Tag Archives: domestic disability

I’m Pretty Much a Motivational Speaker

There’s no shortage of inspirational accounts on the Internet, and unless you’re new here, I am not one of those accounts.

OK. Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. I decided to take a look at some of my tweets and updates and see if maybe I’m mistaken, if maybe I am actually some sort of motivational speaker and I don’t even realize it!

After two minutes of careful evaluation, it turns out I can be inspirational in several different aspects of life. Sure, it’s not “conventional,” but one can not be picky when one spends more time picking out a head of broccoli at the store than she does picking out her clothes in the morning. 

First of all, there is my prowess in the kitchen and around food:

boxdirections

The only time I’ve ever cut carbs is when I was slicing a bagel.

7:30: Eats breakfast. 7:35: Checks clock and mentally calculates how long until I can eat lunch.

I successfully opened a plastic produce bag at the store in under 2 minutes and the manager gave me my own reserved parking spot in the lot.

I react to the smell of fresh bread the way a cat reacts to the sound of a can opener.

The most unrealistic thing about commercials is when it shows people actually sharing a frozen pizza.

It turns out the answer to my problems wasn’t at the bottom of a jar of cashew butter, but the important thing is that I tried.

And my extraordinary social skills: 

BOND

On second thought, maybe faking my death was a slight overreaction to being stuck in a group text.

The woman who cut in front of me at the store had a box of tampons, ice cream, and wine in her cart. I wasn’t about to mess with that situation.

Home is where the people aren’t.

My friend just got her Ph. D, and I’m just over here wondering why they don’t make the macaroni out of cheese in the first place.

Them: Good morning!
Me: This feels like a personal attack.

Saw a guy throw a fit and then walk into an automatic door, so it’s been a pretty solid day over here.

I can be socially awkward, but not “Interview portion of Jeopardy” socially awkward.

Not to mention my domestic disability dominance: 

cupboard

“My lavish lifestyle affords me certain luxuries,” – I say as I place a new Kleenex box that perfectly matches my bathroom on the toilet.

Welcome home, new body wash. Meet your family: a half-full bottle of conditioner and 983 almost empty bottles of shampoo turned upside down.

I like to do laundry in stages. For example, right now I’m in denial that I should be doing laundry.

Nothing travels faster than a roll of toilet paper you drop while sitting on the toilet.

The cashier at the dollar store told me to have a good day like my purchase of shelf liner suggested any other plan.

Unfortunately, “weather stripping” isn’t what I thought it was, and the employees at Home Depot didn’t care for my little dance.

I establish my dominance as the alpha neighbor by putting my trash out on the curb before everyone else.

Not to mention just living my life to the fullest: 

DESERVETARGET

Monday through Friday: Hits the snooze three times in the morning.
Saturday: Wakes up before the alarm would go off during the week and can’t get back to sleep.

My personality is 30 percent genetic, 10 percent environmental, and 60 percent whether or not I’m hungry and slightly inconvenienced.

I tripped but then I found an almond on the floor, so it’s true what they say about one door closing and another one opening.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Lump it all together with the big and medium things so you can have a major breakdown instead.

I just stapled the hem of my workout pants like some kind of white trash fashion MacGyver.

It took me five minutes to realize why the unplugged toaster wasn’t working, so I just went ahead and used my college degree as a napkin.

I just used a real trash bag in my bathroom instead of a plastic grocery bag like I’m some kind of Rockefeller or something.

So, as you can see, I basically have inspiration coming out of my pores. No, wait, that’s garlic. Oh well. At least  I tried. 

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A Letter to My New Vacuum

Hey there, bagless buddy!

Welcome to the family! Before you get too comfortable in the front hallway closet, I think I should let you know what you’re getting into and just who you’re dealing with here so we start out on the same page.

For a little background, I should let you know that I’m actually pretty excited about having you here. I’m a little OCD and I have to admit that there’s an odd, slightly-sick sense of satisfaction when you’re running the vacuum and hear it actually sucking up crap from the floor.While this means there was crap on the floor, this also means that the vacuum is doing its job and the floor will be clean again.

vacuumletter

 (You know this, as you are a vacuum yourself and familiar with job satisfaction.)

