Not firing on all cylinders


It started with the tell-tale tickle in the throat.

By Friday morning, I was a sniffling, sneezing, coughing, wheezing mess. I came into work long enough to finish a project and be sent back out the door by my boss and grossed-out coworkers, and then I crashed hard for the rest of the day.

Court shows.
Medical dramas.
Reality TV.
Cooking programs.
Trashy talk shows.

I watched them all.

I watched TV for twelve hours. Half a day. Though I love a good show and our DVR is always full, it’s rare for me to plunk down on the couch to while away an entire afternoon.

In fact, I never do that.

I grew up with active parents — parents who knew there was “always something to do.” In our busy household of four, we were constantly doing laundry, dishes, chores . . . playing with the dog, making meals, going shopping. We didn’t sit. And like many kids, if we complained of being “bored”? Well.

Don’t get me wrong: my sister and I had plenty of time to play, and my mom and dad weren’t exactly running a child labor camp. I have incredibly fond memories of all the epic goofing around we did. But when it came to keeping up the house, everyone was expected to contribute — and we did.

Now that Spence and I have our own home, all those buried memories of chores have been flooding back to me. With the house about 60 percent unpacked, I can’t help looking around at everything there is to do. Spence and I do relax in the evenings, but it’s usually after we’ve been working on a series of projects after work . . . running around until we’re too tired to do anything but collapse with the Food Network.

So Friday was unusual. Very unusual. Even though I felt too exhausted to do more than lift my head, I couldn’t fight this sensation that I should be doing something. Piles of laundry. Kitchen organization. Fridge cleaning. The sink of dishes. How do two adults dirty so many dishes?

Of course, I also felt the urge to read . . . and suddenly had uninterrupted hours in which to do so. But in the usual cruel twist of fate, I could barely concentrate on the text. I did finish Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans, which was great and very emotional, but I only had 50-ish pages to go when that happened. So.

While I was going through an entire box of tissues and drinking too much coffee, my husband and a friend were laying our hardwood floor in the hallway. They started around 9 a.m. with a last-minute trip to Lowe’s, then worked until nearly midnight.

Nothing to make you feel sick and lazy like two men transforming your entire upstairs through sheer determination, sweat and lots of sawdust. And nails.

Not that I could have fired a nail gun . . . even if I had been firing on all cylinders.

Probably better that I stayed downstairs. For all of us.