Cory Farley, voted "Best of Reno" 26 times in 27 years by readers of his column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, takes an unconventional look at topics from presidential elections to the best way to cook Brussels sprouts.

Location: Verdi, Nev, United States

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Won't be long before the underwear are flying

Well, now we know how long it takes to get bored with being a househusband.
Two and a half days.
That’s how long I’ve been retired, and how long I’ve been tending to the duties I always envisioned would be handled by a supermodel with a penchant for scrubbing and a nice touch with sauces.
Two and a half days, I confidently report, is enough.
I’m not a stranger to the job. I’ve done a third of our cooking forever. Terri hates laundry and I hate washing dishes, so we accommodate each other there. Most other tasks, we either alternate or work in what probably looks like companionable silence, though a better phrase might be “sullen acquiescence.”
Our problem is with . . . well, cleaning. We just don’t--what’s the phrase I want?—we don’t do it.
Our retirement plan, insofar as we had one, was that I’d work two or three more years, Terri would finish out her book contract (you’ll want to check that out, by the way,; someone you know would love a few hundred copies for Christmas), then we’d ease into our sunset years together.
As things turned out, my sunset years arrived by corporate fiat in the same week her contract for eight more books arrived via FedEx. That made my decision easier, but she had issues with staying home to work while I toured Europe, or for that matter went to McDonalds.
“You’re not going alone,” she said flatly.
“So I can take a date, then?”
We haven’t stayed married for 34 years by being rigid, though. We worked out a compromise: She’d bring home the bacon, and I’d do everything else.
It embarrasses me to admit how complacent I was about that. Like many males, I figured I’d bring the efficiency and organization of the workplace to bear on the problems of the household. Couple of hours a day, cut to 45 minutes after I got the hang of it, and I’d be rolling in gravy.
I forgot that the reason I became a columnist instead of getting a real job is that it requires neither organization nor efficiency. For 25 years, I’ve sat down three times a week, typed the first 500 words that popped into my head and knocked off. Terri, meanwhile, taught a generation of high school kids, raised two children to unindicted adulthood and, in her spare time, created worlds in her head that people are willing to pay to enter.
The first day, I walked the dog, went into town for coffee and cooked a great dinner, a recipe I’d been wanting to try. Not a bad two hours’ work. Somehow, though, it consumed 10 hours.
I learn from my mistakes, though: On Day 2, I tackled an upstairs room that’s accumulated a few stray items over the years . . . OK, a few feet of stray items. One kid moved out, one moved in, and when she left again, an avalanche of thong underwear, tank tops and shoes spread across the floor. I sorted, boxed, muttered, stacked, hauled a load to the Salvation Army and one to the dump. Then, as I drove home at what felt like about 1 p.m. but was actually 4:30, my cell phone rang.
“I’m on my way,” Terri said. “What’s for dinner?”
”It’s a surprise.” It’s a frozen pizza, but I didn’t know that at the time.

Today was Day 3. Spurred by patches of visible floor, I went outside for a lawn rake and used it to gather the remaining clothing into a pile (I’m not making this up. A rake works great for moving small items around on a carpet). I bundled them into two trash bags and stacked them by the door, freeing 120 square feet of floor space.
“All right,” I thought. “That’s a solid day’s work.” It was 10:30 a.m.
I knocked off anyway. Tomorrow, though, I’ll get organized. Then watch the thongs fly.


Blogger RiccardoB. said...

Hang in there, Cory. I'm 18 months ahead of you on this path. Soon you'll learn to appreciate the ability to pump up your bike tires and ride in primetime. The last two days were fantastic just after noontime. No more riding when it is crappy out, you get to go when it suits YOU for a change!
ps, that beer is still waiting in my fridge...

9:39 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:07 PM  
Blogger tuzoner said...

I post this - not so much for Cory's benefit - but for all those in pursuit of the material world.

It's hard enough to break from a 30 year routine without considering the achievements of the past with a heavy dose of perspective.

That said...

"It is odd to watch with what feverish ardor Americans pursue prosperity. Ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it. They cleave to the things of this world as if assured that they will never die, and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach as if they expected to stop living before they had relished them. Death steps in, in the end, and stops them before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them."

~Alexis de Tocqueville

5:35 AM  
Blogger Left Reno behind said...

Others have trod this path before you. Locate a copy of "The kitchen sink papers: My life as a househusband" by Mike McGrady and spend an afternoon reading about another writer who made a similar deal with his wife.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ah the good life...There should be a support group for people in your situation that gets together monthly,at a watering hole,a fishing hole,or some other place where doing nothing time goes by real fast.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Pogonip said...

The thing about "retiring" is that you soon wonder how you managed to squeeze a work week into your time. Some retirees get jobs just to get a little rest and a breather. Not to mention some money.

12:03 PM  
Blogger angelosdaughter said...

I, too, left my job before I wanted to. I started working in 1973 because my husband needed back surgery and we needed an income. I continued to work after he recovered because I discovered I liked it much more than keeping house. Now I am involuntarily retired and I still hate housekeeping. I do just enough to keep the house basically presentable, (My husband is still better about messing up the house than helping clean it.), and I don't invite anyone but family (who know I am a lousy housekeeper) over. I read, surf the Internet, write in my journal, cook a little, enjoy my 8-year-old grandson when he comes to spend the weekend, and crochet.
I think I am beginning to enjoy it after two years of mourning my job of almost 33 years. I still have dreams I am at work (in one I offered to do my job for no pay), and aside from the time with my grandson, I would prefer to be working. I don't like very much about retirement, especially the reduced income, and there is nothing I like about getting old.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Good luck with that retirement thing, Cory. I left St. Mary's over two years ago and hardly a day goes by when I don't think of the 15 years I spent there with some nostalgia. I wouldn't go back to the madness for anything, but I do sorta miss it. Once in a while.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Ann Onn said...

Angelo's Daughter, the Fly Lady offers advice for people "living in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome)."

That's not to say I've taken any of her advice myself yet.


3:51 PM  
Blogger angelosdaughter said...

Ann O,
Thanks for the link. I'll have to take a look at it in case I ever feel motivated, but there really isn't anyone besides my family that I want to invite, anyway. My family are the only people who tolerate my habit of reading and conversing with them at the same time. If there was, that would probably motivate me to get rid of some of the stuff that has accumulated around here for the past 38 years that we've lived in the house and numerous kids and grandkids passing through. I do a little clearing out here and there, but I'm in no hurry. I've got nothing but time, and whenever a new little kid shows up, I've always got extra clothes from a past little kid somewhere in case of emergency.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I retired in 2002 and it started out boring and then I got the hang of it. Wife continued working so I took over the household duties, full time instead of part time, got a routine going now it is much better. Then I found some fun things to do, exercising in the pool at the Alf Sorenson Center and Taiko (Japanese) Drumming and that is a blast. Hang in there,, it does get better. Miss your witty columns and am here to say that the Reno Gazette Urinal will never be the same.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Glad you retired to you can write more than 3x's per week!

1:02 PM  

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