Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

I Need a Wife

with 24 comments

Total Black: $210.19
Total Red: $227,326.64

A friend of mine at the law firm used to tease that she needed a wife.  Someone to pick up the dry cleaning, to pay the bills, clean the house.  A good little wifey to go grocery shopping and iron the clothes.  Maybe bake a cake every now and then.  Definitely one who’d cook the meals.  Someone to take care of all the domestic needs.  A response I wrote to a commenter reminded me of my own need for one as well. 

My first office mate at the law firm was married.  He noticed (and commented) every time I got to work late or was delayed because of some errand or task like going to the post office to retrieve a package or picking up my dry cleaning.  Commuting from Brooklyn meant that any delay compounded my late arrival.  It never occurred to him though how he didn’t have to worry about such things because he had a wife at home who took care of it all—and his two kids.  He also never saw the competitive advantage he had over me.  Sometimes—when I think of how privileged straight, married men are, it just infuriates me.  And, of course, he wasn’t included in the group of attorneys who were ultimately laid-off.   No, we were all women, gay, and/or single.  Only one guy was married.  But I digress.

Single people—and thus in a sense all gay people since most can’t marry (and marriage isn’t something historically gay peoples have valued)—are significantly disadvantaged by the whole wife system.  If you live alone, you don’t get someone to do the cooking each night.  There’s no one to pitch in with the laundry.  You can’t ask someone to stop for  milk on the way home.  You’ve got to do everything yourself.  And it really sucks.  Who the hell encouraged this form of isolated living?

Last week I worked sixty-three hours at the attorney position and nine shifts at the theatre.  Each shift at the theatre is at least an hour.  Combined, that’s at least a minimum of seventy-two hours.  When could I possibly have gotten away to buy groceries, and thus avoid having to buy meals from delis or other lunch spots?  When could I have cleaned?  My apartment hasn’t seen a mop or a rag since probably January.  One cat is getting dread locks—I haven’t brushed her in weeks.  The fish are barely hanging on—and swimming in twenty percent less water.  Taken individually, each task doesn’t seem too insurmountable.  Sure, I could wash a window each night and then have clean windows.  Or I could clean the aquarium filter tonight when I get home.  Or dust a little each morning before work.  But taken in context, each is damn near impossible.  When you come home after fourteen hours sitting at a desk—and been awake for much longer—or ten hours at one job and another three at the other, well . . . the last thing you want to do is mop the floor or wash a pot.  So, yes . . . I need a wife!

See, a wife doesn’t have to be a woman.  So the feminists out there can stand down.  Yes, historically a wife has been a woman.  But who says it must be.  At root a wife is someone who handles all the domestic tasks that would mount and mount over time.  And who says it has to be someone you’re married to?  If there were a way to hire a wife, I might consider it.  But there doesn’t seem to be a one-stop wife shop out there.  I’d have to hire a maid, then a cook, and probably a personal assistant.  Someone to cook, clean, pack my lunches, answer mail, take care of debtors and their incessant calls, pick up any packages, take out the dry cleaning and pick it back up, and wash the clothes or take them out to the laundromat.

A portion of my debt is due to cycles like this.  Crazy, intense work situations that take over my life.  It happened back in September when I worked the art seller gig and also the intense contract attorney position.  I ended up spending a fair amount for meals because I didn’t have time to cook or shop.  Now, my only option would be to skip work one day and try to get everything taken care of.  It doesn’t look like work will slow up over the next few weeks.  So instead I’ll have to sacrifice a day of work—I guess call in sick—and then use the time cook as many meals for the week as possible, prep a few other food items like tuna salad or egg salad—something I can toss on bread and assemble quickly.  And all while a few pots boil,  start my cleaning.

Or not.  Some choice, huh?

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

March 16, 2010 at 00:27

24 Responses

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  1. This post was kind of ridiculous! Maybe you’re just tired.

    It seems like this is an underlying theme for your life, but if you can’t do something “right,” then you use that as an excuse to not do it at all (i.e. can’t budget to the penny because of fluctuating income, so no budget, can’t make home sparkle, so I won’t do any housework/attend to pets, can’t cook a nice variety of meals, so cook nothing and spend on take-out, etc.)

    C’mon now… get a big pot, fill it with water, and let it boil while you brush your teeth. Throw a couple boxes of pasta in there while you’re shaving. Dump in some sauce and some ground meat/meatballs and heat it up nice and good all together… there you go, food for a week.

    Do a search online for a “busy person” cookbook…I’m sure there are many solutions for easy, bulk cooking that will set you up for the week.

    Maybe it’s time to get rid of the aquarium…you can’t possibly be “attached” to your fish. The cat(s), okay, probably not as easy to do as they’re “real” pets. But what kind of life is it for kitty? Stuck alone in an apartment with dreadlocks and no attention all week…maybe your mom is looking for a kitty–I’d never suggest abandoning it at a shelter.

