Tag Archives: cleaning obsession

Pollyanna tries to be Shiny – part deux

Lyda here.

So this is me, tryin’ to be shiny.*

* Some of our beloved readers might not know what I mean when I say “Shiny.”

To which I say:  Get thee to Netflix and watch “Firefly” and then “Serenity.”  Y’all are in for some fantastic viewing! Here is just a taste of the shiny that is “Firefly” – not safe for work. 

In that ‘Verse [universe], shiny = awesomeness. See bottom of post for more shiny fun.

But I digress…

You know when you are trolling the web, and you keep coming across all these lists of cleaning rituals, clutter-busting rules, and organization plans? It’s especially bad at the beginning of the year, and then bad again when everyone is telling you it’s time for Spring Cleaning.

Like the seasons need cleaning. Please. Seasons are self-cleaning. That is what rain is for, people. But I digress…

You read things like:  “2 Million Things You Should Do Every Morning Before Anyone Else is Awake or You are a Failure as a Human Being” or “1001 Clutter-Busting Tasks That You Must Do Immediately – Unless You Want to Continue Living in Filthy Squalor, You Lazy Bitch” or “Your New Simple Task List  –  Two Hours a Day Is All It Takes or You Can Continue to Live Like A Sewer Rat, You Disgusting Whore.”

Wow, those subtitles escalated fast. Calm down, Internet.

And then you have to go lie down because you feel faint. And you are certain that you will drown in your own clutter if you don’t die first from the filth. But before that happens you will be evicted because you are just too hopelessly disorganized to find your bills, much less pay them. And then they will drag you off to debtor’s prison and your daughter will have to support you, and your granddaughter will die in the street and it will be ALL. YOUR. FAULT.

You never want to live out a Dickens novel.

Okay, calm down. A few deep breaths. Think about kittens.  And wine. Think about watching adorable kittens while drinking wine…

That’s better.

I think I can help.

Anna-Liza is laughing now because she knows I have a bit of a cleaning thing* and she thinks my rules are going to be just as bad as Martha‘s.

Really, Martha? 4 minutes and 15 seconds on how to fold a fitted sheet? Really? Someone get that woman some better drugs.

* Let’s just say that I can relate to Monk a bit more than I’d like. I’ve never been that obsessive. Or that funny. But still, hours of cleaning.

But I digress…

I can no longer spend hours obsessively cleaning my place, as I was wont to do back in the old days.

About housework, my mother used to say, make a shiny spot each day. Oh wow. I just realized that Joss Whedon stole “shiny” from my mom. I think I’m due some royalties now. Or free DVDs.  Mom also used to say “You missed a spot” but I’m much better after the therapy…

But I digress again…

So I recently came up with my own plan:  the Five-Minute Shiny.

I decided to see what I could do in 5 minutes. Anything that I could call progress around the place, anything at all.

For five minutes.

Put a few  clean dishes away. Take out the kitchen trash.

No, not “go through the frig and toss everything that needs to be tossed and then clean the frig since it’s now empty, and defrost the freezer, and…” –  Just take out the bag of trash already in the bin.

The Five-Minute Shiny is a tiny bit extra beyond my everyday tasks, like feeding and watering the livestock (my three cats), and cleaning the litter box. And… uh… yeah, that’s about it.

The first week I came up with this, I timed myself – because I happened to be microwaving my dinner for five minutes, not because I was being all scientific. I was amazed at what I can do in five minutes.

So, now I try to do a Five-Minute Shiny every day. Some days, I might do one in the morning and one at night. And some days, even 5 minutes is too much to think about, let alone accomplish. And that’s okay too.

This is the great thing:  Even done semi-regularly, the Five-Minute Shiny has really helped keep the place tidier and more organized.

Of course, I could use the five minutes to fold a fitted sheet.

But let’s not get silly.

* Super Shiny Bonus Fun:  Go here. Let’s do the thing.

Pollyanna Cleans up her act… uh, any day now…

Or at least tries to…

Lyda here.

My room is a complete shambles.

And, no, Anna-Liza, I don’t mean my usual “oh, I need to get some filing done and straighten the books” that usually gets me crazy –  and which for most people would not even be considered “messy.

No. It’s a disaster.

There are teetering piles of papers, books, and assorted school debris all over every available flat surface.  Mixed into the piles are old family photos, a huge unwieldy family tree, art supplies, drawings, clippings… all of them related to one school project or another.  The desk – one corner of which serves as my nightstand – is covered with pens, pencils, markers, post-its, and – on the corner that serves as my nightstand – an ever-more precarious pile of Terry Pratchett paperbacks. The table is piled with binders, notebooks, and more papers – and a salt shaker, fabric napkins, and chopsticks, since I eat here too.

There are towels on the back of the chair. There is a pile of discarded papers on the floor next to the trash can (the trash can itself being full).  I haven’t seen my sewing machine in months (I know it’s in the room somewhere). The bed has been in a permanent state of unmade since before finals started two months ago.

