Yuletide Tuesday questions, Hallmark edition


Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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73 Responses

  1. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    it is nonetheless disheartening to know I exist alongside people with organized lives, who manage to plan things weeks… nay, months in advance without regularly resorting to last-minute scrambling.

    Umm, Christmas falls on December 25 every year. It shouldn’t be a surprise.

    Anyway, you are being much too easy on yourself in this post. If sending Christmas cards was important to you, you would find a way to get it done properly. Since it isn’t getting done, it obviously isn’t important to you. This isn’t a crime against humanity, but the mental gymnastics you have demonstrated are child-like. Just admit you are lazy, selfish, etc.Report

  2. Avatar Boegiboe says:

    ZOMG, Christmas cards symbolize for me what Christmas cards symbolize for you. Nothing does it better.

    However, another thing for me is now houseplants. I used to have a green thumb. I could make anything grow in any receptacle I wanted. I grew a golden rain tree from a seed I found in a park in Columbus, and it is now full size in an ornamental garden. I made an elm bonsai with its roots growing over rocks into soil one inch deep.

    Then, I became a father and my green thumb turned black. All but one of my bonsai are dead and buried, and that one may not be long for this world. Now, I can’t even keep a jade plant or a spider plant alive.Report

  3. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    Oh, it’s Christmas Cards for me, too.

    And Scarlett Number’s comment says more about him than you–don’t take his comment to heart.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    Credit for cards in my household is properly allocated to my spouse. Were it not for her, I’d be in the exact same boat as you, Doc, as the accomplishment of the string of successive tasks necessary would overwhelm my absent-minded logistical abilities (while not diminishing the underlying intent, mind).Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    We sent out Christmas Letters in our second year of marriage. Maybe the third? Anyway, that was the last time that we did it. We sent one to freakin EVERYBODY we could dig up an address for and included two 3×5 glossy photos.

    Since then? Eh. I sometimes make jokes about the letter I could write:

    “Despite what we’ve said in the last three letters about Jaybird loving his job and how things couldn’t be better for him professionally, Jaybird now has a new job. He loves it, though! Things couldn’t be better for him professionally.”

    You know. Take off from there. Talk about Maribou’s year in similar glowing style and talk about how the cats are in school and studying stuff that will change the world and we couldn’t be prouder put a sentence in the middle that leaves more questions than answers (“Cecilia won’t have to have her paw amputated and we’re pleased about that.”) but… well. I’m lazy. Besides, we updated facebook.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Ha! What a glorious question (they are all glorious but this one uniquely so!).

    We did holiday cards for the first time this year primarily because we could stick Mayo’s face on the thing instead of our ugly mugs and everyone would love that. So Zazzy made one online and ordered 30 and they arrived and we said, “Why did we order 30? We have so many more names on our list!” So we had to play that game… “If we send it to Cousin Mark, do we have to send it to Cousin Jane? And what about Uncle Fred and Aunt Sally? We don’t have that many cards so I guess Mark is out.” So, the extent to which we functioned as adults is questionable… yes, we got our 30 cards out and did all the adult-type things you mentioned but the whole experience was still fraught with peril and not 100% successful.

    Regarding your general-lack-of-adultness, you are much like Zazzy. The frequency with which I have to say to her, “It isn’t that I want you to do the dishes and you are obliging me by doing them. The fact is that there are dirty dishes in the sink and if we don’t wash them, no one will. And if no one washes them, we don’t have clean dishes and GODDAMNIT THIS IS WHAT ADULTS DO I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO EVEN ASK!”

    In so many ways, I am the adult in our life. I make sure the bills are done and food is in the fridge and on the table and am constantly reminding her about adult-type expectations. Yet, outside-looking-in, folks view our relationship and think, “I don’t know how she does it… it’s like she has two infants with her.” Because despite my preternatural responsibility, I am likely to make statements like, “Can I take Mayo ice fishing?” and think that justifying the request by explaining that fishing is really just an excuse to get drunk is likely to be successful.

    It is a weird ying-and-yang that she and I have struck.

