The other day I stopped by a friend's house for a chat. When I got there she was chilling out and eating a bowl of cereal while feeding her baby. Her preschool daughter was quietly playing in the same room, stringing colored paper clips into a necklace. The house was pretty and tidy but not crazy company clean. It was serene, relaxed and unhurried. She was smiling and welcoming.
And so of course I asked myself, why can't I do this? This balance of a mostly picked up house and zen attitude.
I can veg like an overcooked vegetable. Pour myself a bowl of Cap'n Crunch and watch HGTV till my ass is bonded with the couch. Notice the dog pulling a crumbly granola bar off the table and yet wait till a commercial to clean it up. But all the while I'm doing it there will be this woman's voice running through my head, "What are you gonna do today? Is this all you're gonna do? What about the house, gonna clean the house better? When are you going to exercise? What about your jewelry, don't you think you should be making some jewelry? Why the fuck are you sitting on the couch and eating cereal...don't you know that the laundry pile in your basement is so tall it could harbor a small child and you wouldn't even know it?"
And I can clean like someone is planning to come over and lick my floors later that evening. Windexing the baseboards, running the toothpaste holder through the dishwasher, folding the blankets that lay casually across the back of the couch just goddamn so. And while I am sweaty and furiously scrubbing the urine that little boys manage to somehow embed into the seal around the toilet the voice in my head switches tactics. Now she's a stoner and I'm Felix Unger, "Duuuude, relax. You are wound soooo tight man. Who's gonna notice if you wipe down the plant leaves man? Did you know that wine comes in a box now? Like a juice box? You should toootally stop hoovering the dog and go get some."
It's like I have two switches. On or Off. Sloth or Slave. I'm either comatose with glazed over eyes watching Mad Men and trying not to make eye contact with family members. Or I'm madly doing housework as if someone is standing in the corner with a stopwatch yelling, "Do it, do it, DO IT NOW! NOW! Missed a spot." And either mode displeases the woman that lives in my head.
What is it about some folks that allow them to strike a leisurely balance? That sort of puttering, happy pace that gets things done and yet doesn't wear them out to exhaustion. The ones that happily cease doing their chore if interrupted by a visitor instead of snarling and grumbling in the direction of the doorbell while they Swiffer the shit out of the kitchen floor as if it were an Olympic sport.
How did you people develop this life balance skill? Can you teach me? And can you come over and tell the perpetually discontent woman in my head to go choke on her Cap'n Crunch?