And there is a thick blanket of dust everywhere. I’m sure it has been seven or eight months since I dusted and maybe longer since I vaccuumed.

As Bette Davis would say, “What a dump.”

This morning, there was a knock on my door and the two exchange students were there, wondering about hooking up to the innernets and needing some code that was mysteriouslyhidden in the wires and such on the desk.

And I was embarassed to let them into the room.

Thankfully, the fabric and yarn is all neatly organized and stashed in the closet, safe from dust and possible coveting by the Danes. At least I have  my priorities straight.

So, this weekend I’ll be trying to restore some order to the chaos. And possibly finding the floor.

When the going gets tough, the tough… go on the innernets.

To find out  what the mess means about me.  Hmm. Funny, they don’t mention “stressed out grad student” as one of the reasons for the mess…

Okay. Time to get to it.

As soon as I finish this quiz:  What’s Your Cleaning Style?

It turns out that I’m an “easy breezy cleaner” at this point in my life.

I know. I would usually land solidly in the “crazy cleaning obsession” category, but I’ve just been too busy with school and I’ve learned to let the cleaning slide a bit.

See? Grad school has been good for me.

But I digress…


Pollyanna Returns!

Lyda here.

Y’all missed me, didn’t ya? Although Anna-Liza is at least digressing in her posts, and posting pics of adorable kidlets, which I hope eased your pain a bit.

Quick updates for now. More later, I promise.

Back from school, freshly full of excitement and scholarly wisdom and joy. I just love my school.

Did you know that “passion” actually comes from the word for “suffering”? And “compassion” means to be with someone who is suffering. Instead of using “passion” to say we care about something a lot, my teachers recommend “enthusiasm”. As in:  I am enthusiastic about my second year of school!

But I digress…

Heh. Told y’all I’m back.

I met some terrific classmates, including one who generously opened her home to me and let me stay with her for most of the week. Which means I got a lot more sleep (and it was much safer) than I would have if I’d driven from home each day, and I didn’t have to check into a motel (so it saved me money for tuition).

She had a spare room with a bathroom right next to it – it was perfect. And second only to her warm and friendly company, her home was sparkling clean. I mean sparkling. I loved it so much that I actually took a bath. Which is the first bath I have taken in probably ten years. Y’all know it’s sparkling clean when I think it’s sparkling clean.

I decided after I got home that I’m moving. I want sparkling clean in my own home, and I’m willing to move to get it.

And I got a phone this week, so hopefully I’ll be talking with Anna-Liza for hours soon.

And I missed you all during this hiatus, and I’m excited to catch up on your blogs. Which will probably take about a million years at this point.

Internet connection. Next place must have internet connection.

Got to go.

I’ll be back…

Pollyanna Plays Around with Chaos

Lyda here.

Check out this post over at A Fly on the Wall. I love that she is brave enough to show us her laundry pile. I love that she says, “We all pick and choose what areas of our lives we’re going to really work at, and there are parts of our lives that we decide can be disorganized…”

And it may surprise y’all to know that I agree with her. Yes, me, Little Miss Tidy.

Everything cannot be perfect organization / peace and harmony / aligned with the stars. No matter what, parts of our lives are going to be messy part of the time. Some parts of our lives are going to be messy most or even all of the time.

But even if the reason for the mess is a good one – like you hate folding clothes, or you have the flu/kids/pets/roommates/a life – there is an undercurrent of guilt associated with messy.

I say, screw that. Guilt we don’t need.

Give yourself permission to be messy sometimes.

Besides, some things are supposed to be messy. Sex. Birth. Divorce.

Junk drawers.

Creation and destruction are always messy – have you seen This Old House? Have you seen Jackson Pollock painting a canvas? Remember finger painting?

When I teach art classes, which I sometimes do – I call it Creative Play, which encourages people who don’t think of themselves as artists to come play and then they find out that they are indeed artists, because everyone is an artist, some of us have just forgotten… but I digress, stepping off soap box now – I always tell people to come in old clothes that can get painty and wet and grubby. We’re going to make a mess, so wear your play clothes.

Remember when you had play clothes and “good” clothes? You still need play clothes. Clothes you can be messy in. Clothes that inspire you to be messy.

And everyone should have times and places where they allow themselves to be messy.

Because a lot of the really great things in life… sex, rock & roll, love…


are a mess.

At least they are when you do them right.

Pollyanna is not your mother, people

Lyda here. A bit annoyed at my co-workers. It was my turn to clean out the refrigerator. I sent three emails to the office over the last week and a half, asking people to label or take home their stuff or it would be thrown away.


And yet today, I more than filled the garbage can in the kitchen with the stuff I threw away.

As always when cleaning a fridge, the farther back I went, the scarier it got. Who knew my office mates were conducting weird experiments along the lines of the Magic School Bus’ “Rot Squad” episode?


Continuing my investigations, I found evidence of past civilizations in the freezer. Apparently, there was Lean Cuisine way back in two thousand and four.

