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.

Stuff circa January 12, 2011

Dating. Noting to add here. The topic enters my mind every day. I thwarts any potential enthusiasm. I could not even string together three words to a woman I might be interested in merely beginning a conversation with. I wonder if 35 was a strong magnet that accelerator my descent into myself to the point where I will soon fit the conventional wisdom’s definition of the loner. I have a very honest, blunt, occasionally humorus OKCupid.com profile that should appeal to someone. Fair enough, it does, on occasion. Women pushing forty with kids and women who selectively read my profile will tend to thing I could be someone fascinating for them.

Housekeeping. I have not neat back from them this week. I left a voicemail today and a website message tonight. I stressed that my parents were visiting next week, and that I was having surgery, and that it would be so fantastic if I had strikingly clean home to present for the first time, almost ever. Perhaps they’re not too excited about taking on the screwed-up-single-guy client who had the nerve to ask if his dishes could be done even though that’s not on the official price list. Do they realize what heroes they might be too me if they can add some sparkle to my cat-urine-themed pad? If I don’t here back from them, I don’t think I’ll have it in me to start a new search for immediate housekeeping help. Mom, Dad, and Stepmother will see a grotesque abode, and my recuperation will be complicated by constant anxiety. Should I get the cleaning service after all, the remaining clutter will still prompt judgement that I want no expression of.

Dialysis. Dialysis is so hard. It never gets easier. Working full-time on a new job where you are expected to tackle important tasks and keep you dialysis schedule…this is hard. This is draining. This is a purgatory. My life won’t get anywhere as long as I’m going to dialysis. This is just truth. There’s no way around this reality. It doesn’t help matters when I leak blood after being taped up. It doesn’t help matters when the techs around at 7:00 spend their time bashing the other techs and the management It leaves me feeling that, any day now, I’m going to be leaving in a body bag.

WorkI’ve got a 1-on-1 with my manager tomorrow, the first since shortly after I began this position. I’m nervous. I have no idea what he thinks of the job I am doing or what he expects me to be doing. I am too afraid of saying the wrong thing to press these issues. I don’t want this cloud of awkwardness hanging over my job. But I don’t want to rock the boat. I need the job.

Metablogging I’ve made a small effort to write more about my health over the last couple of weeks. I have done this in part because I will be a session panelist at a conference this Saturday. I shall say more tomorrow or Friday…or after the fact. I was invited to this conference because of this blog, and so I could discuss what it’s like to blog about my health condition. I doubt I will spend much time preparing, and I don’t even know how I would go about preparing. I plan just to be relaxed and blunt with my answers when the time comes. It will either be an hour of enlightenment or pained awkwardness, but then it will be done.

Stuff circa January 8, 2011

Dating I went on a date a few days ago, and it was heartbreaking. It was a stark reminder of why I rarely ever go on a date. I battled for ninety minutes to be funny, engaging, and charming. She often seemed genuinely interested in me. I rattled off feelings about being on dialysis and transplant lists that I hadn’t shared with anyone. I, briefly, had the sense that it was ok that I hadn’t been to other countries, held an advanced degree, read five books a month, or looked like every healthy bike-riding guy who comes into Whole Foods. There were five or ten minutes when I had self-confidence. But later that night, I received the “I don’t think we’re a match” email. Rather than pick myself up, dust myself off, do whatever one is supposed to go to keep functioning, I took the rejection as a gravely-wounding piercing. I did not react as such by choice. This humiliating numbness is a physiological reaction I’ve been getting since I was in grade school. Allow myself a moment of being open to something amazing, and I will inevitably experience crushing agony. This never changes. At 35 and stuck on dialysis, the cumulative weight of all of these rejections is indescribable. I do not know anyone who gets how badly this feels.

Housekeeping I had been so excited that I was finally, after years of thinking about it, going to get a housekeeping service to come and clean up my place. I had been reluctant, in part, for so many years, because I feared that such a service would be unable to do a whole lot without me first doing a hefty bit of pre-cleaning. How can they clean the floors if I don’t remove the clutter? How can they clean the kitchen if I don’t do the dishes? But the same fatigue and paralysis that prevent me from going through a stack of junk prevents me from vacuuming the floor. If I can do the first part, why do I need to hire someone for the second? But I reasoned to myself that there must be services to clean the homes of those who pass away or those who simply live in extreme filth and can’t help themselves at all. My place isn’t nearly that bad. These services must know how to help me. But my original fears were realized. When a rep came by to discuss my options, I was told that, no, the cleaners would not throw anything away. They would not do my dishes. They would not pick up piles of stuff. They’d do cleaning and dusting of areas that were already clear, thus validating my theory that only people who have reasonably clean homes actually hire cleaning services in the first place. I still plan to use the service, but my enthusiasm has most deflated. The phrase “putting lipstick on a pig” comes to mind. I’m going to pay them a couple hundred bucks to make my baseboards shiny. The place will still look like a dump.

