The beast of laundry

At this time in my life, doing laundry is a beast.

Almost continuously for the past 9 years, since I left home to go to college, I’ve been carting my laundry all over creation. I live for the day in which I will have an in-unit washer and dryer. Once that happens, I promise never to complain about doing laundry again!

Or at least I promise to try not to complain about doing laundry again.

Hey, I can’t set the standards too high or I’m just setting myself up for failure. I must retain my right to complain . . . not only is it true because it rhymes, but isn’t there an ammendment to the Constitution that says something like that? With an accompanying Normal Rockwell illustration?

Just kidding. Complaining is actually bad for your general health, so my friends: stay away. Stay positive. Say ‘no’ to whining.

Anyway, the last weekend in October, our laundry situation was getting completely out of control. The sheets were due for a wash . . . the blankets . . . the towels and bathmats . . . and at least a month’s worth of clothes.

The hampers in our bedroom were literally overflowing.

The underwear situation was in a state of emergency.

This post is designed to make those of you who have been blessed with a washer and dryer in your apartment/house grateful. Very, very grateful.

Here is the cart we use to transport the hideous pile to its destination.

Our first mission is to get it down a flight and a half of stairs. Journalistic inaccuracy alert: my husband’s first job is to get it down a flight and a half of stairs. My job is to hold the doors open.

Then we walk it down to the laundromat, which is right next to the El stop.

We come armed with waterfalls of silver coins, known to some as ‘quarters’ and known to others as ‘I can’t wash my clothes without ’em.’

Thankfully they have industrial-sized machines.

Then we hang out for about an hour and a half. Sometimes competition for the little hand carts can be fierce. Soap operas in Spanish play out on the TV’s above us. I bring a novel, and my husband brings his schoolwork.

I made some good progress through “World Without End.”

Children play, throw things, chase each other, clamber up on tables and generally make the place into a playground.

Every now and then a lucky child gets a quarter which, inserted into the slot on this little machine, will give them the ride of a lifetime as it plays the first two lines of “The itsy bitsy spider” over and over again: ‘The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout/down came the rain and washed the spider out.’

And then it repeats that same little piece of melody over . . . and over . . . and over again. It never gets to the “Up came the sun and dried out all the rain/And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again” part, and if you really start thinking about it, that’s just messed up.

Twisted, like.

The person who designed this machine was probably a murderous maniac who just didn’t want the itsy bitsy spider to survive.

I can find no other logical explanation.

The ever-repeating little ditty happens to make me murderous as well, which was probably also in his plan all along: to turn normal, everyday citizens into frantic killing machines. I mean, if the itsy bitsy spider doesn’t make it, what hope is there for the rest of us? Why continue this sham called ‘life’ anyway?

I’ve considered personally disabling this machine, but (if caught) that might mean switching laundromats forever. And I’m not willing to go any further from home than this, not even to save myself from the brainwashing effects of this childrens’ ride.

Oh, the laundromat. How I love it, and how I hate it.

In my desire to document the laundrifying experience for future generations, me and my point and shoot camera did the rounds and captured the sights.

I felt that lugging out my Nikon D5000 might attract unwanted attention from the owners, which is why some of these pictures are not as crisp as I would have liked.

“Why are you taking pictures?” they might demand.

“Well, you see, I’m, uh . . . like, um, a blogger?”

I wonder if they would have understood.

All done! You can see the pile of neatly folded towels on top, proof that our task is complete–for now.

And my husband’s expression–“Um, Jenna, so, why are you taking pictures of me?”

“Well, baby, like, um, . . . I’m a blogger?”

He still seems surprised when I whip out my camera.

A couple more years of ruthless blogging and he’ll be totally used to it. I just have to keep breaking him in.

“But it’s time to eat,” he’ll say–“the food is hot!” “But I have to take a picture of the food first, see?” I try to explain. And that’s how it goes.

Dear future Jenna (now in possession of her own washer and dryer),

One day, Lord willing, you will have a small group of laundry-producing little tykes living with you, otherwise known as children. Especially if you decide to do reusable diapers, you are bound to have lots of laundry. You may be tempted to complain occasionally. Please let this post be a humble reminder that at least you don’t have to cart the laundry outside and inside and outside and inside again. At least you can just walk it across the hall and put it straight into the cleaning machines. At least you never have to listen to ‘the itsy bitsy spider’ song again. So wipe that grimace off your face and start laundrifying with a smile!


your past self, for whom the transportation of laundry hither and thither is not my most favorite thing to do

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27 Responses to The beast of laundry

  1. Hannah says:

    I love it! As usual, hilarious!

  2. Sarah says:

    awww, this post does make me happy that i have a washer & dryer at home. i love doing laundry and do it all the time so i’d have a hard time having to go to a laundrymat. i was fortunate enough in college to always live in a building with laundry. my freshman year it was in the basement but my sophomore year it was right next door, and then in my sorority house it was in the basement too. so except for study abroad and summer project, laundry has been golden for me, but i always felt bad when my friends complained about the perils of the laundrymat! one day, you too, will have your own :)

  3. skippymom says:

    What, exactly, does a demonic lion have to do with an itsy bitsy spider I would like to know. Just the picture of the ride scared me.

    I feel your pain but I am sure one day you will enjoy the luxury of an in home laundry set up. Although I always enjoyed the expeditiousness of completing 5 loads of laundry at the same time instead of one after another.

