Friday, June 18, 2010

Yes, You Read That Right. And It Still Doesn't Make Any Sense.

I'm sure I've said this before, but once upon a time I had a coworker who would, during a particularly rough period at work, announce to the bullpen that she wished for a time machine so she could find the first woman who thought her husband was at the office having a party and decided that it would be swell to get out and work, too.  Once she found that woman, her plans were to do some rather unpleasant things to her.  She'd go on to describe those unpleasant things in graphic detail.  Sometimes with sound effects.  Back then in the 1990s when we were in them there boom times economically, all us secretaries or administrative assistants yucked it up pretty good.  Wadn't no one runnin' about screechin' how we should all be glad to at least have jobs. Besides our bosses were either out of the office at their 2.5 hour lunches or safely tucked away behind closed doors.  Snoring.

But then came the 2000s and the results of massive deregulation and bursting economic bubbles and wars waged and surpluses squandered so the wealthy could keep more of their money and, well, castles built on sand and all that.

So now that I and so many others floating in this leaky boat of unemployment seem all but barred from that world of bad office coffee, overly complicated voice mail systems and public restrooms cleaned by someone else (usually), I realize that work wasn't all bad.  I mean, at least it paid something.  And by the time I was asked out or "laid off," I'd climbed pretty high on the ladder. So there's that.  Joke's on me, though.  Now every fucking position posting demands salary info.  My last salary wasn't high enough to keep us from the edge, but it was just high enough to ensure that my resume is going straight into the shredder if I'm daft enough to give my salary info.

Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't.

But the thing I've been itching to write about is the fact that besides a little money of her own, what probably really drove that first married and well-kept woman into the workforce was the mind-numbing sameness of every day when you're a housewife.  Thank goodness I'm hanging on to the fantasy of writing this novel because if I didn't at least that to hold on to I might just do a Sylvia Plath.  You don't think I rented a house without a gas stove, do you?  If I've learned one thing, it's plan ahead people, plan ahead.

(Oh, there she goes again with the suicide jokes.  Such a facile attempt at humor.  Or is it a cry for help?)

But really, it's wash the clothes, put the clothes into the dryer, fold the clothes, put the clothes away because otherwise the clothes will spend 3.2 days on the floor and then end up clean, but having been slept on by cats, back in the laundry hamper.  Or, more accurately, next to the hamper.  No one can be bothered to actually put things into the hamper.

It's the same with the cooking and the cleaning and the carrying Target bags full of used cat litter to the basement.  It's all just so much of the same stuff over and over and over until you think "Yes, I may not be thrilled with having to stand at the photocopier or sit through tiresome meetings, but at least I can dress up a little and maybe have a leftover Napoleon when the conference room clears out."  Not to mention the paychecks.  Those are nice, too.  No matter how trivial or insulting to our sense of self worth.

I'm sounding a wee bit defeated today, aren't I?

Well, we're still sucking it up as much as we can.  Cancelling, couponing, cutting, clearing out.  MathMan has become a bit of an ebay selling machine.  Still, some days it's not enough.  Yesterday the water company robo-called and since I wasn't sure how long our grace period was, I took action.  I asked Chloe to help out. 

"Hey, will you pay the water bill and I'll pay you back with interest when Daddy gets paid."
"With interest, what does that mean?"
"You continue to live here rent free."
"Not funny, Mom."
"Yeah, well neither is not flushing the toilets for a week and a half."
"Point taken."

It may not be much, but sometimes those small victories can keep me going for another day.  Just so I can do more laundry and bake brownies and.........oh, fuck it.


  1. If I played the lottery, then won one of those huge mega-million prizes and escaped the lottery winners curse and didn't hang myself or something, I'd give you enough to keep yourself in whatever style you deemed appropriate. After, that is, making our lives debt free, our parents finally decide that the sex, the pregnancy, the labor, and all the years raising us are now worth it, and our siblings finally figure out we aren't wasting their oxygen.

