After wasting plenty of time over the last couple of years explaining why I don't want a Facebook account, I decided to just waste some time actually having an account. As I was setting up my profile, with my teenage son's assistance, I came to a question that said something like "What do you do?' (My most despised question.)
Instantly, I answered, "Laundry."
"Oh, Mom," my son said in total disgust, "Not what do you do, but what do you want to do?" (Notice that he didn't deny that is what I do.) Well, those are two completely different questions, and no matter what career trajectory I find myself on, I consistently spend a lot of time doing laundry.
(A little rant Have you noticed that that question "what do you do?" really means something more like, "In one sentence tell something about your career that will allow others to quickly and superficially classify you in terms of profession, earnings, politics etc?" )
Anyway back to laundry. A little later, I was talking to my husband who was out of town for work and was waiting in his hotel room for a NPR sound engineer to come set up for a radio interview. "What are you doing today?" he innocently asked.
"Laundry." That didn't sound remotely as important as what he was doing, so I revised my answer: "Eight bushels of laundry and match up several pecks of socks."
Then, being curious, I decided to actually measure the amount of laundry I did. Imagine my surprise to discover it was over a hogshead! Yes, you heard me, a hogshead, and a kilderkin or almost an entire firkin!
(A hogshead is six bushels, or 63 dry gallons.) Of my laundry an entire 1 bushel (8 dry gallons) and 2 pecks were socks. Somehow, knowing that made the task seem much more heroic. And that's just the laundry from about ten days. As there are only 4 hogsheads in a tonne, that means that our family is producing almost a tonne of laundry each month!
I keep thinking there has to be some way to spend less time doing laundry. ( I've been thinking this for the last 16 years, ever since I produced a baby we nicknamed "the cheese factory.") And this is all I can come up with: 1) Wear less clothing. 2) Wear dirty clothing.
We often rummage through giant baskets of clean clothing for something to wear. Then some dirty laundry gets mixed in, then people dump stuff on the floor and pretty soon it results in yet even more laundry needing to be rewashed. Arggh!!!
Maybe I should start amusing myself by using odd, archaic measures to start tallying up the pecks, bushels, hogsheads, and eventually, tons (or tonnes)! A butt consists of two hogsheads (16 bushels), so now I know that it is accurate to say " we went out of town and then got the stomach flu, so now I am doing a buttload of laundry."
I know what you're thinking. . . Shouldn't I be using the efficient metric forms of measure? No, even though President Bush signed "America Competes" metric conversion legislation in 2007 I know that the metric system originated in France and is therefore un-American.
But, you ask, shouldn't mass be measured by weight and not volume? Well my only scale goes up to 5 lbs. When we bought our house it came with several ancient wicker bushel baskets that refuse to fall apart, so that shall be my unit of measurement!
And now when someone asks me what I do, I will have a really interesting reply.