Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Chores: Two to get ready and four to go



Anxiety Makes People Clean Obsessively, scientists find.
Being anxious, stressful, may make people less slovenly. According to a new study, there's a link between anxiety and obsessive house cleaning...
-- Current Biology

All these years I thought I was irritatingly anxious, but now it appears I'm just irritating.

I like a clean house, sure, but more in theory than practice. I find no succor in sucking and sweeping things in that general direction. The process of cleaning, or thought of the process, fills me with ennui -- prone to one of those Parisian exhales, where the eye half-shutter and the lips flap. Of all forms of grease, I dislike the elbow-variety most of all.

Which is such a damn shame. I wish I wanted to do all the things I don't. Cleaning is but a small part of that package. I'd like to like to work at anything with great diligence. Practice to make perfect. Write like there's no tomorrow. Or at the very least, scrub stuff.

But as that's not the case, I have worked out a certain approach to house cleaning.

The window washing bucket sits outside a window, and I plant my industrial-sized shop vac in the middle of the hallway -- both stew in their own juices for a day or a week. The time line between product placement and product purpose proves somewhat variable. A stubbed toe in the middle of the night? Two? A bloody shin? One can't hang a specific date on such things, how much pain will evince a final call to action. But action will eventually occur.

When it does, kicking that cleaning show on the road requires caffeine. Lots of caffeine. Meth-identical quantities of caffeine. And after three or four hours of furious, barely conscious activity, I'm like, whoa, everything looks great, but what happened, where am I, what's my name?

Some people, highly intelligent people, too, get real satisfaction out of the act of cleaning. Maybe "highly intelligent " is the operative here, because I don't get it.

Shame eventually does the trick. Though for me, shame sets a high bar, one I can walk under time and time again without even ducking.

After spending the better part of the day polishing, uncluttering, mopping and so forth, things do look wonderful. Restful. And I think, you know, if I just did a few chores every single day, the process wouldn't be so monumental. But I never do, so it always is.

In a parallel universe, and there might be such a thing, I hope perfect me likes to do all that I haven't but should and don't. And as a bonus, hadn't done all that I have, shouldn't have,  but did.

27 comments:

  1. "Of all forms of grease, I dislike the elbow-variety most of all." I'm with you.

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  2. Reading this post reminded me of something I haven't thought about in many years. When I was growing up, after we finished eating our family always lingered at the dinner table to continue talking about our day, literature, music, what was happening in the neighborhood, school, church, the world, you name it. The dishes could wait until later in the evening.

    I'll never forget when a friend of my parents came for dinner. She became increasingly agitated as the lively conversation continued. Finally she got up from the table and said something like "if nobody else is going to do the dishes, I'll do them myself!" in a loud voice and stormed into the kitchen. My mother, God rest her soul, followed this woman into the kitchen and, in her loving way, got her to calm down and explained why our dinner tradition mattered to our family. She told the woman the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus had dinner at their home, how Mary sat with him and listened to what he had to say while Martha, distracted by everything that needed to be done, missed it all. My mother wasn't preachy about it at all but used to provide an example of why letting housework go for just a few minutes wouldn't be the end of the world.

    The woman returned to our table and joined the conversation.

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    1. That is a wonderful story. I love that kind of attitude and the will to stick to it.

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  3. I like your story, Ann.

    Karin, we are kindred spirits in this respect. Company coming lights a fire under me more than anything else, but if no one's coming there has to be a fair amount of dust to be ashamed of and disgusted by.

    It seems like only yesterday John and I scoured, scrubbed, dusted and tidied. Yet today there's dust under the furniture, dust on the mantel, and dust in that corner of the bedroom where I'm pretty sure the bunnies mate.

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  4. And then there is the stuff that comes in the mail which needs sorting, paying, filing or answering. If one does a few pieces each day then the piles don't happen, friends and bills don't get lost and the table top stays clear, but, sigh, it doesn't happen. I'm sure there is help for us procrastinators, but gee, the sun is over the yardarm again, so I'll just have a glass of wine instead.

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    1. Second only to cleaning, I hate paying bills. Blame it on the yardarm.

