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I cleaned today, and yes, I want a cookie

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Normally on Sundays I meet my family to hang out and bond and eat cheese items and whatnot. But today, I woke up with a headache I'd had for two days. So I stayed home.

This is the most boring thing I've ever written, so far.

Anyway, after my headache finally subsided, I looked around and found myself alone in a war zone, a.k.a. "My House." We at Chez Hayes have been really occupied lately with life distractions, novels and careers. Also, I HATE CLEANING SO MUCH. So if I find a spare moment and my choices are A) Scrub the tomato splatter out of the microwave, or B) Watch Millionaire Matchmaker with some Pinot Grigio, go ahead and take a wild guess.

Today, though, I couldn't take it anymore. My mom used to do this when I was growing up, and I never understood it then. All of a sudden, something would switch and she HAD TO CLEAN, and I would just get out of the way or do what she said. I do the exact same thing now.

Today I:

1. Did laundry
2. Cleaned up various odds, ends, Diet Coke cans, receipts
3. Dusted
4. Vacuumed
5. Freaked out the dog
6. Affixed new decorative throw pillows on couch
7. Hung print that fell down three months ago
8. Printed photos of family and friends for wall frames that had not been updated since 2002
9. Scrubbed bathroom sink and counter and TOILET
11. Organized my jewelry
12. Selected some for donation (angelic)
13. Did dishes
14. Scrubbed kitchen counters
15. Hauled out trash

Here's the thing. My microwave is high above the stove, obviously installed by some Huge Man Beast with Big Man Beast Arms (proper noun). I reach it by extending my hobbit limbs and slamming it until it makes a sound like an SG 550 rifle. I do not suggest this microwave placement in your own home. It's sort of out of sight, out of mind, and thus turns into a scene from Pearl Harbor and requires intensive chair-standing and balance to remedy. Last night, thoughts of the microwave haunted me as I fell asleep, which I think contributed to my madness today.

As stated earlier, I HATE CLEANING. I mean, I guess no one likes it, except maybe those people who wake up early and go for runs. The older I get, and the more I continue to hate cleaning, the more I consider a maid. It sounds snobby, but seriously. I work hard for my meager wages, and if I want to pay some nice lady to come over twice a month and clean the godforsaken mothereffing microwave instead of, say, spend that money on sushi, who cares? Right? Am I right? We're all adults here. I'd like someone to come scrub the cancer from the toilet and then leave. I'm serious. I guess you're probably saying, "Donate the money to orphans, Steph."  Well... well...


Here are some pictures of my clean house, because, well, it's all I have.

Here's the jewelry. Ain't it cute? This will all move into my office/closet one day, one far, far, far off day. Baby steps. One thing at a time.

In the corner, that's Stuart's dog bed. It's outfitted with a Christmas blanket and a leopard pillow. He told me he didn't want to be "matchy matchy." Also, I hate that tall lamp. I didn't realize how much I hate it until I saw this picture. Related: Anyone want a lamp?

Look how domestic! I put a picture of my boyfriend and myself in this frame, which had been sitting face down on the shelf since I got it in, oh, February.

And here we have the picture that fell down, restored to it's mass-produced Target greatness.

Where the blog magic happens.

So, I'm taking votes. Cleaning lady, or orphans? Don't hold back.

Every outfit Cher wore in Clueless in 60 seconds

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Well, you obviously just need to see this. Thanks to the always fun @NYCeditor on Twitter for the link.

Why I don't write in the morning

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An author friend once described his writing process. He wrote the bulk at 5 a.m. or so, as the sun came up over the water just outside the window of his office. He was mentally at peace, able to focus, be productive. Then he could tuck it away and go about his day, knowing he'd made great progress.

That is my dream. Not even just writing in the morning. I dream of waking up early and doing A-NEE-THING. Working out. Darning socks. Reading three national newspapers. Planting some fresh basil. Boiling eggs for protein-filled healthful lunch. Whatever it is people do before work.

