This is me doing dishes.

Doing dishes makes me nauseous. I loathe doing them, so Callaghan does them. I gladly put them away. We never talk about who does what in the house… we just do what we don’t mind doing, and thankfully, there’s nothing to be done that we both dislike. It all evens out. So I unload the dishwasher, and he fills it and runs it. If he doesn’t do the dishes at night, he’ll do them in the morning.

Occasionally, though, the dishes don’t get done at night, and he can’t do them in the morning, either. Totally understandable. But then I’m in the house staring at the dirty dishes in the kitchen. And sometimes on those mornings, the wreckage in the sink is grosser than usual.

These were my thoughts after he left for work yesterday:

Gah. I’ll leave them there so he can do them when he gets home. But it would suck to come home from work and have to do dishes. I should do them. I’m his back-up. *** Maybe if I ignore them, they’ll do themselves. *** They’re still there. I can’t work knowing they’re there. They’re mocking me. I can’t write. I should just do them. It won’t kill me. *** Ugh, slime. How can he whistle and sing while doing this shit? Why do we eat so much olive oil? We should only eat fat-free things so if I have to do dishes, I won’t have to deal with oily water. Gag reflexes activated! *** What is wrong with you? You’ve seen and touched worse things than this. You and your weird hang-ups. Just get over it and do the damn dishes like a normal person. *** FINE. Flatware first, so they’re out of the way. UGH they’ve been soaking in oily water. Run hot water over hands until nerves are dead. Good thing he isn’t here, because he’d tell me to stop wasting water. But if he was here, I wouldn’t be doing dishes. I’m not turning off the hot water. He’ll never know. Ugh. I’m wasting water. I should turn it off. *** What the hell is this? Salad slime and cat food fork bits mixed into the oily water. Don’t throw up. Turn hot water back on, sterilize hands, turn water off. Deep breath. *** At least this is taking my mind off the elections. *** Glasses and mugs, okay, I can deal with glasses and mugs. Immensely satisfying, lining up glasses and mugs by shape and size. *** Aw yeah the top dish-rack is a work of art, all the drinkware lined up to military standards. BEASTMODE IN THE KITCHEN. *** %*#%^& I forgot to check the house for stray drinkware. Turn on water, scald hands, dry on paper towels, patrol house. Two glasses in the bedroom. One in the living room. That wasn’t too bad… I only have to do a little rearranging to fit them into my glorious dish-rack of perfection. DONE. Onto the bottom rack. *** Plates, fine. Bowls. There… there’s one. No, not there. Here. Why can’t I get this bowl to lean forward? Maybe here. No. Why. How does he do it?! Fine, stay face-down on the rack, bowl. I don’t care. *** But now there’s no room on that side for the other bowls. I’ll rearrange. There has to be a way, and I WILL FIND IT. *** Ugh, rearranging is making my fingers slimy again. HE OWES ME BIG TIME FOR THIS. *** I’d rather stick my head in the turtles’ bathtub Grandma and Grandpa kept in their backyard, where the turtles were happy with their slimy armored bodies. The turtles were cute. There are no turtles here. If there were, they would perish in this oily dish slime. *** There. Was. Crud. On. That. Plate. And. I. Just. Touched. It. *** Nothing fits in this dishwasher; we should just buy a new one. No, we should use paper plates and cups and plastic flatware all the time and order take-out so we never have to do dishes. But the environment. And health. And money. *** Why is this Goliath beer stein even in our house? It’s complicating my life taking up a whole quarter of the bottom rack. Oh yeah, we have it because I saw it at the Goodwill on half-off Saturday and I thought it was a great find so I bought it for Callaghan because he’s been wanting one like it and he loves it. I’m the best wife for having found this beer stein. I am the worst wife for my lack of dishwasher-loading aptitude. But I’m SO GREAT at unloading the dishwasher.

And I do laundry like a boss, every step of it, and I enjoy it. He hates doing laundry as much as I hate doing dishes. See? It all evens out.




Musings in a Laundromat

It’s Thursday, 7:45pm, and I’m in the Laundromat, waiting. I just put two loads into two washers. Each will take 30 minutes. One is an industrial-size machine for heavy things like the large quilt I’d brought, and the other is the next largest size. I didn’t take the time to separate anything by color today… it’s all washing in cold water, anyway.

I don’t think this will be the last time I’m here. We’re getting a washer and dryer for the house, but I’ll likely continue to use public machines for things like the big, heavy quilt.


Our neighborhood Laundromat.

Our neighborhood Laundromat.


We’ve been doing our laundry in this public Laundromat for the last few months, since our apartment complex tore down their large one in order to re-build. It’s a spacious, staffed Laundromat, and it hasn’t been unpleasant. Laundry isn’t a chore that I dislike in the first place, but also, it turns out that the business of doing laundry in a Laundromat appeals to me on several levels.

I find the layers of white noise in the Laundromat to be soothing. There’s the murmur of the T.V. in the corner, swishing water and turning dryers, clothes spinning and tumbling, the faint clanging of metal on metal and the opening and closing of machine doors. There’s the casino-like sound of change machines and vending machines, video games, traffic on the street outside, the air conditioner and ceiling fans. There’s the sound of random human interaction like people talking to each other and on the phone, phones ringing, children playing and babies making their baby sounds. There are people singing and laughing. Altogether, the sounds in the Laundromat create a unique and comforting acoustic mosaic.

At this very moment, a Mom and her young daughter – the daughter looks to be 10-11 years old – are folding clothes together and singing “These Boots are Made for Walking,” and I can’t stop smiling. They’ve created a bubble around themselves with music, bonding happily and lovingly over a common chore. They’re enjoying themselves, and that joy is infectious.

