Monday, March 28, 2011

Sh*t I Don't Understand: Adult Chores

When you think of spring, you think of agreeable weather, baseball, TV season finales, and the onslaught of Wedding Season. Maybe you reminisce about your college pilgrimage(s) to Cancun, Acapulco, Cabo, or any other Mecca of Alcohol Abuse. Spring is great....except when it's followed by the word "cleaning." I hated that phrase as a kid and especially couldn't stand when people would try to put some optimistic, sing-songy tone to it. "Spring Cleaning!" No, thanks. It's one of the few things more annoying than Rick Reilly these days. (Hey Rick, here's your leather jacket, hair mousse, and water skis while you're at it.)

The matter of spring cleaning itself is little more than a topical lede for this post. What I come to you this evening to discuss are Adult Chores in general. As kids we all did chores to gain some sort of grip on the concept of responsibility and/or the value of a dollar. That's totally fine. But when you're grown up and you work for a living, the days of tedious, laborious, mundane tasks consuming your free time should be over. It's one thing if you enjoy certain types of household work, i.e. gardening, as a hobby. It's a whole other thing if you missed seeing the #1 college football team get upset on an autumn Saturday because you were obligated to rake leaves for 3 hours.

Married guys joke about the "honey-do" list a lot. It makes me cringe. "Hey Phil, what did you do this past weekend?" "Oh, the wife put me to work, heh-heh. Spent 6 hours cleaning gutters, trimming hedges, and then she had me change her oil." It certainly sounds like our buddy Phil had a fantastic weekend, didn't he? If that becomes my life at some point, please take mercy on me, and, by "take mercy on me" I mean re-enact the last scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, with you being the Chief and me being R.P. McMurphy.

I'm not saying the do-it-yourself approach is bad. Hell, some things, like shoveling snow, you sometimes just have to grin and bear and take care of on your own. Other things can even be borderline-enjoyable if you've got nothing else to do and a good playlist going on the iPod (washing your car on a 75-degree day comes to mind). I'm just saying that some people end up enslaved to their chores in a blinded effort to save money. John and I have discussed this many a time, usually while enjoying an afternoon on the golf course. He came up with the great line that "what these people may save in money, they sacrifice in existence." Couldn't have said it better myself. Once again, I'm not telling you to waste money having every single little thing done for you. But, too often, people forget that money spent for the purpose of purifying one's "me time" is some of the best money one will ever spend.

Here's my whole thing. Paying what you determine to be a fair and/or nominal price to have a task done professionally for you is what America is all about. Movement of money is good for the economy, and since I value my time as much as I value my money, it's a good investment to me. I gladly fork over money to have dress clothes dry-cleaned, because I've tried ironing - and I suuuccck at it. Time not spent hunched over an ironing board muttering obscenities to myself is time spent reading, working out, watching sports, writing on this here blog, or any other desirable activity you can think of.

There are about 6 or 7 things in this world that I'm truly very good at. So if the task calls for something outside of lifting a weight, hitting a 3-iron, reciting sports trivia, or seamlessly incorporating movie and TV quotes into conversation, the chances are pretty good that I may not be the most qualified person for the job. You can call me lazy. You can call me un-handy, if that's even a word. You can pontificate on how I'm a microcosm of the outsourcing problem in America. But I make enjoyable use of my free time, and you can't take that away from me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Oh Hi, March

Take a look at the blog archives on the lower right side of the page and you'll notice a pretty dramatic decline in the frequency of posting between this point last year and now. A year ago we were producing more than an item a day, many of them of considerable length and even more considerable depth. As Kevin pointed out last month, much has changed in the past 6-8 months for the blog's three operators. We've all moved and now live at least an hour apart from each other (as opposed to the 20-minute diameter that had enclosed us a year ago), we've all taken on new jobs or new, unprecedented levels of responsibility at our current jobs, and we're also in the midst of seeing some of the most important people in our lives start to get engaged and married (not actually any one of us yet, though, rest assured). As an unfortunate result, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat. But I guess you can just call that another element of getting older.

On the other hand, I am enjoying some of the things that seem to never change from year to year. As someone whose Winter Dldrums got an early start when Tony Romo broke his collarbone two months before Christmas, there are few nicer phrases right now than "February is over." The Big East Tournament is underway, and for the first time since October, I am feeling interest in a sporting event for reasons other than gambling or spite. Selection Sunday is 4 days away. The Tournament is 8 days away (depending if you count the round of 68 or not), and soon enough will be providing us the 2011 versions of overnight household names Bryce Drew and Ali Farokhmanesh, or maybe another unfathomable run like George Mason in '06, Davidson in '08, or Butler just last year. And once we've seemingly had our fill of the NCAA on CBS theme music, camps will break in Arizona and Florida, and our baseball teams will head north to play games that count once again. Shortly thereafter, the Feel Good Event of the Year will be upon us to erase any doubt that the shitty winter of 2010-2011 is gone.

