Monthly Archives: February 2013

How to Spend Less Time Cleaning the Kitchen

My future chef husband, here is how I am surviving the kitchen before you:

1. Leave dishes in the dishwasher perpetually

Recently I was unloading the dishwasher and came across a few items that I didn’t know where to put. So I did the obvious: left them in for another wash. And then another. At that point inertia took over and I thought, “Why not do this all the time?”

It is not a coincidence that when asked which Disney princess I would be, I choose Belle every time. (Yes, 28-yr olds still discuss their alter-Disney egos.) Her dishes danced, sang and put themselves away. Why are mine so lazy and inanimate?


2. Eat food straight out of the container

So many foods come packaged in containers perfectly suited for eating out of – why move them to another vessel simply for the sake of old-fashioned convention? Modern society is practically forcing us to be lazy, and it’s arrogant to fight progress.


3. Recycle your dishes

If you MUST be a weirdo and eat from actual dishes, but aren’t sly enough to implement the above dishwasher trick, try using the same dishes all the time to avoid cleaning them. With all the preservatives in food these days, you don’t even need to worry about antiquated fears like bacteria or mold.

You will lose the respect of your loved ones who aren’t smart enough to understand this science, but who needs respect and love when you have so much extra time on you hands?

dirty dishes

4. Let food crumbs fall on your clothes

If you think about it, clothes are a convenient, always-available bib. Assuming that you wear clothes, letting food fall on your fashionable ensemble saves time otherwise spent cleaning the counter.

For the fashion conscious, wear clothes that match the color of the food you are eating that day. Also, if you are trying to keep a food diary, it’s a great way to log your dietary intake.

food diary

(I would not recommend this tip for first dates. On the second date, test out the waters by slyly flicking a small morsel of food on your date’s shirt. Upon finding it, if they react with embarrasment, they’re a pretentious jerk and you shouldn’t date them. If they laugh about it with only a casual attempt to brush off the food, you’ve found a keeper. Leave their number for me in a comment below, please.)

Gosh, my future husband better show up quick before I turn into an unrecognizable, food-encrusted blob whose blouse puts food hoarders to shame. You say the apocalypse is imminent? I say bring it on. I have enough morsels in my attire to keep me nourished for months!

When I Was a Mom For a Week(ish)

When I am not imagining myself as a Nazi war criminal bounty hunter, I envision myself as the ultimate parent. In this epic fantasy, I am a firm, yet tender guardian, leading my flock like a fierce and noble Viking matron who would never stoop so low as to bait their good behavior.


Recently, I discovered that dream is about a likely to happen as finding a Nazi war criminal still alive. I was a mom for a week-ish to my sister’s three little ones, and during that brief time, all my lofty intentions of chivalrous parenting went where all dreams go to die: away from Pinterest. Perhaps someday when my own children are grown ups and still running around like savages, I will show them my swooning “Kids … Someday”  Pinterest board and sheepishly murmur, “It’s the thought that counts, right?”


My future offspring, please accept my advance apology for bribing your good behavior with sweets and movies. I’ll make you cupcakes if you promise to not resent me for it.

Lie #1: My kids will never watch TV

Because … wait for it … my babies will be soooo busy feasting on the glories of Dickens and Tolstoy (in the original Russian) at the venerable age of 5 they won’t have time for TV.

Who am I kidding. Kids love fart jokes, defacing walls with crayons and poop and will be hypnotized by anything that moves on a screen.


The reality is that everyday I was One-Weekish Mom my nephews and niece watched a movie, and honestly, I might have watched it with them too. I have to be able to relate to them, right?

Or perhaps I am making up for all those deprived childhood years of mine, filled with the horrors of books, imagination and the great outdoors. What was my mom thinking??!

Lie #2: They will only listen to classical music

Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven … these prodigious names grace my childrens’ early lexicons, as their little souls soar on the raptures of symphonies and complex melodies.

