Monday, October 21, 2013

Time to Come Clean

Greetings All:

I write on a variety of subjects, some deeper than others.  I am going to take on one that may cause a feeling of dread in some of you- laundry.  Unless you are a Cadet at the USMA or live at home and mom still does your laundry, it is something you need to deal with.  Or, perhaps not deal with until the last possible moment.

This post is on laundry.  A weekly, if not daily part of most of our lives.  I do a fair amount of laundry in our house.  Over the years, it is something that I like to think I've gotten pretty good at.  However, that was not always the case.  For years, even after I graduated school (all of them) I would have my Mom do my laundry.  When we still dating, my wife would roll her eyes at me "dropping off"  a basket (or two) for Mom to work her magic.  At one point, my wife said with more than a bit of exacerbation, "Cut the cord!"  I would reply that why in the world would I want to do that?  I figured if my Mom really did not want to do my laundry, she'd say so.  Besides, in addition to her laundry process, she was a pro at ironing.  Now who was I do deny an artist the canvass?

OK, I agree, that's a bit much.  And in retrospect, grown men and women should not abuse the privilege of having their Mom do their laundry.  Well, what's done is done.  I believe that I have done adequate penance for any abuses in my past with my new and sustained commitment to attacking the laundry and yes, proper sorting.  In other words my friends, I have come clean,...and the laundry too.

Now there may be some readers who are surprised to hear that a guy embraces laundry.  For those of you who want to convene a tribunal to pull my man card, let me offer this in my defense:  I take no joy in doing laundry.  It is not like I look forward to it and tell myself on the way home, "Yippie, it's a socks and t-shirts load tonight!"  (Socks, by the way, are the bane of laundry, but more about that later.)  For me, its a simple analysis of what I dislike more.  And what I dislike more is laundry piled up.  Piled up laundry quickly moves from annoying to unbearable, at least for me.  Then, a critical mass can occur, please see below...

Is this basket clean or dirty?!?

Yup, is the basket clean or dirty?  Hopefully, a decision does not rest with the dreaded "smell test."  That is why I try to keep laundry to a minimum.  Please note the operative word in that last sentence, try...

Part of the challenge for us/me is that our laundry room is not exactly large.  It is more like a broom closet with two large appliances jammed into it.  Good luck getting the door shut with a basket in there.  Shortly after we moved into our house and I discovered just how "cozy" the space was,  by dumping a basket as I banged into the door, I inadvertantly taught my daughter an expression of two words,. each ending in "ER."  I did not realize she was in the other room or that my voice carried.  It did.  Sorry.  Perhaps someday we will get around to moving the machines downstairs.  In the meantime, I do the best I can to maneuver in the space available,...and watch my mouth.

I have concluded that in our house, laundry is never "done."  Despite my best attempts, it will never always be folded and put away.  There will always be the sadistic ritual of mis-matched socks, or the inevitable washing of only one sock to a pair (and the surpressed cursing).  Who hasn't gone running to the washing machine to throw in a few other things that fell out of the basket on the way down the stairs?  Or how about this oldie but a goodie- loading either machine and forgetting to hit (yup, you guess it) start.  Such is life.

I am not going to say that there is some metaphor or deeper meaning to doing laundry.  To me, it is about having a task and getting it done.  I do take a bit of satisfaction in seeing several empty laundry baskets stacked neatly that were full a hour or so ago.  I also discovered a long time ago that folding clothes can be worked into watching a football game, sometimes two. 

I did find a good read from an expat mom living in Australia "An American Mom Abroad," and her comparison to doing a "college load" (everything in one load, sorting be damned) to life. This line sums it it:

"Like today when a laundry metaphor smacked me in the face. I just wanted to throw it all in and push a button and have it done. "It" you know? I want "it" done. The messy pile of stuff."

You can read the rest of her blog post here. 

I know I have felt that way before, just wanting to clean up whatever mess there was and have it done and over with.  However, life does not work out that way.  It is not static, it does not stay folded and put away nicely in some drawer.

I suppose one of the reasons why laundry is a task and not a vocation is the mundane nature of it.  There is no glamour in it.  It is a reminder of the ordinary aspects of life.  As I thought about this, it dawned on me that in the mundane nature of laundry is an oppotunity for gratitude.  This gratitude can be expressed in a number of ways for me.  I can be grateful that I have clothes to wear.  That the reason it piles up is because I am not living alone but with my family.  That by doing the bulk of the laundry it is a small but tangible way to help out around the house.  Oh, and my griping about how small my laundry room is, well take a look at this photo...

Dispatch from Jordan: Syrian Refugees Weary of War, Conferences, Fair Use Claimed  

Here is a photo of kids in a refugee camp/  There are those who do not have a washer or dryer. Or even a house to put one in. The world is full of refugees, of people who are without a home. I recall the line from the movie Full Metal Jacket when the public affairs lieutenant tells his enlisted reporters, speaking of Vietnamese civilians, "If they come to us, they are refugees. If we move them, they are evacuates, " or words to that effect. Either way, they didn't have a spin cycle.  It puts it all into perspective. 

Laundry will always be with me.  Despite my best efforts, it will always be there.  Yes, it is a task.  Yet it is also a reminder of the things and more imprtantly the people I have in my life.  I should be so lucky to have socks to sort for the rest of my life.

Be well my friends,

P.S.- My next blog post will be on my suggestion to replace Columbus and still keep the October holiday, stay tuned.

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