About 10 days ago, when I found myself pushing my Trader Joe’s shopping cart with one finger, it occurred to me that I fear germs a bit more than the average person.
If I’m being honest, this thought also occurred to me when, on our flight back from London last month, I utilized the plastic bag my earphones came in to fasten my seatbelt.
I think the turning point, however, was when I considered using hand sanitizer to clean my mechanical pencil. It was then that I realized I needed to learn to be one with germs.
So I tried to stop using my sleeve to open doors (Success rate = 72%), picked up Maya’s backpack without fear (I’m lying), and even ate at restaurants without first reviewing their restaurant grade (Truth: I spotted one “B” grade at Kati Roll Co. and went to Le Pain Quotidien instead).
And so it should come as no surprise that 48 hours into my decision to embrace bacteria, I got food poisoning from what I previously considered one of the best pieces of snapper I’d ever consumed.
The snapper knocked me out for approximately 72 hours straight. I lost about 10 pounds and gained several more gray hairs.
I recovered, however, and told myself it was an isolated event.
And 36 hours after that I came down with a fever, cough, and sore throat.
I recovered and told myself it was NOT an isolated event. And then I went back to using my sleeves, my hand sanitizer, and I will obviously never, ever again order seafood on a Monday.
The experiment is over.
Approximately 2 years ago I purchased two new lamps for our master bedroom.
I made this purchase in an effort to make our hideously old-fashioned master look marginally better to potential renters.
(In case you weren’t aware, home décor is NOT my strong point).
The lamps (Ralph Lauren by way of HomeGoods) looked pretty good, but every time I passed by them I thought, “I really need to remove the price tag.”
I thought about this:
- As a potential renter came back to our place for a second look.
- As that particular renter came back to sign a lease.
- As we (or rather, I) packed up the lamps for the move from LA to NYC.
- As we (or rather, I) unpacked the lamps in our NYC apartment.
- As we (I’ll spare you) packed the lamps again for a move across the city to our new apartment.
- As we unpacked the lamps in our current NYC apartment.
- As we filed a claim with the movers for breaking one lamp.
- As we placed the newly mismatched lamp on Ali’s side of the bed, and threw what was deemed my broken lamp into the trash.
- As I walk by the lone remaining lamp in our new NYC apartment.
- As I wrote this really meaningless post.
Now that there’s only one lamp I’m hoping I can find the energy to cut off one HomeGoods tag, as opposed to the two that somehow seemed like an insurmountable task.
In the meantime we’re just keeping things classy.
While in London, I made an effort to detox my NYC exhaust-ridden lungs by taking daily walks in the crisp English air.
And while repairing my lungs, I also tried to become a better person by listening to podcasts about everything from “How to Raise a Successful Child” to “The 8-Hour Diet.”
(Yes, 8 hours. We’ll revisit that on another day.)
One fine multitasking day, I listened to a TED talk delineating the reasons it’s important NOT to multitask.
- People are 1,000% happier when they are focusing on ONE specific task (Sorry I don’t recall the exact percentage as I was multitasking).
- People are far more successful when they focus on ONE specific task (These people must have an army of nannies).
- People are for more irritated when they focus on multiple tasks (True. But if I wasn’t doing multiple tasks I’d be thinking of how I was capable of doing multiple tasks, and I’d be irritated I wasn’t utilizing my time wisely).
I decided to put the podcast into practice:
I stopped in Hyde Park, took out my earphones, and decided to focus on the lake and ONLY the lake for an entire 5 minutes.
My thought process:
- Wow, the swans are so quietly synchronized. Pretty.
- Must be nice to be a swan – I bet they aren’t trying to unlock the keys to success.
- And exercise isn’t something they have to attempt to work in to their day! No 8-hour-diet for them.
- But seriously, how much can one swim around all day without getting bored?
- I wonder if it’s been 5 minutes yet?
So in case you are still reading this nonsense, here is my takeaway:
A focused life would be great.
But until someone figures out how to import the European workweek and gets Maya to stop asking me super important questions like “Should I have frozen yogurt from 16 Handles or Tasti-D-Lite today?” I’m thinking that the multitasking is here to stay.
Our vacation has been (almost) all about Maya for two reasons:
- To appease my conscience that I pretty much ignored her this year in favor of my career.
- So that I could say, to her future therapist, “But we spent SO quality time together. Even our vacations! I’m not sure where I went wrong?”
Truth #1 is that the only thing Maya wants (besides rolls of Scotch Tape) is time and attention.
Truth #2 is that giving Maya time and attention is the HARDEST thing in the world.
And yet, during this trip at least, I think I’ve been doing a pretty decent job of it.
London: We played cards, Boggle, colored, and I selflessly spent hours waiting in the hot sun as she played in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
Dublin: Ali and I headed here – without Maya – because I’ve heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder and I wanted to be fully prepared for round 2.