Noooooope. Babies love love love the mind-numbing repetition of Bob the Builder. I discovered that If you combine Lie #1 with Lie #2 and put in a Bob the Builder movie for them, you can create a magical window of time to catch up on Downton Abby. Errr … I mean … catch up on your Mozart …


Lie #3: They will eat like princely rabbits

A health-freak of the highest nature, all things green, organic and fermented appear on my fantasy diet plan for my future brood. But unless I marry Peter Rabbit, I have a sinking feeling that my childrens’ guts will be host to fodder more along the lines of hot dogs, popsicles and ice cream. Hey, all those things (note I said ‘things’, not ‘foods’) can be green and organic too, right?


The worst part of this revelation? My sister’s kids are angels. And I still spoiled them. Banking on the sure likelihood that my offspring will be monsters, I better sign up for a Costco membership now so I can start stocking up on bulk popsicles.

Excuse Me, Insomnia! I Was Trying to Sleep!

You would think after practicing the art of snooze our whole lives, we’d all be experts at sleeping. Kinda like breathing. Should come naturally, right? Yet here we are, a nation obsessed with zombies, while it is actually we who are the living dead, bleary-eyed and kept semi-cognizant only by Starbucks. I say this in a slight tone of condescension, as I have always been caffeine-free. Superiority over my fellow humans (valiantly resisting the urge here to make a ‘human bean’ joke) is my energy boost.

Slight detour:

coffee history

End detour. Back to not sleeping.

Anxiety seems to have taken the modern circadian rhythm hostage. Having conquered the flimsy foes of ages past – cold, hunger, plague and Mongols – the civilized Western man wrestles with new pestilences of domesticated terror. In a horrifying world of forgotten wi-fi passwords, no time to clean the second garage, and dated wall paper, it’s a miracle any of us snooze at all!

modern anxieties

As with most problems, my nocturnal struggles can be blamed on the Russians. God bless their warm Slavic hearts, but if that nation didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be forced to observe the same napping schedule as a newborn baby.

Years ago, I went on a mission trip to the Motherland with a group from my church. The night before departure, I was so jittery and excited I didn’t sleep a wink. Terror that my flimsy American immune system wouldn’t be able to withstand the rigors of fatigue, traveling, and the ecstasy of being in Dostoevsky’s homeland sauntered over into the next night, when I also didn’t sleep.

flight status

I had worked SO hard at memorizing my two, short Russian phrases that it was unfair I didn’t know the one I really needed communicate: “Where do you keep the sleeping pills, comrade?”

Desperate to sleep, I finally procured a blessed little bottle of drugs with an indecipherable label. For all I know, they could have been old KGB interrogation pills or orangutan tranquilizer, but by the Czar, they worked! Unfortunately, I was unable to smuggle more of the drugs home. All I returned with were a few dried specks of delicious borscht (a pretty purple soup) on my traveling garb. Oh, and a riveting fear of the night. The insomnia bug had impertinently made itself an permanent lodger in my psyche.

russian memories

After that fateful trip, I tried everything: Nyquill, melatonin, prescription sleeping pills (this time with legible labels), meditation, hypnosis, alcohol, exercise, aromatherapy, bribing God, etc.

bribing God2

Nothing would break the cycle of fear that kept me up in the eternal night. Each lonely hour separated me from the rest of humanity, as they selfishly slumbered on restoring brain cells. Then just when I thought I was about to explode from fatigue, the sun would peak over the horizon and as if on cue, I would fall blissfully asleep.

And then my alarm would go off 10 minutes later.

alarm clock

I know it’s not the worst problem in the world, but c’mon. It’s pretty gross.

Reprieve finally sailed in one year later, on the pages of a prosaic economic book. Even my rapturous adoration of all things fiscal withered when I callously bombarded it with determinants of demand, circular flow of goods, and sundry other spicy concepts. Relentlessly, I would read for hours, until at last my senses capitulated and I drifted off to my dreamland of blimp-sized Oreos, ever-ripe donut trees and no dogs. Whoever said money can’t make you happy?? Lots of people, and they are all wrong.


