Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Laundry, My Life

It’s been a busy day for Betsy Bird. Good intentions notwithstanding, I’ve somehow managed not to do any laundry for a week, save for a load I washed on Monday and then left to sour. The kids are wearing highly questionable ensembles and I’m pulling clothes from the charitable donations box, so I’ve had no other choice but to stay home and wash.

I have friends who claim they can’t sleep at night until every last dirty sock has been washed, dried, and put away to be thrown on the floor another day. These are the same people who scrub floors and clean closets when they’re mad. If you ask me, these gals just need a lesson in the power of chocolate-covered pretzels. The absolute last thing I want to do when I’m stressed is clean anything except my plate. And I can sleep like a baby with a week’s worth of jeans lined up outside the laundry room.

I may be the nagging mother who urges the boys to start big school projects early, but when it comes to laundry, I’m the party girl who waits till the night before the really big test to start studying. Part of this is that I like to live dangerously. It’s taken me awhile to realize it, but my body prefers the adrenaline rush of completing a seemingly insurmountable task to the steady drip-drip-drip of doing a little every day. I know your typical thrill seeker climbs mountains or races cars, but I’m really afraid of heights and I wouldn’t dream of going over the speed limit on a twisty mountain road. Cutting it really close on clean underwear is risk enough for me; I mean, you’re talking to a girl who asked for a new front door for Christmas. (Try that next time you want your children to feel really sorry for you.) If I need mountains, all I have to do is look next to the hampers.

The other reason I’m a laundry procrastinator is geographical. Our washer and dryer are at the top of the stairs; our dirty clothes are mostly at the bottom. Wanna know how to determine whether you really want something? Put a flight of stairs between you and it. There are some things I’m more than willing to hike uphill for, but pre-treating and folding aren’t among them. And I fear this will only get worse. Show me a person over 60 who doesn’t complain about her knees and I’ll show you an Aleve addict. If Bob and I don’t move to a one-story place by the time we retire, we’ll have to cash in our retirement accounts to buy 25 years’ worth of socks and underwear and a closet full of Dry Clean Onlys.

It’s time to start dinner, and I’ve got loads to go before I sleep. In another few hours I’ll swear that no adrenaline rush is worth this sort of exhaustion. I’ll tell myself it’s time to grow up. I’ll promise myself that I’ll run a load tomorrow and get it folded and put away before bed.

And then, along about Sunday, I’ll find that same load soured at the bottom of the washer.

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