Remember the book (and subsequent movie), “I Don’t Know How She Does It”? The “it” we just couldn’t comprehend her doing was having a job and children, and not even during a pandemic btw. Guys, a lot of people have a job and children and guess what? She is me and I know how exactly she does it. It involves copious amounts of wine, lots of talking to herself and flipping her children off behind their backs. But there are a lot of things normal people can do that I literally just can’t comprehend. Here’s just a small sample:
- Keep their house clean
Ever try to dig a really deep hole in the sand? Every time you make a little progress, the dry sand you’ve already dug starts seeping back in like Stefano “The Phoenix” Dimera on Days of Our Lives. That’s how I feel about cleaning our house. The hole is a clean house and the seeping sand/Stefano is George’s dirty socks on the living room floor, Hazy’s sweatshirt that she wore for an hour hanging over a kitchen chair, assorted bowls, plates and “blates” (or plowls, depending on whom you ask) on the table and counter, the mail (oh god, the never ending mail, seriously Fingerhut is still in business and somehow I’m on the mailing list?). It doesn’t matter how many cleaning and organization podcasts I listen to, this beach hole is never going to reach China.
2. Make a bun
I long to be the kind of person who can just twist their hair up into a messy bun in 20 seconds. These are the same people who look cute in sweatpants whereas I just look Tai in the first half of Clueless. I tell myself I just don’t have the right kind of hair for a bun, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie. Maybe this is what happens when you didn’t do ballet as a kid, only gymnastics, and even there you weren’t exactly classy and elegant (cough, cough, #4).
3. Consistently bake sourdough bread well
I can and have baked a perfectly fine, albeit kind of short and flat, loaf of sourdough bread. But it was my Everest. It took all my (extremely limited) baking know-how. I got the timing all wrong and had to set my alarm for like 2 am to do some kneading or folding or whatever that I’ve since blacked out. I think I baked my anger right into that loaf the same way good bakers bake the love right into their creations. Maybe that’s why it came out so heavy and compressed. Meanwhile, I see many friends baking loaves on the regular that have perfect shapes, fancy designs on top, and belong on the cover of Bread Magazine. They do all this while sporting a charmingly messy bun.
4. Do a good deed without broadcasting it
I swear I do this occasionally, but it’s so hard, even harder than baking sourdough, and now it’s like I never did it because I just broadcasted it. Dammit! Is it possible that I do the good deeds out of the goodness of my heart but also enjoy getting credit for said good deeds? No? Fine. I think the most honest thing to do right now is stop doing good deeds. Or am I lying and did I just do like 5? You’ll never know because I’m done with this vicious cycle.
5. Chew like an a-hole without realizing they’re doing it
This isn’t something I aspire to, just something I’ve observed as someone who suffers from misophonia. There are people, some of whom live in my very home, who can crunch into a baby carrot with abandon, blithely unaware that they are sucking every bit of life force out of a fellow human being. I’m not sure whether to silently murder them with my eyes or be impressed by their complete disregard for human suffering. Just kidding, definitely door #1.
6. Enjoy whiskey, scotch, bourbon or any other dark brown liquor
Ever see a toddler eat something with a lot of pepper and then they maniacally attempt to scrape it off their tongue? That’s me with any liquor that could be described as “smokey” or “malty.” One time, in my early 20’s, I went to a scotch tasting in NYC. They gave you saltines to cleanse your palate in between sips. I think I averaged a ratio of 7 saltines to sip of scotch. It’s the adult way to scrape your tongue.
Fun fact: did you know you can’t eat more than 6 saltines in a minute? Try it. Keep a glass of scotch handy as incentive.