With meticulous zeal, I still have to coddle my bedtime environment. Mentally, I can’t hear any exciting or disturbing news before retiring, still have to read for an hour, and the following day must be devoid of alarm clocks, deadlines, and performances in order for me to fall asleep. Physically, it must be pitch black, completely silent and devoid of other homo sapiens. Even if the other humans are as quiet as silence, I can hear their very EXISTENCE.


We all have little crosses we must bear through life, and perhaps this is one of mine. Well, as my French ancestors would nasally quote through bites of baguette, “C’est la vive!”

Look it up. I’m too tired to translate.

How to Party … When You Hate Partying

I feel guilty for being an introvert. Mainly because in being so, I frequently deprive the world of the pleasure of my company. It’s not that I hate people; it’s just that I am driven by a strict genetic law: no more than two social activities a week, and that includes work, which happens four times a week.

So I either scorn the dictates of my genetic wiring (that sounds dangerous, in a science-y way) or quit my job. I might start taking donations from friends so I can do the latter without becoming a burden to our darling government.


Before we go any further, let me dash to pieces a common misconception surrounding introverts: being an introvert does not mean one is an awkward and unsociable mutant. (I got that from being home schooled.) Much to my dismay, brooder, egoist, and narcissist are included in a list of synonyms for introvert. This is clearly the result of a fallacious extrovert conspiracy, who comprise a hefty 70% of the population and most likely wield control over online dictionaries. Hence the more flattering synonyms of gregarious and life of the party for extrovert.


In reality, the distinguishing difference between the two personality types is that extroverts derive energy from large groups, while introverts are energized from smaller gatherings or solitude. Here’s another way to look at it: introverts are so deliciously interesting and exciting that we need the company of no one save ourselves.


So back to parties. As any soldier knows, one doesn’t waltz into a battle field unarmed. After 28 years of rocking the introvertness, I’ve perfected the art of partying like the Amish have perfected technology.

1. Bring a craft to parties

Even the most erudite of minds run out of things to say; even the most bountiful food spread will eventually be pillaged clean. When minds and mouths are empty, hands must be full! I’ve taken to bringing crafts to gatherings (no, I don’t socialize exclusively in nursing homes). Awkward silences are filled with the industrious clicking of my needles and the design of my project proves an ever-fresh inspiration for flagging conversations.

Also, to my eternal surprise, it would appear my bad-ass image has only been enhanced by the introduction of my Batman cross stitch project into social circles.


2. Help with clean up

This is a win-win. You avoid banal conversation AND earn points for being helpful. If equipped to do so, listen to an audio book while cleaning and accrue additional points for being intellectual. Make sure to wear a slightly-pained, ecstatic expression, as if your brain is physically growing … and you like it.


3. Hide in the bathroom

Make sure you have a book or a smart phone with which to occupy yourself during the stake out. Bring snacks in case the cloistering lasts longer than 10 minutes.


4. Stage a phone call during the party

Make it sound like you’re invited to another party that’s more awesome than the one you’re currently at. Throw in key terms like ‘9pm end time’ ‘unlimited kale chips’ ‘I can’t hear you because that classical music is so loud’ ‘want me to bring my cross stitching?’ etc. Make sure you prep your mom beforehand so she doesn’t blow your cover.


5. Dehumanize fellow partiers

If you’re the nervous sort and are terrified of making conversation, the customary advice of imagining people naked doesn’t ease the agitation. Either you end up frothing with jealousy or are horrified at the vision, and then things just get more awkward. Try imagining them as your favorite dessert instead.


6. Appoint yourself as party photographer

Everyone wants their picture taken! You won’t get bored, you can hop from group to group and you’ll have digital blackmail for future use.


7. Injure yourself to escape the party

As a last resort to liberate yourself from an irredeemable gala, fake an injury. If the crowd isn’t buying it, you might have to injure one of your fellow partiers, and then offer to take them to the doctor. Win points for helpfulness again and make an early exit.


In all seriousness, thoughtful investigation of your personality type is a fascinating and useful practice, as it simultaneously liberates you from the pressure to be someone you’re not, and also reveals inherent weaknesses you can correct before becoming a monster.

Besides, who doesn’t love studying themselves more, right?