The Malcontents

I was standing in the kitchen on Saturday morning, making coffee on a whopping 2 inches of counter space when I felt the familiar claustrophobic about-to-drown-in-clutter feeling come over me. As it has on a near daily basis since we moved and had another kid.

I looked at the professor. ‘I’m sure it’s not true,’ I began, ‘but I really think I would feel much better if I were living in an expansive loft-like space with barely any furnishings.’

‘It’s not true,’ he responded as if on cue. Fully prepared to lecture me on the importance of contentment and the futility of hating that which cannot be changed.

‘Fine,’ I relented, ‘then we need to reorganize this space,’ I decided. ‘Ummh, did you mean like…now….like today?’ my better half asked. Wearily. All too familiar with my impulsiveness and ‘must do it right now’ approach to certain things.

So we looked around our abode and made a tentative plan. He attacked the living room and I and my highly motivated sidekick – the Gort – the kitchen. Ever since our Kindergartener decided he wants to save money for a Transformer he’s been the epitome of helpfulness around the house; beginning every offer of help with: ‘do you think I could get some money if I…..’.

He unloads the dishwasher, he sets the table, he collects the recycling, he cleans up all the toys in the basement and he was more than happy to help me remove all our possessions from the kitchen cabinets in an effort to reduce and reorganize.

With three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office and living-dining-kitchen spaces, plus a finished basement (with another bedroom and bathroom), the house is not exactly tiny. The problem with the house is the poorly configured living space and dearth of useful storage space.

So I stood in the kitchen like someone renting a New York City studio apartment, trying to be ruthless about what I allowed in the kitchen. Put it this way….I decided that our coffee maker did not deserve the six inches of counterspace upon which it rested, and relegated it to the back of one of the cupboards. Because we make our coffee with a cone filter contraption. We only use the coffee maker when we have company.

I considered putting the Kitchen Aid mixer in the basement. But I use it almost every other day for my sanity-saving-baking. And lugging it up and down the stairs each time I wanted to make cookies seemed like a dumb solution. Though it might burn a few calories.

The professor, meanwhile, retrieved moving boxes from the basement and filled them with my (un-usable, un-displayable) collection of pottery and excess china. It felt as if we were moving. But of course we’re not, because the thought of having to shove all our belongings into cardboard boxes is far worse than the ‘I’m drowning from clutter’ feeling I have on a daily basis.

We rearranged the living room so it would be more functional. Though the results aren’t pretty – with the pack ‘n play permanently on display and the coffee table sitting in the middle of absolutely nowhere – the baby can crawl a bit without fear of bonking his head on the sharp edges of the table.

Later that evening, worn out from the flurry of packing and rearranging, we sat in the living room and basked in the (temporary) absence of clutter. The professor watched an episode of Top Gear on his laptop. I have a surprising appreciation for fine automobiles and Jeremy Clarkson is hilarious, so I watched too.

He and Hammond were comparing an Audi R8 to a Porsche Carrera. The professor was drooling, until they mentioned the bit about how it cost seventy thousand…pounds. When he went to DC a week ago, the professor rented a snazzy brand-new Camaro and its general awesomeness has made him even more disdainful of our ‘champagne’ car-van. For the last week he has made several pitiful remarks like: ‘do you think in ten years I can get a Camaro?’ To which I immediately reply ‘sure!’ or ‘absolutely’. Why ruin a pipe dream when he’s likely to forget about it in a few months?

Jeremy Clarkson blathered on about how the Audi R8 goes from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. (I think.)

‘Our Chevy Venture can totally do that,’ I boasted confidently. Even though I have no idea how long it would take the beast to go from nothing to sort of speedy.

‘Yeah, if you throw it from an airplane,’ Mr. Johnson replied bitterly.

3 thoughts on “The Malcontents

  1. I met this guy last week who’s driven nothing but Porsches for over 40 years. He has a place on the California coast and another in Oregon and he drives up and down windy roads, 420 miles one way, in his Porsche. It was not encouraging.

  2. Shawn, I thought this was going to be one of those ‘and he’s one of the unhappiest men I know‘ kind of comments….


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