Continuous Stream of Dirty and Broken Things

I have been grim and morose and feeling as if the whole world is a bad place full of broken appliances and corrupt insurance companies and stupid/mean strangers leaving horrible callous comments on news articles, but I am trying to remember (leaving aside for the moment how this next thought reflects on me) that I am always a little messed up when the kids have a lot of days home from school, and the kids have had a lot of days home from school. Plus it’s January, and January is always kind of crummy.

Also, we had a small kitchen project done, and it meant having workers in the house all day, and there are few things that make me quite so staticky. I was in a total tizz all day, unable to settle anywhere, worried that if I went to the bathroom that would be the exact minute a worker would call out to ask me something, worried that they would think badly of me for sitting there with a book while they were doing hard physical labor, worried that they would ask me something I didn’t know the answer to, regretting things I said in previous interactions with them, and overall nervous to find that I will do and say almost anything as long as they will be nice and finish the work and get out of my house. And also I didn’t have access to the kitchen for a whole day, and I STILL have only partial access, and a quarter of our kitchen is in the dining room, and I hate things being out of place, which you would find very funny if you saw how very cluttered and messy my house is, but each thing is WHERE I EXPECT IT TO BE, which is what I mean by “in place.”

And then I start thinking about how extremely poor I am at coping with even minor upheavals, and how this bodes poorly for retirement years spent traveling or doing really anything, let alone for dealing with anything like a true upheaval, and how very spoiled it is to “not like change” when that change is A GOOD THING like a KITCHEN IMPROVEMENT (I don’t know why I’m acting as if it’s a secret: it’s a new window, really big, like the kind you can start seedlings in, to replace the original 1950s window that got thick ice on the inside of it during the winters) and not, say, GETTING FORCED OUT OF OUR COUNTRY or something, and then I have a little spiral about the news of the world and how terrible it is and how many people are suffering, but before long I’m back to the subject of how for a homemaker I sure don’t keep the house very clean. Or do much cooking. Or enjoy spending much time with the children.

Also I don’t have any good books to read right now. I keep starting new ones and not liking them.

Meanwhile I am annoyed with Paul, and it’s so unfair because he has been a PEACH PIE about the window replacement upheaval, and dealt patiently with a discouraging setback, and was up on the counter taping off the window glass so he can stain the frames, but instead I am focusing on how he broke the handle on the minivan because he “couldn’t tell if the door was locked or frozen shut” SO HE YANKED HARDER, using force instead of investigating to see why something isn’t working as expected. And this is after I finally, finally, FINALLY got around to getting the front passenger door handle replaced after ROB broke it by yanking too hard when the door was locked. And as I watch the paint gradually peel off the bathroom walls because Paul didn’t remember he needed to use primer, I am not too excited about him doing the staining. You may wonder why I am not doing it myself, if I’m so critical of his work. It’s a fair question, and the answer is that I really really don’t want to. I so admire people who just plow through things that need to be done, rather than melting with despair at the slightest thing. I would like to hire one of those people to manage my life. “I want you to be kind and gentle with me, and the cold noble unyielding prow of a ship with everything/everyone else,” I’d say, and they would nod and pat my shoulder and then matter-of-factly make all the phone calls that need to be made, and let me hide in the bedroom while the workers were here.

And also Paul keeps trying to cheer me up by doing nice things like washing the pans after dinner, but then when I’m putting the pans away later there are patches of VISIBLE FOOD AND GREASE on the insides and the outsides so then I have to do them over because I really can’t talk to him about this again, I really can’t, it seriously must be well over a hundred times I’ve explained it by this point, I am done explaining to a grown-ass adult that to wash a dish you have to apply soap and water in a way that removes the food from it—and yet I could have another FIFTY YEARS of this. His grandparents were married for over seventy years. OVER SEVENTY YEARS. Though by the end they were in a nursing home so I assume they were able to stop dealing with the dishes.