    To the question itself… we are probably more adult than most of our peers. Many of our friends are deep in the unending “young adulthood”. Yet I still feel childish. I still think it is funny to run around the house buck naked with Mayo similarly clothes and diaper free and do a lap of the downstairs yelling, “DOUBLE NAKED BOYS!” while Zazzy looks on in chagrin. And not only do I think that is funny to do, but I act on this feeling and will precede some of his baths with this little routine. And then I think, “Man, I bet Russell never does such silly things. He’s a real adult.”

    But I never saw Christmas cards as adult-type behavior. Really, I saw it as lame. And now we are, decidedly, lame.Report

  7. Avatar kenB says:

    Christmas cards, and related acts of thoughtfulness towards friends and family in general, are my wife’s domain. I don’t know but I suspect that my siblings each had a mild cardiac event on their first birthday after my marriage, when they actually received in the mail a genuine birthday card with my name on the return address (though in my wife’s handwriting).

    I can’t even assign it to lack of organization on my part — perhaps I might have some fleeting micro-thought about needing to send these cards, but mostly it stays below the level of consciousness.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to kenB says:

      Yea, my wife is the one who says, “We should send Christmas cards.” Which really means, “You need to go get cards and envelopes and addresses and stamps and put it all together and get it in the mail by this Friday because I won’t but I’ll feel guilty if we don’t do it.” And I’m all like, “What is this ‘guilty feeling’ of which you imply?”Report

      • Avatar kenB in reply to Kazzy says:

        My wife used to apply pressure to get me to participate, but she’s pretty much given up on that by now. This year my only involvement was to go ahead and seal the envelopes destined for my friends and family, which she had left unsealed just on the off chance that I wanted to write something personal in them (as if!).

        It’s helped my cause that the number of cards we receive each year has declined precipitously — it seems to be a dying custom. At least, I prefer that explanation to the possibility that 60% of our friends and family no longer care about us.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to kenB says:

      My wife threatens to send a Holiday Letter every year which means at least 50% of the time she will do so. If she gets it out it will talk about the places we traveled and how things are the same. It always ends up depressing her because sending out the letter reminds her how many of her family and friends aren’t that good at keeping in contact. I don’t think she sent one this year.Report

  8. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Ohh good question. Not Christmas Cards because of obvious reasons. I wonder if the Internet is going to change this. My parents used to receive Holiday and NYE cards all the time but I am not sure how many people in my generation send them. Maybe more will now because they are settling down and having kids. I received a Holiday card from my girlfriend this year and that was the first in a long time.

    I think maintaining decent and regular correspondence with friends if you move away but facebook and social media also obliterate the need for this. My friend in New York don’t have to call to know what is up. They can see it on facebook.

    The whole getting out of freelancing thing perhaps. It seems once you get a real person job, it is easier to get other real person jobs. I’m still freelancing and most of my jobs have always been of the freelancing nature, pre and post law school. This is not bad per se but I would really like to be given a job with benefits and chances for promotion and everything. I also marvel at friends who are buying property. How can the biggest pothead from college now be a respectable member of society?

    Probably a bit too serious of an answer.

    This Onion Headline comes to mind:


  9. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Romantic relationships. Lots of other people seem to be able to go into and out of romantic relationships, hook ups, or whatever with the gender of their choice with ease and I’m still struggling to get anywhere.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Once again, Chris’ guide to meeting people:

      1.) Talk to people.
      2.) There is no 2, just talk to people, damn it.

      I don’t mean go out and lay some game on teh womenz, I mean just talk to people. Men, women, bar tenders, the guy at the bus stop, the person at the check out in the book store (just kidding, there are no book stores anymore), whoever. People are pretty good at letting you know that they’re not interested in a conversation right now, and it probably has nothing to do with you. But if you talk to people, you’ll not only meet cool people, but you’ll start to figure out that there is no mystery, there is no secret sauce that other people carry around and you don’t, there’s just people thinking the same things that people think, that you think, and they are, for the most part, pretty cool and fun and easy to talk to.

      We’re social creatures who act like friggin’ pandas who rarely encounter conspecifics in the wild, and when we do, they tend to bite. It makes no sense!Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Chris says:

        Talk? To people? In real time?

