Sunday, May 13, 2007

In Which I Celebrate Mother's Day and Learn How to Clean

To say that I am not organized would be sort of an understatement.

I am so disorganized, both in my tangible properties and in my brain, that when I decide I want to leave the apartment, I end up running back and forth from the front door to various places, picking up things I've forgotten, no less than four times, and occasionally as many as ten times, every time I leave the apartment, including quick trips where I just walk Titan to the end of the block and back. It seems to be impossible for me to decide, "I want to walk Titan", and then think, in geographical order, "Put shoes on, sweep through kitchen to grab plastic bag, bring phone and a few bucks, grab keys and leash off the hook by the front door, leash Titan, walk out door, lock door."

Instead I put my shoes on, THEN leash Titan, grab my keys, remember that I need a plastic bag, go to the kitchen with Titan still leashed, dig out a bag, set my keys down, stand there for five minutes as I determine if I need my phone and wallet, search for phone and wallet, walk to front door, feel around for my keys and realize I've set them down somewhere, search for my keys, hampered by the fact that Titan is whining because he's leashed and ready to go, run to the front door, go out the door, lock it, and get to the coffee stand before I realize that I've still left my wallet at home.

The very first day that I realized that I COULD, even, grab a bag BEFORE I put Titan's leash on was a big day for me, readers. I do not know how or why my brain works so non-linearly compared to everyone else, but my god, no wonder the LT has so much more time than I do! Were someone to stand over me with a stopwatch, I think I would cry to see how much time I waste running in circles in my own, 850-square-foot apartment, like a dog chasing its tail, not to insult dogs. Because even Titan has more sense than me.

Therefore, on previous cleaning sessions, I would: strip the old sheets off the bed, sit on the bed to pick at my toenails for awhile, suddenly jump up and put water in Titan's bowl, decide while I was there to wash dishes, get halfway through that and decide I should organize my shelves better, pull half of my spices off the shelves, see a can of soup that would remind me that I have a coupon for that very brand in my purse, find my purse, decide that my purse needed to be cleaned, dump everything out on the table, find a magazine, and sit down at said table with the magazine for the next hour.

You can imagine the resulting cleanliness of my apartment, no?

But I'm getting better. I found a site that is so cheesy I'm almost embarrassed to say I depend on it, but since I do, I might as well come clean (HA!): FlyLady. The terms are sort of cheesy, and the site is mainly geared to homemakers with kids, but the genius of the site is its special mentality: JUST. DO. SOMETHING.

Flylady doesn't tell you to make lists: she tells you to stick up post-its. Don't be perfect, she says. While you're stuck in perfection, afraid to start cleaning for fear you won't do it perfectly, someone with a less stellar job and five kids who has never even heard of Gloria Steinem has a clean house, a balanced checkbook, and food on the table. Who is really ahead, here?

Therefore, when I got the call from my mother, and learned that I would have 10 people crammed into my tiny apartment on Mother's Day, I relaxed. I had already been washing my dishes and making my bed on a regular basis, now I just had to dust, sweep, and wash the windows. I did it in order, first washing the windows, all of them. Then dusting and cleaning, all surfaces. Then sweeping the floor, thoroughly. I even went to the LT's the night before and watched a movie with him! The family showed up and the place looked quite passable.

If that's not a victory, I don't know what is. (I mean, I didn't take a shower or scrub my shower and tub, and I DID have to run to the convenience store on Mother's Day so I could get toilet paper and handsoap, but you know. Progress!)

And while we're on the subject of Mother's Day: my mother, for all the time that I've known her, has been completely useless after dinner. (Not ALL the time, and not right after dinner--she and dad pick up the kitchen every night, after all.) But about 8:00 pm or so, she will sit down on her bed, or maybe at the kitchen table, with a book and at 8:07 p.m., she is asleep and drooling. (Hi mom!)

My new ongoing really old, but still unachieved goal in life is to beat this genetic habit. So far my process has been abysmal. But last night, you know, I came home from Date Night, looked around, took Titan out, looked around a little more, and thought...hell. I can just go to bed.

And I did!


Bri said...

When Echo lived w/me in Seattle, I made a small cloth bag that attached to the handle of his lead. I always kept the bag stuffed w/plastic bags... It was a super cheep solution that never let me feel like the irresponsible dog owner who leaves the stink on the curb. It's was beyond worth the 5 mins it took me to make it...

Julie said...

Hey, I thought I was the only one with housework ADD. Did you know taht I actually yell at myself? Of course you didn't, but now you do. In a little over a month, The Boy and I will share a home, and I was so afraid he'd run when he learned how completely useless I am as a homemaker, I talked him in to getting a cleaning lady. You know, for the cat hair. Sad, sad, sad.

Aarwenn said...

Hi Julie, I thought maybe you especially would identify with this one!

kt said...

wow, i thought you were describing my house cleaning process! sheesh. and there's this cool think that latches onto a retractable leash that holds a bunch of poo bags - i got mine at petsmart. oh and i meant to tell you - my friend deb has a dog named titan too! she thought she was the only one... :)