For the record: I don't hate Mondays, but I kinda, sorta hate Sunday nights. Sunday nights have always tended to depress - the knowledge that the weekend is drawing to a close, the work week is starting, etc. - but, because our house gets cleaned on Monday morning, Sunday nights at Casa McGlinchey feature equal parts depression and full-on panic. No, I do not clean for my maid . . . that's for rookies. I do, however, make a concerted effort to manage the clutter so that she has a reasonable shot at actually finding surfaces to clean. With three boys underfoot (yes, I am counting my spouse), managing clutter is close to a full-time job, and I am developing an increasingly bad attitude about that fact. So, inevitably, I find myself dragging my feet throughout the day, and before you know it it's LATE on Sunday evening (bordering on Monday morning), and I'm just getting started.
This week, I was bound and determined to tackle the bedroom closet - specifically, the "Island of Misfit Toys and Other Stuff" that, for the last four or five weeks, has been located smack-dab in the middle of said closet, blocking access to lots of useful stuff like clothes that fit, shoes that are seasonally appropriate, and so on and so forth. Because of my Sunday night foot-dragging tendencies, I end up with various receptacles loaded with toys/other kid items/DVD cases minus their DVD's/random pieces of hardware/etc., which get shoved into the closet before Rose arrives. Every week, I tell myself that on Monday night, buoyed by the fumes of a freshly cleaned house, I will tackle the mound of homeless items as soon as I get home. And, every week, I get home and think, "Really? I'm going to waste the good vibes of a freshly cleaned house by doing chores? Nah, that's for Tuesday." Yeah, you know how it goes after that. So, this Sunday night, I tackled the junk pile with a vengeance - and I actually started to make a dent in it. In record time, too. It was looking like I'd actually be in bed, wound down and ready for sleep, before midnight.
Then my energy started to flag, and I decided to call it a day, or night - only to discover the spill on the master bed that had soaked through to the mattress pad. So, just shy of midnight, all of the bed linens got loaded into the washer. Yes, we could have put other sheets on the bed and done without a mattress pad for one night - but that seemed like such wasted energy. Why put sheets on the bed one night, only to have to strip the bed to install the mattress pad the following night? So, Spouse and I decided that we would continue working on our respective projects (me in the closet, he in the home office-slash-Man Cave - God love him, he is actually in the process of going through files and scanning things into pdf in preparation for reorganization/painting-and-other-redecorating to come).
I had been in the closet for fifteen minutes when the brick monster ran past me.
For those of you who don't speak fluent "Carole," "brick monster" is my mother's term for the little lizards that, when hanging out on the surface of your house, are translucent, allowing the color of your brick - and their internal organs - to show through.
Now I have nothing against lizards - actually, I'm quite fond of them - but this one scared the bejeepers out of me. He darted towards the juncture of Spouse's clothes tower and the beginning of my side of the closet, crossing directly in front of my field of vision, and I jumped up and back simultaneously, straining various forty year-old joints in the process. I hollered for Spouse (yes, the kids were asleep - they are very sound sleepers; not sure if they became that way because their mother is prone to hollering during bedtime hours, or if I feel comfortable hollering because I know that they are both dead to the world; I believe that it's genetic and Y chromosome-linked, see below). Spouse came running, expecting to find a cockroach or collapsed closet rack. "Um, sorry, brick monster." "But you like brick monsters." "Yes, but when they dart past me indoors, they tend to provoke an involuntary reaction." We resigned ourselves to the fact that Brick Monster would die in the recesses of the closet, if Max didn't get him first. Our youngest Maine Coon REEEEEEEEALLY likes lizards. He has five or six rubber ones in rotation, and he spends hours carrying them around, tossing them in the air and chirping to them in that very distinct Maine Coon way. Imagine how exciting it would be to our house-bound little boy if one of the lizards actually wriggled on its own and fought back!