Work Let’s assume no one from work is reading this. I am overwhelmed by my new job everyday. No one has told me I am failing to meet expectations. No one has told me I am doing anything wrong. But I just assume that I am. My brain is not up for following phone conversations with a dozen people scattered across the world. My brain wants to engage is problem-solving off in its own space and does not want to be interrupted by endless meetings and endless exercises in documenting what I haven’t had the chance to even do yet. And then there’s the small matter of, everyday, wondering how I will put in a solid effort alongside my thrice-weekly dialysis sessions. My body and mind are exhausted, and there seems to way for them to rebound as long as I rely on a machine to filter out toxins from my body. Sounds like a bad time to have changed jobs! Except my last job was soul-sucking; I needed to move on. I don’t regret taking the new job. I regret that I don’t have 2-3 years of savings so I can just do what most dialysis patients do, which is to go on disability.

Dialysis I had figured out what made me so horribly uncomfortable at dialysis, but I never shared the resolution. First, I didn’t want to dwell on how the medical establishment had failed me. Second, dialysis did not turn into a picnic, and it just didn’t seem useful to comment on how dialysis had become just a little less intolerable. At it’s best, I’ll have competent techs and a quiet, pain-free treatment. But, at it’s best, it’s four hours out of the heart of my day that will cause my body to feel uneven for another couple of hours and fail to give me any noticeable boost in energy or affect.

Metablogging I post the croutons as a reminder to myself of a part of myself that I hope still exists, even if it’s easy to cast it off as foolish and naive–the young, unapologetic romantic. Or something like that. I still mourn Toastie Radio, my attempt in the early part of the 2000s to share the music I liked with the world, which at some points, like then there’d be 40-50 concurrent global listeners, came close to being gratifying. In the end, it was a failure, a colossal waste of time and money…and the currency of optimism, of which I’ve always been short-changed.

I posted an unflattering shot of my gut because I wanted to document the time prior to my nephrectomy surgery. I have profile shots that make that distended abdomen far more grotesque. Then again, those shots may be from 15-20 pounds ago. It’s unfortunate that I can be 15-20 pounds down from my heaviest weight and not feel the slightest bit of accomplishment. I don’t feel anything, because my body is weak and completely lacks agility. I’m a sloth. And I’m clearly not having any success on the dating circuit.

I post about politics as a reminder that I’m thinking about these things. I regret that I can’t write intelligently about these issues. It’s much simpler to just throw up a link to someone who had written something intelligent.

When I write a long post like this were I’m stressing about the consequences of my writing, I must put to the back of my mind the thought of who may be reading this. Family members read this. People solely interested in kidney disease and dialysis read this. Former coworkers read this. (I hope no current coworkers read this). If I worry about how I’m coming across, then I’m writing a different blog. Perhaps one day I’ll have a blog dedicated to a particular topic, and I’ll write it in a professional matter, and it won’t be self-absorbed.

For now, above all else, this blog is a coping mechanism for everything. I am not always explicit about how a given post is meant to be therapeutic. Ideally, I’d be writing more. I’d be writing just like this. Granted, it’s 3:52AM, and I don’t strive to be up at this hour on a regular basis. But the benefit of 3:52AM is the lack of inhibition. I’m just writing what comes to mind, and I’m going to hit the Publish button, and this will be up there in the morning. I can go back to sleep with a far-clearer head.

Live-blogging housework: 3/14 – 5/2

Again, just “live” for myself, hoping that by having the goal of having something to blog about later, I’ll get something done.

9:41AM Sunday, 3/14 – I actually got very little to no sleep last night, mostly due to not taking a sleep aid and not trying terribly hard to get any sleep. But I didn’t do anything that could pass for housework. I’ll head out in three hours to watch Duke play for the ACC championship. So I will try to get something done in 3 hours. I’ll start with the new dog bed I got for Herman. As with the last dog bed, Aremid is trying it out first. I’ll be moving it to the bedroom, but I’ve got to clean out the small section of the bedroom where the new dog bed will go. I’ve done a little cleaning up of the bedroom in recent weeks, but it is still a disaster zone. (I shall not be posting any “before” pictures.)