In the company of strangers doing their laundry, I’m filled with a sense of connectedness. We’re people brought under this roof by the basic need to clean our clothing, bedding, towels, etc. This is a place of purpose: we’re here to ensure our personal comfort and health, and I know that every person in the room is going to leave this place feeling a sense of accomplishment. There’s something fantastically special about knowing this.

The Laundromat draws in all walks of life, yet the space emphasizes our sameness, and I love that. There’s no rich or poor here. The need to do laundry is a great common denominator, and there’s an unexpected intimacy in doing laundry with strangers. When we come to the Laundromat on a Saturday or Sunday, especially, I often see many people wearing clothing that has obviously been designated for Laundry Day. It’s like we’re all in a big house, padding around in our jammies. It makes for a pleasant non-interactive interaction with folks. Somehow, I feel a profound sense of kinship with humanity in the public Laundromat, and that, in a world that can be so venomous, is a blessing.

I’ll close on that note, because my time is up.

Postscript: Happy Friday!

I’m aware that Ronnie James isn’t the only cat to ever do such a thing – this is no doubt a typical feline stunt.

I hate to be one of those people always obnoxiously gushing about her cat’s intelligence, but sometimes I feel the need to indulge, especially when there’s photographic evidence.

On Monday afternoon, I separated the dirty laundry into two piles, one of light colors and one of darks. I left the room for a minute, and when I came back, I found that Ronnie James had a). figured out which pile matched his fur, and b). inserted himself into the pile.

Ronnie James in the darks


I don’t think he had any motive beyond demonstrating his ability to sort himself into the appropriate laundry pile… I mean, I don’t think he was trying to get out or to gain free admission to a thrilling ride in the washing machine or anything like that. He loves it here in the apartment, and he’s very good at bathing himself. He needs neither to escape nor to submit himself to the rigors of an industrial cleansing. No, it’s clear from the expression on his face that he’s just satisfied with his own analytical abilities. Bet you can’t find me, Mommy!

Stealth-mode kitty


He must get his camouflage talents from me. If there was a kitty Army, he’d join!

The Hen is Mightier Than the Sword

“I’m listening to this show, and the music is Harry Potter,” Callaghan just announced, ever diligent in reporting critical documentary details. He tells me these things absent-mindedly over his shoulder while he’s working and I’m sitting at my desk doing whatever. Since there’s no door between the main room (his desk) and the bedroom (my desk), we’re always in sight of each other. In fact, there are barely a few steps between us. That’s how small our house is. Very convenient for talking to each other. And for strangling each other, as the situation demands.

But I digress. My porcelain hen is sitting here next to me, and I wanted to tell you about it.

I noticed the hen (which turned out to be a bank) one night while walking with Callaghan down a small street in Nice; it was sitting in a shop window. I had no prior interest in hens, so I was maybe as surprised as he was when I went back the next day and bought it and unveiled it before his very eyes. For one thing, he couldn’t believe I’d found the shop again “against all odds,” since it was already dark when we strolled past it, and I didn’t even know where we were. (I couldn’t believe I’d found the shop again, either, since I’m directionally challenged and have been known to get lost on grounds I’ve stomped for 20 years. How I managed to navigate myself out of the woods with only a compass when I was in the Army remains a mystery.)

But I found the shop, and the hen was there, black with red flowers, and I couldn’t resist. This is what happens when you have too much time on your hands in Nice.



Since then, I’ve graciously taken it upon myself to be the hen’s guardian. To tell you the truth, I’m kind of obsessed. Every time I pay with cash, Callaghan looks over and says something along the lines of, “Hmm… you’re using paper money so you’ll get coins back. For the hen.” Or we’ll be at la boulangerie getting sandwiches and I’ll take out a 10 and he’ll be like, “Why are you paying with that when you have the exact amount in coins? Oh. Yeah.” It’s almost a joke between us, but it’s actually thrilling to me, coming from the States where real money doesn’t exist in coin form. Here in Europe, there are one and two-euro coins, so if you stick them in a piggy (hen) bank, they add up quickly. We come home from the store and I rush to the hen to deposit my high-value coins, and after four months, there’s already 124 euro in the hen! This cannot happen as easily with dollars in the States. It’s almost as fun as watching an hourglass.

Callaghan doesn’t seem to share my glee, but he will. It’s one of those he’ll thank me later things.

“So your idea of managing household finances is the hen,” he says to me one day.

“Yes. It’s for emergencies.”

“Okay, then let’s use the hen to stock up on water, in case the pipes freeze like they did last winter.”

“No… the hen is for real emergencies.”

“What kind of emergency are you talking about?”



“If the pipes do freeze again, we’ll need to use the hen to do our laundry at la laverie. We’ll need coins.”

“By then we’d be dead of thirst.”

“Parking, too.”

“Parking? How do you figure that’s an emergency?”

“We might need to pay for parking when we go to la laverie to do our emergency laundry.”


“I’m not kidding.”

“What is it about you and lau… oh, never mind.”

Okay. Maybe he has a point. But isn’t it true, in fact, that we used the hen for laundry once already? Last month, when we’d finally spilled enough coffee in bed and we wanted to wash our two large comforters before the coffee stains merged into one huge brown splotch and we needed super industrial-capacity washing machines to do the job? “See?” I’d said to Callaghan. I was trying not to gloat. “If it wasn’t for the hen, we wouldn’t be able to wash these comforters. We wouldn’t be able to park at la laverie, either.”

He couldn’t really argue with that. All he said was, “You’re right. The hen is powerful because it can do the laundry.”