    You are looking at only one side of having a stay at home “wife.” It’s no longer like “Leave it to Beaver” in 2010…the economy doesn’t allow that for most people.

    Get a roommate or two and you can solve your problem. Surely there are some nice, clean, grad students in NY who are looking for a roommate…offer to pay a higher share of the rent since you won’t be doing any cleaning.

    Minimize your clutter…get rid of some shit in your apartment, and stop buying more, and it will be easier to clean (plus getting rid of stuff IS an act of cleaning). You’ve fallen victim to the uber-consumer mentality…



    March 16, 2010 at 08:30

  2. What you need is called a “household manager,” if you are looking to hire one. But as you claim that you want to eliminate your debts, hiring staff is not the way to go right now. Also realize that in your utopian “wifey” scenario, nurturing the relationship with said spouse isn’t factoring in to your equation — as someone who has a partnership marriage in which we have negotiated relatively equal divisions of house/family/obligations labor, nurturing the relationship that provides all that help with the work that must be done is a lot of work. Good, but a lot of work.


    March 16, 2010 at 13:55

  3. This is why you should live with your parents until you’re ready to get married. This is how pretty much everyone in the elite classes, as well as Asians generally do it. The only exception is if you get a really good job with good hours, in which case you move closer to your work place.

    I mean look at the high ranking politicians, all their children always live with them, even before they get their high level positions. But the American public has been conditioned to believe that is a mark of shame or it shows the children are lazy or something. The politicians will gladly preach that too, whilie simultaneously living the opposite.


    March 16, 2010 at 15:00

  4. So, explain to me how I could have accomplished your “pasta presto” this morning. I awoke at 7am when the alarm went off after about five hours of sleep. I then bumped it up to 8:30am because I was tired. “I’m just a contract attorney,” I told myself. Two minutes later came an email from the associate. I didn’t get it for another ninety minutes though. So when I awoke again at 8:30am and saw the emails, I hopped out of bed, and was out the door in roughly twenty minutes.

    That’s not enough time to boil water, cook pasta, and heat meat all the way through to avoid illness. (I shave in the shower.) Thoughts?

    A roommate is clearly a good option. But I first need to clean and re-arrange the apartment to allow for a second bedroom. Chick & egg again. But that also doesn’t mean he or she would help with the chores. Factoring it into the amount of rent is good, but if he or she still doesn’t help out—then what? If I got a roommate like myself it would be double the mess.

    Now the apartment isn’t cluttered; it just needs cleaning. Well, perhaps my abundance of books does clutter it a bit. But only death would pry those from my cold, hard grasp. 😉 Otherwise, it’s just random items: mail, clean laundry haven’t had time to put away, shoes waiting for a new shoe rack—the cheap, plastic, over-the-door version on my sister bought me for Christmas ripped under the weight of men’s shoes.

    Maybe it’s all a product of living in Manhattan where we don’t have to factor in time to drive to work so we can shrink the outer edges of our morning and evening time at home to the bare minimum. Not sure.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 16, 2010 at 17:23

  5. Having a wife or husband is all the great all the time. Sure they can cook, bring home some dough, but you also have to listen to a lot of yackity yak, pms, and a whole lot of other bullshit. Trust me having a spouse and kids dumbs one down even more.


    March 16, 2010 at 19:39

  6. Good points. And it got me thinking even more about this question today. Why do dorms end with college? Years ago, many single people—typically men—lived in boarding houses where the meals and cleaning were taken care of. That’s sort of like a dorm, right? I’m wondering why no one has thought to combine the two. Set up an apartment building where in the basement or on the ground floor breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served each day. Include the price of the meals in with rent. Bring back the boarding house, basically. I think some apartment buildings include maid service as if like a hotel. Why could I stop by the basement on my way out in the morning and pick up some yogurt and fruit. And when I get back in the evening, have a meal waiting for me?

    Hmm . . . maybe I’ve hit on something.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 16, 2010 at 20:26

  7. You don’t need a wife – you need debt management. The attached link is for a non-profit in NYC that can help you with managing some of your debt. At least think about it.


    March 16, 2010 at 20:27

  8. Looks like you are looking for another mother. Someone to buy groceries, clean up after you and maybe get you up in work for time. What potential mate wouldn’t love playing mom for someone. In return they will never get to see you due to the long work hours and you’ll never be able to do anything because you have bills to pay.

    Minnesota Man

    March 16, 2010 at 22:12

  9. Haven’t any of you read A Modest Proposal?

    Eh…true irony and sarcasm is lost these days. Instead we say “That restaurant was so amazing” yet mean the opposite. How boring.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 16, 2010 at 22:16

  10. Beg or borrow a crock pot from someone, put the ingredients in before you go to bed, and you’ll have something nice to bring for lunch (and leftovers to freeze).