Anyway, then there comes a day when you’re going about vacuuming and note that there is no sound of things being sucked up—presumably because you live in an immaculate abode and never accidentally knock a measuring cup of uncooked rice on the floor, hypothetically speaking—and blissfully continue on your cleaning journey.

But then you remember that you’re me, and that last night you knocked a measuring cup of uncooked rice on the floor. And despite your best efforts with the dustbuster, you know you were bound to miss a few grains of spilled rice because there were about a million grains of spilled rice and your rage was slightly blinding.

So you snap out of your delusional state of flawless floors and start to pay a bit of attention.

One pass over the couple stray grains and no satisfying sounds…hmmm. Maybe it’s because they’re so tiny. After the second pass without any sounds, you realize that this vacuum sucks—and not in the way it’s supposed to—and that it’s starting to smell like burned rubber.

In the blink of an eye, it’s like the vacuum is suddenly offended that you asked it to do what it was bought to do and starts sending off odorous smoke signals that roughly translate to, “Oh, you wanted ME to pick that up? Well, I never….”

If you’re me, you’ll keep trying for a couple more minutes, yelling instructions and possibly profanity at the vacuum as it passive-aggressively pushes the rice over the floor before realizing you are now the proud owner of a large noisy thing with a light on the front that in its own special way, has requested an early retirement.

That brings us back to today.

When I sufficiently recovered from the vacuum betrayal above, I set out on a mission to fill that hole in my appliance arsenal, headed to Target and returned home with you—as you know—and half a dozen other things I more than likely didn’t need.

After a quick assembly and a trial run, I’m happy to report that so far, so good. You seem more than up to the task, and I have no doubt that together we can embark on a mutually beneficial relationship of sucking crap off of the floor, from in between the couch cushions and possibly the front of my shirt.

 Don’t judge. You don’t know my life.

And while I’m happy to have you aboard, I would also like to remind you that if at any time you decide to get a bit lazy yourself, I always keep the receipt.

Abby

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Halloween Décor for the Domestically Disabled

It’s officially fall now, which means women ages 21-45 have become pumpkin zealots and that Halloween is just around the corner.

So to help you prepare for the holiday season and prove you don’t have to spend a fortune to be festive, I’m sharing my absolutely finite wisdom.

decor

First of all, we’ll start inside. Stop dusting your house right now.* By avoiding the removal of dust, you will accumulate a layer of spookiness and cobwebs that people pay good money to artificially replicate.

*This does not apply to me, of course, as I have to dust everything every weekend—OCD trumps festiveness.

Once you’ve set the mood, there are simple household objects that can make cheap and easy decorations with minimal effort.

For example, if you put a tiny cape on a staple remover—and possibly some googly eyes if you’re really feeling ambitious— you have a quick and easy vampire decoration.

And what Halloween scene would be complete without a ghost or two? Considering my penchant for delightful smells, I suggest you pull double duty and simply drape a gel air freshener with a napkin, add a couple of eyes and voila! A spooky scented spirit to delight the masses. If you’re lucky, the “trick or treat” aroma will mask the slight odor of broken dreams and steamed broccoli that’s wafting through your kitchen.

If you’re only concerned with the external appearance of your home, cease all yard work two weeks ago and move to the next point below.

There have been orange construction cones just down my street for the past month or so (evidently they’re not in a hurry to finish whatever they’re doing.) And while most people simply see an annoyance, I see cheap Halloween candy corn decorations for my lawn.

Now I am in no way suggesting you (allegedly) take something that doesn’t belong to you, but if a strong wind happens to blow a couple cones your way—along with the leaves from your yard into the neighbor’s—that’s simply nature’s way of getting into the holiday spirit.

True, suggesting that you paint them to be exact replicas of the waxy candy might make things look suspicious, but most people will be too impressed with your creative prowess to be upset at the borrowing of said cone —allegedly.

In fact, they will probably stand in your yard clapping so hard it will set off the lame motion-sensored Halloween witch the other neighbors PAID for and put out.

Amateurs.