To explain why I don't, I thought it would be helpful to chronicle my morning in the vein of Bridget, everyone's constant inspiration for life. Here we go.

Each night before bed I set the alarm on my iPhone several hours early, expecting to spring out and tackle the day with renewed vigor and verve. I put the iPhone across the room so I will be forced out of bed.

When the alarm goes off, I roll over and grunt. I get up with eyes closed, stumbling toward the phone. I step on a high heel and decide 30 more minutes is in order, or else I simply won't be of sound mind today. A clear head is the most important thing. I reset alarm and fall back into bed.

Alarm goes off again. I get up with eyes closed, stumbling toward the phone. I step on a high heel. I grab the phone and hit snooze, a much more responsible and brief setting. I fall back asleep holding the iPhone. I wake up in 9-minute segments for the next 27 minutes.

I recall in horror how I wanted to get up and write 1,000 words and plant basil. At the exact moment I pull back the covers, the air conditioner clicks on sending a whoosh of cold air over me. At the exact moment the air conditioner clicks on, rain starts gently pelting the window. I cannot possibly be expected to get out of bed under such conditions. I fall back asleep for nine minutes.

The iPhone coughs out one more fatigued beep. I shoot awake and burst out of bed, determined just to make a quick coffee because I'm trying to cut back on Diet Coke. I get the grinds out, then remember how coffee takes forever. Might as well have a healthy breakfast while it's brewing. Finding none, I select a cold crab rangoon from last night.

I add glugs of International Delight until the coffee resembles a milk bath. Mmm. The coffee tastes delicious, almost like dessert. I sit down and enjoy it, because you only live once. I feel like a Folgers commercial, and expect my imaginary soldier brother to tip-toe through the door and surprise me. He's home from the Middle East!

I watch a Today show segment about fall fashion trends and decide this pertains directly to my job. Very prudent. I watch the next segment about making shrimp ceviche at home, because that is useful information that can benefit my household, and in turn, my mental health, which will benefit my career. I watch a performance on the plaza from Justin Bieber because, well...

CRAP. Time is running out. I chug coffee during the dance break and stand to get dressed. On the way, I see this:

It all comes racing back, how I'm responsible for the care and feeding of another living thing. I pour dog food in the bowl, feeling like a horrible mother.

I race to the bathroom. In a cunning time-saving move, I showered the prior night after a late workout. Unfortunately, my hair has dried in a center part overnight, and I look like John Denver.

I pour water on the hair and push it around. Still Denver. I pour more water on the hair and blow dry the whole thing, realizing that another shower would have been quicker.

I select a favorite dress. Dresses are great, because wearing a single piece of clothing saves on time. But now I need to shave. I grab the razor and drag it over my dry skin. I then begin the search for lotion that hasn't expired to remedy the scratch marks. The shower mocks me.

After a quick mirror inspection, I notice the dress looks a little short. Must have shrunk in the wash. Hmm. I examine it from several positions, standing, sitting, pretending to pick up the iPhone, hailing a cab. I decide it's fine, because I write fun things and can be a little sassy. But then I hear Stacy London's voice boom overhead, telling me to dress for the job I want, not the job I have. But I like my job. So no worries there. But shouldn't we always be ladder-minded, forward-moving, goal-oriented? I debate with myself for 10 minutes. Then I wonder, ladder aside, if I just look trashy. Stacy London's voice comes back saying, "Why buy the slice when you can have the loaf for free?" Or was it the other way around? And isn't that a little antiquated and marital? I Google the quote on my iPhone. It's slow, probably from all the snoozing it has to do every morning.

I put on jeans.

I start makeup, deciding on eyeliner like Sharon Tate from Valley of the Dolls. It quickly gets out of hand, and I look like Elvira. Now not only am I a tarty ladder-sitter, I am a Halloween witch woman.

