Plotting the Party

I am a one-hundred percent seat-of-the pantser when it comes to drafting stories. If a character starts talking out of turn about something that’s going to happen in chapter 9, when I’m still fighting my way through chapter 5, I’m all,

“Shut! Up!”

But when it comes to dealing with real-world characters, I plot every detail I can. Preferably in spreadsheets.

Next week, 20-some in-laws are coming to visit over an arc of 6 days. On day 1, the first will arrive. On day 2, the next dozen will arrive. On day 3, everyone will be here except one couple. On day 4…you get the idea?

And if you worry that I have my dates/numbers off, never fear: I have The Spreadsheet. It lists who’s coming, when they’re arriving, which rooms they are using, which foods I can and cannot serve and what activities are planned during the duration of their stay.

The Spreadsheet, this year, is hyperlinked to individual emails from each guest which all get filed in a master notebook in Evernote (I am dead-serious here). That way, if Uncle Biff and Aunt Trish show up a day early or a day late, I can sit up in my bedroom and growl at this laptop screen before taking my wine glass in hand and descending–with a smile–to make passive-aggressive commentary for the rest of the evening.

Not, you know, that I would do that.

But before the Spreadsheet and the Evernote notebook come into play, I must clean this house. The One Document Which Rules Them All is called, “Enchilada.” ‘Ware the Stevens child who is within eyesight when Momma cries out,

“It’s time for The Whole Enchilada!”

Run, my little love. Run back into the woods and hide. But don’t forget your bug spray. And don’t touch those lemon cookies. They are for the 3p snack recipe assigned to day 4!

By shrinking the font, setting the doc landscape and making it two columns, I managed to get Enchilada down to 3 single-spaced pages. Want a sample?

Well, you’re getting one anyway:

Prep day:
I. Verify your supplies:
A. Cleaners: Oven cleaner, windex, pledge, bleach, spray bleach, Lysol cleanser, tub/shower scrub, toilet bowl cleaner, leather cleaner, duster heads,mops, mop heads paper towels, laundry detergent, dish soap, garbage disposal cleaner, lime away, wall sponges, canned air, step stools.
B. Guest supplies: mattress toppers, luggage rack, reading lamps, iron/board, one-cup coffee makers, computer desk, towel racks, small hair dryer, extra soaps, lotions, shampoos, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, razor, tissues and toilet paper. Cotton balls and swabs in each bathroom. Baby wipes.
II. Take the boys to town:
A. Drop recycling, paper and donations
B. Replenish cleaning supplies
C. Rent carpet steamer
D. Cut the boys’ hairs.
III. Back home
A. Empty all trash cans and set out recycle bins, bleach and fill to soak.
B. Pre-clean appliances
C. Empty out the drawer beneath the stove.
D. Spray oven cleaner
E. Empty and clean dishwasher gaskets. Run dishwasher cleaner goo cycle.
F. Replace vacuum bag
G. Empty, rinse and set out red vacuum filter to dry.

…and we haven’t even started cleaning yet.

Are you lonely? Are you bored? Do you just want to roll up your sleeves and get dirty? Come on over.

But e-mail me first with your mopping-style preferences, and whether you prefer a bag or canister vacuum. I’ll hyperlink your email to the Enchilada doc in Evernote, and by the time I’m done, if we’re lucky, something might get cleaned around here.

**Oh! And fun fact: Autocorrect seriously wants to change “pantser” to “panther.” I wouldn’t mind being a seat-of-the-pants-panther, frankly.