Clean House

I have a lot to do today that I just haven’t been doing over time. I’ve let it build up in my grief, and I’m to the point that I have to dig myself out. I thought about calling a maid, but then I thought that wouldn’t create lasting change if I knew I could just call someone when I couldn’t figure out How Clean is Your House? Kim & Aggie have long been my inspiration in this area, and I tend to watch a few episodes before I get started. It’s as energizing as Hoarders. It’s moments like this where I wish I still had Shirley, my little Nissan pickup, because there’s nothing like I’d like more than to be able to dump all my recycling and trash into the bed and drive it to the dump, because of course our trash day is on Thursday and tomorrow is a holiday. I am putting this all out here because I don’t know of anyone alive who can manage their own lives in the aftermath of deep grief. I’ve always been a little messy, with the exception of one time in my life. Things got so bad that I reached out to Dana and said, “I need help. I’m too far gone.” When she said “yes,” I made it my personal mission not to ever have to ask her again as a thank you. My apartment was so clean that you could eat off the floor, and I mean that literally. I used Fabuloso,™ which Ralphie May says “gets out Third World dirt.” I still have a lot of the concentrate, I just need to go and get a spray bottle so I can mix it properly.

The common areas of my house are no problem, because I love cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom because there’s no clutter. I can start with cleaning products in an instant gratification sort of way. I spray and wipe and within a few minutes, it’s perfect. I leave the door to my room closed all the time and hope that no one comes in. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until I watched an episode of Doc Martin that I could even wrap my brain around why. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find the exact clip I am looking for, but both Dr. Ellinghams go to visit an old man who has just lost his wife. The senior Dr. Ellingham is talking to the patient, and since she is a psychiatrist/psychologist, explains that his hoarding is a function of his wife dying and since he’s lost everything, he doesn’t want to lose anything else, so everything he owns is all over the place… basically leaving everything as it was when his wife died and just putting things on top of the mess.

I took my anxiety medication this morning in order to have some clinical separation in this area; perhaps if I can look at it objectively without emotional attachment, I can finish. But this will not be a short or easy job. First, I need to clean out the back of my car so that I have enough room to put my trash and recycling in it, because I can’t just leave it on the sidewalk today…. Neither do I have enough room to stack the trash bags on top of each other until the next trash day comes ’round. It is my own fault, even if I do come by it naturally. When my mother got depressed, she had the same reaction, stuffing things into closets and drawers and under the bed if she knew people were arriving at the house imminently. As her mental health improved, so did the state of her home.

I also have a lot of dry cleaning to drop off, because I do not have enough living space to set up a full-size ironing board and I like extra starch, anyway. The only problem with this is that some of my shirts cost more than others, because the men’s small will go on a regular-size board, and my boys’ shirts have to go on the women’s (I think). I do have a small, pull-out ironing board that I can use for my Dockers,™ because all I want to do is get the stains out and then put a crease from the knee down. If, eventually, I do move into my own place, a fabulous iron/ironing board and several cans of Magic Sizing™ and lavender Faultless™ are in order.

It was my stepfather, Forbes, that taught me how to iron properly, because no one can teach you how to iron more effectively than a former Marine. In fact, I asked my mother for an ironing board and all the accoutrements years ago when I had my own house, and told her that if it didn’t come directly from Forbes I was going to be very upset. 😛

Ironing is also one of my favorite memories with my old girlfriend, now a good friend, whom I called “Angela the Red” to differentiate her from “Angela the Med.” She told me that her favorite movie to put on while she was ironing was Steel Magnolias, so I bought a copy of it and told her I had it in case her clothes became wrinkled at my house.

In my current house, it is all hardwood floors, but back in the day, my favorite chores were ironing and vacuuming, because they are the best examples I know of instant gratification. It’s wrinkled, and within minutes it’s not. It’s dirty, within minutes, it’s not. The same thing goes for my room when it’s clean. It’s just too small to take long when everything is done in small doses. I’ve just let it get out of hand with my low-energy approach to life. I am slowly coming out of it, a butterfly emerging from her cocoon, but these things take time.

There is nothing on earth that would have prepared me for losing my mother so suddenly, and I am reeling from it. I am running away from all the things that require me to take care of myself, to the point that I will avoid showering until absolutely necessary…. although I can’t blame that all on grief. It is really, really cold here… currently 43° during the day and when I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night, only 28.° Even though the shower is hot, there is really nothing that makes me want to take off all my layers to get into one. I did today, though. Progress. Perhaps I will get a space heater for the bathroom, or at the very least enough candles to warm up the room before I go in. One does not cut it… and Dollar Tree has an amazing selection considering that the jar candles I’ve seen elsewhere are 20 times the price.

You would think that the upstairs would be warmer considering that heat rises, but it’s actually a lot colder. On some days, it is warmer outside than in. Last night I put my ski jacket on over my pajamas and turned on my electric blanket. It worked, but it also made me incredibly reticent to get out of bed…. though I did.


Right now, I am making due with warming up my coffee as often as I can, and am searching for the perfect fingerless gloves so that I can still type.

Speaking of which, hold please…………………….

There, that’s better.

The other thing that seems to help is that I have a great pair of Bluetooth™ headphones that act as earmuffs, so there’s little part of my day where I take them off. Perhaps now that I have realized I have tools at my disposal to stay warm, loud music delivered wirelessly so that if I have to go to a different part of the house I won’t lose connection, it will propel me in the right direction. At some point, I need to go to “Targay” to see if I can find a comforter that fits my requirement of insulating the heat from my electric blanket. I have several blankets on top of it, but it’s not pretty, just functional. Perhaps that’s something that needs to go on my Christmas list, but I do need to go shopping to make sure it’s heavy and not one of those “bed in a bag” contraptions where everything is cheaply made. Because I don’t have a cat, it will last a long time, but if I had to put in an adjective, warm would not be one of them. I actually found a Doctor Who set I liked very much, but again, it was cheap. Perhaps in order to find the pattern I want, I’ll just buy several more layering blankets. The warmest one I’ve ever had was an old U-Haul blanket covered in sheets to make it comfortable… the last gift my first wife, Kathleen, ever gave me because it was a running joke throughout our relationship that if we ever got a divorce, I wanted custody of it. She’d already left the house, and when I went to get my own, there it was, folded neatly on a chair. It was just one of the things I’ve lost over time as I’ve “cleaned out my closet” over several moves.

Every move, including this one, has begun with losing everything on purpose in order to truly start over without reminders of the past. This time, however, I cannot get away from it due to the “magic” of Facebook. There are cute reminders every day of who Dana and I used to be to each other, and I alternately cry and laugh over them. I am sure that by now, the dopamine rush of “new relationship” would help me to let go more fully, but at the same time, I have too many memories that plague me to make it fair to my new love, especially someone who thinks that disconnecting from the past “helps.” All people my age come with an incredible amount of baggage that do no good to cover up. I know that memories fade into the background, but the way our relationship ended alternately has me wanting to forget everything and the trauma it caused running through my mind as if it’s still actually happening.

Perhaps the first step is to clean house.


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