Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How Cleaning Is Like Rescuing Starfish

A non-writing friend of mine remarked recently, "You writers amaze me. Where do the words come from? Is it like being a compulsive reader or cleaner or quilter – you just gotta do it or be miserable?

Oh, yeah. The Husband would much prefer if I were a compulsive cleaner.

Alas, I am a recovering Messie. My name is Cynthia, and I'm a Messie. There, I've said it.

Before The Kiddo and The Writing, I had tackled my messy house with a good dose of How Not To Be A Messie, a wonderfully lovely book that pegged me like a sheet to a clothesline. I had it going on, chores done every day, menus planned in advance, a well-run house.

Truly. Honestly. It was a miracle. I even learned how to fold a fitted sheet.

But then The Kiddo came along, and one little person can dirty an enormous amount of clothes.

And then The Writing came along, and I got a job that was more than five minutes away from home, and things were harder.

And then The Kiddo hit her school years, and teachers will send tons of papers home, and what am I supposed to do with them, because if The Kiddo finds them in the trash, what does that tell her about the value I place on the work she does from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.??

And then The Kiddo turned out to be a packrat. I tell people that I live in a 1,100 square foot house and that I must have at least 3,300 square feet of junk in it, because, I swear, I feel like I'm manuevering around three feet of junk at all times.

With me, it's incredibly hard to write when the house is a disaster (The Husband would comment here that I shouldn't ever be writing, then). But cleaning my house is like rescuing starfish on a beach, an unending task that gets undone with every high tide.

So of course I try to tackle the problem systematically and research it to death (house going further to pot around me as I crouch over the computer).

Checklists abound on the web, checklists which will do nothing but raise your blood pressure and lower your self-esteem. For instance, Real Simple tells me that I can have a deep-cleaned house in 11 easy steps -- and they provide the checklist to go along with it. They have the nerve to call this a Weekend Cleaning List.

Step 6?
Dust inside drawers. Open furniture doors and drawers and dust the insides with a cloth and cleaner.

Bwhahahaahaaaa! They must think my drawers are empty!

Wait a minute. Maybe they're supposed to be empty. But if that's the case, then why have drawers at all? This is all very confusing. I must go away and think about this quandary.


Piedmont Writer said...

You're too funny at seven in the morning. My house is never clean and its just me and Monster Baby. Although I shouldn't say it's not clean, it's just messy.

And who in God's name dusts the inside of a drawer?

Linda G. said...

My name is Linda and I too am a messie.

There. I said it. And I can't tell you how relieved I to find out there's a name for our kind. Now I feel like I ... belong. :)

Lola Sharp said...

Dust? INSIDE things? Inside DRAWERS?!
(I have a few colorful words I might say here, but I won't)
Honestly, I never knew that dusting inside drawers was something that needed to be done.

One thing I do know is this:
When the tracks to my sliding glass door suddenly seem important to clean, I am really procrastinating fixing a plot knot. An anal clean house in my life does not bode well for my WIP.
House a mess and no food in the fridge (aside from left over pizza delivery)? The WIP is going great.

Messie house = GOOD in my world. :o)
It's all in how you justify/spin things.

Michelle McLean said...

I thought the inside of drawers, closets, furniture, under beds, etc were there for me to stash things in so I can fool myself into thinking the house is clean so I can write guilt-free?


Well, nuts :)

I also have a hard time writing if my house is too messy or cluttered. But, I've found if I clean the area immediately around my desk, the areas within eyesight, I can work. I do try to keep the house clean, but with two kids and a husband who is allergic to picking up after himself...*shrugs* I'm only human ;-D

Jen said...

Bahahaha you seriously crack me up! I'm the exact opposite I go through "spring" cleaning once a month throwing out crap I didn't remember having I do the same with clothes and them I forced to buy new ones because I got rid of them all (hmm maybe I planned that one)

Anywho I love the last paragraph about your drawers needed to be dusted! I'm with you why are they supposed to be empty?! I've never dusted the inside!

Good Luck Messie Cynthia!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Hehehe! I'm a clean freak, but dusting inside drawers sounds like something only Martha Steward would do.

I clean because it's something I can control. I can't control how long it takes an agent to read a full, but by George! I can sure vacuum up a storm!

Dolly said...

I am messy. Like clean and tidy if someone else does it. But I manage to have paper mess around me at all times. Just waiting for the day when I can have a butler :P

Cynthia Reese said...

Jen, Stephanie, that settles it. You are seriously coming to my place and doing a Clean Sweep on it.

The rest of you? You make me feel positively normal! Linda, I would be honored to belong in any group you're a member of.

Anne, I so thank you for pointing out the difference between messy and clean ... ever watched HOW CLEAN IS MY HOUSE? (Or is it YOUR HOUSE?) Seriously nasty, people. How can folks live like that?

Lola, I'm guilty of fixating on dirty ovens and The Kiddo's closet (talking about rescuing starfish, but that one definitely IS a starfish project) when I'm plot-stuck.

Michelle, I'm with you ... I clean out drawers so that I have a place to stash stuff when that unexpected company pops in. Though I do dream of a kindergarten classroom kind of house -- a place for everything, and everything in its place -- I know it's never gonna happen, not while I've got a WIP cookin'!

Al said...

Dust inside drawers?

What the...?

Some people need to get lives!


Publish or Perish

BillRicksofSoperton said...

Excuses, excuses! LOL