All the important things

By Mir
February 26, 2007

I go into this sort of preparing-for-my-death mode before I take a trip. Normal people, they’re about to go somewhere, they think, “Hmmmm. I should finish packing.” (Or if they’re Otto, they’ll be on the phone with you at 11 at night when they’re leaving the next morning at dawn and saying “I should start packing.”)

Me, I’m going somewhere, I need to Get My Affairs In Order. Because you just never know. I need to have everything I’d need so that if I’m stranded somewhere en route I have clean underwear and reading material and perhaps q-tips. I need to have the house clean because if the plane crashes I don’t want people thinking “Such a tragedy, but would it have killed her to scrape the toothpaste out of the sink?”

The traveling back and forth to Otto’s has largely cured me of this special little pocket of neurosis. Why, I blithely traipse off to Georgia with nary a glance behind me. Scrub the toilets? Baby, sometimes I don’t even bother bringing extra clothes! I just throw caution to the wind and lock the door behind me and figure the mess will still be there to clean when I get back.

(So far, that’s been true. Never have I returned from one of my weekend jaunts to find that the housecleaning fairy has visited.)

For some reason, the psychological stress of preparing for a trip down there WITH THE KIDS has caused me to relapse. I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, wondering if I’ll have time both to mop the floors AND clean out the kids’ closets. Because otherwise civilization as we know it may collapse, or someone will puke on the plane. It’s all about balancing out our karma. Or my insanity. Something.

Anyway, I spent most of the day flitting around the house, bouncing from work to cleaning to miscellaneous must-do activities and back again. The overall effect is one of reduced productivity and increased agitation, which is probably why I continued on in exactly that way despite periodically thinking, “There has got to be a better way to do this.”

Yesterday, I did something brilliant. I decided to defragment the hard drive on my laptop. Yes! Because it was running really slowly, and I thought that might help. Also because I’ve owned this machine for nearly six years and I’ve never defragmented it! Whoops! And with my laptop running faster, I could work faster, leaving me more time to try to find plane-friendly snacks for a child who came home with a list of orthodontist-forbidden foods approximately twelve pages long.

I started the defragmentation before I left for church, and when I got home it was still going. As it was the next twelve times I checked it. It finally finished around 4:30, and then I stopped swearing.

Today I realized I’d only defragmented the C drive. And the drive is partitioned. So today I defragmented the D drive. And because swearing about it only used part of my time, while that was running I also:

1) Did some work on my other computer. Because freelancing is SO GREAT! So flexible! Except for the part where I don’t actually get to take vacation. Um, ever. So in return for not sitting at the computer all day Thursday and Friday, I have to do twice as much work every other day this week. All this AND no 401k! Woooooo!

2) Called to confirm that Chickadee will be going on a playdate tomorrow. Called to set up a playdate for Monkey. (“I’ll be dropping his sister off right near your house, so I could just come kidnap your kid really easily. Okay, that sounded a little more creepy than I intended.”)

3) Made a list of things I need to make a list of.

4) Finished the last of about seven loads of laundry. Surveyed the overflowing laundry baskets and piles of clean sheets on the floor of my room. Wept.

5) Finally took my awesome new jeans to the tailor because I figured having them fixed would be less trouble than stretching my right leg an extra inch or so. Pleaded to have them back before we leave on Wednesday. Thanked the nice lady profusely when she told me they’d be ready tomorrow.

6) Stopped at the store for more snacks, milk, zip-top quart size bags to put our liquids into for the TSA, and then—while saying a brief prayer to ask for forgiveness—two Lunchables so that if when we return on Sunday I cannot muster the energy to run out for groceries immediately, the children can still have a lunch-like substance on Monday.

7) Did some more work.

8) Cleaned one bathroom. Remembered that there are two others. Wondered if I could make the kids clean them.

9) Cleaned out the fridge. Took out the trash, brought in the mail. Made a mental note to go to the bank.

10) Went over the list of documents I need for school preregistration, which is conveniently being held during our visit. Georgia schools require a birth certificate, immunization record, social security card, an original lock of hair, fingerprints, and certification of the ability to spin straw into gold before children may be enrolled in their schools. Otto has already taken care of the realtor’s signed affidavit that we are seeking housing in this here school zone, pinky swear.

11) Spilled a big cup of water all over my desk.

So you can see, it was a pretty busy day.

The house is still a mess, I haven’t packed a thing, and there’s work left to do. Thankfully, the children came home and immediately started bouncing off the walls. And then I realized that I still have a day to get everything done (good) and whether I do or not, I should probably be focusing my energy on the fact that I’ll soon be boarding an enclosed aircraft with two persnickety people, one of whom has already lost Nintendo privileges (bad).

So, you know, I stuck a fresh pack of gum into my purse. If nothing else, I can probably stick the kids to their seats in a pinch.


  1. Heather

    Sounds like a crazy day indeed! Good luck with all the pre-move organization!

  2. Lady M

    I also need to get my affairs in order before a trip. Run computer backups. Pay all the bills. Balance the checkbook.

    Right before we drove to the hospital for me to give birth to Q, I pulled out the folder containing our wills and healthcare power of attorney and left it on my desk so that SwingDaddy could find it easily in case things went badly. Note to self: chill out.

    By the way – thanks for the lovely note about my jumping/dancing picture! You made me smile a great big smile. :)

  3. Krisco

    At least it makes you get it all done, right? Otherwise, I never * quite * do. Because there’s t i m e . Until a trip comes up. Then you described exactly what I do.

  4. Cele

    Gracious you make me tired just reading your day Mir. Thank goodness I have a job to go to, Freelance would kill me.

    My biggest fear when preparing to travel is that I will be unable to get to the bank in time. That I will not have a passport (bad nightmares) even though I am only flying to say, California, Arizona, or some other foreign place outside of Oregon. That I have to fly with Ducky, when I can get him on a plane, is always an experience in itsef.