        Dude, some of us really need the lag time of the internet to hold a conversation.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Hehe… I think if there’s one way that the internet fishes up people’s social lives, it’s by making them think that conversations have to be richer than they do. I mean, the deliberateness of internet communication, particularly with the time to think and edit, doesn’t exist in a bar or at a coffee shop or, hell, on a non-cyber date. I think some people think they have to be “on,” the way they’re “on” online, to converse with people offline, but they don’t. If you’re trying to talk to a woman in a coffee shop, she’s not expecting you to sound like you’re writing a short treatise on the use of natural metaphors to express the harshness of the modern world in Cormack McCarthy when you see she’s got a copy of The Crossing on the table next to her and note that you’ve also read that book.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        My roommate in college didn’t have much luck with the ladies. I, on the other hand, did fairly well for myself. One day he asked me what my “secret” was…

        “Just be yourself.”
        “Dude… have you met me? You can be yourself… you’re relatively normal. I can’t be myself. I have to actively not be myself.”
        “Fine. Be myself.”

        While some people’s efforts at projecting likability can be their least attractive characteristic… some people are just hard to be around even when they are acting naturally. I don’t know how to advise such people on being less unlikable.Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Chris says:

        I always used to do pretty well in the dating world for similar reasons. I figured that the worst that would happen if I hit on some guy is that he’d turn me down (which happened with relative frequency). Since I wasn’t dating him anyway at that point, I’d be no worse off than I already was.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        While being a jerk or a miserable human being will inevitably affect relationships, I think it’s possible to have trouble being likeable and meet people, because initial interactions rarely get that far. Of course, that’s not to say that I think Lee is a jerk or miserable human being. I’m quite certain people will like him just fine. Hell, I’m more than a little bit of an ass, I’m not exactly Brad Pitt, and I still never had a problem meeting women or people generally. Getting past the third date? That’s another issue, but meeting people? That’s easy, even if it looks impossibly hard from behind a veil of fear and insecurity (a veil that I promise you I wear as much as anyone here).Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        You are all welcome for this little gift I’m about to give you. “I’mma be alright, you ain’t gotta be my friend tonight. You ain’t gotta love me. I’mma be OK, you would probably bore me anyway.”

        There might be an s-word or g-d in here, but nothing too horrible.


      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Also, if I were trying to guess who the most socially… successful people ’round these parts were, I’d probably have guessed Kazzy, Russell, and Tod, so doesn’t surprise me in the least that both of you were, in fact, relatively successful before you paired up (and probably remain so, though in entirely different ways, today).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:

        Well, I did rate out as 100%E on the E/I scale. I had no choice but to figure out how to be successful socially otherwise I would have gone mad.Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Chris says:

        Well, I did rate out as 100%E on the E/I scale

        Something else we have in common.

        And thanks for that vote of confidence, Chris. As a lazy, selfish person, I appreciate any support I can get.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        Believe it or not, I already do this. I’m very sociable and have lots of friends of both genders. Its getting into a particular type of human relationship thats the hard part.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Russell, oh man, I failed to include the Christmas card fiasco in my calculations. I take back what I said about your social success. Clearly I was mistaken.

        Lee, how do you generally meet women? Out and about? Through friends? Internet (and if so, where on the internet)? Do you look to convert existing friends?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

        I’m not good at making friends, but was absolutely terrible at dating. I was a terrible suitor, a bad first date, but a pretty good boyfriend whenever I got to that stage.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

        Chris, the one time I tried converting an existing friend ended disasterously so I generally try not to look there. Most of my female friends are either in relationships or married, so looking there is also asking for trouble. My dates tend to come from the internet. Sometimes I contact them, sometimes they initiate. I use OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagles.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Chris says:

        @kazzy 1:45 pm

        some people are just hard to be around even when they are acting naturally. I don’t know how to advise such people on being less unlikable.

        Advising someone to be less unlikable is like advising someone who is 5-9 to be 6 feet tall. Good advice in theory, but almost impossible to implement.

        The best advice for such a person is to lower their standards until they find someone who is willing to put up with their nonsense.

        [Ironic, that last line, as here I am wondering how much of your nonsense I’m willing to put up with. Your last few comments have been civil enough, so I’ll let them stay. Anything I don’t like, deleted and replaced with more haiku. — RS]Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Chris says:

        Well, I did rate out as 100%E on the E/I scale

        Some of us rate pretty far in the other direction.