And now that we’ve replaced the window it seems like maybe we should paint the kitchen, especially since we already took everything off a wall and two counters so the window guys had space, but you know how it is when you start painting walls and then the cupboards look dingy and then the living room looks dingy by comparison and I don’t think I want to start that. And speaking of painting, the outside of the house is overdue for it. And the lamppost: it’s from the 1950s but we’d finally got it working and attached to an automatic switch, and it made me so happy to see it glowing out there in a neighborly way, and then last winter one of the kids accidentally hit it with a rock in a fluke snow-shoveling incident and broke the top right off of it so we’re just going to replace the whole thing including the very old and probably not very good wiring, and I haven’t called anyone about it for more than a year because I don’t know if I should call an electrician or a landscaper or both or what, and anyway now the ground is frozen again so it has to wait. And doesn’t it seem like all we do is fix a continuous stream of broken things and clean a continuous stream of dirty things until we die, and all that changes is that we get gradually less physically able to handle it?

79 thoughts on “Continuous Stream of Dirty and Broken Things

  1. Dr. Maureen

    I feel like this a lot. And then for a while i feel like I’m pretty on top of things, and then I return to feeling crushed by disarray and clutter and chores. It is a sine wave of feeling. It sucks when you’re in the trough though.

    1. Jesabes

      Yes, this. And thinking about it makes me even more depressed. “This misery is temporary; eventually I *will* find a good book to lift my spirits, and the workers will be gone, and I’ll sit in front of my nice new window with delicious coffee reading my book.” But what comes after that? A DOWNSWING AGAIN. WHAT IS THE POINT.

      (I don’t mean to unload on you, Maureen :) )

      1. Slim

        So neither of you wants to borrow my copy of “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” when I’m done with it?

        No rush — I haven’t opened it yet. I bought it and another book. The next day I bought four more books. I hope there’s nothing in GASDC about getting rid of books.

  2. Shawna

    This entry cheered me up a bit. My boyfriend of 4 years (who I adored and wanted to marry) broke up with me recently and I’m not handling it very well. So reading about the annoying parts of a marriage and other people not dealing well with change made me smile!

  3. Matti

    I…just…yes to all of this. You’re not alone? Does that help? I mean, you’re not alone in the existential/internet sense, so if that is something that is helpful, then that is a thing that is true. Because I could have written this exact post, except replace your broken items with my broken items. Such as the seven year old’s braces (yes I know she’s young for braces, yes I’m tired of hearing about how she’s young, and yes they’re necessary) kept breaking and she needed an abdominal and chest x-ray to see if she swallowed one of the wires that snapped because she is SEVEN. And it turned out that it was not out fault at all, but that they had placed her brackets so that one of her top teeth was snapping her lower wire repeatedly because they didn’t figure out the problem the first time it happened. And this is something we voluntarily payed THOUSANDS of dollars to do to OURSELVES.

    Or this fall when the furnace people were out here FOUR times in a month after they had just been her to do the furnace yearly check up and it was ALL GOOD.

    Or a few days before Christmas when the water system people were out here twice and really they don’t even stock the part we need to replace (the system it’s only 8 years old) and we should just replace this whole section which is only many, many dollars BUT if the power goes out we won’t have to reset the timer manually because it has a backup battery. So. Yay.

    Also, I REALLY love the title of this post. It sounds very fancy literary novel, maybe a gritty collection of short stories, but this post contains some truth about being adult that nobody ever tells you about when you’re a kid.

    Also, also, Paul and Rob stop hulking out on the van! It’s a van, there’s LOTS of doors, maybe try one of those before you assume that this one is frozen shut just to spite you.

    Finally, (probably) if you tell us what you’re in the mood to read we could crowd source some suggestions?

  4. HereWeGoAJen

    I could keep up with things if things would just STOP BREAKING ALL THE TIME. Like give me a break already stuff.

    And my children WILL learn to wash dishes and clean things and finish projects and put them away becfore they declare themselves finished IF IT IS THE LAST THING I DO.

