Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to Clean Your Kitchen

One of the problems in working from home is that you have days when things are just going to hell not falling into place.

I mean, yeah, I had them at the workplace, too, but here I generally have no one to blame but myself. You know, at work, there's always someone else to blame. And that can be therapeutic, if inaccurate and unkind.

I was supposed to be in NYC this week with the ongoing project of "helping mom move".

D, however, ended up getting sick with a nasty bronchial thing, and since he's asthmatic and has run into pneumonia, it didn't seem really fair to leave D and C to fend for themselves, especially since C doesn't really drive yet and D has ended up in the hospital on occasion for these bronchial things.

So here I was. In Michigan. With no appointments or plans. I have papers to correct, but no lesson plans, as my last class session was Monday.

This is unheard of.

So I immediately schedule a bunch of appointments that I've been putting off during the time of "the move" and thought about projects that really, really needed to get done.

And, well, there was the kitchen.

The kitchen is absolutely, positively in need of an overhaul. That is frequent at this time of year because I'm still using up the last of my various farm share stuff, and I sort of end up converting from summer/fall ingredients to actual winter things.

What are winter things? Oh... things like oatmeal. Cookie-making supplies. Lots of soup bases and various containers of last summer's frozen soups defrosting in the fridge. Meat.

And then there were all the leftovers from THE turkey, and the things accompanying THE turkey, and the things that were made from the leftovers of the turkey and accompaniments, and those things made from those things, and if I ever see a turkey again...

But I digress.

So, here's how I clean the fridge when I'm in this kind of mood:

First, find appropriate music.

Decide you have no appropriate music. Use your last bit of iTunes money from your July b'day and download this.

Transfer it to your iPod.

Set up iPod in the kitchen.

Now you're ready.

Except you need a glass of water. And then it's probably time to check your e-mail. Because, you know, you only checked it fifteen minutes ago and maybe an agent wrote to tell you she NEEDS your book. Or maybe a student has a question. Or maybe D wrote.

Ooops, no. D is asleep in the bedroom. He's sick. D'oh.

Anyway, you've checked the e-mail and you cross the house back to the kitchen. But you've left the water in the office. So you go back for your water. And you walk back to the kitchen. (Are you bored yet? I was.)

Now that you're actually in the kitchen with Fiona Apple singing "Blue Christmas", you realize that you really need, yes need, a Torrone nougat before you get started. This is because you only buy these at Christmas time, and there's Christmas music playing. And you have to eat the Torrone as slowly as possible because a. it's food of the gods, and b. you're not supposed to be eating them anyway, so if you're going to splurge, you should really. take. the. time. to enjoy it.

So three bites and fifteen minutes later, you're ready to clean the kitchen.

Go check your e-mail.

Damn. That agent still hasn't written.*

Back to the kitchen. You realize that you probably truly have run out of excuses this time. You pull out the garbage can and drag it over to the fridge.

You have a guilt/panic attack because you're going to throw out food and that is wasteful. You make several silent pledges that you will eat everything from now on. Every scrap. Always. You have a sudden image of yourself as the Goodyear blimp. You have a panic attack for a different reason.

You go to turn up the music to drown out your internal dialogue. It doesn't work.

Shelf by shelf, you go through unmarked packages, moving things from side to side and realizing that what was really wanted was organization. You and your family did NOT let things rot, despite your worries that caused this massive procrastination in the first place. You are a good global citizen. You are not wasteful.

You are, however, very disorganized.

You finally decide that you can find things again, you make a mental list of dinners/cooking projects for the next few days and happily shut the door. You still have to clean the rest of the kitchen, but... nah.

Time spent cleaning the fridge: 14 minutes.
Time spent avoiding cleaning the fridge: 42 minutes.

Uh huh. Mission accomplished!

*Note to self: since you have no submissions out currently, the reality that the imaginary agent is going to write is slim to none.


thailandchani said...

What a fun presentation! :)


Unknown said...

Ha! I find that dead week, or any time before a problem set is due, is the PERFECT time to bake cookies :D

Luisa Perkins said...

Nice download, and fun post! I've missed you.

anno said...

Hmmmm... so now that you have the week off at home, no appointments, no lessons to plan, and a well-organized refrigerator at your disposal, any chance of getting a submission out? (Just kidding... go read a book, meet me for coffee, do something fun!) Hope DH is feeling much better soon.

Mae Travels said...

Stress! You really communicated it. I know the feeling of not being able to start or finish anything.

Dru said...

I hope DH is feeling better.

