Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cleanliness is next to...


I don't know about Godliness, but I would say, general cleanliness makes you feel good. Most of you that know me really well might be shocked by that statement rolling off my typing fingertips. It's true, I have turned over a new leaf. I realized it yesterday while dusting (seriously, don't laugh, Mom) and Jacob announces, "You sure do love cleaning!" I started to chuckle at his so misguided judgement, and then I realized, in some deep, twisted, albeit latent way, I really do love cleaning - more or less. Mostly I love having things clean. Clean makes me happy.


There was always a constant struggle - more like battle at times to keep my living space orderly. Once when I was in probably 5th grade, give or take, my parents came into my room with garbage bags and bagged up every last thing I had not put away in my room. Imagine the desperation they must have felt to get to that point with me. I had to earn it all back by keeping what was left of my room clean and practicing the piano every day. Horrors.


When we were very young my sister Jenny and I shared a room. Like a little dictator I would sit on the top bunk and order Jenny to put things away (to my defense I did pay her a penny for every item she picked up). Kate (BFF from elementary school) and I would bribe my mother into allowing a weekday play date by promising Kate would help me clean my room. And she did. Kristin, my college roommate, tolerated my piles and overflowing mess for 4 years while we shared a bedroom - sometimes I would come home to my clothes magically folded and put away. Sarah, my former neighbor, has done my dishes and helped me clean for family events. I didn't realize all this until just now, actually. It is sort of depressing.


Sandra Felton observes in her book The Messies Manual (my mother got me this wonderful book - it is a must have for anyone with this problem) that there are categories of people which can generally fall in the Cleanie category or the Messie category. Cleanies are generally able with ease to maintain their spaces in some sort of clean/orderly way. Cleanies see a mess start and can stop it before it is out of control. Messies are missing a link in their brain that allows them to complete an easy clean up job. For instance, a Cleanie will see a scrap of paper on the floor and bend down and pick it up. A Messie will see the same scrap and think, "Oh great, now I have to vacuum. Now I am going to have to lug out the machine and go over the whole house." Messies are exhausted by cleaning before they even start - while simply picking up the paper would probably avoid the need to vacuum as frequently in the first place. My friends are definite Cleanies - maintaining order with general ease. I am clearly a Messie - a reformed Messie, if you will. Cleaning is still an effort, but the finished product makes me so happy, sometimes it is worth it.


So, today I relax in a house that is, well, pretty clean. I admit, I am still a Messie. I have to think about cleaning. I generally have to have company coming to really gear up for a deep clean (we had our friends David and Madeline over last night). But at least I invite people over fairly often in order to motivate myself. It's a system - a weird system, but it works for me. I wonder who we will have over next week so I will clean again - ooh, Thanksgiving is coming up and that means the in-laws will be here. I might have to even do windows, gasp! I told you, a new leaf. My Cleanie grandmother would be so proud.

4 comments:

Sarah S said...

I AM SOOOO OOOO PROUD of YOU SARAH!!!

Sarah S said...

I want to see the kitchen sink and the laundry room though...
;)

Sarah M said...

I will post pictures tomorrow.

jenny k said...

It's true, Sar, you are so much better these days. I was pleasantly suprised when I visited.