I start over, trying to recall the eyeliner chapter from the Kevyn Aucoin makeup tutorial I've had since high school. Where is that book, anyway? I walk to the book shelf past the TV, and notice Paula Deen making butternut squash bisque with Al Roker. My favorite! It's so delicious, and simple to boot!

No! No! I buckle down and finish getting ready, tearing through the house. I grab a Diet Coke because the coffee was weakened by the gallons of International Delight.


Stuart the dog has gone nutbar crazy. He wants to go out. Of course he does. While I traipse around drinking white coffee, he's got to hold it because he's only allowed to pee on bushes. I am a horrible mother who should be arrested. But we live in a townhouse, so it's not so simple as opening the back door. It's a huge production of sitting and leashing and calm-assertive dog training and Cesar Milan tip sheets. If the boyfriend is there, I beg him to take him out, aware I'm teetering on being one of those people who gets a dog and makes other people do the dirty work. If he's not there, I flail with abandon until Stuart gets on the leash, Cesar Milan training but a whisper in the room. Then I clomp through the neighborhood in heels, makeup sweating off my face, past the male house painters eating sandwiches on the back of the truck, staring. When I bend to pick up poop, I decide pants were the right choice.

Then I go to work. And that's why I don't write in the morning.

Tell me. When do you write? And if you say 5 a.m., we're not friends.

Huffington Post Books will tweet your book's name today!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hey, writer types -- Huffington Post Books (@huffpostbooks) is retweeting your book title, five each hour, until 5 p.m. tonight. Just tweet them a message with your book title and the hashtags #mybook and #pleeease.

They retweeted mine this afternoon. Super fun, and a nice thing to do for pavement-pounding authors out there. Worst that can happen is you'll get a few Twitter followers. Thanks to friend Craig Pittman (@craigtimes) for letting me know!

How to inspire the youth in three easy steps

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Last week, I gave a presentation to the teen journalists at my newspaper. As you can imagine, there's some pressure there, mainly pressure not to look like a total tool shed.

See, if you play it too casually, they will fall into an Ambien-level slumber on their cellular telephones.

But if you try too hard to be cool with high school students, it becomes painfully evident you're actually 18,567 years old, poised to pull off your synthetic skin mask at any time and swallow souls through your crusted-out eye sockets before retreating back to Oldville City, population You.


The goal was to help them differentiate between term paper and story, to learn to interview people other than their uncle who is a dentist, or their stepmom's cousin's acupuncturist, or the entire football team in five minutes. Find unusual people, people who eat pudding alone under trees, and ask them questions until you pass out. Tell a story with tension and momentum and meaning. Aim high for ideas, reach far for sources, and go deep during interviews.

Aim high. Reach far. Go deep.

ARG! Perfect. It's catchy and fun to say. Just ask celebrated film and stage actor Peter Sarrrrrsgaaaaard.

I taught them, perhaps to the detriment of the program membership, if you're not screaming "ARG!!!" by the end of reporting, you're not doing it right. Since pirates are hot right now, this expression caught on pretty well in the room.

Johnny. Call me.

We brainstormed story ideas using the ARG method and put some old stories to the ARG test. I informed them how I was screaming ARG on a story right before I came down to talk them, and told them all about it. See? I can relate to the youth after all! Buoyed with confidence, I then spelled "haterz" on the jumbo notepad just like that, with a "z," and fell right back into the nursing home.


Anyway, yesterday I received a note from one of the kiddos saying the lesson stuck with her, and she was planning to incorporate ARG into her "everyday life." I'm now, of course, riddled with fear she will suffer undue stress as a result. I worry she'll be all, "I want to speak to the greater southeast regional manager of this Forever 21 immediately, and I want to know exactly what woebegone grade of cobalt dip-dye was used to suffuse this trite excuse for last season's maxi-dress. And while we're at it, WHERE IS MY DIET SPRITE WITH THE PINK TWISTY STRAW? DOES NO ONE HAVE EARS? ARG!"

Better start saving for the legal bills now.