But, until Brick Monster met his untimely demise, it was necessary for me to keep working in the closet. Since, you know, I didn't have a bed in which to sleep - gotta use that "upright and awake time" wisely, right? So I asked Spouse to stay in the closet with me, as Brick Monster backup. Yes, I'm a total girl. We had been in there for less than a minute when I mentioned, "Oh, by the way - there's an IKEA juice cup in the debris pile [a clean one - we're messy, people, but we're not total Philistines - one of the boys used it for water and then threw the cup in the closet, because, based on empirical evidence, that is what boys do with stuff that they no longer need]. If you happen to see Mr. Brick Monster and can convince him to take a pitstop in the juice cup, that would be ideal." I crouch down to see if I can't locate the cup, and I find it - with Brick Monster inside.
[Whispering] "Um, honey? The lizard is already in the cup. [Gesturing towards cup with my foot] Do you need something to put over the top of the cup in order to get it outside?"
"Yeah, it's called my hand."
Two minutes after the Brick Monster Episode began, it was over. Spouse deposited very grateful reptile on the front porch. I resumed the closet project. Two very piqued Maine Coons spent ten minutes poking under the bath rug, occasionally shooting dirty looks my way - evidently, Brick Monster introduced himself to the cats prior to his mad dash into the closet (no doubt explaining the mad dash?).
A little before 2 am, the bed was remade, I had whipped the closet into reasonable shape . . . and we were both wired. Hey - season premier of "Mad Men" on the DVR! So, sleep for me came around 3:45 . . .
. . . and ended a little after 6 when Spouse's cell phone went off. Fun facts about Spouse: (1) he likes to play chicken with our bank; and (2) had he been alive and in Hawaii at the time, he could have slept through the attack on Pearl Harbor, no question . . . in his bunk on the Nevada.
I used to do the online banking for the family, but since Spouse is self-employed, I started to feel increasingly like his pimp. "B****, where's my money? Tell your johns - I mean, clients - that this Dillards bill ain't gonna pay itself." So, when the firm switched to every-two-week-pay periods (rocking my neatly ordered world, where these bills were paid between the 1st and the 14th and those bills were paid on the 15th or after), we decided to use the opportunity to make a switch. Spouse took over bill-paying, marital harmony was restored, and I never looked back. Well, I look back a little. And, in looking, I take note that spouse is a little over-aggressive about attacking credit card debt (when I put something on a store card, which is not often, it's usually with the intent of spreading out the acquisition cost of that something - but Spouse just pays it, all at once; yup, he's a guy). I also take note of the fact that he likes to play chicken with our bank. When I was in charge, I always kept a generous cushion of funds in our checking account. Spouse prefers to keep as much money as possible in savings, and as little as possible in checking, and - whereas I used to "pay" him twice a month by moving a fixed portion of his earnings into checking - he likes to keep his earnings in savings until it's absolutely necessary to move some over . . . and then, as soon as I get paid, he moves them back. He argues that there's no reason to keep a meaningful cushion, since the accounts are linked and bear full overdraft protection, plus we get more interest off of savings. But I know the real reason for his behavior - he likes to play chicken with our bank.
The problem is, until a few weeks ago, when he played chicken with the bank, the bank (or, rather, the bank's RoboVoice) had an annoying tendency to call me and tell me that my Spouse was playing chicken with the bank. Marital harmony was disturbed. After some intense negotiations, a compromise was reached: we agreed on a cushion amount, and the RoboVoice alert telling him that he was approaching the cushion would come to his phone only.
Marital harmony was again restored . . . until he started bringing his cell to the bedroom with him, and forgetting to turn the ringer off. His argument for having his phone nearby - the alarm feature. Which, apparently, is far superior to his traditional alarm clock. Which he ignores. Just like he ignores the cell alarm. He ignores ALL alarms, and all similar loud, shrill, wake-you-up-from-a-dead-sleep noises (when our burglar alarm malfunctioned and started SCREAMING at us in the middle of the night, he slept through it, I had to literally kick him awake . . . and he still rolled over and went back to sleep).
So, therein lies the rub.
At 6-ish this morning, less than three hours after I went to bed, his 'Droid starts going off. I have not familiarized myself with the 'Droid's various noises, so I don't know if it's an alarm or an early AM phone call, but either way it should be attended to. Particularly because it just interrupted my sleep.
