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Aaaaaaaahahahahaha. We cleaned this weekend.

As all of you who read my diary regularly know, I am not exactly Betty Homemaker. I do own a pretty good collection of hostess aprons (the little half aprons made of gauzy fabrics and lace, not aprons made of squishy delicious chemical cake), but they are reserved for looking at, and occasionally dressing friends up in with '50s dresses for humourous photographs with martinis.

Nope, I am not the housekeeper in the family.

But, the apartment was starting to look seriously like a candidate for Clean House, so it was time to get things under a semblance of control.

It's not just the chaos - if Niecy Nash and her team came over, they'd make me give up all my collections, and that is not allowed to happen until I get tired of them and sell them on Ebay for massive profits.*

The chaos in the house is a combination of unfinished projects, unstarted projects, fabric that might be a project someday, books being used as documentation for projects, art pens, notebooks, jewelry components, shoes, costumes, a studio full of Christmas presents hidden from Bob, papers in the computer room, and the giant pulsating chair of clothes that has started to develop language skills because I am too lazy to hang anything up in the evening.

(They're clean - I'm just lazy.)

The trouble with my experience of housework is that a)I am convinced that no-one really honestly adores doing it (they adore the results, but the actual doing is usually quite boring), and 2. If you let things pile up, then you get fun surprises as you unearth nice things you'd forgotten about.

This is a result of my training as a teenager - shove everything under the bed and in the closet until your mother puts her foot down and makes you actually put things away. Bonus points for not actually unearthing mouldy food in the process (how did that ham sandwich get under there? I don't even like ham).

Yes, as a depressed teenager, I did tend to forget about the plates and cups I took up to my room so as to brood and eat alone, but my mother had a cleaning service, so aside from the occasional scolding about being completely incapable of cleaning, I never really picked up on the whole "vacuum every day" thing.

(On the plus side, I save tons on the electric bill with my style of cleaning. I was also laundering everything in cold water before it was fashionably green, because otherwise stuff shrinks. And if it has the slightest possiblity of maybe shrinking, I will shrink it - or turn it pink, or grey - and washing in cold slightly reduces my odds of ruining another garment I like.)

But yes. Don't get me wrong, I don't like to live in filth (unlike my last husband, who considered it a point of pride that he had not washed the dishes in three months when I first went over to his place. In restrospect, I should have run then),** but I tend to keep all my projects in untidy piles, otherwise I forget about them. This is my only excuse for the fact that a pinned petticoat bodies has been sitting on my sofa for six months waiting for the lining to be stitched down.

See, I'm not forgetting to do it, I'm merely procrastinating. Unlike the pile of mending from three years ago that I found underneath the piles of fabric and patterns on the sewing table. I had completely forgotten about that, and also some nice fabric I'd forgotten I'd bought.

See? Bonus.

But the apartment is now looking a bit more like the "after" than the "before" (huge thanks to Bob), and slightly less like a fabric and knitting tornado hit it. Mind you, I still have piles of stuff by the sofa and on the sewing table, and the studio is beyond help until I get the presents wrapped and under the tree, but at least you can safely walk through the sitting room in the dark - no lurking piles waiting to trip you up and slither off, giggling to themselves.

We're trying to get the garage at the house finished this winter so I can move my art studio down there, and move my sewing into the current studio (the apartment complex calls it a "den", since it's a room without a door, but it's the size of a small-ish bedroom) so we can get more of the SCA stuff on shelves in the room that is currently serving as computer office/costume room/sewing room/library. As you can imagine, it's pretty crowded in there.

Of course, the other joy (aside from having a clean room I can actually use, y'know?) of finally tackling the studio is that there is stuff on those shelves that I haven't seen in years. Considering the kinds of things I collect, it should be fun seeing what I've forgotten. Assuming I haven't unwittingly harboured the spontaneous generation of independent life, and there is now a colony of skull critters hiding in the back waiting to nibble on my fingers.***

...Though I bet I could clean up if I caught them and sold them on Ebay.

See? See? Bonus!

*$0.01 on the dollar, but if I don't count what I paid for them in the first place, it counts as profit. Right? Right.

**Instead, I washed his dishes. What can I say? I was 18.

***"This one is Bitey. This one is Sir Chomps-a-lot. And this one is Nibbles."


( 16 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Dec. 7th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Paul and I actually had a discussion recently about cleaning styles. Paul likes things to be spotless, and he is perfectly willing to clean up even my stuff. I hate it when my stuff gets touched because I will never find it again. Frequently the big difference being, where he sees mess and unfinished projects, I see a reminder of what I have to do next, a project I put down because I want to stare at it, or something I need out because I am working through a process in my mind before actually doing it.

