Thursday, March 26, 2009

Will work for praise.

i'm apparently incapable of finding a cartoon to fit this post. Maybe i'm simply impatient. So let me set the scene for you mentally:

Inside the bathroom the chrome sparkles, the shower gleams. Even the sink shines a welcoming grin. i am seated on a lawn chair in said bathroom, plastic cooler to my side. "Well HELLO!" i say as you enter. "Pull up a seat and pop open a soda-- Yup," i say gesturing with the hand holding a diet root beer, "i cleaned that mirror." i smile proudly. "And that shower wall, well, that bad boy gave me some trouble but it was aaaall worth it in the end--i got that soap scum off till the walls are as smooth as a baby's bottom."

i nod in proud silence as you stare numbly at the scene. "Yup, that was some of my finest work. Sit down a bit and we can just admire. Join me!"

You may as well sit down and say some nice words, because i'm not shutting up till you do.

Housework? Not my favorite. Praise? My favorite. Put the two together and i may get some of the first one done.

i can't seem to help myself. Sometimes i hear me talking and my brain is saying "shut up shut up!" but the mouth keeps going. For instance, my youngest daughter and her husband are staying with us at the moment. They enter the dining/kitchen area where i am standing. "Yup, i cleaned aaall the kitchen counters today!" They look blankly yet politely. "Shut up shut up!" screams my brain. The man's a real live chef. He expects a kitchen to be clean. My daughter loves a clean kitchen. They cleaned their apartment kitchen incessantly. But can i stop? NO. i will continue until someone politely says "Oh," with a courtesy smile.


But seriously, i ask, what is the point of cleaning if no one notices? i've used that theory for years to avoid cleaning. In fact i wait too long just so a completed task is noticeable. My husband is easy going about the whole cleanliness thing. We both enjoy cleanliness, but we're neither one invigorated by the process. You will never ever walk into our house and hear me say "You need to go now, i can't WAIT to get started cleaning that refrigerator!!"

Last weekend i got to help my friend's father sort some papers on his desk in preparation for moving. It was the closest i will ever get to an archaelogical dig--the various stratas of civilization on the desktop covered more than a decade. Much in the way an archaelogist delicately brushes the dirt from a bowl, i would carefully blow the dust from a letter from 1997. "Look what i found," i would say in awe.

Sorting is fun, her dad was appreciative. Working for praise, my favorite. i was pretty tired by the end and i'd forgotten my cooler, or i'd probably still be there--"Hey! Come on in! Grab yourself somethin' from the cooler! Check this out--that desktop was covered in papers and look at it now. Yup, did that myself--"

Skimmer's update: Want something cleaned? Laundry done? Hand me a soda and tell me how awesome i am. Will work for praise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy birthday, somewhere--

Today is March 10. It's my brother's birthday. Though i haven't seen him since some time in 1989, when March 10th rolls around i remember.

It's not that he's dead, at least not to my knowledge. All i know is when i sent his Christmas present in 1989, it came back. "Return to sender: Moved No forwarding address."

He was my big brother, the one to go straighten out the kid at the playground who knocked me off the monkey bars. We were never really close, he and my sister were closer in age and more into the same things at the same time. He was in a garage band, she was into the boys around the band. Stuff like that. i was nearly 4 years younger than my sister but he was separated from her by only 2 years. While he was rockin' the rebellious hair, i was in awe of the first girl in my 5th grade class to wear a bra. Widely different places in life.

i don't guess i was too surprised at his leaving the family. Our father had recently died, my sister and brother had stopped communicating with our mother, and even when we'd all shared the same house we were far from the Cleavers. Heck, the Addams Family was more the All-American family than we were. (And their house was way cooler too.)

We three children all had our issues with our parents, not an uncommon thing in a family. But i've never understood my brother leaving us. My sister and i are still close, perhaps closer as we've gotten older and realized we Did Good surviving the chaos with still liking each other.

i will probably never know why my brother left with no forwarding address, but at least once a year, on March 10th, i stop and remember the big brother i once had who gave the kid at the park the what-for to stand up for his little sister.

Happy birthday, Michael, somewhere!