You know how every year it seems the holiday season begins appearing earlier and earlier?
Something like that is happening to me, and it’s only the second week of August.
I’ve spoken at length about what the arrival of September does both to and for me, and this year the desire to begin my fall nesting has begun nearly a full month ahead of schedule.
This week is forecasted to be the hottest of the year temperature-wise, which by usual standards involves me remaining indoors with a glass of iced tea, moving no more than necessary to avoid overheating despite climate control and oscillating fans, not considering how best to begin my yearly reorganization of the household.
The summer has been fraught with projects and other commitments, so certain things have fallen by the wayside.
Okay, most things have fallen by the wayside.
We’re severely behind on basic household chores (I reluctantly admit I can’t remember the last time I scrubbed my shower. I think it was sometime in May. I’ve spot cleaned and rinsed it out and so on, but it’s been some time since I’ve gone in there with a sponge and cleaning solution. Regular readers of my blog will be horrified, as a clean loo is one of the things that soothes my damaged calm, and while I’ve been running a brush around the toilet every now and then, there’s hasn’t been a dedicated Cleaning of the Loo in an embarrassingly long time) and running on the “bare minimum” principle — dishes, litter boxes, enough laundry to keep us in clean panties, etc.
As I said, the James Household has had many other commitments this summer, and while the studio is more or less complete (I basted a quilt in there last week! It’s a real quilt studio now!), the aftermath of its completion is still consuming the two-car garage we filled last year with things removed from it. (Holiday decorations and other things we were storing in the former workshop it used to be.)
Mess is a unique creature. Various factors contribute to it, including depression, anxiety, chronic illness, mental health issues, behavioral issues, and more. Unfuck Your Habitat covers a multitude of things and has been tremendously helpful in the past, so I’m thinking tomorrow I may dig out the old UFYH app and start making a dent in the habitat I’ve long neglected.
Remember the “bare minimum” I mentioned previously? Everyone’s bare minimum is different. For me, it’s “mess is fine, filth is not.” Sure, most of my flat surfaces are covered in junk mail and cat toys, but we’ve been keeping the dishes done and floors swept (we have five cats — the vacuum sees regular service). So my house is a cluttered mess of detritus, we’ve been living on convenience foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and take-out rather than actual sit down meals as both our schedules and energy levels change from day to day, and my garage is full of empty boxes that need to go to the recycling center, but it’s “clean dirt” as my mother would say. (Just don’t look at my baseboards. Ask Skyla about the baseboard thing.) I make a distinction between “tidy” and “clean,” and we’ve been coasting on “tidy” for months now. (“Tidy” for me is where things are straightened — couch blankets folded, table piles cleared — whereas “clean” is vacuuming the living room and wiping the table down with a bleach wipe.)
The distinctive urge to purge and clean and prepare the lair for my favorite approaching season hit hard tonight. Granted, I don’t have the energy to make this a reality, so I may need to call in some help via friends or professionals (there’s a local cleaning service that will come and do a deep clean for a very reasonable fee, but that involves logistics and cat wrangling and I’m not sure I want to deal with that; I’ll think on it some more as it might be worth trading one stressor for another temporarily to achieve equilibrium), but things will get done.
I think it’s hit me early because my brain knows things take significantly longer than they used to, given my progressive annoying bitch of a disorder. What used to take me a couple weeks (getting my entire house clean and tidy for the arrival of fall) is now going to take me a couple months, so I suppose if I’m going to have an enjoyable environment by the middle of September, I’d better get started now. Even my craft room is in dire need of a reorganization.
The biggest issue I have these days is spoons, both mental and physical, and so many things take priority over cleaning. That “bare minimum” I mentioned is sometimes all Mr. James and I can manage. He’s older and has had a hip replacement, so neither of us are in the best of shape when it comes to keeping house. He’s better at it than I am these days, running the vacuum and cleaning litter boxes. Just the idea of everything that I both want and need to get done is overwhelming, mostly because things have gone untouched for so long the prospect of unfucking them is daunting, but I’ll get there.
I’ll take it slow, a day at a time. I used to write out long, detailed lists of everything I wanted to get done for that particular year’s Fall Nesting. Things like “sort the linen closet” and “clean out the junk drawer.” The last couple years I’ve made the list, but haven’t completed it. This year, I don’t think I’ll bother with a list. This year I think I’ll just start in a corner of the house and work my way room by room, piece by piece. A lot of cleaning suggestion sites say things like “if you’re going to vacuum, do all the floors at the same time — you already have the vacuum out.” That does work if you have the spoons for it, and that might be the case when I get there, but I think I’ll try the Johnny Cash method this year – one piece at a time. That way I won’t get distracted when I put a dish away and decide to organize the Tupperware instead of mopping the floor or take a look at the overfull dusty bookshelves and get overwhelmed and go watch something stupid on TV.
We’ll see what happens.
Until next time.