Cleaner Meaner

Notepad from Pretty Bitter

Sometimes I am bitten by a sudden wave of anxiety that causes me to sweep through the house, frantically cleaning everything. When this happens, people have said that I seem tense or entranced. I have a name for this personality - "Cleaner Meaner." I think the behavior developed when my mother would lock us in our playroom all day until it was organized and spotless. Delirious from captivity, we'd think up monotonous slave chants to make the time pass faster. One of which went like this:
"We are the Cleaner Meaners! We are the Cleaner Meaners! We are mean because we clean. We mean to clean and clean and clean! We are the Cleaner Meaners!"
Anyone who has lived with me can attest to this. I still sing it from time to time while dusting the shelves or mating socks.

When it comes to mean cleaning, however, my mother is a real OG. I remember her yanking me out of bed in the middle of the night, reeking of cheap vodka, ordering me to scrub the kitchen floor's white grout with a toothbrush. I imagined the little hobo demon, Cleaner Meaner, setting up camp inside her brain. He had built a cozy campfire and pitched a tent and everything. During the day, he'd crawl out of her ear and sit on her left shoulder, pointing out all the hairs on the sink and smudges on the windows. "This is the good life!" he thought. But soon, those pills she was prescribed moved in next door - an entire colony of them, with their shiny campers and station wagons. They held nightly meetings but Cleaner Meaner was not invited. Within weeks, the pills formed a coup. CM was ambushed and tossed out of Mom's brain for good, left to desperately roam the outside world seeking a new host to replenish his evil spirit. I can only imagine his delight when he found me that day in our playroom stacking blocks. "Organize them according to color." he whispered.


Do you remember, last week, when I had a meltdown over my heaping to-do lists and unfinished projects? To annul the situation, Kurt suggested that we dedicate one day each week to cleaning house, running errands or whatever other small task that had my mind reeling. It would be a whirl-wind of achievement. That day would be Wednesday.

Of course Wednesdays are no good for the more harrowing projects, like organizing the walk-in closet or painting the front door. So I made a list for everything else - special projects that needed to be done on an irregular basis. We'll try to complete one project from the list each week. If it is not completed by the weekend, we'll try to knock it out before we embark on any adventures.

Today, I was pleased to discover that Nina has a similar "life maintenance" method. Do you have one?

I often feel silly for letting my environment effect me so negatively. Then on the other side of the spectrum, I see people who live in complete chaos and aren't the least bit bothered by it. I don't know if I should be envious or appalled.


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