Taking Joy in the Laundry of Life

Today is wrapped round with gray cotton wool; all is damp, and damped down.

We’ve just emerged from the cocoon of a week that included a sick child.  Nothing momentous, of course.  Just a low grade fever and the inability to send her to school for an entire week (contrary to what we all want to believe, when school handbooks say fever free for 24 hours, they mean fever free without the assistance of children’s Tylenol).

And of course, after all that, I’m now infected:  not by swollen glands and slight fever, but with the strong sense that I mismanage time, don’t get enough done. That I need to get down to business.

I am not prolific enough; I lack focus.  Time’s a’wasting!  Novels should be written in months, not years.  Short stories should be written in days, not months.  I should be able to create plots in my head, simultaneous with keeping a weather eye out for kids on the playground.

Everything should take less time than it does.

Meanwhile, there is laundry to do.

There is always laundry to do!  I don’t have any socks to wear.  Maybe that’s because — unlike the Girleens, unlike the Husband, whose dresser drawers spill socks like treasure — I don’t bother to get myself socks when I buy them for the rest of the family.

Who cares about the reason?  There is laundry to do!  There’re beds to be made!

But this is the trope we seem live by these days — somebody’s got to do the laundry, take out the garbage  — but what value is there in it?

Nobody pays us.

Last night, I rehearsed today in my head.  Along with all the lunch-packing, the kid-herding, the school-schlepping, I’d also have a couple of hours in which to “work.”   Work, which in this particular case, meant attempting to produce a piece of writing that someone somewhere might someday recognize as having value by paying me for it.

Good God!  If information wants to be free, how on earth can we assume that valuable writing has a monetary value attached to it.

But all that’s fodder for another post.

This morning, I sat down at the computer and … promptly received a phone call.

I haven’t said much about it here, on this blog (another reason you should never believe blogs or facebook or any of our gaudy trappings really say anything about our real lives) but I’ve been working — for years — to get a decent play structure in this neighborhood’s only city park.

Why?  Because the play structure that was there was dangerous and looked like crap and I’d spent three years walking past it with a stroller and had never once seen a child play on it?  Because all the neighborhoods around us gradually, a gentrification took hold, gained decent playground equipment unscrawled with graffitti that proclaims You Ho!? Because the park was there and it was all we had?

Who knows why.  It’s inexplicable.  Because I certainly didn’t get paid any money for my efforts.  Those efforts won’t get me in the table of contents of the New Yorker.

But this morning, I sat down at my computer and received a phone call.  From the City Councilperson for the neighborhood, letting me know the demolition of the current structure is eminent, and the new structure will arrive in about three weeks.

I first talked to the City Councilperson about the park in June 2006, when it was sown with broken glass, overwhelmed by kudzu.

0028675-R2-047-22Well, there’s still broken glass, but not as much, and show me the park in America that doesn’t have a bit of broken glass.  And by November, there should be the sort of playground you seldom see south of Interstate 20.


  1. Good job on the new park play structure. All the parks in Houston have the same play structure, except for some of the raggedy-ass old parks, where you can still find a metal slide occasionally, sometimes with skin attached. We just not updated to the new structure–in fact, Janet and the kids just headed off to the grand opening down the street.

  2. That’s great news about the new structure in a few weeks! We recently moved to Washington, D.C. from British Columbia and we were sad to not find as many playgrounds and parks within biking distance. Fortunately the ones that are near our house are in good condition and full of lots of children!

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