  5. Melospiza

    I am pretty much telling all of my friends they have to stop what they are doing and read Priestdaddy immediately. (The title and cover make it sound vaguely porn-y but it is not.) It’s a memoir about growing up in a highly religious family that swears and drinks – it’s hilarious, yet serious, and is the kind of book where you look up and see the clutter and think that hey, a cluttered house in disarray has kind of a madcap zaniness to it, yeah?

    Anyhow, Priestdaddy and a glass of wine might be just what you need.

  6. Alyson

    On the dishes thing YES YES YES. I’m forever re-washing because I pick something up (sometimes in the dishrack, sometimes from its home in a cabinet/rack) and finding visible food/grease and am like HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW TO DO THIS??? In fairness, sometimes things I clean do not get so clean, but, I THEN DISCOVER IT AND FIX IT. It’s not like my husband is putting something away and is like, “hmmmmm….there’s still grease on this, let me fix that.” Never.

    Makes me crazy.

  7. Lisa Ann Nusynowitz

    Not sure what your book preferences are leaning towards but I just read 2(!!) books that I enjoyed immensely:

    1. Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs – her father was the head of one these wack-a-do FDLS cults.
    2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Couldn’t put it down

    The thought that keeps me going? January is 1/2 over.

    1. Angela

      I also couldn’t put down Little Fires Everywhere but it left with the same feeling as Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy…kind of ripped apart, unsatisfied, and sad. It was too real and too close to home for me. I’d be interested in Swistle’s opinion though!

      I really want to read Breaking Free too! It sounds interesting!

  8. Marissa

    1) your last line killed me.
    2) can I recommend “The Story of Arthur Truluv?@ it was a nice story that made me happy. (I would not like to recommend “Hiddensee.” It’s…not good.)

  9. Anna

    I can’t help with the neuroses (though I share many similar ones re: talking to people esp strangers) but I can recommend a book: Caroline by Sarah Miller. It’s a retelling of the Little House books from Ma’s perspective. I only just started it but it’s drawn me in- very evocative writing. Though it might not be a good choice if thinking about the comparative ease of modern, first world life opressess you.

  10. Maureen

    Have you read Rosamunde Pilcher? I think you’ve mentioned Maeve Binchy before-but Rosamunde Pilcher is my go to when I’m needing some comfort.

    I totally related to this post. I hate when things are out of place. One year we had a leak in the shower, my husband tried to fix it, and cue large parts of drywall torn out, and the vanity moved into the living room. It makes me feel so unsettled! Our kitchen needs some work-but I swear I’d rather just deal with it than have to do a remodel. I’m not even talking about the cost-the whole craziness makes me want to leave the country!

    I’m really lucky in my husband-he is very detailed oriented (he used to be in the military), we don’t have a dishwasher-whoever doesn’t cook does the dishes-he probably does a better job than I do. If I can just get him to focus his energy on the bathroom-that would be incredible.

    Swistle-would you be interested in doing a “what are you reading” post? Or something where we could talk about books? You have such great commenters-and in this dark part of winter-I know I would welcome some book suggestions!

    1. FF

      I’m so sad b/c I’ve read all of Binchey and Pilcher’s books multiple times and cannot find any other authors at all like them. They are so good!!

      1. Kara

        I humbly recommend Marion Keyes, especially the Walsh Family books (though Anna’s story goes very depressing compared to the others).

  11. Monica

    Well I can’t help with most of this, but I can help with the book problem! I just finished reading The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson. When I bought it a week ago it was $1.99 on iBooks and Kindle, but it might be more now. It’s about a woman who is secretly pregnant from a one night stand, and then she goes to take care of her grandma and uncovers a secret, etc…it’s kind of about family and racial tension and a town in the south. I really enjoyed it. Funny, poignant, thoughtful but easy to read… In fact, I immediately went and bought another of her books, The Opposite of Everyone ($6.99 on iBooks), as soon as I finished reading it. Now I’ve finished that too and it was also great.

    1. Chrissy

      Hey, I just recommended the same book without seeing this comment! I need to try the Opposite of Everyone next.

