22 January 2005

Cleanliness

I start this on January 14th and set it aside for a while. Nothing has changed, so I thought I'd finish and post it.

Which comedian said "Everyone says that cleanliness is next to godliness. Well, I checked. In my dictionary, cleanliness is next to cleaning and cleanser."? I don't remember, but I'm going through another of my semi-occasional spates of deep cleaning.

(In an interesting serendipity, Casey wrote a post about spring cleaning which I saw right after I decided to write this one. Pretty nifty.)

Anyway, I would like to believe that I am a tidy person, but as I look around me I realize that that ain't necessarily so. My desk at work is cluttered and my entire condo is cluttered. My car is tidy.

I figured out some time ago that the price of tidiness is eternal vigilance, so every Saturday or Sunday, I empty out the car of the books, magazines, scripts, steno pads, and pieces of paper that seem to follow me everywhere I go. Which means that when I offer someone a lift, I don't have to gather up an armload of junk and throw it into the backseat before they can get in, which makes me feel like a good person. I keep a basket on the floor behind the driver's seat and it contains things like Silver Spring Stage brochures and more scripts and more books. I drag that inside and empty it out, but it never stays empty and isn't supposed to.

Until recently I had been using the wire basket from a set Mom's wheels (sort of a walker with a seat and - duh - a wire basket because walker-using-folks need a way to carry stuff while they are being mobile), but Mom sold the wheels - an excellent idea, as she no longer uses it - and I couldn't in good conscience keep the basket. David gave me a nice wicker replacement which is very pretty, so I'm still basket-enabled, thank goodness.

But my desks - both home and work - are another story. My desk at work stays fairly under control, but every so often, I clean out a drawer or my inbox and then it looks much nicer. My inbox is a sort of suspended animation for pieces of paper. I have a pretty small desk and almost no surface area on which to work because I also have a big ol' monitor that takes up about 20% of the desk. Add the phone, the inbox, and the keyboard, and even a tiny amount of clutter renders my desk useless. So it ain't beautiful like Cathy's, but it is functional. I cleaned out a drawer day before yesterday and I keep opening it and admiring it's "Real Simple" understated beauty and calm. It's like a tiny zen garden in that drawer.

My desk at home is a total disaster. That's because it's in my study, which is also a total disaster. I used to believe that I am a potentially tidy person who is frustrated and irritated by clutter. I believed this when I had roommates with lots of clutter. It turns out that I am only frustrated and irritated by other people's clutter. I seem to have a pretty high tolerance for my own.

My goal over time is to fit into my own condo, so I usually spend an hour or so every Saturday morning listening to public radio and putting away/throwing away. On a good Saturday I can fill a trash bag. I started this process because every time I said to myself "Okay, I'm going in there and I'm going to make that room tidy and attractive!" I got through the door, looked around, threw up my hands in dispair, and abandoned any cleaning plans. It's just too overwhelming. I'm a packrat, like my mother before me. I have too much stuff. I'm a "just in case" saver and that habit has been rewarded more often than is good for me.

So Fly Lady like, I nibble away at the junk in the study. One day, if even for an hour, it wil be tidy and uncluttered and I shall love it. I'll also take a picture of it and maybe seal it in amber, because just as nature abhores a vacuum, my world seems to abhor an absence of clutter.

1 comment:

The Maryland Traveler said...

Hey there Leta,

I know Gallagher once said, "They say 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness.' No it isn't, I looked it up... Googles is next to Godliness. Cleanliness is next to claustrophobia and cleavage."

Cheers,
Scott