I have two new routines.

In the past week, the words “love” and “washing” and “dishes” have appeared in the same sentence without the use of a negation qualifier. Despite my interest in home-keeping, there are still chores that I dislike. Maybe you love washing dishes. I did not. It was the least favorite chore of my adult life. (Note the use of the past tense in those last two sentences).

Throughout my life, my least-favorite chore has evolved. Originally, it was vacuuming. I found the blasted machine too heavy and awkward to maneuver. Loved the clean lines it made in the carpet–hated the means to achieving them. Today, thankfully, vacuum cleaner models are much lighter and agile. Next, I hated cleaning the bathroom. What a pain to clean up after my own hair, use that alien toilet brush, and wipe clean a counter that would possess splash marks not 20 minutes after I’d finished. After cleaning 6 church restrooms during a youth group lock-in–toilets whose exteriors surely had not been cleaned in at least a year, I vowed to never complain about cleaning my own bathroom again. Since owning our own home, the bane of my chore existence has been dish-washing. Seriously? Who wants to clean dishes after cooking a meal at the end of a long day? Note to self: The first chore I teach my future children to do will definitely be dish washing. Or at least putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

But I was going to tell you about my new routine. Would you like to know what has helped me to love washing dishes? Podcasts. Plug in my headphones, tap on the little purple icon on my phone, browse my new episodes, and suddenly some of my favorite personalities are telling me jokes while I scrub and rinse. I laugh out loud, appreciative of their company, even though no one else in my immediate vicinity (Alex, the dogs) can ascertain what entertains me so.

I don’t know why it took me so long to jump on the podcast bandwagon. I’ve known about them since before my teaching days. I owned the 2nd generation iPod – remember with the scrolling wheel and uni-color screen? That was back when you had to consciously alternate which arm you clipped your iPod arm band to, so you wouldn’t accidentally give yourself lopsided shoulders while working out at the gym.

So my new after-dinner routine involves putting in my ear buds (which serves the additional purpose of drowning out the sounds from Alex’s most recent GTA5 mission), loading a fun podcast, and sudsing up the dishes. I’m now convinced that so long as I have a podcast to listen to, dish washing shall be enjoyable. Tonight, I found myself lingering at the sink–wiping down even the crevices of the drain, looking for anything to clean so that I could finish the episode of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, in my queue.

So far, I’ve been following my favorite wordplay/trivia games from NPR like WWDTM and Ask Me Another. I also am trying out a couple food-related casts like Spilled MilkAmerica’s Test Kitchen, and The Alton Browncast. And I love watching TED videos, so I’m following TED audio. Finally, I follow Talk to Me in Korean, a supplement to the phenomenal website TTMIK that is coaxing Korean syllables from the depths of my long-term memory.

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Sink empty. Dishes drying on the rack.

My second routine is related. You see, I hate starting the day with a messy kitchen. When it happens, I either work myself into a tizzy, grumbling to myself (loudly, if Alex is home) about how dishes have to be washed at night so that I don’t waste time when I’m ready to prepare something else. OR, I become apathetic to anything else that might be going on. Whatever meticulously planned meal I have arranged goes out the window and I resort ourselves to dining out that evening. It’s like I can’t function. It’s not a metaphor for how I react to stressful situations – at least, I don’t think it is. It’s just that when I wake up and the kitchen sink is overflowing with messy dishes, half of which have some unknown substances caked, nay glued to the sides, it’s hard to feel anything but defeated.

To solve this problem, I have created a wormhole. You see, the dogs (usually Rogue) wake us up every morning, announcing their own breakfast time, usually between 530-6am. Rogue comes in, huffing and puffing like an annoyed, eye-rolling teenager, though she sounds as if she is trying to cough up a hairball. (Do dogs even do that?) At the first sign of movement on my part, she licks anything that might be exposed from beneath our disheveled blankets–hand, foot, pajama sleeve, hair, and what I can only assume is her favorite, the inside of my mouth mid-yawn. I know. It’s gross. Nero is less… assertive, but still, he persistently plods to my side of the bed, touches his nose to my hand or the side of the bed, paws the covers, nails-on-chalkboard style, and then walks toward the kitchen, repeating the whole routine until one of us gets out of bed.

In my sleepy state, I scoop their food and present their breakfasts. While they eat, I shuffle to the kitchen and examine the previous night’s damage. If we were dilligent about cleaning the dishes, a dish rack in varied states of organization (depending on who was head dish washer the night before) awaits me, and I begin putting them away. If we were lazy, I start washing. By this point, the dogs (usually Rogue) are ready to go outside to relieve themselves and investigate the trails of any critters that may have crossed through the yard in the wee hours of the night.

I used to get back in bed immediately after feeding, only to get out again to open the door. Returning to bed, I’d get out once more to let the dogs back inside, before we all returned to sleep. Now, I use the time efficiently, and when the dogs come back inside we all go back to sleep, sometimes for several more hours. Since beginning my morning tidy routine, I have found my kitchen organized and ready for the day’s concoctions, and I can’t tell you what a relief that is. I pretend the 20 minutes or so that I stumble about the kitchen never exist, and when I wake for real, the dogs have been fed and the kitchen cleaned. I have simultaneously turned myself into a magical clean kitchen fairy and the weirdo whose eyes get wide with excitement upon realizing that someone has cleaned my kitchen while I was sleeping.

Guess I need to find a new chore to hate on and experiment whether it might be made better with a podcast.

Hey. What podcasts do you subscribe to and when is your favorite time to listen to them? Were I to pursue producing my own podcast, what should it be about?

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