I Hate Housework
I've always been a messy person. For a long time, I thought this made me a bad person, a bad girlfriend, a bad daughter, a VERY bad daughter-in-law. I could always tell the level of trust I felt for someone, and how much I believed they loved me, by the amount of panic I had before they came over. If I felt judged or worried about the kind of impression I was making on someone, I would go nuts to get everything cleaned up before they came over. I got really good at turning a house that looked like it had been picked up and shaken by a giant, into a place that looked like relatively normal people lived, ate, and slept there. All I needed was two hours, a pot of coffee, 10-15 enormous trash bags, bleach, dish soap, five rolls of paper towels, a broom, and plenty of closet space to hide the shit I didn't want to throw away. Voila!
However, there were problems with my strategy. People sometimes gave very little notice before dropping by, or they just needed to stop over and pick something up, or I was fucking exhausted or busy with a project or needed to go somewhere, so I could not do anything but let them in to see my shameful mess. I got good at making up little quips and warnings as I let them in. I acted like it wasn't making me feel totally horrible that I lived in filth.
The truth is that I did, and did not, feel horrible about how I lived. I liked it better when it was clean but it didn't totally drive me nuts when it wasn't. That's what I was most ashamed of, what made me feel horrible, is that someone would figure out that I didn't really mind living like that. Somehow, not minding living in a gross messy place seemed far worse than living in one and hating it. Not minding having a sink full of dirty dishes in gray water seemed like a kind of suburban moral transgression.
I'm happy to report that over time, I realized no one gave a shit or was remotely surprised. They knew I was a total slob. Even when I thought my house was pristine, when I had raced around all morning with the spray bleach and paper towels, my house was still kind of a wreck. Honestly, you can't completely undo months of grime in two hours. I can't remember when exactly it was that I stopped worrying so much about my shameful problem of being okay with being messy and dirty. I'm sure it was around the time that I started posting pictures of my kitchen on Facebook and having people over no matter what the place was like. Friends who visit me often have become trained to ask questions like, "Will the bathroom scare me, should I wait to pee at home?" and "Can I sit on this?" and "Can I use this mug? Is it clean?" To my diminishing surprise, people like to come over. I like to think that I am doing a public service by letting people see what a gross, yet functioning, household looks like or that they don't have to worry about their own place because mine is far, far worse.
I love that Quentin Crisp quote, “There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse." I've discovered that it's true.
And for the record, I've had no reported cases of listeria.