  12. Kate

    We have one window that gets a ton of ice on the way below zero days. Maybe it’s the direction it faces (west), or the fact that it’s a bathroom, but it didnt hurt that when my dear husband put the storm windows down (a chore I struggle with bc of my weak girly fingers and he can do easily) HE FORGOT TO DO THE WORST WINDOW IN THE HOUSE.

    In any case, I’ve been wondering about the plausibility of a garden window bc nothing says hey I’m in my 40s like buying myself a window for my birthday.

    He cant wash dishes either.

  13. Chrissy

    I just did my annual daffodils-in-a-flowerpot impulse purchase from the grocery store florist because I equate daffodils with hope for spring. It always makes me feel better this time of year. I also have just read a good book that I recommend: The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. I loved it so much I checked out another book by her but it had a baby death and I can’t do a book like that in January. Or ever.

  14. kim

    I loved this post. I am in such a terrible funk – and I can’t decide if I’m mad or depressed or having some kind of existential crisis. I feel like a terrible mother – even though I tell everyone I love my kids WHICH I DO I find myself SO TIRED of cooking and cleaning and laundry and grocery shopping and listening and listening and listening. After several years of unemployment and then being underemployed, I finally got a ‘real’ job about 18 months ago where I’ve been working SO HARD and being PROACTIVE and showing INITIATIVE and generally killing it (doing a job i hate with people I barely tolerate)- and last fall was told I would get a raise/promotion and last week I got my merit raise “excellent” = less than $1000/year raise. I’ve been in a white hot rage since – and just today was called to the conference room with some bigwigs and told they want to dump part of someone else’s job on me because they trust my work more than hers – SURE, LET ME DO MORE WORK FOR NO EXTRA MONEY. I’m sorry. I guess i needed vent. I appreciated this blog post. /that is all/

    1. CR

      If it helps…I was in a major funk. Major enough that I was having trouble functioning and was pretty much convinced my life was a disaster. And that I was ruining lives forever.

      And my kids are on vacation this week, and so we are visiting my parents, and it turns out I don’t hate my life and husband and children, I just really really needed a little bit of a break. Turns out I DO like my kids and husband, when I have enough sleep and a little time and space to breathe.

      Now trying to figure out how to apply that to going back to reality of school, work, h.w., laundry, food, dishes, extracurriculars, etc.

  15. Jenny

    “but before long I’m back to the subject of how for a homemaker I sure don’t keep the house very clean. Or do much cooking. Or enjoy spending much time with the children.”

    This! How is it possible that I’m home cleaning all day and yet every single room has a layer of junk. And I spend hours everyday avoiding the precious children I couldn’t bare to think about leaving to go back to work.

  16. Ernie

    Where to begin? I relate all to well to this. My husband tried to help me sort laundry last night and I just told him to STOP. He was heaping the things he couldn’t identify in my lap, which was like ALL OF IT. Not helpful. He was sort of in the dog house for recently remarking (trying to be nice) saying that it is too bad that I can’t carve out time for myself . . . um, that is because I do EVERYTHING!!! He goes to work. Works too many hours. Then he comes home and works on his laptop. I can’t carve out time for myself because we have 6 children, and a house. All I do is feed them, buy groceries CONSTANTLY, wash their clothes, drive them places, and try to clean the house (totally half ass, so I appreciate your honesty on this topic too!)

    AND we started a kitchen addition and renovation over 6 months ago. They are not done and have not been to our home in almost 2 weeks. The kitchen is finally functioning, but JUST FINISH IT, DAMN IT!

  17. Kirsty

    I adore you, Swistle!
    Most of the time, it’s like you’re in my head and/or my actual life… I am having so many feelings of frustration with just about everything right now and I hate the way it’s making me be… My flat is a mess and yet, in my head, I can see exactly how it’s meant to be; my partner and younger daughter seem to expect so much of me and it’s making me feel overwhelmed; I have a lot of work to do but can’t be bothered to do any of it, mainly because no matter how hard I seem to work, I never seem to get myself out of the financial mess I’m in (and clients who pay late, very late, don’t help at all).
    And then, I’ll read yet another horrible news story and feel guilty for my feelings because so many people clearly have it so much worse and I should just quit moaning all time. And that makes me feel even worse, because it pushes my frustration through the roof.
    I love you, Swistle, I truly do. Please don’t ever change…!