    Have a great trip, in great jeans, BTW

  5. Sara

    #3 and #10 made me laugh. I, too, have to prepare like this before a trip because while I worry about people coming into my home after my tragic demise and finding a mess, I worry more about my mother (who wouldn’t say this, btw) coming in and finding said mess and saying “I swear, I raised her better!” I wonder if there’s a medication for this…

  6. MomCat

    I prepare like that, too. But it’s because when we go on a trip, we have someone making daily visits to our house, caring for the cats. I don’t guess – I know they’re going to have the opportunity to make snide comments about the toothpaste in the sink. Even though I’m paying them.

    Yes, Mir, you can make the kids clean the bathrooms – especially if it’s their bathrooms. Just be prepared to settle for a bit less clean. (read: major scum and filth remaining) Don’t wait till they are teenagers and are actually capable of doing it. You’ll get ‘tude.

  7. Rachel May

    Dear heavens, this is hilarious! You know, you should really think about writing for a career or something. :)

    As I was reading, I kept thinking “I’ll comment on THAT, because I do that, too! No, wait, THAT! No, WAIT, THAT!!!” So, I’m commenting on the whole shebang, only to say that “I do ALL OF THAT, too!”. Thank you for making it at least *seem* funny that I do all of that… and for the reassurance that I’m not the ONLY one that does.

  8. LadyBug Crossing

    LOL!! It will be fine.
    Give the kid back his nintendo… for the sake of your sanity… give it back!!

    Child labor laws only come into effect if you pay them. I say child slave labor works quite well…

  9. Melanie Marie

    I hope today goes better for you! By that I mean, I hope there is chocolate involved!

  10. Brown Eyed Girl

    The only thing I do before a trip? Be sure my will is in order and give an affidavit with our insurance card to the family member caring for the kids.

    Kids coming with me? I’m lucky to remember to pack everything.

    The end.

    (You are a brave brave woman)

  11. Christina

    I am the same way. I need to have everything in it’s place before we leave so that when we return the chaos is lessened. By the way, if you’re like me you’ll enjoy checking out a great free resource offered by the company I work for. It helps you think through how to organize kids’ rooms. I’m taking a stab at it and finding that the efforts are making a sustainable impact. Check it out at

  12. Chris

    OMG woman once again I found myself laughing out loud.
    I do the same things before a trip. What’s worse is that I do that stuff even if I’m only going 20 minutes away to the next town, to babysit. Yah, I’m a sicko!
    Anywho, have a safe trip, have fun, good luck with the whole enrollment thing, and happy house hunting!

  13. jenn2

    Regarding number 8, I have one word. Playroom.

  14. Liise

    Don’t forget your AIRBORNE.

  15. TSM-terrifically superiorily mediocre

    She will be “AIRBORNE” :) How can she forget?

    Seriously, a plane right with no Nintendo? Taking your life in your hands, I say…

    But just think of how relaxing it will be when you are GONE. No more prep, you’re ON your trip. Right? Of course right!

    Be safe! Have fun!

  16. Liz

    Perhaps if you clicked your heels three times and chanted, “I believe in cleaning fairies, I do, I do!”

    Nah, me either.

    Good luck and happy traveling!

  17. tammy

    You know, if you don’t finish up all your cleaning before you leave, I’m sure you can do it when you get to Georgia. There’s all kinds of stuff around here that needs cleaning, should you feel compelled in that direction. I might be able to hook you up with some tub scum…

  18. BOSSY

    Whenever Bossy goes away alone she compulsively keeps thinking she forgot something – and then she realizes she did: Her two kids and husband.

  19. daring one

    Freelancer/mother/domestic goddess, 3 jobs that require 24/7 attention. Maybe you could just add a few more hours to the 7 or cut out non-essential tasks like eating.

  20. Mom2One

    Let’s face it, we all need wives. For ORGANIZING AND CLEANING, get your minds out of the gutter, SHEESH!!!

  21. Sophie

    Your post made me tired. And nervous. And thankful that I don’t freelance. See all those gifts you give me?!

    Yep, you add kids to the mix, and everything (especially me) gets crazier.

    Anyway, WELCOME TO GEORGIA. In advance. Because you never know. You know I’m kidding, right?

  22. Daisy

    “…bouncing from work to cleaning to miscellaneous must-do activities and back again” Sounds like my weekends. I bounce between correcting papers, updating my gradebook, laundry, cooking, and correcting more papers and updating my gradebook, and on, and on, and on. I take great pride in doing most of this in my pajamas.

  23. Bob

    It’s a shame that the trains in the Atlanta airport don’t have the Battlestar Galactica cylon voices anymore. I bet Monkey would have loved it.

  24. Susan

    No, you’re not alone. I do that too. Every trip potentially means the end of my life, so I get Everything In Order. Even worse is like, this weekend/next week, when I have to go on travel for work and leave my family behind. (I am so warped that, as I drove down the street today, I thought “This might be the last Tuesday I’m ever alive.” Pathetic. There must be help available.)


    So on top of cleaning like a lunatic so that the house isn’t a mess following my memorial service ;-), I have to do things like write notes to my kids for them to open each day (so that they know I’m thinking of them and they have something to look back on once I’m gone). And I have to write a few e-mails to my son, and leave some comments on his MySpace page. You know, parting thoughts.

    I often wonder how sane people live.

  25. anna

    Before your next trip, you might want to add the following to your to do list: Put all your important information on a flash drive and take it to your safe deposit box. It’s as I’m driving to the bank that I realize yes, it is my insanity.

    But the thing I can never figure out is, with all the work that I do in the days before a trip, how come I am never packed when it’s time to leave for the airport?.

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