“You’re going to be a great success”

Oh, shit…

Now, I’ve done it.

Generally, it would be a positive development to begin going through long-sacred clutter and getting rid of some of it. The problem is that much of it resonates far too deeply with me for it to be trashed. Specifically, I’m referring to piles of papers from school–mostly college, some high school, and even English papers from junior high. I’ll get to those in due time. I’m going to document this little exercise, as digitizing some of it make be the way to compromise between hoarding this stuff forever and getting out of my life.

Oh, but tonight, as I inched closer to the end of these piles, I came upon the infamous high school yearbook.

And I did what no 35-year-old should do. I looked at the front and back covers, and the edge-to-edge signatures and niceties of my classmates. There are stunningly sweet words from the most unlikely people, who could’ve simply said, “Have a nice summer, and good luck!”

I haven’t gone through them all, but there’s one that both shatters and reassures my heart at the same time. She’s a now-married Facebook friend. (Whom do I know who’s my age and NOT married?) She’s among the great many Facebook friends I have whom I don’t allow to see my links to my blog. When I feel I’ll either scare someway away, or spoil the generally-favorable opinion of someone who’s an acquaintance, or I can’t bearing to know what someone may think of the inevitable baring of my soul, they’re relegated to seeing just the basic info and the occasional totally harmless post. (I don’t revise these lists of my often, so take no offense if you are reading this blog but don’t see its link in Facebook.)

I came close to posting something devastating that I had written back in college, but I slept on it last night, and no longer felt the pull to publish it today. I think I feel the same about these yearbook comments.

This chore is opening up a hundred old wounds. Damaged relationships. Desired relationships that never came to be. Academic aspirations that faded out of my grasp. Deflating mediocrity displayed time and time again.

This is an exorbitant price to pay for cleaning off the dining room table.

Housecleaning anticlimax

Living room 2011.01.17.0143AMI have more anxiety over the housekeeping service I’ll be getting tomorrow than I do about the surgery I’m having in three days to remove a major organ.

The two procedures are analogous in a couple of ways. Both represent dramatic attempts to deal with what have been weighty burdens for many years. Both sound like they could offer me improvements in my overall state of being. But neither actually accomplishes what they may seem to offer at face-value. The nephrectomy still leaves me with one gigantic, diseased kidney and will make me even more dependent on dialysis. The cleaning service will still leave me numerous messes, and I will still lack the ability and energy to to manage the day-to-day tasks of keeping a living space livable.

Maybe the analogy is a little shaky, and I don’t mean to write about my surgery right now, so I’ll focus on the housekeeping problem.

The housekeeping service is only going to clean surfaces where they’re already exposed. Anywhere where there’s stuff on the floor is likely to be ignored. So I have to pile stuff up. I’ve thrown plenty out, but I don’t have time and energy to go through everything.

I do not need a professional organizer who tells me to put things into three piles, or at least I am wary of the professional organizer given my past experience. In my one brief experience with such a person, I was left with the three piles–I didn’t know what to do with the “keep” stuff; the “giveaway” stuff was just transferred to another location within the house; the “throw-out” stuff was tossed out the back-door by the organizer, and I had no means to clean up the new outdoor junk-pile for several weeks. This organizer, who actually worked for a cleaning service and was there to consult as a precursor to having cleaning arranged, came right after I had had one of my arm surgeries. I think she was put-off that I was not a typical suburban female client who just happened to shop and hoard too much. Single guys are just supposed to stew in their bachelor filth, I guess. She never contacted me again after the initial consultation, and it was a huge letdown.

So I am anticipating a letdown tomorrow. In order for them to clean the whole house, I’d have to have organized the whole house first. And if I were able to do that, I think I’d actually be able to muster the energy to vacuum and mop the floors…or maybe not. I’m not quite sure that I’d care. When the housecleaning consultant spoke to me a couple of weeks ago and described the services that would be rendered, I found myself not dreaming about how wonderful it would be to have clean baseboards. There are 126 other things that are priorities before the baseboards are clean and the bookcases are dusted. But I’m going to get help with those latter two things, not the 126 other things.

In other words…as I realize this difficult to understand without better descriptions or actual visuals…the service I’m getting, that I’ve been looking forward to getting for quite a long time…is not actually what I most need.