  18. JMV

    We still have our tree up. It was once a Christmas tree, but the ornaments have been taken down and I stopped watering it on Christmas, so let’s just call it what it is, a dead tree. Dropping more and more needles on the floor. Taking up space. Hovering over the knife sharpening tool I gave when Christmas seemed like a hopeful time when the world is fresh. We haven’t sharpened our knives since we got them as a wedding present. What made me think we would start now?
    My three year old frantically told me twice yesterday, “Don’t throw my toy away, mama.” She caught me tossing out a broken toy a few days ago because i wasn’t in the mood to “fix” a rusted watering can with a hot glue gun. Also I threatened to throw away any toy she licks, because the licking of everything while pretending to be a cat or dog is grossing me out. And threatening to throw away any toy left on my bedroom floor is more effective than the Let’s Pick Up songs my husband, the fun one, used. I’ll try to work on this, until I see her lick my dirty car again and then likely I’ll lose my mind again.

  19. Meg

    Swistle, I heartily recommend this post:

    It’s not novel length, but it’s funny as anything. Please note the content warnings below.

    “Content Warnings: Religion, food, symbolic cannibalism, symbolic gore, penis mention, Blasphemy, SO MUCH BLASPHEMY, weapons, war mention. Mind the warnings and your health always comes first. Its a HILARIOUS story, I promise.


    When my dad was a young man and still a practicing catholic, he participated in a small church communion that nearly got him and six other people excommunicated.


    They were a SPECTACULAR hit. Many praises were heaped upon father patrick for the Much Better Wafers and that they’d be sure to show up next week as long as Maria kept making them. Father Patrick figuring that hey, anything that gets people in the doors is good and really, if it was turning into Jesus once inside the parishioner, did it really matter what the wafers were made of? So he continued to let Maria bake the Hosts, and encouraged her to try out new flavors, like nutmeg and cinnamon.

    This went on swimmingly for a few weeks until The Bishop showed up for a surprise visit the same week Maria decided to experiment with rainbow sprinkles.

    Dad remembers hearing the bishop through the windows roaring “THE HOLY BODY OF CHRIST DOES! NOT! CONTAIN! RAINBOW! SPRINKLES!” ”

    Please read the whole post if the above isn’t a problem for you. I laughed and laughed.

  20. el-e-e

    I hate home improvement projects for this very reason, and my 9yo daughter is begging us to “re-do” her bedroom before her birthday in 4 weeks. She just wants paint and to rearrange furniture but I am DREADING it. And it’s not even a central room in the house.

    I am reading “Defending Jacob,” which I probably heard about here in some comment thread. It’s really, really good and I don’t usually read courtroom drama.

    We’re on our 2nd snow day in a row. I’m working from home and the kids are fine but…. it’s really wearying, somehow, to not be able to get into the usual routine and GO places.

  21. Holly

    I so relate to this. So much. I am also a not so great homemaker and also tend to worry about the state of… Everything. Also I am unexpectedly pregnant with our fifth, which was a surprise to all but my husband has kind of been a pill about it. (He will come around – it’s fine.) But I also don’t terribly want to be pregnant so I’m being all mopey and feeling sorry for myself and then I feel like a giant jerk because other people have kids who are dying! And here I am expecting a baby who I will absolutely love and adore in few months and moping about it. Ridiculous I know. Emotions are complex. Oh and my husband wants to remodel our basement, which of course will be so awesome and is much needed. But I know I am going to have to be the one who cleans out all the junk and I am dreading that. There is an obscene amount of junk down there.

  22. SüßwasserLeah

    I identify with this so hard, I will also just throw out there that this *severity* of feelings is how i feel when my anxiety meds need adjusting. So that may not be your situation at ALL, but I did want to say it because sometimes it’s not your SELF, it’s your PHYSICAL BRAIN.