We never have filth, we just have piles of my stuff sitting around untidily. Luckily he loves me and understands that it is a part of my process, and as long as I eventually get to it, he won't clean up behind me.
Dec. 7th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Bob has learned to live with my piles, for which I am eternally grateful.
Dec. 7th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
Places stuff in piles means that when people ask what you do, you can honestly reply that you're a Pile-It. If they hear, "Pilot", that's their problem!
Dec. 8th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
I like to say that I file in piles. (on my desk at work too.)

Alan very kindly will relocate my piles to the sewing/dumping room when absolutely needed, but otherwise leaves them alone and will occasionally hint when they are approaching avalanche stage.

I'm always amused at how he can't see the coffee stains/crumbs/loose sugar on the counter, but then I remember that I don't see the mail pile/project piles/not-quite-dirty clothes piles that I leave around the house. We just have to be patient with each other's quirks.
Dec. 7th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
So many parts of what you say resonate with me. And I'd never even heard of the "vacuum every day" thing. Not that I can. I destroy vacuums. My husband does the vacuuming because we literally cannot afford for me to touch the vacuum. And as of this summer, that "gift" has spread to lawn mowers. rolls eyes.
Dec. 7th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine being dirty enough to need to vacuum every day. Who actually tracks in that much dirt?
Dec. 7th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
Two words: Malamute Fur.
Dec. 7th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC)
I went to boarding school. Cleaning is what happens on weekends before mum's Lady Who Does arrives. "She's not here to pick up after you!"
Dec. 7th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
Umm... not "weekends", "vacations". Insufficiently caffeinated Hugh is incoherent. And inaccurate.
Dec. 7th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
I'm of the opinion that most cleaning house/decorating shows have no relation to real life whatsoever (either that or they want everyone in the world to be boring and have no hobbies). I've yet to see one of those shows actually try to incorporate people's real lives into the design, instead choosing to create a totally unrealistic and sterile environment that lasts MAYBE one month before the homeowner's habits reduce the room(s) to something resembling the previous state. ;)

(if you couldn't tell already, I'm also one of those people who has piles of projects scattered around the apartment- I'd much rather have a messy but interesting personal life, than go home and do nothing all the time ;)
Dec. 7th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
I both agree and don't agree. I agree that the environments created by most of those shows are excessively pared down, sterile environments. The biggest problem is that the shows never address the behavioral habits that cause the rooms to get into that state in the first place, so the owners are likely to revert over time.

On the other hand, taking some of the ideas from the organizational shows and incorporating them into my life in a way that works for me has made a huge difference for me in my happiness, productivity, and mental stability in the last three years. I live in those spaces, make messes, have parties, etc. but then I tidy them back up (no, I don't vaccum daily. or weekly. or monthly.). If I don't? I get depressed, unmotivated, etc.

I've got a pile of knitting ... in a basket (or two). The sewing room's been the biggest holdout, though, with heaps and piles of projects and fabric and all my other crafts everywhere ... and absolutely no progress.

Just another viewpoint.
Dec. 7th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
I am back at work after a little more than a week of vacation, about half of which was spent at home. I made great progress in getting my house tidied, and I thoroughly cleaned the counters, sink, and stove (instead of the usual quick wipe-down they get after being used) then I did stuff and now it's untidy again. On top of the ever-present project and paperwork untidiness that seems to be an integral part of my life. No matter how much or how little space I live in, I don't seem to be able to keep on top of the paper and tend to start new craft projects before I finish the old ones.
Dec. 7th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
TheEngineer is a self admitted pig. so there are times when i have just STOPPED picking up after him to see how long it would take for him to get motivated...

his response was "i need to get a cleaning lady in here for you". you cannot have a cleaning person in because they wont know which stuff is junk and which stuff needs to be kept and *I* cant tell either, so i'm not messing with your stuff.

however, the pile of clean laundry that really needs to be relocated from the guest bed is down to just stuff of mine that needs to be hung up. cause, the imp will be coming for a visit 2 days after christmas. yay!!
Dec. 7th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
Munky has it maid...er made
All she has to do is cause me to think about things that stress me, and *poof*, instant house cleaning. Gaston actually used to take advantage of the trick when we roomed together briefly during my college years. If he needed the house clean for a date, he simply talked to me about exams, my bills, etc. and I was OFF!
Dec. 7th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
We refer to our tendency to stack piles of things as the archeological method of storage. When I need to find something and can't, I have to try and think of what I was doing the week I may have set something down to try and determine what the layers will look like around it. And then there is always the joy of finding things that have been forgotten and lain at the bottom lo these many months.
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
Your chaos sounds remarkably like my chaos, except that I have a husband with exactly the same tendencies, just in different areas. He is not so much into the fabric, but is very much into the idea that every dead computer he comes into contact with can come live here until he someday gets around to harvesting all of them for parts, at which time I assume he will build the greatest Frankenputer the world has ever seen. And we *both* have a truly serious book addiction which is waaaaay beyond twelve-step programs...
( 16 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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