18. Cleaning: Hey, even writers and creative artists have to do housework sometimes. Write about doing laundry, dishes, and other cleaning activities.
I come from a family of hoarders. Not like TLC’s Buried Alive kind of hoarders, but we hoard in our own discreet way. When my grandfather passed in 2008 my family gathered and spent a week comforting each other while emptying out desk drawers and digging out car transmissions from the backyard. We filled one dumpster after another and it seemed impossible that one person could accumulate so much stuff in a single lifetime. Cleaning out my grandparents’ house was something the family had been wanting to do for years, or it wasn’t so much as something we wanted to do but more like a growing problem that was getting harder to ignore.
Fast forward a couple of years and we find ourselves in a time where cleaning is no longer a chore but a transformative act. In 2014, a cleaning consultant by the name of Marie Kondo published a book called, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” You know it? Of course you do. It’s probably sitting on your coffee table right now. It’s a New York Times #1 bestseller and has sold more than 2 million copies, but all I can think of is the fact that you can’t spell “tidying” without “dying” which accurately reflects my attitude on cleaning.
To me it is one of those books that seems like a good idea, but good ideas are often difficult to put into action. Especially since I’m a mere mortal who holds attachments to frivolous objects. This is a big no-no in Kondo’s book. “People who can’t stay tidy can be categorized into just three types: the “can’t-throw-it-away” type, the “can’t-put-it-back” type, and the “first-two-combined” type.” And nothing will make you realize what type you are faster then when you are moving. In case you could’t guess I’m the first two combined.
I moved back into my parents’ house after I graduated from college, and was nauseated with how many boxes I had to pack. What was even more disturbing was coming home to a whole other bedroom filled with artifacts from my childhood. Whenever I came home for the holidays I always felt nauseated sleeping in my old room. I even wrote a Thought Catalog piece about it once.
But after my brother moved out, and my ailing grandmother passed I finally got to leave the pink walls behind and move into the slightly larger back bedroom. But before I got to do this I received strict instructions that I was not allowed to move until I cleaned out my old room. I engaged in what Kondo calls “marathon tidying” and for two and a half days I excavated items that had been long forgotten. Letters that were sent in elementary school, a collection of sea shells, middle school diaries. It was all there. And don’t even get me started on my books. I’ve been an avid reader most of my life and I forced myself to get rid of more than half my collection.
I was making space in my life. “the space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” Kondo says a lot of weird stuff, like how my socks have feelings and are crying out for attention, but this quote was something I could relate to. My original intent for this post was to mock Kondo’s teachings, but now that I’m at the end I actually kind of liked looking through some of her quotes. I still hate cleaning, and I doubt my ways will change any time soon but maybe it’s time to fold that laundry sitting in my basket.