Allow me to be sexist for a day.
Kris was working away Saturday, doing some chore or other, when she asked me, "What's your schedule for today?"
"I don't have one," I said, and I could see that my answer made her tense.
"You are going to sweep the floors, though, right?" she asked, her voice filled with a blend of pleading and contempt.
I sighed, grabbed pen and paper, and drew a couple of diagrams that delineate the difference between how men and women view chores.
Women have a list of chores. Each chore is a discreet item, with a scheduled time for beginning and a scheduled time for completion. If the list of chores is not completely finished by a given time, the woman is unfulfilled. She is tense.
Black ink by J.D., green ink by Kris
The woman derives great satisfaction from the methodic progression through the list. Dishes Washed? Check. Floors swept? Check Husband on task? Check.
Men have a cloud of chores. In his mind, a guy is aware of the things that need to be finished (which, of course, include those items on his "honey-do" list, but also include other things like sorting comic books or watching the latest episode of Beauty and the Geek).
Black ink by J.D., green ink by Kris
The man doesn't attempt to complete these items in any particular order. He might start emptying the trash, for example, and notice that there's a stack of books that needs to be sorted. Sorting the stack of books might not have been in the cloud of chores before, but now it is, and in fact it seems more pressing, so he begins to sort the books. After he's finished, he sits down to admire his handiwork. While he's sitting there, he turns around in the chair to check his e-mail. His friend Dave has sent him a message asking him to burn a copy of the latest Battlestar Galactica episode, so he does. He takes this disc downstairs so that he won't forget it on Monday, and while he's in the mud room he notices that it's sunny, so he might as well get the peas planted since that, too, is in the cloud of chores. He goes outside to do this, but his wife comes up and says, "Let's go for a walk." They do. On the walk, she mentions that she'd like to rearrange the living room furniture. Now, re-arranging the living room furniture was neither in his chore-cloud nor on her list of chores, but when they get home, they spend four hours pushing chairs, arranging plants, shifting bookshelves, etc. When they've finished, the man is pooped, but he's happy. He's done a lot today. True, he didn't finish much in his cloud of chores, but he did get a lot of other stuff done, and those chores will still be there tomorrow. Or next weekend. He's pleased. His wife, who views his cloud of chores as a list of chores, is not happy. The list is incomplete. In fact, it has barely been touched.
Obviously these are generalizations. Some women have a cloud of chores. Some men have a list of chores. Some members of each gender have some spooky hybrid. But, from my experience, the above descriptions are essentially correct. The challenge then, one of the primary objectives of marital relations, is to find a balance between the woman's list of chores and the man's cloud of chores.
Sometimes the answer to that challenge is Merry Maids.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2007 — Amazing Video of the Moon Transiting the Sun In which I share a gorgeous stereoscopic video of the moon crossing in front of the sun.
2005 — Neighbors and Dreamtime In which I describe the people we've met in our new neighborhood. In which I have a strange dream.
2004 — Host Hunt In which I research web hosts in preparation to moving foldedspace.
2003 — A Wonderful World In which I post the final project for my photography class, an iMovie set to Louis Armstrong's "A Wonderful World".
2002 — In the Bedroom In which Kris and I enjoy a fine meal at the Veritable Quandary. In which we see In the Bedroom. In which it may snow on St. Patrick's Day.