Inspect THIS

I am not a good housekeeper. I’m not proud of that fact, but I’ll own it.

I’d like to be like my sisters. They both have homes that are perfect. Perfectly decorated, perfectly organized, perfectly clean and maintained. At any given moment, I could drop in for a surprise visit at either home and I wouldn’t find so much as a dirty dish in the sink.

We grew up in the same house, so I don’t get it. Mom’s idea of cleaning was to basically hide any mess during the week and then power-clean all day Saturday to catch up. She just wasn’t good at it. I swear I was in my thirties before I knew that people are actually supposed to dust the top of doors and picture frames. And the whole matter of cleaning baseboards was a revelation of epic proportions for me just a few years ago.

Still, it’s not that bad in my home. Messy, yes. Dirty, no. There’s a difference. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

No one’s ever died from the mess in my home. If they have, I’ve never found a body. Then again, I haven’t made it all the way to the bottom of the laundry pile or dirty dishes in a long time, so perhaps I should be concerned.

Come to think of it, I haven’t seen my cat in a while.

I live in a government-subsidized apartment building, which means my apartment has to be inspected once each year. That’s all well and good, but somewhere along the line I managed to get on the wrong side of someone (hard to believe, I know, what with my exemplary levels of self-control and ability to keep my mouth shut) and now I seem to be in line for an inspection about every 6-8 weeks. And unfortunately, I failed the last one.

Now, just to put this into perspective, let me tell you a little bit about my neighbors. One fellow brings a charcoal grill into his living room so he can enjoy a nice grilled burger even in the dead of winter. Some folks resort to using an indoor grill that’s actually made for such circumstances, but this hardy fellow sees no need to resort to anything so silly.

Another neighbor has nine cats. Nine. Count ’em. In a two-bedroom apartment. In a pet-free building.

Another person has a dog that no one has actually seen. We hear him barking and whimpering when she goes to work or away for the weekend. Either he goes outside to do his business in the middle of the night or she’s trained him to use a litter box like a cat. Or maybe he’s some obscure breed of dog that’s specially bred to go its entire life without pooping.

The mind reels at that possibility, doesn’t it?

At least five of the tenants at my end of the building are marijuana users. Which, even with a medical marijuana card, is not allowed in a government-subsidized building. Not judging. Just observing. And trying not to inhale.

You know, I suddenly understand why I keep waking up at four in the morning with the munchies. Too bad I also wake up too paranoid to snack.

The point I am trying to make here is that it boggles my mind to realize that I alone managed to fail an inspection when surrounded by all of this. I swear, some people are so picky about the silliest things. Just because some leftovers in my fridge have recently become self-aware, there’s no reason to get nasty and say that my refrigerator presents a “health hazard.”

I’ve named the leftovers George and Gracie and I hope they’ll be very happy together. Now I’m just hoping they don’t reproduce.

Or revolt.

Maybe George and Gracie are holding my cat hostage in there. That would explain a lot.

I guess my standards are too low when it comes to keeping my home neat. If I can find a place to sit, I’m good. If there are clean dishes to eat out of, I’m happy. Even if that means eating soup with a fork out of sippy cup.

I keep waiting for the cleaning fairy, but I think she showed up once and fainted in sheer terror, after which George and Gracie probably absorbed her and made her part of their community.

So here I am on a nice, sunny Sunday afternoon, waiting for the inspectors to show up. The dishes are washed and put away, the laundry is folded and tucked into dresser drawers, and the floor has been vacuumed. I even mopped the kitchen floor.

I didn’t even realize I owned a mop. It was quite a shock to find it at the bottom of the laundry pile.

I have a roast with potatoes and carrots in the slow cooker, and the kitchen table has been cleared and set for supper, which will probably confuse the heck out of my son. Picture frames have been dusted and windows have been washed. The top of the stove is nice and shiny. I’m pretty sure I’ll pass today’s inspection.

I just hope George and Gracie behave.


Dress for Success?

Yesterday, I found my favorite pair of sweatpants while decluttering my bedroom.

