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September Surrender: Day 4

What I’m Letting Go: Seeped in Chaos

I’m dedicating this Labor Day to a deep clean of my apartment. I’ve been cleaning it for the better part of a week, scrubbing the floors, vacuuming more than once, clearing out things I no longer need. It looks pretty good after I shifted some things around last week (and bought a very expensive fake plant), and I’m vowing to keep it in this pristine condition. Granted, I’ve got no one scheduled to come over at the moment, but it’s always nice when your home looks nice and clean.

It’s taken me a long time to get here, though. I’ve always fancied myself as a messy person, ever since I was a kid and my walk-in closet never seemed to stay clean. My first apartment after moving home from college was always a cluttered mess. One time I got really sick with some gnarly viral infection and I couldn’t leave the house for three days. My mom came over on that third day to help clean up my mess. When she got to the kitchen, she opened up the teapot full of my loose tea and found mold inside. I started crying and making excuses that I was sick and I couldn’t clean, but I knew deep down I had left those wet tea leaves in there for much longer than those three days. My mom wasn’t mad, she just showed me the consequences of my actions, or rather, inaction.

Nowadays, when people do come over, I apologize for how cluttered things look, even if there is no clutter to be seen. I try to pick up before they get here and it never seems like a good enough effort. But the more I stop giving into my laziness, the clearer I’ll see just how put together my home really is. Sure, there’s a pile of clothes on my desk that need to be tailored, but overall, I’ve done a good job here. No more mold in teapots, that’s for sure. Perhaps I also need to let go of all this inadequacy I feel about myself and my home. I clean up better than I think.

What I’ve Discovered: Dueling Disorganization

My house growing up wasn’t really messy either. Everything had a place and it was never dusty. Both my mom and dad vacuumed when it was necessary. Mom would do the dishes after dad cooked. It was tidy. We just had that one room that was packed to the brim with stuff. My first bedroom. One of the three. I moved into the bigger bedroom in grade school and that room became a catch-all for what didn’t have a place. One day we’ll have to go through everything in there, including my childhood toys, old schoolbooks, DVDs, clothes, and whatever other sort of knick-knacks have been living there. That room was usually crowded, but I still had a place to play for a bit. Other than that, the house had an order to it all our family’s own.

My mom inherited a habit of gathering her papers around the dining room table. There were always piles of bills, receipts, and who knows what other kinds of notes. My grandfather did the same thing around his kitchen table. The thing they had in common was they knew exactly what was in each pile, right down to the order they were placed in. It was always puzzling to me and my father, but I knew better than to interfere in my mother’s process. My dad on the other hand was organized in a different way. He also had a lot of stuff, but there was a place for each and every part of it. Things were grouped together by function: Nuts and bolts, wires, video tapes in order of shot date, things like that. His current basement workstation is filled with this overwhelming organization, and I’m sure when the day comes to go through it, I’ll uncover some well-packaged, albeit voluminous stories for him to share.

I don’t keep as many papers as my mother does, but I’m sure in the habit of taking notes. I’m also far more minimalistic than my father, with the same group mentality for all my stuff. It’s nice to find out I can be a happy medium with the life skills I’ve absorbed. Whatever natural proclivity I have toward disorganization will always find its counterbalance as long as I let it happen. I guess it’s fair to say I’ve got the best of both worlds. And why wouldn’t I, considering I’m the one-woman cleaning crew around here?

What I Hope to Find: Some Light Spending

I’ve gotten into a very systematic routine when it comes to what’s in my supply closet. I make sure to always have an extra two of something, and stock back up when I only have one left. We’re talking soap, toothpaste, paper towels, carpet cleaner ,or computer duster. It’s been a good system, one where I’ll never want for anything, I always know I’m well-stocked. When I open my closet, I always think how I’ll have plenty to barter with, should things actually get that messy out there.

One thing I may have overbought (okay, I know I did), is halogen lightbulbs. I already wrote about my misadventures with LED lights, and now that the August 1st deadline has passed, you can’t purchase halogen lights in most American stores anymore. When I knew I was running out of time, I went to Amazon and bought multipacks of lightbulbs. I’ve got about 48 on hand at the moment, which I know is a lot, but I can’t trust anything around here right now. What else are they going to disallow me to have, a ceiling fan? I want to get one just to spite these people, even if they’re a pain in the ass to dust.

I’m not going to take risks around here, especially in these unprecedented times. I can pack away everything I need and be confident I can get more when necessary. Certain items don’t need a swell of supply. But I’d like to get to a point where I can set up subscriptions to bring items both here and at home for my parents. I do this with their kitty litter, but I’d like to do it for their cleaning supplies too. Unfortunately, my dollar just doesn’t go that far these days. No one’s does. But I hope one day I can be in a position where I don’t have to worry about what’s in my bank account. Money will come in just as quick as it goes out, and everyone in my life can be well taken care of. I know I can do it. My mom kept track of every dollar with all those paper piles, and now she and my dad are squeaky clean for life.

I’m told I’ll be a wealthy woman one day. I feel like I already am. I’ve got a clean home and enough lightbulbs to last me a century. Would love it if someday someone could help put the real spit shine on things around here.

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