When They Come to Do Laundry and Stay

When Michael moved home and brought Rosa with him, we made the best of a tough situation. It took a lot of patience and a year to get them situated in their own place. Recently 80% of college graduates have exploded into their parent’s spare bedrooms with dirty laundry and electronics in hand. While we were all doing our best to get along I picked up Boomerang: When Life Comes Back to Bite You by author Marcia Fine. It was like she was peering into our house and saw the multiple used glasses on the kitchen counter, smelled the empty noodle containers and tripped over Latina beauty magazines on the floor. Lots of them.

Elina Furman has written Boomerang Nation, a tome with advice for parents who are trying to create domestic harmony with another generation under one roof. Good luck with that. The only thing that would have made my situation worse is if my parents had moved in with me too. “Hon, did you take your prunes?” “No, my shoes are not ruined.”

Besides the fact that in Japan the returnees are referred to as “parasitic singles” and there are 25 million kids camped out in their old rooms here in the States, the sage advice is to charge them rent. If they can’t pay it then make them get a survival job. We couldn’t charge our kids rent. They didn’t have any money. And if Michael dropped out of school to work at McDonald’s, which, by the way, is excellent training for life–“Fries with that?”–, it would have cost us more money. At least with a degree he had a chance of getting a job and maybe going to graduate school.

Our own crowded stress nest survived especially after I read a book on the subject  published by Clutter Fairy. Smile a lot and breathe deeply.

Small Talk Means Stress

Maury hates small talk. If he can engage someone in a discussion about politics or an historical situation or the philosophical motivations of of a tribe, he’s ready with knowledge or an opinion. But if he’s stuck with someone who wants to talk about trivia or the weather such as: “See the rain yesterday? Had four drops and dirtied my car,” he goes berserk. I, on the other hand, have long conversations with my mother about the decided difference in her prescriptions if they come from Walgreens as opposed to CVS, or, better yet, Eckerds in Florida.

Maury tells me there’s a new study out by a University of Arizona psychologist that proves he’s happier. After listening to thousands of conversations to find the link between behavior and happiness, researchers found that the happiest people had twice as many conversations of substance. Really cranky, unhappy curmudgeons fanned the flames of  trivial small talk.

You will be pleased to know our very own National Institutes of Health funded this fascinating, can’t-live-without-information. So if I want to increase my stress in Scottsdale I should look for a neighbor and start talking about weather.

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