        I think if there’s one way that the internet fishes up people’s social lives, it’s by making them think that conversations have to be richer than they do

        Your starting assumption is that there is a conversation. That’s a faulty assumption. Frequently I have no idea what to say, at all. Part of the instant attraction with the woman I married was that I found her easy to talk to. But meeting strangers and being expected to interact with them is a high stress situation for me. That person next to you on the airplane that doesn’t respond to your pleasantries? That’s me. Do me a favor–put on your earphones and quit stressing me out.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        I certainly didn’t mean to imply any superiority because of my high E rating. I only meant to comment on Chris’s assumption that I would be more of one of the socially successful ones and point out that I am wired to be as such because, were I not, I’d go crazy longing for social interaction and not receiving it.

        Zazzy is a hard I — less extreme than I am with the E… I believe she was in the 60’s — and as I’ve learned that I/E is less of a matter of shyness or social skills and more a matter of how people derive and burn energy (I’s burn energy socializing and gain it when alone while E’s are the opposite), I’ve realized their is nothing “wrong” with introvertedness, nor extrovertedness; they just lend the people who posses the given trait to more or less success in a particular context.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Chris says:


        No worries; that was directed more at anyone who says “just talk to people.” For I folks, that’s like telling Jack Black to “just dunk the ball.”Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I did poorly in the world of romance until a few things got settled down in my mind:

      1) Ask nicely, as opposed to asking (or commanding) like a jerk.

      2) Ask nicely, meaning be honest that you are interested in a dating relationship as opposed to playing the passive-aggressive “we can be just friends for now until you have a moment of need…” game.

      3) Ask nicely, as opposed to not asking at all.

      4) Charisma is a skill, not an immutable characteristic, and confidence is the critical element of developing the skill of charisma. Like all skills, it requires practice through repetitive use, which includes learning from past failures.

      5) Everybody’s effed up in their own way. This includes you.

      6) Because of rule #5, yes, you really do have something to bring to the table, even if not everybody else goes for it: there is someone out there who wants a partner like you and there is someone out there who is effed up in a way that is compatible with the way you are effed up. May take a little searching.

      When all those pieces of the puzzle fell into place inside my mind, I found myself out on good dates with quality women on a roughly continuous basis until I found the woman I wound up marrying. All it took, in retrospect, was finding the right internal attitude, and suddenly it was a world of romantic opportunity even for a not-particularly-good-looking dude like me. Finding that “sweet spot” in my own mind took some time, but I got there.

      But mainly, what it took was asking nicely.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Burt Likko says:

        As for number 2, some guys play that game because they have a small chance of winning it, while having no chance if they are direct.

        Not the most attractive quality, but slim is better than none. Of the course, the guy in question is better off just moving on to the next girl, but the heart wants what the heart wants.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Burt Likko says:

        the heart wants what the heart wants.

        One of my favorite Breaking Bad quotes.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq says:

      FWIW, I’m very good at getting first dates but horrible at getting a second date. I can go on two to four first dates in a months with a bit of effort. I’ve been on two dates since Thanksgiving. Second dates, never.Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Just the ability to have all the Christmas shopping done prior to Dec 24 seems to me like one of those sufficiently advanced technologies indistinguishable from magic.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

      You’re doin it better than me. Yesterday I felt like a rat in a maze zigzagging madly across northern Colorado distributing pollution and credit-card transactions in a wake of Holiday Cheer. Two more excursions today, one still yet to go. (But it’s a booze run, which is the bright light at the end of the dark shopping tunnel.)Report

  11. Avatar Chris says:

    Do you see people around you who seem to move with ease and intention in life and wonder how on earth they do it?

    Yes, but year round, and with everything. Life always looks effortless in other people.Report

  12. As with a couple people above, Christmas cards are on the list. Truth be told and as much as I enjoy staying with my sister over Christmas, it stresses me out. Receiving all those cards is one step in ratcheting up the stress, creating a mixture of guilt and perhaps a sense that I now have an obligation to people.

    This probably makes me a misanthrope.Report

  13. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Thank you cards. I hate thank you cards. Am I supposed to send a you’re welcome card? A thank you card for the thank you card?

