no hiding from that anymore. I brought out the Windex and the paper towels, and set to work, starting with the (now freshly illuminated, thanks to the maintenance man) kitchen. After twenty minutes of swiping at grease and arranging appliances that had gotten out of order, I felt I’d done enough to cross out Item Four(a). Next was the bathroom, which was another story altogether. You see, cleaning the bathroom is my job (along with emptying the trash, doing the dishes, and doing the laundry), and I had of late been neglecting it. (Carolyn’s main tasks involve keeping our bills in order, taking the lead in cooking duties, vacuuming, and making the grocery lists.) The bathroom was rather … dirty. On the bright side, it’s a small bathroom, so even at its worst I was confident I could wrangle it within forty-five minutes or so.

Sure enough, less than an hour later I emerged, scalded from hot water and probably caked with dust and stray hairs, but successful. Nice! The goal was accomplished, and I checked another item off my list.

That left only straightening up the living room and vacuuming among my self-prescribed cleaning duties. These tasks I accomplished in another forty-five minutes (did I mention we have a cozily small apartment?). When I put away the vacuum and admired my handiwork—it’s a great feeling to spend time in a freshly-cleaned home—it occurred to me that I was both tired and very hungry. I looked at my phone; it was already 2 o’clock! How did that happen?! I warmed up some soup (taking care not to dirty up the kitchen countertops) and sank onto the couch. Then I looked at my newly-updated list:

1.  Augustine
2.  Fix kitchen light
3.  Load & empty dishwasher
4.  Clean:
         a.  Kitchen
         b.  Bathroom
         c.  Living room
5.  Vacuum everything
6.  Call about potential jobs
7.  Gym
8.  Shower

Only two items to go: the gym, and showering. I put a movie on instead: The Usual Suspects. I ate my soup. Those last two could wait till tomorrow.** It was a snow day, after all.

** I actually did shower just before going to meet Carolyn at the train station. I mean, it was Valentine’s Day.

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