The only thing that will keep you sane in life is having things to look forward to on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be huge, it just has to be on the horizon. Kevin's piece below about life after college ties right in to this thinking. Simply put, it sucks sometimes. It really does. And we all know that. But we also have to be able to find those openings, those breaks in the monotony that remind us, "hey, it's not all so terrible." For me and probably for John and Kevin as well, one of those ripples of light comes every mid-March. Followers of the blog who have an embarrassing amount of time on their hands may remember that I put that very same Andy Dufresne picture you see above on a post from last year that said some very similar things. But hey, any day that the Shawshank picture goes up on the blog can't be too bad of a day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Your Life Now vs. Your Life in College

This concept is not entirely orginal, it is borrowed from

Happy Monday

Now 6 AM:  Your alarm pierces your ears as you awake from deep sleep.  You hate the damn sound of your alarm, its a sound worse than a vuvuzella being blown in your ear.

College 6 AM:  Sleep bitches, no worries. 

Now 7 AM: You have showered, gotten dressed and are getting your morning coffee at Dunkin Donuts

College 7 AM: Sleep bitches

Now 8 AM:  Your at work, removing the coffee stain from your tie, your first meeting is taking place and you can't figure out the point of it.  Good thing you had your coffee though because you totally needed to be awake for this shit.  Your boss pulls you aside after the meeting and tells you about a special project he needs you to work on.

College 8 AM: Still Sleeping, how does that make you feel?

Now 9 AM:  Your trying to start your special project but your coworker next to you is playing Seal's Kiss from Rose in a special jazz rendition.  Its brutal to sit through this all day, Michael Bolton and Kenny G are coming don't worry.  Stuart made a point to walk over to your desk and unsolicted tell you about how much fun he had this weekend.  Thank's Stuart but I don't care about what you got at the mall, or that episode of Undercover Boss, please go back to your cubicle.

College 9 AM:  You slowly work yourself out of bed because you have your early 10 AM class today.  It's no big deal though just Sociology 101.  You had to pick an elective course and there are plenty of girls in these classes so why not.  You Facebook stalk some of the girls in your upcoming class on your laptop and scrounge for some pop tarts to eat.

Now 12 PM:  Your taking a working lunch to do the extra work that has been dumped on you today

College 12 PM:  Your eating from a buffet at school and it didn't cost you anything but a swipe on your card. 

Now: 2 PM:  Time for another pointless meeting.  You think all this material could have been covered earlier today.

College 2PM:  Your done classes for the day, time to hit the gym.

Now 4PM: Your out of energy, but there is no way your getting out of here at a reasonable hour, time for some more caffine.

College 4PM: Time for some Madden with the roomates

Now 5 PM: Your boss comes by your cubicle on his way out the door.  He stops to ask, "are you done that project yet?"  You want to tell him the many reasons he is a douchebag, but you know you have to play nice.  You say not yet sir, but I will have it completed shortly.  Your not sure you can complete the project without asking some questions but you will have to do it the hard way.

College 5 PM:  Your roomate is outside on his usual long phone call with his girlfriend that lives 600 miles away.  You have plently of time to use your personal computer to relieve some stress.

Now 7 PM:  The office has pretty much cleared out, this has not been your day.  You don't think you are doing the special project correctly but it's not getting better anytime soon.  Time to slap a period on this.

College 7PM: Time for intramurals in the gym and bonus the hot sorority is playing in the next court over.

Now 8 PM: Finally leaving the office, its dark as shit outside, but hey no traffic and you have to appreciate the little things.

College 8 PM:  Back to your co-ed dorms for a shower.  The bathrooms are way down at the end of the hall and you have to take the long walk to the showers in just a towel.  I really hope no girls have to do the same thing.  Well it turns out its just not your day, three sorority pledges have to use the shower the same time as you.  You share a few admiring glances, and stammer to say hi.  The girls return a hi and giggle as they walk by.

Now 9 PM: You get home and have dinner, you debate whether or not you have enough energy to go to the gym.  Gotta keep that body in shape though your not as active as you were in college.

College 9 PM: You crack open some beers with the roomates.  You get a knock on the door.  What do you know its the girls from 4C you saw in the hallway.  They invite you over to watch a movie, it's probably the Notebook or some lame movie but it doesn't matter you are game.  You finish your beers and casually make you way over there.

Now 10 PM: Your workout is less than stellar, you have no energy left, time to head home. 

College 10PM:  Hey the Notebook isn't so bad when when your watching it with the girls in 4C, your trying to figure out which one you can get with.  Who do you make a move on? Will you upset the others with your choice?  Will the girl be up for it?  These are the most stressful and difficut decisions of your day.  College is hard man.

Now 11 PM:  Your getting into bed but you are having trouble sleeping.  Your skimping on heat to save money so its cold.  You can't get work of your mind.  What if I really screwed up that project?  What is my boss going to do.

College 11 PM: You have finished your 4th beer and the girls are crying because the movie is getting real sad.   It's time to console them.  See you are a sweet guy.

Now 12 PM: Finally you fall asleep, up in 6 hours if you can sleep through the night.

College 12 PM:  Your a chicken and can't make a move, damn your inexperience.  Wait it looks like someone is making the decision for you.  Carly is sliding her tounge down your throat and your a guest in her dorm so you don't want to be rude so you roll with it.  Score.

Winner: Work  College