  23. Lauren

    Thank you for putting into words what a friend and I half-affectionately call “spiraling.” I do it ALL. THE. TIME. And it makes the supposed-to-be-comforting question “What’s the worst that could happen?” very bad news indeed. I hope it gets better.

  24. ccr in MA

    I have been where you are, mentally, so please don’t think I am laughing AT you when I say I was laughing by the end of this.

    Also, I too am happiest when “each thing is WHERE I EXPECT IT TO BE” so I definitely feel your pain on that one. Hang in there!

  25. Shauna

    I feel this post on a visceral level.

    I have been in that “well, I’m showing up today but that’s about it” mode and can’t seem to shake it. We also want to do some home improvement things but I KNOW FOR CERTAIN they will snowball, exploding-can-of-worms-style, into an expensive chain reaction of burst pipes, unpainted walls and sparking wires.

    For one of our projects, all I need to do is call a plumber because our garden hose can’t be uncoupled from the outdoor faucet. It is STUCK and the faucet is too close to the brick siding to put your hands and/or a wrench around it to get enough torque to remove it. We have NO IDEA where the water shutoff is for this particular faucet so we don’t want to be yanking on it willy-nilly. It is also three degrees out and this hose is in our FRONT YARD for everyone to see. And it’s neon green. And I just don’t care enough to do anything about it.

  26. Celeste

    Yeah. The relentlessness of it all makes it hard. I think it’s good to talk about it; the effort of trying to survive it and hold it in is just way too much. Considering those who have it worse has never helped me in these low moments; I have to be on higher ground to do the work of compassion for others. In these times, it can be enough just to summon it for myself.

    I say don’t paint that kitchen right now. Mission creep is a thing, and painting is it’s own load. It’s so much nicer to do it when the weather allows you to open windows and wear shorts.

  27. M

    January is terrible. It’s always terrible. Many Januarys I have spent being irritated by every single thing my husband does. It’s not really his fault. It’s just…January.

    This January, I feel as though nearly everyone around me is completely incompetent at whatever it is I need them to do. Baristas are surly and get my easy order wrong. There’s a stupid mix-up with an appointment that was very much the fault of the scheduling person. DISHES get put away DIRTY. It’s a very demoralizing feeling. And even things that are supposed to be enjoyable are difficult: an opportunity for social plans arises, but we can’t find a sitter; I schedule an indulgent appointment for myself using a Christmas gift card, and then find out it conflicts with some far less pleasant obligation so then I have to call and REschedule it and do the calendar dance all over again. Ugh. UGH.

    The dishes thing. I know it all too well and it makes me want to scream. I am here for you.

    1. Ess

      Oh my word. This. All this. Everyone’s comments resonate with me. It’s a hard season and disappointments seem harder to shake. I had a babysitter scheduled today to come play with my kids so I could finally hang out with a friend for just two hours and then realized last minute the kids had back to back dentist appointments at the exact same time. Babysitter wasn’t free for a different time and too late to reschedule dentist appointments. I almost wept. But no cavities, so not a total loss.

  28. WL

    Phone call Tuesday:

    Them: “We need to cancel your appt for Thursday at 5:30pm but can fit you in from 2-2:45pm.”
    Me: “That won’t work, as I need an evening appt.”
    Them: “Well we can fit you in….um….well, ummm… Oh! it looks like you also have an appt booked for 5:30pm Wednesday as well!!! (cheery an annoying)”
    Me: “No I don’t.”
    Them: “Well yes you do!”
    Me: “No really, medically I would NOT do that SAME APPT 2 days in a row. You must have double booked me by accident.”
    Them: “Ok, we will see you Wednesday for that appointment! (cheery)”
    Me: “No, I did not BOOK that appointment. Just cancel anything you have for me and I’ll call to reschedule.”

    I do not WANT to call to reschedule, but I had zero faith in this cheery little chica being able to do it correctly. UGH.