    I hate that folks as wonderful as you have to go through this. I hate that anyone has to go through this.

  2. Yeah, being a housewife in a household of <$40,000/yr for 4 people and hence a complete inability to indulge in anything remotely like a hobby was almost enough to make me ask for a lobotomy so I wouldn't have to think about another dull day of cleaning, cooking and kids. Man, every time I tilted my head, I could feel the IQ points tumble out my ear.

  3. Lisa - I wish I too won the lottery so I could do some good with it is I wait with anxiety each day for my husband to tell me he is laid off and we can live on my crappy salary. Not. We will be out on our asses quicker than you can say jack rabbit.

    The endless hopelessness is all I can bare.

    I need something GOOD to happen for all of us.

  4. I'm crossing my fingers you don't have to quit flushing the toilets over unemployment, but I certainly understand the motivation. Being creative is the way to go. Hang in there, girl!

  5. ...and that's why I buy a sack of flour and have been working my way through cook books.

    Sweetcheeks, it hits dudes, too. Trust me, the laundry only hold my attention so much.



  6. Make 'em special brownies, and domestic bliss is right around the corner.

    I always do the laundry while watching the local sports teams suck and/or choke, takes the mind off the misery.

    Oh, and booze.

  7. I do understand. I went from good income to a job with 2/3 at 2/3 the rate of pay, and from there to living on savings and my credit card for four years while fighting Social Security for the SSDI I paid for over the years. I know the frustration of a rice and beans diet on months when medical payments were high. I still live in official poverty, but feel quite well to do, by comparison.

    Hang in there Lisa. {{{hug}}}

  8. I'm so sorry, Lisa. I do understand about the frustrations of housework. Because I work freelance at home, apparently F. sometimes forgets that I have a job and confuses me with our imaginary free maid.

    I went on a rather petulant strike some time ago, but without announcing my intention, just to see how long it would take him to do a single dish without prompting. The answer: 13 days, and you don't want to know what the sink looked like by the time he valiantly hefted a sponge.

    That news about the unemployed being denied a chance to even get a foot in the door was absolutely depressing. Write that novel! (Advice to myself, as well.) I have faith that you are worth so much more than the world realizes yet. So show 'em. :)

  9. What I resent is having to do all that drudgery mostly all by myself anyway on top of working full time.

    I can always keep myself entertained. I like reading books, having special projects around the house, keeping up with friends and family. It's getting the time to DO those things is what I think sucks. So in a way I envy you having extra time at home with your family while they are still mostly there.

  10. Oh, Lisa ... how you crack me up! Our guest bedroom is now the home of The Laundry Mountains. Note the plural.

    FUCKING laundry. There, I've said it.

    All that you write here ... Understood. xoxo

  11. Is it okay if I just refer to all the other comments as being good advice? I know a couple of women other than myself who have worked much longer than I at the university and have access to very good pensions who just won't leave. They are sad and tedious people.

  12. Well, Lisa, I'm sure the not flushing the toilets thing brought it home to your daughter. Good example! To bring stuff like this home to my kids I can't use dollars I have to use iTunes - they only understand money in iPod value...

    But I will say one thing about kids who no longer can look forward to a cleaning lady (how many years I don't remember), they know how to clean a house. And, unfortunately, so do I.

  13. Oh my gosh (comenting for one). I moved out, into a small place and took little and can actually clean my apartment. It's kinda wierd, but I did just borrow money from my eldest for gas forthe next week. SHe got a job at Old Navy and I just LOVE hearing her complain about having to go to work. No worry, they're going to pay me for subbbing after my student teaching ended for May 14-30 on June fucking 30th.

    Missed you. Glad to be back.

  14. Yea the dull domestic stuff gets old fast.
    What bugs me is when I put some extra work into making a dinner & people blaze in chow down & splinter in different directions.
    Nary a thanks, that was good, even a sound burp.

    Sorry you are going through it.


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