I half expected to unearth someone who had innocently reached too far back to find their lunch, and got swallowed by the frost. And there I would be, straight in an episode of “Bones” which would not be bad except that someone would be dead – plus I’d have nightmares from the whole finding-the-icky-frozen-body thing.

Might be worth it to see Booth’s belt buckle for myself, if y’all know what I mean. But I digress…

No wonder no one wants to clean the Beast. Scary, kids!

But then, I’m the woman who cleaned her fridge once a week, before I went to the grocery store. Back when I had a fridge, that is. You call it obsession; I call it stopping weird science in its tracks.

Plus, the dead bodies are much fresher.

Pollyanna Says “I’ve got your update right here”

Lyda here. Anna-Liza insists on an “Update! Update dammit!” so I thought I’d better do one. It is not a good idea to annoy her. Trust me. This is kind of long – I’m warning you.

I’m settled into the Disney House – my friends are really into Disney and their place has all kinds of cool Disney memorabilia everywhere. And not a zombie in sight.

I’m at the library right now. My friends, let’s call them Disney Man and Disney Woman, have internet, but I haven’t set up my computer over there yet.

Here’s the update:

I haven’t heard from the apartment I applied for. I’ve given up on it. I don’t think it was for me.

The Sith Master and his two excellent friends and I moved my stuff yesterday. We put some stuff in a storage unit. I took to the Disney House most of my books, my bed, TV, my little stereo, my old VCR, movies & music, my computer – and my sewing machine and fabric – of course. Oh, yeah, and my clothes.

As for the rest of my possessions – we put the semi-decent stuff out front of the old place for people to take (which they did – only the desk chair was left by this morning), and my neighbor with a truck got rid of the rest (he took some to Goodwill and some to the dump.

It took all day to get everything packed into the UHaul and stuff unpacked into the storage unit and the other stuff delivered to the Disney House. We started at 9 a.m. and we dropped off the truck at 7 p.m. I paid my three workers and took the Sith Master to dinner at the first place we found that was open. Then I took him to his dad’s and went in to see his room. It looks great, much more grown-up, with the tan paint and the dresser and two bookcases that had been at our place, plus his new desk. He’s pretty much unpacked.

I spent the night at the Disney House, in my own bed surrounded by my boxes.

Happy 50th Birthday to me!

This morning, I went back to the old place, where the cats had spent the night alone. One of the women from work came over with her husband, and their friend who adopted Cato. I also gave her a basket of Cato’s favorite cat toys, the Furminator, and the half-bag of cat food I had left.

My coworker’s husband was a real soft touch – he tried to talk the friend into taking both cats (by the time they got to her house he may have succeeded), but he would not hear of Mace going to the shelter and insisted that he has a coworker who will adopt him. I would not have taken him to the shelter. I was actually going to take him to my vet’s, who would have found him a home. But this is so much better.

The funny thing was that Mace jumped right into the carrier they had brought with them while we were talking. And then I put my carrier together, and Cato just walked right into it! He’s never done that before; usually he fights going into it.

It was weird – like they knew they were going to their new homes with these people they’d never met.

So both cats have a new home. I’ll miss them, but I’m so relieved that they are okay. And soon to be completely spoiled, by the look of things. Of course I didn’t spoil them. Much.

After they left, I gathered the few things that were left at the apartment and put them in the car. There are always a few things left, somehow. Then I pulled nails, spackled a bit, dusted away the cobwebs, and vaccuumed. And I gave the kitchen and bathroom a cursory cleaning – not a major scrubbing, but enough.

I know – why did I clean when they were not very nice about my leaving and I probably won’t get my deposit back anyway?

I didn’t clean for them. I did it for me. Partly pride – my grandmother’s legacy – and partly a ritual cleansing, removing our energy from the space.

And it gave me time to process the loss of the cats and of our home. Y’all know I find cleaning helps me process the hard emotional stuff.

I called the utilities – phone, internet & Uverse, and the electric & gas companies – to cancel service. I hadn’t done it before because I was hoping to transfer service to my new apartment. AT&T made me give them my password (I had to guess several times before I could remember it) but the other two just wanted the account numbers. One could mess with someone else’s gas & electric service fairly easily, apparently. Not that one would ever do that to someone. Would one? But I digress…

I put the keys under the mat and left about one p.m. Stopped by the storage unit to put those last few things in. Put two things in the car to take with me – a framed poster I’ve had in my bedroom for years, and one of my photo-collages. Stopped to put some cash back in the bank. I’d gotten a lot of cash out on Thursday in case I used movers – who insisted on cash. I promised the Sith Master I will definitely use movers next time. Doing it yourself is exhausting!. Went through a drive-through. Ate in the car outside the library. Came into the library and wrote an email to Anna-Liza, and this to all of you.

As for the next steps – I don’t know yet. I think I’ll stay at the Disney House for a bit. I need a bit of breathing room to figure things out.

So far, not a zombie in sight.


So, what’s happening with y’all?