  29. yasmara

    I have had sample paint on the wall of my bathroom (oddly similar, but lighter, to the Swistle background color!) for…months. I have the paint. I just don’t want to be the one to paint it because I’m ALWAYS the one to paint it. And my kids have had 4 snow days already & I can’t imagine they will be in school tomorrow. And I was sick all of December until after New Year’s and I’d like a do-over on the whole holidays. And I’m tired.

    1. heidi

      I have had 3 paint swatches on my kitchen wall for… I think it’s been about 2 years now. Cut yourself a break.

    2. Sara

      We had 7 swatches up in the hall bath for 3 years until I rage painted on a Saturday night after being fed up with starring at them

    3. Maggie

      I put paint swatches on the master bedroom wall of the house H and I first lived in. We could never agree on a color. When we sold the house and moved those paint swatches were still on our bedroom wall…

  30. Sarahd

    You could have just titled this post “January” and I would have known most of what you were going to say or at least the tone of the whole thing. January sucks, it ALWAYS sucks, and I hate it and WHY can’t it be spring yet?!

  31. Jen LC

    the peevishness of this post is giving me life in my own peevish cloud. let’s open a virtual bottle of wine.

  32. Kristin H

    Oh dear. I’ve got nothing except maybe suggesting Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan? Book recommendations can be iffy so I won’t be offended if you avert your eyes and pretend we never had this conversation.

  33. Gwen

    Omg yes. January! It’s defeating me, and my kid has been home with the flu for days, and I don’t wants the other kid to get the flu, and now I’m coughing, and we can’t go outside because it is frigid, absolutely frigid and icy, and I’m trapped in here! Arrrrg! At least I have a new kitty.

  34. Maggie

    Rushing to the comments to shout into the void that I’m so tired of homeownership and everything constantly needing to be fixed, painted, repaired. I’m sick to death of having the same conversations with members of my family about things that should not have to be explained 1,000,000 times and yet are never improved upon. I’m at my wits end with short, gray, rainy, cold days. In short: I hate January.

  35. Ann

    Yes to all of this, and the comments are the best!

    Book recommendation: Homegoing. I didn’t think I would like it at first, but then I couldn’t put it down.

    Also, my 70 year old mother in law is one of those “Oh, I think I want to redo my bathroom, so I’ll just go do it now” people, whereas, I am the “Oh, I want to redo the bathroom, but I can’t decide what color or what fixtures or what style or basically any single thing” people. So she is endlessly frustrated with my half-done kitchen, my moldy gross bathroom, and the general state of my house. And while she means well, it makes me feel like crap when she comes over and tries to “help”. Maybe someday I’ll get it together and get stuff done. Haha, nope, not likely.

  36. Jessemy

    This resonated so strongly with me that it took me a couple of days to respond. *weak high five*

    :) Thanks for your honesty as usual. I’ll just sit with you, sip some coffee, and wait for the cozy feelings to return.

  37. Shawna

    When we got together I had to teach my husband to not use cold water to wash dishes. Fortunately he’s come a long way.

    What’s been driving me bazoo is totally my own fault: in a fit of cleaning inspiration I dragged out a whole bunch of stuff I wanted to get rid of so I could sort it into piles depending on what was to go where (sell, donate, give to friends, trash)… and then I ran out of steam so I have 4 slowly-spreading piles of stuff that I don’t even want to own anymore taking over my living room.

  38. maeby

    Read “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith. It is so completely perfect for escaping this kind of general disgruntledness. It is a fun read full of whimsy with just the right amount of hardship and heartbreak. It will have you appreciating that at least your roof doesn’t leak and you have more than the inside of an empty flour bag to write on when you are moved to do so. This book is perfect for the January blues. It will have you from the first line, which if I recall correctly is “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

  39. Donna

    You make me laugh so hard ……. and my head is ready to fall off from nodding so vigorously. This is me, without the children, mind you, but with all the angst and the worrying and wondering and not doing things ‘because’ and doing other things, well…. because. All I can say is, “Me, too!”