    A friend stayed at my house not long after we moved in. He sent a thank you. I immediately called him: “Dude… You are welcome to stay whenever you want, so long as you NEVER send a thank you card. We’re not going down that road. We’re not middle-ages relatives with a passive-aggressive relationship whereby TY cards are yet another battle ground. We are friends who do nice things for each other because we like each other and that is all it needs to be.”Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy says:

      I don’t get it. What’s wrong with a simple acknowledgement that you did something nice for him and he appreciates it?Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Thanking people is good, but an e-mail, text message or in-person thank-you seems sufficient to me.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Mike Schilling says:


        You are incorrect.

        [“No view but mine,” said
        smiling, glad with a blessing
        bestowed on one’s self
        . — RS]Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        If someone is so moved as to send a thank you card, so be it. But I don’t want people to feel obligated to send one. There are many ways to express gratitude. I think sometimes we put more emphasis on the mechanism than on what ought to be behind it. Thank you cards should not be stressful, though they so often turn out as such.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Eh, count me in with @james-k and @kazzy ; thanking people is good, but physical TY cards are generally an antiquated hassle.

        If I’m the receiver, you’ve given me some waste paper I now have to get rid of.

        If I’m the sender, the gift/favor threshold/parameters under which a card is expected are unclear and vary from person to person. If I fail to send a card when one’s expected (or, quickly enough), now *I’m* the jerk.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        My wife and I argue about this. She says we have to send thank you cards for all the presents we receive for Christmas. “But we also gave all those people gifts! We exchanged!”

        There are definitely situations where I do send thank you cards… we sent them for our wedding, we sent them for most of the baby gifts we received, I send them to parents/students when I get holiday or end-of-year gifts. But I think we often can and do go overboard and because of family and cultural variations we should recognize that getting angry over them is silly.

        To my original story, my friend was actually very excited to send the card and likes doing that sort of stuff, so more power to him. But if he felt any obligation to do such, I wanted to make sure I nipped that in the bud. We were just as happy to have him visit our home (and he brought a gift) that any additional expression of gratitude was unnecessary.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Mike Schilling says:


        If I fail to send a card when one’s expected (or, quickly enough), now *I’m* the jerk.

        Now you understand.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        @scarletnumbers – Oh, I understand just fine. It’s the obligatory nature of the thing that bugs me, along with the variance.

        In what situations is a card expected? If it’s for a visit, must the visit be more than a few hours, but less than a week (and after a week, it should be a bottle of wine)?

        Once we’ve hashed out under which circumstances one is expected: how long do we have to send it? A week? Two?

        Seems to me that certain people like to use the vague expectations surrounding physical cards for exactly the sort passive-aggressive, “gotcha”, I-sent-you-a-TY-card-why-didn’t-you-send-me-one-now-my-feelings-are-hurt! games Kazzy alludes to.

        A gift, or a favor, should see the benefactor thanked. And someone who never thanks their benefactors should (and probably eventually will) find themselves without benefactors.

        But for the benefactor to insist upon the form that thanks must take – it must be a mailed piece of paper, rather than an electronic medium, or a heartfelt voice thanks, or an implicit hypothetical later reciprocal gift or favor – packs a specific obligation in with the gift or favor.

        Which kind of misses the point of a gift or favor, and makes it explicitly transactional.

        Not to mention: unnecessary paper, in 2013?

        What, do you hate trees?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        What about texting “TYVM”?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Only if they can read Klingon.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        A friend of mine recently separated from his wife and spent a few months at our house getting his feet under him. When he left, he said “thanks for everything”. And that was it. At first I felt fine with that, since I didn’t offer him a place to stay on the expectation of gratitude on his part, but rather because he needed somewhere eat, sleep and … well, you know.

        But now that I think about, I’m getting a little peeved. No hand written letter? No heartfelt voice mail? No bottle of wine????

        I’m beginning to think that if he was really thankful rather than a self-absorbed prick he would have expressed it by paying us the equivalent of that many months rent in one lump sum. Or even more than that, actually. I mean, why not? How grateful was he???