10:05AM – Yay, that’s done. But Herman doesn’t want anything to do with it for now. That will change tonight, I’m hoping.

10:22AM – Doing a load of laundry consisting of stuff that previously resided near that spot. Yeah, gross, I know. It was mostly socks, which are the apparel that most-frequently goes missing on me. A great many lost socks were found this morning. It was very emotional.

11:11AM – Cleared off the layer of various stuff from the top of the dresser. Shockingly, this stuff including…lots of socks, likely from a long-ago attempt to match up my socks, which was largely unsuccessful, because the attempt didn’t coincide with checking the floor. I have realized that most of the stuff that was there that belonged in the bedroom could easily be hidden away in the nightstand drawers, which have been mostly empty for the last three years.

Inspired by how well my glass cleaner worked on the dresser mirror, I tackled a not-prioritized-anytime-soon task. I did a quick, but dramatic, cleaning of my living-room window to the porch, which included an area of the vinyl siding around that window and the front door, and the front door itself. I’ll have to tackle the rest of the porch sometime soon, but I’m pleased to have tackled just a little. (I figure people walking by and assume I’m a renter with a really crappy landlord. No…that’s not my excuse…my excuse is all the stuff I’ve outlined in pretty blunt detail in here over the years).

3:13PM Sunday, 3/21 – I’ve done very little since last Sunday morning. And now it’s like I’ve taken two steps back, because I have to attend to basics–going through mail, cleaning up the living room again, doing lots and lots of laundry. Can’t worry about tackling much else.

3:42PM Load a laundry and reviewing a mortage-refinance option. (Unfortunately, a refinance probably does not make sense unless I expect to be here at least another five years.)

4:36PM Remembered to make pet-sitting appointment for a day-trip to Charlotte. Remembered to think of ways to help my pet-sitters advertiser their new business. I shall post about them soon to aid in that effort! (Lots of mail to go through, reminds of lots of to-dos.)

4:42PM Reviewing info from Carolinas Medical Center. That’s my day-trip for the end of the month, for an orientation class so I can get on their transplant list. Note to self: need to find out what I need to get a “Dental Clearance”

2:02PM Sunday, 3/28 – Two weeks pass very quickly. Not much of anything done in the past two weeks. Today, I’m pre-occupied by this couch saga, where the saga is pretty much the compilation of all the zaniness associated with my neighbor leaving town (surgery textbooks, anyone?) My friend will be by later to try to help get that couch out of my neighbor’s apartment and into my house. In the meantime, I will attempt one good hour of housework, which will probably just entail living room cleaning. After moving my couch last night, I discovered a whole mess of stuff, consisting mostly of old mail and dog hair.

2:42PM – Cleaned some of the living room floor. Vacuumed the carpeted hallway.

3:12PM – Listed neighbor’s textbooks on half.com.

4:43PM Sunday, 5/2 – Wow, and, just like that, a whole month is just gone. The sad fact is, with dialysis and struggling to stay well just to go to work, it’s extremely tough to mark out some time to make progress with household stuff. Doing the bare-minimum of laundry and litter-scooping and trash-taking-out and mail-reading is often as victorious as I can manage to be.

Housework was a significant challenge for me pre-dialysis. It’s more significant of a challenge now. That doesn’t mean I’ve given up or I accept that I can’t do better. I’m trying to explain how hard this is; I know it’s very difficult for most people to relate.

Anyway, I just tidied up about 2/5 of the kitchen, which, for anyone who knows how small my kitchen is, will hardly seem like anything at all. It was something.

5:20PM – Did half of the dishes. And it wasn’t even that many items. But without a dishwasher and little counter room to dry them, I struggle with this task. It is easier with the nice, deep sink I got a year ago. On the other hand, it’s also true that, in all the years I had a dishwasher, I struggled to get the dishes done.

And that brings me to a common theme…why do I challenge myself with situations that are clearly beyond my capabilities?

Why did I get a place without a dishwasher when I know I struggle to do the dishes?

Why did I get a place with a tiny kitchen when I know I struggle to cook in a big kitchen?

Why did I get a place with a yard when I know I can’t even manage the inside of a living area?

Why did I get a place with so many things wrong with it when I know I can’t even manage a newly-built, nice, mechanically-sound, structually-sound living space?

5:34PM – Posting. It’s not so much about housekeeping as it is about general patheity. Oh, well.

Probably worth revisiting Housekeeping Post #1. I got some good comments there.