Anonymous said...

perfect cleaning to me, lol, that's exactly how I would do it too, heheheh!

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Flower Child said...

are you secretly filming me? seriously. I'm nervous.

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

This is how I tackled pretty much any task. Lots of procrastination and much checking of email and Google Reader and Flickr and now Twitter and... and. and.

April said...

The imaginary agent is just as viable as anything I'm imagining in my inbox. Which now has on average 470 emails. It's getting worse.

Betsy said...

This all sounds so familiar! Isn't it funny that it's hardest to get things done on the days when we have the most time in which to do them?

Anyway, am glad that you managed to accomplish your task AND enjoy your chocolate! That sounds like a well-balanced day to me! :-)

Hope that DH feels better soon!

Jen said...

Thanks, Chani!

Cindy - yes, I used to really, really need something like that when I was writing my thesis. Or I hadn't exercised enough. Or I really should check on... Or maybe I needed one more book from the library?

Luisa, I've missed you, too - I'm loving your posts this December!

Hmmm... Anno... good point. How can I procrastinate about it?

Wow, Mae, I hadn't really meant it that way, but I think you're absolutely right!

Thanks, Dru, he's actually much better this morning - he was dosed with a lot of "stuff" yesterday and it seems to have helped.

Jerri Ann - yeah, well I have the rest to do today, too.

FC - yet ANOTHER reason I like you!

Brittany and for me, when I was in my BFA program many moons ago, I used to get inspired to do OTHER projects, other than the one I really had to get in for class a or b.

April, mine is bad, too... very bad.

Betsy, the funny thing is that despite my comments here and my post, I'm really not a procrasinator, and these bouts come only during those rare times when I have tons of time. Also, the Torrone wasn't a chocolate - it's one of those chewy, nut things that are made in Italy. They can be covered in chocolate, but these are covered in different coatings. Some have no coating at all. The rest of my family finds them vile, but for me, they're a secret pleasure every year.

Unknown said...

My D was home for the holiday with a paper hanging over his head. He wandered the house from room to room, leafing through books, starting conversations, checking his e-mail on his laptop, etc. Anything to avoid the task at hand. Your post nailed that avoidance process.

Goofball said...

Hey, stop hanging secret camera's in my house filming my procrastination for all nasty chores!
Next time I have a chore I'll be checking for hidden camera's for at least an hour now. Ha!

Ben said...

I totally understand how it is. Working from home can be more difficult since there is not a boss telling you what to do. and then cleaning and making excuses, well, that I know a little to well :-p Music always helps, though.

Want some turkey I have leftover from last week? ;)

Jen said...

Greg - I'm sorry for your D that he had to spend Thanksgiving break that way. I remember those "breaks" all too well. The worst was when I went to a place that finished at the END of January, so all of my term papers, etc., were due the week after the holiday break. I worked ALL THROUGH the break. UGH.

Goofball - maybe we could do a real time video of procrastination in Belgium and the U.S.? It sounds like we'd have to include Flower Child, too.

Jen said...

Um, Ben... no thanks. You DO know we ended up with a 24 pounder for 4 people? LOL. And yeah... it's an interesting preponderance this working from home thing! Sorry, I crossposted as you posted.

Momisodes said...

Oh Jen. I think we may have been separated at birth. I loved reading this.
I apply this roundabout way of accomplishing tasks to just about everything...except eating :)

I hope D is feeling better.

Grimm said...

So what you are saying is that we are supposed to clean the fridge? That smell coming from the potato salad from 3 months ago won't go away with baking soda?


peter said...

Lately I've been doing a variation on this where I renovate the kitchen in my mind, and then the next time I walk into it I'm startled and furious that it's the same ugly, inconvenient kitchen as always.

So I go check my email again.

Jen said...

Momisodes - I'm not always this way, but about those things I really, really don't wanna do... well, you get the picture.

Grimmy - yeah, sadly that box of baking soda, much as it tries, isn't the miracle worker it thinks it is, but shhhhhhhh.... don't tell anybody!

Peter - see, after living here for 10 years we did that kitchen renovation thing a couple of years ago, so no, I can't use that one anymore. I mean my kitchen still has its quirks, but now I've had to think up all NEW ways to procrastinate.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

ha. I can so relate!

Jeanie said...

Oh, yes! You've followed me about, I'm sure! I love it -- and I also know exactly what you mean about winter ingredients -- more pasta-making ingredients, the oatmeal a necessity and right now (though not for long or forever), chocolate chips, coconut and other yummies for cookies!

painted maypole said...

that is pretty much how I clean just about anything