Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cleanliness is Writingness

I've been awake for a while. I'm now showered, blow-dryed, mascara'd (but still in my robe). I'm in a holding pattern until everyone is awake, fed, dressed, and combed. After I drop them off at grandma's, I'll go to work and begin my second life.

While waiting for the little ones to wake up, it occurred to me that it would be the perfect time to do something. In effect, I'm alone and I have free time. I can't leave the house in my robe, and I can't work out because I've already showered (convenient excuse), so what do I do? My exciting choice is...

Clean up.

It seems that piles of papers, six coloring books, 4 plastic play-kitchen plates, 8 pieces of broken chalk pieces, 3 dollhouse figures, 5 ponies, 6 hairbands, 18 crayons, and folded laundry piles bar me from concentrating on real life until they are organized and out of my way. Please don't get me wrong. I am not OCD. Even after having cleaned up, a normal person would walk in here and still think that it could use a bit more help. Nothing is perfectly organized and hidden away.

Why is cleaning up the number one activity during free time? I bet if Marvin were in the same spot, he'd practice his golf swing in the family room, or watch Sports Center, or strategize about ways to improve his real estate business. I bet you that a different mom/wife/worker would paint her toenails or brush through her hair 100 times like we were told to do in Sweet Valley High books. Why am I cleaning?

In grad school, I wrote several poems with the theme of marraige. And in one of them, the lady cleans in the midst of feeling bewildered by marriage. During the workshop in which the poem was critiqued, a gentleman said, "That is so sad. She cleans? These people just need to talk to each other." I wasn't allowed to say anything while the poem was being workshopped, but I couldn't help but snort at that.

A dear friend of mine would claim that my Taurus nature influences my desire to clean up. I need my home to be aesthetically pleasing. We're all agreed that leaving rotten meat on the kitchen floor is a health risk and that it should be picked up. But, I'm pretty certain I'm the only one in my house that thinks emotional and intellectual well being is tied to, well, tidyness. 

Frankly, the process of cleaning is a mental massage. If I'm feeling frazzled, and I take 10 minutes to clean up a room, the thought processes required in thinking, "A goes in that drawer, B goes on that shelf, C is dropped in the trash, D belongs in my bedroom, E needs to be donated" allows my mind to reorganize itself. While one part of my mind processes clean-think, the other parts are allowed to wallow in creative juices. I think of new ideas. I solve problems. I resolve issues that have been cycling through my brain while I was too busy doing something else.

And, the space is usable again. The space is not distracting. The space has space.

With my physical and mental space clear, I now find myself at my dear Funk Ponies. Hmmm...perhaps this is the problem that I was trying to solve while putting away puzzle pieces: When can I write again? Now.

1 comment:

  1. It takes near Herculean effort for me to re-enter my house after school drop-off and walk past the kitchen, family room, unmade beds and laundry basket to get to my office. The good news is, once I'm sitting at my desk, the tortuous mess is behind my back. The bad news is, it remains there until I pick it all up later in the day. Grrrr! My theory on moms and messes is -- To clean is to control. At a time in our lives when everything (and everyone) is completely unbound, cleaning a room is as exhilarating as taking charge of your life.