Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Flight Mover

I am not a great housekeeper. Like so many things, cleaning seems to me to be a profoundly sucky way to spend one's precious time. I do not feel significantly better knowing my bed is made or my dishes are put away or the sheets on my bed are clean. Sure, I know they're good things but they won't make me or break me. I have also been gifted (nature? nurture? we will never know) with an ability to "unsee" things that are in the way if need be.

Remember that I purchased a couple of pieces of furniture with some assembly required in late April. I began assembling it in May, which necessitated laying some of the boxes down and opening them. At that point I discovered I couldn't assemble them myself. The final pieces of furniture were assembled in early June. This means that I, without frustration or complaint, climbed over those boxes for over a month. Not unusual behavior for me. I know that it adds steps to my day and I get that it doesn't have to be that way but when I weighed the scales with "strong arm a friend for help and have no fun but get this done fast" on one side and "finish that piece you're writing for the Colony and still have time for a drink with your friend who needs to talk" climbing over the stupid shelf didn't seem like much of a contest. Writing and friend win every time.

Lest I seem too altruistic also know that plenty of nights were spent neither writing nor drinking with deserving friends. Many of them were spent thinking, "I am never going to be able to do this right, this is going to take forever and I don't have any of the right tools and the directions are in a foreign language, why won't someone come and do this for me." And if we're being even more honest, I didn't actually do it right. Two of the shelves in the bookcase are the wrong way round and the drawers on the filing cabinets don't close correctly but it's done and everything's in it's place and I'm definitely not going to be able to take them apart and put them together correctly so we're calling it done. Again, I can unsee it if need be because there are more important things to do.

However, I do know that other people cannot unsee this stuff. Some people can't unsee anything. The built in toilet paper dispenser in my bathroom is too small for the rolls of paper that I buy. I generally open a new roll and set it on top  of the garbage can until it's been worn down enough to pull easily from the dispenser. It's more frustrating to me to be unable to get more than a square at a time off the roll than to have the roll off the dispenser. Someone stopped by to use my bathroom last week, though, and put the roll on the dispenser immediately. Couldn't unsee it.

Anyway, I thought I was going to be having a houseguest next month so I knew I needed to train myself to see what they would see and reorganize my house into a semblance of normalcy. I mean, I have a cat condo and combination of antiques and Ikea so I'm never going to come across all uber normal but I can come across as "weird but clean." I'm an actress! I can come across as anything. It wasn't going well on my own, though, so I turned to a popular tool.

Yup, I'm FLYing.

If you don't know about Flylady you should probably click that link and read a few things before you continue here. If you don't you might not be able to distinguish my sarcasm font.

Have you read? Sounds just like me, doesn't it? Oh to have a DH and at least one DD and DS to be able to set an example for with the routines that God has blessed my life with.

Here's the thing, though, that shit works. It's a great system and she's not wrong about the acts of cleaning and how to get them done even when you're not BO (Born Organized). The tone, however, makes me want to rip out my uterus and feed it to innocent bystanders. And I wouldn't shine my sink afterward, either. I expect an endorsement from Glenn Beck to pop up on the site at any moment. I'm scared to join any of the discussions or contact the group in any way. I suppose I shouldn't be afraid, it couldn't be clearer that no one properly associated with the Flylady would ever want anything but the best for me. If you've read here at all, though, you know that sort of talk makes me nervous.

But you know what? I don't have to contact the group. I don't have to do anything but what's best for me. Marla (Flylady) is committed to keeping the system and the site and its tools free to anyone who needs them. She has things for sale but there's nothing you have to buy in order to be part of her program. And the program works. It's the same as Weight Watchers for me. I didn't want to be part of "that" group of people but "that" group of people is doing something that I can't do on my own so I guess it's time for me to revise my actions. I've joined each group to the extent that I've been able and their systems have done right by me. While they may not have changed my life completely they have improved it clearly in ways I wasn't able to do alone and for that I am truly, truly grateful.

It turns out I won't have a houseguest next month but now that I'm paying attention to Marla I remember that it's not about that. I'm cleaning a few minutes every day. I'm making my bed and wiping down my counters and "swishing and swiping" my bathroom. I'm setting my timer and working slowly but steadily until the infernal buzzer goes off and the changes are undeniable. I've ditched a filing cabinet I bought as sophomore in college. You can see most of the top of my dining room table. Both of my antique writing desks (yes, both, I love my grandmothers) are clear enough to write on and there's room in my fridge for unspoiled food now.

I don't love it but I'm doing it and now it's OK if you come over to my place for that drink. Pay no attention the ticking of that timer.

*These photos were taken a year and a half ago. It doesn't look like that again...yet.


  1. Oh, how I feel your FLYing ambivalence! I think that despite all that tone and, you know, that other stuff, Marla is speaking to us because she's been there, and no organizational goddess can help us, because they could never unsee and would never have gotten themselves where we are in the first place. I have her messages filtered to a separate mail folder, where I can remove giant portions of them unread... the disadvantage is that I periodically stop looking in that folder. A glance around the room here might suggest that this is one of those times...

    Good luck - and keep us posted. I have no particular ambition to eat off my floors, or to see my shiny face in my shiny sink, but it's nice to have houseguests without a giant panic. And yeah, it's nice to sit down with book or knitting or drink (or all of the above) without having to unsee quite so very much.

  2. I tried to FLY many years ago to no avail...but I think I might be ready to hear the message as I am so tired of that "drop in visitor" panic. And I hear she has an me a new app

  3. Anonymous2:43 PM

    God bless me! I have a DH, DS and DD. And still- eesh! I tried subscribing to her site years ago and it was still too much at the time.
    Now... I remember what a read, and I don't set a timer, but I do try to clear my sink before I go to bed...
    Glad to hear it is working for you.
    Naomi B.

  4. Can't wait to see it!

  5. FLY, huh? I looked at the site and it turns out I actually already do most of this stuff. Does that mean I'm anal? BTW, I laughed when I read that bit about the toilet paper holder. So effin' true in the co-ops!