Did it interrupt his sleep? No way, Jose.
The third time I shoved him, he got up - and identified the call as one from the bank, advising him that, in light of multiple utility payments scheduled to draft in bulk the day before I get paid (yeah, he totally does that on purpose, too), now might be a good time to do a financial Cupid shuffle.
And I go off. Really, I'm mad at the bank - is it necessary for RoboVoice to call at o-dark-thirty? But I'm also mad that he forgot to turn off the ringer. Equally maddening: the fact that the phone serves no purpose in our room, since it completely fails to attract his attention; the fact that it MAJORLY attracts mine; and the fact that, when I ask him "what the hell?" Mr. Sound Sleeper does not have the courtesy to wake up and fight with me. He snuggles back into his pillow.
I weigh my options: retrieve the phone and throw it against the wall? Or throw it at him?
Then he decides that he's not comfortable enough in his little bed cocoon, rolls over and attempts to HUG ON ME.
Yeah, that wasn't happening. So now I'm wide awake and trying to decide whether to just get up or attempt to go back to sleep. And then Connor comes in. It is Connor's job to take the dogs out to do their morning business, and, to his credit, he always calls for them in a whisper. Only the dogs don't particularly recognize Connor's authority over him. Apparently, they discarded the memo about chore allocation. So the poor child whispers and whispers: "Ruby. Ace. RUBY. ACE." No cooperation whatsoever from the canines.
I offer an assist: "Ruby, Ace, go with Connor."
They comply; Connor mutters an apology for waking me. Oh, child, you don't know the half of it.
I decide to tough it out. I finally go to sleep. I dream that I am in the shower, and in my dream Spouse advises me that the house is on fire, and I respond, "Whatever. I'm surrounded by water. This is the best place for me right now."
I wake up when my alarm goes off, and I proceed with my day. I am surprisingly productive for a walking zombie. And then four o' clock rolls around, and this time it's my desk phone ringing:
Spouse [who drew the short stick and was supposed to retrieve 10 year-old from LEGO Camp at TCU]: "I stepped outside the door to dislodge a catalog from the mail slot, Parker followed, and somehow he locked the door behind him. The back door is locked, too. My keys to the house and to my car are inside. You need to come let us in. But first you need to pick up Connor."
En route to TCU, I realize that I am not 100% certain as to what building the child is in, and I only have a very sketchy notion of where I can legally park. I make it to that part of campus, mercifully there is a sign posted on the front door of the appropriate building, but I see nothing to indicate the location of the "four parking places assigned for parent pick-up" that Spouse mentioned. (The theoretical parking places were parallel spots anyway, so, in my world, they were very theoretical parking spaces. Not much of a parallel parker.) I circle the block, weighing my options, and attempt to radio for help.
I get Spouse's voice mail. "I'm sorry, but I'm unable to take your call right now."
My message to him: "Really? You're unable to take my call? Because I would think that, right now, seeing as how you are locked out of our house and your car, and your oldest son is marooned as a result, my call just might be very important to you. Oh, and WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO PARK?"
I figure out parking. I go upstairs. I apologize to LEGO Camp Counselor, who advises me that Spouse "called David's mother and let her know that you were having to sub at the last minute, so David's mother filled us in when she got here."
RIIIIIIIIIIGHT. And did it occur to anyone else in my family that David's mother, a lovely and accommodating woman, who HAD TO PARK ANYWAY, could have been imposed upon to retrieve both children and throw mine off at the curb? Allowing me to proceed directly to Casa McGlinchey?
Very long story short, the round trip from my office and back took an hour. I got to the house and discovered that Spouse and Small Fry had decided to make lemonade out of lemons and use their lock-out time to clean out the backseat of Spouse's car, which had fortunately but uncharacteristically been left unlocked. Result: several bushels of Transformers, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, miscellaneous sporting equipment and what appeared to be a full load of the kids' laundry were headed into my just-cleaned house.
Clearly, Misfit Closet Island was never intended to be uninhabited. And, yes, I do love the men in my life like crazy - but that's probably just the sleep deprivation talking.