Once your house and yard are set, it’s time to prepare to pass out the treats. Candy can be expensive, and given the fact that everyone else passes out candy—not very creative, now are we?—I have a much more economical and creative solution.

Sometimes you even get jelly and jams.

Set yourself apart from the crowd by passing out more practical samples treats you’ve accumulated throughout the year. Traveling? Make sure to stock up on things like shampoos, hand wipes, coffee packets and jelly from the hotel room.

Stuck waiting in the doctor’s office? Cotton balls, tongue depressors and plastic gloves (do not give to children under age 3) make for hours of creative artistic play.

This step also requires a bit of planning, but if you start now you can be set for next Halloween. And while the kids might not initially realize the benefit of these alternative treats, when their hands are sticky from egging your house, they’ll certainly appreciate the hand wipes.

Happy Haunting.

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The Tao of Abby

I recently read “The Tao of Martha” by Jen Lancaster in which she attempts to live her life according to the advice of Martha Stewart with everything from closet organization to party planning. It was an okay read, but that’s not the point.

The point is that as evidenced by my issues with sheets and vacuums, I’m no Martha Stewart.

In fact, the only thing me and M-dawg have in common is that she’s an ex-felon and I commit crimes on a daily basis that would keep the Fashion Police busy if they had any actual authority.

But I would like to think that most people tend to lean a little bit more towards “drawer of shame” instead of “bedazzled closet hangers” on a daily basis. As such, I have decided to do a “modified Martha” version of some of her tips for those other domestically disabled divas out there.

They might not exactly be helpful in a “Watch out, Martha!” sort of way, but at least they’ll help you feel less alone.

Cleaning a Mini-Blind

Martha: If blinds are very dirty, remove them from the window and lay them flat on a drop cloth outside. Scrub closed blinds with a soft brush and warm soapy water. Repeat on the other side; rinse. Open and hang outside to dry.

Me: miniblind

Cleaning a Shower Curtain Liner

Martha: A homemade curtain of ripstop nylon works well. Curtains and plastic liners can be cleaned with laundry detergent in the washing machine, on the gentle cycle.

shower.jpg

Me: We’ve been over this before. Cut down the $5 liner from Target and replace it with a new $5 liner from Target. Much like the mini-blind situation, don’t be a hero.

Making a Cup of Tea

Martha: Gather leaves from a Darjeeling bush. Warm your pot first with steaming water, dump it out, refill it and let it boil. Warm your cups, strain your tea and add a lychee nut to the cup before you sip.

tea.jpg

Me: Fill Hot Shot with water, get impatient before realizing you forgot to hit “start.” Hit start, dispense water and tea bag into cup 1 minute later. Use all available methods for not burning your mouth with the exception of actually waiting for the tea to cool.

Readying Clothes for the Laundry

Martha: Empty pockets and turn them inside out, unfurl socks, and unroll cuffs. Tie sashes and strings to prevent tangling. Place delicate items like lingerie and fine knitwear in zippered mesh bags. Turn delicate items, sweaters, and cotton T-shirts inside out to prevent pilling.

laundry.jpg

Me: Throw dirty clothes in the vicinity of the laundry basket and congratulate myself if it goes in. Eventually notice that I’m out of socks, gather laundry surrounding the basket and shove it all in the washer. Forget about it, wash it again and then eventually throw in the dryer.

Making a Cake

Martha: Fancy flourishes and pretty piping really are the icing on the cupcakes. Faux bois, or imitation wood grain, is a favorite motif of Martha’s; it can be applied to chocolate using a wood-graining rocker, found at paint-supply stores.

baking.jpg

Me: Go to the bakery. If you ask really nice, they’ll even decorate it for you.

I think her empire is safe.

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That Sinking Feeling

Despite what this post might suggest, I’m not high-maintenance. I just have severe OCD and like my routine, not to mention a house that functions as it should and remains rather clean.

With that said, any disruption to my basic necessities — water, food, Internet, baseball, power, mostly food again — are classified as mini-catastrophes in my world, a world where I’m not proficient in plumbing or electrical work where hummus flows freely like water.

hungry

So when I walked into the kitchen the other night and noticed my previously functional faucet releasing a small but steady stream of water, I started to lose my crap.