        I’m not sure I could put an upper limit on an amount which would properly express the gratitude I feel he should feel, but four or five thousand bucks would be a good start. As long as it was accompanied by a nice hand written letter.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Scarlet Number is being very Seinfeldesque. He’s placing great emphasis on the appropriate social forms, while failing (at least here) to be in any way just a decent person.

        One can only hope it’s a bit of performance art, and that he’s not really George Costanza.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers in reply to Kazzy says:


      Sigh. There is no such thing as a “you’re welcome card”.

      I find it funny that you commented that your father-in-law “shows some symptoms of Aspergers”. A lot of women marry their fathers.

      [Letting this one go, since Kazzy has already responded to it. — RS]Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kazzy says:

      @kazzy I think of thank you cards as being formal, and so my general rule of thumb regarding them depends upon the formality of the situation.

      If the event is formal (wedding, business meeting, etc.), I always try to send a thank you card. Similarly, if my relationship with someone is more formal than informal (e.g.: a new neighbor I have never spoken to invites me to a dinner party), I also try to send one — as well as a bottle of wine, or something we’ve just made in the kitchen, a reciprocal invitation, etc. — when needed.

      But if it’s someone that I consider a good friend or a family member, I prefer to send an email, or call them, or say something/offer hospitality/buy a round when I see them next.

      I find this distinction works pretty well for me.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Yea, this would seem to be more or less what I’ve arrived at, though I don’t think I have thought about it quite thusly. If I do not anticipate chance or occasion to offer a more genuine thank you, than a card is appropriate. I might not see my mom’s friends who attended my wedding for months or years; it is important that I demonstrate my appreciation quickly and formally. But my friends who I’ll see the next weekend? First round’s on me.Report

  14. Avatar KenB says:

    With so many of these Tuesday Questions, I recognize the thought or feeling that’s being described but just can’t come up with an example of my own, at least not in the few days before the discussion has died down. But this time I did think of an answer, which is: minor home repairs. If you were to visit my house (which I don’t recommend), and if you were to look around at the general state of things, you would see a thousand little problems that needed to be taken care of — a loose door handle, a bit of peeling paint, a torn window screen, a sticky door, etc.

    These things remain undone not because I don’t recognize the need nor because I lack the requisite knowledge, but because for some reason I haven’t figured out how to get myself to put in the time and effort to actually pick up the screwdriver or paintbrush or whatever and take care of the damn thing.

    We have the occasional house guest who feels comfortable enough to gently bring these issues to my attention and to try to teach me things I already know (“if you have a Philip’s head screwdriver, you can just tighten this screw right here”), because it has clearly never occurred to them that someone could know what needs to be done to fix these things but not actually do it.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to KenB says:

      I am just getting to this post today, and was thinking that I was going to say something about task management. I’ve always been a big-picture guy, and in business always did my best work when partnering with a detail-oriented person.

      But KenB’s answer hits too close to home for me to ignore, so I’m going to just do a big plus one to what he said.

      Earlier this month we had a cold snap and the temperature in Portland was down around 10. (Yes, yes, I know what you’re going to say, people from the midwest and NE. I don’t know what REAL cold is. ) We woke and and our furnace was out. We called around trying to get a repair man, but everyone was booked two weeks out. One guy finally asked how old the house was, and when we said a couple of years, he told us we probably had frozen water clogging the compressor’s outpour pipe on the side of our house. If we just held a hairdryer to it for a while, it would melt the ice, the backed up water would be released, and the furnace would automatically turn back on. So I got a hairdryer and an extension cord and ten minutes later we had heat.

      I am ashamed to tell you how much pride I felt at that moment, that I had actually fixed something — by holding a hairdryer for five minutes after someone who actually knew what the hell he was doing told me to. But I was strutting around my house like a rooster all day.

      So straight ladies of the world, if your ultimate bodice-ripping fantasy is a middle aged guy with thinning hair who can be your white knight when you need someone to bravely stand and point a women’s hairdryer at a pipe for several minutes, I regret to inform you I am already taken.Report

  15. Avatar Damon says:

    I’ll add i hate those damn “this happened to us this year” family letters….

    If I don’t know you well enough to have you told me of your adventures, I don’t care about you sending me a letter telling me same. And if i’ve heard it directly from you, no need to send me a damn letter repeating it.Report