Housekeeping Post #1

I wanted to write a quick note about a housekeeping milestone, and then I realized that I never did post what I had planned to be a thorough background on the topic as it pertains to me. I don’t know what I wrote back on September 3, 2008 and failed to post, but I’m going to dump it in here now, in whatever state it might be in, and then I’ll jump ahead to why I was going to post right now…

[2008.09.03] I’ve been trying for weeks now to get myself to write about my problem with household chores. It’s a difficult topic to bring up, because it’s so much more complicated than just saying I’m bad at them or that I need to do them. Explained insufficiently, and I imagine people will try to comfort me by telling me how household stuff is tough for them, too. Advice is not what is needed.

The fact is, I don’t know how to do any of this stuff, and I’ve gone so long without knowing how to do it that it’s impossible for me to make a significant dent in anything now. Oh, how this language could apply to so many problems of mine, but I am referring specifically to household chores.

I grew up in an environment in which clutter and mess were inescapable. I will not delve into the reasons for this, but I could not stand it. I was embarrassed, but I had no ability to change the situation. I would grow up, get out, live my own life, and these circumstances would be part of my past.

It has not turned out that way. I never figured out how to break the cycle and live in a clean, organized environment. Move after move for the past 15 years, I’ve never completely finished unpacking, so I’ve never been at a place where I could maintain something that was in a clean state, from dorm rooms to apartments to this bungalow. I hate how things gets, but this alone is not enough to motivate me to be able to magically get my act together. I hate how I shy away from having people over, and I hate that I am embarrassed in the rare event that people are over. Wanting something is most definitely not enough to make something so, and I hope most people can appreciate this. (Of course, this, too, applies to just about any problem in life where something desired is lacking).

I won’t detail specifically how ill health has made housekeeping harder than it might be otherwise. It has. But let’s suppose I am able to summon some energy and conquer some task of significance, it will be with much exhaustion, little satisfaction, and scant acumen. And, as I alluded to the other day, I can put forth what I think was a significant effort, and no one will realize just how hard it was.

The best example of this I can think of us is how I hosted a potluck event for a couple dozen people about 18 months ago. I had moved into my house, then just renting, a couple of months earlier. The place looked horrible, and I worked harder than I ever had to clean up the place and make it presentable. I pretty much succeeded at the reaching the minimum level of presentability that I needed to. However, in the final countdown to the event, I got flack from someone because there were all of these things I had not quite gotten to or done as well as I would’ve liked. This person didn’t realize how draining it had been to do what I had. The event was probably a successful, objectively-speaking. However, in the aftermath, I still felt shitty. My place deteriorated after that, and it’s not gotten any better since.

Well, it’s gotten somewhat better since September. My living room and kitchen look a lot better. The living room is even hospitable, I dare say. However, someone visiting me for the first time would have no idea what a struggle it is just to have what most would consider an unsuitably-messy house. I have a little personal satisfaction knowing it’s a little better. The very few people who have been in my house and know what it used to look like can vouch for the strides I’ve taken. Anyone else, unless I took great pains to try to tell them otherwise, would simply assume I am lazy and/or content with my surroundings.

Anyway, I only wanted to post tonight to say that I moved my bed. WOW, Toastie. Well, you, see, I moved my bed just so such that I think my tiny bedroom can now contain my bedroom furniture and not be impossible to keep tidy. It is still quite far from tidy. It is quite the mess, in fact. But I see how it might soon be manageable, and if I get my bedroom to be manageable, it might help me sleep, and if I start sleeping better, I might have more energy, and if I have more energy, I might feel more inclined to do lots of things, like housekeeping.


5 thoughts on “Housekeeping Post #1

  1. Okay, unsolicited advice: Have you checked out flylady (dot) net? If you can get past the brightness of the site design and the chipper tone of it all, there’s actually some great info there. She actually describes what you’re talking about as Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome (chaos) and describes how to break your living space into zones. If you really need a drill sergeant / motivator, you can sign up for email reminders for the zone of the week, etc. The most important thought I’ve found there is: “your house didn’t get this way overnight, and it’s not going to get better overnight.” You’re going about it the right way, to chip at it a bit at a time. I know I can’t fully comprehend your situation, but I’m proud of your progress, nonetheless!

  2. In my fantasies I live in a house that could spontaneously appear on the pages of Architectural Digest.

    You’ve been to our house, right? We took the doors off the kitchen cabinets to paint them 8 years ago. They were finished, ummm, today.

    With that caveat in mind, here’s the Crone’s tips for Household Chaos Prevention:

    1. Segregate mess. If you have one surface in the house, or at least in each room, that is the repository for all junk mail, dirty socks, moldy coffee cups, etc., then the rest of the room/house looks miraculously neat.

    2. Keep the floors and sofas clear. Tables are meant to hold Stuff. Sofas and chairs are meant to sit upon; floors to walk upon. If you keep the clutter off the sitting-type furniture and the floor, again, the room looks neater than it really is.

    3. Make your bed. I don’t do this. But my cousin Joo-dee! swears that if your bed is made, the rest of the room looks neat. She’s right.

    4. Overbuy on cleaning supplies. Have a sponge, paper towels, general sprayer cleaner, scrubbing powder, and glass cleaner in every bathroom and the kitchen. And also a big container of wet-nap type thingies…they sell ’em at Costco 3 in a pack. Then you never have to leave the room to wipe up a spill, toothpaste spatter on the mirror, etc. It actually requires LESS energy, and gives you instant satisfaction.

    5. Get a handheld vacuum cleaner and a broom. I have the fancy-pants Miele HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner, but for the quick purging of cat hair from the premises, smaller is better. Again, less energy with instant satisfaction.

    Maybe moving your bed will make you feel better about where you live. Renovating the kitchen has made me feel less down on living in Durham. Tiny changes *can* make a difference.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, all.

    @ACW – I was referred to FlyLady along time ago. I should heed the suggestion again. The only hint I remember is to take garbage bag, walk around the house, and try to just throw out 27 things at a time. It’s an easy exercise for me, because half of those items are usually Fancy Feast cans that Herman my dog has knocked out of the trash.

    @Mrs. D. – 1. I’m somehwat decent at that, having gotten the living room cleaned up by mostly redistributing.

    2. Very true. Even if the living room is a mess, I feel much better when the couches are clear, expect for the silly mutt taking up most of the couch. I’ve got dumping room with a dining room table. I should start there by clearing off the table so at least I can sit there and maybe even eat a meal.

    3. Wishful thinking, but I will keep this in

    4. I do love the wet-nap thingies. I do like the idea of not worrying if I have enough in stock and overbuying a bit.

    5. Someone did just gift me a wet/dry plug-in sweeper that I really like. I need a good handheld vac though.

    Thanks for all the hints.

  4. Pingback: Toastiest » Live-blogging housework: 3/14 – 5/2

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