After taking a deep breath, I called an old handyman friend of my uncle that sometimes helps me with things and found out he could stop by the next day. I knew this was good, but I also knew this meant tons of more stress for my dysfunctional mind.

If I don’t have a sink, how can I make my tea? Use my steamer? Would he take so long that my normal dinner routine would be shattered? And what about my semi-clean floors? How am I supposed to survive?!?

Part of my frustration with these things comes from not being able to fix them myself, but 99.9 percent of my frustration comes from the series of events that follow after someone comes over to fix them.*

*Yes, I am most appreciative, but I am also OCD with no patience for putzing or lack of respect for the Lysol.

So without further putzing, let’s take a look at how this went (all times are approximate, as I’m still recovering from the trauma.)


9 pm—Enter kitchen and notice sink is running. Push on all the handles and scream at it to stop.

9:01—Express puzzlement over said dripping to inanimate objects within earshot and then try to will it to stop streaming down.

9:05—Call old handyman guy and learn a) he really wants to engage in a “to make a short story long” type of discussion and b) he can come by the next afternoon around 3.

9:25—Call mom and ask her to meet him at my house until I can get home from work.

9:26—Ignore problem for the rest of the night.

Next Day

5:30 am—Enter kitchen and notice sink is still running. Push on all the handles and scream at it to stop.

5:31—Express puzzlement over said dripping to inanimate objects within earshot and then try to will it to stop streaming down.

5:35—Leave for work and stress about sink.

4 pm—Arrive home, find mom in my garden and give her a 6-pack as a thank you.

4:05—Full of dread, enter the house and notice he didn’t heed the “Please take shoes off. Thanks!” post-it note I so carefully placed on the door. And that he moved the blanket I had down over the kitchen rug. And that he was using my favorite coffee cup and dish towel to catch the dripping water OH MY GOD!

4:05:10—Remind myself he’s helping me out. Deep breaths are taken and possibly exhaled as a loud sigh—this part is sketchy.

4:10—Make small talk and pretend to care what plumbing parts are called while discreetly moving the blanket over the rug and his tools onto paper towel.

4:15—Learn he’ll be done in about half an hour and decide I’m pretty much a revolutionary for my survival skills in times of such stress.

4:16 to 4:45—Distract myself in the form of preparing soon-to-be used cleaning products and plan how I can clean and get dinner ready on OCD time.

4:46—He’s still putzing. Start freaking out and immediately change my mind on revolutionary status.

4:55—While searching for Xanax salt lick, I’m informed it’s fixed. Pleasantries and payment are exchanged, as is the information that his wife read my first book after my uncle gave him a copy.

4:56—Feelings of annoyance wane as I gently lead him outside my house.

5:00—Begin manic Lysol/Swiffer sweeps of the counters and floors while prepping dinner at the same time, once again applauding my survival skills.

5:05—Enter bathroom. Notice the toilet seat is up, meaning his dirty shoes and everything attached to them paraded throughout my house and used my toilet.

5:06—Manic feelings return. Cleaning commences.

5:15—Smoke detector goes off, signaling that dinner is done.

5:20—Revolutionary status restored, but my sanity? Still MIA.

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Master of Your Domain

Living alone means that all the household chores are my responsibility. While I generally don’t mind cleaning—thank you OCD!—and actually find it relaxing at times, there are certain annoyances that I will not tolerate.

You have to put your foot down and assert your domestic dominance, as giving in to an appliance or a dust bunny only shows weakness, and trust me, these things prey on weakness.

Take for example the vacuum, whose job description literally entails it sucking crap up.

junevacuum2

Without the suckage, it’s simply a large noisy thing with a light on the front that terrorizes the cat (a bonus feature they really should advertise, come to think of it.) Because of this, I will stand over the vacuum for 10 minutes and force it to suck up a string before bending over and picking that crap up myself.

I did not spend five minutes five years ago picking out a vacuum so that I could pick up the debris myself, good sir!

And I often find the dustbuster—named as such because it’s supposed to bust the dust—to be more temperamental. It will often passive aggressively push dust around the room instead of actually sucking (busting?) it up.

