cleaning, in the spring

Today my to-do list was lengthy and complicated and was going to keep me very busy as I worked my way through it diligently, checking off each item with happiness and satisfaction in my heart. It included returning all the overdue emails I am overdue for returning (which is a list as long as my arm and fills me with guilt and not a little dread, at this point).  I was also going to complete several or four chapters of proofreading, get working on the next chapter of my own writing project, gather my tax paperwork together, incorporate the way-excellent and thoughtful comments of a former professor into another project of mine, and brainstorm a story idea I had had.

Really, I didn’t expect to get through everything, but I knew I would stay satisfyingly busy, that if I got stuck on one project I could switch over to a new project, that I would feel such a sense of accomplishment getting even a little bit done on some of this stuff and it would be a pleasure to move some of these action items over to the next day’s to-do, because it was all stuff I wanted to do. Except for maybe the proofreading, but that’s just because I’m not crazy.  What is a shocker, though (or not, considering my long and involved history of being me) is the fact that I pretty much failed all the way down the list.

Not entirely–my tax paperwork, that’s sitting on my desk, ready to make
me miserable this evening at my appointment.  I met my deadlines for
paying work, and that is always nice. I answered a handful of emails,
and I opened up a file, but then I closed it again, and that is because
I was being driven slowly mad by the fact that my house looked like a
broken-down methamphetamine lab after the cops raided, except without
the bloodstains. Mostly.  I have been letting chores go, sure, but
suddenly, it all rained down upon me, the fact of the wreck of my
existence, and if I did not get up off the couch and clean every single
dish and swab all the counters and rearrange my fridge and vacuum the
rug and wipe down all the mirrors and dust all the bookcases and
disinfect the toilet, the litter box and the cat, if necessary, then I
would lose my mind entirely and start to cry.

It’s not your ordinary procrastination, at which I am admittedly a
master, because it happened the day before, too. Over at E’s, he was
home from work early and I had scheduled me a low-action-items kind of
afternoon, and we were on the couch, watching a movie and yet, I could
not stay still. I popped up and wandered around the living room with an
Albertson’s bag picking up all the cans of Coke, cleaned off the
counters, gathered up the dishes, stacked them up, rinsed them, cleared
out the dishwasher, loaded it back up again, took out the garbage, took
out the recycling, wiped down the counters, fed the dogs, cured cancer
and saved the world. I was antsy, twitchy, unable to settle

What are you doing
, E asked, and I said I’m cleaning up after myself,
and he said It’s fine, leave it. No! I said, and started to go at
the grout with a toothbrush. No! he said, and sat on me until my
breathing slowed and my heart about stopped and my eyes rolled up in my
head and the urge to clean had dissipated.  It’s true that I was
cleaning up after myself, because I totally hold my own, mess-wise, in
that house full of boys.  But I was also a little nuts. It’s spring
, E said. I must clean! I said, and then I said mmmph mmmph mmph,
because he was holding me down again.

If there’s got to be something wrong with me, I welcome the spring and
its fever. It is a glorious affliction, to be beset with a sparklingly
clean commode, a floor clear of shoes, a made bed, laundered clothes, a
fork when I need it and not after I extricate it from a pan full of
cold slimy water in the sink and wash it.  It makes me feel like an
adult. An adult who is behind on her action items, but at least knows
where all her clean underpants have got to.

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