The Autumn of Barb


It seems like everyone I talk to asks (with a degree of expectation I always find a little daunting), “So What Are You Doing Now?”

When my colleague Lisa Philpott branded her time off in August, “The Summer of Lisa,” I knew immediately that this would be “The Autumn of Barb.”  Lisa helpfully pointed out “The Autumn of Barb,” is much better than “The Fall of Barb,” which gives the wrong impression entirely.

So what have I been doing?

1) Cleaning closets.  My closets are very clean.  In fact, I invite you to come over to my house and open any one of your choosing.  Those of you who know us well will recognize this as quite a turnabout from the days when we had young children and two jobs and whole rooms that were not suitable for visitor viewing.

As I have talked to former colleagues, closet cleaning has emerged as quite a theme.  Our attics, basements and garages are spotless, our spices are alphabetized, our gardens are battened down for the winter and our cars are detailed.  I have to say, we are probably the cleanest group of people around.

(In a related note, I had Bill’s car detailed and now it has the most peculiar, well actually, the most awful smell.  I can only conclude that the wall-to-wall wrappers, receipts and empty Dunkin Donuts cups were somehow holding down the smell and now that they are gone it has been released.  Needless to say, this wasn’t the objective of the whole detailing project and I guess the moral of the story is that some things are left well enough alone.)

But nonetheless, I have been

1) Cleaning closets.

2) I have also been cruising the internet.  Well, not so much cruising, as checking.  It seems that about the time I left work, an edict came down dictating that weather cannot change, the stock market cannot go up or down and no major event can occur (either news or celebrity-related) unless I have personally reviewed it.  This keeps me very, very busy indeed.

So I have been

1) Cleaning closets

2) Checking the internet.

3) I have also been grocery shopping.  This is frankly an amazing turn of events, since I have always said one of the major achievements of my adult life was convincing Bill that I should not be allowed to grocery shop.

(For those of you who might want to achieve this, it is really pretty simple.  On a joint shopping trip—or as many as it takes—enter a catatonic state immediately after entering the store and start dumping things in the cart without looking at ingredients or universal price codes and just wait until your exasperated spouse orders you out.  It is important at this moment not to let your ego get in the way—after all, what kind of a moron doesn’t know how to grocery shop? Humbly accept your fate and exit quickly, in the best of circumstances, never to return.)

So given my pride about convincing Bill for years that I could not shop, it has been quite a turn to find myself back in a grocery store.  But given that he has been working full tilt and I have been, well, not, there is really no way around it.  I have been confining myself to Whole Foods because they tend to have a small footprint and the label-reading is likely to yield something that has actual food in it relatively quickly.  I had to go into a Super Duper Quadruper Stop & Shop for garbage bags the other day.  It was the size of a nuclear power plant and had everything in it but a car dealership and I think I actually did become catatonic.

So, busy, busy, busy

1) Cleaning closets

2) Checking the internet


3) Grocery shopping.

4) The final thing I have been doing is keeping my mother-in-law’s plants alive.  This is another major accomplishment for me.  When I had children at home and employees to nurture, plants seemed superfluous and frankly just plain needy.

But since that all seems to be behind me for the moment, I have been voluntarily taking care of my mother-in-law’s plants in her apartment downstairs and I am happy to report that every one of them is still alive with only a month to go until she returns. Of course, I did take one of them up to stay with her in Maine, but that one had distinctly diva-like tendencies I couldn’t abide.

I haven’t moved any of the plants upstairs, where it would certainly be easier to care for them, because I don’t want them staring at me reproachfully when I am doing important things– like checking the internet.  All and all, though, I am pretty proud of this plant achievement.

So, to review, I have been

1) Cleaning closets

2) Checking the internet

3) Grocery shopping


4) Keeping plants alive.

The main question I have is—how did I ever find time for a job?

It hasn’t all been work, work, work.  I had ten days in Boothbay and a three-day writing retreat on Star Island in the Isles of Shoals, and a weekend in NYC to check out Kate’s new apartment and Rob’s new apartment and see old friends.  And, I have some really cool stuff coming up.

All and all, “The Autumn of Barb,” has been quite lovely and something I would recommend to anyone who can find the right time in life for it.

3 thoughts on “The Autumn of Barb

  1. Congratulations on the clean closets! Are we to expect a photograph of a clean closet as this year’s holiday card?

    Whatever the season, I know your intelligence and wit are fully engaged. As evidenced by your blog. Congrats on that, too.

  2. Marilyn, do make note that Barb didn’t come close to mentioning the state of the top of her desk!

    Congrats, Barb. If I can get to my “Autumn of Dave” I’ll remember to thank you for the aspirations. By the way, what do you say to your orchids when they complain about the rhododendrons taking up too much space and ivy is heading up the wall?


  3. I joined you in the autumnal organizing projects and now paperwork is filed, furniture was refinished, dinner was on the table every night at a reasonable hour, and oh yes, closets were cleaned. Ah, those were the days. Back in the working world for only a week, and the closet is already a mess and the refrigerator is empty. Maybe this needs to become an annual celebration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s