Oh, you wanted ME to pick that up? Well, I never….”

Unacceptable. I will run the little bastard until it needs to be charged to make sure that it busts up that one grain of rice it spit out. Suck it up and do your job—literally.


A more seemingly innocuous perpetrator is the mini-blind. No, I’m not going to suggest that you actually clean a mini-blind, as it’s a scientific fact that much like shower curtain liners, it’s easier to just throw them away and get a new one.

This involves the raising and lowering of said mini-blind with those two little strings on the side.

juneblind2

It seems simple enough, but one wrong pull and you have a completely crooked blind with one side way up to the left while the other sags down to the right. Then you try and straighten it out and the right side goes up while the left side sags down.

Do not accept this asymmetrical configuration of window coverings, my friends. I don’t care if you stand there pulling on each string for an hour like you’re milking a cow. If you don’t even that shit up, the next thing you know you’re literally blinded by the light.


Moving on to the bathroom, I feel the need to warn you that the toothpaste that leaps off your toothbrush like a kangaroo will immediately become as stubborn as super glue the second it hits—and adheres to— the sink.

It can be tempting to let that slide, and you might even consider it “artsy” to have patterns dotting the sink interior. Stop the madness. Nine out of 10 dentists agree that one must immediately scrub the spot in the sink, lest one falls into the cavity of cleaning complacency.

Plus, that crap stays glued on.


This last one isn’t really about cleaning, but I will try and make it helpful by saying you should clean your remote control. I read somewhere that there are 12 teen million germs and probably the origins of the swine flu on the average remote, so Clorox that thing ASAP.

Possible HAZMAT situation aside, my issue is when the remote control simply gives up. The batteries are new, the little red light at the top of it blinks when you maniacally press down the buttons with increasing rage, but yet…no action.

juneremote2

Do not—I repeat—do not change the channel yourself.

Stand up right next to the TV and force that remote to change the channel, adjust the volume or set a reminder to watch Baseball Tonight. And henceforth from said display of power, refer to it only as “the remote.”

Why? Because as with all the domestic dysfunction in your house, you are the one in control.

Never let them forget that.

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A Silver Lining

Do you have an extra hour?

If so, I invite you to watch me attempt to replace the shower curtain liner. 

This is a task that must be done on a regular basis, lest one plans on growing an assortment of invasive species in their shower. But it’s often complicated by a) the ridiculous metal rings that have to be opened and closed and b) the fact that I’m me.

showercurtain2

It starts with the purchase of the $5 vinyl liner from Target, simply because I’m fancy, and then the placement of the packaged liner on the counter for at least two weeks while I muster up the motivation to enter into this bathroom battle.

Once I feel sufficiently motivated and occasionally medicated, I pull out the scissors and cut down the old liner. This saves me the work of opening the ridiculously stubborn hooks for at least a few minutes more.

After the old liner is properly discarded though, the real work begins.

With an air of demented determination, I set out to pinch open the bastard hook things as fast as I can, trying to ward of the agonizingly painful feeling of having to hold up my arms for what feels like at least two or three hours.*

*about 10 minutes

Once the rings are all open and I regain the feeling in my separated shoulders and numb arms, I pat myself on the back—it’s good to recognize small victories—and begin hanging up the new liner.

This is a relatively easy part of the process, what with the rings already open, but it never fails that I step into the shower to hang the thing up and step in one random small droplet of water.

If there’s not a helpline for people who step in small droplets of water with clean socks on while changing the shower curtain liner, there needs to be.

Or I could just remember to take off my socks.

At any rate, once the new liner is hung and a second congratulatory break is taken, I set out to pinch shut the bastard hook things as fast as I can, trying to ward of the agonizingly painful feeling of having to hold up my arms for what feels like at least two or three hours.*

*about two or three minutes

When the last hook is snapped, I can exhale, change my socks and take comfort in the fact that I won’t have to do this again for at least a few months. Unless I did it wrong and missed a hook somewhere along the way, in which case I will cry and have an extra hook hanging around for a bit.

Then again, it’s one less hook left to close.

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