  40. StephLove

    I love your post title so much I wish I’d thought of it myself. That’s just how things seem sometimes, perhaps more often in January but not exclusively then.

  41. Lauren

    I bought two ‘get positive’-style page-a-day calendars and one of them was all sappy ‘the miracle of friendship starts with a smile’ (barf) and the other one said “It’s not that it’s one damn thing after another, it’s that it’s the same damn thing over and over.” I laughed out loud in my preschool classroom, then covered the swears with white-out, laughing inwardly the whole rest of the day. It is so dang true.

  42. Lisa

    The toilet in our basement bathroom has been broken for a few months. (It’s not critical to have one down there, but it’s nice since that’s where we have a playroom so it’s easy for kids to take a bathroom break). My husband, handy man that he is, installed a new toilet yesterday. And then stood up after he finished and smashed the sink with his back. He’s okay but now we have a broken sink. But a working toilet!

  43. Allison

    Well, at the very least you’ve shown a whole lot of people that we’re not alone. I hate stereotypes, but Jesus God, WHY CAN MEN NOT DO DISHES? Also, I just reviewed a hundred books on my blog, but you know, I get that sometimes you’re just in a mood where nothing is going to work, so I will just wish that the right book shows up for you soon-ish. I’ve been cleaning and decluttering the last few weeks, and while it’s very satisfying, I do have that feeling like I spent the first half of my life accumulating things I liked and now I’m just getting rid of it all so I can die and leave a clean-ish house. Effing January, man.

    1. Karen L

      “I do have that feeling like I spent the first half of my life accumulating things I liked and now I’m just getting rid of it all so I can die and leave a clean-ish house.”
      Quoted for truth.

  44. Jenine

    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Devin if you haven’t read it already. It’s a book lover’s tribute to great writing that moves us plus a satisfying family story.
    All the breaking stuff is Entropy at work and it’s hard realizing that force will always be at work in our lives. Here’s to all the cleaning/fixing/resolving you do and witness.

  45. Jenine

    Oh and if I’d searched first I would have seen that you did already read it. Sigh.
    If fantasy and Russian fairy tales are pleasing , try The Bear and The Nightingale by Arden. I kept being surprised by how good it was, all the way thru.

  46. Pj

    Thank you so much Swistle! Your despair matched my despair which cheered me up immeasurably! Then you got me laughing out loud.

  47. Emily

    We’re nearing the end of this month, I hope there is solace in that!

    I thought of you last week, when I accompanied my Mom to “check out” a group of ladies who walk or play racquetball and then go for coffee twice a week. My Mom is feeling like she needs more friends in her life (we do so many things as a family, but she is aching for some more activities now that she is semi-retired). It didn’t go well, we got our coffee and treats to “stay” but didn’t sit with the ladies. We interacted with them briefly but it was awkward. Now Mom doesn’t want to go for the following reasons: they start too early, I don’t have anything in common with them, I can’t play racquetball, I have other friends I can start seeing more often. All of these reasons are fake reasons to avoid admitting it is scary and awkward to join a new group. I just want her to read this blog, and see that everything she is feeling is normal and not weird, and to hopefully be encouraged to just TRY. But my words are ringing on deaf ears it would seem.

    Anyways, just thought I would share how relevant you and your writing is :)

  48. Lindsay

    I read this days ago and a few times since then. I have so many examples I could relate, but they felt so complicated to explain.

    But then, today… I finally called and booked a dental appointment for myself. I am way over due, totally fell off my list when my son was born. At the same time i booked myself I said I needed to rebook for my daughter’s appt, we must have missed hers. And it turned out actually hers is tomorrow! Booked a year ago (she is young). So I was feeling happy because we hadn’t missed her appointment, and I had finally made my appointment.

    Literally not one hour later my sons doc called and left a message that we had missed my son’s well child visit, and he was overdue for vaccinations. Now I feel badly and inadequate again. I forgot that 15 month visits are a thing, and thought we were to go from 12to 18 months. So now I have another appointment to schedule on tomorrrow’s lunch break. It never ends!

    Enjoyed your post and all the comments.

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