    And the dryers, all going at once, are hypnotic. hee

  4. Vicki DeArmeyv says:

    Jenna, I truly can appreciate this blog, as I lived the life w/out my own washer for the first 5 yrs. of our marriage. The worst was ringing out dirty diapers and dragging them to the laundromat with one of my friends for our weekely “outing” at the laundromat. But, it was fun being with a friend and talking husband/baby talk while laundry/drying was being done. While living in Europe I had my own washer, but had at least two lemons that broke down on me way too often. Never had a dryer though even with 5 kids, but the drying racks became my works of art in knowing how to get the most clothes and cloth diapers on one rack and actually having them get dry before souring on me.
    So, as I read your blog and looked at your pictures a few moist tears welled up in my eyes as I thought back on those melancholy times at the laundromat, but truly do not miss them at all. One day you will have your own washer/dryer unit and it will be bliss!!

  5. G Martin says:

    Yes, this brings back memories of my college days as well. I still remember the day I could afford to buy my first portable apartment sized washing machine. It was like a party.

  6. Khadra says:

    I did this with two small children ( I have 4 now, but at the time I had to do this I only had 2) it is ridiculous. (think barfing flu season)

    And, personally, I dont think I want the spider to survive either. Especially if it is A. a biting spider, B. a reproducing spider, or C. both of the above.

    Say no to spiders!!

    Hope you a washer and dryer one day soon!!

    • Jenna says:

      You know what, you’re absolutely right! I also hate spiders! Maybe it’s a good thing this machine is promoting the death of potentially poisonous creatures. Now I have to rethink my whole “murderous maniac” theory.

  7. Sarah Konet says:

    Oh! I feel your pain! We’re at the stage between laundromat and having our own right now. “Our” washer/dryer is in the basement of our building. We felt like we’d died and gone to heaven when we first moved in. No more lugging laundry outside through rain, snow, sleet, etc. I think we purposely found things to wash just to be able to do laundry when we first moved in to our current apartment. Burned through a lot of quarters that way.

    • Jenna says:

      Oh man, I’ve been trying no to think too hard about the extra complications of doing laundry with snow and sleet involved . . . but I’m glad you’re enjoying your current laundry setup! I can definitely understand purposely finding things to wash once it’s more accessible. =) I plan on doing the same!

  8. Sherri says:

    I despise doing laundry. Used to do the off-site laundromat like you do… now – have it all in my house, but…. I live in a three story victorian with no laundry chute on the 3rd floor where the little ones have their bedrooms, so… I’m running stairs and lugging BIG baskets several times a week. Despise it. Feel for you braving the weather, though…. DO remember those days….

    • Jenna says:

      Laundry chutes are such fun! One of my aunts has one and I remember fantasizing as a little girl about jumping down one and landing in a pile of soft laundry. Thankfully I also realized this might be dangerous and never tried it. =)
      Even if you have to lug baskets up and down, at least your arms are getting buff. That’s what I try to tell myself whenver there’s an onerous and physically taxing house task–I can count it as ‘exercise’!

  9. helenog says:

    I will never complain about doing my washing again. You have made me grateful for my rickety old washing machine! Funny :)

  10. Katerina says:

    Such a funny post. I really enjoyed it.

  11. Karen says:

    Hilarious post. I can imagine wanting to rip my ears off having to listen to The Itsy Bitsy Spider over and over again…
    And I can completely relate to the taking a photo/eating hot food conundrum. In the end, the photo gets taken and I eat another cold dish.

  12. Karenpie says:

    SHUT. UP. Shutupshutupshutupshutup . . . . . .! Did you really win a trip to PW’s ranch? I just went back and looked at the winners and did not see a Jenna but that doesn’t mean anything b/c winners can drop out or whatever.

    So . . . you need a friend, right? A weekend at the ranch friend? PICK ME! PICK ME!

  13. I am sorry to have to break it to you, but if a houseful of laundry producing tykes is in your future, your laundromat experience will not be the last time you hear an incomplete version of “The itsy, bitsy spider”…. over, and over, and over again.

    And I will not complain about the fact that my washer and dryer is in my scary basement with the Boogy Man, cause at least I don’t have to go outside to wash my unders.

  14. Kat says:

    Lady, I’m hurting inside for you right now. But I can totally imagine the spanish soaps playing. What would a trip to the laundromat be, if not that?

    On the bright side, at least you have a good story to torture your tykes with for the rest of their lives when they complain about doing the laundry :)

  15. I have different laundry woes! Kids + workout-crazy husband = 8 loads a week. EIGHT!!! If I didn’t have my own W&D I’d be loosing my hair!

    • Jenna says:

      8 loads!?!?!? That’s insanity!!! Seriously. We do maybe 2 loads every 3-4 weeks . . . but someday that may change. I think the ‘kids’ thing really changes things. =)

  16. Kay says:

    Jenna, I didn’t have washer/dryer 3 years after my marriage and until my first child was born. But looks like you have a wonderful helper! :)

  17. Twinky Satterthwaite says:

    I’m afraid Erica and Dave beat you to the punch… well, after Heidi and Mike! They all have in-home laundries now. I only have to go upstairs in outr apartment bldg , and not blocks away through the elements. After a month of not doing any laundry, I have hauled it all here to MK and BJ’s to do while I am with them again this week: a savings of at least $25! Plus I am getting theirs done too… along with Schmutz-peed stuff (again!). I do enjoy the non-stressful regularity and “monotony” of the process… but then you girls are no longer wee ones running around needing simultaneous attention!!

  18. Camille says:

    This brings back fond memories! My husband and I met while we were both in grad school in Michigan. We spent many Sunday afternoons studying at the laundromat doing laundry together. I’m imagining the lugging is even worse during the winter! Bleh. I am very thankful for my laundry room now — especially with using cloth diapers! :-)

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