7. Leave a concise, professional voicemail
I have a very special kind of amnesia called Voicemail Amnesia, where you instantly forget how phones, audio recordings and language work the second you hear the beep to leave a voicemail. I’ll have my message all laid out in my head and then when I hear the beep, it’s like, “Hey, Beth? It’s Natasha. How are you? Not that you can answer, haha. I was calling because, well obviously I’m calling, I wanted to ask you…” <BEEP! If you are satisfied with your message, press the pound key, or press 1 to re-record.> *press 1* “Sorry, Beth, this is Natasha, I just left you a long rambling message but I got cut off. Hope everything is cool with you. I’m just calling to say hey – hey! – and ask you about possibly partnering on something. I can tell you more when we talk in person. So if you can call me back, that’d be great. My number’s, actually, you have my number because duh it’s not 1989 anymore and it will show on your phone. Anyway, thank you, thanks! Take care, Natasha.” Are you supposed to verbally sign a voicemail? No, I don’t believe so.
8. Stay awake on a long car trip
In addition to suffering from Misophonia and Voicemail Amnesia (I know, it’s a tough life), I also have carcolepsy, which means I fall asleep during any car trip over an hour and a half. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if I only fell asleep when I was a passenger, but sadly, that’s not the case. Matty can drive 6-7 hours without so much as nodding off, at least I assume that’s the case; I’m probably asleep for 5 1/2 to 6 of those hours. If I have to drive for more than an hour, I have to be loudly singing along to something upbeat like Madonna’s Immaculate Collection with the windows rolled down (regardless of the weather) while drinking something super caffeinated. Unfortunately, I don’t like coffee and I gave up soda a few years ago, so that leaves me with Dunkin Donuts iced tea. So it’s windows open, Like a Prayer, and Dudos’ iced tea or bust.
9. Keep their in-box under control
The only thing worse than my paper mail problem is my electronic or “e” mail problem. I wrote a post about how much I suck with email over 6 months ago when I had 4,271 unread emails. I committed to taking a number of steps to get my email under control. Know how that’s going? I’ve trimmed those unread emails down (up? Can you trim up?) to a sparse 4,841. To make it worse, my kids have email too now, and Hazy’s one of those superior people who keeps her in box at zero, and she’s always like, “it’s so easy, you just delete them after you read them.” I’m tempted to sign her up for emails from Rothy’s, LinkedIn and LivingSocial just to teach her a lesson.
10. Remember things
I used to have an awesome memory. In fact, I still remember the countries around Russia: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Estonia because I had a mnemonic, “Gee, aren’t all elephants…” something something. (Come on, it’s been a while.) Now I literally have to set my phone alarm to remind me to wear pants. I have, no exaggeration, 16 phone alarms on my phone that I switch on and off as needed. They are labeled everything from “Rosie meds” to “super fun meeting time” (I need an alarm before every meeting, otherwise I’ll forget to dial in) and inexplicably, one called “beans.” I guess at some point I had to remember to buy, cook, or eat beans? I refuse to relabel it because I think it’s funny, but now sometimes I’ll forget what I set the beans alarm for. Am I wearing pants? Am I supposed to be on a Zoom? Was “beans” code for second lunch?
11. Forget to eat lunch
That’s right, I don’t know how people can remember things or forget certain things. Of all my alarms, I promise you I’ve never had to set an alarm to remember lunch. I live in awe (and suspicion) of people who can forget a meal. I tried to think of an analogy to explain what forgetting to eat lunch would be like to a normal person, but I literally can’t think of anything that compares to its importance during an average day. Saying it’s like forgetting to breathe feels like hyperbole and makes me sound like even more of a pig than I am. I start thinking about what I might eat for lunch around 10 am, and by 11:30 it’s such an all-encompassing thought, I practically start to see my family’s legs as drumsticks, like an old Bugs Bunny cartoon.
My brother got us a Masterclass membership for Christmas. But while my kids have learned magic from Penn & Teller and acting from Natalie “Padmé Amidala” Portman, and tennis from Serena Williams, I have yet to find a Masterclass on leaving voicemails or staying awake in the car. I’ll let you know when I’ve finished filming my class on Remembering to Eat Lunch Every Day Like It’s Literally Your Job.
If you possess any of these skills and want to share your wisdom with those less fortunate, please leave a comment.