It’s not all as bad as I make it seem. The living room is quite livable right now; it’s all ready for them. The “study” room had all the junk picked up off the floor. There’s stuff piled high in the corners and my desk, but the room is totally “cleanable”.

“Bedroom #3” aka “cat’s feeding room” aka “junk room” is problematic.

The kitchen is problematic.

The back-room is problematic.

The bedroom is problematic.

And yet, I spent most of the weekend on this problem, trying to clean the house in preparation for the housecleaners. It’s a catch-22. I need the cleaning service because I can’t clean my house. But I need to clean the house before they come. But if I could truly clean my house, I wouldn’t spend the money to have them come.

And then there’s looming judgement…no matter what I do and what the cleaning service does, this house will be a failure in the eyes of anyway who has traditional standards of how a home should be maintained. No one needs to say a word; I know what people are thinking. And this is so debilitating…the idea that I will fail no matter what I do.

THIS is what worries me right now. Back to my introduction, it is not that a surgeon will be cutting a hole in my stomach and pulling a 30-cm kidney through it, and I will be in great discomfort for several days. No…I’m upset because I am a failure as a caretaker of my living space. I always have been, and I don’t see myself improving.

Oh, and if I somehow cease to worry about the condition of my house…my mind is immediately going to latch on to something else, as there is so much that demands deep and unrelenting worry.

Unnecessary remodeling

This was perfectly fine (when it was kept clean and orderly):

Living room (with Aremid) (2)
(March 2007)

Of course, it wasn’t kept clean and orderly. Three months after I moved in was the peak of cleanliness and organization for the bungalow. A lifetime propensity towards disorder and a little kidney failure will present some home maintenance challenges.

I eventually rearranged stuff, particularly when I got a Wii and a Wii Fit that I thought necessitated some more open floor space in front of the television. Unfortunately, after a few months of Wii Fit playing, I had an arm surgery or two and never got back in the habit. I eventually sold the Wii.

I decided I was tired of my bulky coffee table and had always wanted an ottoman, so I bought a nice leather storage bench from Costco.

Herman Zellouisa and living room 2010.03.07
(March 2010)

Then my Russian neighbor split town and insisted that I take/buy (it’s complicated) her black leather couch, which clashes with the brown leather ottoman.

Herman and Aremid 2010.04.10
(April 2010)

I sold the old couch and loveseat for a bargain price to someone on Craigslist.

Aremid - new chair - 1

A few months ago, I added an IKEA chair and footrest. I could have chosen one of many wood and cushion combinations, but I chose a chair and footrest with black wood frames and brown leather cushions, as an attempt to bridge the brown and black I had in my living room. It kinda worked.

But then I was back at IKEA last week, and I decided I was done with the ottoman experiment. I found a black coffee table. And a matching black bookcase. And a matching black sofa table. And I will incorporate all of those into the latest living room revision, ideally, this weekend.

The brown ottoman and the coffee table are now on Craigslist.

But, really, how everything looked 3 ½ years ago was perfectly fine.

Live-blogging housework

(Not really live-blogging, since I’m not publishing this until I feel like I’ve accomplished anything…or I’ve given up.)

2:44pm Just trying something different. Every weekend goes pretty much the same. High ambition for housework. Very little accomplished. If I document my activities, perhaps I’ll be motivated to get something done.

3:01pm Well, I’m watching tv, and Aremid is curled up next to me, and Herman and sleeping on the other side…when there’s so much is disarray, it’s very difficult to do work that’s going to result in just a speck of the disarray going away…even though I know that’s the only way to get started…

3:56pm Still nothing…

4:08pm Start with living room. The little demi-table has had the junk removed from it. Small steps…

Demi-table

4:21pm Cleaned up under the ottoman. Dog-hair. Bills and stuff I was supposed to attend to on the internet, before the stuff fell on the floor, and under the ottoman, to be forgotten forever, or, at least, until today. Will attend to a couple of these things now…

4:54pm Stuff cleared off of ottoman.

Herman, broken laptop, ottoman

5:10pm Small amount of stuff cleared off of loveseat. Pledge pet-hair removal roller applied; not sure it does much good.

Pledge pet-hair remover

5:38pm Picked some stuff off of the floor, including Home Depot purchases from about a month ago, home stuff I figured I could use, but, as usually, I basically wind up storing away. I did pull out one of those Mr. Clean “magic erasers”. I gave it a try on some stubborn icky stuff in the bathtub. Didn’t work. I tried.

