Archive for July 10th, 2007


next to g-dliness?

July 10, 2007

Before going into the post I first should disclose that I am not one of those clean freak people.  By no means are we “dirty” people, but I won’t hide the fact that I’m REALLY good at creating clutter, shedding clothing all over the place, and having somewhat messy piles of “stuff” kind of all over the place. Little “shit depository areas” if you will. So, really, I’m not a modern day Mr. Clean with better earrings. But still. I have this thing.

If people are coming over? My house has to be clean.  I mean for casual card playing and whatnot, I’m not going crazy cleaning before they get there (ok, I lied, I go into a tizzy of spot neatening), but it pains me for there to be clutter, or dishes in the sink, or clothes on the floor if people are over. This is why sometimes our bedroom looks like a bomb went off in it, because if people are coming over short notice like, all clutter gets tossed in there. 

Now if people are STAYING? Spotless. Seriously. Floors all polished and clean and no dirt on them. Counters, fridge, shelving…all wiped down. Windowsills, etc, clean. Couch vacuumed (and sometimes I have to “tape” it to get all of the dust off, especially in corners, etc) and all sheets washed and pressed and things are ready to go. I know that’s part of being a good host, but I think there is more too it for me.

 I think it has to do with shame. 

I don’t hide the fact that I grew up with incredible privilege. My parents (when I was young) were very wealthy, and this afforded them luxuries like having a live in housekeeper/nanny for us. EVERYTHING was done for us. Cleaning, cooking, etc. I didn’t do my own hair until I was like, 12 or something. My mother, who had been a very very successful banker was able to quit her job after my sister was born, and help my dad out with his business.

When I was around 14, (early nineties) my parents “lost” most of their money. Things got really bad. My dad became…not nice. He and my mom fought all the time.  My mom had to return to the work force but could only get a job in retail. The country was in a recession, and she was getting denied jobs because she was over-qualified.  Her new job required her to be on her feet for many hours of the day. My dad gave up his business and took a job with a friends advertising firm – which was over an hour away (not including NYC/Jersey traffic.)

I was left to watch the kids in the afternoons after school, and expected to 1)keep them happy (they were 11 and 6 at the time) 2)clean the house and 3) get dinner started.  Well. Often these plans didn’t work out so well, and my parents (usually my dad first) would come home to 3 kids killing each other, a mess, and no dinner. 

And of the things that were pushed to the side, house cleaning was certainly on the list of things my parents were caring less about. Except when company came. If company was coming we would stay up ALL NIGHT cleaning the house until it met my fathers seal of approval. Even if we had school the next day. I’m kind of like that now. 

I have a close (close in lineage, but not actually “close” to me) relative whose house is disgusting. There’s pet hair and dirt everywhere. A mountain of dirty laundry runs down the stairs creating a carpet that one must wade through just to get up or down them. The kitchen is gross. Dishes are always in the sink. I have a hard time just being in there, and an even harder time eating there – which I try to never do.  

I also have a hard time eating at potluck dinners – places where I can’t see the kitchen that the food is coming out of. In these occasions, I try to suspend all thoughts about cleanliness (I do this in some restaurants, too) and move on. It’s hard to do. Most of the time it works.  I’ve lied about food allergies so I didn’t have to eat  products from  kitchens I was sketchy about. I’ve had to remember that I’m not supposed to eat certain things when I’m with these people. It’s hard to keep up. I’m not proud of this. But its happened.

I think that part of my issues with cleanliness are because I don’t want people to feel that way about me and my house.  I don’t want to be judged because of how clean my place is, and I also know that most of my friends AREN’T doing that, but it’s still where my brain goes. Part of it is OCD.  It must be. It sometimes pains me to not be able to just let go.  I wish there were a way to get over it. 

Anyone else have issues like this? 

Also, you know, if you come stay with me? The house is going to be freaking spotless. Probably better than hotel rooms. See there I go again. Weird pride thing about it too. See? Clearly, I’m mental and need some help, at least around this issue.