Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Signs of returning normalcy

This morning, it took me half an hour to decide that yes, I still needed to take Drunken Monkey Pills.

This is a tremendous step forward over yesterday, when I woke up wondering if there were any possible way for me to, using nothing but desperate willpower, levitate my Drunken Monkey Pills out of the Pill Fortress in the downstairs coat closet, up the stairs past not one but two child- adult-proof gates, through my closed bedroom door and into my hand, saving me the untold agony of rolling over sans drugs. We’re not even talking about sitting up. Just rolling over seemed waaaay too painful to contemplate.

But this morning, I got myself out of bed, limped downstairs, made coffee and drank half of it before I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to go without narcotics just yet.

Another sign of impending normalcy: My husband said, “Hey, why don’t you make a shopping list and I’ll go to the supermarket later today?”

Simple enough, right? A normal person would say, “Great!” and get some paper and a pencil and write a few things: Eggs, milk, bread.

I reject your reality, and substitute my own: First, I got the pad of paper and a pencil. Then, I went out to the garage to take a detailed inventory of the freezer, down to the last succulent little shrimp, followed by an equally thorough survey of the shelves in the garage.

Then I headed back into the house and threw open the fridge. I was already making ‘tsk-tsk’ noises before I even grabbed the door handle, because I knew what I was going to find. So naturally, in order to make a shopping list, it was necessary to first take everything out of the fridge and clean the inside of it. Throw away fourteen bottles of outdated sauces, slimy vegetables and whatnot, reorganize the remaining bottles, all of this was absolutely and naturally needed before I could write ‘eggs’ on a piece of paper. Then, back out to the garage for more sodas and juice boxes/pouches to neatly line up on the bottom shelf – sodas to the left, juices to the right. Labels facing out. (Obviously, I’m not this organized all the time – it’s just when I’m consciously putting things away I try to be very neat and linear and all that, because within mere moments I will throw open the fridge, grab things at random, thrust the applesauce and barbecue sauce in front of the bag of asparagus that won’t fit in the crisper because I shoved a 20# bag of grated cheddar cheese in there and then later that afternoon go on a rampage demanding to know WHO ATE THE ASPARAGUS I JUST BOUGHT?! [as if any of the Denizens would willingly touch the stuff, let alone eat it] for a few days before finding the now-dead asparagus tucked in the farthest reaches of the fridge, smelling to high heaven.)

Now that I have a clean fridge and full disclosure on what we do and do not have already available in the Den food-wise…I can start to make my list.

So I pack the espresso filter with freshly ground coffee, fill the water reservoir and turn it on, pop a scant two cups of 1% milk into the microwave for 2 minutes, 45 seconds, put one packet of Equal and a teaspoon of cocoa powder into each cup, steam the milk carefully and blend all together and top off the creamy foam with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and fresh-ground nutmeg.

What? Well, I don’t know how you people might make your shopping lists, but around the Den of Chaos, we do things in a civilized fashion.

So I dropped off the husband’s coffee in the office, accepted his praise and gratitude gracefully, grabbed a few dozen cookbooks for “ideas” on my way back to the kitchen table and sat down to write out My List.

I start, of course, by checking the calendar for social engagements that might interfere with meals. The niece’s birthday party, for example – there is absolutely no sense in making dinner that night. Nobody will want to eat anything anyway. Sandwiches will do. Also, it can be helpful to note that I am hosting said party. Oh yeah. Heh. Forgot about that little wrinkle…might want to get a few cans of non-diet soda and maybe some hotdogs or something…

So I write down my menu plan for the week. Shrimp scampi with wild rice pilaf, meatloaf, chicken and broccoli casserole…a week’s worth of menu, writing down the grocery needs for each meal as I go, alternating Things The Children Loathe with Things The Children May Deign To Consume. I make little notes next to the Freezer Inventory column indicating on which days what meats and whatnot will need to come out of the freezer to defrost in time for their Glorious Future as our dinner.

Then, final step, I take a mental trip through the supermarket. After eight years of shopping at the same supermarket, I know each aisle better than most of the stocking clerks – writing a list in aisle-order is second nature to me. I shop each aisle in my mind’s eye, noting down all the things we need, things I want IF they’re on sale this week, until finally I drop the smoking, lead-deprived pencil to the table and survey the result with great satisfaction.

There. A shopping list. An excruciatingly detailed shopping list, organized by supermarket aisle, with the occasional note (“Do not buy off-sale” or “Check per-ounce price – smaller sometimes cheaper”) scrawled next to them. It’s ready. An alien could drop out of the sky, take this list, and come home with the right stuff from Safeway.

A little bit later, as I’m recovering from my ordeal on the sofa, my darling husband pops in from the office to say, “OK, I’ve got a window on my time – do you have a list for me?”

Now, right up until this very moment, I had fully intended to hand him the list and send him on his way. By himself. Alone. With the list, and a credit card.

But then, glancing at my detailed notes and aisle-specific directions, what do I suddenly do?

I look him square in the eye and say, “Yes. But I think you’d better just take me with you, I’m not sure my list will make sense to you.

And I honestly believed it, too. That he would become confused by my list and think, what, that a ‘bleach pen’ was one of those candles with a picture of the weeping Virgin on it?

Things are returning to normal around here.

And just to prove it…as we were pulling into the parking lot, I discovered…I had left the stupid list back at the house.

Oh yes. We are definitely on the way back to normal around the Den of Chaos.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Want to give a class on meal scheduling and shopping lists? I'd take it! Hell, I'd PAY to take it :)
How'd you get so organized anyway?!