Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Doing the Laundry

One of the more common questions asked as I embarked on this repatriation journey was whether or not I was looking forward to doing my own laundry. My response mirrored that of Vince Vaughn’s “why would I WANT to do the dishes” response in “The Break Up.” Why would I look forward to doing my laundry? It’s a rather boring task that I’d love to not HAVE to do. In an unscientific poll (those sitting in my row on a plane), a vast majority of Americans agree.

In fact, I’d wager there aren’t many middle class Americans out there that, given the opportunity, wouldn’t pay someone what I paid someone to do the laundry while I was in India. How much was it? I can’t say exactly as it was clubbed (that’s the Indian way to say “combined”, it has nothing to do with baby seals) as an add-on service provided by our cook. Regardless, you start to do the math and begin to realize there’s no reason to do it yourself. Personal pride doesn’t even get in the way. As an added bonus, you’re gainfully employing someone at (or likely above the market rate). So you’re actually doing the right thing.
As a realistic person, I knew there was no way, upon moving back to the US, that it would be economically feasible to pay someone to do my laundry. It’s about expectations. I wasn’t expecting it, so it doesn’t really bother me. It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to do it; however, I recognize that I HAVE to do it, so it’s not really even worth arguing. Though if someone wants to come by and do my laundry for a couple bucks a week, the offer is on the table.

One of the creature comforts I missed while in India related to laundry was a dryer. Clothes dried the old-fashioned way, on drying racks. Now that we have a dryer, I inexplicably miss the crusted air-dried feel that my clothes had for two years in India. I never thought my clothes would feel “too soft” but here I am saying you know what, a dryer might not be all that necessary (that is, of course, when you have someone that takes the clothes from the washer, transfers to a rack, and ultimately dutifully folds as appropriate.
Another aspect of laundry that I thought I’d better appreciate upon returning was a washing machine that could fit more than two pair of jeans. Part of the move to Orlando involved procuring a new washer and dryer. We now have 4.7 cubic feet of washing bliss. The issue is, we’re so used to doing small loads that we never come anywhere near filling it unless there are towels involved. I tend to wash towels just to fill up loads. Probably not the most environmentally friendly approach.

As working professionals, we still enlist the services of a drycleaner. In India, we were constantly annoyed by the length of time it took to get clothes back, which routinely topped a week. Surprisingly, in Orlando, the wait isn’t that much lower. Three or four days is not uncommon. Also surprisingly, the sheer number of dry cleaners is vastly lower than expected. There’s seemingly a nail shop (or two) in every strip mall; however, I’ve found a grand total of two dry cleaners that are in any way convenient to our daily lives. I recognize, at least at my office, that the dress code is somewhat more informal here than it was in the Chicago area; however, do people not get clothes dry cleaned here? I’m not in the market for starting a business, but drycleaners seem to be in Orlando what good Mexican restaurants are in India, seemingly good entrepreneurial ventures.

At the end of the day, there’s not too much to complain about. My whites now stay white. My clothes smell like dryer sheets (we made the mistake of taking a huge box of dryer sheets to India which were rendered useless until I realized you could put them in your closet and drawers). My clothes can’t stand up on their own. I guess in the time it took to write this, the nostalgic longing for crusted clothes already subsided.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Suffrage Denied!

Yesterday, Floridians across the state took to the polls and awarded Mitt Romney its Republican presidential primary. Well, all Floridians except for me. And felons. I didn't register to vote until I converted my driver's license from Illinois on January 19, which was exactly 17 days too late. The rule in Florida is that you have to register 29 days before an election in order to be eligible to vote in that election. Why 29 days? Why not. I'm sure it's to protect against people moving just before the election for the sole purpose of voting and swinging an election and some sort of lead time to get the voter rolls prepared. And let's be honest, based on Florida's recent history of contested elections, you can see where this might be a concern. Of course, my last two residences comprise of a place where dead people routinely vote and allegations of kidnaps on election day where blame is placed on the opposition (yeah, someone actually told me that happens in India though it's complete heresay).

In the past 45 days, I've purchased a home in Florida, placed money in escrow for property taxes, registered two vehicles, and acquired a driver's license. I would have even been willing to pay state income tax if they wanted to collect it. I still met Florida's requirement to get a driver's license within 30 days, why end my suffrage?

Disgruntled, I checked the waiting period in case I wanted to buy a gun (not because I was disgruntled enough to do something, just for comparison sake). Three days. I could see the same waiting period to get the rolls ready for those that can prove true residency, which I would hope some combination of what I listed above could prove.

Some might ask, "why do you really care?" Here's the thing, during my two years in India I blissfully ignored what was going on in this country. I ignored it so much that I couldn't tell you the idealogical differences between the candidates. To me, Mitt Romney was the presidential looking rich guy who had ran and lost in 2008. Newt Gingrich was, well, the Speaker of the House in the 90's and I would have assumed he was just some sort of analyst appearing on a show "Morning Joe."

And that brings us to why I care so much. Since moving back to the states, I've once again made "Morning Joe" a regular part of my morning routine. I've even matured to the point where I'll listen to that on Sirius on the way to work rather than Howard Stern (if there was ever a tell-tale sign that you're getting old, that might be it). I wouldn't consider myself a political junkie (though I do have a political science minor, I'm kind of a big deal), but I've spent the past six weeks trying to reacquaint myself with what's going on in this country and actually become informed. Regardless how you feel about the state of American politics (like a lot of people, I think it's pretty screwed up) or how you feel about the primary/caucus system and the electoral college (like a lot of people, I think they both should be blown up), it is the system we have. And when you're told you're not allowed to participate, it kind of sucks.

(On a quick aside, probably the funniest suffrage bit in TV history was Kimmel and Corolla on "The Man Show" petitioning to end women's suffrage simply because it was easy to use "end" something that sounds a lot like suffering. Basically, they used the fact that people didn't know what it meant to get them to sign something supporting ending their right to vote. And for the record, I'm all for women's suffrage. But the bit is funny. It's called comedy.)