London: After working up additional courage in Dublin I once again gave Maya my undivided attention all over London – parks, restaurants, and the library. We even cooked dinner together (Truth #3: I lost it when she dropped an entire tub of sour cream on the kitchen floor).
Paris: Here’s where things got crazy – I was so inspired by my progress that I decided to leave my laptop behind before climbing on the Eurostar.
Maya was in shock. “But Mama, we are going to Paris for 2 whole days. You really aren’t going to take your laptop?”
I really didn’t. And somehow I didn’t miss it either. Instead we had hot chocolate and eclairs with friends at the Laduree, went swimming in our hotel pool, and rode ridiculously expensive rides at a fair ($10 for 5 minutes on a gigantic swing PER PERSON – how do people afford to live in Paris?).
We are now back in London where my conscience feels suitably appeased.
Which brings us to Truth #4: I think we are both looking forward to a little alone time.
A few minutes after I decided to Be Still for a little while I left for work.
After that (and yes, here I go complaining again) I came home, and in anticipation of our trip that evening I did 5 loads of laundry, packed Ali’s stuff, Maya’s stuff, my stuff, vacuumed the apartment, Swiffered, changed the sheets, and emptied the fridge.
Then, as I was washing a few last dishes, I noticed that there was brown water coming out of the kitchen sink.
Me: “Ali, there is something wrong with the water.”
Ali: “Hmm, that’s strange. Here’s my phone so you can take a video. Maya! Do you have your water gun? Let’s go out on the balcony!”
After that helpful conversation I obsessively ran the water for 15 minutes, taking videos to show our new landlord. I also grew more furious by the second that the dishes I thought were now clean in the dishwasher had to be run again.
And I won’t lie, I think I cursed a few times as I heard Ali and Maya enjoying an afternoon of water play without a care in the world.
Later that night, after we’d boarded our flight to London and I was consumed by the fact that our apartment building provided brown water as one of the perks, I had to ask:
Me: “Isn’t it bothering you that the water in our new apartment is the color of coffee?”
Ali: “What do I care? I’m going to London and don’t have to deal with it.”
How has my husband mastered avoidance techniques? I have no idea. But I’ve decided I want to master this useful trait.
Really I do.
Sometimes I surprise myself by doing something that goes against my typically selfish behavior.
My latest selfless act? I got off my lazy behind to immerse myself in the “Must Get Maya Into a Better School” process.
This rather time-consuming project, which, incidentally rivaled my college-entrance process, had a happy ending, which is great.
By the same token, this happy ending created a bunch of additions to my To-Do list including:
- Finding a new place to live.
- Writing countless checks to our various landlords, including move-out fees, cleaning fees, security deposits, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, pro-rated month’s rent, and a bonus check simply for the right to exist in a world where writing so many checks is actually a possibility.
- Researching and securing the least shady movers we could find (an impossible challenge).
- Packing up Ali and Maya’s sh@# AGAIN.
- Unpacking all of Ali’s and Maya’s sh@# AGAIN.
- Doing all of this all during Ramadan. AGAIN.
Aside from having some words with Ali regarding his insistence we pack and move his tacky bright red-orange Ferrari shirt (it has since been donated) and nearly losing my mind with Maya’s Lego hoarding tendencies (they’ve since been organized according to color and style)…
…I firmly believe I dealt with all of the above with a grace and level of patience that is typically foreign to me.
But today, with 30 days of fasting, the move, countless hours of work, and an excessive amount of hours Swiffer-ing (I am obsessed with our new wood floors) behind me, I’ve decided I just need to be still for a while.
Maybe for the first time ever.
There is a fork that resides, almost permanently, on our kitchen counter.
This fork is stationed approximately 1.5” from the fridge and approximately 1’ from our hanging cutlery rack. *
For a while, the fork’s constant presence on the counter befuddled me:
- Was the fork somehow falling out as I emptied the dishwasher?
- Was Maya using a fork to comb her Barbie’s hair again (not unheard of)?
- Did the fork fall from the hanging cutlery rack and shift itself 12 inches to the right, just to annoy me?
But my hypotheses only yielded more unanswered questions:
- Why was it always a salad fork? Why not a larger one?
- And why always a fork? Why not a spoon or knife?
And so I finally broke down and posed the question aloud, in my most neutral and least offensive voice, being sure to address nobody in particular so that I couldn’t be accused of pointing fingers.
Me: “Can someone please tell me why there is ALWAYS a fork sitting on the counter next to the fridge?”
Ali: “Because I use it to take the tea bag out of my tea.”
So now it’s the sugar bowl AND the fork, in a kitchen the size of a stamp. It’s also Day # 14 of Ramadan and I’m working on 4.5 hours of sleep each night, for the last week at least.
I may be overreacting here but I’m thinking we should rename the kitchen “Ali’s tea-making facility” and call it a day.