Monday, October 8, 2012

Making time for Windex and moldy grapes

I am a horrible slob.

I cringe a little as I put that in writing, because I'm not sure my gentleman friend has realized this about me yet. We've resided under the same roof for almost a year now, but nine months of that was with the housemates. It was easy to point fingers at them as the root of all slovenly behavior in the household (though admittedly I had a tough time convincing him they were responsible for the lipstick on the milk carton).

But we've lived in our own place a little over two months now, and I suspect my untidy nature has become apparent. He hasn't fled yet, though that's probably because there's a large stack of books and laundry blocking the door.

When I'm cranking hard on a book deadline, I give up on even the most basic desk tidying efforts. A week ago, I sat mindlessly munching from a bowl of grapes while I typed with one hand. By Friday, the bowl was buried under a layer of papers with a dozen grapes shriveling beneath them and I thought, "those can stay there 'til I meet my Thanksgiving deadline."

It was getting pretty bad.

So when I headed down to my office for some early morning writing on Sunday, I felt the usual pang of disappointment upon seeing the housekeeping fairies had not arrived in the night to clean and organize my workspace. Then I steeled my resolve to finish this book in six weeks and then clean my desk. I shoved aside the withered grapes, a leaky tube of hand cream, and enough paperwork to make the world's largest papier-mâché phallus, and I got to work.

At least, that's what I tried to do. Within five minutes, I discovered my laptop had other ideas. It refused to start, no matter how many tech-savvy strategies I employed. (Note: My tech-savvy strategies include turning the computer off and on, unplugging and replugging all the cords, picking it up and shaking it, smacking it with the palm of my hand, and cursing at it).

When none of my methods worked, I was forced to accept that my computer was taking a good long nap. A close friend is a skilled computer repair guy, but he's out of town until Thursday. My last backup of the manuscript was over a week ago, but I tried hard not to dwell on that. For me, trying not to dwell involves staying busy.

So I got to work cleaning my desk. I filed papers, organized pens, dumped out moldy grapes, and even took a bottle of Windex to my glass desktop (a surface I hadn't seen for two months). By the time I finished, I was so pleased with the results that I got busy organizing the top of my dresser. Then I vacuumed the bedroom. Then I laid down in the driveway and took a nap (what? The concrete was nice and warm).

My computer still isn't fixed, but I've managed not to panic. My gentleman friend offered me the use of his computer for now, and we're both fairly confident mine is repairable. In the meantime, having a clean desktop has me feeling downright happy to walk into my office right now.

Why do I always forget that aspect of tidying? I get mired in the belief that I can't possibly spare the hour it would take to organize my workspace, and I completely forget how wonderful it feels to have a sparkling clean desk. To spend my writing days knowing exactly where to find that pen or that notepad or those research notes on the mating habits of porcupines.

Are you a slob, a neat freak, or something in between? Do you ever catch yourself thinking you can't spare the time to perform a task you know damn well will make a huge difference in your overall well-being? Please share!

I'm going to go curse at my laptop again. This time, it might just work.


Unknown said...

I thought I was a neat freak until I got to know a friend of mine... now I feel like a slob. But honestly, I do keep my place nice and tidy because I can't focus on school or writing when stuff is in the way. When I get really pissed off at something, I usually go on a cleaning streak to ventilate.

It's very easy to keep a 40 squaremetre apartment clean though.

Anonymous said...

Painful to admit but I'm a slob. I have 2 large dogs that love to bring in sand and dirt from their outside trips every couple of hours. So to me the idea of a clean house is near impossible. I do get to the point myself where enough is enough and I just tackle the task at hand. I love how my house looks clean but within maybe 2 hours its not clean again. Papers everywhere, sand, doggy nose prints on the glass of the front door. But I do love the feeling of a clean organized room. Just wish I knew how to keep it that way.

Patty Blount said...

Definitely a slob.

I do a load of laundry every day (living with three guys makes this a requirement). But I rarely get that laundry folded and put away. Instead, it sits in baskets in my basement and we dig through it for underwear, a favorite pair of jeans, whatever.

As I write this, I have dishes in the sink and crumbs on my floor; they can wait until I finish this chapter.

Skye said...

It varies. I grew up very tidy. In parts of my twenties and then my early 30s onward I became and stayed slovenly. But I have the craziness of complete clutter and chaos. And having paid good money for an organizer to help me dig out of the chaos, I am keeping parts of this place clean and tidy at least and working on getting better at the other parts. My walk in closet is pristine (it being the final thing my organizer and I did together) and I want it to stay that way. So mostly I use clothing that's in my dresser ....

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I had computer problems last week too, and I ended up having to get a new laptop because mine was really old; it would've cost more to repair it than it would have to buy a new one. But I hope that your computer can be fixed.
I don't like cleaning, though I know I should do it more often. I get the basics done regularly, like washing dishes and doing laundry. But when it comes to stuff like dusting and throwing out junk I'd rather just take a nap too. :)

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

I'm usually pretty neat, but I'm very messy when writing. Just finished a writing project, and I HAD to take a few days to clean off my desk. It was getting GRODY!!!

Amy said...

I'm a slob - though I'm sure we can come up with a better way to put this. I thrive in chaos... well, I don't know about thrive, but with two kids and a relatively small apartment, I either write in the mess or I don't write at all. My husband is probably more messy than I am and the kids, well, of course... Keeping this place pristine would be a huge job and I'd quickly resent the mess-makers for pulling me away from my writing. Priorities: as long as we're all healthy and happy, creative progress comes before housework.

Rich Amooi said...

I'm usually pretty neat, but since my wife and I are renting this place, I don't really give a crap about it. Once we own a house, things will change. Promise!

Raley Blue said...

The neighborhood kids call my sofa, Planet Laundry. Pretty much explains it all. When they were all little, they actually used to burrrow in it. That kinda pissed me off. I did wash it, dammit! ;)

Raley Blue said...

Our oldest child is 15 now and his room is in direct correlation of all that entails. But once when he was little and we'd tidied up his room, he actually cried all through nap time because his room was, "too clean!" Clearly the Blue's also thrive in chaos.

Personally, I can never find anything... ie, research notes, corrected drafts of my m.s., important sh**... after I clean. My favorite aunt always said she truly felt sorry for any woman who had nothing better to do than clean her house. Wise woman. ;)