Now, if you’re the kind of person who read that and wondered how anyone could possibly be so cluttered, so disorganized that they actually lost an entire pair of pants, you should probably leave now. We will most likely never be friends, and I doubt that you’ll enjoy the rest of this.

For everyone else, let me just say that they were neatly folded up in the bottom of a Rubbermaid tote filled with off-season clothes. I’m not sure how they got there, but I was thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that I stripped right out of my other pants, stepped into my faves, and did a little happy dance.

At which point, the reality of the situation hit me.

I have a favorite pair of sweatpants.

I’ve never exactly been a shining example of fashion at its best, but at least I managed to dress myself. In real clothes. I was a professional hairdresser – I wore heels and dressed up almost every day; I never left the house without make-up and big hair (hey, the higher the hair, the closer to God). I had favorite jeans that made my butt look good, a favorite blouse that showed off my cleavage, my favorite pair of black strappy dress shoes with two-inch spiky heels.


Now my clothes are all stretchy and comfy, and I am not sure how long it’s been since I last put on shoes. Winter boots, yes. Shoes, not a clue.

What the hell happened?

It started after my accident, when I had to spend three months in tank tops and elastic-waist garments to go around my brace. Three months without a bra! I called it my Double-D Vacation. And since I couldn’t reach (or see) my own feet, I got into the habit of wearing flip flips and step-in shoes.

Then came the moment when I had to accept that this is as good as it is going to get. Even without the brace, I’ll never work in a salon again. My future, from this point on, is going to have to involve sitting. Whether I make it as a writer or end up doing some other kind of work from home, I will never again have to dress up pretty for work.

So I’m not sure if dressing like a schlub has made me depressed, or if I dress like a schlub because I’m depressed about my disability. Either way, I look and feel like crap when I dress like this. Being able to work in one’s jammies may seem appealing, but it loses its magic after a while. Trust me, by month twenty-one, it’s just embarrassing.


I’d like to hear from some other writers who work from home. How do you dress when it’s just you and your computer all day long? Comfy jammies, or dress for success? Does anybody really do up the hair and make-up and treat the home office as a real office?

Bring It

It’s 10:30 on Day Six of my resolution to post something here every day.  I’m tired and my brain is absolutely empty.  And I’ve taken a painkiller for my neck pain, so it’s anybody’s guess what I’m going to come up with.

The Big Guy and I cleaned out the shed today, with lots of help from out four-year-old.  We hauled out bikes and scooters and sleds and snowboards and camping gear until I started wondering if some other, more active family has been storing their things in our shed witout our knowledge.  For a few crazed moments, I thought that perhaps we had discovered some Midwestern version of Dr Who’s TARDIS, but it finally sunk in that no, we are just a family of pack-rats.

We found three high chairs, two strollers and a crib mattress, which is odd because we gave away all of our baby things long ago.  I specifically remember giving the older kids’ things to a needy family after a housefire in our neighborhood.  The Big Guy and I argued about it because he thought we should hold onto all of it but I swore we would never need it again.

Since I found out I was pregnant less than two weeks after that, he likes to say the he won that argument.

We gave all of that baby’s things away last summer.  He had turned four and graduated to a Big Boy Bed and a bike with training wheels, so the crib and stroller went to a cousin with a new baby.  There was no argument this time; tubes have been tied and we both agree that we are done.  So done.   With a four year-old, fourteen year-old and fifteen year-old, we had better be done.

So the baby gear in the shed is confusing.

But apparently the older two had a lot more outdoorsy fun than I remember them having.  I can’t wait for snow this year so we can play outside together on all of those sleds!  My eight year-old nephew has just moved here from Florida and this will be his first real winter; I can just imagine his squeals of delight riding one of those sleds down our hill!

I called his mother today to reserve him for the first snowfall.

So my brain is empty and my shed is well organized.   And I’m going to bed soon with dreams of sledding and snowball fights.  My big kids may be too old for that sort of thing, but life has given me my bonus baby and my little nephew, and we are going to have a great winter.

Bring on the cocoa and marshmallows, Old Man Winter.  I’m ready for your worst.