    Scheduling a few hours a week to clean the apartment, run errands, buy and prep food might end up saving more that you’d be missing in income. It would be less overwhelming to have little bit of time dedicated for thse types of tasks weekly instead of needing a full day when its gone too long.

    I enjoy your blog, and its obvious you are working very hard; I hope things start turning around in your favor soon.


    March 16, 2010 at 22:26

  11. What’s sarcasm? … sounds interesting.

    Minnesota Man

    March 16, 2010 at 23:36

  12. Well, again, you kind of did what I mentioned in the comment above:

    You picked one example where doing some “bulk meal prep” would not work and so discard the entire idea. Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t work that day, so then do it on a Sunday…or, as mentioned below, get a crock-pot/slow cooker. They’re a GREAT way to do it. I got one a few months ago where you can set a timer, it will cook it for X hours then keep it warm for you, etc. It was at WalMart…probably only about $50 for the super-deluxe model I got.

    You are seizing on the remote, unlikely ideas (finding/starting a boarding house) and neglecting to attempt the more reasonable options.

    I really do like your blog, and I would like to see you make some progress, but I also get frustrated at someone that continues to do the same things/make the same decisions and then wonders why things aren’t getting much better.

    On a positive note, at least your debt isn’t growing. You’re holding the line (while busting your ass), just not making forward progress. The problem is, your body WILL wear out at this pace (there are signs of it already with your illness, your taking time off from the theater gig, etc.), and then if you haven’t made some changes you WILL begin to pile up some additional debt.

    Call your mom now and tell her NOT to loan you any more money, no matter how much you beg or plead next month!



    March 17, 2010 at 09:32

  13. At the very least, pick up a bag of apples, a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly and/or lunch meat and veggies once a week and make yourself healthier lunches at work. This is not rocket science.


    March 17, 2010 at 14:01

  14. I agree. Peanut butter and jelly (or bananas!) on whole wheat bread is a staple for lunch bags in many households. Add some low-fat or fat-free yogurt and it becomes a filling, nutritious lunch. If you are too busy to make a sandwich and add a carton of yogurt to a bag, then something’s wrong with your basic time management skills. No one here is suggesting that you make gourmet lunches – just some common sense, nutritious “fast food” that can be made in less than 5 minutes It’s completely do-able.


    March 17, 2010 at 16:21

  15. Forget peanut butter and jelly. Too much sugar. Grab a loaf of whole wheat bread, some cheese and some of those deli meats you guys eat – slap it together and chomp away at lunch. A little gourmet mustard ($3) will liven it up. Once I realized I was going to have to make a choice between eating out or my botx injections I quickly cut back on eating out. And eating healthy and cheap has been fairly easy.


    March 17, 2010 at 19:25

  16. Oh and not to mention the wonders it will do for your skin and innards. I practically look like a model from eating well. [none of those heavy oils from delis and resturants]


    March 17, 2010 at 19:26

  17. Ah . . . is that what it is? I’ve wondered why I feel so sluggish after eating seemingly-fresh food from a deli or soup shop.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 17, 2010 at 20:16

  18. Of course, you’re all correct. It’s not complicated to eat well. My point though was just that it’s been insane over the past few weeks. 14-hour days. Emails from the associates late at night and again early in the morning. As if I were an associate myself. It’s just that I I ran out of groceries and there was little time to pick any up. But tomorrow’s payday, so I’ll be fixing that finally.

    Interesting that no one commented on cleaning. Hmm . . .

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 17, 2010 at 20:19

  19. I’d be fine with Rosie the Robot too.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    March 17, 2010 at 20:23

  20. Ladybug – too much sugar? How about too much sodium in processed deli meats? At least we agree on the whole wheat bread.


    March 17, 2010 at 20:46

  21. From eating well or from the Botox and whatever else you’re scrimping on lunch to pay for!?



    March 17, 2010 at 22:49

  22. Aah Donnelly you are right on point. True, loaded with salt but at least he will get some protein. If he eats protein at breakfast or lunch he will feel like eating/binging less later as it’s more satisfying than the sugar. I know it’s not the best choice. Sugar will crash and burn him, leave him hungry and craving more – esp. more junk. I know deli meats are not the best choice for gourmands like us but for busy bee LOL they might be better than sugar. He should really just grill some stuff at home on the weekend – but sounds like he’s running around a bit much.


    March 18, 2010 at 19:28

  23. Yes, it’s the salt and cheap cheap cheap diesal oils. Practically what your car runs on. I’ve also become smarter since I cut back on commercial oils in delis and resturants. My brain feels cleaner – like my body. No kidding.


    March 18, 2010 at 19:32

  24. I think I might be what you are looking for.Honest, Hardworking with a huge empty heart.I want a good husband.

    mee mee

    May 1, 2010 at 15:02

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