“I Abandoned My Obsession With A Clean House (For Now)” Club

Aside from EVERYTHING related to the challenge of writing every single day this year for my self-imposed challenge, one of the biggest hurdles has been allowing for my apartment to get messy.

I knew this would be part of the deal. I knew I would have to prioritize writing over dishes, writing over vacuuming, writing over a clean toilet. I am not clinically OCD about my desire for a clean house, and by that I mean I will not be tortured by thoughts that I will go to hell if my house isn’t cleaned or that the germs will come off the toilet and climb up my ass, invade my organs and kill me in the middle of the night. But I do get extremely uncomfortable when I notice how messy it is EVERYWHERE.

My husband, my teenage son, and my 6-year-old daughter think I am extreme. They think we have a reasonably orderly abode. My husband says, “It looks lived in. We do live here, you know. A family of four and three cats. It can’t look like a Pottery Barn catalog all the time.”

Only I wish it would. Not necessarily Pottery Barn; I’d be equally content with Restoration Hardware or Crate and Barrel and on most days, I’d be thrilled with a J.C. Penny catalog as long as there weren’t so many books, empty glasses, inverted socks, leftover popcorn and scraps of paper littering EVERYWHERE.

Before our vacation, for the first time in my life, I had to hire a cat sitter and the whole experience felt very American and luxurious (as I imagine having a cleaning lady would feel, and yes I would be one of those who cleaned before she came). The lovely cat-loving Kristin came to meet us at 9am on a Monday after a marathon weekend of two birthday parties and an after-party. There was a mountain of 6-year-old toys in one corner and remnants of life EVERYWHERE. I’ve never allowed anyone see my apartment in this condition, not even a repairman.

The first words out of my mouth after, “Nice to meet you” is “I’m so sorry about the mess. We had a birthday party yesterday.”

Of course she says, “Oh this is nothing, you should see some of the homes I visit. Ever heard of hoarders? Sometimes I have to climb over things to find the cats.”

I loved her and her energy instantly; even our bitchy Russian Blue begrudgingly came out to sniff her fingers. In the 30 minutes Kristin visited, I apologized no fewer than a dozen times, I ‘d turn a corner and spy a dust bunny or a sweatshirt draped over the chair or an unmade bed. I kept fantasizing about the cleaning job I would have to do to overcompensate for this disaster. I will leave my apartment spick and span so when she comes to feed the kitties, she will be treated by shiny floors, an organized pantry closet, where my cat food is neatly organized in rows, and toilet bowls sparkling white ready to be contaminated. She will see my apartment the way it deserves to be seen: clean.

I thought the act of seeing my apartment messy day after day would somehow numb me to it and not let it aggravate me so much, kind of like calluses from practicing guitar. I hoped after six months I would feel liberated by the mess, like not shaving my legs or going braless, but both of those have their shortcomings (prickly to the touch and titty hard-ons) and so does a messy home. I have always gone by the mantra, “clutter in your house is clutter in your life (and brain) and my mid-year experiment has not proven me wrong. I will continue to let the dust bunnies grow until they become wig-size; I will let the dishes build up until we run out of forks, and I will let the toilet develop a full brown ring before I yell at my husband to take a brush to it.

Come 2017, I’m dousing the whole place in bleach!

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2 thoughts on ““I Abandoned My Obsession With A Clean House (For Now)” Club

  1. In fact I would like that in my book cover … I will make note! She wrote an essay every day to tell her stories but never mind … You should have seen the floors and counters in her house. And the closets” organization? To die for!

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