photo by stevendepolo on flickr under a Creative Commons license
I feel like I have no control over my life. If I try to complete a simple task, I can't find the tools to do it. The job reaches a level of complexity, of twists and turns so byzantine, that my annoyance turns to wonder. How in the world can every single step have an obstacle?
Let's take an example. I have three freezers. (Don't even ask.) Food gets stuck in them willy-nilly. Whenever I try to organize them ("Look, guys, this is the meat shelf. There's meat on it. Nothing else. Keep it that way.") the order disintegrates within days. Boy wants a pot pie? Rummage, rummage, stuff all over. Husband picks up some frozen vegetables and ice cream on his way home from work? Let's see, it'll fit here . . . and here . . . and some over there . . . and that's why the ice cream is in two different freezers on four different shelves. Meanwhile, where's the spinach? I have no idea.
And what happens to the peas? I buy them every time I go to the grocery store. On any given night we are more likely than not to have peas on the menu because they're nutritious, quick to prepare, and inoffensive to all family members. Usually I can only find them if I dig deep to the back of the freezer (behind everything else, probably on the meat shelf) and realize that those little snowballs are not, in fact, snowballs, but frost-encrusted peas. And when I need corn? You guessed it. No corn, but an avalanche of peas.
One day I got the brilliant idea to make labels for the freezer shelves. Okay, this should be easy. Ready?
1. Mention casually to husband that I'm going to make freezer labels. The response is negative: that's too much work, it won't solve the problem (what problem?), they'll never stick to the shelves so they won't even be there when you want them. Deflate a bit at this barrage of reasoning. I have such stupid ideas.
2. Months go by. I can't find anything in the freezer. Decide to make freezer labels and damn the torpedoes. Type up some large, clear labels on my trusty Mac.
3. My computer is not connected to the printer. (See, our two printers are in the computer room so my kids can use them for schoolwork with their own computers. My computer is on my craft table in the play room. Well, it used to be. But I couldn't monitor the puppy from that end of the house so my computer is currently on a little cabinet in the living room.) Technically I should be able to do this from my computer over our home network. It doesn't always work, so I use a workaround. It's simple. First, send the file to the computer attached to the printer. Wait, that one's a PC so I convert the file to a different format, then try to send it. It doesn't work.
4. Go into other room and turn on the PC. Play three hands of solitaire while it loads Windows. Go back to my computer. Hit Send. Return to PC. Try Print. Nope.
5. Turn the printer off, wait five seconds, and turn it back on. (It's fussy.) Go back to PC. Hit Print. Nope.
6. Un-install the printer from my computer. Install it again. Find and re-install the proper driver. Hit Print. Success!
7. I intended to print the labels on sturdy card stock, but the printer doesn't easily take heavy paper like that without jamming, so I've printed the labels on regular office paper which I will then attach to the card stock. Find my own private stash of card stock (there isn't any in the paper drawer labeled "card stock") and feel smug. This is going to work.
8. Now I need scissors to cut apart the labels and card-stock backing. Ha ha, the gremlin chuckles, this one is too easy. The scissors are not in the scissors drawer. Search house for scissors. We must have fifteen pairs of scissors. I can't find any of them. Sigh and get my sewing scissors which are Never To Be Used On Paper. They're a bit dull anyway because the kids co-opt them when they can't find paper scissors. Cut the labels apart. Almost done.
9. Now I'm going to tape the labels to the card stock and fake-laminate them by covering them with packing tape. You know where this is going. The tape. Junk drawer? Nope. Battery drawer? (It's possible. Don't ask.) Nope. Kitchen counter? Computer room? Any horizontal surface in the house? Nope. E-mail husband at work to ask where the tape is. He thinks he saw it in a drawer somewhere. Search again. No dice.
10. Remember that I stashed away a roll of packing tape for just this eventuality. Go to secret stash. Like the Egyptian tombs, it's been raided.
11. Go to Wal-Mart and buy more packing tape. (Side note: there are single rolls and double rolls of packing tape on the shelf. Single rolls are $5.44. Double-rolls are $5.44. Point this out to cashier, who rolls her eyes, and buy the double-roll.) Go home.
12. The puppy needs to go out. Decide (I must have a death wish) to try his new walking collar on him so we can go for a walk later, when I've finished the labels. Cannot find new walking collar. Tear out some hair. Here's some luck; I find the box for the walking-collar. It's empty.
13. But wait! Victory! I find the collar in the bathroom! Quickly gather up puppy, who is crossing his legs.
14. Run to get puppy treats to bribe puppy into his new collar. All together now: Can't Find the Puppy Treats.
15. Admit defeat. Take puppy outside sans collar. Bring puppy back in.
And now, finally, there's nothing in my way. I have the tape and the labels. I look at them. And I just can't do it. What began as a simple idea has become a mountainous task, and I just can't make it up that last little bit to the top.
Decide to watch TV. Where's the remote? We have six of them . . .