I’m a Dirty, Dirty Girl!

Mmph-cha. . .mmph-cha. . .mmph-cha. . .mmph-cha. . .

Wum-pa. . .wum-pa. . .wum-pa. . .wum-pa. . .

Squeak. . .squeak. . .squeak. . .squeak. . .

These are the pulsating noises my washing machine makes when I’ve overloaded it with towels, like I always do.  As the water is rising and making that swooshing and thumping sound, I run to the laundry room and throw open the lid and readjust the load.  That seems to have done the trick.  Now, the soft whirs and purrs of the spin cycle kick in and I return to my bedroom to fold the laundry that has been sitting in the laundry basket for a week now (not to mention the fact that I have to shake the wrinkles out of a few t-shirts that were wadded up in the dryer for over a week now).

I have been feeling overwhelmed lately with trying to maintain the cleanliness of my home.  I think it’s a mixture of daily stresses and a heavy amount of grading of all those damn essays and quizzes I assigned last week and this week.  I feel like I have no time to really “get my clean on” because my days are packed with working all day or doing things I must get done in order to maintain some sanity at work.  My neck has been crackling with tension, and my back muscles are in traction and I hear “snaps” and “crackles” and “pops” whenever I turn around too quickly (or at all, for that matter).  The daily rain and occasional fog have brought mildew smells into my  home, and a patch of mold is creeping up my outdoor siding near my kitchen window.  It’s gross.  It makes me feel dirty.

Cursed clutter!

Smells and clutter and clumps of cat hair suddenly reveal themselves to me.  I have neglected my home it seems.  My clutter in the usual places shows itself for what it really is:  the casualties of benign neglect at the hands of a scatterbrained woman.  I take a glance  into all of my rooms and see hair ties and bobby pins on my computer desk, on the washing machine, and underneath my couch.  There are wadded up receipts on my jewelry stand, closet floor, kitchen counter, and underneath the couch.  3 pairs of shoes are in a permanent state of repose  in my living room.  Stacks of books lounge on my dining room table, side table, end tables, night stands, and on the back of my toilet. (Yes, I keep books in there.  Go ahead and judge me if you must.)  I look down and see a paper clip at my foot (one of the hazards of teaching English is that these little pieces of artillery are always at your disposal).  I look over and find paper clips on my nightstand, closet floor, and I rush downstairs and take a peek and find one underneath the couch.

I pick everything up from underneath the couch and walk into the kitchen to throw it all away.  There in front of me is a mound of dirty dishes that stink and are piled on top of the tiny countertop and have flowed into the sink and stacked up on the stove.  There is another tumbleweed of cat hair, and I see splotches of spilled coffee on the other counter top and a smidgeon of dried orange juice on the floor.  The knots in my neck and back begin to grow taut.  Something must be done!  I can’t live like this anymore!

Dirty dishes for a dirty girl
Happy toilets, happy people

The only thing that will work is hard core cleaning.  Oh yeah.  I’m gonna get down and dirty today.  Maybe I’ll even get down on my hands and knees and mop that kitchen floor.  I know I’ll definitely be wiping those countertops off with a quick back and forth motion.  And the 3 toilets in my 2 1/2 bathroom house?  Yeah, I’ll smear Clorox liquid gel all up and down those bad boys and scrub them until their hard porcelain shells shine.

I get out the Pledge and do some light dusting, just to get myself in the mood.  “This feels good,” I think, and before I know it I have dusted and swept all of the bedrooms upstairs.  I’m picking up speed now and so I get out the vacuum.  I pull out the hose attachment and turn on the powerful beast.  It sucks up the tumbleweeds of cat hair and the crunchy bits of leaves my dog has brought in on his wet paws, and what I think was a hard piece of either dried mud or a dried bit of dog poop.  (Get your minds out of the gutter.  This is hard core cleaning, but I’m still a respectable lady.)

Hard core cleaning isn’t for wussies.

As soon as I break out the Clorox wipes, the Clorox toilet bowl cleaner, and the Clorox bathroom foam, my anxiety dissipates.  The first sprays of the Clorox cleaner emits a pungent odor.  I believe bleach smell alone kills 50% of the germs.  I inhale the powerful scent and some of my nose hairs are singed, and I definitely can tell that my sinuses have dried out.  In a great revelry, I attack the bathrooms with a new found vigor and finish up in a fury of soap suds and sparkling bathroom countertops.

I sigh and look around me.  Everything is in its place.  The soft breeze blowing through the open windows soothes me.  I toss away my cleaning supplies and feel a great satisfaction.  Every muscle in my body is relaxed, and I rest on my couch and feel complete.  I look down at my dry, cracked hands and see hangnails dangling off every finger.  The scent of the residual bleach now gives me a “Holier Than Thou” attitude and I realize that cleaning isn’t that dirty thing we all make it out to be.  It feels good to “go to it” and lose yourself in the revelry of a few hours of manual labor in order to have piece of mind.

Oh yeah, baby.
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2 thoughts on “I’m a Dirty, Dirty Girl!”

  1. Love this!

    I have to admit–there’s something liberating about cleaning my desk with Pledge or assaulting the kitchen floor with Pine-Sol. Seems odd, finding comfort in cleaning. Maybe wee acts of will like tidying the kitchen counter are small steps toward bigger things. Like tidying our lives.

    Or maybe the lemon-fresh scent-shine after a good scrubbing is just flat-out good for body and soul.

    Thanks for the awesome post, Megan.

    Also–your photos rock. The sepia shot of the gnarled tree outside the old building–niiiiice!

    1. Thanks Joe! What great compliments. I was just raving to Mary yesterday about your writing. I read about 10 pieces on your website. You’re good. You’re really good. In all honesty, I was a bit intimidated by having you read anything of mine. So, imagine my surprise when I got this comment from you. 🙂 I love photography, and every once in awhile, I get a good shot that makes me smile. That sepia shot of the gnarled tree is one of them.

      Have you ever read Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon? It’s one of my favorite pieces of nonfiction. The author (from Missouri, and a professor in the area) wrote this book about his travels around the U.S. using only two-lane, nondescript highways (the blue ones on the map). He shares his explorations, adventures, confusion, and delight. He uses his photography to highlight the areas and the people he encountered along the way. It’s a very beautiful book on so many levels. You feel like you’re traveling with him, and you have similar epiphanies as he does. Your writing / photography along the old National Highway reminds me of this. I would definitely read a book of yours based on this travel. Get to it, man! Ha ha!

      Thanks again for taking the time to read this. I’m glad I got the chance to visit with you at the OCG Art Walk the other night. Take care, and stay in touch!

      Megan

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