Thursday, June 16, 2011

On Cleaning

Two of the most amazing offshoots of difficulties in my life are that I tend to be more neat when I am most if being organized provides me some kind of control over something...and that I tend to clean like a whirling dervish when I'm angry.  (I'm not exactly sure what a "whirling dervish" is...but I picked it up somewhere and I assume it is something like the character Taz). 

You can generally tell something about my emotional state if you just drop by my house at any given time.  If you see a half finished project on the dining room table, a few dishes in the sink, a pile of items to go to Goodwill and some laundry in the dryer waiting to be folded...all is well.

Then again...if I'm completing projects at the speed of Mach 1, the spiders pack up and move back outside, the sink is empty, and the bathrooms are spotless...that's a dead giveaway that something is rotten in Denmark.  On the bright side...I can guarantee you that nothing is rotten in my refrigerator, pantry or trash there's that.

I suppose that all of us want to control our environment when we feel a little helpless.  I know I do.  It just makes me feel better to get some small whiff of satisfaction from actually doing something that I would normally consider drudgery. 

Some people have a natural bent for cleanliness, order and organization...and they thrive in that environment.  Someone I have worked with at some point in time (I'm not telling...) is so particular about everything being in its place that we would receive memos about just about anything that wasn't perfect in the common areas.  Memos about things like putting paper towels in the trash can instead of the floor (the can got full quickly and nobody wanted to mash it down...after the second memo...and a not-so-favorable response...we got a bigger trashcan), cleaning up the kitchen (we all have different standards of what constitues "clean" in case you were wondering), or leaving boxes of papers that needed to to go storage in the way (actually not in the way...but in the line of vision).  Even on my best day of being a cleaning diva...I am NEVER this retentive.

Others of us have a more casual attitude about it.  We want everything to be clean...but we don't freak out if someone leaves a glass on the counter rather than in the sink or the dishwasher where it belongs.  This is normally where I fall...but here lately...I've been yelling about these little infractions.

Of course, on the other end of the spectrum are those beings who don't give a rat's behind if they live in squalor...unless, of course, they actually SEE a rat.  Then they clean.  In a way.

Although most of the things in my house have a "home"...a great many of them do not.  I tend to get on a tear from time to time and get a lot of things organized.  When I do, that normally results in me moving some of what has to go to another area so that I can fully enjoy my new cleaned out space.  You know that whole matter can be moved but not destroyed principle?  It totally applies with cleaning out closets and the like.  The only way to get rid of it is to bag it up for Goodwill, throw it away or eBay it.  Denial that it is still with us...albeit in another room...does not count.  Trust me on this.

I've been doing a lot of eBaying lately...relatively speaking that is.  I have been selling Brian's clothes since he only wore the ones I bought last year for about fifteen minutes before he outgrew them.  I also found a couple of pairs of shoes that Jill thought were a good idea...but weren't...and a couple of other random items.  Yes, it is a lot of trouble for what I actually end up with...but it does add up over time.  At least that's what I keep telling myself.

I've also loaded up all of his old school uniforms to give to a friend, donated books to the school library, had a load of stuff taken to Goodwill (by a friend of Jill's), and took a stack of magazines to the Mortgage Department at work.  I won't even count the bags of junk that have left this house.  All of these are positive developments.  The staying up late to finish something, the insistence that something stay clean, and the stressing to find something to "move forward" can be a bit unnerving.  I don't know what I'm striving for...some kind of Martha Stewart nirvana, I suppose.

Housecleaning has never been one of my favorite activities.  I never really mastered it and honestly do not recall anyone ever doing any housework in my presence when I was growing up.  Oh, I'm sure that they did...but I was probably outside playing war or roller bat and honestly didn't notice.  When I turned fourteen and was handed a set of sheets to put on a bed...I was completely baffled.  I remember learning how to make hospital corners so that the sheet wouldn't come up from the bottom.  I made my bed most mornings (although it normally looked like someone was still asleep under the covers)...but I had never grasped that whole "changing of the sheets" routine. 

I learned to cook by trial and error (emphasis on error) as a new bride and I'm quite sure that I wasn't introduced to the concept of a toilet brush until I was married, either.  Thankfully, Big Dave is neater than I am and had been exposed to the wonders of sweeping, mopping and dusting....things I knew not of.  But even he has a dark side.  He won't throw anything away unless I stand there with a bag in my hands.

And then there's the whining.  I usually tell him to shut up.

Although I've never really been a great housekeeper, I did learn that I could clean a house far better when I was angry about something.  I suppose it is a kind of release to whip something into submission...even if it is the ring in the garden tub or the gradu that collects around the outside of the toilet bowl.  

I was first introduced to the concept of cleaning while angry on my 23rd birthday.  Big Dave was playing softball and whatever team he was playing with lost the first game early in the day.  He apparently found a pay phone and gave me this information.  He figured he'd be home no later than dinnertime.  However, as luck would have it...they didn't lose the second game until about 9:00 that night.  And then they had to drive back from whatever ingrown-hair-on-the-rump-of-humanity-the-size-of-a-freckle locale where they were playing.  They didn't win the tournament, either.  Frankly, I was glad.

By 10:00 that night, I had locked called everyone I knew who might know where he was and locked myself in the bedroom.  The clean bedroom in the clean apartment.  He slipped a card under the door when he got home.  One of those generic birthday cards that has two champagne glasses clinking on the front with the word "Cheers..." on it and "Happy Birthday to my wife..." on the inside.  Classy.  I'm fairly certain that he slept on the floor that night.

Good times.

I'm happy that my house is more organized and that I'm not mortified at all that is undone.  I have, unfortunately, become the "Mess Nazi" and I may or may not have threatened to deport some of the residents of this house.  A certain shih tzu (who shall  remain nameless) will be spending her nights outdoors if I find one more "gift" in my living room.  I've also awakened one of the male members of this household up at 7:15 a.m. to put a pair of boxers that were left on the floor in his laundry basket.  I may or may not have been yelling at the time. 

Okay, I was.

Hopefully, life will not be as stressful as it has been over the coming weeks.  It may be though...and if it is...that's fine.  I'll deal.  At least I'll be comforted by the knowledge that my house will be clean.  My sister and her children will be here in two weeks.  Maybe someone will tick me off between now and then and I can get it looking shipshape. 

And while I hope not...I do love a clean house...

1 comment:

  1. I can't identify totally because I actually have been cleaning house since in utero. My mother was the clean nazi and other siblings could refuse, but not I. I have however, learned over the years, that when things are out of control elsewhere in my life, then there is a room to clean even if it means re-clean!