Living room is passable, at least by my very low standards. Anyone used to true clean would find about 39 things still wrong with the room.

Herman Zellouisa and living room 2010.03.07

6:17pm Tried to do some small outdoor work, bagging up leaves that I had already raked into rough piles. Unfortunately, the neighbor kids wanted to come over. And they brought their new cap guns. And they harassed my dog. And I can’t watch my dog and these kids and bag leaves simultaneously. I feel like I ought to be a more patient with the kids, so I let them get away with their antics. I feel like the alternative is yelling at them so they’re afraid of “Mr. David” for the rest of their childhoods. So, minor outdoor work done, but now I’m really not feeling like doing anything else. And starting to sneeze because I’m allergic to the outdoors.

6:36pm Cleared out the minor pile-up in the kitchen sink. It had seen much worse. I never did blog about my wonderful kitchen sink, that I bought last year to replace the standard shallow renter’s sink that the previous owner had put in. I had hoped that having a deep sink (8 or 9 inches, compared to 6) would encourage me to cook more, since cleaning up would be easier with more room to maneuver (with my kitchen, overall, being quite a tight space). However, it’s mostly just given me a lot more room for stuff to pile up. (Oh, I had also been excited to get a sprayer. I don’t have a dishwasher, but a sprayer would solve everything). Anyway, so the sink is clear for now. I’m frustrated that I don’t even know how to get these certain smudges out. Do I need stuff specific for stainless steel? I figured 409 would work. It didn’t.

The kitchen sink

So it’s getting close to 7. I’m going to relax and watch the Oscars in a little more than a hour. I probably won’t do anymore housework tonight.

I barely did anything, really, but it’s probably more than I would have done if I weren’t recording it. So that’s the purpose of this entry. I know it’s not exactly riveting.

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.

Litter boxes and spray nozzles

I’ve been through around 20 litter boxes over 12 years. They’ve all sucked. That cats only like clumping litter, preferably Fresh Step everything else sucks.

At present, one or both of the cats hates that I’ve gone to an enclosed litter box. They’ve been relieving themselves outside of the box. I don’t suspect a health issue. I think they really hate enclosed boxes. Many times before, I’ve removed the top. But then no litter box is ever tall enough to prevent litter splatter. The cats dart out of the litter box to the point of rendering any of those “litter-trap” pads useless.

Bottom line—cat litter management has always been an abominable chore.

(I’ve got a draft post in development about household issues, in general, because I don’t know how to manage about 92 distinct tasks, but I felt like making a post just for this one).

The previous litter box did a fair job, but it’s probably is that it’s the largest litter-box that exists anywhere. It’s ridiculously tough to empty. And, again, it wasn’t enclosed and still allowed for splattering.


Addendum—how do you solve the problem of spray nozzles not working on cleaning solution containers? I try to clean something, and low and behold, the spray nozzle doesn’t work. Either nothing or a few drips of liquid come out. I’ve switched around spray nozzles. They all suck. There’s plenty of solution; these aren’t empty bottles.

There is zero hope for me when it comes to household chores when I can’t even get the friggin spray bottles to work.

Changing a light bulb…when it breaks off in the socket

Maybe I should’ve done a web search to solve this problem. There seem to be lots of solutions posted. (Alas, I don’t have a potato handy). Well, here’s what I did…

So when I unscrewed the light bulb in the ceiling fixture of my study (officially the front “bedroom”), what my hand held after was just the glass part of the bulb, not the metal-base/screw-part. (I’ll confess that I don’t even know what that part of the bulb is called. Yes, I do need a remedial living-on-my-own-course. But I digress…) Left in the socket was the screw-part and a wire or two dangling out. I thought shutting of the light switch was probably a good idea.

I fumbled around for a good half-hour with a wrench, bending the remaining metal every which way, but not unscrewing it at all. I did persist, though, eventually getting the right grip with the wrench such that I could turn the bulb-part, and I eventually removed it.

I am hoping that this will be the first and last time I ever have to do this, since this was with an old-school bulb, one of the last ones I’ve replaced with a flourescent.

Oh, and I’m back in write-about-whatever-without-regard-to-relevance mode…