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  5. I am so fortunate to have someone come clean our house once every two weeks. Actually, it is the only thing that will force us to pick up our clutter and we have a lot of clutter. After all, she can't clean with all that stuff everywhere. I like her too and we have nice chats when she is here. Occasionally though, I must admit, I have to cancel or re-schedule because I haven't had time to pick up. Now is one of those times. What a mess!

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  6. When I was a kid, the women and girls would clear the dishes from the holiday table. And I was like -- no way, no way would I leave my chair and play servant. Today, men and women help clear the table, it's a sign of appreciation and respect. I'm the first off the chair to help bus the table.

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  7. Sing Ho for that! Tonight I was so grateful to have the table cleared and clean-up done by someone else after I had done the dinner.. He is definitely a keeper!

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  8. Good post, Karin!
    I like a clean house too, but like you said, cleaning is but a small part of that package. The big package to me is to cook... It is good that Carlos wash the dishes!
    Wishing a nice weekend to all of you!

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  9. Karin, love your words about Flora... I read your comment and had tears on my eyes. So sweet of you! Thanks!

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  10. Brilliant! Every bit of this resonated with me, and that last paragraph is just terrific even though I'll have to reread it a few times. I've got my family coming for 2 weeks, all the way from England, and have just spent two days cleaning - the first real clean for a long time. Now I'm a wreck - back ache, a very painful cut on my thumb, wobbly legs, stiff hands. My husband doesn't realise how I've suffered, and of course as soon as the grandkids arrive, it'll all be a big mess again. But for a few blissful hours, it's clean. PS If I didn't have pets, the house would stay a lot cleaner. PPS. I'm lazy. I use a Dyson Animal cordless for everything. Lightweight and efficient. And when the charge runs out I stop cleaning.

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  11. After our attic fire, I cleaned obsessively, but it was never clean. Once the debris removal was done, the ash flying around decreased, but it's still there. I might get 2 of the 3 holes in the ceiling closed up tomorrow or Monday, and the front half of the roof is now on, so my anxiety level is greatly decreased. Normally, I hate cleaning, and it would appear I have excellent company here at Chez Karin.

    Many years ago, my parents and in-laws came to our house for Christmas; my second son was 7 days old. My mother walked to our mantle, ran her finger over it and looked at the dust, then commented that "someone" had not dusted. I went to the kitchen, grabbed a can of endust and a rag, and brought them back to her, saying, "You disturbed my otherwise invisible dust, now finish the job." (She was a worse housekeeper than me, anyway.)

    And, Ann, I love your story; dinners are like that in our house every night, and guests seem to love to join in the conversations.

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  12. You are not alone, tho my bar might be higher because I'm so tall.

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  13. Ach...kindred spirits at heart! Fortunately I married TheChief...I love my housekeepers Irma and Erma!!! They're awesome!!! And TheChief won't let dinner guests help in the kitchen...clearing the table is fine, but my job is meal prep and his job is cleanup!!! I got me a keeper!!!

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    1. When you call out to "Irma or Erma" how do they know which one you want?

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  14. fun article to read and somehow i can relate.

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  15. Sometime over the past year, I discovered that I don't actually like cleaning ~ I just like having everything clean. And so ... I clean. {The decluttering, though? That, I love. I suspect there's some kind of compulsion going on with that one !!}

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  16. Karin, the music "Schubert Impromptu No 4 in A flat major Op 90 D 899" is beautifully perfect for my Golden Trumpet Tree post. I just update with the music. Thanks!!

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  17. I so enjoy your writing and the comments that I check back regularly. I realize that I am in the minority in that I get satisfaction out of cleaning, not that I do it as often as it should be done. When life is unraveling there is always something to be cleaned and/or organized. The problem at hand is not usually solved with such action but at least I feel like I've accomplished something.

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  18. Just stopping by to say hello and to wish a nice week to you! :)

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  19. I can clean, but I really don't like to. Even though we have much better things to do with our money, we have somebody come in once a month to clean our house from top to bottom.

    Lazy? Yes, but I justify it because we have four cats and there is a crap-load of cat hair everywhere. Especially so when they are shedding.

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  20. Good morning Karin!
    I am glad you like de pictures from The Big Pictures photo blog.

    Have a nice week.
    Many hugs!

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  21. anxiety makes me stop cleaning altogether!

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  22. "Parisian exhales, where the eye half-shutter and the lips flap."

    Cream in my coffee, sugar in my tea.

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